Everyone wants their wedding to go perfectly—we get it. But, as the recent outrage over a wedding note shows, there is a line brides and grooms shouldn't cross in their demands of guests.
A mom of two, who wanted to remain anonymous, asked the Facebook page Breastfeeding Mama Talk for advice when she received a special, passive-aggressive note attached to a wedding invitation. The couple to be married had gone out of their way to ensure the mom wouldn't breastfeed in public.
Here's the note in full:
"To all our mommies who are breastfeeding, we are thinking of you; we are sensitive to the fact that you may need to breastfeed during our event, therefore we have designated an appropriate place for you to feed your baby so that you do not have to do so in public in front of our Family and Friends [their emphasis, not ours]. For your convenience, we are accommodating you with a comfortable and private area with chairs and baby blankets in the ladies' room. We request that you use this area when you are breastfeeding. Thank you."
This is disgusting, but unfortunately this is not surprising. It's never okay to expect or demand that a mom breastfeed in a private area. Even if the private area isn't a bathroom nursing...
It's one thing to be considerate of nursing moms. It's another to tell women how and where to feed their children. For many people, the note wasn't truly coming from a place of concern but was a prime example of mom-shaming, especially when you consider the mom's and newlyweds' history. Turns out, they had several arguments before about the mom's breastfeeding choices and had voiced multiple times that she should breastfeed "in private."
The anonymous mom, who has a 2-year-old and 3-month-old, already felt as if she would be alone in the crowd during the wedding, as her husband would be the best man. She planned on playing nice by letting her best friend watch her kids and wet-nurse her youngest while she and her husband attended the wedding.
"We haven't found a bottle my youngest will take yet, and wet nursing doesn't bother me," the mom explained.
But NOPE. Somehow the bride and groom weren't OK with that decision either, which ... what?
The mom felt caught between two impossibles, since she also refused to nurse her baby in the bathroom, no matter how "nice" they made it.
"I don't eat in the bathroom. I'm not feeding my child in there!" she wrote.
Besides, several commenters pointed out that in the photo included, the "designated" and "appropriate place" doesn't even look "comfortable" or "private" with the hard back chairs and lack of arm rests, pillows or foot rests. Oh yeah, and the chairs are placed in a narrow walkway right in front of the stalls.
"How in the world is it considered appropriate and comfortable to sit smack dab in front of a bathroom door? To sit in front of it and what ... hope there's no awkward eye contact through the slit? Sit there and listen to people piss and shit and smell it? On the flip side, who the heck is going to be comfortable going to the bathroom knowing someone is sitting right there?" wrote one mom.
Others criticized the note for talking about breastfeeding as if it were a disability to be "accommodated" and said they would have declined the invite after receiving the note.
Sabrina Wilson had an even more passive-aggressive solution: "Petty me would ask them to set up an extra table for me in the bathroom, all nicely decorated with a centerpiece, since I'll be in there to feed the baby and don't want my food to get cold either. And then they'll say, 'Why, that's silly, why would you want to eat in the bathroom?' Well ... exactly."
The mom, not wanting to cause trouble, ended up deciding to attend the wedding and leave her kids with her friend and a grandparent. She might have succumbed to the pressure this time, but hopefully her viral story serves as a warning to anyone thinking about secluding and shaming breastfeeding moms. Do you really want to suffer the internet's wrath?
As a nursing mom, I want to see breastfeeding in public normalized and for new moms and moms-to-be to feel confident in feeding their babies while out and about. This is why I absolutely love the Public Breastfeeding Project by Azure Mahara Photography in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Azure's images and the women's stories that go with them truly portray public breastfeeding in everyday situations. And that's something many moms can relate to.
Azure was inspired to start this project as a way to provide nursing moms with support, not shame mothers who didn't breastfeed. She hopes this photo series will allow others to see breastfeeding as beautiful and natural and hopefully give other nursing moms the confidence to nurse in public too.