Barefoot and Breastfeeding in the Mall, It Happens!
I will preface this blog by saying that I, like my partner Heather fully support a person’s right to feed their baby the way that is best for them! Sometimes that is breastfeeding uncovered and other times it is breast fully covered, bottle, formula, or donor milk! What’s best for one is not best for all!
When I gave birth to my first son I never thought about how I’d feed him. I knew I’d breastfeed, but never considered how. I never gave any thought to using a cover, where I’d breastfeed, who I’d be comfortable breastfeeding in front of, and I certainly never considered if others would be comfortable with me breastfeeding near them.
I never considered any of that. I was naive, carefree and happy!
I was too busy daydreaming about what it would be like, how cool it would be not having to get out of bed to make a bottle, and how awesome it was that my body was capable of making milk to sustain another life.
Fast forward to about 2 weeks post-birth. I was ready to venture out, in fact I needed it. I took walks in the neighborhood, for like a whole twenty minutes, but it was hot, super hot. If you’ve experienced Florida in August as a hot postpartum mom you get me. So naturally the mall seemed logical!
About an hour into our walk my son was hungry. From a faint hunger cue to full on tears in like 60 seconds! If you’ve ever breastfed a baby you know there’s no holding off newborn, no way. Hell hath no fury like a hungry newborn! I needed to get that baby a boob, and quick!
Then it happened…
For the first time I thought about other people. What would they think? How much they’d see? Worst of all, I wondered what they’d say to me and how I’d react. I panicked and ran to the bathroom.
I half sat on the bathroom counter, and half stood as I attempted to feed my now screaming son. Uncomfortable from standing as milk sprayed everywhere he screamed helplessly. Why? Why wasn’t he happily nursing like he had every day for the last 2 weeks? He sensed how uncomfortable I was, he felt the tension and frustration I felt.
I was now in tears feeling like a horrible mom when an elderly lady walks out of the stall and says, “I don’t blame him, I wouldn’t want to eat in a bathroom. Would you?” I cringed and felt myself curl up inside. I just wanted to close my eyes, click my heels, and wake up in my bed next to my baby peacefully nursing without onlookers.
I was able to calm him, nurse him briefly, and then he fell asleep, from exhaustion. I cleaned myself up, cleaned him up, gave myself a quick “you got this shit” pep talk and got the hell outta dodge.
It was in that bathroom that I realized I had to face my fear. A fear I never even knew I had, my fear of being judged. I had to breastfeed my baby in public. If I didn’t I’d never be able to venture out again. That would mean confinement and no mother deserves to be confined because of feeding her child, ever!
Once out of the bathroom I found a bench in the mall, sat down, woke my son and fed him, without a cover.
Was I scared?
I was terrified, but I owed this to my son. Not only did I owe this to my son, but I owed it to every woman and baby out there who felt judged (by others or even themselves as I clearly did) or who had been shamed for breastfeeding in any condition.
I did it!
I only had one person stare, most didn’t even know I was breastfeeding my son, and get this, not one person said anything to me. Lucky for them because I had a bold and very brash statement prepared that I was repeating in my head “just in case”.
Those were defining moments for me as a new mother. I’m thankful for them now, you know, since they’re over! I carry that day with me in so many ways, here’s an example!
Today as I’m walking through the mall I feel my right shoe/wedge start to come apart on bottom. I look down and yep, sure enough the bottom is separating and uncontrollably. My walk starts to sound like a gallop and then out of nowhere my left shoe started to come apart as well.
Sweet Jesus, could this really be happening?
Yes, yes it could, this is my life, I can’t make this stuff up you guys!
My shoes fell apart; right there in the mall they are flopping all over the place. I slowed up, but tried to maintain a walk, but I slowed to a mere shuffle and I feared I’d be crawling soon as my wedges became unstable. I had to actually say to myself, “o.k. stay calm and think….what do I do?”
All I could think was, shit, all these people are about to see me walking barefoot through the mall, then I tripped and almost fell on my face. I stopped beside a trash can holding back tears. I was totally embarrassed and then I remembered the first time I had to face a fear in the mall. I gave myself the, “you got this shit” pep talk and wiped my tears away, looked at my daughter, and actually laughed out loud.
Then I did what any right-minded woman would do. I tried to rip the bottoms off completely so I could continue on my way. It was the only decent plan I had, followed by a close trash them and walk barefoot.
What do you know, I couldn’t rip them the rest of the way, they wouldn’t budge. Perfect!
My daughter informs me that she sees a shoe store, just three stores away. She graciously took my hand and encouraged me to face my fear. Somehow we made it and we were greeted by a lovely store associate who asks, “how are you ladies doing this evening?” My response, there were no words, I simply held up my shoes in my hand and gave a frown. The look on her face was priceless. She grabs the trash can, holds it out in front of her, and says, “Well then, you’re in the right place!”
I bought new shoes, laughed with the associate, hugged my daughter extra tight, and headed on my way.
Barefoot and Breastfeeding in the mall happens!! Life happens!
My point; face your fears!
Let your accomplishments be your encouragement!
Laugh at yourself it’s o.k.!
Life is short, laughter is the best medicine!