Exile in Boobville

Yesterday Herr Meow had his 9-month checkup. Everything is fine with the lad: except for an uncooperative baby scale –felled by a low battery– he was measured without incident and then the doctor hailed him a healthy, good baby.

“Keep doing what you’re doing,” he exhorted.

If only I really knew what it is that I’m doing that makes my child healthy and others not so. I don’t think you can really chalk that one up other than to luck and first-world soaps.

_____

The thing that was funny about yesterday’s checkup was this:

It was early in the morning (about 7:30 am) and Meowie did not get a proper breakfast. So, discreet as I always try to be –and trust me, I have seen indiscreet nursing mothers– I put Meowie to the breast and we sat there, watching early-morning CNN. Woo.

Being kind of a neurotic person, and knowing that people like Baba Wawa hate us and think we’re discomfiting and find the whole nursing bit disgusting, I try to be extra careful to not show any areolar tissue or make it look like softcore. Most people would say that I was just cradling the baby, and those who were looking too hard were probably pervy. I realize that Herr Meow probably even looks too big to nurse to some people, since the rate for exclusive breastfeeding in the US in 2003 was at a measly and truly pathetic 14.2%.

One of the nurses who was calling patients up made a beeline for me and the baby and with a very sweet smile asked, “Oh! Would you like to go to our lactation room?”

Now mind you, I’ve been feeding the kid for over 10 minutes here so we’re almost done. I honestly didn’t see any revulsed faces around me or any snickering or pointing; however, the nurse insisted:

“You know, it’s really nice and private. I’m sure you’ll love it!”

So since she asked so nicely, away I went. And while it was a nice little room and even cozily decorated, I felt like I’d lost a battle of some sort. Yes, the room was there, and nice, and warm; but why do we feel it needs to be there?

Are we really such a prudish and lazy nation that we cannot stand seeing a utilitarian breast? Not even in a medical facility, of all places? I know I’ve been embarrassed to nurse, so I know why the room is there: trust me, nursing in the middle of a super-crowded DC DMV (with no cozy little nursing room nor anything closely resembling it) was NO picnic and I found it embarrasing since the chairs were pointed in this weird setup where one half of the room could see the other half of the room.

But the fact is that this nation is still ruled by the bottle and the milestones associated with it and with formula; the formula companies are even telling us how and why to breastfeed! We don’t provide enough support to breastfeeding women– no pumping facilities at work or longer paid maternity leave, or government subsidies for electric breast pumps.

So my bit of exile is nothing but more of the same: I’m still in the minority, and the boobs are still strictly for the pleasure business. And I should probably shut up about it already because most people aren’t interested– after all, 14% is statistically closer to zero than to 50%.

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This entry was published on August 31, 2006 at 4:04 pm and is filed under Breastfeeding. Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.

2 thoughts on “Exile in Boobville

  1. You know, the fact that it took 10 minutes before any one noticed says a lot for your ability to be discreet. As for the nurse pressing the issue, I think I would have gone ove rher head to her superior and mentioned I didn’t appreciate being pressured no matter how nice she was about it.
    And yes, the Western world is that prudish still. While I like the option of nursing rooms being available because some women are shyer than others, the fact that the DMV did not have one shows a distinct lack of concern over making nursing mothers feel comfortable. That, even more than the nurse, requires strong complaints being registered.

  2. Yep, many people in the U.S. still have a problem seeing the breast doing its job, even if they can’t, uh, see the breast. But especially if they can, as evidenced by the uproar over a photo of a baby at the breast (no- gasp!-areolar tissue shown) on a recent BabyTalk cover. Ridiculous.

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