The UPS guy knocked and I yelled “Thank you!” through the door three times before he heard me and then responded with, “This requires a signature.”
So I opened the door.
I’d be embarrassed except I long ago lost all sense of what’s appropriate/inappropriate/polite/impolite/necessary/unnecessary when it comes to breastfeeding. It needs to be done and so I just do it. In the parking lot of the grocery store, in the middle seat on a plane, standing up chatting with a stranger during a cocktail party. I’m labeling this era of my life the Nip Slip Tour.
When I go out I usually wear a Bella Band so when I lift my shirt up my stomach is still
contained covered, but otherwise, what you see is what you get (although I’m more likely to have my hair done and some makeup on). The fact that I don’t require special covers or pillows or footstools for this not-so-delicate operation means I’m a free-range feeder, and for the most part it works out great provided I have remembered the cardinal rule, which is to not wear a dress that doesn’t open at the front. You only have to break that rule one time before it becomes second nature to asses your wardrobe through the virtual lens of that one time you had to excuse yourself from a party and retreat to a back room to feed your child with your dress up around your neck like an infinity scarf. Anybody else feel that draft, or is it just that I’m standing here in high heels and Spanx?
As “natural” and necessary as breastfeeding is, however, I do strive to be respectful about it. My aunt was an aggressive breastfeeder, or at least that’s how it always came off to me, her always whipping everything out all the time, all over the place, making a big show and practically daring someone to say something. Now, despite there not being anything anyone could say that would stand up to the argument of “I’m feeding my child,” I do think one can be subtle about it. It’s in the attitude more than the actions, I guess. I just have to hope my attitude comes off as intended and not as Gross Breeder Lady Getting Her Boobs Out and Making Me Feel Weird and Ruining My Lunch. (The only way I could ruin your lunch, sir, is if I shot some cream into your coffee from across the room, and a subtle breastfeeder such as myself would never do that. In public or unsolicited, at least.)
Yet there are still times when I’m not sure what’s appropriate or not just simply because the whole process is so normal and familiar to me I really can’t look at it objectively anymore. For instance: If I’m someplace that has a special “lounge” just for nursing moms, am I supposed to use it? Am I flouting the rules if I don’t? Heaven forbid I come off as an aggressive breastfeeder and a scofflaw. And how about when someone tells me I’m welcome to feed my baby a back room, where I’ll presumably feel more comfortable? Is that really an offer with my convenience in mind, or is it a polite way of saying “Please take your nipples elsewhere, madam”? The aggressive breastfeeder wouldn’t care in either case, but I do and so, assuming people are really just trying to be nice, I usually decline the offer, not wanting to make a fuss or put anyone out, and this is how I come to be taking photos like this during a cocktail reception for a book launch in a fancy antique store.
You might make the argument that tweeting photos like this is aggressive, is some sort of politicocultural statement about…I don’t know what exactly. Is it? Is it not? Is offense in the eye of the audience or the attitude of the actor? And can the answer to that question be true of all (most?) situations, or have I put on my giant gingham Pollyanna bow again without realizing it, and if so, how badly does it clash with Real Life?