I stopped nursing Miles in public when he took to pulling off my breast and leaving my nipple exposed to the world at large. Plus he makes noises while he eats--Tasmanian devil noises straight from a Warner Bros. cartoon. He is just such a high maintenance nurser, rhythmically kicking his top leg while using his free hand to either smack me in the face or pick seeds out from between my teeth, that I decided to make sure he was well-fed before we left team headquarters.
Also? I am rocking a 34G bra right now. When my boobs get engorged, that bra shrinks and clings to my chest like hole covers on a bowling ball. So there is pretty much no such thing as modesty. The Motherwear shirts I bought with their advertised panels and delicate, lacy shelving for "discreet" or "versatile" nursing were not meant for what I've crammed into them.
But when Miles and I flew to California, I had no choice but to nurse him in front of others. I initially tried to rig up some privacy with clips and a blanket, but he kicked and yanked that whole thing down before pulling off and sending a stream of spurting milk into the seat-back table (which was in the full upright, and locked position). I got really frustrated, to say the least. It made me even more determined to nurse him in private.
One day on our trip, we went to the beach. I love the beach. I find the mass expanse of the ocean to be really soothing and humbling. Miles and Patsy and I walked around in the sand, jumping out of the icy tide, watching the surfers, and Miles needed to eat. I was inspired to just stretch out on a driftwood log and feed him right out in the open. No blankets, no hunching, no looking both ways to check for passersby. I just hoisted my udder out into the salty air and let Miles go to town. It was great!
He ate like a gourmand and I forgot to feel tense, forgot to look all around to see who might be staring. Miles was true to form, digging in my nose and kicking me in the crotch while he made loud oinking sounds and ate. I kept thinking, "It's like he doesn't see anything embarrassing about this at all!"
And of course he doesn't! He is just eating. I sometimes make moany sounds when I eat something delicious, and I sure do fidget and kick my legs when my feet don't reach the ground. Why shouldn't my baby do the same thing? The whole experience really recharged my batteries. I didn't even try rigging up machinery to fake privacy on the rest of our trip, not even on the flight home and not even in the holding tank waiting for my rescue in Cleveland.
When Miles was hungry, I fed him, no matter where we were. And you know what? He wasn't as kicky or flaily when there weren't curtains or blankets or "hoods" dimming the lights on his feeding operation. When I wasn't super tense, he relaxed, too. My whole body just surrendered to the process. I haven't had the opportunity to leave my house since we returned, what with snowmageddon and all, but when I do, I will feel free to exercise my right to publicly nurse my baby. I reclaim the ability to not feel embarrassed by that act.
People will probably stare a little bit--I would stare, too, if I saw a boob that enormous--but since when (before Miles) have I cared about that? This is going to be a liberating revelation. I can just tell.
Causes Katy Rank Lev Supports
Barack Obama, Title IX, Freedom from Hunger, Central Asia Institute