She climbed into my lap, assumed the nursing position and asked quietly, “nah-nah.” Without thinking about it, I lifted my shirt and unsnapped my bra. After her sucking began I was suddenly self-conscious. We were at the library story hour; a room full of mothers with their small children and babies. I believe I should never have to tell my daughter we can’t nurse because other people don’t like it. The thing is, as she gets older I’m uncovering levels of discomfort and ignorance that make my insides ache. Why should I have to tell my little girl some people don’t understand that nursing is a beautiful thing? Why should I have to say, we can’t nurse in the doctor’s office because I’m worried the person sitting next to me might get uncomfortable?
When I’m in line in the supermarket – the example even the most passionate “lactivists” use as a place where they might not nurse their toddlers – I want to shout, would you be uncomfortable if I gave her a bottle? Would you be uncomfortable if I gave her a favorite teddy bear or hugged her? Why should she have to give up this perfect source of comfort because our culture seems to think a plastic pacifier is more civilized and that breasts are just for sex?
Yesterday I was in a small hotel suite with my in-laws and Maya was painfully over-tired, obviously fighting a cold, and meeting new grandparents for just about the first time. She wanted to nurse. I had on a sling, so I found it easy to let her nurse even in such close quarters – I was surprised when my father-in-law bounded off of the couch we were all sitting on and burst into the other room, apparently finding a sudden desperate need to wash his hands. When he came back, he sat in the chair on the opposite side of the room and his eyes looked everywhere but at me and my beautiful two year old, who was snuggled inside the colorful fabric of her favorite “tsing.”
Today in the same little hotel room, I told her she’d have to wait – she grew more persistent, since she’s not used to me saying no to nah-nah for what must have seemed like no reason.
I began to tell her that some people don’t understand how special nursing is. Then I stopped myself.
The world can be such a hard place.
She has a lifetime to learn about pain and disappointment – I’m not going to force those lessons on her. Frankly, I think the people who don’t understand the power of the nursing bond are missing out on one of life’s greatest miracles. Until she wants it to be different, we’re going to have nah-nah whenever and wherever she wants it.
In fact, I’ve got to go now. Maya’s asking for some nah-nah.