This morning at church I cried. Not the good kind of cry, where you’re just so overwhelmed with emotion at the presence of God. And not the bad kind of cry that comes with the emotion of conviction. A different kind of cry. Of frustration. Of loneliness. And probably born (slightly) of exhaustion and hormones.
I cried because I had to leave the service to breastfeed my baby. No one made me leave. Or maybe everyone did. Everyone in society. Everyone in our backwards country that sees breastfeeding as weird and unnatural. That sees a woman exposing her breast to feed her baby and thinks it is for any other purpose. I brought a light blanket and told myself that today would be the day I would be brave enough to quietly place it over us and feed my baby without having to remove myself from the presence of others as we joined in worship and communion.
Alas, I lost my nerve. So, I walked out of the building and to another, where there is a room tucked away with a door that locks. This is where the mothers go to nurse their babies. Only I’ve never seen another mother in there. “Where are all the nursing mothers?” I wonder as I sit alone and feed my baby in the quiet, secluded room. And it makes me cry.
Why is it that I can’t bring myself to breastfeed in a church? Surely a place of worship is a welcoming place. And it probably isn’t as big of a deal as I fear. But I fear the unknown. I fear that I will make a spectacle of myself. I am already the “crazy” one, the “weird” one, the “hippie.” I eat weird food; wear weird clothes. I don’t want to be the “one” who breastfeeds at church.
So, I will continue making the trek to a different building to sit in the quiet and nurse my baby when he needs it. Because he is worth it and he is small and he needs me. And maybe one day another momma will feed her baby in church and I will see her and I will know I am not alone. And then, I will pull out my blanket and I will feed my baby as I enjoy the worship music and the preacher’s words of wisdom, and no one will care because, after all, feeding a baby is not that big of a deal. Is it?