I am getting ready to head back into the world of all things baby and newborn. I really haven’t been there for 3 years. I have been so consumed with toddlerhood lately that my focus on what is going on in the world of infants was non existent. I know a lot can change in just 3 years, so I have been familiarizing myself with things.
In particular I have started to focus on all the breastfeeding news out there. I nursed Jacky for over a year. I didn’t pump. It was all me all the time. I have to admit that I am afraid to get into that again this time. I will have an almost 4 year old by the time this one comes around. An almost 4 year old that is a HUGE momma’s boy. So my attention to sitting around with a baby on my boob all day might not be quite so easy to navigate. Which has given me some apprehension and nervousness, hence the constant reading of all news breastfeeding. I am not sure what that will change, but I am a Historian and slightly (a lot) type-A, so reading and researching is in my blood (or brain or neuroses).
As usual I am appalled by the amount of backlash nursing moms get for nursing in public. Most recently the whole Delta Airlines scandal caught my attention and my utter disgust. I got into a lengthy debate on my Facebook over it. I am in the camp of a mom should be able to nurse when/where/how she wants. Bottom line. There is no wiggle room on this for me. I am a staunch advocate for that.
Here is why:
With Jack I was terrified of facing criticism from people in public. I spent a good amount of time ALONE nursing him. In bathrooms, bedrooms, corners, where ever. I regret it. I did do it in public from time to time. By the time he was around 5 months old and we were in the SUMMER at that point, a cover was unacceptable for him. He hated it. I hid a lot. I spent a lot of lonely time while out and about trying to find somewhere no would be offended by me. How absurd is that? Offended by feeding an infant? Hindsight is 20/20. I remember sitting there feeding him for the millionth time. Alone, wishing I had someone to talk to. Listening to the laughter in another room from other people. Scrolling my phone hoping something distracting and hilarious popped up on my Facebook feed so I too could laugh. Often, it did not happen.
At the time I didn’t think to myself “I will never be this way again.” No. It didn’t come until I started my Type-A reading being pregnant this time. The feelings of loneliness came flooding back. I can definitely say I won’t be lonely again. Not that I think Jack will allow me to. When I say he is a momma’s boy, that is an understatement. I doubt I will get the opportunity to nurse privately. I won’t miss out on things with him for that. I won’t miss soccer games because someone thinks I should sit in a nasty port a potty and feed this little one. No. It won’t be happening this time.
As I have grown as a parent with Jack I have gained confidence. My parenting style has developed over the last 3 years. We are very upfront with Jack about all things. I talk to him like he is an adult. I explain things to him like he is an adult. I have explained the benefits of fiber on the digestive system. I have explained how protein helps grow his muscles. I tell him his penis is his penis. I have a vagina. He asked “One day you will have your own penis?” “Oh no sweetheart. I am a girl and girl’s have vaginas and boys, like you, have penises.” I have explained what boobs are and what they are for when he pushed mine and said “what are these?” A few days later he asked if he could have some milk from them. I laughed so hard because that ocean dried up a long time ago. I told him it was all gone. I am honest with him. I didn’t think when I was dreaming of having babies that this was how I would approach subjects with my kids. That came as the questions started flooding in. I can be honest and he can learn from me or I can sugar coat and give cutesy names and he learns even worse and derogatory names from his peers. I want him to learn from his dad and me. So that is my approach on parenting. What does that have to do with nursing? When someone says “but think of the CHILDREN!” regarding nursing in public, I want to scream! I absolutely want to tear my hair out and say “what about the children? That is what our breasts are for! To feed babies and we should be honest and open about that. This isn’t a lingerie runway show. This is nourishing a helpless infant.” It makes me crazy to hear that argument. I would rather my kids know what boobs are for and have the respect for what women are capable of than learning from their friends that these are”tits” and are just sexual. Not in my house. Not in my family. They will have honest communication about these things.
Jack has given me the best gift he could have over these last 3 years. The confidence in my parenting styles and techniques when it matters most. I am not perfect. I have bursts of frustration and lose my shit and yell at him. But when it matters, with things like this, I feel a lot more confident than I did 3 years ago. I will stand up for my kids. I will nurse where I want to, when I want to, and how I want to. All that matters is what is right for me and the baby and my little family unit. Not what someone at the table over thinks. Look away if it is so bothersome to see a baby eating. I have said it before and I will say it again. I don’t want to watch someone stuffing their face with McDonalds. That makes ME sick and uncomfortable. I can’t throw a fit if I see someone doing that in public though. No. But someone can do that about an infant drinking milk his/her mom is working so hard to produce? Come on. Priorities people.
I came across this lovely article on the HuffPost (I really enjoy them!) A restaurant manager wrote about how they will never tell a mom to stop nursing at his restaurant. It is what reignited my passion for this today. It is a great read. I couldn’t help but think as I read it that the person complaining about a baby is the exact person that would complain about all of the other things they complained about. Chicken not being crispy enough! Maybe I am hardline on this. Maybe I come off as militant. Oh well. If you choose and are able to nurse, then legally you have the right to do it where/when/how you want. You shouldn’t be marginalized because you chose that over formula. I would never scoff at a mom feeding her baby formula. We all have our reasons for our choices when it comes to that, but we should support one another. We shouldn’t make each other hide in a dirty bathroom to feed our babies. No matter the medium we have chosen to nourish those tiny ones.