Sunday, September 6, 2015

Nursing mothers? Chain yo-selves to your babies!

I rarely comment on news articles on Facebook. Mostly, I just don't want my name to be out there (hello, Google search). Partly, I just don't want to get into it with people. But yesterday, the P-G published an article about moms wanting a facility for nursing mothers at Heinz Field. And I simply could not stop myself from commenting. (But only once. At least so far.)

I was surprised (though I am not sure why) many of the comments were in the vein of "be a parent and stay home" or "you women want everything." Apparently most commenters did not bother to read the article, which was about nursing mothers who want to breastfeed or pump. Honestly, I don't think it is terribly appropriate to take a baby to a Steelers game. People can get wild and loud. Profanities abound, and sometimes rough behavior ensues. But if that is what someone wants to do, I certainly won't criticize them. At least not on FB.

But I was nursing mom for about a year. When J was about 2.5 months old, I went to a Steelers game. Prior to her birth, I attended the vast majority of the games, as my family was season ticket holders. But once I had a child, my priorities changed (as well as my bank account), and there went my regular attendance. In any event, right around the time I went back to work (which meant I would be without my nursing baby for almost 10 hours a day), I decided I was ready to go to a game. In case you do not know much about nursing, let me enlighten you: When you first nurse a child, you cannot go more than a few hours without either nursing your baby, or pumping. Knowing this, I took my portable pump with me to Heinz Field and off I went.

When I had to open my coat and empty my pockets, I had to tell the security guy that I had a breast pump. That kind of freaked the guy out, and I was given the green light to go in without the guy more than glancing at my apparatus. Once I made it inside, I must have asked someone where I could pump when it was time (I don't remember this), and at some point during the game, I was in a private bathroom (I don't remember exactly where this was either, but I am thinking it was a first-aid station based on the article, although it could have been a private handicapped restroom). When I was done pumping, I dumped the milk, because I just did not have a place to store it.

According to some jagoffs (a number of them women, no less), I should have stayed at home. Yes, because once you have a child, you should never be allowed to leave the house. Not sure how one goes back to work that way, but okay. Others wondered why the women could not go a couple of hours. Apparently those people have never been to a Steelers game.

You don't leave your house 15 minutes before the game starts and arrive home 10 minutes after the clock expires (unless you live in walking distance of the stadium and arrive late or leave early). There is a little thing called traffic, followed by another annoyance of parking, which is then proceeded by walking to the stadium, and finally long lines at the gate, due in no small part to being searched at the gate. Then you have the actual game, which is about 3 hours. When that is done, throw in the the time it takes to exit the stadium, find your way back to your car (which could be a couple miles away), and then head back into traffic. For a typical 1 p.m. (non-tailgating) game, I leave my house around 11:30, and I get home around 5 p.m., thanks to the aforementioned time-takers. Show me the nursing mother of a few-month-old baby who can go 5.5 hours without pumping, and I will be amazed.

Some commenters asked why a woman would not just pump or nurse at her seat. I went to a game in November. I had a thick coat on, which just is not conducive to pumping (or nursing). And as uncomfortable as some people are about various, natural things, I am sure I would have freaked some people out if I whipped out my breast, attached it to a pump, and then starting pumping (which, again, would be quite challenging with several layers).

If you have been to a women's restroom at a Steelers game, you know they are crowded. I am sure there would be mutiny if a woman went into a stall for 10 minutes to pump (longer if you have a travel pump and can do only one breast at a time). Plus, those places are gross. Even if you dump out the milk, those stalls are cramped, and there is typically pee everywhere. It just does not work.

So, I don't think it is unreasonable for women to want a place to pump or nurse. I doubt there would be dozens of women clamoring for this at any given game. And maybe doing what I did is the answer (perhaps people did not think to ask). But to criticize women for wanting (no, needing) to pump? C'mon, people. Get a grip!