Last week I shot a commercial for a supermarket that I won’t tell you the name of and once you’ve read this you’ll understand why.
In short, I was required to sing and dance ‘musical theatre style’ which therefore required several rehearsals and recordings before we performed three live takes amongst unsuspecting Saturday shoppers.
The night before, we were at the supermarket after it closed to block and set the number and the peanut’s minder for the evening was none other than her father, my husband.
The gig had come up rather quickly, so all week I had been milking myself like the proverbial cow, suddenly thrust into the weird and I’m-not-so-sure-it’s-wonderful world of expressing delicious juice of the boob.
Now, this expressing jag is not for the nonchalant or easily bored – which is unfortunate because I am frequently accused of being both. (I should clarify that I am speaking only of hand pumping to express, not the electric gizmo you can buy, as we all know I am way too much of a tight arse to spend three hundred bucks on a contraption I have to strap myself into like I’m about to launch my boobs into outer space).
But I’m not sure the DIY is any better.
Firstly, they reckon you’ve got to sterilise everything every time you use it. C’mon now. I mean really, is she that sensitive? Now don’t go calling DOCS on me, I do what’s required, I just reckon a good ol' fashioned wash in soap suds ought to be sufficient.
I’m not a fan of the technique required either. You’ve got to sort of angle yourself forward at a degree that pinches the nerve in your neck and reminds you that you haven’t stretched since the peanut arrived.
Then you fit the thing over your boob and pump the handle to create suction, an action they assure you on the packaging is ‘just like the feeling of your baby feeding.’
No it’s not.
The peanut can be a rough feeder when she wants, swinging her head left and right while maintaining a vice-like grip on my nipple, (rather like an elephant’s trunk with a tree branch) but I still don’t feel like I’ve been attacked by a short circuiting vacuum cleaner.
Regardless, I persist, pumping my nipple like an awkward teenage boy, and a depressingly small amount spurts from my nipple like an Australian garden hose on water restrictions and I suddenly understand why the peanut needs to feed every two hours. So would I if that was all I was getting.
So there we are at the rehearsal, the peanut content in her father’s arms, me with hair and makeup done, stitched into my costume and ready on set for what was to become a three-hour rehearsal.
“We’re having a break after the next take Naomi, you should head over to your husband,” says the make up artist calmly as she powders my sweaty upper lip.
“Why? What’s wrong?” I demand.
“Oh nothing,” she says nonchalantly and somehow I don’t believe her. As soon as the take is done, I make a beeline for my husband, finding him in aisle nine hiding next to the dog food.
“You didn’t pack the adaptor for the bottle,” he says immediately.
“The bottle. You didn’t pack the right adaptor. I had the cup and the teat but no joining piece. I haven’t been able to feed her. She’s been screaming bloody murder. Didn’t you hear the alarm going off? That was me going through a security exit so no one could hear her cry. How long have you got? Get your boob out now!”
I perched on the convey belt of a checkout register and extricated my boob from the top I’d been stitched into, certain I had claimed the title as the world’s worst wife and mother.
“I am so sorry,” I said to them both, as the peanut sucked like the vacuum cleaner I’d thought she wasn’t. “Really, I’m so sorry.”
“What was I thinking?” my husband exclaimed. “You can barely put the pump and bottle together when all the parts are in front of you, why didn’t I check the bag.”
“I’m really sorry,” I said again, feeling even worse because it had been his first chance to feed the peanut. “Did you try pouring it into her mouth?”
“I tried everything. I tried putting it on my finger and getting her to suck it off, I tried pouring some into the teat, I tried it on the dummy. Everything.”
I felt really, really terrible.
“I even had all the supermarket night staff ripping open every package in the baby aisle trying to find something that worked. Your milk is all over aisle three.”
“Oh geez. I’m so sorry.”
“One guy yelled out ‘how big is your wife’s nipple’ right before the last take. I’m surprised you didn’t hear it.”
“Let’s just hope it didn’t get picked up by the cameras,” I replied wondering if I should just call DOCS myself and get the phone call over with.
I would, however, like to point out that it was only three and a half hours since her last feed, and while that is an eternity in the land of the peanut, it’s not really child abuse since most babies her age are apparently feeding at least every three if not four. (This fact did not make me feel any better at the time, but is slowly working the longer the incident fades into the distance).
Thankfully, Gregory had managed to contain the peanut so only the makeup artist and the supermarket staff knew of her pain, which left me looking like a cool, sophisticated working new mum, an illusion I’d fervently like to maintain.
I mean, let’s face it. It’s not the first time I’ve let my husband down and it’s definitely not the last time I’m going to let her down. None of us is perfect, and just in case either of them claim to be, I’ve decided to keep a log for reference. You never know when I might need it next…