(You may have noticed the new little “Facebook Sucks” icon over to the right. Click the button and see what you think for yourself. This latest campaign is what prompts this post.)
I have one SIL (Mrs. Deacon) who will nurse anywhere, without covering up. She’s also tiny and so subtle about it that I’ve been in the room with her and didn’t realize she was doing it. My other SIL (Mrs. Forbes) will nurse in public, but only under her Hooter Hider. My third SIL (Mrs. Prof) is still on the fence about if she wants to use formula or nurse. And there’s me – riding the Ameda/Medela Express 7 times a day.
I’ve been working through my shame/embarrassment of the insane size of my girls since puberty. (As I’ve mentioned). I’ve passed up going swimming many times over the years because there was no swimsuit that would fit. I’ve been the butt of uncomfortable comments and jokes. I’ve contemplated surgery, but it doesn’t feel like a good decision for me. I know that my modesty about all things chestal interfered with my nursing and is just as much a contributor to why I’m on the pump as anything else that was going on in my life while I was learning how to nurse.
I didn’t want to be messed with. I certainly didn’t want any strange women up in my boobs checking out Alex’s latch. I already felt raw and exposed after labor and delivery, all I wanted to do was go HOME with Scout and Alex. I had one nurse who forced the issue and she’s the one nurse who I have bad feelings about from being in the hospital. The home health nurse was clearly a lactivist of the nth degree and I wanted her OUT of the house as quickly as possible.
In the middle of the night at home, exhausted, I nursed Alex. I was horrified at the size of my gigantic breast sitting on his tiny little chest. I lived in fear through each time he nursed that I was going to fall asleep and the headlines would read, “Tiny innocent suffocated by enormous gross boob. News at 11.”
Scout supported me in whatever I did. He also advocated me actually getting some sleep, and could have cared less if Alex drank from a boob, a bottle or a beer bong as long as I was getting sleep and recovering, and Alex was being fed.
Then the umbilical incident happened. Then we bottle fed pumped milk. Then he got a cold and decided to nurse again. Then I went back to work for a week and went 8 hours without pumping because I didn’t want to deal with it at school. Meanwhile my MIL was in the house, and I’d be damned if I was whipping a tit out in front of her and try to figure out wtf I was doing with an audience.
Then we moved cross country when Alex was 8 weeks old. My goal had been to really focus on nursing once we got moved. I underestimated how freaking alone our little family was going to be. I underestimated how hard nursing was in the first place – because it’s so NATURAL. Whatever. I underestimated how much I would HATE making my child scream for milk, while trying to force him to nurse, with a bottle of mammaraid on standby. I underestimated how much it fucking hurt to be clamped on by little gums attached to angry, hungry baby.
I underestimated how shattered, how worthless, I would feel each time my tiny baby rejected my breasts – rejected me. I felt so stupid each time I broke into sobs when I would stop trying and give him the bottle of breast milk. How stupid I feel crying over it now as I sit and try to coherently write this as I struggle to get to my point.
I try to remember this as the last time we nursed. It’s the last time we successfully nursed in any case. (ed. I’ll have to elaborate on this more tomorrow.)
Regardless of if it’s natural/not obscene/necessary/legal to have my exposed breast out to feed my child in public – I wouldn’t be comfortable doing it. All of my pent up, 2 decades worth of issues with my breasts did not go away just because I acquired the “superpower” of creating food for my son.
Let me say that again. My body issues did not go away just because I’m capable of creating food for my son.
If anything, it’s worse now. It’s worse because when I see a mom nursing, when I see the photos, when I read the stories, it reminds me of how I failed again. How I let my feelings about my body get in the way. How I could not find it in myself to think I was beautiful enough, good enough to be comfortable nursing my own baby.
Since being pregnant, my concept of what I think is brave and beautiful in other women has changed. I think all of you who nurse in public are so brave. I don’t care if you do it under cover or out in the open. I think you are all so brave and beautiful for making it work, for not shutting yourselves away. For loving yourself enough to be comfortable doing it.
And yes, I think it needs to be legal to do it wherever and by whatever means necessary. I have this fear that the women who choose to cover up are going to somehow be looked down on for wanting to be move covered or more private. I just hope in the furor over the whole deal that we all stick together and don’t get hung up on whether or not we should or should not want to cover up/be in private and focus on making sure we have the CHOICE to feed our babies in the best way for each of us.