My husband and I were on a very rare us-only (well… and Madelyn) date, when he leaned across the table towards me, lowered his voice, looked around surreptitiously, and then…
Told me that he was pretty positive that the dude at the next table had TOTALLY just seen my boob.
The whole breastfeeding in public thing is still new to me. And it took me a while to actually do it. At first, I would just plan my outings in between Madelyn’s meal times. Then because she wasn’t gaining weight, I was pumping and giving her a bottle to see how much she was getting. So if I didn’t have a bottle ready when we were out, I’d hide somewhere and pump – usually in the car, though there were a few times when the bathroom was my only choice (that was way more awkward than it sounds).
For about a week after her birth, I think I was immune to being ‘seen.’ I guess so many people had seen ALL of me while we were in the hospital that I stopped caring. I remember a male nurse coming in right after delivery and I was completely naked, with a blanket somewhere in my general vicinity, and he was so concerned with this. I stopped and went, “Dude, I just had ten people checking out my bits. It’s fine.” Yeah. That level of comfortable. But then we went home, and I started having to wear clothes again, and that shyness came creeping back.
And then about a month after her birth, I had to go to IPAC to get her registered. We were past bottles, so I fed her before I went, thinking that since I had made an appointment, I’d be out in time.
Except it was IPAC. So even though my appointment was at 9:15, I just sat there and watched the clock as 9:15 came and went. And then Madelyn started crying and I knew what she needed. I tried to calm her down, hoping that I’d be able to make it a few minutes longer, thinking I’d get called any minute. But time kept going, she kept crying, and I felt worse and worse. So. I sucked it up, picked up my hungry baby, grabbed the nursing blanket thing (which I always kept in my bag, but had never used…) and started feeding my child.
Did I mention I was the only civilian in the room? And there were about 30 Marines and sailors just hanging out? Yeah. Let’s just add to the awkward list, right?
But she was hungry, and when your baby is hungry, you do what you gotta do. And then… she was done, and the world was still spinning. The guys didn’t even notice. It was an odd feeling. I felt strangely accomplished.
It got progressively easier after that. I would breastfeed at friends’ houses with no fear and maybe a blanket. Doctor’s office? No problem. Shopping mall? Easy. Restaurant? Done!
Which is where my husband and I were when he told me that I had flashed someone. Pre-baby, I would have absolutely lost it. (Though I’m really not sure why I’d have my boob out before… but I digress.) But now? Whatever. When I cover my upper body with the blanket and grab my baby, there is really only ONE possibility. If you are going to continue to stare, then you’re the odd one. So if you see my boob, too bad for you. I try to keep covered, but Madelyn is two months old. She has minimal control of those little limbs of hers. They sometimes pull the blanket, and seeing how my hands are busy holding her, I cannot always quickly grab it to cover back up.
I have fed Madelyn in so many public places that I am sure by now half this island has seen more than they’d like. But I so do not care.
My husband, however, is still concerned about my modesty, which is sweet of him. I am concerned that the crying, flailing baby is eating.
I think most women know that when they get pregnant and have that baby, things are going to change. I knew that. I obviously was not sure what all would change, but I promise public nudity was not anywhere near the list. I can’t really explain why it doesn’t bother me now, but I’m sure it is somewhere along the lines of making sure my baby is taken care of. Something like that…