Why I'm a Breastfeeding Dad

4.24.2012

By Trevor MacDonald

Breastfeeding is the easiest way for me to comfort my child when he is upset, tired, hurt, or scared. But as a trans man, it also causes awkward moments when I nurse my son in public.

I started out nursing purely for the health benefits. I read that any amount at all of my own milk would contain antibodies specifically designed by my body to protect my son—unique from any other substance in the world. I also learned that the mechanical action of breastfeeding promotes normal jaw development. Who doesn't want a normally developed jaw? I thought. But looking back on this last year, I have come to believe that breastfeeding, for us at least, is far more than this. Breastfeeding is the easiest way for me to comfort my child when he is upset, tired, hurt, or scared. It works well for us and keeps him happy.

I wish I'd been eloquent enough at the time to explain these things to the woman on the airplane, but what I said was, "I hope you have a good vacation." I wanted her to leave us alone.

She returned with, "Well, you should know that Jesus loves you."

After this, I focused on Jacob and babbled at him endlessly as if I were a child myself. "I'm so sorry that your ears hurt on the way down. You poor little thing. I love you soooooooo much. Now that we're in Vancouver we'll get to visit your grandparents who are very, very excited to see you."

I kept hugging my boy and chatting to him until the woman left and then I sobbed, fumbling for my things while the other passengers quietly filed off the plane. 

I'll never forget the kind words of a fellow traveler who witnessed the whole episode. He came to find me at the luggage belt, looking terribly serious. "Don't you ever let anyone take the joy of this baby from you," he said. Then he repeated it one more time, with emphasis, "Don't you ever let anyone take the joy of this baby from you."

Wherever you are, gentle stranger, thank you, and I won't.
 
Trevor MacDonald lives in Winnipeg, Canada, with his partner, baby, and dog. He is currently a stay-at-home dad, and has an honors BA in political science from the University of British Columbia. While remaining secure in his identity as a gay man, he breastfeeds his baby boy because of the zillions of studies that prove that breastfeeding is a healthy, biologically normal choice for babies. He writes about his queer breastfeeding adventures on his blog at www.milkjunkies.net.
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