It's a weird thing. When I was going through infertility treatment, I became aware of how invisible and unremarkable I felt. People with children seemed to get far more attention, like the world was rubbing my childlessness in my face.
I don't seek out attention with the Boy, and sometimes it still feels a little bit strange when people coo over him. Part of me always thinks, how did this happen?
It's not always a good thing, though, being more visible. We were staying in a hotel and ate out. The Boy had been pretty good all day, but went bonkers as soon as I tried to put him on his high chair.
To make matters worse, it was one of those sorts of hotels where everyone has discreetly murmured conversations and you can just hear the odd word and the chink of cutlery. Tartan carpets and the faint smell of wee, overly boiled carrots with everything and slightly overly-formal service. If you've ever stayed in the UK in a country hotel, then the chances are you'll know what I'm talking about. The Boy seemed super-loud.
The staff had sat us right at the far end of the room from the door, so we were going to disturb more people by taking him out. The woman next to me spoke English with an unidentifiable and completely incomprehensible accent. She said something to me when I sat down and I didn't want to end up in one of those conversations where you say "pardon?" all the time, so I smiled and nodded a lot.
When the Boy kicked off, I took off the high chair and fed him on my knee. He kept screaming. I breastfed him, just to get him to be quiet, and Incomprehensible Lady kept whispering to her companion, making me extremely paranoid. I ended up frantically scoffing my food while breastfeeding and whisking him out the instant that we'd finished, while my husband sorted us out with a bottle of wine to drink in the safety of our room.
It is a slightly tricky one. I always feel bad that we might be disturbing other people's peace. But there was no way around eating where we did - there wasn't even a takeaway in the village we were staying in, and, for reasons too complicated to go into, we had to be there. I don't mind not taking the Boy to fancy places, or trying to minimise disruption. But you can't live in a cupboard either.
It wasn't all bad. At breakfast time the Boy was all gummy smiles at old ladies, easily charming interested passers by. Which didn't include a childless couple sitting close to us. I really hoped that the Boy, in either his smiling or wailing modes, wasn't going to cause them any heartache. Because babies are almost always noticeable.