Friday, May 16, 2008

Got Milk?

The only bottle that ever interested Phoenix held beer. (Note: No babies were intoxicated in the making of the above picture.) We tried it a few times - E thought it would be nice to feed P - but it always ended in a hungry and pissed baby. Grandpapa worked it a couple of times and then P refused there too. Beth dubbed P a hopeless 'boob boy' and we just went with his strong willed preference :)

I realized this week that the subject of nursing is noticeably absent from P's blog. A Starbucks employee asked an acquaintance to move her nursling to the bathroom this week (both illegal and ridiculous). This has inspired me to stop skating the subject here, after all, its rather silly that a blog devoted to Phoenix is absent of the word "nee-nees." I'm slightly embarrassed that I've been embarrassed to include his many adorable nursing stories from his online journal for fear of surprising readers (all three of you). Hopefully this post will remedy that, and then some :)

Until my best friend gave birth 5 years ago, I knew next to nothing about nursing. Sure, somebody somewhere was doing it, but not in front of me! I think I'd heard of it, like, twice :) Once was from said best friend, back when we were kids. Her neighbor was still nursing a five year old and she explained to me, in no uncertain terms, that this was Very Weird. The other time I was waiting on line for fast food with some of my mom's friends. Their shocked whispers had me tromping to the front of the line, looking for the source of such ridicule. From my short stature I could only make out a mama cuddling her baby, so the mystification continued. Years later, as I would slink off to restaurant bathrooms to feed my bottle-hating, hungry baby, I would think of these clucking hens (who I do adore) and their judgements. And as my kid ate his meal amongst the smell of cleansers and shit while my solid food eating companions sat at a clean table chatting, I grew indignant. This subject finds me atop my highest horse, so think of bailing on this post if your hackles feel sensitive :) I

I like to research. Ok, love to research. I did so about parenting, not to diss my parents, but because I Had to. There was no Earth Mother agenda, truly :) I read stuff on the pros and cons of scheduled feeding, spanking, positive discipline, tribal cultures, circumcision, natural labor, epidurals, attachment parenting.... you get the idea. And I was amazed at how much bullshit gets published - so many books with inaccurate and misleading data. After weeding the shoddy stuff out I went from shopping for formulas to being a breastfeeding advocate. I had scientific research and evolution on my side :)

Unfortunately, most of society isn't. One reason I'd never seen a nursing mom until Beth became one was said society. Puritanical leanings and playboy provocations aside (my all time favorite quote on the subject : If breastfeeding in public is sexual, bottlefeeding must be like whipping out a dildo!), many moms head back to work at 6 weeks. And that's usually that for nursing, assuming they had a support system to even get started! Nurses in the hospital push formula rather than helping in those first few difficult days. Having never seen sisters or aunts nurse their young, its easy to give up rather than hide under blankets and slink off to corners. Not to mention the shocked stares from grandmothers in restaurants or inappropriate comments from men on playgrounds. It is a little more in vogue now than the seventies, but only for the first few months. Too long after that and its usually, well, Very Weird :) And a nursing five year old? Well, forgettaboutit.

But its not so bad in Brooklyn. P has 6 other friends, his age or older, still nursing. A little peer support mixed with experience and I now really regret my apprehension about nursing in public when he was a baby. I remember when he wiped sand into his eyes at a playground when he was about 8 months old. He was so distraught and wanted to nurse but I waited until we were hidden in the car. Heaven forbid I make some stranger uncomfortable! Better to let the baby cry... If I had a do-over, I'd pop it out without a second thought :)

At three and a half we don't need to nurse in public anymore, but its dubious territory again nevertheless. Friends teased me when P was a newborn (I mentioned 'child led weaning') that they would stage an intervention at three :) Family have tentatively quizzed me on our quitting date. Recently, I've tentatively quizzed P :) His not so tentative reply was "Never!!!" So here's the low down, for anyone too timid to satiate their curiosity. Yes, he's still nursing. No, its not weird. Yes, it gets old sometimes. No, he has no idea the rest of the world isn't this way. Yes, he thinks the rest of the world Should be this way. No, he doesn't think twice about mentioning it in front of you. Yes, I worry this makes you uncomfortable. Yes, he likes it more than chocolate milk, but nice suggestion.

These days my worry is no longer based in My insecurities, my fear someone will say something upsetting to me (bring it!). I worry about someone saying something to him. Their societal confusion confusing him. He's so sensitive to judgement, it would be a shame for someone to introduce shame to him about something so human, if rare, in our prejudiced-pundit led U.S. population. I guess I just don't understand why it offends people so much and I hope they don't offend him. After all, he really will prefer that beer someday :)


theseventhgeneration said...

You will probably like this YouTube video of Buffy Saint-Marie nursing her son, Cody, on Sesame Street. Click here for the link. I believe this was filmed in the '70s as she is 66 years old now.

Seth said...

I really enjoyed that quote!