In my nearly three combined years of breastfeeding, I have yet to be asked to move or cover myself up. I credit this in large part to living in London where the locals are au fait with such practices. Still, back home in the backsands of New Mexico, I’ve not had any problems either. I could chalk this up to New Mexico’s being so far behind the times that it’s actually become progressive, but I don’t think that’s really it. The real reasons must then be because people are too polite to say anything and I’m very discrete.

There was a furore in the American news last year about a woman asked to leave a pool for breastfeeding in public (BFIP). I had three reactions to this. My first reaction was to stick up for a breastfeeding sister. It is wrong to think that breasts are purely sexual and breastfeeding is somehow a lewd act. My second reaction was to consider the circumstances. I try very hard to cover myself up as much as possible. I hope that only the most skilled of eyes could identify what is going on. If I were wearing a bathing suit, I would be very exposed. There would be no denying the act, however pure. My third reaction came after I went to see what the Internet had to say about it. Apparently this woman went to great lengths to cover herself up, even pinning a blanket to her suit. Maybe not the subtlest of measures, but more than enough to satisfy most Puritans.

When I was pregnant with Katie, I planned to breastfeed. I read up on it, I visited message boards, and I talked to breastfeeding mothers. Many of the stories were about how shabbily breastfeeding women were treated. One woman was kicked out of a restaurant. Another was told to feed her kid in the toilet - can you say unsanitary? Yet another was told to stop breastfeeding her child in her own car in a parking lot by a security guard. What?!

So, I braced myself for the onslaught of negativity. I tried to be discreet, I tried to time feedings around being home. I double-checked the laws of where I would be. I prepared snappy comebacks and withering looks. I never needed any of it. What few looks I did get I could easily put down to curiosity. The response I've met has been so overwhelmingly supportive and positive, I am truly grateful to society.

If you see a breastfeeding mother when you are out and about, give her a smile. Remember that it has taken a lot of courage and determination for her to even try. To do it successfully is wonderful. If you do happen to get a glimpse of her beautiful breast, count yourself lucky and go on and enjoy your day.

Ow! She bit me!

Buffy just bit the crap out of my finger. I was feeding her little bits of pear and she chomped down hard on my index finger with her two little razor teeth. There's even some blood and swelling. I shouted OW!, as you do, and she felt so bad. She stared at me for several empty moments and then cried so pathetically I had to cuddle her and kiss her all over. We're both quite recovered, but I hope she doesn't bite me again.

I can't tell you how many women have told me they'll stop breastfeeding when their child cuts his first tooth. La Leche League (LLL), the breastfeeding charity and experts, will tell you that a baby with a proper latch won't bite down on you. That's crap. Breast and teeth will inevitably and painfully come together. If mother reacts appropriately, it shouldn't happen too many times. But, yes, if you breastfeed, you will get bitten.

So what? If you decide to have furniture or even walls in your house, at some point you will stub your toe. It will hurt like hell for a few minutes and you will be really upset at your table/bed/front door. Then you will get on with your life. You don't get rid of your belongings or move to a round, padded room. If you live with hard things near your feet, yes, you will stub your toes.

I breastfed Katie nearly two years and she bit me a few times. The biting was nowhere nearly as annoying as the circus nursing or trying to look at something. It was not remotely as painful as the mastitis or a bad latch. (Or the mastitis that results from having a persistent bad latch.) Obviously to keep nursing for 22 months these obstacles were surmountable. The benefits far outweighed the negatives. Even the eight bouts of mastitis.

I don't know how long I will breastfeed Buffy, but we are not anywhere near stopping. Now that she is cruising, walking and talking won't be far behind. I've heard countless more mothers say they won't breastfeed when their child can ask for it. To me this seems strange and arbitrary. Buffy makes kissy noises when she's hungry. That's asking for it. In a few months she will be able to sign for milk. What if she talks early or late? All these deadlines mothers set on breastfeeding feel so arbitrary and rarely based on what the child needs. Weaning Katie was a mutual decision. She showed a declining interest in Nummies, and I encouraged her onto other things. Once we'd been two days without Nummies, we weren't going back. I hope weaning Buffy will be as gentle a process, whenever that day comes.

Kiddos update

I know, promises, promises on all the fiery stuff and here I am again with more baby talk. They are kind of the centre of my entire universe. That, and they rank very high on my cute-o-meter.

Friday night brought a return of Katie's nasty tummy bug. Maybe it's a new one? I don't know, but we surely missed Gramma's help. Buffy had to wait it out in the cot while we changed sheets, jammies, and hosed off our very unhappy and smelly girl. The second puke of the night only required a new pyjama top and washing out the bin. The third was early in the morning and was so easy by comparison, I feel silly mentioning it.

Unfortunately, this meant having to cancel our plans to play with Katie's best friend, Anna. We never get to see them as often as we'd like, so dropping the playdate is a big bummer. Instead we cheered ourselves up with a Bambi DVD, Cinderella puzzles, long naps, laundry (well, it's soothing to ME), and baking a carrot cake.

Katie recovered well and Buffy caught up on much-needed sleep by turning her dear father into a bed - the whole weekend long. This morning was the London Marathon, so I took the girls out to cheer on the runners. I have loved doing this ever since I was a girl and cheered my mom in her fun runs. There was a good crowd of supporters today. I wasn't the only one calling out stranger's names with great enthusiasm just because they were running by and had their names printed on their sweaty t-shirts. We shouted, "GO PAT!" or whomever until our voices got hoarse and Buffy lost her patience with sucking on rice cakes. We walked home in the middle of the street to celebrate its annual closing and then watched the runners on TV. Except for the constant drizzle, it was a very good day.

Back to the grind tomorrow. I am looking forward to my daily walks. I am inspired by the marathon and will probably walk more than is good for me. There is also the small problem of all the carrot cake I ate in the last 24 hours. I also need to stop by the leisure centre and try to bully Katie's old swimming teacher into letting Buffy into her class this term. Buffy is keen and I don't want another teacher. It took so long to break this one in and she's really nice and comfy and the smells are right.

Hot buttons and fair warning

Over the next few days or weeks, I will be addressing some of my hot button issues. As no two people share the exact same philosophy (see my comments on Cherie Blair's hair), I am sure to push some other buttons. I don't want to be apologetic about this, because it is our opinions and passions that give us personality and make us distinct. However, I don't want to offend anyone or lose any friends. I will try to be diplomatic and fair, but if you are feeling delicate on the issue of the day, you may wish to skip the entry.

Topics on my list to discuss include:
Breastfeeding in public
Medicalised birth
Working mothers
Wooden toys

Consider yourself warned.


Haircut 100

So, that's how she keeps looking so, er, 'good'. Cherie Blair spent a staggering £7,700 on haircuts in the run-up to last year's General Election.

But why obsess about such trivialities? Well, firstly because she didn't pay for the haircuts herself - she charged the £275 per day bills through to the Labour Party. This, as it happens, is the same Labour Party who is apparently so hard up it is considering whether to recommend greater public funding of political parties.

Then there's the sheer extravagance of it. It would probably take me six years to spend £275 on haircuts; whilst admitting that ladies like to spend more than cheapskates like me, I expect that many would consider £275 per year to be more par for the course. And, as a leading QC, she is of course well able to pay this sort of bill for herself, instead of charging it against the Labour Party expense account.

But the real problem is that it's just so incongruous. This is the Labour Party, born out of the union movement, representing the working classes to ensure a better and fairer society. There is simply no place for this sort of unnecessary waste while, thanks to the Labour Government's incompetence, we apparently still have millions of children living in poverty and pensioners afraid to heat their homes. By contrast, the State aims to pay a single pensioner a mere £5,930 per week, out of which they must fund not just haircuts but also Council Tax, food, heating, water, etc. etc.

It's not even that she should now pay the money back - too late for that, the damage has been done. We can now see, plainly, how out-of-touch the Blairs are with ordinary people in Britain. This country needs and deserves the sort of political figures who think £7,700 is enough for a lifetime of haircuts, not just six weeks' worth. If this is how wasteful she is with Labour Party money, one can only imagine how wasteful the Labour Government must be with taxpayers' money generally.

A load of balls

Do you know a Mr Roy Hills of Eastbourne? Does he have a reputation for tall stories? Because in the BBC's Have Your Say website, he makes the following claim:

I know a lady who has spent £5 a week on the lottery since it started and has never won a penny. I bet there are a lot like her.

I'd like to take that bet.

The odds of winning a prize - any prize - in the National Lottery are 1 in 54 (source: Camelot leaflet Subscribe Today - It's The Easy Way To Play, March 1998). So, conversely, to lose with a particular ticket in a particular draw, your odds are 53 in 54.

If she's entering five tickets every draw, her odds of losing a particular draw are:

(53 / 54) ^ 5 = 0.910773842

According to a Lottery fansite I found on Google, there have been 1,074 draws up to the middle of April. So her odds of losing all of these draws are:

[(53 / 54) ^ 5] ^ 1074 = 2.55228699 × 10-44

That's a pretty small number. In fact, it's so small, I can't even get close to explaining how small it is. Let's try... The odds of winning the lottery are 1 in 13,983,816, or 1 in 1.4 x 107. So there is more chance of winning the jackpot six times in those 1,074 draws than there is of losing every single one!

I don't want to pick particularly on Mr Roy Hills of Eastbourne, who is probably a nice bloke. But the level of financial illiteracy in the UK is absolutely shocking. It should be obvious to anyone right from the start that the story simply cannot be true.