The first time in public…(nursing, I mean)
Before I had a baby, I was very shy to expose even generally acceptable anatomy in public. I was generally a conservative dresser. If one time I bought a shirt or blouse which displayed a remotely plunging neckline, I wore it with excitement and embarrassment. Excitement as it made me feel I was doing something forbidden and naughty. And embarrassment as I kept feeling (now I know in undue vanity) that that plunging neckline had developed into a magnet for all gazes in the five mile radius. All my coworkers, suddenly disinterested in their work would eye my new neckline. Or the man in the elevator would ignore his doughnut and QT coffee to throw a look at my neckline.
So anyway, I was quite convinced I would never breastfeed in public. This followed my newly broken conviction that I would never breastfeed at all. Of course, after labor and experiences at the hospital, nurses and doctors were no longer ‘public’. But I would retire into my room with the door locked to nurse, even when guests or my dad was in the house. Anyway, armed with what looked like enough preparation for a weekend trip, the babe, my husband and I went to the 1 month visit at the doctors. Now in India they say that babies should stay in their homes for the first six weeks. But we turn up at the doctors of course and we hear ‘ Your son is now 1 month. He can wait in the general waiting area’. I eye the waiting area suspiciously. Here is a five year old with a runny nose. A teenager seems to be coughing. And all the rest of the kids seemed to me to be stricken by mysterious ailments. So I decide to wait it out in the car outside while my husband waits inside for the doctor to call (we had learnt this could take a while).
Of course the moment I reach the car – a four door sedan with no tinted glasses, and a car seat jammed in the middle on the back seat, the babe begins to yell. He is hungry and cannot wait. I sit down in the back seat, sqeezing the babe and me next to his enormous car seat as I feel this will give us more privacy. I realize I am wearing a buttoned shirt, which, having no experience in the area, I had considered to be ideal for nursing outside, should I need to do it. Now I have to unbutton it till below my bra while the yelling baby ensures every one passing by gives us at least a glance.
Of course then, the nursing bra is stuck. As I struggle here comes a mom with her teenage son. A glare. ‘Cant you be more discreet’ it says. ‘I have a teenager here’. Ok, lady. The son does his best not to look. The car next to me pulls out.
And then I begin to nurse. Moments of peace.
Of course, it so hapened that that day was the day where every kid was coming to the doctors with their dads. And the dads would be driving mini vans which set them up higher and would give them a better view into the cars next to them.
And then the men from the landscaping company with their loud blowers blowing leaves next to the car. Gruff looking men, who again, pretended not to look.
And in the middle of all this, again, a new awareness. Hey! I who cringed in revealing dresses is out here next to a group of landscaping men, my shirt unbuttoned to my navel, a nursing babe at my breast. A feeling I was part of a new club. The moms club. Where when kids are concerned, shyness and vanity melts away…..well, maybe atleast when they are a month old
What were some of your experiences?
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