Thursday, September 16, 2010

Nursing at Graduation

I was recently asked to be a guest blogger for cloth diaper addiction. She is doing a series on nursing. I thought a long time about what to write, and finally settled on a blog about nursing support. It was a toss up between that and nursing in public.

I don't think enough people talk about nursing in public. It is a huge milestone for a breastfeeding mom. A lot of my breastfeeding friends will pump to go out so they don't have to lift their shirt in front of strangers.

I'll admit, the first time I did I wasn't very prepared. My son was less than two weeks old and we were out watching my sister Dutch Dance at the Tulip Time Festival. We had just gotten done getting my son's newborn pictures done and he was hungry. So I just sat down on the sidewalk and prepared to nurse.

My sister saw what I was about to do and gawked in horror. "You are NOT going to just whip them out for the whole world to see are you?!?!!?!" Her comment really got to me. I wore two shirts like most other women will advise. One to pull up, one to keep my tummy covered. I even put my stroller directly behind me to block the view of anyone standing in the grass behind me. What my sister didn't realize is that her comment made me so frazzled, that I couldn't relax enough to get my son to latch on.

That's when my mother stepped in.

It was the beginning of May and still chilly, so I had brought a couple of blankets. So she grabbed a blanket to help me cover up. I felt so embarrassed to have my mom standing there holding a blanket over me. My face was red, my son was hungry and fussy, and I just couldn't get things right. I ended up mostly giving up and nursing in the car. (Not as easy as I thought. A Ford Focus was not meant for a car seat AND a mom nursing in the back seat. I may have covered the window with milk)

After that, I refused to leave my house for more than an hour and a half. I was not going to feed baby A anywhere other than the privacy of my own house. (The only exception to that was at my mom's house. I could nurse perfectly fine in front of my family.)

Then came my aforementioned sister's graduation from high school. Almost a month to the day since my last NIP attempt, I was going to be in a stadium surrounded by hundreds of people for at least two hours. I knew this was my best chance to get over my fear. First, my sister would not be around to make comments. Second, it was my sister's graduation. I wasn't going to miss it!

This time, I set myself up for success. I practiced at home and worked on coving up with my shirt. Baby A never liked a blanket or cover. Even at home, he would wiggle and try to get out from underneath it. I gave up trying and worked with what I had. I also attended a nursing support group once a week, and saw how other mom's didn't use blankets, but that I really couldn't see any of them at all once baby was latched on. And latching on only took a second or two. I practiced undoing my nursing tank and sliding it down only when baby A was at my breast ready to open his mouth and latch on. I even found the best place to put my nursing pad was to tuck it just inside the cup of the tank on the side I wasn't nursing on.

When my son began showing signs of hunger, I realized I had missed on minor (ok major) detail. Graduation was held at the football stadium. We were in the stadium seats. That means that people were be sitting behind/above me looking down at the field...and my boobs.

I took a deep breath, and proceeded to go through all the steps I had practiced. Elbowing the 20-something guy sitting behind me. Oops. I took another deep breath and continued. I got my son latched on. YAY! I nursed him through the opening speeches. I laughed at the great stories told. (The valedictorian made life comparisons to Sponge Bob Square Pants. I won't be forgetting that speech any time soon)

When my sister's name was called to receive her diploma, I was holding a sleeping, content baby, who slept right through my cheers for her.

I've been nursing in public without fear ever since.

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