Tag Archives: breastfeeding

Not so SMART

Bus Nerd saw this in the Free Press today:

The SMART bus driver who told a Taylor mom she couldn’t breastfeed on a bus in late June was suspended for five days without pay, and her dispatcher was suspended for three, company officials said today.

The two employees were punished for not following company policy and for using profanity after Afrykayn Moon, 32, said the driver tried to keep her from boarding the bus while her then two-week-old son was nursing.

She said the driver refused to drive the bus until the child was done breastfeeding, and had security guards try to remove her.

Yikes. Southeast Michigan, this is not a good look. You can’t offer a two-week old a sandwich.

Here’s a longer article about the same incident, and, in case you care, here’s one of my past posts on the subject of breastfeeding in transit.

On busing and breastfeeding

I recently read a story on Motherwear’s breastfeeding blog (yeah–so?) about a mom’s experience nursing her child on a public bus. In short, she was harassed by other passengers until the bus driver came to her aid. Yikes.

Despite the fact that breastfeeding is touted as a “hassle-free” feeding option, I haven’t found it to be so. (Great way to bond with my child? Absolutely. Convenient for bus parenting? Not so much.) While it’s true that, unlike moms who drive (well, except this one), bus moms have the option to feed their babies while they travel, this only matters if they actually feel comfortable nursing in public. (And folks, it doesn’t get much more public than Metro.) And unlike moms who drive, breastfeeding bus moms don’t have cars to retreat to when they get where they’re going. So, not feeling comfortable nursing in public means not feeding your baby while you’re out.

I know there are plenty of women who are comfortable nursing in public–probably some who are even comfortable nursing on buses–and others who can feed babies in slings/carriers without anyone being the wiser. I, unfortunately, am not one of those women. For most of my outings with Busling (except those to destinations that offer privacy or are populated with other moms), I either: 1) bring a bottle (which, if done too often, can interfere with nursing) or 2) rush home in time for his next feeding. (Yet another reason why late/slow buses are even less tolerable now than they were when I was a solo bus chick.)

Folks, living by bus schedules can be a challenge; coordinating bus schedules with infant feeding schedules (not to mention naps, diaper changes, and two-year old trips to the potty) takes up more of my brain cycles than should be spent on getting around.

I cherished my first year with Chicklet, and I’m having an absolute blast with Busling. I’m not in any rush for my babies to grow up, but I’m definitely looking forward to the day when the only travel snack* I have to worry about is a box of raisins.

*For them. For me: Black Russians from Three Girls!

The things she carried, part IV (or, Four bags and a baby)

Warning: If you are freaked out by words like “breast milk” and “lactation” (Lord knows I have my moments), you might want to skip this entry. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Thursday before last, after 20 weeks of baby bonding, I returned to work. The separation, though difficult, was made easier by the fact that I left my little chicklet in the capable hands of her father, who has begun his (significantly shorter) parental leave. I digress.

Like a lot of new mothers, I use an electric breast pump during the work day so that Chicklet can get as much breast milk as possible while we’re apart. Unlike a lot of new mothers, I schlep the breast pump to and from work on the bus. (I only work three days a week, you see, and I sometimes need the pump on off days and weekends.) The pump and all its associated parts pack well into the discreet, medium-sized duffle bag they came in, but carrying that bag and my regular bus chick bag, especially during crowded commute times, can be a challenge.

On my first day back, Bus Nerd and Chicklet had an appointment in Redmond in the late afternoon, so we decided to meet at Overlake Transit Center and ride home together. Between the three of us, we had four bags: diaper bag, bus nerd bag (Nerd is still resisting combining his stuff with Chicklet’s), bus chick bag, and breast pump duffle, which, in addition to the pump, contained several ounces of milk.

Having been away from Chicklet for the entire day, I insisted on strapping her on for the ride, so Nerd kindly offered to carry my bus chick bag and the pump. (The man has a virtually unlimited carrying capacity–a good quality in a bus nerd.)

The ride to Montlake was long (due in part to bad traffic and in part to a stupid decision to try riding the 256 instead of my beloved, reliable 545), the wait at the Montlake stop was longer, and the forty-late home was standing-room only. Chicklet and I were offered a seat in the front, but Nerd had to stand in the back with all the bags until a seat opened up. The whole experience required enough shuffling, stacking, and other maneuvering to throw off even the most seasoned bus nerd.

And throw him off it did.

A few minutes after we arrived home, my (helpful, well-meaning) husband realized he had left the breast pump on the long-gone 48.

There’s not much of a market (I hope) for hot breast pumps, so we weren’t afraid it would be stolen, but, given the inconvenience factor, the perishable milk, and the fact that the pump was loaned to me by a friend, waiting until the next day to pick it up at Metro’s lost and found was a last resort. Nerd considered chasing the bus in a cab (as he did during the November wallet fiasco) but decided instead to intercept the coach on its way back north.

He first called the rider information line to see if the folks at Metro could contact the driver for him. As expected, they said they could not, but they did tell him what time the bus was expected at our stop. Nerd watched Tracker until the bus got close, then went outside to catch it.

After enduring a rather public interrogation from the driver, which involved questions like, “What was in the bag?” and “What color was the pump?” (turquoise, for those who were wondering), my hero returned with an intact pump and couple of bottles of (thankfully) unspoiled milk.

Since that incident (much as it pains me), I have stopped taking my bus chick bag to work. I keep my wallet and phone in my coat pockets and shove an umbrella and the book I’m reading into the duffle with the pump. I feel naked without my bus chick necessities, but I don’t want to risk losing that crucial piece of equipment again, and it’s easier to keep track of one bag. (It’s also a lot easier to find a seat without so much stuff to carry.) And the good news is, I’ll only be schlepping the pump for a few more months.

Now if I can just figure out how to manage Chicklet’s stuff