Four weeks after the birth of my first daughter, I returned to work performing in a television comedy show three days a week. At the time it seemed like a perfectly reasonable plan; in hindsight, I had no idea what I was letting myself in for.
After my baby was born I had three weeks at home with a gorgeous little girl whom I completely adored. She was so placid that I was convinced that if it was this straightforward at home, surely doing a couple of days a week at work wouldn’t complicate matters too much. Obviously I’d forgotten to factor in two very important bi-products of giving birth – breastfeeding and hormones.
My husband and I worked out a plan for the two days I’d be filming. He’d bring her to set (obviously these would be the exact times when my boobs would be ready to produce milk and she would be ready to eat) and I would feed her between filming scenes. Easy.
Well…not so much.
I cried when I left her in the morning. I cried all the way to work. I cried when my husband brought her to the set so I could feed her, and I cried when they left. Expressing milk behind the curtain in the wardrobe bus every three hours was a pain in the pelvis and, as a result of going 5 to 8 hours without emptying my boobs, was on the verge of contracting mastitis several times.
Feeding my baby surrounded by male comedians who thought it was hilarious to make jokes about “Fiona getting her boobs out again” was never a peaceful experience. Although, they quietened down once I threatened to squirt milk in their eyes and blind them for life. There was also the time when the first assistant director informed me that she could see my breast pads outlined through my top on the monitor, and that the camera crew had asked what they were.
The glamour of awards ceremonies all but vanished when I attended the Logies and ended up expressing milk straight into the toilet bowl, while I listened to soapie stars having flattering contests over whose hair and make up looked better. If only they’d had x-ray vision to see the thirty-three year old woman with the top of her Charlie Brown designer gown pulled down, hunched over a loo squeezing breast milk from her nipples. Actually, my aim wasn’t that great. Most of it ended up all over the floor.