In September, Olivia Wilde is going to be featured in Glamour magazine as a proud breastfeeding mother. She's got pictures to prove it- decked out in a gorgeous gown and strappy high heels, breast feeding her naked son in public like it's the most acceptable thing in the world.
I'm jealous of this picture not for the reasons you would think- I don't envy the dress or the perfect hair. Mostly I want the total acceptance to nurse in public like Wilde is doing. I've been at the breastfeeding game for a whopping four weeks. I was lucky in that it was much easier for me than I imagined it would be- had it been at all difficult I surely would have given up. (I'm not one to tenaciously insist on doing something that I am not good at.) June is a good nurser and eats at a very consistent schedule meaning I really have no excuse to keep breastfeeding her as long as she decides.
Deciding to definitely be a breast feeding mom, then, now presents me with a new dilemma. I am constantly on the go. I plan to return to work. I am not in a private setting every three to four hours where I can comfortably nurse. June, a normally very chill and happy baby, goes all sorts of crazy when it's time to eat. Panic mode sets in, and convinced that she will never eat again she resorts to high pitched screams of absolute frenzy until she is satisfied. It's awesome.
I was at the library last week when this happened. We have had trouble getting internet and cable into our new home so for the past week I've been doing all of my blogging business at the one open kiddie table at the public library. I was blissfully typing away when June let out a hunger scream. It was time to eat. Now.
I had about 20 minutes left of writing and editing before I could publish my post. June was not about to give 20 minutes. I was not about to drive 15 minutes home, feed June, and drive 15 minutes back to finish the post. I checked the bathroom, but it did me no favors in the breastfeeding department. And so, desperate and tired, I whipped out a swaddling blanket to cover myself and fed June right then and there. The cover was hot and obnoxious, but I didn't quite dare go at it cover-less. June ate voraciously while I attempted to type one handed and finish my post. Besides the fact that she drinks about as loud as an elephant, I convinced myself that no one had the slightest idea of what was going on.
Since then I have gotten a bit more comfortable breast feeding in public, as long as the trusty cover is in place, of course! (One site I read said to practice in front of the mirror. Correct me if I'm wrong, but it seems like the only thing more awkward than breastfeeding in front of other people is breastfeeding in front of yourself.) Greg and I spent an evening in Park City last weekend with his family and when June was hungry during dinner, I fed her right there in the restaurant. (Although as my sister in law pointed out as she watched me maneuver the nursing cover, the shirt, the nursing bra, "That's like a circus!" Yep! Welcome to the show!) I didn't ask my in laws if they were comfortable with me nursing during dinner, I figured it was easier just not to ask because heck, I didn't want to miss dinner and I certainly wasn't going to make everyone wait 45 minutes for me.
After the successful dinner nursing, I figured I was in the clear. I was a nursing in public prodigy! I wouldn't be afraid of donning my obnoxious cover (It's so hot!) and feeding my child wherever, whenever. But then yesterday at church Greg asked me,
"What are you going to do when June needs to eat this afternoon?"
"I'll just feed her."
"In the middle of church?"
"Yes...We're going to be in primary." (The class with all the kids aged 4-11. Greg and I teach the 10 year olds).
"Yah, I'll just sit in the back and feed her."
"I don't know if the kids and teachers are going to be comfortable with that. I think that's why they have the mother's room..." Greg sounded hesitant.
"You're uncomfortable with me nursing in public?"
"I'm not uncomfortable with it, I just don't want to make other people at church uncomfortable."
I have to admit, I was kind of surprised by Greg's reaction. He was totally comfortable with me nursing in a very public restaurant, but not comfortable with me nursing at church. I nursed in front of his brother and dad, but not in front of a bunch of squirrely ten year olds. Is there, then, some "public" nursing that is more acceptable than others?
In the end, I acquiesced. Instead of nursing in primary, I banished myself to the "mother's room", a closet sized room with a couple of rocking chairs designated for breastfeeding moms. I found myself in there with two other moms and we spent the last 45 minutes of church in there together, all feeding our babes under covers instead of sitting in the classes we were supposed to. I couldn't help but think it strange that I had to miss a significant portion of church to feed my child. The other two women were missing relief society- a class of only adult women. Surely they didn't feel like they needed to leave a class of only women to feed their babies because the other women would be uncomfortable with their feeding?
I am interested to hear what you all think about the NIP debate- when and where is it acceptable? (And with what people?) Do you feel uncomfortable when other women nurse in front of you? Do you always have to have a cover to nurse in public, or is it ever acceptable to nurse your child freely? (Because boy, am I over the cover already!) Sometimes I wish I could just go to Argentina, where women are bare breasted and feeding their babies on the back of motorcycles like it's nothing- now wouldn't that be the life?!
(The first time I wrote about breast feeding was here- I can't say my opinion has changed too much over the years.)