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Tuesday, July 9, 2013



Hollie McNish

I wrote this poem in a public toilet after my 6 month old baby fell asleep. I was in town on my own a lot with her and the first time I fed her someone commented that I should stay home. Baby's need breastfed every 2-3 hours often. It's impossible to run home. It's a stupid argument anyway. But I was embarrassed and for 6 months took her into toilets when I was alone without the support of boyfriend, friends, mum etc. I hate that I did that but I was nervous, tired and felt awkward. And now I find it weird that our TVs, media etc never show breastfeeding in soaps, cartoons, anything. That we and the US are so bloody scared of it. It's weird. I find our culture weird and even weirder, when people are so strapped for cash. It is costing parents a huge amount of money paying for something which most of us, those of us who are lucky enough for our bodies to do so, get for free. I have a lot of mates who complain they're broke but stop breastfeeding cos they feel awkward, and pay for formula. Why are we paying billionaire companies for something our bodies produce for FREE. It's really good marketing that we feel so wrong doing something like this I think. And it makes me sadder every day. Next we'll be buying sweat in bottles from Tescos and rubbing it on our skin paying for electronic books to read nighttime stories. Oh, wait... Words:

At first I thought it was ok I could understand their reasons They said 'There might be young children or a nervous man seeing' this small piece of flesh that they weren't quite expecting so I whispered and tiptoed with nervous discretion. But after six months of her life sat sitting on lids Sipping on her milk nostrils sniffing up piss Trying not to bang her head on toilet roll dispensers I wonder whether these public loo feeds offend her? Cos I'm getting tired of discretion and being 'polite' as my baby's first sips are drowned drenched in shite, I spent the first feeding months of her beautiful life Feeling nervous and awkward and wanting everything right. Surrounded by family until I stepped out the house It took me eight weeks to get the confidence to go into town Now the comments around me cut like a knife As I rush into toilet cubicles feeling nothing like nice. Because I'm giving her milk that's not in a bottle Wishing the cocaine generation white powder would topple I see pyramid sales pitches across our green globe and female breasts banned. Unless they're out just for show. And the more I go out, the more I can't stand it, I walk into town feel I'm surrounded by bandits Cos in this country of billboards covered in 'tits' and family newsagents' magazines full of it Whsmith top shelves out for men - Why don't you complain about them then? In this country of billboards covered in 'tits' and family newsagents magazines full of it Whsmith top shelves out for men, I'm getting embarrassed In case a small flash of flesh might offend. And I'm mot trying to 'parade' this, I don't want to make a show But when I'm told I'd be better just staying at home And when another friend I know is thrown off a bus And another woman told to get out the pub Even my grandma said maybe I was 'sexing it up'. And I'm sure the milk makers love all this fuss All the cussing and worry and looks of disgust As another mother turns from nipples to powder Ashamed or embarrassed by comments around her and As I hold her head up and pull my cardy across and she sips on the liquor made by everyones God, I think For God sake, Jesus drank it So did Sidhartha, Muhammed and Moses and both of their fathers Ganesh and Shiva and Brighid and Buddha and I'm sure they weren't doing it sniffing up piss as their mothers sat embarassed on cold toilet lids In a country of billboards covered in 'tits' In a country of low cut tops cleavage and skin In a country of cloth bags and recycling bins and as I desperately try to take all of it in, I hold her head up I can't get my head round The anger towards us and not to the sounds of lorries offloading formula milk into countries where water runs dripping in filth In towns where breasts are oasis of life now dried up in two for one offers, enticed by labels and logos and gold standard rights claiming 'breastmilk is healthier powdered and white' packaged and branded and sold at a price so that nothing is free in this money fuelled life. Which is fine If you need it or prefer and can afford to use bottles, where water is clean and bacteria boiled, but in towns where they drown in pollution and sewage bottled kids die and they knew that they'd do it In families where pennies are savoured like sweets We're now paying for one thing that's always been free In villages empty of hospital beds babies die, diarrhoea fuelled that breastmilk would end So no more will I sit on these cold toilet lids No matter how embarrassed I feel as she sips Cos in this country of billboards covered in 'tits' I think I should try to get used to this. 

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