Lactivist-in-action

So this morning we went to the nurse-in at the Hirshhorn, which really does have two h’s in its name. (Wait, three.)

There was a woman outside handing out little laminated cards with the right-to-breastfeeding law printed on it – the federal law and the state laws for DC, Maryland and Virginia. Handy to have on your person if you think you might have to defend what you’re doing to antsy security guards, for instance.

We were shuffled upstairs to the third floor, which at first I felt was a little like sending the crazy ladies away where they wouldn’t inconvenience anyone, but actually half the exhibition is up there (the other half being down in the basement – the entrance level is just the shop). We came up the escalator to a lovely plethora of mothers and babies, sitting on the benches and against the walls nursing, nursing while walking around, nursing in carriers, and just chatting and laughing. There were plenty of dads too, and siblings. I sat down in a nice leather chair and offered Mabel some mumeet. For the first time in living memory, she refused and asked for snacks instead. “No,” I replied, “it’s time to have some mumeet.” She ran away laughing. So much for my lactivism.

We wandered (that is, chased the two-year-old) around the exhibits (hey, I can do modern art – big canvas, blue paint, Bob’s your uncle), bumped into a friend and her daughter, smiled at all the babies and the commotion, noted the presence of the news cameras, and finally Mabel deigned to get down to business and have a wee dram of the good stuff. Three minutes and we were done. Oh, for a newborn who would have let me sit there all morning. Still, Monkey was militating to go downstairs and eat his snacks – I assumed that food and drink on the other floors would be verboten – so we couldn’t really tarry.

The Hirshhorn knew what it was doing when it welcomed the nurse-in: it was great PR and they probably had five times more visitors than on an average Saturday morning in February. We’d never been there before, and while it’s not particularly my cup of tea (and they don’t even have a cafe, so there were no cups of tea at all), it’s a lovely space. In fact, I can imagine that, on a regular emptier day, it would be just the sort of area I’d have been delighted with as a newly nursing mum – lots of nice comfy chairs and handy benches where I would assume I could just sit down for a few minutes and quietly nurse the baby without bothering anyone.

I hope that’s what it will be from now on.

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