Thursday, June 29, 2006

A good cause

Stephanie Pearl-McPhee has a good cause on her web site today supporting breastfeeding. I'm planning on making a hat or two for the cause.

My own breastfeeding experiences were helped enormously by the presence of my great-grandmother and my great aunt. Both Grandma McNickle and Aunt Bea had a ton of experience breastfeeding babies. Aunty Bea not only fed her own babies, but during the war when other women in the neighborhood went off to work at factories, she babysat and breastfed their babies too.

One of my daughter's favorite stories about Grandma McNickle happened the first time I breastfed in public. My great-grandmother was born in 1900. By the time my daughter was born, 1983, she was a very nice looking little old lady, with white hair and a matrons hump. She always dressed very well, especially when we went out to lunch on Friday, which we did weekly. In 1983, it wasn't completely acceptable to breastfeed in public. I was in the bathroom of a restaurant feeding my daughter, when the restaurant owner came in... (one bathroom, I hadn't locked the door, figuring I didn't want to tie up the bathroom if someone needed to use it, but also didn't want to offend anyone eating at one of our favorite restaurants). The lady told me it was HER restaurant, and if anyone was offended, they could bloody well LEAVE, as long as it didn't bother me.

Hey, I've been on the beaches on the Med, being naked in public doesn't bother me. I took my daughter out and sat at the table and was feeding her... discretely, with a blanket tucked around so nothing was showing.

Some man, eating at the next table, was -- I think-- trying to get a look at the baby. My sweet-little-old-lady grandmother yelled at him "What's the matter? Haven't you ever seen a TIT BEFORE?"

Thanks, Grandma.

By the time the oldest of my boys was born, I had the whole thing down... except that it was more accepted socially to breastfeed. I've fed the boys in malls, at the zoo, sitting on a bench at the park... no one ever looked askew or made a comment.

By the time my baby was born, I knew what I was doing. He was born with low blood sugar, however. The nurse and I went a quick round about whether to give him a bottle.

ME: I want him to learn how to latch on, I don't want him to have a bottle before he gets the breast. And I don't want him to have formula at all.

Nurse: The doctor said to give him a bottle, I'm giving him a bottle.

Me: Where's the doctor? MY pediatrician did not tell you to give him a bottle.

Nurse: The doctor on duty did.

ME: ANDY! Find OUR pediatrician.

And she did take MY baby and give him a bottle. I got a bit cranky after that.

Not that it affected him, he figured out nursing very quickly and nursed longer than either of my other children, and would be nursing now, at 5 1/2, if I'd have let him.

And I've just realized, 5 1/2 years later, that I'm still really pissed that that nurse didn't listen to me.

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