While out to breakfast one day, Isabelle Ames did something that some might consider shocking: she started breastfeeding her baby in full view of the restaurant’s other patrons. And while the mom juggled a ten-month-old and her breakfast, that task turned into a struggle. After a waitress sensed a potentially uncomfortable situation, though, she handed Isabelle a note. And when Isabelle read it, she started to cry.
Isabelle describes herself on Instagram as simply “wife to Alexander” and “momma to Charlotte.” The new mom has also admitted on the social media site that she had struggled to breastfeed her daughter since the day that she was born. For weeks after she gave birth, in fact, she was unable to get her daughter to latch.
For many new moms, it’s a personal choice as to whether they breastfeed or not. Some want to, in order to form a strong bond with their babies; others choose not to at all. However, for those who want to but whose babies refuse – like Isabelle – it can be heartbreaking.
“Breastfeeding is one of the hardest things I have done, next to labor,” Isabelle has confessed on Instagram. “No one prepares you for it, but everyone expects you to be excellent at it. You feel like a complete failure when it doesn’t happen right away.”
“For the first two weeks after Charlotte was born, I could only pump and cry because I was so brokenhearted that I couldn’t get her to latch,” Isabelle added. “Then for the next four weeks, I could only breastfeed with a nipple shield. It was better than pumping but still not the same.”
Nevertheless, Isabelle continued to try. Then, around a month and a half in, she had a breakthrough. “It was not until about six weeks after she was born that she latched for [the] first time and I was able to successfully breastfeed,” she wrote. Her persistence had paid off.
Understandably, that was an emotional moment for Isabelle. Indeed, on Instagram, she revealed that at that moment, she “cried tears of relief and ecstatic joy.” However, despite the progress, breastfeeding her newborn would continue to be problematic. And almost a year later, the process would remain a difficult one.
Meanwhile, in late February 2017, Charlotte had gotten sick. And while caring for her poorly infant, Isabelle wasn’t sleeping well. Add that to the daily stresses of being a mom, and it’s no surprise that she was exhausted and irritable at the time. Isabelle would even go on to admit, “Yesterday I got so frustrated I screamed 50 curse words into a pillow.”
However, Isabelle takes such frustrations in her #momlife stride, and she went about her business as usual. One day, that would include breakfast with her family at a local Snooze restaurant in Gilbert, Arizona. And when Charlotte got hungry, Isabelle naturally started to breastfeed her.
The situation, however, was a tricky one. There Isabelle was, trying to juggle her lively ten-month-old and her own breakfast, all while exhausted and trying to shake off an illness. It was a situation not improved by the fact that Charlotte was teething. In fact, a total of six teeth had broken through.
What’s more, breastfeeding in public can be hard enough even when a mother is having a good day. It can draw uncomfortable glances from those nearby or inspire disapproving comments; some moms have stories of being told to cover up or, worse still, to leave. Watching Isabelle’s struggle, though, was her waitress, Erica Chambers.
Perhaps Erica could sense discomfort from the other diners. Whatever she felt, though, it inspired her to write Isabelle a note. And when Isabelle read what her server had written, she began to cry. For Erica, moreover, seeing what Isabelle had been doing was a very personal issue.
Erica wrote, “Thank you for breastfeeding here! Much love and respect!!!” Reading these few words had overwhelmed Isabelle with emotion. In fact, she promptly gave Erica a hug. As Isabelle recalled to Fox 10, “She just told me we have to support each other and have each other’s backs.”
What’s more, Erica is entitled as a restaurant staff member to gift three complimentary pancakes each day to customers of her choice, whether for birthdays or anniversaries or any other celebratory situation. When she saw Isabelle breastfeeding her daughter, though, the public display touched Erica, and she gave Isabelle a pancake along with the note.
Telling Fox 10 about the note, Erica said, “I just wanted to pat another mom on the back.” The waitress knows firsthand how difficult nursing a child can be, particularly in public. With an infant of her own, she too has experienced hostility while breastfeeding in public.
“I’ve been asked to leave establishments or to cover up,” Erica explained to Fox 10. “There’s nothing wrong with breastfeeding your child in public. All kids need to eat. We all need to eat, and there’s no difference between someone sitting down here and giving their child a bottle or someone sitting down breastfeeding their child.”
However, for some there is a taboo surrounding breastfeeding. A common complaint is that the practice is deemed “indecent” and should take place out of public sight. Some people even believe that breastfeeding in public is illegal.
In 49 states, however, breastfeeding is every woman’s right, wherever she is – be it in public or in private. Due to the oversexualization of women’s bodies, though, the natural function of breasts can often be forgotten. They are designed to provide food for babies, of course.
And Erica’s note had a huge impact on Isabelle and provided some much-needed positive reinforcement. “I’ve been so worried throughout my breastfeeding experience that someone would have a negative reaction and come up to me,” Isabelle told Fox 10. “So, to have a positive reaction and have that face-to-face was really cool.”
“I felt like she was there on my journey the whole time, and she knew how many times I wanted to give up but I didn’t,” Isabelle wrote on Instagram. “So often, before I feed Charlotte in public, I get a twinge of fear. ‘Okay, this is the time. Someone is going to harass me. They are going to yell at me. Someone is going to tell me I can’t do this here.’ But not today. Today, I got love, respect and a free pancake. Thank you to my fellow momma, Erica.”