It was cumbersome getting on the plane with the car carrier containing my six-month-old daughter, Katie. We were returning to Kalamazoo from Tampa in February 1978, where we’d enjoyed a week of vacation. Mom and my sister Mary would be flying back separately in a couple days. I was on my own with Katie. We’d made it down to Florida without incident. I was feeling good.
I strapped the car seat into the middle seat and sat by the window with Katie on my lap as the plane filled with sunburned and tanned travelers, along with some suited businessmen like the man in our aisle seat. We’d exchanged good mornings and smiles with him. I’m not prone to plane chatter, so that was all we said.
The stewardesses in their jaunty hats and smartly tailored uniforms soon came through, closing the overhead bins. I began putting Katie into her car seat.
“No, you can’t sit her in there on take-off,” one told me.
“What? That doesn’t make sense,” I said.
“You can’t sit her in there. It’s dangerous. Hold her on your lap.”
“You mean her sitting unrestrained on my lap, is less dangerous than in the seat that’s designed to withstand a car crash?”
“That’s the rules. Hold her on your lap.”
I did. Fuming.
Katie nestled against my chest. I felt my milk rising. I unbuttoned my blouse, unsnapped my nursing bra, and lifted a bare breast out. Katie took the nipple into her mouth. Nope, I wasn’t going to discreetly cover and conceal the feeding.
The stewardess startled when she saw me on her way to the back for take-off. Got any rules against nursing?!—with my mouth clamped shut, I vibed my snarkiest thoughts toward her.
The man on the aisle ducked his head and smiled.
lives in West Michigan. She is nourished by many poets as well as the verdant countryside. Her writing has been published in Heron Tree, 3rd Wednesday, Bear River Review, Peninsula Poets, and elsewhere.