First off, let me just express the deepest of condolences for the father-in-law who saw something so traumatizing, we can only offer him thoughts and prayers: a mother fed her child in his living room.
Here's the full story for those of you brave enough to handle the boob talk:
I didn't think I was the a-hole, but now I'm not so sure. My husbands family doesn't celebrate Christmas, so mid December we spend a week with them before flying to see my parents (whom are Christmas mad) to spend the holidays with them.
I didn't really want to go this year as my husband and I had our son in August and they're very pushy with their ideals. They're the type of people who tell us their babies were talking at crawling at three months old, and because ours isn't we're obviously doing something wrong.
My FIL has made a few comments in the past about me feeding our baby - he has had formula occasionally due to supply issues and he's very 'just pick one' about it. Before we went over he called my husband to tell me he didn't want me nursing in any 'family spaces' because it made him uncomfortable. Ie, I have to nurse in the bathroom or guest bedroom.
Bathroom? Good lord.
I agreed just because I didn't want the judgement, but when I got there they asked me repeatedly why I 'bothered to breastfeed' when he obviously likes formula. I was upset but once again let it go and my husband had a word with them. So, I was already uncomfortable, and my baby was hungry. Constantly going upstairs was getting frustrating.
Yeah, it's almost as if babies need to eat all the time or something?
My MIL and husband were smoking outside and my FIL was cleaning up the kitchen. I decided to feed my son where I sat as none of them were present. My FIL happened to walk back in the room and kind of groaned and asked me what I was doing before leaving to complain.
My MIL came back in and yelled at me for breaking the house rules and doing something that I knew would make other people uncomfortable. Called me selfish, asked how I'd feel if they walked around naked, etc. I was pretty upset and my husband did his best to mitigate the situation.
Serious question: does MIL know what 'selfish' means?
I called my mom sobbing and she offered to pay for my and my son's flight to them, but refused to pay for my husband as it was his parents at fault (and, from her perspective, he didn't do enough to support me).
I like this mom!
I ended up taking the offer because I felt horrible. Obviously this has made the situation worse, but my husband isn't overly angry. He has told me I shouldn't of broken their rules, which feels childish.
I thought I was in the right, and they were being a-holes, but then my dad said they had a point and a right to be angry as it was their house and they laid down the rules. My mom told him to quit playing devil's advocate but now I'm really not sure. So, AITA (Am I the a-hole)?
Reddit ruled mostly NTA (not the a-hole) but there were plenty of exceptions:
NTA. Sooo NTA. If I’d have been there, I’d have jumped in to defend you. You were totally in the right and I’m disgusted that your baby’s own grandparents made you feel this way.
I’d not let them see the baby for the duration of your breastfeeding - maybe that’ll teach them to not be such a^%eholes and to not judge you, and not to impose their stupid rules on you. Your baby needing food comes before their misplaced discomfort. Your mother sounds wonderful. I love everything she said. And your husband is a tool.
Breastfeeding isn’t about you, it’s about the baby. It’s incredibly natural and healthy and beautiful. The problem really is your husband. He should have never agreed to these conditions.
At this age my baby was eating constantly. If you’re being forced to hide in a back room for hours to FEED your child, then the answer should be no: “sorry mom and dad, your conditions are unreasonable so we won’t be able to visit any time soon. Hope you like the pictures.”
But not everyone agreed, like Full_Traffic_3148:
No because anyone with any dignity thinks to themselves that they wouldn't want to be exposed to all and sundry. And to not think of covering up when family have clearly stated they find the breastfeeding exposure uncomfortable was clearly doing this to provoke them and create an issue. No one needs to breastfeed and not be covered up.
So you couldn't have ran upstairs? I don't really want to judge you for it, because you should be able to do it when you want, but they did ask you not to do it in family areas and your on a site asking to be judged. I know hungry kids are a pain, but running into another room is generally not an issue.
And OP replied:
Well, I guess not. But sitting alone in silence for hours, not eating or drinking for that period (and then having to dash and drink and snack while they stare because we aren't allowed food upstairs) and, usually, he gets hungry while I'm eating.
This meant every meal time I'd have to leave my food on the dining table and go feed my son, then eat my cold food alone because they'd already finished and moved on to other things. It's their house, yeah, but it was horrible and I just wanted a break.
Your husband seriously failed you in this situation. He should be ashamed of himself.
ESH (Everyone sucks here) - their house their rules. You don’t like the rules (which I totally understand, they don’t sound like the nicest people) then you don’t agree to them. You don’t just break them after agreeing and then act like you didn’t know that was going to happen.
cowleidoscope points out:
I was actually ready to say YTA (you're the a-hole) because despite believing you should be allowed to breastfeed wherever, it's their house, their rules, and agreeing then blatantly disregarding them is a d*ck move no matter what.
However, you were following the rules and it sounds like no one was around and while they did say 'not in the family space' it seems very much a spirit of the rule type of situation which I would also take to mean 'not around us'.
What you did was definitely following the spirit of the rule and I can imagine not wanting to go back to your room every few minutes if you're dealing with a fussy baby. So for me, definitely NTA.
Breastfeeding wasn't necessarily the issue here - it was about following rules! Sound off in the comments if you agree, or if you think some rules ought to be broken.