Peanut has a best friend—let’s call her Squeed for the purposes of this blog because that’s what her mommy calls her. Squeed is my best friend’s daughter. She’s almost two years older than Peanut, but they have a ton of fun together. Peanut says her name. She gets excited if I ask her if she wants to go play with her. She’s happy playing with other kids, but Squeed is by far her favorite to play with.
Even with them living so far away, we try to get together on a regular basis. This is once every week or two, sometimes more. Quite often when we do hang out with them it’s all day long since it’s such a trek for them to get here. This means Squeed often sees Peanut breastfeeding.
At first I felt a little awkward about it. Not because of breastfeeding in front of Squeed, but because I know that my friend didn’t breastfeed Squeed for very long. I’ve often wished that I could go back in time with the knowledge I have now and help Squeed’s mama because I know she wanted to breastfeed. In hindsight I can clearly see all of the booby traps the hospital and our society put in her way.
My worry was unneeded. She immediately made it abundantly clear that she not only supported my breastfeeding Peanut, but she was happy about it. I guess I spend so much time on the internet battling people who are anti-breastfeeding (or at least anti-NIP) that I forgot that not everyone who bottle-feeds hates breastfeeding. (Actually, it seems like most moms who bottle-fed (or -feed) don’t hate breastfeeding, but that’s another topic for another day.)
We quickly fell back into our routine as friends. We were the exact same people, just with different priorities. We started hanging out pretty frequently and my worries of breastfeeding in front of them quickly fell not only to the side, but entirely off the chart. I didn’t even have a second thought when breastfeeding around them. It stopped crossing my mind that I was breastfeeding in front of them at all. I just did it like I would any other time—often not even realizing I was feeding her until letdown.
One day when they were over a couple of weeks ago, I was asking Peanut if she wanted to lay down and have some milk (it was time to go to bed). As she’s following me into the room, I hear Squeed say something along the lines of “Mommy, can I have milk from your boobies too?”
Seriously?! ZOMG that’s awesome!
Her mommy gave her a quick explanation that she didn’t have milk in her boobies and that was that. Squeed gave up on the quest and continued to get ready for bed. Or at least she gave up on the quest for the time being. Apparently Squeed as asked her mom a couple more times for “milk from her boobies like Dea”. At first this just seemed hilarious and awesome, then I realized there’s a deeper meaning.
Normalizing breastfeeding. I think root of all breastfeeding problems is normalizing breastfeeding. If breastfeeding was the norm, there would be proper support for new moms to succeed at it. If breastfeeding was the norm, no one would care about nursing in public. If breastfeeding was the norm, formula would be used as a substitute for breastfeeding like it’s supposed to be. In the past, I’ve used the need to normalize breastfeeding as my confidence booster to nurse in public in situations where I feel awkward.
So I don’t know why it took me so long to get it—I am normalizing breastfeeding for Squeed. Yeah, she probably won’t remember me breastfeeding Peanut when she’s old enough to become a mommy herself, but subconsciously she will. Maybe she’ll grow up without the notion that breastfeeding is weird or gross. Maybe it will just seem like another part of life to her. That’s all I can really hope for.