It blows my mind how quickly my inhibitions were annihilated and I became topless in public on a daily basis. I sometimes think it was because I was either around other mums, or strangers, which doesn’t bother me, weirdly, because I don’t have a relationship with those people and there’s no consequence of them seeing my tits.
At baby swim I was in the process of trying to one-handedly pull a jersey nursing bra – pre-stuffed with saturated breast pads – over my erupting mammory shelf, when the door to the changing room swung open and my naked ass, empty baby paunch and left breast was fully revealed as I spun in panic. And yet I was back again the next week, shrugging off what I knew should be embarrassing.
I used to be a very self conscious person, especially when it came to work. I worked at Vogue, for Christ’s sake, and couldn’t dress myself so was always wary of being looked at for too long. And yet, when I had my baby, I was even less conscious of not looking right. Maybe it’s because I looked so different and clearly had so little control over that fact that I couldn’t fight it anymore? Or maybe I was just really tired?
I vividly remember stepping back into that world for a minute when my baby was about 4 months old, journeying back to London to see some of the fancier folk. The idea was to let that world know I was still working, and was basically unchanged by motherhood (hahahahaha)
So I did this over tea in Harrods, where I flipped the buggy twice – once with my baby in it – my baby pissed through her nappy and all over me and screamed her head off for the first time. I realised after quite a long time that I hadn’t tucked my boob away post-feed, and it was gently dribbling milk onto the linen tablecloth.
As I left, I was attacked by a large Retriever – it reminded me of queuing up at a festival with a friend carrying in drugs up her arse, and I thought it was a sniffer dog, until I realised it was trying to get to the soggy breast pads in my smelly bra. I say bra, it was more of an elasticated sling at this point.
I also lost my sense of what’s appropriate conversation, which might explain how my book came to be, actually. I eventually got so used to talking about my baby’s bowel movements it seemed to naturally segue into my own announcements, like ‘I just need to go for a poo, actually.’ But to a colleague, much to her horror. I still quite often find myself wondering, ‘Did I just tell the woman at the bank that I had a chunk of my labia cut off?’ WHY? What happens?! Where’s that natural sense of shame that allows us to function in polite company and keep boundaries up? IT’S SO WEIRD. But it feels nice not to be so self-conscious.