As a new mother, there are a lot of firsts. First smile, first giggle, first time you get peed on, etc. Today, I was ready to tackle another first: breast-feeding in public.
I was meeting a friend at the downtown Whole Foods for lunch, so I saw this as a perfect opportunity. Whole Foods HQ is an Austin tourist hot spot, so I thought I would blend in as another hippie. When I walked in, I knew I was just what the scene needed. There was the man with the “LOVE AN ATHEIST!” bumper sticker on his laptop, the group of pierced, tattooed teens talking about how they “know what’s best for Egypt right now,” and the suits in the corner talking about their next big silicon idea. There I would be – the breast-feeding mother – representing another piece of Austin. You’re welcome, Whole Foods, I thought.
It is freezing today, so I had on a wool sweater (that’s important later). I chose a seat near the front, put on my nursing cover, and with a determined breath, I pulled Ridley out of his car seat. I swept Ridley under the cover, lifted my sweater, and said a small prayer.
There was, of course, the creep a few tables away who kept looking at me. I did not say “You’re Welcome” to him.
The wool itched Ridley’s face, so he screamed and flailed. The static cling from the wool stuck to the nursing cover, and everywhere Ridley’s arms went, so did the cover. I recovered (literally) nicely and avoided exposing myself. Nice work, Hil, I thought.
And then it went. Thirty minutes of a happy baby eating away while I enjoyed eavesdropping that only a pretentious organic grocer can provide. The ambassador-pierced-tatooed teens let it slip that they weren’t actually from here: “we have got to try Tex Mex before we leave Austin, where is On the Border?,” the suits ended their meeting with handshakes and predictions about AMD, the atheist continued to google famous atheists, and I stared back at the creepster with an intense, intimidating stare until he stopped looking at me.
As I finished feeding Ridley, I peeked his head up from the cover. He burped two perfect burps and didn’t spit up. Perfect. Then he smiled. Even more perfect. I had done it. I breast-fed in public.
There I was feeling so pleased with myself (smug … well, arrogant, really), and feeling superior to those who couldn’t maneuver almost-exposure moments as well as I could. For a moment, I had the whole world figured out. As I stood up, I realized where I was sitting. My table was next to the glass arm rail, directly above the escalator from the underground parking garage.
Anyone who entered Whole Foods between 10:45 and 11:15 a.m. today totally caught some side-boob.
You’re Welcome, Whole Foods patrons.