Breastfeeding in Public is HARD!

A few weeks back, we went to the Detroit Zoo to check out their dinosaur exhibit. The boys were super excited to see them as we watch at least one of the Jurassic Park movies every week. The exhibit was totally cool! We learned new facts about the dinosaurs, were sprayed by one of the dilophosauruses (even though they may not have done that in real life!) We were loving the detail of the displays and even the sounds each dinosaur made was unique. Our son, L was moving faster than the speed of light to see each dinosaur. His excitement overwhelmed him and I loved seeing to wonder on his face.

We decided to make this a family outing since we don’t get to go as much as we would like now that we are a family of 5. We figured we would pack a couple bags and spend a decent part of the day exploring. Bringing a 7 week old baby there makes it difficult but I figured, I’m breastfeeding! How difficult can it be!? All we need are some diapers, a change of clothes, and a few other things. This is our 3rd baby, we are old pros!!

Boy, was I wrong! It took forever for all of us to get out of the house. After we were on the road for about 5 minutes, Baby H decided he was going to wake early from his nap and want to eat…NOW. We pulled over so I could do that. Then, it took a terrible long time to get there with all the construction near the zoo. We finally get there and meet up with our friends who had been waiting for us, pay for our tickets for the special dinosaur exhibit and take a deep breath. We made it!

About half way through the exhibit, H started to scream and cry. Again, he was hungry and had a burp the size of Montana that wouldn’t come loose. I tried to appease the hunger with a bottle of formula. At the same time, it was cold and he had only had formula maybe twice ever so basically, that wasn’t happening. Realizing that, I had to start my journey for a bathroom or nursing room as I am not super stoked about whipping my boob out for the whole zoo full of people to see!

On a good note, our walking knocked that burp loose and he was a little less agitated but I could still tell he was very hungry. I made it to a food court with a sizable bathroom and the line is out the door. The hand dryers are on constantly and the look of panic on his sweet little face told me this was not the place to feed him. I made eye contact with a woman who was selling pretzels and asked her for the nearest breast feeding station or family bathroom. She explained that the only place like that is near the back of the zoo and I would have to pick up a phone to call someone to unlock it. Unfortunately, the phone is broken. She then informed me that it would be a better idea to just have a seat and feed my baby here. “Don’t worry! Everyone does it!”

As much as I don’t mind when other people do it, I am not comfortable with breastfeeding for everyone to watch. I do carry a breastfeeding cover in case I absolutely have to but H is not a fan. His squirming could give half the zoo an unwanted peep show. He was pretty darn angry at this point so I popped a squat in the corner of the outdoor cafe next to a very beautiful female peacock who lingered for a while. It actually was not too bad and I was relieved that I had finished before the lunch rush.

H was very tired and fell to sleep rather quickly. I packed myself up and met back up with our group and continued our journey. A bit later, H woke again, screaming. He had not had enough the first time and was still hungry. I grab the bag of diapers, sample size wipes and change of clothes and go back to the same spot, hoping I could find another quiet and secluded area for feeding but this time, I was not so lucky. Lunch had started and many of the tables were filled with families eating their lunch.

I find a table away from as many people as I could, cover myself up to be discreet and begin to feed my crying baby. A couple tables away, there is a woman who seemed to be about in her early 70s gaping at me. She was sitting with, who I presumed to be her children and grandchildren. She said, for many around her to hear,

“OH MY GOD!!! IS SHE BREASTFEEDING?!?!”

I could tell the woman with her was embarrassed as she tried to calm the older woman quietly but to no avail, the comments continued.

“WHY IS SHE DOING THAT THERE? OH MY GOD!! You’d think she could find somewhere else to do that!”

All you could see of my little H were his 2 little feet sticking out from under the cover. For all she knew, I was wearing a very billowy shirt. Instead, she had to make a huge deal out of the fact that I chose to feed my son the best way I know how. It caused others to look over and further my own issues of being self conscious. But this made me think. I could MAYBE understand her outrage of I was letting things hang out for everyone to see. But I wasn’t. She only assumed she knew what I was doing and made a spectacle of us. I was even more self conscious, I was embarrassed and I was upset that she did that at all! I do feel that there needs to be some modesty when it comes to breastfeeding in public but there should also be some understanding from the people around breastfeeders.

I understand there will not always be a place for me to feed my little guy in all social situations but I also figured people at the zoo, a place where people go to see animals and their families in a natural state, would be a little more accepting of our own species doing what comes naturally to us.

A few of my friends asked me why I didn’t say anything to the judgy woman. 1. I didn’t want to call more attention to myself as I felt so self conscious and 2. It was obvious I would not change her mind on the subject without a lengthy debate and truly, I was not up for the fight. I was there with my family to enjoy a day out and I was going to try to forget all about that woman. Needless to say it stuck with me and I wanted to reach out to other moms. (Also, H had picked that particular moment to have his biggest poopsplosion to date and I was forced to wrap things up much quicker than anticipated!!)

Hey, other moms! Good on you for taking care of your kiddo(s)! You do whatever you need to and (excuse my language but) screw anyone who is too nosey, rude and judgemental to understand that you are taking care of your babies the best way you know how!

On that note, as always, thank you for reading and have a great 4th of July!

xo,

Meghan