Vickie Linegar began sharing the ups and downs of being a survivor two years ago over the holiday season when it finally occurred to her ...Read More
A few weeks ago, my infant son got hungry in the waiting room of our pediatrician’s office. It was at that exact moment that the zipper pull on my shirt broke and I couldn’t get it off. I had taken the baby out of his carseat for a few last snuggles before he got his first round of vaccinations. I was juggling the clipboard with the mountain of paperwork I had to fill out, a crying baby, a broken zipper, my winter jacket, my insurance card, the carseat and a burp cloth and trying not to cry myself. People seemed to be staring and finally I dropped everything but the baby and lifted my shirt up and out came the breast.
I tried to take a few big deep breaths in hopes that the cold sweat running down my neck and back would settle down before I had to meet our new doctor. No such luck. Out pops the nurse calling our names. As she ushered me down the hall carrying all my belongings, she laughed when I said, “Boy if anyone had told me I’d be able to walk through an office full of strangers with my breast out…”
My mother passed on tidbits over the years about caring for babies and these days I recall quite vividly her opinion on breastfeeding. She said women breastfeed for their own dirty pleasure.
My mother fed all her babies a mixture of water and evaporated milk with a little sugar mixed in for taste. Most people in Newfoundland were doing the same thing in the 70s and as they wiped our runny noses and held our skinny little baby bodies in the doctor’s waiting room, they would acknowledge to other mommies that indeed we were ‘Carnation babies.’
It probably explains why I still can’t start the day without a cup of tea complete with Carnation milk and a spoonful of sugar. I’m just a teabag away from slapping a rubber nipple on there.
Shortly after the feeding incident in the pediatrician’s office, bucko got hungry during an intermission at a hockey game. There are far fewer people sitting around when the game’s not going and I figured what’s the worst thing that can happen? As if on cue, half a dozen high school hockey players who were sitting in front of us stood up and turned around. Salty Pete was throwing out free t-shirts behind us and there I sat – breastfeeding. They had no idea what was happening other than the fact that I had a baby covered by a blanket in my arms but I found myself wondering if there was any way I could disappoint or embarrass or disobey my mother further.
I could hear her in the back of my head: “What you’re doing is disgusting and you should be ashamed of yourself for doing it at all, let alone in PUBLIC.”
There are unique challenges for a survivor when they become parents. Having OCD and emetophobia and trying to keep some semblance of control over my life are all topics for another time but breastfeeding is one of those challenges. As if I didn’t have enough body issues to deal with, those words ringing in my ears that were said about all women and yet, there remains a desire to do what’s best for my baby. Luckily abuse in all its forms did not diminish my capacity to love or care for my child and I am very fortunate that I’ve been able to breastfeed. Maybe it’s determination or maybe sheer spite but my son is better off for it.
Breastfeeding is natural and beautiful and my right to do so wherever and whenever I choose is protected in the state of Maine. It might take some time for people to accept that – hockey fans, my parents, maybe even me.