I hesitate to write this, but if I don't I will feel like a big hypocrite, so here it is.
Christmas Day festivities were underway. We had opened piles of presents, and yet piles and piles remained. Jordan's family opens one gift at a time. It was about 1:00 and we were due at my uncle's house, 45 minutes away, around 3:00. Suzi had already opened gifts from Santa at our house, sat in the car for a two-hour ride, and then opened a bunch more gifts. Jordan's parents had just hauled in a giant pile of gifts for Suzi, as well as for me, Jordan, Jordan's brother, his wife, and their soon-to-be-born baby boy. The coffee table had to be removed for the gifts to fit and they completely filled the room. All day Suzi had been handed one gift after another to unwrap and enjoy for ten seconds before it was whisked away and she was expected to refocus on opening a new gift. She was so ridiculously overwhelmed that, naturally, all she wanted to do was breastfeed. Which she made known.
I had been sneaking around trying to breastfeed her all day long, as any attempts to put her off until later were met with shrieking the likes of which no toy could assuage. My child had been made so disoriented and irritable by the season's rituals that she was searching for some source of quiet comfort, and it is my job to provide her with that.
So, amidst the generous piles of gifts we had yet to open, Suzi ran to my knees and asked to breastfeed yet again. I was fully prepared to leave the room, not because I am ashamed of breastfeeding her but because also sitting in the room were two of the most confrontational people I have ever met and I did not want to start a big hairy argument on Christmas. The only reason I did not get up and leave with Suzi was because my sweet husband said "Jenny, there's no reason for you to leave. I'll get a blanket and you can do that right here." I figured he knew his family better than I did. That's when his mom said, ever so transparently, "Oh, but if you take her in the bedroom she might go to sleep." Jordan did not acknowledge this, and when he couldn't find a free blanket I decided to leave the room. He followed me, and I heard his mom whispering to him, "Jordan, she needs to do that back here (meaning in the bedroom, where there is no comfortable place to sit) because it makes ______ and ______ (two narrow-minded individuals) uncomfortable."
Ouch. I never thought I would be banished from a family gathering.
I have been mentally prepared for months to deal with these sorts of people in malls, restaurants, stores--anywhere but in the home of a close family member. And as I sat there in the back bedroom staring at the hardwood floor, I thought, what just happened here? If this had happened anywhere else I would've known exactly what to do. But what do you do when it's your family?
Present them with the card in my purse stating that by South Carolina law, breastfeeding must not be considered indecent exposure? Notify the state Breastfeeding Coalition? Organize a nurse-in on the front lawn?
I would have told them the World Health Organization recommends that I breastfeed Suzi for at least another five months and by doing so I am being a good mother, but the offended parties never would have listened to reason. This I know from experience.
I consider this to be judgmental rejection, and it hurts. And there's really nothing I can do.
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