Ah yes, food of the suburban gods, unlimited salad and breadsticks. How I love you and your bottomless bowl/basket tasty goodness. My friend V and I descended upon the Olive Garden this afternoon, a whirlwind of baby carriers, diaper bags, strollers, burp clothes, pacifiers and oh yeah, babies.
It is the mommy lunch date! My very first. I spent most of the morning fretting. Yes, I've been out with the little man dozens of times at this point, even to restaurants; but this would be my first foray into the lunchtime crowd with potentially cranky son in tow and no Husband to defray the anxiety and work involved in a 10 week old's public meltdown.
I was unable to leave the house without packing and repacking the diaper bag. I totally tapped into my "WHERE'S MY PASSPORT??!!" stress generally saved for international travel, only this time it sounded like, "WHERE ARE THE WIPES??!!"....oh, there they are. The contents of the diaper bag for this trip were as follows:
three diapers (because service can be realllly slow and you just never know what is going on in this boy's intestines), rash cream, wipes, antibacterial hand cream, changing pad, two receiving blankets (in addition to the one draped over the car seat) two bibs, three burp cloths, three clean onesies (in case he was suddenly hired to emcee an awards show and needed several wardrobe changes, apparently), a hat (it was 100 degrees, duh), three socks (you think keeping track of adult socks is hard? please.), aspirator, pacifier, one breast pad (apparently they can share?) and my wallet.
This was for one lunch time outting. Clearly, to travel any distance with this child, my house will have to be ripped from its foundation and hauled down the highway trailing a "WIDE LOAD" flag behind it.
My main concern with the lunch date was that the timing of it was worked out a little before Ethan's feeding schedule for the day was solidified. By mid-morning I have a pretty good idea of what times his little belly is going to demand the boob and I can schedule my day's out-of-home activities accordingly. I am not against public breastfeeding. As a matter of fact, don't get me started on a woman's right to feed her child wherever the hell she chooses, in front of whomever happens to be there at the time. And if the government is going to go saying that all women should breastfeed for at least six months, they'd better start educating people who find it "icky" and they'd better start making insurance companies pay for lactation consultants, because it's fucking hard to breastfeed without at least visit to the boob lady. It was not pleasant to have women I hardly know pulling at my breasts and torturing my nipples, but the kid really seems to be attached to the whole nursing thing, so it's worth it. But let's just say, my inner "Yeah, I'm in public and yeah, that's my boob! take that, bitch!" and my outer "oh god, please don't get hungry in public. I don't want to take out my boob!" don't quite match up yert. So I was fretting.
I chose the Olive Garden because I figured we would be in a booth in a fairly dimly lit room so that if either of us had to breastfeed, at least we had a prayer of being discreet about it. Ah, how the universe loves to punk me. We ended up in a regular, middle of the room table, in a room that was all windows out onto the bright sunny day. Surrounded by business men. Let's just say, had either of us had to feed our children, we would have been the main attraction in the diningroom.
I blame our waiter. Had he been remotely competent, we could have eaten our entire meals in the amount of time it took us to have the manager apologetically bring us our diet coke and water. So it was about two bites into my salad that Ethan had, what my friend Jamie calls, "a bit of a screech". Jamie is British and in my opinion all things sound quaint and lovely when expressed through British understatement and in that fabulous accent. So when my son is screaming bloody murder and I feel like my head is about to explode, I remind myself, "'T'sall right. Just a bit of a screech is all..." and somehow I manage to crack up through the wailing and get through it.
So Ethan had a "bit of a screech" midway through lunch and I feared the worst--empty belly. Fortunately, it was just empty mouth and a pacifier (thank god I had one!!!) seemed to do the trick. I held him throughout the remainder of the meal, so I am eternally grateful I only ordered the soup, salad and breadsticks--one hand required. Although I had to eat the soup like my arm was a crane, swinging way out and away from Ethan and then back in and around to my mouth, lest I spill the hot minestrone on his bare arm or leg and award myself "worst mother of the year" award for burning my baby's skin (yes, by this point the soup was tepid at best, but still, I don't want that award!)
Overall, lunch was a success and V and I agreed that we should do this at least once a week until she goes back to work by August's end. Perhaps sometime between now and then my inner public breastfeeding diva biotch will step up and take over. I hope so, because I think she's going to be super cool.