D, Isaac and I decided to brave shopping in Birmingham on Friday. Birmingham, Britain's second capital city, right?
Needless to say, right after D and I had lunch, Isaac was ready to feed. First port of call? Uh, find somewhere to feed him. John Lewis in Solihull has a full parent and baby room, with bottle warmers, changing mats, breastfeeding areas, toilets etc, basically everything a parent with a baby/toddler could ask for.
Birmingham has...nothing. When Noah was still nursing, I would go into public toilets to feed him, because there was nowhere else to go. These toilets were "supposedly" suitable, but usually meant cramming myself into a tiny cubicle with a toilet, sink, changing table and a fold down chair (because there wasn't enough room for a regular chair). Oh and also, a disco ball suspended from the ceiling.
Then they built a large Mothercare, where you would ASSUME there would be a parent and baby room. There was. It was out of order (the plumbing was screwed apparently). So I asked if there was somewhere I could nurse my (screaming) baby. "Yes of course!" they said. "You can use the changing room; there's a chair and plenty of space."
"Um...ok thanks..." Not convinced, but it was better than out on the street.
I was in there maybe 15 minutes, feet perched on the wheels of the pushchair, hunched over the boy trying to get a good position. No luck, but hey, he fed.
As I was putting myself back, D came in and said there was a customer waiting to try on stuff. As I came out, I apologised to her and said there was nowhere else to nurse. At which point (and forgive me if I start typing in caps here, I still get a little, um, IRATE when I recall this), she accused me of being SELFISH for feeding my baby in the changing rooms when there were people (just her I might add) waiting to try on clothes. Also, that she was now very late for whatever, because I'd been HOGGING THE CHANGING ROOM, and she's a mum too so she understands, but I should GO SOMEWHERE ELSE to feed my child instead of causing problems for everyone else.
I (amazingly calmly) told her that I had ASKED PERMISSION from the staff to feed Isaac and they had advised I used that (ONE AND ONLY) changing room.
I should point out that as I type this right now, I'm struggling to avoid tensing up completely and throwing something quite heavy.
She continued to moan and complain. I went and complained to the staff that I had just been bollocked by a frigging customer for their incompetence, and that they might want to think carefully about their facilities, and that as a shop devoted to parents and children, they totally fucking SUCK.
I am so frigging livid, they pissed me off so much I can't believe it, and this was 4 days ago now. I've actually decided that the next time I'm in Birmingham with Isaac and he needs feeding, I will plonk my ass in the middle of the SHITTY CRAP Bullring, or if I can be ARSED to make the walk, in the middle of BOLLOCKY RUBBISH Mothercare and feed right in front of everyone.
The irony is, I have no issues with feeding in front of people. I'll feed wherever and whenever, that's my attitude to breast feeding. It's the most natural thing in the world. My baby wants to eat; I will feed him. Do people go and hide in toilets/changing rooms to feed their kids solids? No. So why should it be any different for me?
So let me have it. Was I right for complaining to the staff? Should I have humbly apologised and walked away, and just leave it there, let it go? Should I in fact go back, sit in the middle of the store/shopping centre and nurse my baby for all to see, to make a statement? I would love your feedback, because it may just dictate whether I write a letter of complaint to the Council and/or Mothercare.
Breast feeding: it's not a crime. Or is it?