Today’s high was around 100 degrees with the heat index at about 110 so, like quite a few other people in town we headed up to the Norwalk Rec Center pool. It was late in the afternoon when Moses couldn’t stand the heat any longer and was ready for a little comfort and a nap so he snuggled down into my lap and I began to nurse him. It wasn’t long before I noticed a group of people-an extended family with who appeared to be the great grandmother, grandmother, and a bunch of older kids and teens- glaring at us and rushing around to pack up their things to leave. They made a very big and dramatic show of the whole thing shooting scathing looks at me and whispering loudly to one another all the while-even the children were involved in this.

Now I wouldn”t have thought much of this but last summer when Moses was a newborn someone (presumably these women since they gave me the fish eye from the moment we arrived and were curt with poor little Otis when he tried to be friendly with them) took a photo of me nursing him poolside and sent a copy to the Recreation Manager, Joe Lindenberger, and threatened to “pull her membership” if…well I don’t know what she wanted to be done to me. The photo was shown to some other staff (who and how was and is a matter for debate) like a wanted poster to seek me out. The next time we came an adult lifeguard followed me around from the moment we arrived and the moment I began nursing Moses she burst into the building (to alert others? to check my wanted poster?) and then quickly came storming back out and made a bee line straight for us. She told me I had to put him under a beach towel or leave and also informed me that my breasts are too large. Well, of course I didn’t leave but instead I called Niki Cross, the Aquatics Director and a mother herself, who told me I also had the option to go inside to the locker room or the baby sitting area because the rec center is a family place. WHAT? I assume, dear reader, that I don’t have to explain to you all of the ways that this is absurd. She also told me about the photograph and then I was livid! It seems to me if that woman thinks what I was doing was pornographic and she then photographed it and emailed it…well, I digress. I eventually talked to both Joe Lindenberger and Ken Leber, the Superintendent, about it and Ken was outraged and embarrassed. He contacted the city Law Director to find out what the laws were and to find out if the Rec Center and the City of Norwalk needed a nursing policy or if the law was already on our side. Not only was it found that a mother can breast feed anywhere a mother is allowed to be but also that in Ohio any woman may be topless anywhere a man can be topless and I was showing no more breast than any lady in a triangle top bikini and definitely less than all the men! Ken assured me that all of the city superintendents were informed of all of this and that his staff would be retrained on this and that none of this would ever happen again.
It all happened again.
I told Niki I would not stop nursing Moses and that I know that she already knows that her requests were in direct conflict with my rights and Moses’s. She was relentless. I told her the conversation was over but she would have none of it. She went on about how I should cover him (did I mention it was 110 degrees with the heat index?) I reminded her that we already went over this last summer and that I know that she was told not to make such requests of me or anyone else again. She said that she didn’t remember anything like that being said and kept saying that she’d have to talk to Ken about it. I reminded her of the laws and she kept telling me I had to show these laws to her and, “where are you getting this information?” I told educated her about the Ohio Revised Code and that she is welcome to do whatever reading and research she needed but that it is not for me to do for her. She kept saying she’d need to “talk to Ken” over and over like it was a threat as though maybe I’d relent but I told her, “fine! Please stop talking to me about this and go call Ken!” I honestly don’t remember how I finally got her to leave me alone but she did tell me Ken was inside and she’d go and talk to him about it and be back. Over an hour later when we were leaving not only had neither of them come to talk to me but neither of them were even in the building!
This isn’t over. This time I am not going to handle this with a quiet grace but instead I am going to shout from the roof tops if that’s what it takes to change some hearts and minds around here. Breastfeeding is best for body and “nursing” the soul (both mother and baby) and it is small, ignorant, puritanically minded people like those I have encountered today that keep American breastfeeding statistics so staggeringly low. According to the CDC by 6 months only 13% of babies are still being nursed! I will not be bullied, shamed, or harassed. They have chosen the wrong mother to harass.
Ken Leber Superintendent  419-663-6775 ext. 22
Bryan Marcum Parks Director419-663-8112
Joe Lindenberger Recreation Director  419-663-6775 ext. 26
Niki Cross Aquatics Director  419-663-6775 ext. 30
Stacie Strecker Recreation Coordinator 419-663-6775 ext. 28
Lyden Ramsey Parks and Rec Supervisor  419-663-6775 ext. 25

2 thoughts on “BOOBS

  • Anonymous

    I am a total advocate for breastfeeding. I breastfed all three of my kids until they were 14 months. I would never “hide” to feed my child or cover him with a towel in the heat. People are so ignorant and close minded. Even if you could see some boob……IT’S A BOOB! Get over it. It’s the we provide nourishment to our children. Ugh. This topic makes me so mad!
    Best of luck to you 🙂 Always do whats best for you and your family.

  • Anonymous

    This is totaly rediculous! If America wasn’t such a sex crazed nation maybe stupid people would see breasts for what they really are, built in “bottles” for our babies! Stop watching so much TV and educate yourselves and your children! Maybe then you wouldn’t be so offended at the sight of a mother feeding her child!

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