About 200 eyes fixated on me. The tired and weary, haggard world traveler that had been toting my 11-month-old halfway across the world all day. We were two airplanes down, 2 continents nearly flown completely over. More time zones than I know. And one Atlantic Ocean safely crossed.
I was tired. Baby was tired. And we had time before our last flight. That’s when it hit me! My epiphany! Pure brilliance.
Problem. I was now in America and America makes it REALLY hard for me to be brilliant.
So this is how the story goes…
I have 3 children. THREE! And I have raised most of them in Poland. Land of the free. Free to nurse, that is.
I am not a hootie-hider, cover myself, hide in the bathroom stall, nursing momma. I am a very European, baby needs to eat, nurse your child while you continue to have conversation and sip your latte, type of woman.
To be honest—I drive my lovely American girlfriends batty. They all offer me hootie-hiding contraptions all of the time.
No.Thank.You, my lovely friends.
On my way to America, I nursed my baby on flight number one while seated next to a MBA student from Mexico. No problem. And then she slept. The entire plane’s passengers, if they weren’t in such a hurry to hustle to their connecting flights, would probably have liked to thank me for it.
Plane number 2. The big one. The nearly 11-hour-flight one. Swedish University Student to my left, Polish business couple to my right. Me. Smack in the middle. Nursed my baby multiple times while carrying on conversations. Bam! Super happy baby. All 11 hours. Super happy passengers all around me.
Plane number 3. Take off and landing on American soil. Uh-oh! I already could sense the trouble. Americans LOVE organic. Must pay super duper lots of money for healthy produce, healthy meat, healthy diet regimens, and healthy air filters, and healthy…Okay. You get the idea.
But, heaven forbid, a woman nurse her child in public. And then America is out for UNHEALTHY, UNSANITARY, UNCOMFORTABLE…No baby boobies in public, please!
But do you think that stops me?! Well…As I glanced around at the 100 plus uncomfortable looking people, I thought to myself, I will be uber kind today and nurse before the airplane. THAT WAY…That way, baby will be fed, happy, and sleep the entire flight from Colorado to Arizona. Baby wins. Uber sensitive American traveling passengers win. All around, everyone wins.
But, you see…America has the problem with fixation and sensationalizing everything.
The minute that I sat down to discreetly nurse (not using a hootie hider but still able to usually nurse very politely), it seemed as if the news media brought out cameras and everyone—old, young, male, female…EVERYONE could only focus on me—the nursing mom. My baby. Oh heavens, you soon-to-be-travelers. You woke the sleeping giant!
As all eyes were on me. Literally. Stopping. Staring. Focusing on my plight and struggle. As all eyes were on me, my baby grew more and more agitated. And the more I tried to politely nurse, the more and more people stopped, turned, and stared.
Not wanting to become the National Headliner that a lot of nursing moms become, I tried to be even more careful—by this time, baby is tired (in her time, it was nearly 3am), I have completely covered myself up, and now the entire room of waiting passengers can’t seem to do anything but stare at my chest, my screaming baby, and the fact that I am TRYING to discreetly nurse. Seriously? Doesn’t everyone have smart phones nowadays? Can’t they get on them and find SOMETHING else to do? Anything? Nope? Nothing???
And that’s when it happened. Baby was tired of American etiquette and went all Hulk-like on momma!
Josephine, apparently, did not care if mommy was about to make national news by offending fellow travelers and nursing in public. My 11-month-old was like, “Oh yeah, take that!” And pop! There you have it. She broke my bra and finished nursing.
Yep. My bra broke. The saga of nursing in America. And there is a moral to this story.
Here it is:
If you are uncomfortable when a mommy is trying to nurse her baby, perhaps turn a different direction and go about your own business. Otherwise, baby will make sure you are SUPER uncomfortable later .
And like Kenny Rogers sings, “You’ve got to know when to hold em; know when to fold em; know when to walk away; know when to RUN…” because this nursing momma ain’t going nowhere!