Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Hungry Baby

August is World Breastfeeding Month. I thought I should share this story with you, from when my second son was three months old.

"Maternity" by Picasso. (I wrote about it here.)

It was October 1999, and I was at the Boston Logan airport, sitting at the gate waiting for boarding.  My baby was starting to get hungry, but I really wanted to wait until we were aboard, nestled in a window seat.  He was one of these "good babies", which means a baby that hardly ever fusses or cries.  (That expression bugs me, by the way. A baby isn't "good" when he doesn't fuss. He is simply content, happy, with no stomach ache or acute need. And, an unhappy baby isn't "bad" or "evil", is he?)
Anyway, this time my little baby boy actually started to fuss.  No wonder, since he was used to me feeding him whenever he wanted to. Well, I just didn't feel comfortable feeding him here.  On the chairs next to me, on both sides, were important-looking businessmen.  Suit, tie, tapping away on their laptops, and I'm sure I could physically feel their occasional sideways gaze, and their frown, which read "I really hope she doesn't even think about breastfeeding here, next to me!"
My baby continued his fussing, starting to search against my chest, bobbing his head, desperately trying to tell me that he wanted to eat, and I tried to hold him differently, up on my shoulder, but now he starting crying - for real.  I got up, rocked him in my arms, whispering to him "I'm so sorry, but you'll soon get your milk". My eyes hurt, and I had to fight back tears. This was awful.
After a while he was calmer, and I sat down with him. The suit man on my right looked at me in an annoyed way.  This was not fun. This was new mother hell.  Couldn't they just start that boarding!  My baby, who had been drowsing off for a few minutes, suddenly startled awake and started searching again, frantically this time.  Like a little wild animal.  This wasn't him, not the baby I was used to.  And, this wasn't me...
In the end, my instincts won over me not being comfortable around these New England businessmen, so I snapped open the clasp on my shoulder strap, stuck my baby underneath my t-shirt, where he happily, and with a big sigh, started to eat.
My face was all red.  I looked down on my baby, all at the same time making sure no flesh was to be seen.
Somebody cleared his throat, in a somewhat noisy way.  It was Mr. Suit. "Well," he said, and when I shot a glimpse in his direction, I realized he was looking straight at me....
I braced myself.  And, then he said,
"It was about time you fed that hungry baby!"


  1. I love to hear a positive experience of breastfeeding in public! (I took the businessman's response as positive - it was, wasn't it?) Probably many of those guys have wives or partners at home who have had similar experiences too! When a baby has to eat - that takes preference over other people's hang-ups. (Although I still believe in trying to be as discrete as possible).

    1. Thanks for your nice comment! :-) And yes, I think the response was very positive indeed. Discrete, of course, it's just common sense, but a baby needs to eat when he/she is hungry :-)


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