As a wedding photographer who has shot in 15 countries, flying is a huge part of Kyle Hepp's job. When she gave birth to her first child, Ayla, Kyle never considered quitting her "travel habit" because she knew that she and her baby could adapt together.
As the jet-setting mum prepared for her next adventure, she continued to breastfeed, partly out of convenience, and made plans for their trips to Peru, Panama, Puerto Rico, Cuba, and Mexico. During the first leg of their journey, Kyle was travelling alone with just Ayla and feared what problems they'd be faced with. "For any mum who has travelled solo with a baby, you know how hard it is. Even if your baby is an angel, you simply don't have enough hands," she told POPSUGAR. "Carrying a baby, a diaper bag, pushing her stroller, handling your luggage, getting your passports out, going through security, all with one hand, is not for the faint of heart."
Luckily, the pair didn't have any issues while in Peru and didn't face their first upset until after a red-eye to Fort Lauderdale. "I held my infant in my lap all night long and didn't sleep a wink," she said. "When we touched down at Florida, the line for immigration was crazy long, it was hot and humid in the room, and to my surprise, there was no priority line for families, pregnant ladies, old people, handicapped etc."
Since she didn't get much sleep, Ayla began fussing during the long wait in line, and Kyle didn't think twice about doing what she could to soothe her infant. "I immediately whipped out a boob to calm her and was trying to balance her while also carrying our luggage," she said. "I was too busy juggling to even notice if people were staring, and I was too exhausted and concerned for my exhausted baby to care."
However, a woman did notice, and instead of offering to help this mum who obviously had her hands full, she loudly made an announcement to the line. "There's a woman in line who has her whole boob out, she isn't even 'trying' to cover up. Some people have no decency,'" Kyle recalled. "My heart stopped, my face turned beet red, and my body clenched up, I felt so ashamed, before I remembered that no, what I'm doing is perfectly natural and normal."
When Kyle first gave birth to Ayla, she was so timid about breastfeeding in public that she would have her boyfriend block her from anyone's view while she nursed because her infant hated being covered. "I once walked around a mall while she cried, looking for a breastfeeding room for 20 minutes. I used to avert my gaze if anyone would make eye contact while feeding her because I was so embarrassed," she wrote on Instagram. "But that's no way to live."
Now, Kyle is sick of fighting to feel comfortable and will take her boob out if need be because she doesn't feel the need to "suffocate" her baby when she eats or only feed her in bathroom stalls. "I need to work, and she needs to eat. I need to travel, and she needs to eat. I need to live my life, and she needs to eat," she wrote. "I'm not sorry if seeing that makes other people uncomfortable. If any man or woman feels weird about it, they can go ahead and check themselves and stop sexualizing my boobs, because me? I'm just using them for what they were intended for."