A funny thing happened to me with baby #2. I became a bit of an exhibitionist. Perhaps that's not the right word. Maybe 'forgetful' or 'exhausted' might be more appropriate.
When I tried breastfeeding Bean, it was a disaster by all accounts. She wasn't gaining weight and each feeding session brought me to the brink of mental breakdown. I remember trying to breastfeed in Central Park. I had my shawl, dutifully covering up my breast. Heaven forbid that someone should glance my nipple! I sat on a bench overlooking the softball diamond where my husband was playing, thinking a positive mantra of "I can do this! I can do this! My body was built to do this!" over and over again. I took my baby out of the stroller and attempted the latch. Bean fussed, screamed and fussed some more. I sat there trying to get her on my boob and I cried. Tears rolled down my cheek. I tried to calm myself down because now we were both miserable. A stylish NYC mom strolled by with her three year old son on his scooter, and looked at me with pity and shouted "It gets easier!" over the cacophony of sobs coming from under my shawl. I wanted to take her son's scooter and throw it at her face. Instead, I stifled more tears and smiled back at this well-meaning stranger and said "Does it?" In that moment, I didn't think it would ever get easier and I thought breastfeeding was something women did to punish themselves for imagined mommy sins.
Now, I can say wholeheartedly, that it does get easier. It gets a million times easier and I'm amazed every day that my body works this way to produce milk for my child. It may not have worked with Bean, but HT and I have this down. I think I finally realized the difference this time around: I genuinely don't care if someone sees my boob. That's it. Pure and simple. I used to cover myself up like a nun when I nursed Bean. I didn't want to offend anyone with my boob. I didn't want anyone to feel uncomfortable if they happened to glance upon my breast. I didn't want to scare any children with the brazen act of feeding my child in public. And now, I don't care because I think it's a beautiful thing. I also can't be bothered by people who get uncomfortable around an exposed breast. It's a boob people. Half the population has them. Nothing titillating about a nursing mom. Trust me.
I'm the mom that nurses in the parking lot, outside Bean's preschool, in the park and on the playground. I've nursed hiking and sitting on the beach. In the mall, no problem! My milk is always on tap and it's the right temperature every time. The only snafu to my breastfeeding, is that I sometimes forget to pull my shirt down post-breastfeeding which has resulted in the embarrassing situation of my talking to my neighbor with my boob out. Or talking to fellow moms on the playground with my boob out. Or answering the door with my boob out. Do you see a trend here? I think it's more from my being tired than anything else, but I also genuinely don't care anymore if someone happens to see my boob. Maybe it comes from being humbled by a hospital sponge bath. We are bombarded every day with images of cleavage from Victoria's Secret or Kim Kardashian and society isn't offended by that. And really, shouldn't we all be offended by Kim Kardashian?
So, sometimes my boob is out. Sometimes it's not. I'm more comfortable with my body this time around and that's made breastfeeding so much easier. I think that's the real gift of breastfeeding because you see your body in a whole new light. Aside from it's miraculous ability to grow a human being, it can also nourish that human being and that is a beautiful sight.