As I sank into a warm bubble bath on Friday evening - blissful - I cursed myself for leaving the tv on. The kids were with Granny and Granda and I was making the most of my time but I get a bit jumpy when it's too quiet so I left the news on for some background noise. And then I heard Nigel Farage giving his views on the breastfeeding story which dominated the news last week.
And I reaffirmed my belief that I never, ever need to know what Nigel Farage's views on anything are. I feel quite passionately that not knowing what he thinks of anything ever again would be for the best. Forgive my foray into politics.
I don't feel I need to comment and what he did or didn't say. Whether he was right or wrong, or whether his views are representative of more than a handful of UK citizens (I doubt it) but it did remind me that I'd started this blog post a few weeks ago and I should really get around to finishing it.
The first time in the title refers to the first time I breastfed my first baby outwith our home or the home of a close family member. I have quite clear memories of the occasion and the way I felt.
Brodie was about two weeks old. I would hesistate to say breastfeeding was 'going well' because it was still awkward and stressful and painful. But I quite strongly felt the urge for us to get out and about (with Greig there for support) and as tiny babies cannot go long between feedings that meant feeding outwith our own home. I could have fed him in the car, or in the toilets I suppose or even with a giant napkin over one or both of our heads, but I didn't.
We went to a coffee shop in a retail park. I scouted the free seats and decided - ironically - on a seat in the corner. As a new mum I instinctively looked for somewhere a little bit sheltered. Not because I necessarily wanted to save any other customer's discomfort or embarrassment but because I had a newborn infant and the lioness instinct was strong and close to the surface.
I got the pram into position - absolute nightmare - and Greig went to get the drinks. Then I set about getting the baby out of his snowsuit and hat and getting myself in the right position to feed - not at all easy or straigtforward for a mother and baby new to the whole thing. By now Brodie was awake and coming around to the idea of some milk. Which meant I had a few seconds to get him latched on before his screaming reached hysterical levels.
Ok he's latched on. It's painful. The arm I'm using to hold his body is already aching. The deeply weird let down feeling is making me tingle - not in a good way. The sweat is pouring down my back and dripping off the end of my nose. That's when I realise that far from being in a secluded corner of the coffee shop I'm actually sitting right behind the little station where people stop for semi - skimmed or to pick up a little wooden stirrer thing. That's right, I've inadvertently parked my breastfeeding self in the busiest part of the whole place.
But by that point I was pretty happy, euphoric even. I was feeding my baby, nourishing him, keeping him alive if you will, in a public place. Go me.
And guess what, not on that day or any other day out of the 25 months I've spent breastfeeding has anyone given me a strange look, or commented or told me to cover up. I'm almost certain this is because I have super powers. Just kidding, I'm almost certain it's because 95% off the people I've fed in front of didn't notice I was breastfeeding. The other 5% didn't care or were not suitably offended or embarrassed enough to pass remark. So if you are considering breastfeeding where there are other people around, take heart in my story.
It won't make what's often a difficult thing to master - for mums and babies - any easier. The fact you are protected by law probably won't bolster you with reassurance. I'm not saying you have to feed in front of anyone or in public at all if you are not comfortable doing so but don't imagine that if you do, you'll be subject to discrimination from waiters in posh hotels, patrons of coffee shops or chihuahua like political figures. It's quite possible that like me, as a woman who also happens to be feeding her hungry child you'll be left in peace to get on with the task in hand.