For the last few weeks I have been following the stories (this is an excellent summary) about breastfeeding mothers and some of the challenges they have faced. From a local woman being asked to cover up at a YMCA pool deck to a Canadian being kicked off Facebook for showing a picture of her baby nursing to a woman in the States being asked to cover up at Appleby's and finally Bill Maher's opinion of it all - it seems that breastfeeding has been in the news a lot.
Personally breastfeeding was a funny stage for me. I found it very personal. Some of my friends would show me pictures of their babies at the breast and though I thought the pictures were lovely I never took those pictures myself. Of course I was comfortable taking my top off when I was home with just my baby or my husband and baby. But if anyone was there I was covered.
Still I was not hesitant to breastfeed in public. Give me a nursing blanket and I was good. I got to the point where I would nurse in malls and restaurants. I liked the freedom. Matt ate a lot. If I only breastfed in the privacy of my home, I would never have left. The child ate on the hour.
Bottom line - I think that the protection of breastfeeding mothers is extremely important. And, I can honestly say that I was never asked to leave a location or not attend any event due to having a nursing child.
So when all of this latest controversy came up I was sympathetic but I couldn't exactly relate.
That is until a couple days ago when I received an e-mail. Someone I know is getting married and wanted to know if I would still be breastfeeding at her wedding (when my future child is about 8 weeks old). I had an honest answer - I don't know. I'm not sure if I will nurse baby #2 or if I do for how long. But, I assured her, it's not like I would whip out a boob while she was walking down the aisle. I wasn't sure how else to respond. She's never seen me in the role of mother, so I guess she felt justified in asking me about my breastfeeding habits.
But apparently, my understanding was a little off - her response was that the infant is not welcome - so unless he or she can go without nursing (for close to 10 hours when you add in travel time and the length of the wedding) I have been asked to uninvite myself.
I am shocked. I am outraged. And quite honestly I am surprised at the utter tackiness of the request.
Sorry - if you are too shackled to your infant don't bother attending. Not welcome.
The bigger message to me - breastfeeding will ruin "my day" and you must be kidding if you think you would bring a newborn with you. So, do me a favour and wean - or bottle feed - or pump ... but don't bring that appendage that you may be sustaining with your breasts. That would be uncouth, and "other guests wouldn't understand".
The more I think about it the angrier I get. A wedding is a one-day event. Am I supposed to wean my child - and possibly affect this child's health (not to mention my budget and let's be honest my post-partum weight loss) so that I don't potentially ruin some bride's day? And does this person really think that I would ruin her day by doing something she deems inappropriate (breastfeeding) or letting my child scream?
Her response - that obviously this is any issue so she has to talk to her fiance about it. Why - to ask his opinion on whether or not i should wean my child???? To see if her words were offensive. So that he can give a verdict on whether or not someone you just effectively uninvited is now welcome?
Her issue, really is that she doesn't want any children there. As I said to her, there is a huge difference between a child that needs to be near its mother to survive and a family that isn't willing to shell out for a babysitter.
Truthfully, I understand that she doesn't want children there. And, perhaps my assuming that it was understood that a newborn who is exclusively nursing was inappropriate. But, to bring breastfeeding into it - and to ask me not to come if I am???? Disgusting. Inappropriate and downright tacky. And yes, I did reply. In a lengthy e-mail. And, as far as I know she is no longer talking to me. And, as much as I care, I kind of don't. Because there are some things I'm willing to stand up for - such as the right to breastfeed - and the fact that if you have a problem with it, or with me, say it nicely. Don't send me an e-mail implying that my thought of bringing an infant to a wedding is a joke.
Welcome to 2007, friends.
I get it - I truly understand she doesn't want my child there. And believe me I have already let her know that we will not be there. But as for me and my breasts - that is my business and no one else's.