Breastfeeding in Springtime (aka Rejoice, Non-Frozen Nipples)

It has probably not escaped your notice that I really enjoy fashion, styling clothes and generally keeping online retailers afloat throughout the year. One thing I have become slightly expert in over the last few years is adapting my wardrobe and style to allow a boob to be extracted on short notice (for breastfeeding purposes, rather than having embarked upon a new career in exhibitionism).

I’ve never really worn clothes that are designed specifically for breastfeeding; I’ve never found anything in the sort of style I would comfortably wear, and also I reckon that most ‘normal’ clothes can be fashioned in such a way as to allow for a boob to be whipped out if needed, so I’ve never been convinced by the need to buy a special dress with two layers or a sweatshirt with zips or whatever. To each their own.

But in the event that you’re interested in making the high street work for you, I thought I would take a look at what is on offer for breastfeeding mamas as spring approaches.

First up, Zara…

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Any excuse for a spending ban lapse…

Is there any ‘holiday’ shitter than Valentine’s day? I hate it. A tragic orgy of the smug, the twee and the desolate.

My husband and I do tend to mark the occasion with a card, but not usually a gift. Any time we’ve tried to make more of it, the universe has knocked some sense into us (like the first year, when I didn’t realise we were even going out and he bought me a present, some flowers and wrote a heartfelt card and I gave him a jokey card that probably had some rhyming profanity in lieu of sentiment, or the year we went out for a preposterously expensive dinner and he got food poisoning, almost immediately and grievously, or the year we went to a very boozy dinner at the River Cottage farm and accidentally left without paying…).

But. (There’s always a but in these blog posts, isn’t there?!) Despite my loathing of the day and all the nonsense that goes with it, and despite the ridiculous inconsistency of this position, I have found myself admiring some clothes online that could fall to be categorised under some sort of Valentine’s Day heading (although I would strongly recommend that you don’t search “Valentine” on the ASOS website or you will have your eyes burnt by such horrors as this or, even worse, this (neither of which is suitable for work, I should warn you).

Anyway. I hereby acknowledge the stupidity of this entire idea and simultaneously share with you my favourite ideas for Valentine’s Day dressing…

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New Year: New Starts or Same Old?

New Year’s resolutions seem to be getting a bit of a bashing on my social media this year! I have no interest in obsessing about my weight or adopting a crazy diet or giving up booze or any such nonsense, but personally I really enjoy the ‘new term’ feeling of January and the opportunity to reflect and plan for positive change. I might not keep up everything over the whole year, but some things usually stick and I feel better for them.

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Gender Expectations: A Tale of the Unexpected

Clearly I’m biased, but I think my daughter is seriously cute. A little bundle of pale skin, gappy teeth and chubby thighs, with a smatter of ginger-ish hair on top. Recently she’s become a bit suspicious of anyone new, but if you can win her over, her smile will make you grin. She was strikingly similar to my son when first born; they have diverged a bit now – in particular my son has deep brown eyes that remind me of chocolate buttons (somewhat cruelly given that his allergies were responsible for my dairy-free diet for more than three years) and the colour of my daughter’s eyes is hard to pin down but seems to be settling into a steely sort of grey/blue – but they remain pretty similar. Which is perhaps one of the reasons that she is mistaken for a boy approximately 90% of the time. Although, come to think of it, that would make more sense were it not for the fact that my son is mistaken for a girl around 30-40% of the time.

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Material Girl

I realised recently that I had slipped into a bit of a rut, in terms of my appearance, and that perhaps it was reflective of a sense of exhaustion and maybe even futility about life currently. Not in a dramatic way; just in a kids-tag-teaming-through-the-night-and-I’m-completely-knackered sort of way. And I realised that my lack of effort in terms of my appearance was not only reflecting my ennui but also feeding it. So this week I have been taking a bit more care: drying my hair rather than scraping it into a ponytail, wearing shoes other than my trusty Nikes, putting on some lipstick… and it feels good. I’ve felt more confident, eager to face the world, and that makes me happier.

I don’t want to overthink it, as I am clearly prone to do. I’ve been mulling over a post  on self-esteem, body image, and being a good role model for my children (my daughter in particular), but the soul-searching is proving a bit… bleak. So, I’m actually going to let myself enjoy the process of making an effort for a while, instead of lamenting my inability to separate my appearance and my sense of self-worth! And instead of fighting our image-obsessed, patriarchal society (I’ll do that soon though, I promise), I thought I’d share some of the things that have been improving my mood this week…

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Buy stuff; feel better

I saw a post on Instagram tonight relating to the closure of an online kids’ clothing shop that I have used a couple of times. The ensuing discussion was about the difficulties that small retailers are facing currently, in particular given the prevailing exchange rate. Although I hadn’t often used this particular shop, their closure made me feel surprisingly sad, and weirdly… guilty.

Since they ruined my figure and forced me to wear only clothes that allow the hasty removal of a boob at a moment’s notice, I have re-channelled my shopping compulsion in the direction of my children. I bloody love buying them clothes. In part because they look so cute in everything that it is extremely rewarding; also because they are so pleasingly quick to grow that I get to do it almost continually, which is extremely gratifying for an addict. I generally dress them in fairly gender-neutral clothes (I mean, I don’t care if my daughter wears dresses (as long as she isn’t physically inhibited by them) but I don’t want every t-shirt my son wears to have a fucking tractor on it and, if it does, then I’m happy for it to be handed down to my daughter). I try to dress them in well-made, ethically-sourced clothes. I want them to wear things that are fun to wear and fun to look at. And I don’t feel like it’s very easy to follow this approach using high street brands only.

So, tonight has provided a useful reminder that it is incumbent on me to continue to give my custom to the small shops that I follow on Instagram, who import the clothes I like and from whom I gain inspiration, because if I don’t, THEY WILL CLOSE.

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