When my son was three months old, we had to fly across the country to meet my husband where we would be stationed with the military. I hadn’t really mastered the whole nursing thing yet, so I was obviously really anxious about the whole thing. Even more so because I was told I had severely inverted nipples and I’d have to use a shield in order to keep nursing. But I was READY. I had three shields, two nursing covers, countless binkies, gripewater, and enough lanolin to last a lifetime. However, as soon as I sat down my heart sank. I was seated next to two middle aged businessmen in suits. They both had little sleeper masks, and giant head phones that were clearly meant to block out noise. Ah! I had read all about traveling with an infant, and knew that in order to make take-off and landing bearable, it was best to nurse.
As soon we had started nursing, the plane started to taxi and the noise startled my son so he jerked his head away, and the neck strap on my cover came undone. I quickly tucked my cover into my mouth to hold it up (you know this trick…all nursing moms do!). The man next to me noticed I was struggling so he offered to hold my son while I got settled. Well, my new mom hormones kicked in, and with huge tears in my eyes I said ‘Thanks so much’, and handed him over. I fixed my cover and motioned for the guy to hand him back. Then, IT happened. I still have nightmares. Just as this kind man went to hand my fussy child back to me, my cover flipped up, and my shield rolled to the floor. He and I froze, looked at each other, then at the ground. There, sitting just between his fancy shoes, was my silicone nipple shield. I'm not sure he fully understood what it was because he mumbled ‘I got it...’ and reached down.
Then I screamed ‘PLEASE DON'T! ITS A NIPPLE SHIELD!’
It was one million times louder than I intended it to be. He seemed startled, then looked down again, contemplated what I yelled, then his eyes went wide and he said ‘Yeah... you can get it’. I swear, I wanted to crawl under my seat and die.
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