To the mothers who breastfeed,
I'm writing this to you because, well, you deserve it -- especially from someone who now exclusively breastfeeds her child, anywhere and anytime my child wants to, and without a care in the world, same as you. Before I had my child, I never understood the importance of breastfeeding: the bond it creates between a mother and child, the health benefits, and so on. I was closed-minded and didn't even realize it -- here it goes, I'm coming forward -- so I gave you a weird look, a puzzled stare, an unconscious reaction to you breastfeeding in public, and I'm so sorry. It's not that I was against it; I just knew nothing about breastfeeding, and my ignorance took over. I'm sorry.
I never knew much about mothers who breastfed their children. I was never really around anyone who nursed her child. I grew up in a culture where I always saw someone using a bottle, and that bottle most likely had formula in it. I knew I wanted kids someday, but never gave much thought to how I would nourish them.
If I ever made you feel uncomfortable, I'm sorry. I'm sorry for the long stare I might have given you in the supermarket or in a restaurant. I'm sorry for being a part of the lame whisper community that says: "Why can't she put a blanket over her baby?" I know why now. I completely understand. I was ignorant about motherhood and just how it is to be a parent in general. I'm sorry about the constant judgment and questions from your friends and family, always wondering why you can't cover up.
I tried the blanket; I tried covering up the best I could -- and mama, I know you did as well. The baby is wrapping it around her neck, waving her arms around, throwing the blanket to the ground, and you pick it up every time to place it back over her face, so it becomes this never-ending game, 'til you eventually break a sweat and shout out "SCREW IT!" To any person wondering why we aren't covering up, well, do you want a sheet over your head while you eat? Didn't think so.
I see my old self in strangers, and it stings. That stare is so powerful -- it's almost as if you can read their minds. You think I'm disgusting, I'm wrong to have my breast out, especially with your kids around, what's wrong with me... Right?
There's nothing wrong with you. There is nothing wrong with a mother feeding her child. Children just as much as adults need to know that. Kids need to have a clue about what boobs are. Tell them, Hey, breasts aren't these secretive, bad things to have. They're under every woman's shirt, and at times a mother will use them to feed her hungry child -- even in the mall -- and it is perfectly normal. That's the talk I wish my parents had had with me.
Unfortunately, I didn't get that talk, and a lot of people don't. But it's women like you -- brave women like you -- who are here for a purpose: to help someone like me understand. You've helped me grow, allowing me to see you quickly pull out your breast and bring your baby towards your nipple while surrounded by disapproving faces. You never stood up and went to the bathroom; you never cut the feeding short; you made sure your child got every drop he needed; you weren't afraid; you did it for your baby. You provided for your child to the fullest, in the best way you know how. You followed your instincts. You are amazing!
After I gave birth, I was so anxious to nurse. That special moment when your baby is latching on for the first time... It feels magical; you feel so powerful connecting with your newborn. A special bond that, sadly, people want to break.
I'm sorry if I was ever that person to you. You don't deserve the stares, the whispers, and the questions about how long you'll nurse.
Keep ignoring the continuous weird looks from strangers while you're nursing. Think of me, and how I've changed; know that there is hope, and ignorance can fade.
I'm coming forth and being honest about my lack of knowledge on breastfeeding. I am so happy that motherhood became a part of my life's plan. I've become a more open-minded and accepting person. I couldn't have done that without women like you paving the way and standing up for the future generation of mothers, who have no idea they will end up in the same boat if this is the path they choose for their kids.
Thank you for being part of the movement that will help so many moms who are terrified to feed their children in public. You may not realize it, but you're spreading awareness, changing how people look at mothers who breastfeed, and helping those moms, so that they won't feel the same way you did and still do. Because there may be a day when they have no option but to nurse in public.
I'm so grateful to you for teaching me that breastfeeding is normal, we can't help the way women are designed, and there is nothing more normal than nature.
I hope you accept my apology. I'll keep standing up for you -- for us.