Her Bad Mother

Friday, September 12, 2008

Bare Your Boobs In The Air! Like You Just Don't Care!

Yes, I am still going on about my boobies. Such are the risks of reading a blog written by a lactating mother: I can and will subject you to my reflections on the trials and tribulations of breastfeeding. And this WestJet debacle? Falls into the category of trial.

WestJet has begun responding to the letters that so many of you have written on my behalf - no, they have not responded to me nor been in touch with me directly - and the gist* of their response is this:

Dear Unhappy Person,

Please to accept this form letter that we have cut and pasted from the form letter that we sent out when the last unhappy person complained about our 'cover up your icky nursing boobies plz' policy on in-flight nursing. Note that we have not even bothered to change names in these letters, such that they refer only to the last incident and not to the one about which you complain. We are paying no attention to this most recent incident, as we believe that we adequately explained ourselves the last time - we know that some people find boobies dirty and offensive and we are concerned to ensure that those people are kept comfortable, which is why we urge nursing mothers to cover their nasty boobies while they nurse on our planes - and have not bothered to pretend otherwise.

Thank you for flying WestJet! Where federal and provincial human rights codes do not apply!


Random WestJet Owner Who Is Assigned To Deal With Annoying Customers Who Are Probably Communists And Also Maybe Perverts, Wanting To Show Their Boobies Like That.

Which, you know, makes me angry.

So now I want you to send them letters. Angry letters. Contact information is at the bottom of the original post here. And/or blog about it/write about it/pass the story along. This just sucks - again, pun only loosely intended - so much, for all of the reasons that I've outlined in the past.

I'm just so sick and tired of this. I just want to be able to nurse my baby without being confronted by society's stupid issues about boobs. I want society to get over those issues, at least when it comes to nursing boobs. I want to feel empowered when I nurse, not shamed. And I want my daughter and my son - all our daughters and sons - to see that that's how it should be.

F*ck the blanket.

* The above is my translation of their letter, which is the exact same letter sent to people who complained about an incident that occurred last month - right down to the name of the person involved.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

The Not So Friendly Skies

Even though there has been, from the evidence in my in-box, a planeload of e-mails sent to WestJet asking for explanation of their policies on in-flight nursing, I haven't received a response. There's been absolutely no word from WestJet.

I'll just keep waiting, I guess. In the meantime, if you're inclined to join the chorus, here's the contact info for their media representative: Gillian Bentley, Media Relations, e-mail: gbentley@westjet.com. (If you do send a mail, let me know if you get a response.)

Me, I need to spend a few days getting back to happy, which means running off to the woods with my husband and children, a stack of books, some chocolate and more than a little vodka. You know, the usual.

As always (and it is, indeed, always), thank you, all, for having my back. It makes all the difference in the world.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Moar Babeez

Prove that the universe can still be generous in its blessings: two brand new babies, bringing light and joy and endless puddles of runny mustard shits...

Baby Pie, progeny of our dear Kittenpie, born this past Friday in Toronto! and...

Baby Margot, progeny of Jasper and Emilia's much-beloved Scott and Tania and little sister to Emilia's best boyfriend, Hopper, born yesterday in Toronto!

(Emilia, upon waking this morning, overcome by the memory of how her bedtime story got bumped: Mommy! Scott called Daddy last night on the telephone and HE HAS A NEW BABY AT THE HOSPITAL! AND TANIA IS THERE, TOO!)

These things? Make my heart glad. So glad.

Go wish them the best.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Under The Blanket

It was the kind of thing that would have outraged me, had it happened any other day, any other week. It was the kind of thing that would have had me out of my seat, demanding explanation. It was the kind of thing that I would have written letters about, that I would have blogged and twittered and shared, about which I would have said, I would have hollered, to anyone who would listen, look, this just shouldn't happen, we need to make sure that this doesn't happen, why the f*ck does this still happen?

But it was the wrong day, the wrong week, and I just wasn't up for it because my heart was too heavy and my head was too full and the last thing I needed was an argument with a flight attendant about whether or not I really should cover myself up with a blanket while nursing.

When she approached me in my seat near the back of the plane, blanket in hand, I ignored her. Jasper was tucked in at my breast, wrapped in his own blanket, his head pressed against the white half-moon of flesh that was barely visible beneath him. His head was damp from the stream of tears that had been running down my cheeks from the moment of our departure, the tears that I'd held back while saying my goodbyes. I bent my head over his, shielding my face, my breast, my baby, my tears from view with the veil of my hair. I didn't even look up when she spoke to me.

Excuse me, perhaps you'd like to cover up with a blanket?

I don't answer.

I brought a blanket for you.

She crouches slightly, bending closer. I gather my voice. I'm afraid that it will crack.

I'm fine, thank you.

She stands up, still holding the blanket in front of me.

Well. Perhaps I'll leave it with you?

I don't answer.

She reaches across me, across Jasper, and drops the blanket on the empty seat beside me. If you need help with it, let me know.

Thank you
, I say, my jaw clenched, my throat closed. I am trying to not cry anymore than I already am.

Some women are more comfortable nursing with a blanket. I can't see her, my head bent as it is, but I imagine that she stiffens defensively.

My tears are getting hot. I swallow my anger.

Thank you.

And then she walked away, and I kept my head bent over my baby for as long as he nursed and as long as he slept and until the tension in the back of my neck became too much to bear.

I didn't say anything. I had always though that if that happened to me, I would say something. That I would I would ask why she was pressing the blanket upon me, that I would ask if it was WestJet policy to 'suggest' to nursing mothers that they cover up, that I would say that if I was comfortable with blankets I would have one with me, that I would say that no nursing mother wants a stranger bent over her while she nurses, asking if she wouldn't rather cover up for privacy, that I would, if I had the nerve, ask are you serious? Are you really serious? Do you not see that I might be offended, be made more uncomfortable, by your hovering, by your suggestion that I cover up? To say, no nursing mother should ever be told to cover up. To say, it is my right, it is my child's right, to nurse and be nursed here, right here, right now, in the manner that best serves us both. To say, fuck your blanket.

I always thought that I would say something, if it happened to me.

I hadn't figured that I might, if happened to me, be caught in an anxious, unguarded moment, that I might be feeling vulnerable, that my heart might be sore, that I might not be the cocky self-assured self that I can be when I'm protected by my words, by the screen, by the condition of being virtual. I hadn't thought that, in the reality of such a moment, I might just fold under the weight of my anxieties and my hurts and my self-consciousness about those anxieties and hurts, about my self-consciousness, full stop, and just want to disappear. Under a blanket, maybe.

Which is precisely the problem, as I've said before. A nursing mother is very often a mother at her most vulnerable. A nursing mother traveling - a nursing mother traveling on her own - a nursing mother traveling on her own and weeping - is almost certainly a mother at her most vulnerable. To approach woman under these circumstances to suggest that she do something to modify her behavior is to exploit her vulnerability. It is - and maybe this is too strong a statement, although on the basis of my own experience I think not - to bully.

I wish that I had the emotional strength right now to be more outraged about this. I wish that I had the emotional strength, even, to express a measure of outrage that amounts to more than this heavy sighing, this defeated complaint. I wish that I had the mental and emotional wherewithal to write a letter, to send an e-mail, to make a phone call. But I don't. I'm spent, completely and totally spent. Everything that I have is going toward supporting my family and keeping my own emotional ballasts stable. There was, there is, nothing left over.

All there was to do, all there is to do, is to take cover under the blanket, and hope that it doesn't smother.


One of you, anonymously, took the initiative to get the contact information for media relations at WestJet. If you're so inclined to express your opposition to policies advocating the blanketing of nursing babies on airplanes, here it is: Gillian Bentley, Media Relations, e-mail: gbentley@westjet.com.

Many of you have told me that you've already sent e-mails linking to this post. You are all so, so awesome. It's warming, to be so surrounded by heroes, bare-breasted or otherwise.

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Sunday, September 7, 2008

Hello, It's Me

It feels like I've been away for a long, long time. Mentally and emotionally, I was. But it really looks like everything's going to be okay now - different, but okay - and so I'm finding it possible to breathe again.

Catching up, by the numbers:

1) Zachary is being released this week from intensive care at BC Children's Hospital and being flown back to Royal Inland Hospital, where they'll watch over him and make sure that he's really truly out of the woods, and where - please, gods - he'll make a full recovery and learn to walk - and, we hope, run and jump and leap - again.

2) My sister is hanging in as best she can. Zachary is almost - almost, almost - out of the woods, but she is not. The long days and nights of sitting by her eldest son's bedside, praying that death wouldn't come just yet, please just not yet, were only a dress rehearsal for a tragedy yet to come. Her soul staggers under the weight of this. That I cannot relieve this weight makes my heart ache.

3) My grandfather won't be going home again. He remains in hospital. If he's lucky, he'll be released to a care facility. His house - his house of some 25 years, the house that he's occupied since my grandmother died, since I was a child - was put on the market this week. And with that, my inner child dies another little death.

4) My father is afraid that searching for my half-brother will end badly. He's afraid for my mother's heart. I am too. But I'm still going forward. Will I hate myself for that? I don't know. I still have to try.

5) I was nominated for a Twittie. Um, yeah.

6) I am six thousand years behind on postings to the Basement. If you've sent me something, please bear with me. I will catch up.

7) I have to close comments, again. I haven't read so many of the comments from last week, and am about two weeks behind in responding to e-mails and I just need to catch up, yanno?

8) I can't wait to catch up.