***BLOGGER UPDATE: I received a response from Gia Lai. Please click here to read it. Both sides of the story are important!
I have accepted Gia Lai’s apology and consider the matter to be closed. In my blog posts, the comments section, and on social media, I have said all I feel needs to be said on this matter. I understand there may be further opinions expressed in both support and disagreement, but I will no longer be replying to comments. ***
So, this is not your typical restaurant post. And this is absolutely not what I wanted my first real post about being a mom to be about. But, I have to share what happened to Jeffrey and me last night at Gia Lai in Legacy Village.
After finishing my dinner, I needed to breastfeed Jeffrey. I moved to an unoccupied back booth (which had extra napkins, silverware, etc. to make up for other tables, so it wasn’t going to be used for patrons), put on my nursing cover, and started feeding him. While breastfeeding while out can be a challenge with wiggly babies and trying to keep everything discreet, everything was going remarkably well.
I was soon approached by the bartender, who said, “Can I help you?” When I explained that I was nursing, she turned and walked away without saying anything. A few minutes later, a member of the kitchen staff came out and said that this table was “the silverware table.” I’m still trying to figure how someone from the back of the house even knew I was at that table.
I explained that I was nursing and was trying to be as discreet as possible. He kept standing there, so I asked if I needed to leave. The closest patrons to the table even told him that I wasn’t bothering them, but to no avail. He said yes and walked away.
I was shocked and embarrassed. I stopped nursing (cue hysterical crying from Jeffrey…how would you feel having food ripped out of your mouth?) and immediately left, leaving my Mom to pay the bill and try to sort out what happened. I wandered down Legacy Village with my nursing cover still on and a sobbing baby…I was quite the sight! In the moment, I just wanted to get to a more comfortable spot, so I didn’t even think about protesting my eviction.
Luckily, Lilly Pulitzer, where I had been earlier in the evening, was gracious enough to provide a fitting room and be nothing short of completely wonderful and hospitable. “We love moms,” they explained.
When I caught up with Mom, she said that the bartender who first approached me was the manager on duty, but offered no explanation or accommodation, simply saying she would talk to the employee and that she wasn’t in charge. I have contact information for the manager who was not there and have sent an email to him. I’ll certainly update with his response.
Since Jeffrey has been born, I’ve taken him all over the place from Market Garden Brewery to Townhall to the Taste of Tremont. Up until last night, everywhere we’ve gone has been welcoming and comfortable. As important as it is to know where are “baby friendly” places, I can honestly say that everywhere we’ve been except Gia Lai is baby friendly.
The irony is that if GIa Lai was trying to avoid any sort of embarrassment or scene, what was more likely to cause that? A woman quietly and discreetly breastfeeding in a back booth? Or said woman having to stop nursing and leave the restaurant with a sobbing baby? Even if you don’t respect breastfeeding or the moms that do it, I would think the path of least resistance would have been the better choice.
I want to pass on my story, so hopefully other moms can avoid a similar experience. Hat tip to Amanda for passing along the links to where you can post reviews and comments about Gia Lai: http://www.opentable.com/gia-lai
If this all seems wrong to you, let Gia Lai know with your comments and your dollars. Similarly, let Lilly Pulitzer feel the love for being so great and open! And thank you for all the supportive comments and tweets!
Breastfeeding is tough. It’s a commitment. While Jeffrey sometimes takes a bottle of breast milk, I prefer to directly breastfeed when I can. It’s better for him and for me (I’ll spare you all the details for those unfamiliar). I was just getting to a point of feeling comfortable breastfeeding in public. I stopped making sure my outings were scheduled to avoid feeding times or running to the car to breastfeed. I was never ashamed of breastfeeding, but I was worried about other people reacting badly. Then I told myself I was just being silly; that anyone I would encounter would understand and respect breastfeeding. And then I found out I was wrong.
I never want Jeffrey to be the object of derision. I know this is unrealistic, but at 8 weeks old, I can still make that happen. I can protect him. And last night, I was unable to protect him from other people’s ignorance and meanness. He doesn’t know it, but I do.