I was suspicious. A relative was taking a curious interest in Claire’s breastfeeding habits. Her queries came at me with a jagged, little edge. I wondered about the subtext. Non-committal retorts like “uh-huh” reinforced my hunch that disapproval lurked just under the surface. As she was saying one thing, I was hearing another:
She says: When do you plan on stopping breastfeeding?
I hear: You should stop breastfeeding.
She says: Has she started asking for milk?
I hear: When she’s old enough to say “milk”, she’s old enough to eat ‘real’ food.
She says: Doesn’t she bite you with all those teeth?
I hear: When she’s cut a mouth of teeth, she’s old enough to eat ‘real’ food.
She says: Do you also give her cow’s milk?
I hear: When she’s old enough to have ‘real food’, you should stop breastfeeding.
She says: What if she won't stop?
I hear: That baby's gonna be five years old and still on the tit.
She says: What do you do when you’re outside?
I hear: You should be ashamed of yourself for breastfeeding a 16-month-old in public.
I wanted the interrogation to stop. But I just calmly provided answers to the ‘questions’. Really, I'm an unlikely ambassador for breastfeeding. I don’t want to make people uncomfortable. If other breastfeeding mamas want to make a statement, they have my blessing. I just want to feed my child.