Sunday, 22 April 2012

How much normality is too much...

When I was pregnant I had this idea that getting out and about would be a mark of parenting success. Looking back it seems I had NO faith in myself as for the last few weeks I was bulk buying toilet roll, filling the freezer and spending a small fortune on dried, jarred and tinned food. All in the anticipation I was about to spend literally MONTHS unwashed, neck deep in nappies and without the ability to so much as nip to the shops.

Six and a half weeks in and I can happily report this is not the case. Infact I am pretty shocked at how mobile we are with little one. We go out to lunch, we go round to friends' and families', we go in to town... We're doing ok on a local scale. So ok I can't help but feel yesterday we felt some what smug when we decided to try a trip to Bluewater shopping followed by an early evening meal at Pizza Express. 

Now little lady is in something that resembles something of a routine. It's pretty loose but it takes the shape of bath, chill, feed and bed by 8:00pm. So working backwards ideally I want to be home for 6:30pm. Besides time the secondary issue is feeding. I breast feed and dare I say it I think I breast feed confidently. Good for me I think. I'm trying to do a good thing for my daughter, breast is best and all that and I don't see why for my efforts I should be banished to darkened rooms behind my own front door for the foreseeable future. Plus I'm discreet. I use covers i the forms of scarves and muslins so why not? No one can see...

So Bluewater goes well, we have a snack in EAT and I feed. We're surrounded by kids, buggies and there is a general family vibe that I reckon sympathises with my need to feed my baby. I'm comfortable. Euna sleeps like an angel all around a group floor and first level lap of the centre. I play with camera lens' in Jessops and hubby purchases his annual round of t-shirts. (I'm not clothes shopping yet, I'm at least a stone away from wanting to put myself through that thanks, since I cried at the Gap sales assistant a couple of weeks ago I've decided I'm perfectly happy in my yoga pants.)

We leave Bluewater late. Drive homeward and park up for pizza express. There's a half hour wait and we're late already. Well we're here now. I look around the restaurant. It's lowering its lights for evening time. There are children here but no babies. The restaurant itself looks like a very open space and I don't imagine being able to feed as discreetly there. We have to wait in a holding pen type area which is slightly cosier. I'll feed here. So I do. 

But then it hits me... how much of this is us trying to carry on too much as normal? Are people looking at me? Am I some freaky crusty breastfeeding woman? Are people wondering why I'm out with a baby at this time (6:45pm)?

Urgh yuck. First real big pang of parenting guilt. And it's the kind of thing if it was a friend asking me these questions I'd be thinking them silly and saying don't worry! But wow when it's yours you can loose total perspective. Whatever usual point of reference I used before she came to make fast decisions on whats appropriate for children, parents and parenting has either totally disappeared or has somehow become unanchored.

So public breastfeeding then. How public is too public? How much am I allowed to carry on as normal? Should I be trying to carry on as normal? Bearing in mind there aren't really newborn baby appropriate activities and I don't think we should be cooped up... so then what?

I remember seeing women breastfeeding before I was thinking about babies and I'll admit I stared. But because I found it fascinating and lovely. Is that just me? What is general public's opinion on this?

Saturday's lesson: not sure, something about where do I feel comfortable breastfeeding and new parent guilt. 

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