Monday, November 17, 2014

Public breastfeeding, Kim Kardashian, and the irony of it all.

 *stepping up on my soap box for this've been warned*

I consider myself to be a retired breastfeeder.  I haven't breastfed a baby in well over 2 years, but I did breastfeed 2 babies for a combined total of 2 years and 5 months.  29 months.  116 weeks. 812 days.  Countless hours, countless nights.  So it's not recent experience, but it's a pretty good track record of experience in this department. It may not be something that is on my mind much now, but it was a big part of my life...and one that I look back on as a highlight of both of the boys first part of life. 

Breastfeeding Jake in the beginning was a struggle; without going into too much detail, I will just say that for the first week or so, each feeding required a breastpump, a syringe with which to feed him, a try at a "regular" breastfeeding session, followed by crying.  The crying was my own. It was an exhausted, overwhelmed, and frustrated cry over the fact that something that seemed like it should be so natural was not working for us.

Eventually, we worked it out, Jake and I...and we were able to ditch the vicious cycle of pumping and syringe feeding, thankfully. One thing I never did figure out with him?  How to feed him in public.  I felt strange doing it....and not because I thought it was wrong at all.  In fact, I'd see other mothers doing that and become envious, and wonder why I couldn't just get over my own insecurities and feed him.  Because feeding him in say, a restaurant booth discretely, would have been a whole lot easier than what I usually did...which was retreat to the car, where I would sit by myself to feed him. Don't get me wrong, that wasn't every single time...if I was at the mall, I could tell you the exact location of the nicest changing rooms at any location inside that place :)

With Liam, I was slightly more secure....maybe because I had grown to be more comfortable as a mom, but also probably because I was left with fewer choices.  If I was out somewhere by myself with the kids, I didn't have the luxury of dragging Jake with me to retreat somewhere to feed Liam.  Pulling a 3.5 year old in a small, hot dressing room to feed a baby for at least 20 minutes?  No thank you! So, I learned to be ok with it when I had to be.

Rant ahead.....

The bottom line?  I was never super comfortable with it....but that was just ME.  It burns me up like nothing else to read comments from people about public breastfeeding who say things like, "well, my sister breastfeeds her kid, but she ALWAYS goes somewhere so that she doesn't expose herself in public"  Well, good for your sister for knowing what SHE is comfortable with.  Maybe she's like me....I wasn't worried about the general public having a heart attack over feeding my baby, it was my own anxiety that kept me from doing it the first time. 

Which brings me to my whole point in saying all of this....breasts are for feeding, people.  Feeding little babies...little babies who should not have to eat in a bathroom stall.  Or with a blanket covering up their entire head when they're already pressed up against a hot body.  So if you are one of the people out there who say that it's an indecent thing to do, that women shouldn't expose themselves, and that (my personal favorite) "no one wants to see that"....did YOU look at the Kim Kardashian picture?  Were you ok with that?  Because I can tell you that I saw a whole lot more of Kim K just scrolling through facebook the day those pictures were blasted everywhere than I ever see of a breastfeeding mom out in public. Thankfully, we never have to see anyone's bare backside while they're breastfeeding either, so there's that. 

And speaking of seeing things...I don't know what people are really seeing when moms are breastfeeding out in public.  I would love to know if the people who are up in arms over it and think it should be "banned" (which yes, I did actually read online...I really must stop reading comments on news articles!) have ever actually SEEN anything when a mom has been publicly feeding her baby?  Because I find it very hard to believe that the mom literally pulled off her shirt and bra and starting to feed her baby right then and there.  Even without a blanket over top of a baby's head, the little bit of skin that shows is nothing in comparison to what other girls and women are wearing.  It's actually less than a lot of bikini tops I've seen...should we go ahead and ban those too, while we're at it?

We're ok with Kim K.  We're ok with hollywood starlets showing off sideboob in their gowns at award shows.  We're ok with Lady Gaga wearing pasties under a sheer dress. Maybe you in particular are not ok with this, but as a society in general?  We seem to be ok with it. But a mom sitting in a restaurant booth feeding her baby while trying to enjoy a meal with her husband...this, we have a problem with?

Let's pull it together here, peeps.

I was so sick of seeing and hearing about the Kim K picture until I saw Alyssa Milano's response to it...which was so very perfect:

Not only was I applauding Alyssa Milano (just like my friend Dawson above), but I found something even more amazing when I went to her Twitter page to pull the quote....I found that since she wrote that last Wednesday, people have been tweeting her like crazy to say thank you.  Women from all over, thanking her for being an inspiration and for giving them the self confidence to not be ashamed by what they're doing.

So what have we learned here today?  A repeat of a childhood lesson that I say to my own kids all the time....if you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all.  And to build on that for this scenario...if you don't like what you're seeing, turn away and stop looking. 

*stepping off soapbox*
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