Before kids. I live in the After Kids era. I am in 0.2 AK. I had 24 years BK. 24 years of my life before children entered the picture. I was so cocky. I’d see a kid wailing in public and think, “Oh that poor mom. Well, never me. I will know all my child’s needs prior to the public breakdown.” I can’t say that all women who plan to have kids think that through their BK years, but I can say that many a women have been there. And any woman AK knows that it is foolish to pretend like your infant child isn’t in charge.
Since Little Love was born, I’ve had to breastfeed in public far more than I thought I would. When my child is hungry, my child is hungry. I am not going to deny him his food. I have yet to start scheduling feeds because I am fortunate enough to work from home and Little Love is still a bit too young, as per my doctor.
It was a day like any other. I was with my visiting in-laws at a Costco stocking up on everything made in bulk. We were only going to be out for an hour and I fed Little Love right before we left. Right as we turned the aisle where the free salsa samples were being handed out, Little Love let out a shallow cry. I know this cry. I know this cry all too well. It starts with one. It slowly ramps up until he gets what he wants.
I’m very fortunate in that my son is not a cry-er. He hardly makes a fuss unless he is desperate. So as his sobs timed closer and closer I started to panic. I can’t attest for all new moms, but I know I get this sinking feeling in my stomach when I am somewhere new and my child wants the boob.
I must have looked like I was training for a speed walking competition as I whirled around the store looking for a bench. I knew there had to be one somewhere. I refuse to nurse in the bathroom and most stores have benches near the front. The only sitting areas were in the food court area. Consequently, all seats were full on this particular Thursday afternoon.
As I spun the cart around with my screaming child, I had to make a decision: Feed my son and possibly make others uncomfortable or have him cry and possibly make others uncomfortable. I found a super comfortable Timber Ridge chair in the outdoor section and plopped down. It was under a tent display and not many people seemed to wander down the aisle. I let out a sigh of relief as I began to feed Little Love.
Other customers started filtering through and I started rehearsing lines in my head:
“I am legally allowed to be here, thus I am okay to breastfeed.”
“I am using a scarf, you can’t even see my child eating.”
“I know I look 17, but I assure you I am not.”
As I sat there thinking of the lines, I luckily never had to use them. Couples walked by. Men walked by. All avoided eye contact. I could see the men in the couples glue their eyes to the floor as their significant others sent daggers to the backs of their heads as if to say, “Don’t you dare look.”
And finally, a singular woman walked by and did a double take. With all of the lines rehearsed in my head the first thing that blurted out was, “Sorry!” I have no idea what I was sorry for. For possibly making this woman uncomfortable? For parking in front of lighter fluid? And then she surprised me.
This godsend of a woman replied, “Oh no that’s cool!” We proceeded to have a conversation about how old my child was and new motherhood. She told me to keep up the good work and went along her way. If it hadn’t been for this mom, I probably would’ve unlatched Little Love too early in an attempt to stop the stares.
I’m so grateful for this mystery woman and her kindness. I’m disappointed in myself for feeling any sort of shame. I would do anything for my child, and this just happened to be an instance of poor timing. I’m thankful no one actually said anything to me and that the Costco employees let me feed there.
I still believe that part of my fear of breastfeeding in public stems from the negative feelings people have towards nursing mothers. I really hope this can change soon. More people should be like the woman who reached out and was kind to me.
Hope everyone eats where they like and see y’all soon