the first time i had to nurse river in public was miserable. we were at barnes and noble and he was just a week old. he was still so little and we were both having a bit of trouble latching him on right away, not to mention he was (and still is) extremely wiggly, which meant modest breastfeeding was out the question. i felt very awkward, and though i tried for a few minutes to get a good latch in a quiet corner of the bookstore, it just wasn't happening. feeling defeated, i went to the bathroom and fed my nine and a half pound baby standing up in a stall. talk about bad back pain.
despite having a great latch, it took about 3 months for the awful, painful sensitivity to go away, and about the same amount of time for me to feel comfortable breastfeeding in public. now i do it without even thinking about it; sometimes with a cover, sometimes without - depending on how wiggly he is and whether or not he's going to randomly pop off and look around the room to see what's going on.
i call myself a silent lactivist. for the most part, i am comfortable with nursing in public and don't think twice about it, but it really took me stepping out of my comfort zone to actually start doing it. because of this, now every time i nurse in public, i feel like i'm taking a stand for breastfeeding mamas everywhere. i've always daydreamed that maybe i would find myself in a situation where i could really, truly take a stand, when it would be easier not to.
it was 10:00 last night when we met some family for a late dinner after my dad and his girlfriend flew in from maryland. river was exhausted. so much for trying to put him on a schedule, because i was pretty much ruining it. we had been there for about thirty minutes and he was past the point of dealing with anyone else holding him, including john. there were only two things he wanted: me, and the boob.
he was pulling my hair, climbing my stomach, chewing my collar bone, growling, and making a scene. i was trying to hold off, but my heart broke a little because he was so tired and just wanted to nurse, but i wasn't letting him. "he's quite the wiggle worm!" my aunt said. i smiled and told her he was trying to nurse.
comments such as,
"oh! well, look the other way."
and, "check please!"
and, "you don't want to do that here!"
started flying left and right as family members realized the "situation". they laughed and joked around about it and i started feeling my face get warm. yes, for the first time in my short journey of nursing my son, i was officially heated over the response i was getting for my baby wanting to breastfeed in public. as if it was weird. as if there was anything wrong with it. john jokingly said, "you better watch it, she'll have the la leche league after you!"
inside my head i was thinking, i always breastfeed in public - why is it different this time? it's his right, right?! i mean, i can't refuse to give my child what he needs just because it's making a few people uncomfortable - right? i mean, THAT'S WHAT I STAND FOR, RIGHT?!
so i did it. i (sort of) confidently whipped out river's light-weight blanket, pulled it over his head, and let him eat right there in the restaurant (gasp!). my family looked surprised (except john of course), and my aunt shrugged and said, "well, sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do!"
and everything went back to normal in a few seconds. the conversation was lead in a different direction, and river was quiet, happy and fed. so, true - it was a very small victory, and may not seem like that big of a deal, but i was secretly proud of myself. i had been given the chance to practice my and my child's right to breastfeed in public in the midst of a slightly awkward situation, in front of people who weren't used to it, and i took it, helping spread the news that breastfeeding isn't so weird after all. it makes me want to say to more difficult public breastfeeding situations - BRING IT ON! i'd like to see you stop this mama from nursing in public!