When my son was a baby I used to sometimes lock myself in the bathroom and let everyone assume I had a severe constipation problem in order to get some free time where no one could reach me. I wonder how many mums resort to ‘bathroom’ free time in the early days! I had a plausible excuse after the terrifying experience of no ‘bowel movement’ for five whole days after giving birth, fuelling a terrible fantasy that when the unthinkable happened my stitches would surely be torn apart. Evidently not, in the event, but ladies, just do yourselves a favour and gulp down the Lactulose. Do not fall for suggestions of kiwis and dried fruits. They are about as useful as your yoga teacher’s myth of a beautiful, self-empowering natural water birth for a first time mother.

Going back to bathrooms: I’ve just recalled that the shyness I felt about breastfeeding in public (I am ashamed of my cowardice) also saw me acquainted with toilets rather more often than I would like to admit in the first year of my son’s life. This is not what Virginia Woolf had in mind for a room of one’s own. I was reminded of these times when I saw Holly McNish’s video for her poem ‘Embarrassed’, where she asks why she has been ‘trying not to bang her [baby’s] head on a toilet-roll dispenser’ for six months, out of ‘nervous discretion’ when breastfeeding, yet, at the same time living ‘in this country of billboards covered in tits’.  Check it out: Hollie McNish ‘Embarrassed’


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