About five weeks before Jacob was born, I was given the GREATEST GIFT EVER. Two of my dearest, bestest girlfriends in the WORLD came out to see me. What started out as a THIRTIETH birthday present for one of us (a surprise visit from the other two) quickly morphed into a THIRTIETH birthday present for all three of us from our beloved husbands. Because this is the year in which we all turn THIRTY. Although, it's worth noting that I will turn THIRTY last. It was such a great week. This visit was nearly three years in the making, and we were all due. No one had any grand ideas of great adventures - we were really just looking forward to being together. Getting pedicures. Drinking coffee. Talking. So that's exactly what we did. We did spend a day in San Francisco playing tourist. And we did drive up to Sonoma to go wine tasting. But that's the extent of it.
As much fun as I had with my sisters during their visit, I mention it here only as a backdrop to a greater story. The story of the day I saw a naked lady in the ice cream shop. A day that will live in infamy.
The day we attempted to go wine tasting was simply lovely, despite the fact that we really only stopped at one winery, as our main goal for the day was to simply explore. The "wine tasting experience" was not our ultimate goal that day. This, of course, was a good thing considering the fact that I was 9 months pregnant at that time and most likely scandalized everyone who saw me waddling around the marketplace and leaning up against the wine bar. Honestly! I've never felt so conspicuous in my life. It didn't matter that I never once even held a wine glass in my hand - I could just feel the judgmental eyes of others boring into my head. Or my belly, as the case may be.
I suppose that was fitting, though, as this is quickly to morph into a post about judgment.
So after the winery, which was LOVELY by the way, we hopped into the car and drove to Sonoma. What a charming - and EXPENSIVE - little town. We parked in the main square, right on the corner of the park, and ambled in and out of the little shops and boutiques. It was hot. We were (not really) hungry. We stopped for ice cream.
As we waited there in line I recalled seeing a stroller as we'd walked in the door. Being mere days away from being a stroller mommy again, I turned around to look for the baby. There he was in all of his squishy cuteness, sitting on his mommy's lap right by the door. What a cute little fluff he was. I couldn't take my eyes off him. I admit, I was staring.
And then, all of a sudden, I saw IT. I was probably so much in shock that I stared some more before I figured out that I should look away. And then? Then I was MORTIFIED. That cute little bundle of squishiness was nursing away at his mommy's breast that happened to be FULLY EXPOSED AND HANGING OUT FOR THE WORLD TO SEE. Mommy was wearing a button down shirt and had simply unbuttoned her shirt to feed her baby. And she had NO QUALMS about the fact that she MAY AS WELL HAVE BEEN NAKED in the middle of Ben and Jerry's. Had I a sugar cone I could have gouged! out! my! eyes! and yet the memory would still be there.
Now, I know we're all girls here... (Remember when you were a kid at a slumber party and you tried to be discreet when changing your clothes just because you're modest and you don't think the whole world needs to know all your secrets? And remember when, inevitably, someone would say "come on! we're all GIRLS here!" I HATED THAT.) ...BUT SERIOUSLY! I do not need to see that lady's secrets.
I mention this because I was just over at Spirit Daily yesterday and stumbled upon this article, which I really found fascinating. Since day one, I have nursed Christopher (and now Jacob) in public and really had no problem doing so. I've always been totally discreet, even to the point where if I was struggling keeping things private, I'd have Tim hold my blanket for me while I got everything situated. Always anticipating critical remarks and sideways glances, I've been surprised on more than one occasion by the positive feedback. Some women have even complimented me on my bravery, of all things. They've shared with me how they were always too afraid of people saying mean things to feed their own babies in public.
The one place I've never nursed, though, is at Mass. This is not because I think it inappropriate by any means, but simply because I'm just not comfortable doing so. The details intimidate me. And, okay, the only clothes that fit well enough to wear to Mass don't really fit well enough to nurse properly. (Too tight here, too lumpy there. Argh.) That being said, I've always admired other moms who I've seen nursing their baby and peacefully soaking in the homily while I've been in the back bouncing my son up and down, up and down, up and down JUST TO MAINTAIN THE PEACE. I've often wondered to myself how many years will pass before I am actually able to pay attention at Mass again.
So I read this article by this woman, and then I read the comments. And then I was appalled. And then I tried to leave her a supportive comment. And then I kept typing and typing and typing! And then? Then! Blogger wouldn't accept my comment.
And so was born this post.
Thus, I extend my support to her, and all other breastfeeding mothers who are simply trying to care for their babies modestly and discreetly. For whatever reason, so many passersby are uncomfortable enough with breastfeeding that I really think we need to help them out a little, not by hiding in our homes until our children are old enough to eat with a fork and spoon...but by going out with our children and FEEDING THEM WHEN THEY ARE HUNGRY.
Perhaps we can just remember to unbutton our shirt from the bottom up, rather than the top down? Okay ice cream lady?