don’t be a goddamn boob

In ALL, LIFE OBSERVATIONS by Stephanie Klein50 Comments

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Lucas, with a serious case of gas

I’m a lactivist, but I’d never make another woman feel bad about her choice not to breastfeed her children.  My pediatrician admitted that even with over 20 years experience, he cannot tell the difference between children who are breastfed and those who are not.  And why would anyone want to make a new mother feel anything but resplendent?  I don’t understand the moms bashing moms movement one bit.  It’s a big flabby case of "I know you are, but what am I?"  And while breastfeeding is overwhelmingly recommended as a benefit to children, and has also been linked to a lower risk of breast and ovarian cancer for mom, people are still making a fuss against it if it’s happening in their face, coughing up lines about "overexposure" despite the specialty clothing, tanks, and shawls.  "Get a room," they insist, and by "room" they mean "bathroom."  I won’t touch a handle in a public bathroom, and you want me to FEED my children there?  Now, who’s the sick one?

I still cannot get over "a friend" of mine–with whom I no longer speak, and no, not over this issue–who was completely disgusted by breastfeeding women.  Not a mother herself, she had attended a luncheon and one woman, as she put it, "just whipped it out at the table!  In a restaurant!"  Big fucking deal, you priss.  You dress in designer European shoes and covet anything Parisian, yet you’re an American when it comes to your body and your beliefs.  "I mean, as natural as it might be," she continued, "so is taking a dump, but I wouldn’t do that at the table."   Then she went back to consuming her French lentils.   I hate people like this and wish them a lifetime of lipstick on their teeth.  Woman can breastfeed without making a spectacle of themselves.  You "set it and forget it" like a roaster.  What’s the big fucking deal?  Nursing twins, tandem, however isn’t the, um, most graceful thing in public, but it certainly won’t stop me if my children are hungry. I can’t fucking wait, actually, until someone dare give me a hard time about it.  It’s not my fault they were raised in an uptight household where breastfeeding wasn’t the norm. *My mother didn’t breastfeed, but I still know there’s a place for evolution in our lives, room for primal needs.  Everything in this world doesn’t need to be stamped with approval and anesthetized. 

Fact: in most states, a mother can breastfeed her child wherever she is allowed to be, public or private.  At a restaurant, in the lobby of The Pierre Hotel, in the Neiman Marcus shoe salon, on a bus, or in a boat, she can even breastfeed on a moat (though where’s a good moat when you need one?).  To my dismay, I recently read that a woman and her family were removed from an airplane flight because she was breastfeeding.  Not to mention Barbara Walter’s mentioning how uncomfortable it made her to sit beside a nursing mother on a flight.  Thankfully, breastfeeding mothers are excluded from disorderly conduct laws in most states.  "A mother may breastfeed her child in any public or private location where she is otherwise authorized to be, regardless of whether the nipple of the mother’s breast is uncovered during, or incidental to, the breastfeeding."  Despite the law, we’re still some kind of puritanical society, up to our crotches in prude.  Breasts aren’t just for lewd YouTube movies, and take it from me, the last thing anyone is thinking when they get a gander of my breastfeeding boobs is sex.  If anything, they’re thinking, "get thee to an episode of Nip Tuck, stat."  And it goes without saying that most breastfeeding mothers don’t try to be in your face with the goods.  Nursing tanks, tops, and shawls aside, Americans are still packed with priss about titty, and it’s a pitty.

What’s happening lately?
I’ve been force-feeding them milk, like baby veal.  While I had my fill of experienced lactation consultants while at St. David’s Hospital, I still need help.  I’ve been pumping for over two months now, and I’m still having trouble.  I’m bringing in a lactation consultant this weekend to hopefully shape things up.  I’ve been using a breast shield, a thin piece of silicone placed over my nipple, to both protect my nipples, and because when I don’t wear it, Abigail gets mighty pissed. "Where’s your goddamn nipple?" she says.  Yes, she’s way advanced.  I stuff as much of my nipple as I can in there, and she continues to root, insisting that cannot be it.  There has to be more.  But with the nipple shield in place, she’s content, because it’s hard, like a bottle nipple, and she can feel it on the roof of her mouth.  We’re both getting frustrated, but I’ve made it this far.  I refuse to give up.

Comments

  1. You keep going girl. In one of your next postings could you tell us how big your little darlings are getting to be. Last I remember reading before they left the hospital, they were less than 4 pounds. just curious.

  2. The problem with breastfeeding in public is that there's almost always a more private, appropriate place available in which to do it. Why on earth would a woman need to breastfeed on a bench in the middle of a crowded shopping mall when there's a ladies room not 10 yards away?? And yes, I'm a woman. And no, I'm not puritanical. I do, however, believe in modesty and privacy. But with the advent of blogs, I suppose those are bygone virtues. :)

  3. The only hard thing about breastfeeding for me was the terrible changes in my breasts after a year of rough tugging. I can't wait for plastic surgery, but I would not have traded the experience for anything.

  4. The problem with breastfeeding in public is that there's almost always a more private, appropriate place available in which to do it. Why on earth would a woman need to breastfeed on a bench in the middle of a crowded shopping mall when there's a ladies room not 10 yards away?? And yes, I'm a woman. And no, I'm not puritanical. I do, however, believe in modesty and privacy. But with the advent of blogs, I suppose those are bygone virtues. :)

  5. Great post. And it sounds like you're doing great! Hang in there!

    I'll never forget a conversation I had in a coffee shop with the server behind the bar. Somehow the topic of nursing came up and he started talking about how he thinks it's a "totally natural thing" but he doesn't think women should do it public because it "impinges on other people's space." And then he looked to me to agree and I said, "Uh… I'm breastfeeding right now." I had been nursing my son the entire time and he hadn't even noticed.

    He was mortified, to say the least. But I think it made him reconsider his stance.

  6. Did you hear Anna Nicole Smith died? Weird world we live in. At the same time with how weird it all is, it makes you realize how short life is and how lucky most of us really are. You especially, chiquita, with those babies and your hubby, despite nipple issues. :)

  7. AMEN sister! It could be worse…I think it is a felony to breast feed in Utah.

    Boggles the mind.

    Beautiful, beautiful baby – gassy or not.

  8. PS – the new pictures of Lucas are so beautiful!! They should be hung in some OB/GYN's office and printed oversized. You're good! And, he's damn cute. Doesn't make me think of Mr Magoo anymore at all.

  9. Stephanie – any chance you can give us some advice on your tricks to take such amazing photos of the babies? I've never seen such beautiful photos before. You are quite talented. I'd love a tip…

  10. Hang in there. This is a very personal choice, and one that only you can make. I breastfed for a long time, and loved it, but I have never given an opinion to any other mother about what she should do. And I have never been bothered by seeing women breastfeeding in public – I am a woman, and medically trained, so it is of little interest to me. I have had friends carrying on a conversation with me while nursing – I just look politely into their eyes while speaking, and not lower. I am not in any way uncomfortable; I just see it as a good method of protecting their privacy.

    I myself am quite shy and private, but I always breast-fed in public areas. You will need to do this if you want to be in any way mobile. And, if it matters to you, you can do it very discreetly, without revealing a thing. I became quite adept at this – on park benches, in the car, in a quiet corner of Barnes & Noble. Babies get hungry often, and they need to be fed. It is as simple as that.

    Oh, there have been those (not that many) who tried to get a peek, but they were never satisfied. Wear the right clothes (no dresses, no blouses with buttons) – reach in slightly from the top to unhook nursing bra, lift sweater ever so slightly and slip baby underneath, baby does the rest. Repeat on opposite side. I have a feeling that you'll get to be a pro – even with twins!

  11. You tell 'em! I nursed my kids whenever they needed it and wherever we happened to be at the time. That's the beauty of breastfeeding – you don't have to take anything w/ you, and the milk is ready when the babies are hungry. I didn't just whip 'em out for the world to see. I did cover up in public, but I didn't go hide in a bathroom stall either. I was feeding my babies, and I never saw any shame in that. It's not for everyone, but it worked for me, and I wasn't about to stay in and hide whenever they needed to be fed. Although, I confess that I did use it as an excuse to suddenly become unbelievably self-conscious whenever my dreaded in-laws came over. I would somehow always come down w/ a case of the "I'm too shy to nurse in front of people" syndrome, and I would go in my bedroom to do it. It also always seemed to take at least twice as long to finish those feedings. Hmm… :o) Hey, whatever it took to get away from them, I was going to take full advantage. I know how hard it must be to breastfeed twins, but you're obviously doing a great job. And, you're right about breastfeeding boobs not exactly being all that sexy. My husband used to say that mine looked like they had a mission. BTW, that picture of Lucas? Too cute for words!

  12. I didn't bf my daughter (and seeing that she's almost 18, I probably won't start), but most of my friends did bf theirs. Except for one, they did it in public and private so swiftly and discreetly that unless you got right up next to them, you'd have no idea they were nursing. Bfing always seemed to me to be the ultimate in convenience; sort of like a turtle always having her house with her.

  13. I havent read the blog entry yet, but I wanted to comment first b/c this picture is so beautiful, Stephanie.

    Appreciate these quiet, sweet moments, with the sun shining on his little bald taterhead…they grow SO fast.
    He's so beautiful and just perfect. I mean, he really does look just perfect.

    Maybe Im just sentimental after hearing that Anna Nicole died, not that she was some stable great human being, but she was a mother.
    Becoming a mom made me soft, but this picture just almost made me cry.

  14. The problem with this post for me is that I've read it a thousand times. This has been written before. And better. And worse. And again. And again.

    There's simply nothing new to this post. You just sound like a million other new moms who suddenly care about breastfeeding.

    Lovely picture, though. He indeed has outgrown his Magoo-ness.

  15. "wish them a lifetime of lipstick on their teeth"

    this was perfect.
    You keep doing your thing, Stephanie, you're such a good mama.

  16. Hey TTG, the day that you agree to take your food court meal into the public toilets at a mall to eat it is the day that you should expect a child to eat in the bathroom. Were you brought up in a barn that you're so quick to relegate eating to the same room as shitting? And do you expect the woman to sit on the toilet while she feeds the child? Do you really find the sight of a breast more disgusting than that? Your ridiculous little smiley face does nothing to lessen the ignorance of your comment.

  17. I have no problem with people breastfeeding anywhere. I could never get used to public feedings without a pashima to cover me with both boys. However, if I do it again I'd like to be less inhibited to further the cause!

  18. hey,
    isn't it funny how puritan prudes call it the "ladies room." A mall toilet is a mall toilet no matter what you call it.

  19. TTG, I don't have kids, but when I do, why will that mean I would want to stop my life and spent time in the bathroom to feed them every time they're hungry? Sitting on a bench zoning out while people watching is a lot of fun. Sitting on a toilet nursing a baby probably isn't.

    You'd just complain if you were waiting in line for the bathroom and a mother was using it to nurse for 20 minutes anyway, saying they should just go home to feed their babies, right?

    I don't want to eat my lunch where it smells like piss and shit. Why would I want my baby to eat their meals there?

  20. I don't think that women should have to go hide out in a bathroom stall to feed their children. That is completely disgusting. I do however, believe that women should practice some discression. Cover up a little with a shawl or even the baby's blanket. Do something.
    Breastfeeding can be done with out drawing attention to the woman's chest. It is a little ridiculous when women have to flash people while they're getting their babies ready to latch on. No one really cares to see a breast ready for nursing hanging out unless there is a baby's head covering it.
    Breastfeed, go for it, it's good, just don't forget that you're in public.

  21. I had a very difficult time breastfeeding in the beginning, breast shields and all. I ended up doing it for a year.

    And the whole breastfeeding in public controversy thing is ridiculous. I breastfed everywhere – planes, Saks, restaurants, church. No one ever told me anything. I like to think it's because of my mad skills, but I'm pretty sure it's because a nursing mom simply isn't that interesting to anyone other than the baby eating. No one ever noticed, and if they did the earth didn't stop spinning.

  22. My favorite place to bf was the furniture department in big stores. I was discreet, comfortable, and no one ever bothered us. The men in polyester pants just disappered when I sat down. Stephanie, enjoy your babies!

  23. Stephanis,
    Your point is valid and acceptable – but for the love of GAWD – when women don't cover themselves it makes other people uncomfortable. If women who are breastfeeding simply cover themselves society as a majority has NO problem with it.

  24. I'm somehow shocked by how much Lucas resembles Phil! I know he has his genes and all, but I have NEVER seen a baby who looks so much like one of his parents. I'm sure he'll come into his own as he ages and you'll see some of your traits come to the fore, but for now he's an absolute clone. Phil's parents must be over the moon…

  25. I breastfed my daughter, often in public places, and I honestly don't think that there are breastfeeding women who actually try to be indiscreet. Perhaps those who are so offended are, in fact, paying just a little too much attention to other people's business?

  26. I breastfed both of my boys…Everywhere…and sometimes when people would stare I would flash them my so unattractive boob…they usually stopped staring after that…I was the only one in my family and circle of friends to do it, and while they thought it was odd…I was also like the circus freak when I did it…they all wanted to know how it worked…whatever…feed those darlings…and give everyone else the finger!!!

  27. I breastfed for 4 months, giving up not by choice. Milk just wasn't there anymore. I HATE HATE when a mother gets beheaded by the lactation lunatics for not breastfeeding.

    FACT: some women do not produce milk and have to provide their baby with some form of food. should the baby starve if breast milk is not available???

    I'm glad you looked into the formula/breast milk issue with your pediatrician. Formula is there for a reason. I'm glad he/she could provide you (and me) with some resolution to the age old question.

  28. The women who I really admire are those who work in workplaces with no privacy, forced to use breastpumps in public bathrooms and closets and breakrooms. Public nursing is a breeze in comparison to having no choice, because of poor workplace support, but to manage this in a sub par enviornment

  29. there's nothing more natural than a mother breastfeeding and why someone has a problem with that, is beyond my understanding…

    to breatsfeed or not, should be a personal choice and some can't breastfeed for medical og physical reasons.

  30. by the way… when I was a baby, my mum called me "little kitten" – because I was just licking her nipple – not sucking… I ended up beeing fed with a bottle ;)

  31. There's a time and a place for everything and with the newest advances in breastfeeding attire, I see more women covered up in a mall feeding their children than not. Yes, it is uncomfortable for people to see, but look away! I'm not a mom yet, but when I do become one, I plan on being discreet. Bathrooms are dirty and if I do have to breastfeed, I don't want to sit on a dirty toilet… A lot of the department stores have nursing rooms in their baby departments, at least up here they do… (Canada)

    Stephanie, your babies are adorable, congratulations! Loved your book and can't wait for the new one!!!

  32. That picture of Lucas is amazing – the lighting in it reminds me of a halo as if he's a little angel.

    people's breast feeding stories are cracking me up…I'll never forget the look on my (former) sister in laws face when I told her the bottle she was giving my preemie son was breast milk HA!

  33. whatever you are doing, keep doing it. it is amazing to see their pictures morph from preemies to babies. and that change is from their coming home. you are doing it, and you are doing it right.

  34. i breastfed both of my sons. i TRIED to be discreet in public – mainly because I am discreet – not because i cared what others thought. But YOU try telling your two month old squirmer to settle down and just nurse. boys, especially mine, are impossible to quietly discreetly nurse. there is no keeping a blanket over their little heads when they want to accomplish two objectives 1: to feed their bellies, and 2: to see the world.

    best of luck on the breastfeeding. it is equally wonderful and annoying and you'll be sad when they're weaned and happy all at once.

    natalie

  35. All I will say is this….. I breastfed both my kids for a few months, and I stuck it out as long as I could with bleeding and pain, then moved on to pumping. I wholeheartedly agree it is best for baby, and I'd never think of judging another mother for either choice.

    HOWEVER, when I did move on to using the bottle, the comments I received in public from breastfeeding "advocates" were horrible. I had women snicker and make faces at me, and one even went so far as to say I was "poisoning" my child. Talk about judgement and guilt. If you ask me, name calling and judging another mother is more poison than formula will ever be.

    So for as victimized as breastfeeding mom's constantly claim to be, there is another side to this, and I can tell you that it's just as cruel, and just as humiliating.

    And that's all I have to say about that.

  36. Are you on hooked in with the Austin MaMas group? If not, you should be on their mailing list, for sure. They're very diverse, and wonderful Moms in Austin. Supporting each other in all situations. I think you can sign in through their Yahoo Group, if you're not already a member.

    I breastfed for about one month, and had to stop because of severe PPD. The medicine I had to take made my milk toxic, and the very act of producing milk kept my hormones raging and made me insanely sick.

    Glad to see that you're doing well and that photo is so beautiful!

  37. I hate that you're damned if you do and damned if you don't. If you don't breastfeed you're a terrible mother and if you do breastfeed you're a terrible woman. Am I really supposed to spend half an hour in a smelly public restroom every two hours so some tight ass can think I'm a "discreet woman?" Give me a break.

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