Keeping Our Public Pools Classy
Wednesday, April 8, 2009

There was a recent news item about a woman who was asked to stop breast-feeding poolside at her local YMCA. She was keeping an attentive eye on her older kids while nursing her baby.

When she had the audacity to ask why she should stop feeding her hungry child, the lifeguard pointed to the sign that said: NO FOOD OR DRINKS.

I find this hysterical and appalling all at the same time.

I was a proud breast-feeder. Baby bottles never touched my three daughters' lips. They were all nursed for a little over a year. I pulled the reigns back, when they started lifting up my shirt in public for a little snack.

But even as a breast feeding cheerleader, I will say I can see both sides of the fence.

My journey to successful breast-feeding was a rocky one. I was one of those moms, reading everything I could get my hands on before my baby came, wanting to be completely prepared. But, there isn't a book, magazine or class on this planet that can teach you what its really like to try and comfort a baby that won't stop crying while you cry yourself, from the absolute frustration, or how ungodly it truly is, the first time your baby has a blowout of poop that explodes all the way up the back, so violent that you end up washing it out of their baby scalp.

Same goes for breast feeding.

You're given this bogus line that it's a completely, natural act between a mother and child. I had no doubts that my infant would arrive, ready and able to latch on and glug away, while I sat there, dewey-eyed and beaming like some Madonna and Child Renaissance reproduction.

The truth is, breast feeding is not an instinctive act. At first, it's awkward and difficult and since neither one of you have ever done it before, it's the blind leading the blind and when that happens, somebody always falls down.

I have a wacky pituitary gland. It causes an excess of estrogen to run through my body. It only affects me in certain ways, like my tendency to cry at sappy commercials and my inability to catch a ball. Usually, when a ball, (football, volleyball, softball, any sort really) is headed my way, I cover my head with my hands and leap away from its path. I can't think of a single time I've ever caught a ball successfully. Thanks estrogen.

And then there's my milk production. Once enacted, I have enough to feed the entire starving continent of Africa. Seriously.

My OB warned me that when my milk came in, I would probably become "actively engorged" thanks to my estrogen overload.

"Actively engorged" does not even begin to describe the freakish watermelons that were my breasts. All my wishes for big breasts were laid to rest as they swelled in no time to the size of hot air balloons. Painful, to say the least.

I remember thinking, "I gotta show this to somebody or nobody's gonna believe it."

My hubby was impressed in a horrifying kind of way.

When my sister came over to see her new niece, I lifted my shirt and said, "Check it out."

She screamed in knee-jerk reaction instinct.

Needless to say, it made breast feeding almost next to impossible. My 8 lb baby couldn't fit her little mouth around my Freak Cans. We tried all day and well into the night. She and I, both turning into sobbing wrecks. At one point, about 3:00 A.M, My Hubby came up with the ingenious idea of laying her across his arms, facing me and coming at me with her as if she was an arrow and I was the target. She made contact, but when you're that small and you're tyring to latch on to hot air balloons, it doesn't matter how many people get involved in the breast-feeding. It wasn't working.

The only thing that saved me is my ridiculous tenacity. After many hours of our wailing in frustration, I ended up pumping out the equivalent of a caseload of bottles, (something all books warn you not to do). It was our saving grace.

Once my baby and my breasts calmed down, it did become the easiest thing in the world. In fact, I loved it. It really is a life-sustaining miracle. And for me, it just fit. I grew so adept at it, that I could nurse anywhere and everywhere without people even realizing I was doing it.

I remember one time, shopping with my Hubby. As we perused the men's dress shirts in a fancy-schmancy department store, my Hubby looked over at me as we walked and asked, "Are you nursing?"

"Yup," I answered proudly, one hand holding up a shirt for closer examination while supporting a suckling infant tucked under the blanket on my shoulder with the other.

"Impressive." He said with a nod.

I am a woman of multi-talents.

But, even with the pro I became, I understand when women don't or can't. Its not for everyone. And I abhor the Nursing Nazis who nurse their children into adulthood and make non breast-feeding women feel insufficient or even better, that their child will grow up a Bubble Boy with no immune system thanks to the formula these reckless-ass moms are poisoning their baby with.

Mothers of the World, can't we all just get along?

I have always forewarned women before they start to nurse that it isn't as splendiferous as its made out to be.

It's you waking up with the baby, since Hubby will say while trying to hide the glee on his face, "Gee, Hon, wish I could help, but since I'm a man, I guess I'll just snore the night away. Good Luck."

It's you who'll be tied to a feeding schedule, your baby's needs always before your own.

It's you who has to restrict your diet, cutting out excess liquors, spicy foods, and in my case, my beloved garlic. I hated that part the most.

And it's you who will be humiliated and subjected to the ignorant masses who find breast-feeding indecent or even more moronic, disgusting.

In my years of nursing, I have been on the receiving end of many a withering look, a nasty comment, and mothers who rushed their children past me as if I were filming a porn scene in front of them.

I will never forget the day I was at the Chicago Museum of Science and Industry, a wonderful place filled with the miracles and innovation of the scientific world.

Evidently, they're not doing a very good job keeping their staff informed on the elementary basics that make up the human world.

O-Dawg was a baby and in need of some lunch and since it was 18 years ago, (yikes!), the world had not evolved enough yet to equip public places with nursing rooms. Finding public toilets a vile place to nurse an infant, I found a cozy corner of the museum, on a bench in a dark spot, to sit down, drape my blanket and give my baby her lunch.

No sooner had we settled in, when a security guard strolled up. She began to harangue me in an incredibly loud, angry voice, informing me that I had no business doing THAT out in public. Didn't I realize children were everywhere? She scolded me in her big, angry voice, telling me, there was a time and place for everything and a museum is not a time and place for THAT.

I didn't have the heart to tell my two-month old, that her timing was wrong.

In fact, I didn't have the heart to face that redneck security guard and make a stink like I was rightfully due.

I hurriedly picked up my now-howling baby and scurried off shamefully, to the nasty, bacteria-laden bathroom. I sat on a toilet, nursing my baby and weeping in humiliation, my entire day ruined.

The world has changed and so have I since that day.

But, there is still this stigma attached to one of the most miraculous, natural functions of the female body. We are givers and sustainers of life. And, still we are subjected to that mean security lady mindset.

I'm sure that same lifeguard would have applauded if Pamela Anderson had trounced out to the pool in one of her fabric-swatched bikinis, classin' up the joint.

But, a nursing mother has no business bringing her food and drink receptacles around the pool. What was she thinking?

They're staging a nursing sit-in at that Y. If the milk stations were still working, I would have joined them, protesting all the ignoramuses of the world who find nursing an illicit act.

The doofuses. It's obvious they weren't breast-fed as babies.

Today's Twist Your Arm Download: I'm so excited! I've turned on something on my Itunes called The Genius Bar. By comparing my purchases, it gives suggestions on my taste. I spent way too much time yesterday on the Itunes, discovering new music. The laundry will wait again, for yet another day. Amongst others, I found this singer-songwriter treasure thanks to my Genius Bar. Her name is Gretchen Peters, "The Way You Move Me." Beautiful song. Beautiful singer. Give it a try.

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