I am still reeling from this. I feel like I was punched in the gut; I can't catch my breath, and feel slightly sick. A woman got kicked off a Delta flight for nursing her 22-month-old daughter. The airline says she was being indiscreet. That they support breastfeeding provided it's done discreetly.
Who determines what is discreet?!? And why can't breastfeeding be just fine as it is, anywhere, anytime?
Email Delta here.
Mouse wrote a great piece about this too.
Ok. I've had time to cool down and I think I can be slightly coherent now. I think I felt so horrified by that story because I identify with that mother quite personally. We will be flying with Swee'pea in January to South Africa and I feel slightly less nervous about the trip knowing that I always have my boobs. To think that someone could be offended by me nursing him on the plane, where even if I wanted to go somewhere private, there is absolutely nowhere to go; except one of those tiny bathrooms, which I'm quite sure the two of us couldn't fit into comfortably anyways, and anyways I promised myself and Swee'pea long ago that I would never ever feed him in a bathroom (except at Sears because they have a separate sitting room with couches).
I've mentioned before that I'm not a huge nurser in public. I do it when necessary but if I can avoid it, by nursing him before we go out or when he was younger scheduling outings for the time between feedings, I will. Lately this has gotten harder to do, because he's eating more solids and his nursing times are less predictable. So in the past week I have found myself nursing him at a pub, at a dance performance in the theatre during intermission, and at the Farmer's Market. These times have made me realize that I just don't care anymore. He's on and off the boob pretty regularly and easily distracted so I'm sure I flash the odd flesh and/or nipple. And it just takes too much effort to care. It's enough just to hold onto this squirmy bundle of joy now, and not let him fall on his head again.
I also mentioned last week that I went to a workshop on deciding whether to wean when returning to work. I have pretty much decided to continue nursing him, pretty much until he doesn't want to anymore. I will play it by ear, and I may whittle down the number of feeds at some point, or I may not. I am still waiting to hear if I can return part-time, and obviously that will affect the logistics of our continued breastfeeding relationship. My sister continues to breastfeed her 2 1/2 year old daughter, although only twice a day, and never in public. Thanks to my sister, I learned that breastfeeding doesn't have to be an all or nothing thing with an older child, and you don't have to wean when you go back to work.
The other night when I was out with some friends, my young single friend asked if I was going to keep "doing it" when I return to work; she didn't even want to utter the words breastfeed or breastmilk. I discussed my breastfeeding relationship without thinking twice, but I did notice some tension around the table. I have no idea where it was coming from but it was most definitely there. And my other friend, who has two boys both born at home, both breastfed, said that one son lost interest at 9 months and with the other one she figured "she should stop this" around 14 months. I thought her choice of language was pretty telling: should, not wanted to; this, not nursing or breastfeeding.
I used to think that nursing a toddler was a bit weird. I had a few friends and acquaintances who did, and while I said more power to them, and recognized that it was my problem that I felt weird not theirs, I didn't think it was the thing for me. But since I've been breastfeeding, I realize it's really not weird at all.
Somewhere, since I started breastfeeding, I saw a quote from an African man who could remember nursing as a child. It was a beautiful quote and he talked about the sun and warmth and scent and dust... and comfort. I thought it was on the web, but perhaps it was in some book. Anyways I can't find it now. But when I read it, I thought hmmm, that's kinda weird. A child nursing so long that he can remember drinking at his mother's breast.
Yesterday I mentioned this to Sugar Daddy as we discussed the question of weaning. And he pointed out that this kind of memory is only weird because we oversexualize the breast. I love that he can unravel these things for me.
Regardless, in deciding to join the extended nursers' club, I was quite clear in my own head that it wouldn't necessarily be something that I talk about with just anybody. That I would be a bit in the closet. That I'm not really an activist. That's why I didn't come out and say in last week's post that I was leaning towards child-led weaning. I didn't think it was something I wanted to blog about. But now I have to.
This news makes me want to become a lactivist, in the most inclusive and supportive sense of the word. At the workshop, we discussed the issue of nursing your toddler in public, and how it's pretty normal in many other parts of the world, and very much the more natural choice, but that many in our culture of the oversexualized breast are uncomfortable with seeing a nursing toddler. And the lactation consultant said that maybe if more people see nursing toddlers, eventually it will become more acceptable and normal. So perhaps there is some responsbility in choosing to continue our nursing relationship to make it a little bit public? To be a bit of an activist? To make it easier for those who come after me? I don't know. I'll see when I get there. (And I hope I don't need to clarify that with discovering this sense of responsibility, I am in no way judging my sister or others who choose to continue their breastfeeding relationship in safety behind closed doors.)
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