Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Public Enemy #1

I’ll never forget once while eating lunch at an Applebee’s with my grandma I needed to nurse my son. My grandma asked if I couldn’t nurse him in the bathroom. I laughed, then sarcastically replied ”How would you like to eat YOUR lunch while sitting on a toilet?” She laughed and agreed that no, she wouldn’t like it very much. She never said anything after that. Generally, that’s how I’ve tried to approach the “nursing in public” thing – in a matter-of-fact approach with a touch of humor. My kid needs to eat, right? .

I’ve mentioned in my bio that I like to travel and it’s no lie. Before my son was a year old, we had gone on 7 plane trips. I have literally nursed him coast to coast – at beaches on the Atlantic coast AND the Pacific coast. I have nursed him in various airports and airlines. I have nursed him in the middle of the market area at Fanueil Hall in Boston, on George Washington’s front lawn at Mt. Vernon, the Desert Passage at the Aladdin in Vegas and near the corner of Haight-Ashbury in San Francisco. And not once, did anyone ever give me a hard time about it. I’ve never had a problem. Ever. I am not sure why – I don’t think I do anything special. I try to be respectful that not everyone wants to see my breasts, so I always take care to cover with a blanket.

I think what blows my mind is this: for those folks who don’t want mothers nursing in public, what do they expect us to do? Not leave our houses? I refuse to nurse in a bathroom – that is absolutely disgusting (and I think it is criminal when a mother is expected to pump at work in a bathroom). However, I am not comfortable nursing in my car in many spots because I feel like a sitting duck for a car jacker or purse snatcher. And NO, I am not being paranoid – the Target in my cozy suburb gets purse snatchers and a guy died in 2005 attempting to help a gal out when she was mugged. I guess I could try to use the fitting rooms at Target and such, but breastfeeding mothers have even been hassled in there for nursing. But still – what are the alternatives? A newborn eats every 2-3 hours and that’s from the BEGINNING of one feeding to the next. That leaves a very brief window of time to run an errand and more often than not, your precious progeny will start squawking as you are in the check-out lane or you are begging for the check from your kindly waiter. So, perfectly timing your outings is a master feat, believeyoume.

Obviously, breastfeeding in public is a hot topic and I shake my head at it. The stories seem so ludicrous, so ridiculous that I can hardly believe they happen. No, don’t get me wrong – I DO believe they have happened, but it seems SO crazy, I can’t wrap my brain around it. I’m curious - has anyone reading this ever been hassled for nursing in public?

Updated to add recent news stories surrounding the Ronald McDonald house in Houston (thanks Deanna for the heads up on the story!).......
New Yorks Times article - This article really muddles the issue for me. It's not clear what exactly happened. Previous stories I read indicated the mother was simply breastfeeding and was asked to go to her room after another father complained. This story indicates that the breastfeeding mother was not nursing in a private manner. If that's the case, then I would have to go with the Ronald McDonald House - I don't think as a breastfeeding mother I have the right to just whip out my breasts for all to see. I need to respect that others made not want to see "all of me" and as such, I use a blanket when nursing. Again, this article highlights how ambiguous these stories can be and that there is often two sides to the story.

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