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Confessions of a closet shy person.

2008-09-11 - 2:57 p.m.

I recently read a post from fellow canuck Her Bad Mother that stirred a chord. HBM, you see, had been approached while breast feeding and ďofferedĒ a blanket by a WestJet flight attendant. She bravely and politely refused. It got me wondering, what would I have done in the same circumstances? Chances are I wouldnít have found myself in that situation because, and Iím actually kind of embarrassed to admit this, I almost always use a receiving blanket when feeding in public.

There, I said it.

This feels like a big confession because, on paper, Iím a huge believer in a womanís right to breast feed, anytime, anywhere, in any manner in which the woman feels comfortable. Before I became a mother Ė heck, before I was even pregnant or trying to get pregnant Ė I was already very vocal about this issue and most of those who know me in real life consider me a ďstrong womanĒ who lives by her convictions. Iím outraged on behalf of all those women who are asked to cover up or, worse, move to a more ďprivateĒ location. And now I kind of feel like Iím betraying those women by covering up myself and not challenging the comfort zone of people who really need to have their limits stretched.

But hereís the thing: I also used to think that co-sleeping was kind of hippy-ish and possibly dangerous for tiny, squish-able infants. Now my son is the second child to sleep right between his father and me. And I thought soothers were inherently bad for kids but, while my kids donít use them, I have actually offered one to my son to see if it would stop him from crying nightly for hours on end, so I can understand their appeal. And when I was a child? I thought Iíd be able to go to the moon for a holiday by the time I was grown up (hey, could still happen, right?). But I digress. What I mean by all this is, until youíve been in a situation, you canít really know how youíll react to it.

And it turns out? When Iím nursing I squirt milk. Lots of milk. From both boobs at once, even though only one is being used at any given time. And with enough force sometimes that, if the nurser canít swallow fast enough to keep up with the flow, he or she starts choking and then pulls back and then Iím not only exposed but shooting needle-thin jets of milk everywhere. Iím not kidding. If someoneís standing 5 feet away they can still get their shoes splashed.

My solution to this has been to stuff a giant washcloth in my bra on the side thatís not in use, and to use a receiving blanket as not only a shield from exposure but as a splash guard. For this I feel like I should be apologizing to nursing mothers who donít employ the blanket, and declaring to everyone else that Iím not using the blanket for their comfort but for mine (and for sanitary reasons if Iím at a restaurant, where Iím pretty sure human milk splashing in my neighboursí food would be frowned on by the board of health).

Iím not sure how to reclaim my badass street cred, especially since I started waxing my legs (for years I was one of the Great Unshorn). Does it help that the first time I nursed Grommet when I was out on my own it was on Parliament Hill? No? Maybe at least I can join the ranks of people who send a link to HBMís entry to WestJet at the email address she provides at the bottom of the entry. Whoís with me?

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