Saturday, September 4, 2010

The Newest Breastfeeding Acronym: NIFF

I've sat down too many times to count in hopes of beginning this post only to get stuck and abandon it. I'm quite the talker in real life and even write Facebook status updates that roll over in to the first comment (or two)! Yet coming to The Connected Mom to begin contributing has me at a loss for words. I think it's due in part to the fact that I want my posts to reflect your concerns and interests. Like my bio states, I've experienced a lot as a mom and I am working hard to become a better mom. I figure you're here for similar reasons. You're possibly a mom who already has a firm grip on her parenting and is looking for a place to read what like minded moms think. Maybe you're looking for guidance in one area or another that you feel strongly about but are having challenges with. My hope, though, is to also help the moms who stumble by unplanned. I want to hear from you-- all of you-- about what you need.

On my mind this week is breastfeeding; at my house, we call it "boo". "Boo" is it's own noun and verb. It can be past (boo'd), present (boo'ing), or future (*will/going to* boo) tense. My 8 year old daughter boo'd for less than a month after she was born. My 3.5 year old daughter boo'd for 31 months, weaning when I was almost 8 months pregnant and was hospitalized for a week. She boo'd for her final time this January when I brought home her brother and finished up simply stating 'Kee-yen (Killian) can has dees boos'.

Killian has generously accepted the passing of the boos. We've battled mastitis when he was a week old, struggles with reflux, and thrush. At barely 7 months old, he carries more history than he will know for many years. My pregnancy with Killian was preceded by an 'early miscarriage' and he is named after my grandfather as well as my husband's grandfather. When he was born, I had that moment of thinking 'such a big name for such a little guy'-- Killian Joseph Merritt B. He's the baby that has solidified my nursing in public *NIP* skills. More than that, he's the baby that has solidified my 'nursing in front [of] family' *NIFF... ok, so i made that up* skills. You will find all kinds of information about how to NIP comfortably, but not so much about NIFF. It's amazing how family who changed my diapers are the ones that I worry about boo'ing around. They're married, they've had kids, they know how this whole shebang works, but yet I will excuse myself from the room to avoid potentially making them uncomfortable. I've realized that sometimes NIFF is harder than NIP. It's easy to say "put a blanket over your head/go in the bathroom for your lunch/look away" when you're talking about strangers, but what about when it's your own family? Only recently have I nonchalantly began to NIFF mid-conversation-- without a *gasp* cover. Oh yeah-- that's right-- one too many games of peek-a-boob and hot natured children have meant that I might throw a hand or the end of a sling over that bit of skin, but that's about it.

A recent moment NIFF caught me at my uncle's wedding at which I was a guest and cake baker/server. Earlier in the evening, I was boo'ing in a main room and shared a giggle with those around me when a woman who was behind me couldn't see what I was doing tried to pass cake plates over my shoulder so I could serve the cake! After the cake was cut, I stepped into a quiet area adjacent to all the hubbub and socializing to boo Killian. A few minutes later my sister in law walked in. She was photographing the ceremony/reception and would be leaving shortly. Until recently, she's been in the "I support you & know the benefits, but I don't especially want to watch" camp. I think she's finally realized that if Killian is anything like Marley, he'll be boo'ing for quite a while yet which means my boob will be out more often than not! :o) She pulled out her camera and snapped a photo which I will treasure forever.

Killian's hand holding my necklace. It's stamped with the names of all 3 children, has each of their birthstones, and a stone for the baby we lost. He wraps his chubby little hand around that disc and pulls/tugs more than I thought that chain could take. The moment she snapped that seemingly simple photo was special not only because of what was in the photo, but because of all the things you can't see. She chose to allow me to NIFF even when I had removed myself. I was in 'front' of more family than I've been around under one roof in over 10 years, even though I was in one of the less populated rooms.

Have you had worries about NIFF? Do you try to avoid it? Is your family accepting of your choice to nurse whenever/where ever? If you NIFF without exception, did you have to work up to it or was it just something you did automatically? If you don't NIFF, is it because you are uncomfortable, because you worry about making them uncomfortable, or something else entirely?

*Necklace by StephieMc Designs on Etsy *


Cindy Byrd said... [Reply to comment]

I never realized how odd this could be for some people. I was so truly blessed to have such an amazing family...and actually everyone around me as well when it came to breastfeeding. Even the other family (her fathers side) were more than amazing about it. Only my brother has even given my trouble about it..and he was told to walk out of the room if there was an issue.

Good Topic C!

Jenn said... [Reply to comment]

been there! I've totally changed my MIL's attitude about NIFF. She even bought me a few shirts that would just pull down so I could nurse easily!

Anonymous said... [Reply to comment]

I'm totally the same! Nursing in front of my dad and step-grandmother has been the hardest. I can nurse anywhere anytime but it's taken me a while to be able to nurse in front of my dad. It's not really a "boob in public" issue for me, it's more that I'm his youngest child (his "baby") and it was the last thing for me to do to fully become an adult. More and more though I'm getting comfortable with it.

Sarah said... [Reply to comment]

Totally awesome post Carmen!
I had family at the house pretty much from the first week of my baby's birth and breast feeding did NOT come easy! My father who I am just only now getting to know was visiting me when Mastitis struck. I remember sitting in the rocking chair feeling like a complete failure holding my baby and he kept encouraging me to try nursing. I had a huge blanket over me and was trying to hide my skin, hold my newborn, and deal with the pain in my breast.
I realized then that it was making it so much harder trying to stay hidden and I set the blanket down and nursed my baby.

7 months later I just had another visit from my Dad and I comfortably sat across from him, lifted my shirt and latched my baby. Dad just smiled!
I've very self conscious around other family but I DO nurse in front of them!!!

Christina said... [Reply to comment]

This post made me cry... very sweet about Killian. I totally have issues with NIFF and friends. I am getting better though. To be honest I haven't quite gotten the hang of NIP either. I still like to have a blanket handy especially now that my little one has become so social (she wants to stop and smile at everyone that walks by).

Carmen said... [Reply to comment]

Thank you everyone for your kind words!

Cindy- You most certainly are blessed (in more ways than one)! :o)

Jenn- I'm glad you were able to enlighten your mother in law. I don't have a MIL... and yes, it's a mixed blessing! ;o)

katastrofik- You're only a few months into the game and to already be tackling your NIFF challanges... well.. kudos to you!! I checked out your blog & not only to I love your daughter's name, but she's adorable and your eye makeup rocks! ;o)

Sarah- I cannot imagine mastitis with house guests.. that's like a 'no holds barred' illness-- you'll do whatever you can to even attempt some relief! I'm glad you are not only getting to know your dad, but also that you're still going strong 7 months in with BFing and that L is getting to know your dad, too!

Christina- it's taken me 3 kids to get this far, you're still ahead of the curve and there's nothing wrong with a security blanket (literally!) when NIP or NIFF. We shouldn't be expected to cover, but if that's how we feel most comfortable, then we have that choice! :o)

Kat said... [Reply to comment]

Congrats on being a blogger!

Funny, I write this from my in-laws', one of the places I feel least comfortable with NIFF. With my first, I tended to nurse unapologetically any time and place. It was a bit wearing on me. With my second child, I find myself asking family if they mind my nursing around them. So far no one has said no, and I feel a lot more comfortable with this approach.

In my house it is easier to NIFF, but I still sometimes check in (like with my grandfather's partner, whom I don't know very well yet). And some family members are easier to nurse in front of than others. I've never felt the need to ask my mom, for example, but I don't feel quite comfortable being in the same room as my FIL. I will go to a sitting room that is not isolated, but not generally frequented, either.

I feel a bit guilty to "the cause" for even asking in the first place, but then I question what the cause is. In the ideal world, we would all be fine with public breastfeeding anywhere. This clearly is not the case, though, there are Internet fights about "decency" all the time. While I think the decency issue is hogwash, I don't want to antagonize family and ruin an opportunity to maybe change someone's mind by showing them a less confrontational example of breastfeeding. And I do need to take my own comfort into account, I can't always hold "the cause" over everything including me.

Carmen said... [Reply to comment]

Hi, Kat!
You raise some interesting points regarding 'the cause' :o) and asking.
Come to think of it.. I don't think I've ever asked-- I think I figure if I am comfortable enough to nurse in front of someone, then they're probably/should be/are comfortable with it, too!
And as for the cause-- I find it frustrating that people seem to think mom's NIP to prove a point. I didn't leave my house on the war path to NIP (ok, unless I was at a sit in or something) looking for confrontation or to make a profound change in the world. I simply leave my house to run errands/go on a trip/go visit friends or family and do so with the understanding that babies get hungry and I'll probably have to feed mine before the day is done (funny how that works, right?).

Anonymous said... [Reply to comment]

I have stumbled across your blog and I love it!
I definetly understand where you are coming from! After my son was born we had HUGE problems breastfeeding. I was living overseas from my parents and they came to visit of the time my dad was around I had had my boobs out so often, and so many people had seen them...I was past caring!! :)My family has all been great about my breastfeeding, anywhere and everywhere! Thanks for writing...I am looking forward to checking back here!

Carmen said... [Reply to comment]

Hi, Louise!
I'm glad you're enjoying The Connected Mom-- I think one of our strongest points is that we have quite a few moms contributing about so many different issues!

I'm glad you've been able to NIFF with no worries! It's so much easier to have a successful nursing relationship when you are able to nurse whenever & wherever you need to. :o)
Hope you visit again soon!

mommypants13 said... [Reply to comment]

UGH breastfeeding in front of family is SO hard for me. My boyfriends family won't even let me over the house if my shoulders are showing, so when his grandmother from South Carolina started talking about my 'jugs' it was SO weird!!

As far as my family goes, I don't know how that will be, they haven't exactly supported me feeding Annabella past a year. No will be the first time they see her 'hanging off the boob' as my nana likes to call it.

But I don't mind doing it anywhere else, I have been lucky enough to live in California, so we are pretty open to it here.

eulogos said... [Reply to comment]

It never occurred to me that anyone in the family would mind. My own parents took to it fairly easily. My father was used to it; his mother not only nursed his brother, but nursed another woman's baby when that woman went to work. My mother kind of raised her English eyebrows and shrugged. After a while she was converted to breastfeeding because my babies fussed so much less than my sister and I had, didn't spit up (until my third, but she was convinced by then) and were so healthy. However, one time my inlaws were at our apartment and I was nursing. My father in law started to take pictures of my husband and the older children, his wife and the older children. I said, "Take a picture of the baby nursing, I'd really like to have one of that." He said, "I don't do pornography." I was open mouth shocked. Finally I said, "It's not pornography, I am feeding my baby. How can you think that is pornographic?" I guess we compromised; I stayed where I was, and he didn't take a picture. I didn't let it stop me after that, the few times we were together with them. He was full of nasty remarks anyway, such as "Congratulations on your litter." when #5 was born or "At least you are a good incubator." So why should I care what he thought about my nursing?

I can honestly say that there wasn't any situation where I would bring a baby where I wouldn't nurse a baby.
Susan Peterson

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