I had a hard time deciding which of my many thoughts I would post on today, so I decided to do and update on me and then my post on breastfeeding that I have been cultivating for weeks.
First of all, I am 37 weeks pregnant TODAY! That is so exciting to me! Obviously babies come when babies come, but that 37 week full term mark is just a HUGE sigh of relief! On top of that, I have been contracting like MAD since about 4:30 PM yesterday. They are nothing exciting, just a little painful and definitely annoying, but nothing worth running to the hospital about. I guess as an L&D nurse, contractions don't excite me too much until they are REALLY painful! I definitely think they will stop and I will be pregnant for a few more weeks, but it is hard to not get a little hopeful too! :) I am very comfortable being pregnant, so I don't mind a few more weeks!!
It is absolutely crazy to me though that I am 37 weeks. This pregnancy has just been easy as pie and has FLOWN by! It is so hard to believe how soon baby J is going to be here! Now we are just anxious and excited and WAITING to meet our little boy!!!
So that is the update on me!
The other topic that I wanted to discuss a little...Breastfeeding. Now I know many of you stopped reading right there. But I hope you will stay tuned in, because this post is SO not about what you are thinking.
I wanted to share a story with you...
A few weeks ago, we took Miss A to her Disney World...aka the Pittsburgh Zoo. Miss A is an animal FANATIC to say the very least! So when we told her that we were going to the zoo, the 2 hour car ride there was absolute TORTURE for her!
In addition to being just an amazing day and enjoying one of our last outings as a family of three, I was also touched and amazed by the amount of new life at the Zoo. We got to see the baby elephant (now almost a year old), the baby Orangutan (a few months old), the baby Gorilla (few weeks old), and the baby Sea Otter (just 9 weeks old). New life was just everywhere!
The first baby that we saw was the baby elephant...and I was struck (never knew this) that mama elephant had HUGE boobs! I guess I just never thought about it! But obviously elephants breastfeed their young and obviously mama elephant produces milk and gets engorged just like any other mammal! Not sure if baby elephant was still nursing or not, I could not find a zookeeper to ask! But while we were staring (in awe) at the elephants, one little boy pointed out mama's boobs to his mom asking what those were...I was so thrilled to here her respond back that those were how the mama elephant fed her baby! Some parents would have shoo'd their kids away and not answered. I saw one mother ushering her daughter away and covering her ears so that she would not hear this conversation. She was absolutely outraged and I heard her saying to her husband that she could not believe that other mother would talk about breastfeeding in front of her child!
But why? Even if you choose not to breastfeed your children, the fact remains that the majority of other species out there do in fact breastfeed their young! This is educational for our children to understand and they are going to find this out at some point! Or am I wrong?
Next we moved on (after a LOT of coaxing for Miss A) to the Monkey house! When we arrived, there was a large crowd around the Orangutan windows. Mama was breastfeeding her little baby! And there were tons of people crowded around watching her feed her little man! I again saw the mother that covered her daughter's ears and she was again OUTRAGED and was ushering her *bawling* daughter away from the Orangutans. I felt really bad for the little girl, she was probably 5 or 6. She just wanted to see the monkeys and her mom was dragging her out of there because mama monkey was breastfeeding. Miss A and I stood and watched mama Orangutan for a long time. It was absolutely beautiful to watch her snuggle her little one and breastfeed just like humans do. What was hilarious was mama got a little bored, I have no idea how long baby had been nursing, but apparently mama was tired of it and tried to climb down. Well, baby orangutan was NOT having it and he just stayed latched and climbed down beside her! It was hilarious! My husband and I got a real kick out of that one! Eventually he decided he had enough, and let his mama go...and then he decided to show off to the crowd by doing tricks on the ropes...such a ham!
Miss A was getting bored, I was quite amused, but we moved on anyway and the in next windows down were the Gorillas! And what was mama Gorilla doing? BREASTFEEDING her little tiny baby!!! At this point I could have cried. It was all just so beautiful! She was sitting on the floor, almost indian style, cradling her little baby while he/she ate. She sat there and stroked the baby's head and tickled its little feet just like I did to Miss A when she was nursing! Miss A and I actually sat down on the floor of the monkey house, right next to the window, and sat with her. So I was sitting shoulder to shoulder (with plate glass between) with mama Gorilla while she breastfed her baby! I could have sat there ALL day! It was amazing! When baby was done eating, he/she started to crawl away. Mama tried to help stand baby up, and fell over, tried again, and fell over. Finally baby decided to just stay down and crawl. You could tell that mama was amused, so she rolled the baby Gorilla over and tickled him/her. It was just adorable and so amazing to watch just how similar our human behavior is to the behavior of the Gorilla.
At the end of the zoo is the PPG Aquarium where we met our last baby. This one has a sad story, but it is getting better! This was the baby Sea Otter. He had only been at the zoo for one week when we got to see him and he was only 9 weeks old. His entire family died in Alaska leaving him orphaned and alone and the Pgh Zoo adopted him and brought him to PA where they are nursing him back to health! Obviously, he was not ready to be away from his mama quite yet, so they are having to bottle feed him. He didn't take to it right away, but he is doing well now and putting on weight! He was also a little ham rolling over and doing cute things for us! It almost made me cry to think of all this poor little guy has gone through, and thankfully there are zoos that can adopt these animals and give them a chance at life.
At the end of the day, as a mother and a soon-to-be mother again, it was just an amazing experience to see all of that new life and how we are all so much alike. I never thought that I would WANT to be compared to a monkey or an elephant, but observing the beauty of them rearing their babies, I am happy to be likened to them!
My question for you is this. I completely agree with parents having the right to educate their children how they see fit. And breastfeeding is one of those topics that I feel should be left to the parent especially of younger children. But when it comes to animals, should we shield our kids from this very normal act? Animals would not survive without their mamas and their milk. The baby sea otter is lucky that he was found and can get a bottle. In the wild, he would have perished quickly. We are very fortunate as humans that formula is an option so that our babies do not perish if mama cannot breastfeed. Animals are generally not so lucky and perish if something happens to their mama, so breastfeeding is just a normal fact of life in the animal kingdom. Do the stigmas, stereotypes, and disgust for nursing in public extend to the animal kingdom? Really? Because asking a monkey or an elephant to cover up is just one CRAZY idea!
What do you think? I felt bad for the little girl that was not allowed to see the Elephants, Orangutans, or Gorillas because of Breastfeeding. I really hope her mom took her back later to see them!
Who knew that a trip to the zoo was going to be such an experience! I have been there a ton of times before, but this trip was just amazing! And it has made me even more excited to breastfeed baby J and enjoy those snuggles!!!