Shy No More

Jennifer Johnson

Posted By: Jennifer Johnson

I didn't grow up around breastfeeding moms. In fact, I grew up making formula bottles for my little sisters.

You know how some people just don't have a verbal filter? They'll say what they're thinking without stopping to ask themselves if they should verbalize that thought. That's happening to me regarding pumping, breastfeeding and everything in between.

For some reason breastfeeding seems like a sort of taboo subject. It was to me before having my daughter, and somewhat still shortly after. Now it's just a common every day thing I do. I don't think about, and often I forget it's not that way for everyone.

A few weeks ago I was packing up and leaving from work. I grabbed my pump and purse and headed for the elevator. A male co-worker rode downstairs with me and asked about my over-sized purse.

"Oh it's my pump" I told him, without even batting an eye.

It wasn't until he turned red and made a disgusted look on his face that I realized maybe I had disclosed more than he wanted to know. If I didn't catch the hint by that, his "UGH, I didn't need to know that," comment gave it away.

"You asked," I told him.

Funny how guys love boobs but get grossed by the topic of what they were made for.

A few months ago I may have shied away from the question completely, lied or hid my pump under my jacket. Not now.

Now I'm the girl who washes my pump parts in the break room while a co-worker makes a cup a coffee next to me. I'm the lady who sets my expressed milk bottles next to my friend's chicken salad and doesn't apologize for it. And when I've gotta go pump I let someone know I'm doing just that.

Sometimes I wonder if I'll stay this way forever, or if it comes and goes while one is nursing. Recently I told a breastfeeding graduate, a friend of mine, how I like to play Angry Birds on my iPhone while I pump. I didn't think anything of it when I told her. I thought she'd understand since just a year before she was the one crammed in the makeup room pumping.

But she laughed and said "I thought you said 'while I pump' and I was thinking, woah, TMI."

I stood there thinking 'I did say that' but instead of correcting her I wondered what she thought I had said instead.

I'm not sure what it is that's clicked inside of me to make me this way, but I kinda like it. I didn't used to be this way. I was afraid to say the words "pump," "breastfeed" or even "milk" around co-workers. I remember specifically talking to my husband on the phone once and whispering that I needed to pump before I drove home -- embarassed that someone may overhead me. Not anymore!

I'm not a soapbox kind of girl. I'm not one to pound my chest and yell from the rooftops that breastfeeding is normal, that people should just get used to people talking about it, and that seeing women nurse in public is no big deal. I may believe those things but I'm not one to go out of my way to argue about it. But I will say that I am shy no more. I'm no longer afraid to express my breastfeeding and pumping shenanigans with whomever is within earshot. And I am proud to be a breastfeeding mom.

12:00pm on Tuesday January 25


3:22pm on Sunday February 6

Thanks for sharing. I got a good laugh about the elevator incident. I remember life before I lost the "filter". I was so uptight about breastfeeding (talking about it, doing it, and it was impossible for me to breastfeed or pump around anyone). After I lost the filter it seemed as though everyone else was uncomfortable but me. I was breastfeeding in restaurants, airplanes, airports (with a nursing cover). It feels so good to know that I can provide for my baby anytime, anywhere...nothing else matters.

Maquanda (Mackey) Roberson
1:44pm on Saturday February 5

Good for you Jenn. We all have a similar journeys to becoming comfortable and it's funny that MOST of us eventually arrive at the very same spot you are in. It just is normal and becomes like breathing after a while.

Danielle H.
1:39pm on Saturday February 5

LOVE it!!! I felt like I was reading about myself. I think I got over the shyness when my entire family walked in the delivery room and watched me nurse, hehe.

Iiona Virgin
11:08am on Saturday February 5

When I had my first child I was only 21 and unmarried and in my culture to breastfeed was just not a way to go, you gave your child a bottle and moved on. But I was determined to breastfeed with or without support (but I really did prefer support). I started and it was so difficult and time consuming and I cried all the time. After awhile (I only breastfeed for 3 months) we got better at it and it wasn't so bad. But I still had to deal with the stares from friends and family that thought it was weird I wanted to do it. I proudly breastfeed for 3 months and swore that if I decided to have another child I would breastfeed and try longer. Well my next child came along 5 years later and my husband was in complete agreeance with anything I wanted to do, plus it was easier because I knew what I was doing. I breastfeed my daughter for 6 months, she weened herself and refused to nurse after she started going to childcare. I wasn't upset but I was a little sad. I had my 3rd child about 14 months later and because of her prematurity and severe allergies I was never able to physically nurse her, I did pump but that is not the same and it was painful. Then when I was told she could never have my breastmilk I think I fell apart, and the bond that I have with her is so different than the bond that I have with the other 2. I felt a sense of loss of not being able to nurse. So basically, I breastfeed my children, did it in public and enjoyed every minute of it and proudly talked about it with any and everyone. Especially when I was having problems with them latching on or getting an infection... So thanks for no longer being shy, it's a natural thing and if others don't like it tell them to not listen to you talk then... It's kind of like a period, no one wants to talk about it but they do help make a baby :-)

8:36am on Saturday February 5

Just yesterday I went to head to the office I pump in and one of my coworkers (male) asked where I was going... I said "to pump" and he was like what?? So I again said "to pump, ya know.. I breastfeed the baby" he seemed embarrassed and chuckled "oh" ... he was embarrassed, but I'm happy to say I was not :)

12:41am on Saturday February 5

I used to worry about it & with my boys I would pump & just take a bottle with me & never breastfed in public, (horrified at the thought), but since having my girls (one who is now 3 months) who by the way would/will not take a bottle I have been forced to "get over it!". I don't worry q&a bout talking about it let alone BF in public & will tell anyone who way of thinking has changed because of my girls & I am grateful.

3:49am on Thursday January 27

Jennifer~~you're a role model for breastfeeding Moms everywhere and we DO need to talk about it in public.

Talking about nursing and pumping in everyday conversations brings it into the open and makes it the norm . . . as it should be!

Keep it up!

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