Why is it that as an introvert, I always manage to experience the most awkward and uncomfortable situations possible? I know that a lot of it is probably just in my head, but I swear that my fear of interacting with new people and socializing in large groups inevitably leads me into situations that only further engrains my loner tendencies. And let me tell you, adding the feeding of my child via a formerly private body part has not helped my situation.
Don’t get me wrong. I love breastfeeding.
As long as I am in a secluded windowless room with the door barricaded shut.
It’s not that I mind when other moms nurse their babies in public (I say more power to ’em. I am glad that they have the courage and finesse that my clumsy recluse-self can only dream of), but after a year of nursing my baby through some less-than-ideal situations, the thought of having to feed her anywhere other than the privacy of my own home still makes me break out in hives.
While my extroverted mama pals are standing in a room full of people, nursing their babies and playing charades, I’m just over in the corner, accidentally giving the dog a peep show while my baby screams, uses her nun chuck arms to fling the nursing cover across the room, and spits breast milk all over my childless friend’s new couch.
And as if I wasn’t already anti-social enough, throw in a year of my older male relatives asking me questions that involve me and my you-know-whats, or expecting me to nonchalantly whip out my jogging partners at a family gathering, and you might as well just ask me to get on stage at the Super Bowl during half time. Topless.
I mean, killmenowww.
So, should my fellow introverted mamas ever encounter similar social unpleasantries, I thought I would create the Introvert’s Guide to Breastfeeding to help others navigate the inevitably awkward moments.
Let me start by sharing advice on how to get through a couple of hypothetical situations…
Situation #1: Baby’s First Road Trip
When you bravely decide to venture out on your first road trip with baby, and you pull into the back of a parking lot for a quick feeding session – beware. I know you feel safe. You’re nestled snuggly in the backseat of you car, shielded by the privacy of those rich, dark-chocolatey black tinted windows. But, you’re not safe, you see. Because after mentally scolding yourself for wearing a pullover sweater that you now have to take off completely in the cramped quarters of the backseat, your husband might decide to get out of the car to get some air. And when he does, he might let in an uninvited guest, your new nemesis – the kamikaze wasp. And when this unwelcome intruder decides to dive bomb your face, your escape plans will be very limited. But, don’t you worry. The 10-20 people who see you jump out of your car, topless, won’t notice how red your cheeks are. I promise.
Situation #2: Peek-a-boo
When you drop your baby off at your mother-in-laws so that you can enjoy the simple pleasures of running errands all by yourself, and you have an entire 90 minutes before your services are needed to nourish your nugget, don’t forget the haste with which you shoved those nursing pads down your shirt before rushing out the door. Because one of those sneaky little leak protector’s might just decide to make an appearance in the grocery store as you bend over to grab that box of Reese’s Puffs off the bottom shelf. And when that milk soaked son-of-a-gun falls out of your cami and swiftly descends to the ground in the middle of the cereal aisle with a squishy thud – just relax. That tall, dark and handsome 20-something male staring at you with his box of granola doesn’t know that the thing you stuff your bra with is soaked in breast milk.
Situation #3: Unexpected Guests
When you’re sitting on your couch, peacefully feeding your baby in the luxurious privacy of your own home, your one safe haven, the place where sweatpants are always welcome and the twins roam free, and you suddenly look up to see a man standing outside your balcony window, 2 stories above ground and only feet from where you’re sitting – don’t panic. It’s just the window washer your husband forgot to tell you was coming. And when he continues to stand there staring for 30 agonizing seconds that feels like 30 years, just do yourself a favor and stumble out of the room. It’s fine. When he knocks on the door to give you your bill, he won’t even recognize you in your turtleneck.
Situation #4: A Family Affair
When you go to your in-law’s for a family gathering, and ask the hostess for a nice quiet place to feed the babe in private, just remember that not all that happens behind closed doors is hidden. And, that sense of security you feel after locking the bedroom door? Fuh-get about it. Because right as you snuggle up into the bed, pull down your shirt, and get the girls locked and loaded, you might just look up to find that your husband’s entire family is looking right back at you through the two-way glass fireplace that was recently installed between the master bedroom and the living room. And after you’ve almost drowned in your own puddle of drool, formed shortly after your jaw hit the floor and then stayed there for many moments too long, just swim right on back to reality, cover up your lemons, and forget about making any gosh darn lemonade. And don’t worry. Your baby won’t remember the traumatic experience.
And when you run into me at the grocery store and want to thank me for making you feel better about the way in which you have handled yourself compared to the humiliating situations above, don’t mention it.
But, seriously, never mention this.