Becoming a Mother

Last Friday I participated in a "nurse-in" in my neighborhood of Lincoln Square. I didn't know what I was getting myself into beforehand, only that my friend Lauren had invited me to walk to the square with her and her daughters for some kind of breast-feeding situation.

When we arrived I discovered that the nurse-in was a staged protest in reaction to a woman who had been publicly scorned for nursing her baby in the square. There were 30 or so moms gathered there with their babies and half a dozen news crews from all the local stations.

Lauren and I milled around a bit, chatting with each other and some of the other moms, and then at noon we all sat down to nurse our babies. There were immediately three giant black cameras pointed at me and Lauren as we fed our young daughters. It was a little unnerving but we tried to act normally, laughing as we held our little girls to our chests.

I've nursed Veronica in Lincoln Square so many times. I take frequent walks through our neighborhood and often end up having to take some time to feed her before continuing on with my errands or returning home. It's a pretty little spot with benches and a fountain, surrounded by cafes and bookshops. I usually pick a quiet bench in the back and I always use my nursing shawl to cover myself.

Friday, in the square, I didn't use my shawl but I still tried to be very discreet. Breast-feeding has been one of the biggest aspects of having a newborn for me and learning how/when/where to nurse her has been a constant lesson. Before giving birth I was skeptical of how well I would do with breast-feeding. Even though I planned to do it, I didn't think that I would like it and I was worried about how it would go. I've had so many friends complain of difficulties with nursing and had heard much less of the positive.

It turns out that I love breast-feeding and just the thought of weaning someday makes me want to cry. It has just been the sweetest bonding experience with my little girl and I love being able to nourish her from my very own body. The first 6 weeks were a little shocking since choosing to breast-feed basically means you're chaining yourself to your baby 24/7, but by now I've got the hang of it and the feedings are a little lighter and less frequent.

I did say to Greg last night though that I feel like I have a bit of Stockholm Syndrome. At this point, I just don't know how to be away from her.  7 or 8 weeks ago I wouldn't have had a problem going out and leaving her with a babysitter but now I get anxious when I'm gone from her for more than two hours. I'm so used to constantly thinking about what she needs and when she's going to need it next that I don't know how to relinquish that role to someone else.

Anyway, there I was on Friday, nursing V in Lincoln Square while several news crews captured every minute of it. The whole experience was a kind of reminder of this waterfall I've gone over into motherhood. It all happened so quickly and I suddenly find myself swimming in a big pool of nothing but mothering. I think that aside from becoming mother-less, I've never experienced so swift of an identity change as I have with becoming a mother.

Later that night, back at home, the three of us watched the 6 o'clock evening news. Not only was there a shot of me pulling up my shirt to nurse Veronica as the promo for the story, but we were featured several times throughout the segment. It was so strange to watch. There I was, a mother.

(Unfortunately NBC didn't put the segment on the web, but we're featured at the start of this video (wearing yellow) in an article from WBBM.)

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