If I want to guarantee that I will do something, all I have to do announce that I will NEVER do it. Excuse me for just a moment while I practice.
I will NEVER effortlessly be a size 2.
OK. I’m back now. Let me transport you to a time and place before I assumed the title “Mommy Chick.” I lived in a land of sushi, cocktails and weekly pedicures. I happily floated through life delivering the midday weather forecast at a local television station.
While I was busy living my own personal “Will and Grace” saga with my gay best friend, my circle of female friends began having babies. I wasn’t surprised when most of them chose to formula feed. A few of them tried breastfeeding, but then decided it wasn’t for them.
After all, formula feeding is the norm, I thought.
I remember telling one friend I wasn’t going to ruin my shiny new implants feeding some baby.
And god forbid that I would ever feed said baby in public.
“A boob is still a boob, even with a baby attached,” I said. (I actually can’t take credit for that line. Suzanne Sugarbaker said it on “Designing Women.”)
Here’s the clincher:
“I would never whip my boob out in public. Don’t babies eat on schedules? Can’t people just work around their baby’s schedule or pump milk?”
“But it kind of grosses me out,” I told him.
So he preyed upon my former-reporter instincts.
“Research it and let me know if you’re willing to give it a try.”
I agreed it seemed magically delicious for the baby, but I still was afraid of the process. In fact, I was totally freaked out around week 30 of pregnancy when I noticed some dried colostrum on my nipples. It actually made me vomit. Full disclosure: I hurled almost daily anyway, but this helped set off that day's puke fest.
Monkey Mae debuted in the early morning hours of September 20th, 2009. Thanks to my fluid getting infected during labor, she came out with some breathing problems and did a stint in the NICU.
That is when I was no longer on the fence about breastfeeding. A lactation consultant came by to teach me how pump.
“Your body knows what infection Monkey Mae has and is making antibodies to fight it.”
Our breastfeeding journey was not initially a smooth one. While she was in the hospital, I was too stressed to eat. Therefore, my body did have enough energy to make milk. Monkey Mae received donor milk. When she came home, I had to supplement with formula after every single feeding for seven weeks.
And she definitely made up for the missed snuggle time while she was in the NICU. My little MM nursed every hour for the first four months of her life.
That’s not a typo. EVERY HOUR.
That schedule led me to eat my words and confront my fear of nursing in public.
I googled how to do it (yep, crazy researcher, that’s me). I asked my wonderful doula how she did it. I sought advice from ladies at a breastfeeding support group.
In other words, I obsessed.
What if someone stares at me? What if I get kicked out of a business?
“I just don’t want to make anyone uncomfortable,” I told my husband.
Looking at those words now, I realize how silly that is. Because in reality, not nursing MM when she was hungry would only make her uncomfortable. Who cares about the fanny-pack wearing tourists we encounter daily?
When MM was eight weeks old, we went to see a choral performance at the museum. She was happily riding in her sling when I noticed that familiar rooting and some fussing.
“I’m doing it,” I said to my husband.
I went into the bathroom, positioned her in her sling to face my right breast, and latched her. I was wearing my super stealth double layers (one layer goes up, one comes down, keeping tummy and side boobie covered).
I was sweating from anxiety as I walked back out into the crowd. Even with my discretion, it was still fairly apparent that MM was nursing. A security guard walked up to me.
“If you’d be more comfortable in the bathroom, there’s one back to the left,” she said.
This moment is when I was most proud of my accomplishment that day:
“No thank you. I am comfortable here.”
As I stood by the huge Christmas tree, listening to the beautiful sounds of holiday songs, MM happily nursing in her sling, my husband looked at me and said, “I’m proud of you.”
Now, nursing in public seems like old hat. I almost don’t even know the girl who was grossed out by breastfeeding and who was, quite frankly, judgmental of those who chose to feed their children in public.
But I think I’m the perfect example of lack of exposure to breastfeeding in general. I was ignorant on the topic and made ignorant statements.
I continue to nurse MM in parks, restaurants, malls, planes, boats . . . you name it. My hope is that some woman, maybe someone like my former self, will see us and think, “If she can do that, maybe I can, too.”
But that would never happen, right?
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