Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Academic Exposure

I am all for breastfeeding proudly in public but even I have my limits, you know?

I had arranged to visit my university today and I had even found a kind university-based volunteer to look after Cave Baby for an hour while I was there. So, I merrily made my way to the train station this morning swinging my baby on my back and mentally rehearsing what I would do when I got there: go to common room, give baby a quick feed, drop her off with babysitter, go to meeting. Simple enough.

Suddenly I realised what I was wearing - a short, tight fitting brown flowery top, only recently reinstated into my postnatal wardrobe. Short is good for breastfeeding: easy to lift up over the boob. But tight is bad: feeding involves full wobbly midriff exposure, which is not a good look. With this particular top, discreet lifting is pretty much out of the question and the only option is hoisting the full boob over the low neckline and letting it hang out for all to see.

It was too late to turn back so I carried on to the university. When it was time to feed Cave Baby I strategically planned where in the room I would sit to feed her: a nice quiet corner, away from the other people in the room and with my back to them so I would have some privacy and Cave Baby could look at them as she was feeding (she hates to feed when there is something more exciting going on behind her). She settled into the feed surprisingly well, only unlatching and flashing my full exposed breast every 30 seconds or so - pretty good for her. But it was only a minute before I realised that in my calculations I had failed to take into account that I would be sitting right opposite the main door to the common room. From that moment on, a steady stream of dusty male academics filtered through the door, just in time to be treated to a lovely full view of naked, pale, wet breast as my baby turned to flash them her winning smile. What can you do in that situation? Smile like you don't give a damn (which actually I don't) and watch them avert their eyes in embarrassment. It might not be something they see every day in the postgraduate common room but at least it probably gave them something to chuckle about later on.

8 comments:

Noble Savage said...

I've been in that situation before (tight top, exposed breast, busy room) so I know how uncomfortable and stressful it can be. Isn't it a shame that it has to be that way; that people would be embarrassed to see a mother feeding her child, therefore making the mother feel she has to hide, or apologise for her actions?

Sorry you had to experience the unfomrtableness but I hope they weren't as squicked out as you fear. They're academics, hopefully they're more open minded.

willow81 said...

Good for you. My own personal dilemma involves heading out with the Monkey wearing a normal underwired bra rather than a nursing one. Tricky, you have to pull the bra straps out from under your sleeves and then hoik the boob out. Not a discreet bf look, that's for sure.

Mel said...

Oh, but you had me chuckling...remembering back to the days when planning your wardrobe meant figuring out which top would provide the smallest boob-view....:)

I was never brave enough to dare actual fashion and settled for easy-access -- and yes, that is a ridiculous shame that I should have felt that way!

Mon said...

chuckle - well, you made an impression.

docwitch said...

Yay! Good on you for just doing it. Hehe.

I did this some years ago when I was doing my PhD. Fortunately, no one battered an eyelid (my dept. was full of mothers). But if I had done it at my last job I can imagine the reaction of the craggy, crusty old academics. They wouldn't have known where to look. Wish my girl was breast-feeding age, just to try it!

edenwild said...

Think of it this way...those young men now have some bf exposure under their belts and perhaps won't think it so odd the next time they see it.

Amanda said...

I laughed heartily in a knowing way at this one! Cringing that everyone is seeing your pale, naked, wet boob while simultaneously finding a wicked pleasure in shocking all those stuffy folk into realizing for what breasts really exist.

Hobo Mama said...

Heh heh! I've been forgetful of what's easy breastfeeding wear, too, and you'd think I'd know better by now. I find it's always when you want to look nice that sanity goes out the window... I'm always trying to place a discreet hand or arrange a fold of fabric over those miles and miles of glaringly white boob — but my son without fail will frustratedly push any view-blockers out of his way. And he'll glare up at me for trying to cover up, as if to say, "Do you mind? I'm eating here." :)