13 Jan 2012

Nursing in Public

I haven't written in a while because the whole family has been sick with colds and nasty things. The illnesses have been pretty awful, but they did provide interesting opportunities to breastfeed publicly while waiting around in doctor's offices!

Today I fed Jacob immediately before leaving home for the walk-in clinic down the street, but after forty-five minutes of waiting perfectly quietly, he started to get antsy. I struck up a conversation with the woman sitting across from me, distracting him and biding myself some time. She mentioned that she has twin baby boys, seven months old. We compared notes for a while, and she said she breastfed them until six months and then gave up out of sheer exhaustion. I applauded her effort, congratulating her on breastfeeding through a very important period in her sons' lives.

Then she mentioned that she always pumped for them. I commiserated, "Oh, that is difficult. Were they born premature?"

"No, they got to full term. 37 weeks to the day."

"That's fantastic! Great job." But I was still wondering. "Did they have trouble latching then?"

"No, I never tried. It's the same way I did it with the first one. I just pumped. That way somebody else can do the feedings too. It takes so much time to pump though."

Bizarre! She thought it was easier to pump than to breastfeed, so that somebody else could feed them too? What about getting up to do the pumping, getting up to feed the babies, cleaning the pumping equipment, cleaning the bottles? And to miss the closeness of a breastfeeding relationship! I guess she never considered doing some feeding at the breast and then pumping some so that her husband could feed the boys. I am so sorry for this woman - I don't think she knows what she missed.

Anyway, soon enough Jacob just had to eat, so I fed him. Right there. About two feet away from old ladies, and young ladies, and scruffy men, and big fat men, and the receptionists. And they mostly frowned and looked away. The ones who had been smiling at Jacob before didn't smile at him anymore once we were done nursing. But none of them dared say anything. I love it. If anyone questioned what I was doing, I planned to ask if they would prefer for him to cry, for the pleasure of the whole waiting room. One way or another, we will assault your senses, either visual or auditory. It is much easier to look the other way than to shut off your ears. I suppose they figured as much.

A friendly new woman came in, who hadn't seen me breastfeeding. She asked how old he was. I told her, and she mentioned she has a six month old. I told her we had a trip coming up and I was wondering how to make it go smoothly for my little boo.

"Oh, make sure you get onto the plane with him on an empty stomach because he'll need to drink a whole bottle on the way up and a whole one on the way down to help his ears adjust to the pressure changes."

"He's still breastfed. We'll make sure he eats."

"Wow, really? Still breastfed? Mined weaned herself at four months."

How does a baby wean herself at four months? Did she really decide to commit suicide? Stop eating her available liquid food before she would be able to chew and swallow even rather soft solid foods? I can't imagine an infant so young having a death wish like that. I know that somehow there was a communication failure, but I'm sure that this baby didn't want to wean herself.

When I got in to see the doctor, he tried very hard to be respectful. "Well, hello Dad! How are you today?" He looked at the chart. "I mean, Mom!! How are you?"

"No, it's Dad," I said.

"But why does your chart have an F on it?"

Here we go again, I thought. "Because I'm transgendered. I was born female, transitioned to male by taking hormones. I identify as male. But my birth province won't change my ID unless I get a complete ovariohysterectomy. It sucks."

"Well, would you like me to change it in your file here?"

I thought about this for a minute. It was a kind offer.

"No, probably better not, because my government health card still says F. It would mess up your system and they'd likely decide I'm not insured or something."

He nodded sympathetically. "So, what's up?" And we got down to business.