The other day a friend decided that she would post a picture of her breastfeeding on her Facebook with the message that all Mothers should post similar selfies to publicise the cause of breastfeeding in public.
First of all I would like to point out that my issue was not and never will be with her.
Rather it was the first of the comments that arose from her statement. Along the lines that we all see breasts these days so it’s perfectly acceptable. My response was that perhaps people should be more wary, for some people being privy to that situation that a new mother is suddenly feeding a child in front of you it can be heartbreaking.
The response I got was that I was being silly. Then further to this other mothers and parents alike waded in and informed me that I should let go of my ‘bitterness’ and move on. Sentiments that I was just a hysterical commentator on the situation.
It is at this stage I stepped away from the conversation. I note that others have also commented on the thread but I have refrained from reading them.
For me as a person who can’t have kids, who does not have the option of fostering or adoption seeing friends have children is bitter-sweet. Of course we are pleased for them but it is a constant reminder that it is something we’ll never have. We get the well meaning comments that prove they never really understand our situation and then comes the pictures of first scans, of the newly arrived bundle and now, of the mother breastfeeding.
Reduced to an emotional wreck as this sight I frequently withdraw from the friendships with new parents, protecting myself from the ongoing struggle with the depression that is hand in hand with my fertility issues. I’ve had 8 miscarriages. My longest pregnancy was 11 weeks and I swear I felt the baby move before I lost it. That is a pain that few can understand even if they sympathise with.
To return to the topic I wasn’t feeling bitterness, I was feeling an anger that I haven’t known for a while. My thoughts and feelings were dismissed. One commentator had the arrogance to simply say that if their child was crying they wouldn’t care who was about or what affect it would have on them.
Are you planning to teach the same selfishness to your children? That they should have no regard for people in pain?
Let me tell you what has influenced my stance. After my last miscarriage I was in a cafe in town and a harassed mother came in. She sat in my eye-line and then in full view of the restaurant and the people passing outside the window she proceeded to feed her child. She wasn’t discreet about it. I said nothing to her, nor did I make a complaint or say anything to any of the staff, no I simply got up from my table and moved down to a table at end of the cafe and after resuming reading my book as I drank my coffee.
Nursing mother was then approached by a member of staff. I had no idea what was said but she stared in my direction. When she had finished she proceeded to come and stand near my table where she had a public go at me, calling me names and saying I was an ‘effing stuck up prude’, ‘an effing b*tch’, and other invectives before she spat in my face. She and her child were then escorted from the premises as a member of staff moved over to my table and asked me if I were alright.
I want to point out again that I didn’t say anything to staff, her or anyone. I didn’t complain or comment. Certainly nothing to earn myself that response.
Why then did it happen? Why did she think that I was against her when I’d done nothing except remove myself and sit elsewhere?
It strikes me that I’m always the one to step back, to remove myself and avoid situations that are distressing to me. Why should I have to do that?
It’s almost like just because you are part of this club where you are “mothers” that you don’t have to care or have respect for anyone else. What message are you sending? You have to be intelligent enough to know that not everyone is going to be okay with you breastfeeding for a variety of reasons and just because you’ve had a baby it doesn’t entitle you to dismiss, or in the case of the other woman, harass me or anyone else for our views or feelings.
There is a middle ground, There has to be.
But in the meantime, just be aware that as much as I support you in the hard job you have as being parents I don’t want to see certain things. Respect my choices because I respect yours.