When Joshua was first born, I felt like I needed privacy to figure out breastfeeding. Those first days felt clumsy with arranging pillows, figuring out how to unhook my nursing bra with one hand and also position Joshua. It felt like I needed more than two hands, and I didn't need to flash an audience while I fed Joshua. At our house, I didn't mind when our immediate families visited because I was comfortable enough around them to feed Joshua. Everybody knew my intentions were to breastfeed and respected that. I would chat with my mom or my mother-in-law while I nursed Joshua, and our dads and siblings were kind enough to avert their eyes when it was time for me to start feeding Joshua so I could get organized without feeling uncomfortable.
A few weeks passed and I became a pro at nursing Joshua thanks to my around-the-clock practice. Our immediate families were completely comfortable with me nursing Joshua. Once, my brother remarked about a scantily clad woman on TV: "She's showing more boob than Abbie, and Abbie's breastfeeding!" My other brother has even made a joke of pretending to nurse his puppy when I nurse Joshua. It's totally normal for us, though I have had to explain a few times to my brothers why they can't give Joshua a taste of ice cream just yet.
When it comes to large family gatherings, and we both have large families, I'm more comfortable feeding Joshua with a little more privacy. Over the summer I happily located an air-conditioned bedroom to use instead of nursing Joshua in the hot sun at a picnic. While at a tractor pull, I nursed him in the car with the AC running. But this was also about trying to feed my baby in the most comfortable place possible. Since then, I've nursed Joshua both privately and publicly when we're at family gatherings, depending on what I feel like doing.
Joshua really started to notice his surroundings at around five months old, and that meant it became even more difficult to nurse him at family gatherings. I remember trying to feed him at an anniversary party. Every time I'd get him to start nursing, somebody would walk by or say hello and he'd pop off to see what was going on. Milk squirted and I showed more than I wanted to, so after about ten very unproductive minutes, I decided to go feed him in the car. Without the distraction, Joshua ate happily and we rejoined the party when he finished.
I feel fortunate that our families are so supportive of me nursing Joshua and that I've never been made to feel uncomfortable about it. I've nursed Joshua while sitting on the edge of a swimming pool, at a parade, at my family's farm market and at the local fair. Our families are supportive of me nursing Joshua wherever and whenever he needs to eat. I wish all mothers could have similar experiences.