I’m not overly shy about breastfeeding in public, but I’m also not very good about being discreet. I have to be able to see what I’m doing, yanno? Even so, through two and a half boys worth of nursing wherever I had to do it, I never really had any reactions that I’d noticed. Mostly people seem to try to ignore the fact that I’m doing anything at all, which seems a reasonable enough reaction.
In the past couple of weeks, I’ve had two notable reactions. On Canada Day, we were out at the festival at Andrew Haydon Park with my mom. There’s a chip stand with a little covered patio, and we were sitting at a picnic table having some fries and surprisingly good hamburgers. The place was crawling with people, and the picnic table was larger than we needed. A mother with her young son were sharing the table with us, with the woman sitting beside me and her son across the table from us.
I’d just finished wrangling Lucas to my breast when I looked up to see her gathering their half-eaten meal up to quickly hustle her son off to another table. At first, I simply assumed they were moving to join friends — the idea that my nursing would cause someone that much distress didn’t even cross my mind. But no, they were just moving to another table to get away from me nursing Lucas.
I get that it’s a free world, and people can do whatever they like. I suppose it was the best possible reaction for someone who didn’t want to be near someone who was breastfeeding — she didn’t, for example, say “Ewww, could you please put that away” or something like that — but I was still kind of sad for her and for her son. He looked to be about eight, maybe nine. What kind of message does that send to him? What possible harm could be done by me feeding my baby in front of him?
Earlier this week, I took all three boys to the Experimental Farm for the morning. The sheep and pig barn is closed for renovations, but we enjoyed the horses and the tractors, and found two calves that were born the same week as Lucas. (For the record, they’re a lot bigger than him!) We had a wee snack, and the boys were climbing on the play structure when Lucas woke up from a little nap and started fussing for a snack of his own.
I was again sharing a picnic table, this time with a woman busy pulling tupperware boxes of fruit and crackers and cheese out of a backpack. She looked over and noticed me nursing Lucas and said a quiet, “Awwwwwww.” I looked up at her and she smiled, and we started chatting. When the boys wandered back from the play structure and needed help unwrapping a fruit bar, she did it for them because I still had my hands full. It was a lovely little interlude in a lovely little morning. I wonder if she has any idea that she made me feel good about myself, and my boys, that day?
The nursing is still not going as smoothly as it did with Simon and Tristan. The good news is, Lucas is not so voraciously hungry as Simon and doesn’t wake up every two or three hours through the night like Simon did. The bad news is, he still fusses a lot more than either of the other boys did with nursing. Some days are fine, other days he howls when I try to nurse him like I’m putting hot pokers in his ears. Some days he drinks contentedly for 15 or 20 minutes at a time, other days I almost have to force him to drink, and he sips and pulls and chews on my nipple until I’m sure they’ll be down to my knees by the time he’s weaned.
It might be the reflux, it might be that he doesn’t like the taste of whatever I’ve recently eaten, it might be the alignment of Pluto in the seventh house of Capricorn. Who knows? With two formula bottles a day, we’re still on a 1/3 formula and 2/3 breastmilk split, and he’s plenty healthy with just the right doubling underneath his chin, so it’s working out overall. We still get a lot of green poops, though. I just hope we can keep nursing for a while longer now that I’ve started to introduce solids. We’re almost to the six-month mark, which is the bare minimum I wanted to achieve, but I’d be happy if he kept up at least a little bit of nursing through his first birthday. So far so good and one day at a time, I guess.