I Nurse My Baby in the Bathroom

I want to set a good example, be inspiring, and be an activist for other nursing mothers, future nursing mothers, and random other people in public. From the first week of his life, I have eagerly nursed Dylan in public. I’ve fed him at the grocery store, in WalMart, in several restaurants, in three libraries and a bookstore, on five airplanes, in three airports, in front of my family, in front of my friends, in front of strangers. I do it sometimes with my shirt and bra up, exposing my big belly. I do it sometimes with my shirt pulled down and my whole ginormous breast coming out the top. I don’t worry too much about my “modesty”, and I don’t cover Dylan up, either.

I know that many people have never seen a breastfeeding mother and child. For the sake of education, for the cause of making normal what should be fairly routine, I am committed to nursing in public. I even know all the good comebacks:

“Put a blanket over your own head if you don’t want to see it.”

“I don’t expect you to eat in the bathroom, and my child shouldn’t have to, either.”

Except, oops, it turns out that Dylan is getting more and more distractable as he gets more interested in the world beyond my body. If we’re just running a quick errand, it doesn’t matter because he can go the whole time without eating or he can grab a quick bite in the truck before we go in. If we’re away from the house for an extended period, though, it gets trickier. He is getting to where he will not eat if he’s distracted, even if he’s starving. He starts chewing on his lower lip when he’s hungry, but I put my breast to his mouth and he just whips away, trying to see all he can see.

This weekend while visiting my family I gave a few attempts to breastfeed in front of them, and Dylan nursed there a couple of times when I could kind of shield him in a big armchair. But mostly, I had to go into another room and sit in the quiet with him to get him to nurse.

Then last night Joshua and I were out running errands and we had several places to go. We went to eat at a restaurant, too, and as we were waiting for our food, it was clear that Dylan was also getting really hungry. I tried to nurse him in the booth. No other customers or employees were nearby, but even Joshua being near is enough to distract Dylan. I really wanted to feed him before the meal came – for his comfort and mine – so… I went to the bathroom. I sat right down on the floor and nursed Dylan in the stillness of the bathroom.

I’ve heard mothers speak indignantly about the idea of nursing in the bathroom, and I don’t really relate. I’m just not that afraid of germs, I guess. I’d be indignant about being asked to breastfeed somewhere else, of course. And I wish I was getting the chance to be indignant about that. But so far no one’s said a word to me about nursing in public, and now Dylan is not really wanting to do it at all. Of course meeting Dylan’s needs for food and comfort top my priority list.

I was all geared up to be a vocal activist, but instead, sometimes I feed my baby in the bathroom. Go figure!

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