Thursday, May 11, 2006

Nippers Unite! Planning Meeting This Saturday

Our new group is having a lively email discussion and readying for our first planning meeting at Chrissy's house this Saturday. I'm thrilled to have something so positive come out of what started out as a humiliating, defeating experience. While showering this morning, I was thinking about that afternoon, remembering how I felt like it was me and my baby against the world while I sat there listening to that manager tell me people were offended by my efforts to feed my son. I stood in the shower and bawled, the first time I've cried over any of this since it happened. It felt so awful to be shamed by members of my community for lacking sufficient breastfeeding finesse. I wish no other mom would have to experience that, though I'm sure more will. My friend Sierra wrote to me today that "parents of young children should be given a break by everyone else." She's right. Damn we're doing the hardest job of our lives...every single mom I've talked with says that being a mother is the most challenging thing she's ever done. It's such important work, too, though so completely undervalued in our society.

I don't know any mothers who want special accommodations, but gosh it would be nice to get bit of understanding when our kids aren't being the "seen but not heard" creatures you expect them to be, instead of dirty looks and tsk-tsks. I have fantasized about some nice old lady walking up to me that day at Fred Meyer and saying, "Sweetie, it looks like you could use an extra pair of hands. Can I help? I'll entertain your little girl for a few minutes while you take care of your baby." Would that have been so hard? Would it have taken more effort than tracking down the store manager to complain about how offended you were at the sight of the breast of a mother trying desperately to calm and feed her crying baby?

It never occurred to me when I was breastfeeding my daughter that I should be discreet for anyone else's comfort but hers and mine. I would find a quiet spot so she wouldn't be distracted and keep myself covered because I felt uncomfortable, vulnerable, when my breasts were exposed in front of strangers. I truly had no idea that people actually found the sight of a mother breastfeeding her baby disgusting. I'm still having trouble getting my head around the idea. To me, it's one of the most beautiful sights in the world. I hope that by the time my daughter has children, that we will be blessed to see it much more often.


Caitlin said...

When my daughter was three weeks old and I waited for my husband to pick me up from the dentist, she decided she needed to nurse. This was a small conservative Louisiana town (before Louisiana passed its pro-nursing law), and there was a little old lady (LOL) staring at me from a few chairs away. I threw a blanket over my whimpering daughter and tried to get her latched on. As a new mom, I found a good latch hard to manage even when I could see, and manipulating a full breast and a starving newborn under a blanket was not a skill I could manage. Baby began to scream. LOL stared. I frantically tried to manipulate my nipple into baby's mouth. Baby shrieked and flailed under the heat and restrictiveness of the blanket. I was about to burst into tears myself when LOL leaned over and said, "I breastfed all 14 of my children." I discarded the blanket, baby nursed contentedly, and LOL and I had a lovely chat. May all you nursing moms be blessed with LOLs, and may everyone let you (or your kids' dad when he shops with the little ones) cut in the checkoutline whenever need be.

MomToTracyNSheri said...

Amen, sista.

Rachael said...

I read your blog when it first started up and kept thinking to myself "Dang, something like this needs to happen to ME so I can FIGHT THE SYSTEM (lol)."

Well, something similar DID happen. My nursing photos were banned from a website I frequent daily. ( I posted about this on the Militant Breastfeeding yahoo group, which I believe you are a member of.

I truly felt so incredibly embarassed that other mothers had found my pictures to be "R-rated" and "in your face". It's a terrible feeling. I am loving identifying with you and your blog. I'm a Seattlite so I feel a kindred bond as a Pacific Northwesterner. :)