I will never forget the first time I used a nursing room. *GASP!* That's right ladies... the advocate of public breastfeeding, active participant of nurse-ins and peaceful protests, has used a nursing room.
Now some of you may think this was in the beginning when little nursling and I were learning one another and I was shy...nope. I did fine then. Throwing LO in a moby and going about my shopping. There was no reason to stop my day to nurse. After all.. I wasn't a bottle feeding mother. This was one of the coolest parts of being a nursing mama!
Months went by and I proudly walked past nursing rooms. Cover free and nursling in tow. Then he started to walk, and explore, and learn about the world. He still wanted his precious na-nas but he also wanted to go on grand adventures to foreign lands... better known as crawling inside the kitchen cabinet and closing the door.
I began noticing while we nursed in public, he began to pop off to interact with everyone BUT his boob. I felt like Janet Jackson at the Superbowl. I realized if I told him "no" to nursing, every outing, everyday, that he would end up weaning with needs unmet. However, I couldn't bear to flash another innocent soul. I was struggling with this and trying to limit nursing sessions to once we were back in the car, or home, that's when I took a trip a few hours away to a children's museum.
Adam was a year old and loving independence. He asked to nurse a few times, and I finally relented and as soon as a kid laughed, he popped off so fast that I feared he took my poor nipple with him! It was time for a diaper change so I sought out the nearest restroom to change him. I stopped an employee and asked where the nearest restroom was. He pointed it out and just as I started to head that way he glanced down at the fluff in one hand and the wet bag in the other and back up at me. "wait! If you just need to change her.."
HIM He.. HEEEEE. NOT HER. Gah.. anways...
"you can do that right over there in the nursing room."
I smiled and thanked him. " I will change him in there. Thanks" He cocked an eyebrow at me while looking Adam over, his golden locks flowing past his shoulders and amber necklace dangling from his collar. He gave a forced smile and went on his way. That's when I glanced over at the nursing room and I swear I heard ominous music from somewhere. Everyone was staring.. they knew I was about to go...in....THERE.
I gulped and quietly yet quickly approached the door. I took one last glance around before flinging it open and stepping inside.
I don't know what I expected. A concentration camp? Hitler? Dozens of oppressed women forced to nurse in a tiny dark, damp room. The smell of fear and wetbags? Wait... what was that? A sound? Music? Lullaby music? I looked around quickly. This has to be a trick. That's what they want women to think it's like in here. I rounded the corner cautiously, like a cat. Suspicious and soft, slow steps. I peered around the corner and my jaw fell.
There sat a huge plush recliner, a shelf of bottled water and mini bags of pretzels and peanuts. A basket of magazines. Big girl magazines! A boppy, toys for older children, a TV?!? A remote sitting so tauntingly on the arm of the cloud.. err, I mean chair. I remember looking behind me with a severe look of confusion before laying Adam on the changing table. All the while staring at that... chair. with that.... remote.... and those... magazines. Hmm...
I finished changing him and I looked around one final time before I sat in the chair. Plush pillows of heaven wrapped around my aching mommy back and I allowed myself to sink further. I began nursing Adam and he didn't pop off, or get distracted. In fact the scent of lavender relaxed us both. I let a small smile escape my lips and reclined back, flicked on the tv and enjoyed our moment.
The moral of my story is this. Public breastfeeding is great, grand, fabulous and NEEDED, in order for breastfeeding to become a normal part of our society again. But nursing rooms have their place and are sometimes needed to. I actually felt kinda guilty that formula feeding moms will never know that little piece of luxury we nursing moms are allowed to endure when we come across a nursing room. Not all nursing rooms are created equal, but most are comfy and at least try.
If you find that your nursling is having trouble focusing while nursing in public, don't quit. Don't limit sessions. Find a quiet place. Same goes at home.
As babies grow they are so focused on learned and exploring that nursing gets pushed to the back burner. They often expect more night nursing sessions to make up what they missed that day and this leads to frustration and sometimes even weaning too early. Moms don't realize that finding a comfy, dim lit place during the day will encourage your nursling to nurse when you want them to, in the day, and gives you both a much needed break and snuggle time.
I occasionally still nurse Adam in public when no other options are available, because his needs come before any Tom, Dick or Harry's comfort. And that is the way it will remain.... but if I see a nursing room, well.... I feel a little burst of excitement, but that's just my dirty little secret. ;)