… when I had to tell a woman that she should be supporting other women.
It’s funny – I had been totally preparing for one situation when suddenly out of nowhere, I was confronted by something else.
I have been lucky enough to be able to breastfeed Aifric – it was a hard slog, we were using nipple shields for the first 13 weeks of her life but we got there. But I know that it doesn’t work for everyone and I am appreciative that it worked for us. Whenever I have been feeding her out in public, I have always been 8.5% on edge, expecting someone to say something negative to me about it. Probably because one of my dear friends had that very unpleasant experience herself. I hadn’t worked out in my head if I’d launch into a tirade about how it is 2018 and that view is archaic and oppressive. Or whether I’d try to be super chill about it – all like ‘ok cool, think what you like, I don’t care, it’s your issue’ and then imitate the whatever emoji.
But what I didn’t anticipate – was that I would have to launch into my tirade because of the speed at which I change my baby’s nappy.
So, sit down a moment, let me tell you a quick (don’t you worry, I know time is precious) story…
Last week I broke my phone (it was under the oven glove and slid onto the floor as I lifted the glove to use it. Honestly. Could have screamed into a tea towel). So I booked an appointment at an Apple store to have it fixed and off we went into town. Aifric – ever the exhibitionist – was showing off her ‘standing’ to the Apple man. Suddenly her face became really red. Her eyes started to water. She was concentrating very hard. I knew what tricks she was up to. And I could smell what tricks she was up to. I distracted the man with my wit and my charm and bundled her back into the buggy to try to keep the smell localised. Whilst discussing email receipts and what-not, I was mentally working out where was the nearest place I could change her. Got it. Pret on Shaftesbury Avenue. Off I wheeled the disgraced little madam.
I got us set up in the toilet – everything ready as if I was about to undertake an operation. Lucky I did – as what had been contained at Apple, had now escaped at Pret. Aifric’s started on solids now BTW. Not fully established but started on them. Make of that what you will but I was in for a TREAT. A full outfit change was needed. So I began.
A knock on the door. ‘Hello? Is someone in there?’
Crikey, I’d only been in there a couple of minutes. ‘Yes that’s right, I’m in here.’
‘Ok, good. Just checking.’
A few minutes later. ‘Hello? HELLO??’
A different voice.
I thought to myself – what on earth is going on here? So I opened the door mid-change to see a pretty impatient American woman standing outside. I said – ‘I’ve only just come in here, I am changing my baby.’
‘Well, I changed my babies fast.’
Honest to God. Red rag to a bull. I lost it.
‘OK. Well, she’s done a poo. I am a new mum. You are a WOMAN. Women should SUPPORT other women.’
(I don’t know if you can call someone with a 6 month old a new mum but I still class myself as one, on many occasions I feel like one, and anyway, it doesn’t matter how far down the line we are, does it?)
She said – ‘well I need to use the bathroom and this is the only one.’
‘Ok cool. You’ll need to find another one then.’ WHATEVER EMOJI.
Honest. To. God.
Did she think I was taking my leisurely time in a tiny hot public toilet with poo all over Aifric’s trousers for the sheer utter joy of it? Yeah sure, having the absolute time of my life here love.
WHERE IS THE SISTERHOOD?!
Where was the – oh no worries at all, totally understand, good luck!
Where was the – oh goodness, we’ve all been there, completely understand.
Also. What if I was just taking a while to go to the loo? Maybe I was doing a big poo? Or having period drama. Or changing. Or had just had a row with someone and wanted a little cry. Or perhaps I just wanted 5 minutes of peace and quiet away from the hustle and bustle of London life and people like her?
‘Well, I changed my babies fast.’
THAT is exactly the sort of comment that could really send a new fragile mum over the edge. And I absolutely won’t have it. Not on my watch.
*PHOTO: Changing Aifric on a changing table when she was much much younger. Turns out I haven’t taken a photo of her on a changing table for a while. Probably because people like this woman are all up in my grill and not letting me mess about in public toilets which obviously I LOVE doing.