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Monday, June 22, 2009

Working with babe on my back

“Woman verbally assaulted here yesterday for breastfeeding.”

That's what the sign read, written in black magic marker on white poster board. It was 10 a.m. I was 30 minutes late and sweating my booty off already having hiked along the trail for about a quarter of a mile with my 13 month old on my back in her carrier.

I had stopped to ask a woman walking with her daughter if she had seen a group of women nursing babies along the trail.

“No,” she exclaimed with a broad smile. “But I would have LOVED to see that!”

I was looking for this “nurse-in,” planning to write about it for an online publication I am applying to. The day before, a woman from one of my online parenting boards had been yelled at for nursing her baby in public without a cover. She came home and furiously sent out a message to the board asking women to meet her the next day to nurse their babies along the trail where she had been abused.

I had woken up late that morning. Annika usually wakes me up anywhere from 7 a.m. To 8 a.m. on any given day. But noooo, not this morning. The one time I wanted to be dressed and out of the house by 9 a.m. she decided to sleep in until 8:45 a.m.

As I approached the women sweating, I looked around for the woman who had been yelled at.

“Hey!” I smiled at everyone, hoping they would notice that I also had a baby with me and take me as one of them. No such luck.

“Who are you with?” a woman asked me, only noticing my reporter's pad and camera swinging from neck.

Nobody was nursing anymore. Luckily, Monica, the woman who had been verbally assaulted, cheerily greeted me.

“I need some nursing moms,” I told her.

She quickly complied, nursing her baby and asked some of the other moms start up again. Luckily there were a few moms there with kiddos who had healthy appetites.

As I snapped my photos, I told one mom, “This is the first time I've done an assignment with a baby on my back,” as I slowly bent over carefully trying not to swing Annika too much while avoiding hurting my knees.

“You'd never even know she was back there,” she smiled with the contented smile of a nursing mommy. I love that mysteriously contented smile.

I realized that I had made a rookie mistake when I began to write on my pad and my pen didn't work. I didn't have a second one with me.

When I used to be a reporter I always had at least two pens with me along with extras in my pockets and car.

I felt like such an amateur.

I was too embarrassed to tell any of them that I didn't have a working pen, so I didn't interview any of them. Luckily, the pen worked just enough for me to get their names and one quote. It looked like a third grader had written it, but at least I had the names.

As I headed back to my car, Annika still swaying along behind me, she started to squirm. It was almost as if she knew that I was done working and ready to just be her mommy again.

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