As I have talked about before, when I was pregnant with my Haydie girl, I knew that I would nurse her - I set small goals, but I knew that at least her first birthday was where we were headed, if not more.
We lasted 13 months (and 10 weeks pregnant with her little sis) and I treasure those months like nothing else.
Now, I happily nurse Carly and will for at least a year - and I am treasuring those moments as well.
I knew that nursing is what I would do. I love looking at Carly, my little Chubby Cubby, and knowing that she is as round as a little meatball (weighing in at a stout 15 pounds, 4 ounces at her 4.5 month check up last week) because I make milk and feed her. I like knowing that my body was made for this, and that hers was made to eat this way. I feel a sense of pride knowing that she is healthy and happy and loving mama's milk.
I knew that it was going to be hard at times, demanding all the time, and unlike anything I had done before, when I set out on the journey of a nursing mother a little more than two years ago.
What I didn't know is how much I would like it - and how passionate about breastfeeding my girls I would become. Don't get me wrong, I know that formula is a choice. And I believe that formula has a place and I don't look down on anyone who makes the choice to feed formula, but for me and my babies, breast is truly best.
Something else I didn't know was how much of a taboo feeding my babies could be and that I would be taking on a cause.
I am not scared to nurse in public. If my kid is hungry, I have to feed her. I have nursed a baby just about everywhere you can think of without shame. I am modest - I wear a tank top under my shirt, which I pull down as i pull the other one up and it covers my middle. I am modest, and you would be hard pressed to tell if i were nursing without looking twice. Less skin shows in this situation than does in a lot of bathing suits.
Like I said, I am not ashamed. In fact, I am proud. It is a totally natural thing. This is how I feed my daughter. While I am modest and respectful to those around me, I am first and foremost respectful to my child. I will not make her put a blanket over her head. I will not nurse her in the bathroom. I wouldn't ask an adult to cover their head while they eat their lunch sitting on a toilet, so I will not ask that of my child.
I am telling you all of this (again) for a reason.
Recently, I was invited to go somewhere - somewhere that my husband is being honored, and I am supposed to give a speech about him. I don't want this post to turn into a call out, so I will be vague, but this "somewhere" is a public, professional event where I have been before, full of people I know and have known for a long time. Most of the people there are people who are friends, people who love me, love my husband, and love my kids. I was invited to this place as my husband's "date" and told that I could bring my little nursling with me, because she is too small to be away from me for a weekend.
No big deal, right?
Well, when they said we could bring the baby, a few stipulations were tacked on, and the big one is that while at this "somewhere" I was told that I can't nurse my baby. I was told that it is "offensive" and that i would have to excuse myself and use a restroom or something equally ridiculous.
I might offend someone? Really? It is not my fault or my problem that there are people really THAT unaware of biology that a breastfeeding infant would offend them. News flash - feeding babies is what breasts are for.
This is discrimination, plain and simple. I know that in the state of Nevada, there is legislation that protects me as a nursing mother, and it reads as follows:
Notwithstanding any other provision of law, a mother may breast feed her child in any public or private location where the mother is otherwise authorized to be, irrespective of whether the nipple of the mother’s breast is uncovered during or incidental to the breastfeeding.
(Added to Nevada Revised Statutes by 1995, 126)
I am telling you all this because I feel like it is important for people to know that this is discrimination and that it is illegal. Saying that a baby cannot nurse anywhere in this state (and many others) is against the law, and is asking for the wrath of not just one pissed off mother to come down on you. Recently a mother nursing her infant son was asked to cover up or leave a Target store in Webster, Texas. The next thing that Target knew, there were women nursing babies in the open at 250 of their stores, causing a media storm with a nation-wide nurse-in.
You think one mom with her breast out is offensive? Try a couple hundred.
Something to be even more concerned with from a business standpoint? If you discriminate against a mother or a group of mothers who are willing to take you to task, you could be sued for all you're worth - and they have a good legal case per the law stated above.
What am I going to do?
Well, I won't be staging a nurse-in, but I don't want it to go un-noticed that in am attempt not to offend others that I am very offended myself.
So on Saturday night, I will be in my hotel room in Vegas or happily and openly nursing my baby in a restaurant or some other public place. My husband will be at the event without me.
I feel like this is a case where my absence is speaking loud and clear - especially when my brutally honest husband tells everyone why I am not there, especially when I am the only spouse not there at the ready with a speech.
And, to be honest, people who find me providing my child child with the food intended for human babies offensive and put down unenforceable bullshit rules about it aren't really people I want to be around anyway.