Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Let's Talk About Boobs

Mad has been extremely clingy and possessive of our nursing relationship lately, asking to nurse every moment I have her in my arms or whenever she is sad or angry, and it's a little bit exhausting some days. When I try to count the number of times she has patted my chest in her "gentle" toddler way and requested 'sies on any particular day and I can't even remember exactly, but recognize that it was upwards of 8 times, it makes me a little tired. That's ok to admit right?
I can't decide which I like more. Sleepy Mad......or
But on the other hand it's a beautiful thing, this relationship, and frankly I consider it a blessing that I have a tantrum stopper, sleep inducer, vitamin giver, and tummy filler all in one. Oh, and the snuggles. If you have, or have had, a toddler you know those can be few and far between and they are oh so welcome in my house.
Nursing eye lock Mads.
Thanks to the beauty that is Facebook I recently stumbled upon a comment by a friend about a woman breastfeeding in a front facing carrier at the airport "FULLY EXPOSED!". I've never been successful at sling nursing, probably because I never tried, but I can imagine that if I did the only way for my shirt to go would be......down. You can't exactly lift a shirt for discreet nursing when your child is tied tightly against your stomach.

Ok, so, the logical answer is a blanket or cover. Imagine for a minute a busy airport, standing in the security line, a crying baby (or soon to be), carrying bags, getting your shoes off, the annoyances of travel go on and on. So, a blanket over your kids head or a fancy little nursing cover is probably the last damn thing on your list at that very moment. How very inconsiderate! I know when I feed Mad the first thing I think about is everyone other than myself and my daughter. I don't want to put anyone out, turn some unsuspecting 6 year old boy on, offend another woman who see's her own breasts every single day, cause a man to have a spontaneous affair with a stranger, or force a parent to explain to her children how some mama's feed babies with breast milk and don't hide in a closet every hour to do so.

The thing that makes this so very sensitive for me (can you tell?) is that I remember being a new mama in an airport, alone, with my 6 week old baby who could not nurse well to save her life. Really. Because of our awkward positioning blankets and covers didn't work for me. I was lucky to get her latched on and fed without both of us breaking down into tears. Then bring all of my luggage, stroller, & diaper bags into play; I was just waiting for a melt down of epic proportions. I remember begging the universe to be kind to me. To allow offended strangers to divert their eyes from any wandering flesh, for other mama's to be kind and understanding when they saw my public struggle. Luckily when you are in the business of nourishing an infant the rest of the world ceases to exist and even though it wasn't easy we did it, several times, and life as we knew it did not end.

Her post was met with comments such as, "disgusting," "something must be wrong with her," "maybe she was a foreigner," (which I assume was in defense of her in a sad sort of way) "inconsiderate of others," "I don't want to see a woman breastfeeding," (made by another woman), "flashing a boob in public is still flashing a boob". My heart sank when I saw what people had to say. My stomach dropped.Other women, with children of their own, finding a breastfeeding woman "disgusting". Not even ashamed to tell the entire Facebook world.

WHEN can women unite and support each other? When can we collectively say, "HOWEVER you feed your child is ok with me! I'm a mama too and I know how hard it is to grow, birth, and care for a child (don't forget the difficulty and heart wrenching trials of adopting a baby) so if you "whip it out in the airport" I'll tell my gawking husband to get over it. I'll explain to my 6 year old son that the sweet baby he see's is so hungry and isn't big enough, like him, to wait until they get to McDonalds and, in fact, cannot even EAT chicken nuggets so he has to nurse from his mama. I'll elbow the stranger behind me making snide comments.Because we all have to make the hard choices when it come to our children, and I support every other woman and their choice!"

I want to live in a world where breastfeeding a child publicly isn't taboo. Where nourishment isn't compared to other bodily fluids or a lifted shirt to pornography. Likewise I want bottle feeding mama's to feel happy and comfortable feeding their sweet baby without fear of dirty looks from the lifted shirt mama sitting next to her. Isn't it time we stop forcing every woman to defend her way? Isn't it time that it is more "normal" to see a baby eating than a celebrity flashing her goods while getting out of a car? Isn't it time we realize kids are having sex at 14 and it's not because they saw some stranger nursing a baby? Isn't it time we see that we are all in this together?

I think so. I'm not even going to apologize for this tirade because this is really important to me. For my daughter, and your daughter, and their daughter's.


Heather said...

I am right there with you. I struggled to nurse my girls, through about 6 weeks of raw painful nipples and latch issues. Why would I want to worry about juggling a blanket on top of everything else? Why should new mothers have to sit in a corner, or another room, to feed their child a dozen times a day? Isn't new motherhood isolating enough as it is? Why is the Victoria's Secret display in every mall ok to walk my 8 year old son by, but someone feeding their baby going to somehow scar him for life?

I'm the choir, I know, but ugh, I get riled up.

Poppy was super clingy and nursery at that 1-18 month stage, especially at night. It was maddening and wonderful all at once. <3

Jess said...

Very well said, mama!!! :) I nursed Lea for almost 13 months and only did it "out in the open" in public a couple of times. I spent a lot of time in the backseat of the car. ;) Believe it or not, I have become MORE modest since my daughter was born (and I was the least bit modest before she was born!).

Anyway... my point it, we're all different... and IT'S OK!

Thank you for your post. If it's ok with you, I'd love to share it w/ my Facebook friends. :)

Gillman said...

Very well said! I will never understand why breastfeeding in public offends some. Glad you feel so stongly and are ready to defend!

Mel said...

@heather the more voices the better!
@Jess exactly! Every mama has a different story and I think it's about time we all figure out that we are on the same team. We have enough uphill battles to face in life as women we should at least be able to have each other's backs. I would be honored to have you share my post!
@carrie me either! although in this situation I can totally understand feeling a little shocked and or surprised at first glance, and the desire to say "I wouldn't do it that way" the hateful ignorant comments really just pushed me over the edge. There are really awful things in the world that people she be way more focused on rather than trying to dictate what and how a woman should feed her baby.

Anonymous said...

We all are just so mean to eachother. I am sick of lables and name calling. I hope that some day we can all just get along no matter how we feed our children. I would really like to subscribe to u mama, but you dont have feedburner! Thank you for stoping by my blog and giving some great imput.
p.s. I am sick of the hippy or crunchy mom


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