Saturday, August 06, 2011

...ain't nothing but mammals


Late last week, with the sun finally shining in Seattle, I took The Kid and The Baby for an outing. We were gone for hours - longer than I'd expected - and we all got hungry. The food court sated The Kid and I but The Baby needed to nurse, so we wandered off to find a relatively quiet spot where The Kid could run around while I tended to The Baby. We found a play area with a bench nearby and settled in.

Now, since we were in public (and my bench was situated adjacent to a fairly well-used path), I pulled a blankey out of the diaper bag to drape over one shoulder and cover The Baby's head as he nursed. I'm perfectly comfortable with my boob hanging out, but it tends to be frowned upon. I was trying to be polite. But The Baby HATES any sort of nursing cover. After several attempts to nurse discreetly, I gave up and put the blanket back in the diaper bag. I figured I gave it a shot, I tried, and who the hell cares, anyway? He's a baby + he's hungry + I'm his mom = boob. Plain and simple. I'm far more interested in keeping him comfortable while he nurses than forcing his head under a blanket in order to keep total strangers comfortable.

Plus, we were at the zoo. And I ask you: what more appropriate place for a mammal to nurse her young than the zoo?

One young couple, tattooed and pierced, smiled comfortably at me when their toddler shouted, "THAT BABY EAT FROM HIM'S MAMA!" But the slightly older couple behind them, wearing polo shirts tucked into their Dockers and completely devoid of anything so interesting as permanent body ink, scowled briefly before apparently finding something reeeeally interesting on the ground to stare at.

Honestly, I wish I'd had a camera to record the reaction trends by demographic:
  • Suburban-looking minivan types (admittedly, a subjective measure): Disgust mixed with embarrassment
  • Men (except for that one whose toddler called me out): "What? No. Huh-uh. I didn't see anything. Nothing at all. Hey, bushes! Look at these bushes. These are amazing bushes! I will never look at anything ever again because these bushes are the most fascinating things on the planet. A woman breastfeeding? No, honey, I didn't even notice because I was looking over here at these bushes which are nothing at all like boobs."
  • Teenagers (of the female variety): "Oh. Em. Gee. Dubya. Tee. Eff."
  • Teenagers (of the male variety): "Boobs! But ew. But boobs! But ew."
  • Preteens (of either variety): a level of mortified embarrassment that only exists in the puberty-afflicted.
  • Kids: totally cool with it, every one of 'em.
It's almost as if we're born with enough common sense to understand that eating is a basic necessity, even for babies, even from boobies... and then taught to believe otherwise as we age. Wouldn't you agree?

This marks the end of World Breastfeeding Week, and I did my part by continuing to nurse my baby wherever and whenever he needed, despite dirty looks. You can read my ranty breastfeeding post from 2009 - one of the most popular posts on this blog OF ALL TIME - here.

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