A Perfect Night
By Lynda Westberg
Sandy Hook, CT USA
From NEW BEGINNINGS, Vol. 17 No. 4, July-August 2000, pp. 123-124
We provide articles from our publications from previous years for reference for our Leaders and members. Readers are cautioned to remember that research and medical information change over time
I don't know how I became so committed to breastfeeding. When I became pregnant, none of my friends had children and my closest support person (my mother) felt uncomfortable about nursing. I believe it was a cousin who suggested I go to LLL meetings while pregnant. I really liked the meetings and felt as if I had joined a secret club - motherhood. At first I had trouble with these women describing a family bed. I wondered what was wrong with their marriages that they let their children sleep with them. Well, I took what I liked from the meetings. Of course, my first child who is now three still sleeps in between my husband and me! While pregnant with my second daughter, we bought a king-size bed knowing our bed for two, then three, would become a bed for four. Never say never. Nursing has changed my life.
Our second daughter was born right in time for the holidays. After losing both my grandmothers and my uncle the summer before, it was a great joy and a blessing having a new life in our family. I love Christmas. I love the shopping, the crowded malls, the decorations, and the parties. The parties given by my husband's employer are spectacular - black-tie only, with incredible food and champagne. Every detail is thought out and there is no skimping. This year the event was at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City. I really wanted to go, but wondered how I could with Alicia exclusively nursing?
I tried to pump and give her bottles, which I hadn't done before then. However, Alicia refused to take the bottle. She would cry and spit out the pumped milk. It felt like I was throwing away liquid gold because I had trouble pumping to begin with. I couldn't leave her at home without being sure she would take at least one bottle because the party was a two-hour drive from our house.
I called my LLL Leader, Nicole, and asked her what to do. How could I convince Alicia to take a bottle? She gave me some great suggestions and also mentioned it might work best to keep my baby with me. I know some women who have brought their children to parties in a sling. But since my husband's company doesn't even allow wives and children to come to their casual conferences, I knew I could not bring Alicia to this formal holiday party.
I thought about what Nicole said and wondered how I could bring Alicia to the city but not to the party. What if the children's baby-sitter came with us and watched Alicia while I was at the party? My husband asked the party coordinator for names of nearby hotels. She merely said that the city in December was all booked. I called the museum about four times to ask if there was an office I could use during the party. No one would help me. People said they would look into it, but they never called back. I emailed them several times. Why would no one help a nursing mother? When I asked people for advice, everyone said "just make her take a bottle." I didn't like that idea and found she just wouldn't take it. She would cry as soon as the nipple touched her lips. I really wanted to go to this event. I felt it would be something magical that I would remember for my entire life. I thought about what Nicole said about keeping my baby close to me. She inspired me to find a way to bring Alicia into the city so I could nurse her during the party.
I knew Rosa (the baby-sitter) and Alicia could not wait in our car for three hours while we were at the party, but what if we got a limousine? There would be plenty of room to lay Alicia down to sleep when the car was stopped and Rosa could watch TV, have soda from the bar, and have the driver move the car if need be. The limousine could also be left running the whole time so they would stay warm. This was our solution. I called a limousine company and told them I needed a car to go into the city for a black-tie event with a newborn. I told them I was a nursing mother and needed to bring my baby and baby-sitter and have them wait in the car while we attended the party. They would accommodate us!
When the big day arrived, we packed the car seat and a diaper bag into the limousine. I told the driver I was a nursing mother and would need help. He didn't say much but didn't object. I nursed Alicia right before we arrived at the museum. This must have been a funny sight because in a full-length dress, I had to undress from the waist up to nurse her! The car parked across the street from the museum and off we went.
It was even better than I imagined. Walking into the main lobby, with the light dimmed, and spotlights illuminating the huge dinosaur in the center hall was incredible. There were waiters everywhere serving drinks and food. At every exhibit, there were small tables for four with incredible floral arrangements. As we sat down at the gorilla exhibit in the Hall of African Mammals for appetizers, Ray, the limousine driver, walked in to get me. Alicia was crying. I walked across the four lanes of traffic and hopped into the limousine. Rosa helped me undress and I nursed Alicia to sleep. We laid her down on the seat of the car and off I went for the main meal. She slept for the rest of the party and all the way home.
I could never thank Nicole enough for giving me the inspiration to try to bring Alicia with me. I was able to enjoy the party because I knew Alicia was so close and I could get to her within minutes. I will never forget walking down the staircase in the Hall of Biodiversity to the marine exhibits with thousands of blue lights hanging over the balcony with the huge Blue Whale hanging from the ceiling. I felt as though I was in a movie. I got to be the princess swept off to the magical ball, and the nursing mother running across the street to comfort her baby. A perfect night.