Why Women Nurse in Public

You know, I’ve been on both sides now. Before I had my baby, I had a couple friends who breastfed their babies, and you know what? The first few times, it made me uncomfortable. I think part of people’s discomfort comes from the fact that it’s just not a stage of life that lasts long, so people don’t have a chance to be exposed to it often. It’s that same reason that people say such dumb and inappropriate things to pregnant women. Anyway. I really thought most women breastfed their babies, but it never occurred to me that that would mean they would have to breastfeed them in public. Which is ridiculous, really. But in the same way that all childless people know everything, I had the two obvious solutions: nursing mothers could cover up, or they could use expressed milk in bottles while in public. And don’t those seem like such obvious solutions? Well, here’s why they’re not.

  1. The problem with covering up: For a one-month-old baby in the stage in which Steve used to call Kara a human larva, covering up works just fine. But as soon as a baby starts wanting to interact with the world, this is no longer feasible. Baby doesn’t just want to eat—he wants to interact with Mommy. He wants to make eye contact, smile, touch her face, and use those marvelous hands. A cover is not just confusing, it’s a fun toy that he’ll pull down as soon as you put it up just for the sake of using his hands. And, really, a nursing baby covers up pretty much everything. Yes, it’s obvious that a baby is eating, but there’s nothing inappropriate visible even without a cover.
  2. The problem of the bottle: Well, really, there are many. The first is that breastmilk is liquid gold for a mother who works hard making it and pumping it. You don’t just cart that stuff around unless you’re absolutely certain you’re going to use it. For a nursing mother, every bottle she pumps could be a trip out of the house without a baby or a date night with the husband. You don’t risk that on a trip out of the house when Mom and Baby are together just on the off chance you might need to nurse where there’s not a comfortable private place to nurse. The other problem regards Momma’s body. When Baby wants to eat, Momma’s body gets ready for Baby to eat. Baby cries, and Momma’s milk is gonna drop whether or not Baby is gonna eat it. So if you think a nursing mother is indiscreet, what do you think about a mother walking around with two huge wet milk stains on her shirt?

Things I’m Sick of Being Sorry For

I’m not a very tactful person (shock!), but I do generally try to keep in mind that other people have feeling and I do what I can to accommodate them. But there are some things I often feel bad about even though it’s ridiculous, and I’m taking a stand. I won’t apologize anymore for:

  1. Driving the speed limit. I freely admit it—sometimes I speed. But most of the time, I go the speed limit. And when I’m going the speed limit, I would appreciate you backing off my bumper. If you didn’t allot the time you needed to get somewhere while following the posted speed limits, that’s your problem, not mine. I’m not the bad guy here. I will do my best to make it easy for you to pass me if the opportunity allows, but in the meantime, riding my bumper usually just makes me slow down out of spite.
  2. Getting mad at other drivers for going under the speed limit in the left lane. I don’t feel as though this conflicts with #1. Yes, following the speed limit means I sometimes drive under it, but never in the passing lane.
  3. Nursing in public. If there is a comfortable, private place for me to nurse my daughter when she’s hungry, I will seek it out. If the weather is nice, I will often even nurse her in the car before I go into a store. I do that for other people’s comfort, not mine. Nursing her doesn’t bother me in the least. But if she’s hungry when we’re in the middle of the zoo or the middle of a meal in a restaurant, I’m going to feed her. I haven’t encountered any resistance yet, but I’ve already made up my mind not to apologize for it if complaints come.
  4. Trying to see both sides of things. When I try to point out that a view different from your own has merit, I’m not trying to be hateful, just trying to understand. I’ve just found that situations are rarely as clear-cut as we would like them to be and often the greatest enemy is our burning need for there to be an enemy.

The Klepto Kid

My family and I had a very eventful week. One of those events included going to the Nashville Zoo for the first time, so of course Kara’s grandma had to get her a souvenir (or two… or three). One of the souvenirs Kara picked out herself was a colorful rubber caterpillar. It’s very bright and very stretchy—an irresistible combination, apparently.

And not just to my Kara.

On the way home from Nashville, we stopped at a Chipotle (AH-mazing). At this point, Kara was anything but a champ, so when Steve and I realized we would not be able to keep her happy in the store, he decided to walk around outside while I ate and then we’d switch. He got up with Kara and left, leaving her caterpillar in his seat. I hadn’t been eating long when I saw a little blonde head beeline to Steve’s empty seat. She picked up the caterpillar and I said something clever along the lines of, “Uh, honey? Whatcha doin’?”

The little girl looked up at me. “What’s this?”

“That’s my baby’s toy.”

“Where’s your baby?”

“She’s outside with her daddy.”

The little girl put the caterpillar back on the seat but didn’t go anywhere. Then her mother walked by and she held it up to show it off. And the mother who had a baby in her arms and was out by herself with her kids said something along the lines of, “That’s nice, put it back.” So the girl put the toy back on the seat and then, as soon as her mother’s back was turned, she swiped it up quick as a thought and hid it behind her back. Unfortunately for her and fortunately for me, her back was facing me. I chased after her, stood in front of her so she had to stop, and gently took the caterpillar away from her. The mother saw what her girl had done and was absolutely mortified and so apologetic. I made sure she knew I knew it wasn’t her fault, and the whole time I was just dreading what kinds of things Kara will do to embarrass me when she’s that age.

In the meantime, Kara will never know how close she was to losing her beloved caterpillar, and there’s no harm done.

The Real Price of a $10 High Chair

Since I got pregnant, I’ve discovered the wonderful world of consignment shopping. Because, really, who wants to pay full price for maternity clothes you’ll wear for a few months? And after you have a baby, who wants to pay full price for pretty much anything a baby is going to use/wear for a few months?

It is now time for Kara to have a real high chair instead of just the seat with a tray, and this is the weekend of the Anderson consignment sale. Woot! So Kara and I went to Anderson (about a half-hour drive). We picked up a couple cheap toys, a few cheap clothes, and voila! They had a high chair for $10. Bam! Done!

So I carry my baby, her toys, her clothes, and her high chair to my sedan and suddenly I realize I didn’t think this through. You see, since I bought the high chair from a consignment sale, it was already assembled so that any potential buyer could see that the chair had all its pieces and it’s in good shape. Which is good, but that doesn’t help me transport it. There’s no fitting this thing in my trunk (yes, I tried), so I think, Maybe I can scoot the carseat over, lay the front seat back, and shove it in there. So I sit Kara in the driver’s seat, take her carseat out, lay back the front seat, and do all kinds of gymnastics to try to fit the high chair in the car. It’s just not going to happen. And I can’t leave Kara in the driver’s seat anymore, because she’s getting restless and starting to move around. So I pick her up and take a close look at the chair. It would be a piece of cake to take apart if only I had a screwdriver.

I cross my fingers and head back inside, leaving the high chair and carseat by my trunk and hoping people decide not to take them. Luck was with me—someone working the sale did, in fact, have a screwdriver. I had back outside and am happy to see that luck is still with me and my items are still by my car, but now we have another problem: I have nowhere to put Kara. Her carseat is sitting on the ground, and Kara is now old and big enough that she can rock herself forward and tip forward out of the carseat. I can’t just sit her in the car because it’s not safe either. In the midst of my trouble, enter a middle-aged couple heading to the sale.

“Do you need a hand?” they asked.

“Yes,” I said, simultaneously trying to figure out how to even begin asking for help.

I explained that I was trying to dismantle the chair to fit in my car. The gentleman did that part. Then the woman (I know, I feel terrible about this part in a way, that I handed my child to a complete stranger, but sometimes you just go with your instincts) held Kara while I got her seat back in the car and everything organized.

I got my daughter, returned the screwdriver, and returned home happy.

Was it worth it, you ask?

Well, at least it makes a good story.


“People Love an ‘Us Versus Them'”

The other day as I was driving into town, I saw this bumper sticker on the car in front of me:

To Hell With Our Enemies,

I was completely boggled. What kind of Christian would manufacture that sticker, let alone buy it? I expressed my bafflement to Steve who said simply, “So much of human history can be explained by the fact that people love an ‘us versus them.'”

And isn’t that the truth? Look at what’s going on in Syria right now. Think of World War II or the Crusades. For that matter, look at our political system! It can’t even be just Democrats vs. Republicans—now it’s Santorum supporters versus Romney supporters, etc. If you have any opinion on anything, no matter how trivial, there’s someone out there to blast you for it. Star Trek fans versus Star Wars fans, anyone?

Don’t get me wrong—conflict can be done well. True argument in the Platonic sense is a wonderful thing. Personal and intellectual growth can be stimulated by our differences. But let’s be honest—that’s not how most people talk about their differences most of the time.

I’m certainly guilty of using differences as an excuse to feel superior or to judge.

But that’s not my place, is it? Nor yours, nor any person’s, but God’s. And in the end, maybe that’s what drawing close to God is all about: gaining His heart and not seeing Protestant vs. Catholic, Christian vs. Muslim, gay vs. straight. It’s about seeing people. God’s people. His children. And loving them just the same.

And that’s why it’s so hard to follow Him.

Cloth Diaper Review

I have some cloth diapers I’ve been using … well, Kara’s been using … for quite some time now, and I suppose it’s time for me to list the pros and cons of each.

  1. Our all-purpose go-to diaper is a basic prefold with the Kawaii One-Size Diaper Cover. They’re cheap, they grow with Baby, and Sweetbottoms even does free shipping. They’re not leak-proof when the huge poops come but, well, nothing we’ve found is leak proof then. But they actually do much better than any disposable we’ve used. They have nice colors, which is a plus. Oh, and snaps are the way to go. The velcro is ok, but the snaps are solid and, once she hits toddler-hood, they’re immune to baby attempts at removal. And they don’t snag things in the wash.
  2. We also have several Econobum One-Size Diaper Covers. I got them for cheap on eBay. They work just as well as the Kawaii but they’re not as pretty. Also, they seem to pick up stains more easily.
  3. We recently got a Kawaii night-time diaper. We’ve only used it twice, but so far, no leaks. And it’s soft on the inside and outside, which is very nice. My initial impression is I want to buy about 6 more and never have to buy a case of disposables again. Except for vacations. Meh.
  4. Finally, we have some iCute diapers we got from eBay. They were very cheap ($4.50 per diaper), and it shows. The elastic around the legs is a little short and there’s none around the pocket opening. However, they’re certainly worth what you pay. They do not contain poop very well, but they’re a great around-the-house diaper (meaning, if you can definitely change the diaper every 2 hours). And if you want to spend the extra money for inserts, they make a very reliable travel diaper. Again, I haven’t had them long, but I did run a lot of errands and didn’t change her diaper for 3 1/2 hours; her skin was still dry and the diaper hadn’t leaked. I tried them once overnight with an insert and it didn’t fail spectacularly; I may try again soon now that Kara is only waking up once a night to eat.

Just thought I’d share what I’ve been up to since I first started cloth diapering. I’m still doing it cheaply and it’s still working out great!