5 Stages of Nursing in Public
Okay, so nursing in public is a reality for most nursing mothers, at one point or another. Or in my case—all the freaking time. It can be awkward and terrifying. There can be good experiences and mortifying ones, hilarious experiences and everything in between. These are the 5 stages of public nursing that I went through when my son was born—what were yours?
Stage One: Covergirl
You can't be hungry! You just ate. We just left the house. Can you wait? Okay, okay, don't cry...stop screaming! ALL RIGHT!!!
Hold baby in crook of arm and toss blanket over baby, shoulder and chest. Reach under blanket and wiggle hand up under shirt, fumbling for the latch on the nursing bra cup. Wiggle wiggle. Dig. Fumble.
Ha! Got it!
Unlatch cup and expose breast, lift shirt up over breast. Take panicked breaths as the blanket slips off shoulder and onto floor.
Crap! Oh God it's out. My boob's out. My boob's out and there's someone coming down the hall. Quick. Quick!
Grip baby tightly and pick up cover, throwing it back up over...well, everything. Baby in one hand, boob in the other, attempt to tickle screaming baby's chin and latch while under cover. Panicked breaths. Screaming—the baby's, not mine. PLEASE STOP CRYING AND JUST EAT!!!
Shove blanket down into lap in sheer frustration so I can see. Oh. Yeah, okay your mouth's like....6 inches from my nipple. Whoops! Sorry, kid. Nova loves you, I promise! I'm really not TRYING to starve you or make you eat my underboob...even though you ate 20 minutes ago...you exhibitionist little bastard...
Latch baby. Rejoice in triumph and, you know, cry in relief at the sudden lack of screeching! Feel my belly drop in shame and embarrassment as someone walks by and does a double take—crap, the size HH boob is just popped out there, swallowing baby's head whole. Wiggle nervously, bite lip. Carefully take one hand and wiggle cover back over baby and breast. Wiggle wiggle. Got it! Ha! Take that, you staring jackass! Sigh in relief, commence nursing in public. TRIUMPH!!!..sort of.
Stage Two: Band, Baby, Band!
Going to the park, and it's 94 degrees—cover...UGH! No way...he'll suffocate to death under it today. No cover, no problem! 'Cause I got my nursing bra; my shirt is easy to pull up and covers my boob, and I've got my BELLY BAND. Best. Thing. Ever. Okay, so it's meant to hold your pants up when you're pregnant, but screw that! Pregnancy's only 9 months, and this chunk of spandex cost me twenty bucks. I'm getting my money's worth, dammit! My pants may stay up on their own, but this thing is a total beast at covering up my lumpy, tiger-striped, after-baby belly. Shut up, my belly's awesome—I grew a human in it. A collicky one, but hey, no one's perfect!
Just kidding, Smunch—you're totally perfect.
What's that...rooting? You just ate 20 minutes ago! Ah, well. If I had a stomach the size of an egg I'd probably eat 40 times a day too.
No eye-line on the 5 year-old from the bench. Eh. I can stand. Twist the tiny tot into football hold because those giant boobs don't allow stand-nursing in any other, more reasonable position. Shove hand up shirt and unlatch bra cup like a boss. Push shirt up just enough to expose a little nip and pop that sucker into one wide open mouth.
Yup. Nursing in public like I own the place--'cause I gots my belly band. Yes, ma'am.
Stage Three: It's Just So WhateverTwo hours of sleep. Eight hours of screaming—the baby, not me. Eight hours of crying—me, not the baby. Probably some begging tossed in there too. Oh, right...groceries. That other kid I have has to eat something besides boobs and we're down to stale cheerios and a half gallon of expired milk.
Screaming in the car—the baby, not me.
Out of the car and into the store. Eyes burning...so tired. Hungry? Pleeeeeeeaaaassse be hungry. There's no screaming when you're hungry. YES! YOU'RE HUNGRY!!! Football hold.
DAMN IT! I forgot the band.
Doesn't even matter because I'm an IDIOT who wore a freaking buttondown shirt that can't be lifted up to breastfeed. Hell. WTF is wrong with me?
Whatever. Unbutton the top four buttons and pull out Leftie. Giant boob to the wind and bottoms up.
Nursing is like the only off button on this baby's lungs—that and Imagine Dragons, but I can't bring my own personal soundtrack everywhere just to satisfy my collicky baby. Shut up. He's totally awesome and has great taste in music. I love you, Smunchie! Aww, look at him go. Lovin' that boob. Maybe now I can buy the other one some fresh cheerios in peace and quiet.
Stage Four: Go Ahead—Make My DaySitting in the grass at the park, baby on my lap and nursin' away happily—watching my big beautiful girl go down the slide. No band and no cover, just a t-shirt pulled up just enough for kiddo to latch enthusiastically.
Tiny fist grabs shirt and shoves it up, exposing four inches of white skin.
I shove it back down and cover everything again.
Tiny fist grabs the shirt again and shoves it up.
I push it down and tuck it in around his face, grab his hand and hold tight, smiling at him.
Fuss, whimper, pop off the nipple to let out a loud squawk and wriggle to get his hand back from me.
Okay! You win. Geez. Let go of tiny hand and grab the breast, nuzzling it back against his lips.
Smunchie stares up at me in suspicion but takes the peace offering, wrapping his fist in t-shirt and pushing it up until it's far enough away from his territory to make him comfortable.
Ugh...some people have no idea. Totally shouldn't have read the comments on that nursing article on Facebook. Do people really think those things about me when I'm nursing at the park? Or the Fair? Or the grocery store? That I have zero respect for them or even for myself, that I'm a slut and an attention-whore? What the hell am I supposed to do...stash my buggy in a corner and hope all the stuff doesn't get put back on the shelves, drag my kids outside, across the parking lot and back to the car to sit there and nurse for twenty minutes just to go back inside, continue shopping and do this all over again in another half hour?
Like...does that actually work for anyone?
Or right now...either put a tent over my baby's head in this heat or pull my 5 year-old off the playground so she can hang out in the bathroom stall with me until Smunchie's full?
Oooooh there's like a whole 2 inches of boob showing above his head. Whoop-dee-freakin'-doo. Who cares? That woman does. Is she staring at me? She's totally staring!
Oh yeah, I'm nursing. That's right, crazy lady! I'm doing it in PUBLIC. In front of CHILDREN. You want to say something? I dare you. I dare you to say something to me.
Oh wait...I think she's just looking at her kid on the monkey bars behind me. Yep. Yeah, that's hers. Okay, settle down people, false alarm!
Stage Five: Zen and the Art of Milkie Maintenance
You see me boobin'. You starin'.
That's all right, I got this. I'm just gonna smile and cuddle this little guy closer while I sit here on this bench. You want some popcorn? 'Cause we might be here awhile for this matinee. Baby likes his milkies and he likes 'em good.
That's right. No cover, no band, no attitude—just boobs. But seriously no buttondown either 'cause that's just way too much boob for me to be happy with showin' off. THEY'RE HUGE!!!
Comfortable and happy—keep calm and latch on.
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