Baby J is exclusively breastfed. This is a fact that I am extremely proud of. Because even though we didn’t have latch issues like a lot of mothers and babies, there was a huge learning curve. I had sore and cracked nipples for days. And I can’t tell you how many times I sat in our nursing glider, holding Baby J with one arm and my cellphone in the other, as I Googled breastfeeding issues. The website Kellymom talked me off of many a ledge. One day I will write a love letter to that blog and post it here. Seriously.
There were many times early on where I thought about giving up, but then I would remind myself of several facts; how I was giving my daughter the perfect nutrition, how my body was designed to do this, even how I was burning extra calories. So somehow we pushed through, and now I love breastfeeding.
I recognize that there is a logical, scientific explanation for it. It’s the release of oxytocin, but I can’t get over how amazing it feels to cradle Baby J and nurse her.
So the question is then,
“Why do I let myself feel ashamed?”
Because as proud as I am of breastfeeding, I have never, not once, done it in public. Oh sure, I have done it in secret many, many places. I can’t even begin to count the number of bathroom stalls that I have nursed Baby J in or the number of parking lots where we have hidden our car so that we could nurse in the backseat. I even had a friend joke recently that if I was to create a map of all the places I had secretly breastfed, the city of Los Angeles would be painted red.
But there is one other place where I have had to nurse Baby J in secret (that I am even more deeply ashamed of than the rest), and that place is my own home.
Most nights you’ll find Baby J and me on the sofa together. My feed will be propped up with a big glass of ice water on the side table, and I’ll hold J in my arms and nurse her until she falls asleep. It’s lovely, and it’s our nightly ritual. Infants love rituals, and so I know that our sofa cuddle time is especially important to her. However, there have been times that we have had company over, and I have had to hide in another room to nurse. Only once has a guest actually told me that they would feel uncomfortable being around me as I breastfed. All the other times, my shame has been completely self-imposed.
Why? Is it because women are routinely made to feel embarrassed about breastfeeding? Is it because I feel embarrassed about a natural, bodily function? Who knows? But am I ashamed of feeling ashamed? You bet.
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