Nordstrom, Nursing in Public & “Extended” Breastfeeding, Oh my!

The following is a real story from a real nursing mom, Allie of Seattle. Allie is also the Mama behind No Time For Flash Cards (a sanity saving blog to thousands of moms! Thank YOU Allie!)

I love Nordstrom for 3 main things.

1. My husband looks dashing in their wrinkle free dress shirts, and I don’t iron a thing.
2. Their blanket sleepers are available year round.
3. Their staff are very supportive of nursing a toddler.

A few months ago I was in the downtown Nordstrom in Seattle with my son.  We were spending the day in the city away from my husband who was using power tools at our house trying to make it more beautiful.  Power tools and toddlers are never a good mix, so I took my son out all afternoon despite the fact we’d had a horrible night,  we were both incredibly cranky and needing much comfort.

After a terrible time at the Aquarium, and a craptastic mall lunch, I retreated to somewhere I love, Nordstrom. It wasn’t too long though until my son had had enough. He needed to nurse . Despite my usual stance on nursing wherever and whenever , I knew we needed to be somewhere other than a busy store on a Saturday.  So I went into the women’s lounge. They have a  nursing room but there is a change table in there and I try not to nurse my son in a place reserved for the removal of poop.  So I pushed my stroller through the line of women waiting to go pee and into the lounge area with comfy couches and far from a garbage can full of dirty diapers. He nursed hungrily  even though he just ate and I melted into the calming effect of the hormones. Ignoring the double takes of some women coming in and out of the busy room , I stared at my son. When I looked up a few minutes later a woman in a uniform , rubber gloves and a duster hanging from her belt was smiling happily at my son.

“How old is he? He looks old”  she said loudly in an heavy north African accent.

” Almost 2″  I replied plainly . I was getting my guard up, trying to remember all the benefits of nursing a toddler I read on kellymom.com

“Good for you, you don’t see that much in America. Lucky child! In my country we nurse until 3 or 4 , here babies miss out! You keep going!”

I was speechless at first, I was so so worried that she was going to question me that I didn’t even think of the possibility that she’d praise me. She wasn’t just accepting my choice, she was praising it.

We continued talking although our conversation moved from nursing to our very different experiences immigrating to the United States. My son had fallen fast asleep, and our horrible night had been long forgotten in my happiness of this unexpected support.

I  remember her often as I tell a new friend how my son doesn’t eat a big breakfast since he is nursing, or explain that yes I nursed him and still do when the topic comes up as it does often with moms.  I confidently remind myself he is a lucky child and I  don’t need to hide that we still nurse.

There is always going to be people who parent differently than me, and think my choices are wrong, or plain odd. I can’t change everyone’s opinions but I can try to pass the support I got so unexpectedly on.  I try to mention nursing my son often on my blog, hoping that some little comment about him still nursing will be enough for a mom to get that extra boost. If you are breastfeeding a toddler, look down at them nursing today and repeat after me “Lucky child ” .

Thank you Nordstrom for great shirts, sleepers and support when I didn’t even know how badly I needed it.

Do you have a nursing in public story to share?!  Leave a comment!

Comments

  1. I love this story. Isn’t is such a surprise when strangers praise you for breastfeeding? It’s supposed to be the way things should be but it hardly ever is. I can totally relate to that split second freak out trying to remember those lines I’ve rehearsed or the confidence I need to exude when faced with a rude comment. I have never had to do it with strangers, but with family I have had to do it alot, unfortunately. But that is such a great story. Thanks for sharing it here!

  2. You are making some great parenting choices because they are FOR YOU.

  3. Dawn,

    I wanted to write you personally because at about 6 months I started a part time job outside of the home a couple nights a week for about 4-5 hours at a time. Those nights my husband would give my daughter my pumped breastmilk and then when I returned she either woke up for me to feed her or I pumped. At 18 months we are still going strong with breastfeeding!

    Yes, I had a couple of issues of leaking while on the job but thank goodness my dress was a print, lol ;)

  4. What a great story. Thank you for sharing.
    My girl is 4 months old and I’m planning on going till she’s 2 or so (hopefully). My hubby and I talked about it the other day and I was surprised that he supported me breastfeeding till she was 2.

  5. What a great interaction you had- great story! I breastfeed my first child for 15 months, and took a lot of heat for it from my family, most of who did not breastfeed even one day (I was a bottle fed baby). I’m in my seventh month of nursing with my second child with no thoughts to give it up soon (though she is in a biting stage right now that sometimes makes me threaten to quit!!!)

    Kudos to you for sticking with what’s best for your child for so long in spite of our society’s twisted condemnation of extended nursing! Oh, and I’ve followed your blog forever, even have you listed in my blogroll under Websites I Love, but I guess I never knew that we are both from Seattle!!! Small world.

  6. My story isn’t of nursing in public, per se, but the woman in your story did remind me of a few women I’ve encountered at school.

    You see, I work full time outside the house then go to school at night. These are the days that I’m away from my little babe for 18 hours. I have a great pumping set-up at work, but at school I have to drag my Pump-In-Style into the bathroom and milk away. I was always so embarrassed, hearing all the students coming in and out of the bathroom, thinking that they must be wondering what the “whooshing” sound was coming from the stall.

    But on a few occasions, as I was untangling my extension cord, or washing out the bottles, a woman would come in (most often a woman of color) and say “You’re pumping for your baby? Good for you! What a lucky baby!” and I would be suddenly reminded of how this hassle was all worth it. The conversation (because most of these moms were not American-born) would then turn into a conversation about how long they nursed their kids (usually many years) and how weird Americans are with the whole breastfeeding issue, and how, in their country, all babies are breastfed and it’s totally normal.

    Anyway… I’ve had very few interactions with other people while I’m NIP, but I think that’s because I give off a very intense “if-you-try-to-tell-me-what-I’m-doing-is-wrong-speech-I’ll-quote-Illinois-breastfeeding-laws-so-fast-it-will-make-your-head-spin” look.

  7. Great story. My daughter is just over six months and I’m struggling with the decision of whether or not to continue nursing and for how long. Income is the issue: I have an opportunity to take a (very) part time job away from the home for 5 – 8 hours two nights a week. I am afraid my milk supply will dwindle if I do, but need the extra cash as a temporary fix until I get a few more freelance clients. I’d love to keep nursing until she’s two, at least with the late-night and first-morning feeding… I figure “some” is better than none, right? This post was exactly the pick-me-up I needed. BTW, public pressure doesn’t bother me, so when I make the decision I know it will be mine and mine alone. (And my daughter’s–if she self-weans, so be it!)

  8. Thanks for sharing your story! It is so sweet! In my line of business I am lucky enough to meet a lot of moms who are nursing toddlers. I was also lucky enough to have several roll models when my son was a baby. So at age 3.8 we are still nursing 1-2 times per week. We are at the end of our breastfeeding journey now, but it has been a great one and I am so glad that I didn’t let societal pressures alter how I raised my child! Thank you for sharing your beautiful story!

    Take a look at my journey through breastfeeding on my blog.

  9. Thanks Sarah for letting me share !

    I agree Kareena ! I never miss an opportunity to share that at 2.5 my son is still nursing, because of that exact reason.

  10. I am American born and live in Australia with my husband and children (ironically, I hail from the Seattle area most recently). I breastfed my eldest until he more or less weaned about two weeks before his little brother was born (he was 2 yrs 8ish months). I used to travel via public transport all over the place so had a lot of experience feeding on the train/bus/etc. On several occasions, I have had older women sit next to me, pat my shoulder and/or my son’s head and tell me “Good for you! You keep doing that!” and then tell my son that he was a lucky boy and that he had a good mama.

    Sadly, not everyone has such good experiences. I just attended a nurse-in at the office of the state Premier to try and raise awareness that public breastfeeding needs to be listed in the Anti Discrimination Act. The trigger for this event was when a young mother was asked to leave the cafe in a Perth hotel for breastfeeding her 8 month old. I was, however, heartened by how many people flashed us the thumbs up sign and honked their horn as they drove past our demonstration. Hopefully we did some good today.

    Good on you for practicing full term breastfeeding and for doing it whenever and wherever your son needs it. If we keep doing it, eventually it won’t illicit any response from anyone . .. because it is normal and expected.

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