Saturday, August 6, 2011

A Rant. of sorts.

there are really no words for this sculpture...but aren't you glad I didn't
post a picture of me doing this? or any other gratuitous booby breastfeeding
shots of myself?

So yeah, this is a breastfeeding post, in honor of Worldwide Breastfeeding Week...or whatever. Don't worry, no play by play of our entire breastfeeding journey, just some highlights (or low lights) on the topic and a rant, of sorts.

* It hurts like hell in the beginning. Not everyone apparently (I have yet to meet one of these lucky few) , but it did for me. When you hear a lactation consultant say, "It shouldn't hurt if the baby is latched on correctly." Just know they are lying. It will probably hurt. And it will probably hurt like hell.

* The pain goes away and if you can get over that hump it's totally worth it.

* It really is a bonding experience that just can't be explained. So I won't even try.

* Breastfeeding takes commitment, but then again, what doesn't when it comes to a baby?

* working momma's, or momma's whose baby will only take a bottle, but pump like crazy so their babies can get breast milk deserve some mad props. for realz. I hate pumping.

* For various reasons, some people just won't be able to breastfeed, as much as you may want to. You have not failed at motherhood and your baby will be fine.

Okay, I've got those thoughts out of the way. Now here is a little bit on my own journey with it. I'll start with a conversation I had with a twenty-something, single girl, light-years away from the complexities of motherhood. First of all, I felt OLD talking to her. I am a twenty something as well, but our life experiences are just so darn different. She is dating, and having fun, and going out, and wearing heels all the time (God bless her.) I, well, I am writing a mommy blog post about breastfeeding. So, there you go.

Anyways, we were chatting, and somehow we got on the topic of breastfeeding (which, I did not bring up by the way.)

girl: "So is so and so coming tonight?"

me: "Yeah, I'm pretty sure."

girl:"oh....didn't she like, JUST have a baby?"

me: "Well, not JUST, but yeah, she had a baby recently."

girl :"doesn't she have to feed him...like breastfeed him or something."

me: "Yes."

girl: "Well...what would she do?"

me: "Well...she could bring the baby and breastfeed him here or she could have left him with a babysitter and just be home in time to feed him for his next feeding. or she could have left a bottle of pumped milk."

girl: "She could breastfeed him...here ?" stares at me blankly. wide-eyes. blinks.

I then proceed to tell her that you can breastfeed babies in public locations. I cite myself as an example, saying that I've had to breastfeed about everywhere.

girl: "So I guess you have to bring the baby into the bathroom or something to feed it?"

me: my patience at her clueless state is wearing thin. plus, I'm kinda offended at the suggestion of having to bring a baby into a bathroom just to feed it. I reply,
"No! So you want me to bring a newborn baby into a dirty public restroom with all those germs? Go into a stall, sit on a toilet seat that doesn't even have a lid to cover the toilet, and feed my baby? Would you want to eat your dinner in a public restroom on top of a toilet?" okay, so I was apparently more than kinda offended.

girl: " Oh...well, I guess not. I've never really thought about it like that."

I then take it upon myself to educate this girl, lest she go on thinking that nursing women should bring their babies into dirty public restrooms to nurse. I talk about how nursing a baby is "natural." And it shouldn't be weird for women to have feed their babies in public. And nursing is hard enough as it is, and society just makes it that much harder. blah blah. And how sometimes I wish it was just like Africa or Europe and then I wouldn't have to worry about it.

And the girl starts backing away.

uh-oh. I just became THAT lady. The hippy, vigilante, nursing mother earth. I can almost read her thoughts; I might start squirting my boob juice at her to prove my point.....she better run away.

So my reaction was a little harsh. I couldn't believe I had just become that lady. When I returned home I thought about why I reacted so strongly...so emotionally. And here is why:

It was personal.

So in reality, I'm pretty modest. I've always used a cover nursing in public, and if not, everything was covered, and was very discreet. I refuse to post any pictures (even if you can't see anything) of me nursing. Even though I think it IS beautiful. I'm just modest, that's all.

But it's true, I've had to nurse just about EVERYWHERE. airports, airplanes, cars, weddings, malls, restaurants, friend's houses, parks, museums...you get the idea.

Adoration refused to take a bottle. (Well, she took one for like one week and that was the end of it.) I tried EVERYTHING. And if you are thinking "Did you try this? It worked for my baby." The answer is Yes. All of it. I tried it. At some point, I figured out nothing was going to work and I should stop stressing me and my baby out and just embrace it.

So I've never had the option to bring a bottle of pumped milk to a restaurant so I wouldn't have to breastfeed. I've never been able to be away from my baby longer than a certain amount of time. I've had to take her with me pretty much everywhere so I could feed her. Any dates I've gone on with my husband have had to be after she's gone down for the night.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not complaining, I'm so glad I was able to nurse. I love nursing. I mostly don't mind having my baby with me all the time. People have much harder times with the whole baby feeding thing than I have had. It's just that nursing has been a BIG part of my life this last year. And I refused to become a hermit, so breastfeeding in PUBLIC has also been a big part of my life as well.

And I've had issues with it. Maybe it is because of my modest nature, but it's like I can FEEL people's stares sometimes. Or people trying not to stare. I can feel that business man in the suit at the airport thinking, "Geez...get a room." And those rooms....they don't exist. And even if they did, why should I have to always remove myself from normal life just to feed my child? Leave that meal, that church service, those conversations EVERY time? Answer that, Mr. Business Man. Answer that.

Anyways, most people are really great about it. But there are always those couple of people...that are well, just like the happy-go-lucky single girl I had a conversation with.....clueless. And in their defense, well meaning...but clueless. And when I try to nurse in public, I FEEL them in the room. And they make something unavoidable for me really awkward.

And maybe if women breastfed in public more this wouldn't be so much of a problem. Then society would be used to it. It would be normal. Not that I'm advocating throwing bare boobies around (honestly, it's really not that hard to be discreet) but we shouldn't have to go into hiding every time and be hermits. Every time I see a woman breastfeeding in public I just want to thank her. Cause she deserves some props. *Pats self on back.*

okay. I've said my piece. I have given the requisite mommy blog post on breastfeeding. The End.

12 comments:

  1. Thank you! Seriously, thank you! Such a beautiful post and I couldn't agree more. I hated that feeling that I was doing something "wrong" or "dirty" to be nursing my son in public. Here I am with a cover on and the girl next to me is practically wearing lingerie as a shirt. And I'M getting all the stares?
    It angers me that things that are completely natural (breastfeeding, natural childbirth etc) are seen as strange and need to be made into a huge awkward deal.
    Breastfeeding is a beautiful miracle and I wish everyone could just see it that way! :)

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  2. That is probably the best statue I've ever seen. I mean, most statues have men's naked parts, and I'd argue that this squirty milk thing is more attractive than all that. :) Also, a few months ago I read an article in the paper about this (drunk, fighting with her husband) woman who the police were trying to arrest and she actually did SQUIRT BREAST MILK ON THEM. It was pretty awesome. I didn't know you could get that kind of velocity outta those things...

    Anyway, I agree that many people are as clueless as that girl, which is sad. I've heard of lands where there are 'nursing mother rooms' in most public places. I remember letting women at Pump it Up use the employee room for that purpose. Employee/Nursing Customer Room. I guess it was better than the bathroom, or being bounced on as you try to feed...

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  3. And NO LIE, my word verification for that last (long, novel-like) comment was "mothrem". It's like Blogger knew...

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  4. I think this was so well put and wonderfully said. And I read a lot of mommy blogs.

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  5. What an amazing post, I think you handled yourself beautifully in a frustrating situation. It saddens me that SO MANY people feel this way about breast feeding, it's baffling, really. I've had a similar experience with a younger, single coworker and it was crazy, she made me feel like there was something wrong with ME, and that's just not right. Loved reading this.

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  6. In Japan they have nursing rooms EVERYWHERE. Nice lounges for Mommy's to go nurse or pump. I was one of those 24/7 pumpers and I have pumped everwhere including riding in the car in downtown Savannah with a bus full of tourist right next to me. Haha.

    I think maybe your next rant should be on bathrooms that don't have changing tables.

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  7. whew! amen amen. i've done it everywhere too and sometimes while chasing the others around, carrying the baby, with the cover around my neck. it must have something to do with how much our culture sexualizes the female body and especially boobs...

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  8. I love this post and literally laughed put loud at your conversation with well meaning but clueless single girl. Thanks for articulating and puting a voice to what so many nursing mama's feel!

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  9. um....this was awesome kristina! holy cow! i'm reposting this. and on a side note to all of the awesome info and personal stories...your writing talent shines SO bright in this post. i love you.

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  10. I agree with Jess!
    Your writing is on a whole new level!

    P.S. The answer to your first question is NO. In order for us to normalize nursing it in public, shouldn't it be so online? No apologies needed, no demure "not posting a gratuitous photo" comments - bring it! :)

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  11. A wonderful comment! I am from the Czech republic and there is NO problem with breatsfeeding in public. I have four kids already, am thirty-something and I have always breastfed. My kids didnt want bottles and i have never pushed it so hard. If they were with me, they got my milk, if they weren't, I had to be back to feed them, which gave me about 2-3 hours time to do whatever I needed. Breastfeeding is natural and if me and you can eat publicly ina restaurant then the babies should too. I also do it as secretly as possible, no need to show everything. People here dont care, its such a normal thing that the only ones who sometimes stare are little kids or sometimes teenagers.Lucie

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