Archive for the ‘breastfeeding’ Category

The other day, I was talking with my mother and sister about nursing Chris. It was along the lines of . . . oh, my god, when is he going to stop. Help! Anyway, with a bit of a blush, I remembered that my grandfather was sitting at the kitchen table and could hear what I was saying. Now, even though I am about as comfortable with breastfeeding as I am with breathing, it’s my grandfather, for cryin’ out loud, and I was a tad embarrassed. I figured he would pretend not to hear, and I was getting ready to change the subject to football, baseball, or the weather, when he spoke up: “When I was young, women would nurse at the bus stop, and the men would hold the bus for her while she finished and got organized to go. It’s a shame that people don’t have manners like that for mothers anymore.” Huh? So cool! I don’t know if that behavior was a function of his community or the time period or both, but, wow, I had Gramps pegged wrong on this issue. Whether that means I will actually let Chris stick his head up my shirt while we’re discussing our usual football, baseball, or the weather . . . I don’t think I can go quite that far.


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I watch Bill Maher occasionally, but I didn’t see the breastfeeding comments until I YouTubed it after reading about the outrage women were feeling about what he said.

And I found that I really didn’t care a whole lot.

I even laughed a few times.

And over the last nearly four years, that was me you might have seen nursing in restaurants and everywhere else I felt like it. I don’t think anyone actually saw any skin, because except for one unfortunate incident when I ended up wrestling with a Baby Bjorn at an outdoor cafe, no one would have realized what I was doing. (One might be able to catch a glimpse if one stared, in which case one would deserve it.)

But who cares if people can see or not–let it all hang out if you want to, I say, but it does seem that a woman breastfeeding in public rarely shows skin. It perplexes me that people would be uncomfortable by something you can’t actually see. Now if it’s the idea of breastfeeding that freaks people out; well, that’s beyond what I can really comprehend.

Back to Bill–don’t get me wrong, I get why people are infuriated about his comments–he came across as arrogant and ignorant when he was talking about nursing, especially when he got more serious at the end talking about breastfeeding activists. Of course it was offensive to people. How to tie dogs, Hooters, narcissism, and laziness (Ha! That’s a part that made me laugh.) with breastfeeding in public is beyond me. But that’s how he does that “New Rules” thing at the end. Yeah, it deals with serious issues and current events, but it’s comedy, too, and comedy with a major shock factor. The jokes he’s made about politics and religion–wow, even I was shocked a few times (even when I agreed, and even when I laughed). So that’s the show, that’s the man, and the breastfeeding comments fit right in. I know what I’m getting when I watch, which I’ll continue to do, so that’s why it didn’t really get much of a reaction from me beyond, Ew. What a jackass. And, yes, a few laughs.  (And wishing he was sitting at my kitchen table with me so we could really get into it.)

That’s just me, though. More power to the people who want to write letters and start petitions. Just because something is supposed to be comedy doesn’t mean everyone should laugh it off or ignore it–there’s a lot to a joke sometimes. That’s what so exhilarating about free speech. He can say it, people can respond, and now everyone’s talking about it. It’s what’s so thrilling about freedom in general, and why we should celebrate when breastfeeding laws are passed. Bill Maher can sit next to a nursing mother in a restaurant and freak out, and hopefully, that will be OK, because she will be in a state or location where her rights are protected.

I hope every instance of a mother being told to stop nursing in a public place gets as much attention at Bill Maher’s comments. Those are the situations that really make my blood boil.

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My Rope Nurse

My three year old heard a woman on tv say, “I raise my children.” He turned to me and said, “Mom, you graze your children, too. Look at the baby–he is grazing right now. And when I was a baby in your stomach, I grazed on your rope nurse.”


I pieced it together: He misunderstood “raise” to be “graze.” I was nursing the baby, so he decided that the baby was “grazing.” It took a little extra to figure out the last part: He was referring to my breast as my “nurse” and had decided that the umbilical “cord” was a “rope” and since it fed him, it must be some kind of a “nurse” (breast). So, umbilical cord=rope nurse.

It just floors me how they think sometimes. Watching them make sense of the world, and realizing, Hey, what he said really does make perfect sense, makes me proud . . . and makes me laugh and laugh . . .

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This little guy is 22 months old and so not even close to wanting to wean. If he catches me sitting on the couch, he clambers up and settles into this perfect position so that he can nurse and watch whatever’s going on in the room; it’s like he’s in a movie theater with his popcorn. He’s so quick to slip in there that I don’t even realize it until it’s too late, and once the tug-of-war starts, he wins, because it hurts. Then the grin when he settles in and catches my eye. That whole business I’m trying to shut down, (even though I kind of like it because it’s cute). We nurse to sleep, and if he really seems to need it at another time, which is infrequent now. But I would like to imagine that I’m getting my body back at some point, someday.

Today I was hardline. I looked at him and said, “We are not going to nurse so much. Only in your bed.” He just looked at me and said, “Hopper jump Daddy’s head.” Hmm, was this a devious manipulation? Was he trying to confuse me? Or was it simply a toddler’s innocent grasshopper obsession?

As he fell asleep tonight, he murmured, “Nurse….happy….happy….nurse.” Damn, he wins again. All right, 22 more months, and then, seriously, we’re stopping…

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I was at a friend’s house, sitting around the kitchen with maybe eight adults while a few babies and toddlers roamed around us. A friend-of-a-friend, a father of four, was letting us know his views on breastfeeding: it’s totally gross to breastfeed after about six months, and beyond disturbing to nurse a walker or a talker: “You shouldn’t nurse someone who walks up to you and asks.” He gave the whole body shudder at imagining a little person toddling up to his or her mother to nurse. Over his right shoulder, I saw my nearly-two-year-old headed my way. ‘Uh, oh,’ I thought, ‘this man is about to get a live demonstration.’ To my slight disappointment, my little boy did not run up and stick his head under my shirt. That would have been kind of fun. Instead, several of my friends, who are, of course, aware that #1 nursed until 18 months and #2 shows no signs of slowing down at 22 months, looked at me and grinned. I raised my hand and said, “I still nurse.” The anti-nurser said, “Wait–who do you nurse?” I really wanted to tell him it was my three year old, but I guess there’s only so much he could take. Plus it would have been a lie. I told him the truth, that I still nurse the little guy. The man turned three shades of pink and began to stammer a little. Awww, poor guy–he’s actually a pretty nice person. I didn’t really want to see him suffer. “Hey, no problem,” I said, “I totally get that lots of people think lots of different things when it comes to this, and I’m fine with that.”

To some breastfeeders out there, I let that guy off too easy. But here’s my dirty little secret: I actually do get where he’s coming from. To be very honest, I was a tad grossed out myself, even while pregnant, to imagine breastfeeding a baby. I didn’t get how it would work and how it would not be uncomfortable and how it would not be just plain weird. I remember my mom nursing my sister, and I certainly have always been a vehement supporter of the right to nurse in public with no exceptions, so it didn’t weird me out for other people to do it. But to think of doing it myself (perhaps because of a certain friend’s story–something about the breast pump expelling pink milk from her bloody nipples) did not particularly appeal to me. I decided not to decide until I tried. I didn’t want to set myself up for a disappointment if it was horrible.

And, really, there’s not much of a story once the baby was born. I had outstanding lactation people helping me in the hospital, and calling constantly, even a year later, to check on us and gently support us. I just didn’t have any real problems with it, and happened to like it.

But that’s me–I wonder if this man’s attitude might have affected his wife’s choice to breastfeed or not, or when to stop. I’m guessing she didn’t get a whole lot of support from him if it turned out to be something she wanted to do. On the flip side, the boundary between support and pressure can be tough to call. A friend of mine felt very put upon by the lactation consultants after her baby’s birth. She did not want to breastfeed. So she left the hospital not just exhausted and in pain, but with a huge helping of guilt. A month later, she admitted to me that she thought of throwing her infant against the wall when she was up with her in the middle of the night. I’m not blaming the breastfeeding pressure, but this new mother didn’t need the extra stress, and none do. Another friend really did want to breastfeed, but it just wasn’t working, and was making her miserable, but she felt so much pressure to keep trying. She called me when the lactation person told her to try to get support from a breastfeeding friend. Maybe I was supposed to give her some magic trick to get it working or to talk her out of quitting, but I told her to give herself the choice to stop if she wanted to. I can’t help feeling that heaping unhappiness and stress on a new mother doesn’t qualify as breastfeeding support.

So, yeah, the breastfeeding-a-toddler-is-gross guy got off easy–I could have started a great argument, or at least a lively discussion. But, hey, if he doesn’t like to see that, that’s fine with me. But next time he hangs out with me, he just might.

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