The March:Nursing, Pumping, and Diapering in the Name of Democracy

Posted on January 22, 2017

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Life in the Boomer Lane marched with her daughter, 7-month-old grandson, a group of her daughters friends and their small children and babies. Needless to say, LBL was the only person in the group who also marched during the Vietnam War and was a member of Women’s Lib. For that reason, LBL considered herself to be a card-carrying member of the women’s rights movement, every bit as enlightened as her daughter and her daughter’s friends.

A lot of women had small children and babies in tow. During the march, babies were being nursed. LBL was completely on board with that. She had survived the era when nursing in public wasn’t accepted in polite society, and she,herself, had nursed her oldest child (discreetly covered) in an upscale restaurant in Georgetown, to the stares of those at table around her.

During this march, she was in for an awakening she hadn’t anticipated. During one of the many times that the sheer numbers of marchers caused everyone to come to a complete stop for long periods of time, one of her daughter’s friends sat on the street and began nursing her six-month-old daughter. The crowed respectfully gave her space. After a couple of minutes, another marcher sat down next to her, taking advantage of the space that had been created.

The second marcher lifted her shirt and began to pump her milk, in full view of the crowd. At this moment, LBL’s membership card in the women’s movement expired. LBL was uncomfortable to see what she considered to be a very private activity being done in public. She gawked.

She pointed the woman out to the group she was marching with. The result, as she should have anticipated, was shock at her own behavior, not at the woman who was pumping. They quickly pointed out to LBL that 1. Pumping was a normal activity. 2. Pumping would allow this young woman to feed her baby breast milk at times when she couldn’t be there. 3. A nursing mom, being at the march for many hours, would be experiencing great discomfort from her breasts being engorged with milk.

Of course, LBL knew all of this. It was simply the sight of a private action being conducted in public that had shocked her. In that moment, she flashed back to the people staring at her, 41 years ago in the restaurant in Georgetown, and she realized that she had become one of those people. It was a frying-pan-over-the-head-moment for her. She will forever be grateful to those young women for allowing her to renew her membership card in the women’s movement.

Newly renewed card in hand, she heard her daughter say, “Tovi has a poopie diaper.”  Her daughter laid a sign on the ground, and laid the baby on it.  All the women in her group, including LBL, held the signs to form a barrier around her, to make sure that when the group started moving again, they would not trample her daughter or grandson.

At the worst possible moment, when the old diaper was off and the new one hadn’t yet been put on, the signal was given to start moving again. Now, in addition to holding signs around her daughter, her friends were waving the crowd to stand still until the diapering was finished. The crowd, many hundreds of them at that particular spot, complied. The task was completed, the baby was redeposited in his Baby K’tan baby carrier against his mother’s chest, and everyone started marching again.

LBL, sign held as a shield for her daughter and grandson, and membership card in hand, experienced the entire event with gratitude and pride for her daughter and her daughter’s friends. She suspects that her card will have to be renewed again, before this life is over.  But, this time, she is prepared for renewal.

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