Breastfeeding was always something that kind of wigged me out in my pre-mommmy years. I mean, lets face it...I grew up with MTV. The function of the breasts seen in music videos is not to provide nourishment to infants. Attaching a baby to a body part so sexualized by the media just seemed unnatural.
Fast forward nine years, my decision to breastfeed my fourth child was the most natural thing in the world. While I don't dread the day my children are done nursing, I nursed my three older children just the same. Nursing Baby Sage seemed to be a no-brainer. What I didn't really think through were the new dynamics of our ever changing family.
Our first three children are less than four years apart. Violet and Sage are nearly 9 years different in age. Breastfeeding a new baby with a 5, 7, and 9-year-old in the house is a much different experience than breastfeeding with a toddler and a preschooler in the home. In Violet's first five years of life, I was either pregnant or breastfeeding. She knew nothing different. With my 4 year breather, the idea of nursing was not even on the radar until Baby Sage entered this world.
Nursing a newborn is not particularly discreet. When Sage was two weeks old Doug declared that when I am through nursing this child, our children have seen enough of me to last a lifetime. Violet was rather disturbed by my need to bare my breasts every other minute. Lily found breastfeeding to be absolutely hilarious and would laugh hysterically every time it was time for Sage to eat (she also managed to prolong the giggling by saying the word "breast" every few minutes). As for Ivy, she had about 500 new questions about how things worked every single time Sage latched on for a meal. In private, these things are par for the course. In public, this can be more of a sticky situation.
For example, I should be able to order food without a problem at Der Dutchman. I've been doing so for years. Typically, my children are well mannered. Now...I can't order a chicken breast without Lily saying "BREAST?! Your eating a chicken BREAST?!!!" Really?! I think the Amish chick that took our order just passed out. Example number two...shopping at Target is typically a joyous time in my life. Now, I am bracing myself for Ivy to yell "if you would just shove that baby on your boob, she'd be quiet already." Of course, none of that compares to having friends of Violet's over to the house.
I am always pretty discreet about feeding the baby. I use a blanket or go to another room anytime I am around non-family members. It's just more comfortable for me. All the same, there are still often questions about what's going on under that blanket. Recently, we had a good friend of Violet's spend the night. Mia always fits right into the household anytime she comes over. She plays well with all of the kids, and she's just a fun kid to be around. Somehow for the first two months of Sage's life, Mia never noticed the blanket or my sudden need to leave the room. When Violet told her I was in my room feeding the baby, so she was going to give me privacy, Mia was confused.
Of course, I know nothing of this confusion, as I am in another room which means my nine-year-old decides to school her friend. The next day she tells me that Mia had never heard of breastfeeding before and was somewhat horrified when Violet "explained" how things work. Mia told Violet that her aunt had a baby and she sure as heck never "let her baby suck on her boob!" Great! I cannot wait to talk to her parents about this one. Of course, this is the same little girl that Lily decided to educate about a baby's entrance into the world. [Dr. Daddy decided that the appropriate explanation for a 4, 6, and 8 year old curious about how Mommy was going to get the baby out of her belly was that a "baby comes head first out of the vulva." I don't even know where to begin there. I did ask that he direct the kids to me if ever they ask how babies are made.]
All the same, Mia's dad is a nurse, so I figured they might still let their child hang with ours if I just make a quick call to inform them of Mia's recent lesson on breastfeeding. Unfortunately, Mia's parents were already well aware of the situation by the time I talked to them. Nurse Daddy had already explained that humans are mammals, which means their bodies are equipped to feed their babies just as any other mammal. To clear up further questions, there was discussion about hormones and the changes in nipples, and Heaven knows what else. Needless to say, the idea that getting pregnant means that a big old baby is going to exit the body head first out the vulva and your nipples are going to change to allow babies to get milk by sucking on your breast has convinced at least one of the children in that family that there is no way on this Earth she is ever going to get pregnant.
Nothing like being the weird hippie mom that scares the children into abstinence. I think I need to go snack on some fruits and nuts (it's the Mammalian way of motherhood).