As Sunday is about to roll around again, I wanted to post on something I've been thinking about all week.
Last Sunday I decided I wanted to be a real person at church again, as opposed to "just" a nursing mother in a baggy tee shirt and skirt. To achieve this end actually wore a dress. It is possible to nurse in said dress, but it is a little tricky and not exceptionally modest. I've always been a little bit clumsy when it comes to getting my tykes latched on anyway, and have never been one of these women that can nurse in sacrament without even taking her eyes off the speaker.
That is the set up. Anyway, we woke Captain Tootypants up to get to church on time, and I just decided I would feed him right when we got to church so we could be on time. Of course, in the parking lot, I realized I had failed to bring a blanket and only had a burp rag. Again, more points against modestly nursing, so I bee-lined for the mother's room, knowing that there are few babies in our ward and I would likely be alone.
(Aside: This is the nicest mother's room I've been in. Rockers with ottomans, books to read, a sink, a changing pad and a basket of diapers to share, it is no where near the bathroom and there is a frosted window and a good sound system.)
I push open the door and see the curtain pulled back. I hear a woman say, "Okay, you guys have to get off the chair. I told you that if a mommy came to feed her baby, you'd have to get off." I walked around the curtain to see a very harrassed looking mother feeding a baby and three kids aged about 9, 7 and 4 standing there. They followed their mom's directions to get off the chair, but they just stood there. The four year old boy parked himself on the ottoman about two feet from where I sat down and just stared at me.
Thinking she'd ask them to leave in just a moment, I bounced CT on my knee for a moment, knowing that at any minute he was going to start wailing. She explained they were in the other ward (which had been out for half an hour) and her little miss wouldn't make it home without eating. I smiled and made a polite reply. She said nothing to her older children who were still just staring at me.
I bounced the baby another moment or two and said, "And are they going to stay here?" as I nodded toward her kids. She told them all to get behind the curtain. Bear in mind that the whole room minus the cupboard is maybe 7 feet by 5 feet and there are two large recliners in that space. The area behind the curtain is only a few square feet and wedged behind the door. She's got three good sized kids. One of the three made a move to get behind the curtain, the others just stayed where they were. My baby started to fuss.
There was almost a momentary stand-off. I was smiling politely, but trying to communicate that there is NO WAY I was going to disrobe with her children standing in the room. She was giving me the look like, "Lady, you have NO IDEA what it is like to take care of four kids!"
She blinked first and started stammering excuses about Dad, and how he was somewhere in the building (I'd had a fair amount of sympathy before this, thinking she was a single mom or something and not wanting her kids to run around the church.) She then stood up, unlatched her baby who began really wailing and glared at me as she said, "C'mon guys, we'll go find and empty classroom or something."
I apologized and said, "I didn't mean for YOU to go."
"It doesn't matter. We're leaving."
She was quite admanant and very huffy as they left. I felt really badly. If I had known she was in there in the first place, I would have waited outside walking my baby until she left. Nor am I sure how I could have handled the situation better. The mother is not in my ward, but I feel compelled to figure out who she is and let her know I'm sorry for the bad feeling caused. There could also have been some kind of extenuating circumstances that made her feel like the kids had to stay in there with her.
Now, when I say I felt bad, however, it is because of the awkwardness caused and the knowledge I may have offended someone who is probaby a very nice person. I do not feel bad because I think I did anything wrong. But until I was in and sitting down, I didn't realize she intended those kids to stay. And it wasn't like they were little kids. I think the oldest girl would have been entirely capable of keeping her younger brother and sister in check for a few minutes. Also, the door does say "Mother's Room," and it is a very tiny place. Just because she has no qualms about nursing in front of her children, doesn't mean that she should expect a total stranger to feel the same way. I don't even nurse in front of my own kids if I can help it! I'm just really modest (or maybe uncomfortable) when it comes to body stuff.
Now, I have a few really diehard nursing friends out there. I'm not saying that nursing is immodest or uncomfortable in any way, nor am I critical of women who choose to nurse in public. I just am not one of those who can. While people need to be sensitive and not critical of mothers who nurse, I think nursing mothers also need to be sensitive to the fact that everybody doesn't regard the practice with the same level of comfort.
So, advice? Funny nursing stories?