Dear people who saw me breastfeeding in public and were horrified by it,
There are a few things I would like to go over with you, since it appears you don’t have much experience with brand-new humans. Babies have an incredible ability to need attention at the most inconvenient times. They require diaper changes while we’re going 70 mph on the highway in high traffic, fall asleep when we need them awake and demand to be fed only when we’re trying to get something done that isn’t conducive to a relaxing mealtime.
Those of us who breastfeed our babies learn to accept that this is a truth and figure out ways to tactfully whip out a nip to quiet our hangry offspring as efficiently as possible. This is no big deal until one of you Judgy McJudgertons feels it is your duty to get in our faces and tell us to stop immediately or go elsewhere to finish the job. That’s when we normally kind, loving maternal figures begin to feel a red, red rage blossom in your general direction.
I remember a time when I was a brand-new mom at a steakhouse for dinner with extended family. My son cried out for his next meal, and in my sleep-deprived state, I was somehow whisked away from the table before I could properly pull on my nursing blanket, ushered into the ladies’ room to the hum of muttered assurances that this was for the best and put in a hard chair by the trash can to feed him.
It took the flush of a toilet to wake me from my stupor and realize what had happened: I had been physically removed from my meal at the table by the waitstaff because my baby needed his meal from my breast. Staring at the stall before me, I was pissed off but couldn’t think of a good comeback to this behavior until I was halfway through the nursing session, and then I was too distracted by all the food waiting for me when I got back to the table to remember to chew someone out for making me leave my seat to nurse in a lavatory (dude, I was starving).
This wasn’t the only time people like you took it into your own hands to make sure I knew how unwelcome I was while lactating with a purpose. I have had people move away from me while muttering nasty remarks, walk by to loudly tell their companions to look away lest they see the horrors before them and straight-up tell me what I was doing was wrong. I’m not the only one who has experienced this, so for all those times I was too tired or busy to come up with a response, and for all the women who will be in that spot some day, I would like to give you, buttinskies of the world, the comebacks you deserve.
To those of you who say it is gross: Feeding a child milk that our bodies naturally make with the sole purpose of using it to keep him alive is not gross. Your angry face spewing hate spittle at a woman who has brought life into this world is gross. Have you ever chosen to take your meals into a public bathroom, between a line of fart-scented, half-flushed toilets and overstuffed silver boxes of secreted menses? No? Well, I can tell you from experience that that is gross, as is suggesting a sleep-deprived woman take her shiny-new baby in there for lunch.
To those of you who say if it isn’t against the law to do it in public, it should be: I think being a poor-mannered, inconsiderate, jerkface poopy head should be against the law too. Doesn’t mean it will be, so I guess we’re going to have to call this a lucky time for both of us, m’kay?
To those of you who say it is indecent exposure that makes people think of sex: I don’t know what whets most peoples’ appetite for a little wink-wink time, but I doubt it’s a peek of cracked nipple coated in baby burp. If that does it for you, far be it from me to cramp your style, sister, but I have a feeling you’re in the minority, so back off.
To those of you who say it’s embarrassing for those around us: The only thing embarrassing here is your utter lack of humanity.
So how about the next time you see a mom breastfeeding her baby in a public place, you refrain from focusing on your selfish opinions and think about why she’s there in the first place? Maybe she is the one being inconvenienced. Maybe she is the one having a gross day. Maybe she is just trying to do the best she can for herself and her family and deserves kindness from those who pass her by — a smile, an encouraging nod — rather than your cutting, unhelpful words.