Recently Her Bad Mother was told to cover up with a blanket while nursing on a WestJet flight. This would piss me off even if I had never been in that situation, but I totally have. When Gabriel was I'm think 10 months old, I took the Amtrak from Sacramento to San Jose to visit with my family. I didn't have a car at the time, so public transportation was my friend. Also, Gabriel was a...hmmm....fussy child, and cars were not his friend, because in a car? Yeah I wasn't holding him if we were in a car. This nasty harness contraption was confining him backwards and alone, and therefore screaming. So we didn't drive much in those days.
I'm on the train, with Gabriel. The train isn't a super popular method of California transportation, and I'm pretty sure it was the middle of the week or something, because it just so happened that we were the only people in our car. It's nap/snack time, and I settle down to nurse my babe. As I'm feeding him, the female conductor walks by. We make eye contact. I think nothing of it. She comes back through about two minutes later.
"Do you have a blanket or something?"
"A blanket, to cover up?"
And then she rifles through my bag, pulls out Gabriel's blanket, and drapes it over my son's face. Gabriel doesn't like that. He pulls it off his face. I sort of hunker down and focus intently on Gabey and hope she'll go away, which, eventually, she does.
About two minutes later, the male "head" conductor comes up.
"So I heard you're having trouble finding a blanket?"
"No. I'm not."
"You're causing some discomfort on the train, so I'm just going to need you to either cover up, or go to the bathroom to finish that."
"Isn't this illegal?"
"I'm not telling you that you can't breastfeed. I'm just telling you to do it in a more modest way."
So I stop nursing Gabriel. Did you catch that? I stopped feeding my son. Why? Because the female conductor was uncomfortable with me nursing. She was the only person who saw me, it had to be her. Gabriel nursed to sleep most of the time, so this meant that he was hungry AND cranky, so he commenced to doing the thing that he did best, back in those days: Scream. I was totally upset and sort of semi-frustrated crying and not really doing anything at all for Gabey besides holding him.
The female conductor comes back through.
"Can't you do anything for him?"
"He's hungry. I was told I couldn't nurse him."
I think at this point LAWSUIT LAWSUIT LAWSUIT starting screaming from my seat (this is ILLEGAL in the state of California). Somehow both of the conductors were suddenly there, assuring me that I could do whatever I needed to do to take care of my son; where had I gotten this silly notion that I needed a blanket? Ha. That wasn't real. Go back about my day.
I always thought I would be this strong, self-righteous person. Someone who would stand up for my rights, and the rights of my baby. I was pretty disappointed with myself when I found out that really I was just tired and sad and stressed out and overwhelmed and lonely. I told myself that I would write a letter, at least. But I was in my final semester of grad school, trying to hold up a shakily nonexistent relationship with Gabriel's dad, and I was tired and sad and stressed out and overwhelmed and lonely. And I never did. I haven't ridden on Amtrak since then, but I doubt they miss me.
I'm writing a letter to WestJet for Her Bad Mother. She deserves it. I deserve it. Gabriel deserved it. Nursing mothers and their sweet babies deserve it. You should read her story and stand up for her and write to these people because she is brave and I just wish I had been brave. The contact information:
Gillian Bentley, Media Relations, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org