When I gave birth to my first son, I was so worried about how other people would respond to my breastfeeding in public. I bought a nursing cover and stuffed extra blankets into the diaper bag and wore billowy shirts whenever we went out. I breastfed in bathrooms, in my car, in fitting rooms – basically away from the public eye. I was 23 and had no real idea of how I wanted to breastfeed. I was just graduating from college and had no real guidance about how to breastfeed. So I succumbed. If I went to a party, I breastfed in another room. I let other people dictate how I was going to nurse my son.
Then four years later I gave birth to my second son. This time, I felt more like a veteran. A seasoned mom who was now working full-time and didn't schedule "neurotic panic attacks" into her day planner. I had more worries about whether people would be offended that my green carseat was a different fabric than the green stroller it snapped into than I did with breastfeeding in public.
I was at the mall with my baby and my mother when I asked her if she brought the bottle from the car. "Oh, I forgot!" she exclaimed, a reply she's also used when she says that someone called for me, it was important but she "forgot" who it was. I was a bit irked then since the baby was starting to fuss and I wasn't prepared with another bottle to feed him and the shirt I was wearing would show my postpartum rolls.
But my baby was hungry and what could I do? Explain to a newborn that mommy will show her belly fat? My baby hadn't even discovered his hands yet, how was he going to understand a concept like that? He just wanted to eat!
So I found a comfortable seat, positioned my wriggling hungry baby on my lap and started feeding him. Since it was a weekday, the mall was mainly filled with other mothers and their children and an occasional wandering teenager and elderly couple doing their mall laps. It was enough to galvanize the spirit that I didn't need to hide.
And I haven't since. I've breastfed in the main room at parties, while people discussed baseball and poetry around us. I've breastfed in the family lounge at the mall, amongst running children and bumbling toddlers. I've breastfed in clothing stores, outside the dressing room. As long as I'm comfortable, and a feeding is possible, who cares about what anyone else thinks?
With this child, I set my own breastfeeding agenda and the only other person who has a say in my decisions is the little two-month-old who makes it all worth it.