Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Adventures in Breastfeeding!

Okay, so here’s my thing……..I had an experience recently that caused me to ponder my feelings about breastfeeding. Now, before you get upset and send me hate mail let me assure you, all of my babies suckled at their mother’s breast. I believe it is a great way to bond and get all of your vitamins for the day. Blah, blah, blah! However, there is a point where enough is enough!!!! Let me explain.

I was recently visiting teaching. (For those of you who are not familiar with Mormons, this is a program in my church where women in the neighborhood visit other women. We give them a message and words of hope and encouragement.) On this particular visit I found myself bringing along my 4 ½ year old daughter. I normally would leave her home but the house I was visiting had a boy the same age as my child. My neighbor and I thought if the children played together then we would have a more enjoyable visit.

Upon entering the house, my daughter and the boy, let’s call him “Chester”, ran off to play. I was having a nice relaxing visit with my neighbor. I found myself wondering why I didn’t hang out with this girl more often. After about 20 minutes, my daughter and “Chester” came into the room. The children announced loudly their need for a drink. I immediately started to rise to help when my eyes widened in horror. Sweet little 5-year old “Chester” started undoing the buttons on Mommy’s shirt. What in the name of all that is holy was this kid doing? Mommy continued the conversation without missing a beat while my daughter and I watched speechlessly.

What great hand-eye coordination this child had! He easily undid all 12 buttons (13 if you counted the clip on the nursing bra!!!!), gently pulled out a boob and started to drink. I am normally not a girl of limited speech but what do you say to that??? “I would like mine shaken not stirred!”??? The best I could come up with was “Wow”. My daughter, however, piped up with her cherubic voice and said, “Is that a drinking fountain?” I found myself grabbing her as she started forward for her turn.

As “Chester” came up for air I found myself thinking he resembled a vampire with the blood from his latest kill oozing out his mouth. As the little Dracula wiped the milk from his chin and exclaimed, “Yum” I found myself uttering sounds like a dolphin. The mother quickly explained to me the benefits of breastfeeding children. She patiently explained how your chances of breast cancer go down if you breastfeed children through the fifth year of life. I found her concern with cancer humorous since this woman obviously used a tanning bed. Trust me on this one! It’s the dead of winter and those boobs were evenly tanned (with no tan lines I might add!)

I asked the mother if she wanted a moment to finish feeding time but she said no. She gave me a lecture on the right of a mother to breastfeed any time and any place she wanted. I wholeheartedly disagreed. She was quite offended by this. However, she didn’t understand where I was coming from. (Remember in “To Kill a Mockingbird” when the dad tells his child that you don’t truly understand where a person is coming from until you “walk around in their skin”? Well, this mother couldn’t possibly understand my reservations on breastfeeding in public without “walking around in my lactating boobs!)

After the birth of my second child I had a breastfeeding moment that scarred me for life. I was attending church with my husband and two children. I have always had a policy of sitting as close to the front as possible. I have found my children misbehave less when there are no children in front of them. For the longest time we sat in the second pew from the front. The pew in front of us was occupied by the men (most wards use boys but our ward didn’t have any) who passed the sacrament. Once sacrament was over, these men would sit with their families leaving no one in front of us.

Moments before the sacrament was to begin my baby started to cry. It was time to feed her. My husband suggested that I stay in the meeting and feed her there. I gave him a crusty look and snorted at this idea. He pointed out several women in the chapel who were doing exactly that. These petite, cute moms had blankets modestly draped over their shoulders. Since it seemed to be working for them, I decided to give it a try.

It took several minutes of trying to get my 38HH boob out of its confinement. Now, did you know that when you have horrendously large boobs full of milk, the second they are free milk tends to dribble out of them until a little mouth begins to catch the liquid? I could feel the milk soaking my skirt as I tried to get my baby under the blanket and “hooked up”, all the while holding the blanket in place with my chin. While juggling the baby, I dropped my soaked nursing pad onto my shoe, “SPLAT”. I was determined, however, to make this work. At last I managed to find a comfortable position for the baby. My husband helped tuck the blanket over my shoulder to hold it in place. I had one arm under the baby and the other was holding back the large boob mass so my child wouldn’t be smothered to death. I couldn’t believe my success!!!!

After a few minutes my oldest child glanced over at me. I guess she was confused at what I was doing because she came over and pulled the blanket off!!!! A few things happened at once: First, Madison jerked her head as the blanket was flung off. Second, as she broke the connection my 38HH boob started spraying milk across the backs and necks of the men waiting to pass the sacrament. Third, the bishopric seated on the stand started to laugh. Fourth, I dropped the baby as I tried to grab the blanket. Fifth, the baby started to scream. Sixth, pretty much everyone who attended church saw my boob! To this day I can still see the droplets of milk dripping off of the ears of the men in front of me.

So to sum up my feelings on breastfeeding let me reiterate. If the kid knows where the milk is coming from, can undo the buttons, zippers, snaps, etc. to get to it, he or she is probably too old to be nursing. Finally, not every one is coordinated enough to discretely breastfeed in public. So think carefully before undertaking such a feat!


Anonymous said...

I literally started HOOTING (heh heh...there's a pun in there somewhere) with laughter when you wrote that the milk sprayed onto the priesthood waiting to bless the sacrament. Oh my heavens alive, that is the funniest thing I've read in AGES!

There's a very popular comedy TV programme here in the UK called 'Little Britain' and one of the main characters is always asking for 'bitty'. Here's the video link if you want to be grossed out all over again (very funny!)


Anonymous said...

Oh no you didn't.
GAAAA! my brain, now I have a picture of 5 year old Chester, milk dripping from the corner of his mouth, wiping it with his arm while exclaiming "YUM!"

I'm with you there. If the kid is old enough, and then you get the free boobage show and on top of that the lecture on breastfeeding, I say TMI!

I'm very comfortable with humans, living around humans and the human anatomy, but really, no one wants to see that. My eyes!!

Anonymous said...

Oh my gosh... I am never going to be able to go to sleep now.. I have been laughing so hard I could hardly read this. I will be thinking about it the entire time I am trying to sleep!!! LOL

Hilary said...

We have a couple that doesn't cover-up with a blanket at all (baby is new, they may with time -- but the amsuing thing is that for our Fantastic Friday we MADE hooter hiders for just such occasion -- they're pretty cool) -- anyway, the kid was just a slurpin' away last week and there was her boob all out in the open and my poor husband was RIGHT in front of her.
Anyway, I just don't think that some people realize it can be distracting... but I am a big breastfeeding promoter, just not sure how they can realize it's good, but not so good that you wantt to share your boob with the world.

Anonymous said...

"Is that a water fountain?" Haha! I totally agree that there comes a time when it is no longer appropriate. THe image of Chester wiping the milk from his mouth and saying YUM, Wahahaha! EEK!

I'm all for breastfeeding in public, I do it all the time, BUT I think you need to be descreet about it. I don't want to see anyone's nipples staring out at me and I don't want anyone to see mine.

The image of your milk spraying the sacrament passers in the back of the neck his horrifyingly hilarious!

Lianne said...

I can so relate! I was very well endowed when I was nursing and I'd have to hold "things" the right way so the child could breathe. Once in church I had some High Priest stick his head over the back of the pew where we were sitting and he got an eyeful. My husband just said, "I bet he writes about that in his journal tonight."

Thoroughly Mormon Millie said...

I'll never forget the Enrichment Night meeting when sweet Mary Ann, our RS president at the time, asked us to please take the kid to the nursing area instead of nursing right there in sacrament meeting. Apparently there had been some "sightings" and the bishop was concerned about the young men in the ward. My favorite part was the thought of Bishop and Mary Ann in his office, discussing this little issue as politely and discreetly as they could, he trying not to laugh, she turning about 18 shades of purple.

A nursing 5 year old... now that's just gross. Your neighbor needs to take some sensitivity courses. NO ONE wants to see that.

Anonymous said...

Hey, in three years this could be her.
Maybe she's into child-led weaning...whatever.

Sketchy said...

Breastmilk dripping from the ear of the man in front of you...now that's a visual!

I confess by my last I had the whole nursing thing down pat I could have easily breast fed to the 5th year, but I didn't!

Anonymous said...

1) I am a believer in child-led weaning. Did it with my first daughter (on-demand until 17 months, then we switched to night and morning only and she weaned herself at 19 months), intend to do it with this one (currently 8 months, EBF until 5 1/2 months, still nurses very frequently-- I'm also a fan of on-demand breastfeeding.)

2) Both of my daughters refused to nurse while covered up after age 2 weeks.

3) I am a firm believer in a mother's right to breastfeed any child anywhere at any time-- however, she must know that she risks the kind of exposure that you suffered, and it's her choice to take that risk. I do breastfeed in public, including church, without covering up with anything but my shirt.

4) "Knowing where it comes from"-- both my daughters' first words were "na-na" (no. 1 at 5 months, no. 2 at 7 months.) and both had been signing for milk when they wanted it before that. They obviously knew what it was and what it was for (funny story for another time about my husband walking the baby during the last hour of church and a woman wearing a slightly low-cut shirt) at a very early age. Around age 7 months they both learned to reach out and grab my shirt and try to pull it up/down when they wanted it (I don't do buttons, I do nursing tops) so I am not sure I agree with your assessment of when it is time to stop.

However. I still have a bit of a "wow, that's WEIRD" happen when I see kids breastfeeding past, oh, let's give mothers of kids with allergies the benefit of the doubt and say 3. And I think by the time they start using four-word sentences, it might be worth considering pumping if you want to continue to give them breastmilk, just so they don't actually remember breastfeeding when they grow up (I have a theory that breastfeeding long enough for them to remember doing it might scar a kid in our current society. It's just not the cultural norm here.)

As for the cancer thing, yeah, tanning is stupid. And while your chance of breast cancer does go down if you breastfeed, and the "significant" mark is indeed 5 years, that's a combined 5 years between ALL your children. So I, for instance, already have 2 years under my belt and will probably have 3 by the time my second child is done weaning.

But if someone asked me to leave or cover up, anywhere, any time, with a child any age, I would cite my right to breastfeed. And have. Because it is a legal right, enshrined in law.

Not that I don't sympathize. But if I want to retain my rights to breastfeed as long as I want where I want and when I want I know I need to defend the right of all mothers to do so, or it's just me being judgemental.

Anonymous said...

Anne said, "And I think by the time they start using four-word sentences, it might be worth considering pumping if you want to continue to give them breastmilk." That would have been at 11 months with my daughter then (she was very advanced verbally... still is).

And of COURSE it's a mother's right to breastfeed because it's a natural bodily function. But so is weeing, and if a man pulled his willy out in the middle of sacrament meeting and peed in a potty, I think some people would take issue with it.

Or not. Depending on the ward.

Anonymous said...

Okay, scratch the four-word sentence mark... Choose another one. How about "is able to skip"?

I am so sick of the breastfeeding/peeing comparison. Breastfeeding is eating, not defecating or urinating. It's eating. The AAP even mentioned in their latest breastfeeding guidelines that we need to change the image of a baby eating in the popular consciousness from that of a baby with a bottle to a baby breastfeeding, to help make this country more breastfeeding-friendly. I really believe that-- anywhere a parent would be able to feed her baby a bottle, she should be able to breastfeed if she is comfortable doing so.

Suzanne said...

LOL!!! I say that if the kid is old enough to tell mommy to lay off the spicy foods, they are too old to be breastfeeding. I can't imagine anyone that would do it beyond one year, two years max.

I'm fine with ladies nursing in public as long as it's discreet. It might not make the mother uncomfortable to be flapping her mammaries around, but it sure can make other people uncomfortable. JMHO!

Thanks for sharing your stories with us! :)

Thoroughly Mormon Millie said...

By that token, I should be able to pull out a Hungry Man dinner or picnic lunch in Sacrament and go to town... ;) And sure, it wouldn't be peeing, but it would still be annoying and insensitive to everyone else around me.

elasticwaistbandlady said...

Rarely do I LOL, but this one had me LMAO and even ROFL. I've often marveled at the trendy model moms of Mormon perfection in my ward and the dexterity displayed at nursing their kids anytime anywhere. Not me. Me and my boobies will continue nursing in the sanctuary of poopy diaper smell known as the mother's lounge.

On the bright side, nobody will ever bother the crap out of you asking, "Got Milk?"

Anonymous said...

I breastfed my youngest until he was well into his 3rd year. I never thought I would, it just sort of happened and worked for both of us so we rolled with it. We did it at night only by the end both because he certainly didn't *need* to nurse by 3 years old and by the reasoning that although it is certainly my right to bf into the toddler years, not everyone is comfortable with seeing it.

I am a HUGE supporter of the right to nurse in public. If my baby is hungry and I'm not near a private place why should he have to go hungry when any other child could have a bottle propped into his mouth? There are plenty of ways to be discreet and if someone is watching us closely enough to realize I'm breastfeeding rather than holding my sleeping child then they are looking way too closely. At that point I'd say THEY are the ones being rude.

Having said all that, I am not comfortable with the idea of nursing until the 5th year. I don't really care if someone chooses to do it, but I don't want to see it or know about it. I realize in some cultures it's the norm. But in some cultures it's perfectly acceptable for men (including male relatives) to have sex with underage girls in their tribe. I think there should be at least a little accountability to fall within the guidelines of society or keep it private when you don't so your child isn't a social outcast.

Coz said...

I agree with you! That is why I started my blog with the words, I’m all for breastfeeding. I believe in it so much that when I had emergency gall bladder surgery with my after my second child, I had the doctor “lift off” the right breast to protect the milk ducts. I fed my baby as soon as possible after surgery. I am constantly telling my husband that porn has ruined breastfeeding for woman because men think of the breast as a sex object and not a feeding source. However, I will never forget that feeling when this child went to town!

Anonymous said...

I am dying here! Your stories are AWESOME! This one is definitely another classic. I nearly wet myself laughing. (Can I do that in public?)

Then I read Millie's comment about "sightings" in sacrament meeting and completely lost it. I can't wait for my husband to come back from errands so he can read this post!

I was unable to nurse my three kiddos--not enough milk--so I'm especially thankful for formula and bottles. I have no problem with any mother's choice to breastfeed in public, as long as she is discreet. However, the image of a 5-year-old unbuttoning his mother's shirt and pulling out the goods has scarred me for life, and I wasn't even there. Yikes.

Carrotjello said...

I wholeheartedly agree with you. And this isn't spam either.

Anonymous said...

P.S. I also forgot to add that by the time a child is 5 years old they should be drinking from a cup, regardless if they were breast or bottle fed. That's just a stage of development they need to be at by age five.

If that mom is so concerned about preventing cancer, she should pump her milk and give her son the milk in a cup. That way, like Anne said, he won't be scarred for life by the memory of breastfeeding. Also, no one has to see him pulling out the "goods" every time he's thirsty.


Anonymous said...

Gosh. You are funny. And - yeah - maybe 4 is a little too long. I'm a lactation educator, so I'm big on it - but I think we all need to respect society a bit, as well, when the issue is raised.

Joe said...

I know this is kind of dumb, what wanted your chest the size of your heart that is why you (or anyone else) that big

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