Friday, August 10

Without Support, Quitting Becomes An Option

Sitting across from an old friend at lunch, who is soon to become a new mother, Elle sits and reaches for the food on my plate and frustratedly twists her body backwards towards me and whines for me. It is just about time for her afternoon nap. My mind is in three places. I'm having three conversations simultaneously. I'm listening to Conrad as he interjects my conversation with my friend, and I'm honed into Elle's body language-which screams FEED ME DAMMIT! Feed me NOW! Right now, not when your friend finishes her sentence or when you're in a bathroom stall and jam my head against that silver thing that hangs on the wall causing a totally embarrassing scene for yourself-also falling into the toilet dampening the hem of your skirt (haha mom, teaches you to nurse me on the toilet, dummy.) Feed me NOW!!!! Plus, I pull away every time someone flushes. It scares me and people farting while they crap in the next stall is just gross, so lets not do that again, mmmmk? Alright, Elle, I get it. You'd rather not eat your dinner on a toilet. What-eeeeever, Diva.  

I didn't bring anything to cover & didn't have a tank top under my blouse to pull down using the blouse to cover the top of myself to be desecrate. Her little whines have become much more dramatic now in the 24 seconds that It's taken me to sort out what is on this very small table as I look for something-anything to use to shield my "totally inappropriate" breasts as they feed my daughter (gag me now). I consider spilling the corn and salad onto the table, using the plate as my shield. Bad idea. I don't see anything as I rummage through my huge purse (cloth diaper insert? My friend will surely think I'm a dirty hippie if I pull out this stained (but freshly laundered) cloth diaper as a makeshift nursing cover......) But alas, I spot a napkin on the ground which must have fallen off of my lap as I helped my 3 year old to the bathroom and didn't realize it had fallen. Side note, as a 2nd time mother, it's hard to look "totally put together" around soon-to-be- first time mom friend as I deal with the needs of my 3 year old son who doesn't want his pizza cut into triangles, leave them whole Mom, DUH! And then once they are cut doesn't want them cut (god help me......) OR my baby girl who doesn't care that someone in the restaurant may or may not be judging her mother for nursing her right there, with OR without a cover (because GAWD knows there are SURELY too many half naked woman strutting their HALF COVERED breasts on ANY GIVEN billboard on ANY GIVEN street that you MAY or MAY NOT drive down on ANY GIVEN day in Las Vegas. Can I get a motha' bleeping' witness ya'll? Oh, Jesus help me now.

You want to be respectful of the degree of comfort of those around you, but sometimes the situation doesn't allow for it.

So whatever, I didn't get all weird and hippie on my friend and whip that "totally sexy" lactating breast out- instead I grabbed that napkin on the ground to cover my junk and baby girl was happy-I was happy AND the storm had all but calmed except for the moment when my dearest-sweetest-most precious and beautifulest-1st time mommy-to-be friend said, "I don't get nursing in public. Couldn't you just pump a bottle of milk before you leave and feed it to her instead of nursing in public?" In all honesty, I wish it were that simple, friend. I could just real quick pump some milk and be out the door but this momma don't work like that.

I'm LAZY. I feed on the go. I feed when she needs. I feed when she says "Mi-mi". I feed when she arches her back and twists her body backwards like a gymnasts. I feed her in the Ergo at my son's gymboree classes as I help him tip toe over the balance beam and do karate kicks off. I feed on park benches covered or not. I feed while I pay for my groceries at Trader Joe's. I feed in parking lots & during dinner parties with friends during dinner. I even climb in the backseat sandwiched between two car seats as we drive, or on air planes sandwiched between two men. I even share photos of her nursing on my blog. GASP!

Yes, I get THAT personal Ya'll AND you know what? I get "personal"Because without support and knowledge, giving up is all too easy for some. It was for me the first time around. I get messages from new mothers almost weekly asking what they can do to up their supply OR what they can do to get their baby to latch OR they ask me advice because they're nervous about nursing a baby because their mother didn't nurse them and their sister gave up and their cousin had small-flat nipples, so they think they will fail. BUT you WON'T fail because there is too much support out there and if we ask for help, we can't fail, no matter how long we nurse whether it is 3 weeks or 3 years.

There is a fine line between satisfying the needs of a baby who looks to me for her nourishment, comfort and love AND satisfying the needs for everyone else in the room OR Internet to be comfortable & not weirded out. With all due respect, to the elderly couple who felt uncomfortable and gave me weird looks OR anyone who compares their experience to mine and doesn't want to get "that personal" don't worry about it. For every person who is creeped out by it, there are a ton of other moms who are dying for advice or support and I'd much rather help them figure out how to get their sweet baby to latch than worry about your raised eye brows while my baby has her lunch. Get over yourself, elderly couple.

Side note while I'm ranting away. A woman stopped me today at Micheal's while I had Elle covered by the hood of my Ergo-nursing, put her hand on my arm and said, "I'm proud of you. How old is she?" "12 months" I said, "Good for you. Keep going!" <------ love her!

So not everyone and their sister thinks prolonged nursing OR public nursing is weird.

AND if they do, screw-them all!

Baby wants what baby wants.

Everyone else can suck it.


Kidding, not literally. Gross. 

{Burping my 7 week old Elle}


  1. LOVE that you are so passionate about this. I was as well (and still am). I remember when I was still nursing Grace at a year old and people would say stuff all the time about how weird it was or that I was crazy. I didn't let it bother me at all and just kept going. I probably would have done it longer had I not gotten pregnant with Charley. Although at sixteen months, Grace was only nursing in the middle of the night. Once I weaned her she started sleeping through the night, so I think it was the right time for her anyways. I hope you keep blogging about things like this because it's so important to remind mamas that it's what best for their baby, and NO ONE should be able to make them feel uncomfortable for doing the right thing for their child. Ugh! just upsets me when people act so weirded out towards breastfeeding.

  2. I don't understand people who object to or "don't understand" nursing in public. I'm all for not offending people, but if someone is offended by breastfeeding, I really just want to tell that person to get over it. We're mammals. We have breasts to feed our babies. Also, regardless of an individual person's feelings about breasts, this is a hungry baby we're talking about. A. Hungry. Baby. Have some friggin' compassion, people!

    Obviously, I can get pretty worked up about breastfeeding.

    Quite a while ago, you posted a picture of yourself and two friends breastfeeding your babies, and I will never forget it. All three (six, really) of you were completely relaxed, happy, and covered. In fact, I only knew you were breastfeeding because a) you TOLD us that's what you were doing, and b) I've been a nursing mother and can spot one a mile away.

  3. Thanks Courtney! I hated that feeling i felt when I couldn't nurse Conrad. It felt like we failed as a team because we couldn't figure it out or I thought, maybe my body just wasn't right for nursing. Now i know that it was my lack of knowledge about the topic AND not having support from other moms who could help me figure it out.

    With only 12 months under our belts, 16 months seems like so far away-I hope we can make it to 16 months. That's amazing to me! Good for you girl.

    I've gotten so many weird reactions to (covered) public nursing. Remember the time i was asked to take my baby outside while she ate (covered) at church? That was weird. I've learned to stick to my convictions and not let people bother me too much. Every once in a while though, something dumb someone says can light a fire under my ass though.

  4. I "failed" both times at nursing my babies. The first time I was very nervous and uneducated. I wasn't prepared for the immense pain and my daughter had a lot of problems latching. The second time I was doing great, and my son was a champion nurser. There was a lot of pain but I was pushing through it. His latch was perfect, I just have very sensitive skin and so it was bound to hurt until my nipples got used to it. Anyway...I only lasted 3 weeks. I had terrible post partum depression and very little support. My midwife ADVISED me to stop nursing. I was all for it (in my very depressed state it was incredibly draining to nurse a newborn). I wish I could go back SO badly and tell my very-depressed-self that this will pass and will be worth it. I also wish I could go back and knock some sense into my midwife. I'm feeling much better 5 months post partum, but giving up my dream of nursing my baby has been one of the hardest things I've had to deal with. I think nursing is beautiful and how God intended us to feed our baby's. There's a number of things I think that led to my failure this time around and I hope if we ever have another baby that it goes much differently.

    Beautiful photos! Breastfeeding in public should be no big deal. Both of my sister-in-laws are amazing at breastfeeding and have had very little trouble at doing so (one nursed twins for 18 months). It's natural and something that I envy and wish I would have been more successful at.

  5. I firmly believe that the only reason I was so successful with nursing Isaac was because I had so many friends around me who did it and did it in front of me. They never said anything about it, it was just natural and that always stuck in my mine and encouraged me. When I was having a hard time or wasn't sure, I just remembered that they did it. THey pressed through. And at times, when I needed it, they encouraged me. And so I do that for others now.

    And breastfeeding in public! Why are some women so weird about that?? I just don't get it. Isaac was on a strict feeding schedule. He ate the same time every single day. And I still didn't pump and if we were in public, which was alot of the time, I still nursed in public. No big deal. Again, I had friends who did it and didn't make a big deal about it and so I never even thought NOT to. It's just what has to be done when its time to eat!

    Oh and a random side note: I used to nurse Isaac before church service in the nursing mom's room at church and I never used a cover in there. I mean, it's the nursing mom's room! ANd you wouldn't believe how many other women used a cover and seemed pretty uncomfortable that I didn't. Maybe we need to encourage women to be OK with how their body works and what it's made for!

    THank you for encouraging women as you do. We need so many more like you :)

  6. Haley, I too had (and still struggle) with PPD (especially around my monthly gift. I'd love to be one of those nursing moms who doesn't get her gift while she's nursing.) I feel like that 3 weeks should be celebrated and you should totally look at that as a success, especially with dealing with a toddler and a new baby AND being down and out. BUT, I can completely understand how you feel because I too felt sad that I only gave Conrad pumped milk (and supplemented with formula) until he was 7 months..... So I understand feeling sad about it. On the other hand, any amount of breast milk is better than NONE at all. Success is different for each nursing relationship and those relationships are between you and baby, not anyone else. I used to be really judgey about moms who nursed their toddlers until they were 2 or 3 and now I totally get it and don't think it's weird at all. AND, I totally get it when a mom says she was only able to nurse for 3 weeks, because i remember how hard it was too, so i commiserate with that feeling.

    So I wouldn't call it a "failure" as much as I would call it doing what was right for you and your baby at that time and going with what felt best. So for that, I applaud you.

  7. I'm dying. You are SO beautiful. I hope you got my Facebook wall post. I want to be that Michael's woman because every nursing momma in public deserves to know that what they're doing is GOOD and beautiful and PERFECT. I love it, Chels. I look up to you SO MUCH and we are absolutely, hands down, kindred spirits. I miss you.

    1. ****Love you, sweet friend. Your comment on my fb page encouraged me greatly.****

  8. Ah, you're so good at writing and expressing yourself.
    Love it.

  9. Thanks Rachael. I wouldn't say I'm a "good" writer but thank you anyway. I'm sure my writing makes english teachers cringe - grammatically It's pretty terrible! ;)

    Thank you though. I try to be as honest as I can. ;)

  10. Thank you for posting this. As a mom with kids close to your age, I am proud of you for not throwing your food in your friend's face. Sometimes I get frazzled enough to when people say things like that. I just want to say "HELLO, when would I get the time to pump with these two?!" Oh well. I feed on demand, everywhere I am. And actually, the only people who have ever really said anything has been family (men) and it pisses me off. But there are times I struggle with uncomfortableness with nursing in particular situations, my daughter senses it and it won't go well. In those situations, I generally try to find a more comfortable place to nurse. Thanks for being such an advocate!

  11. It is very encouraging to hear other moms talk about nursing in a positive light. Congrats on a year! Amazing!

  12. Oh how I wish I could have made it a year...or longer! But, unfortunately, the bod had other ideas:( Next time. With the next one, I keep telling myself. GOOD for you is right. Keep going (should you please), is right. So awesome!!!

  13. Love the post! I nursed most of mine tll they were 18 months and I always dared someone to say something must be why they never have! Good Job!

  14. Jennifer B.13 August, 2012

    Such an important post. So very true. Tonight my almost 15 month old refused the boob before bed- an occurance that has not happened before. She is getting in multiple molars and fighting a cold and I think it was just too much. However, this means that I only nursed 1 time today. I am thinking about all I went through last summer to continue nursing her when I was in such excruciating pain. I nursed for 10 weeks with pain like knives stabbing in my breasts every time she nursed. I got some of the worst advice ever from some of the best intending people- personal and professional. When my child was born I could have NEVER imagined that introducing formula into her food source would have made it so that I would have a wonderful nursing relationship with my post-1 year old, but it is true. I introduced formula to Rose at 2 weeks old and it made it so that I could still nurse some, but not be obligated to be in such pain all the time. We ended up(after 8-10 weeks) finding out - from 1 paragraph in my breastfeeding book- that I had Raynaud's Syndrome of the Nipple. I urge all women that help support nursing mom's to become more educated about it. I went to multiple lactation consultants, doctors, and pediatricians. Got treated for all sorts of things and was even prepared to cut a supposed tounge tie on my baby b/c of nursing pain. All it took to cure the Raynauds was lots of vitamin B6. I have been nursing pain free for many months now and am so thankful. But I can tell you that even though I sought out a ton of support, I got very little actual help with this until we found it. I was simply determined to not let anyone but myself and my daughter define our breastfeeding relationship. And I refuse to cover when I nurse in public b/c after working so hard to nurse, it's all about what is convenient for myself and my daughter. I have some beautiful pictures that I would love to share somehow. My friend Paige took them(I think that perhaps I found your blog b/c of hers)- anyway- I could go on about all of this forever- it has been one of the biggest defining things of motherhood for me, and the one thing that was not defined by anyone other than us. You are right, without support quitting is a really easy option. But you should also be really careful to think before you judge another woman giving her baby a bottle of formula- because you never know what road she took to get there either. If we could all surround each other with more love and support the whole mothering process would feel like more of a community of support.

  15. Jennifer B. Thank you for your comment. I appreciate hearing a bit of your story. I too formula fed-not because of pain, or necessity or a medical condition but because I panicked and was frantic, had no confidence in myself OR in my baby and didn't have support to keep going whether the baby or myself were crying and frustrated. I quit and bottle fed/supplimented with formula because I was uneducated and frustrated. I never want to have a friend of mine quit because they feel like they can't or out of frustration or because it's hard. I want them to know that it sucks (like you stated above-and it is painful, especially what you went through), BUT breastfeeding and getting over the difficulties we have had shapes us as mothers in a way that supplementing and bottle feeding (for me) couldn't have. For me.

    I support any woman who makes educated choices for their child (as you did as you were figuring out what was going on and for a time supplemented.) I think that is great and I'm thrilled that you have beautiful pictures that you are proud of to document this wonderful relationship between you and your baby. ****I think every mom should enjoy that time and document it. How neat it would be to look at pictures of my own mother and I nursing?! ;)

    Thank you for your comment. You taught me something new! ;)