I was handed a copy of the rules when I arrived and rechecked. Splashing is actually encouraged.
I found myself a spot off to the side of the exhibits where I would still clearly be able to watch my daughter and sat down. I sat there preparing to breastfeed and I noticed an employee that was headed out a back door. She noticed me as well, only for her it seemed like less of an in passing glance at a person minding their own business in a busy room. The look of her face told me that I was in trouble.
Her expression changed when she saw me, she stopped heading out the door and made a bee-line for me and had stopped getting myself comfortable in preparation to feed my son when I saw this very angry looking employee headed to me as fast as it seemed she could. I just stared as she headed right for me.
When she reached me she told me, "You can't do that here." In complete disbelief anyone would say that to me I just stared at her with a look that may have almost made her wonder if I understood English. I was really just that shocked. She repeated, "You can't do that here. We have a nest."
"A nest?", I asked. What on earth was this woman talking about. What does a nest have to do with breast-feeding? Doesn't she know that state law says that I am allowed to breast-feed any public place into which I'm permitted? What was going on!?
She got me to my feet and began telling me how if I needed to breast-feed my son I was going to have to do it in this nest . . . someplace else. I told her I was there with my little girl and that I needed to watch her. She told me to just leave her there to play. Apparently neither of us was doing very well speaking English at each other. I told her once more that I needed to be able to watch my child. She then told me that I was going to have to take her with me into this mysterious nest she wouldn't stop talking about.
"You'll be able to see your daughter from the nest," she said.
Somehow I'd now been brought to my feet and was being hurried in the opposite direction of my daughter and into another room. I passed a few women from my Meetup group standing together and quickly asked the group if they would keep an eye on my daughter saying that I was being told I had to go someplace else. There was really no time for any in depth explanation.
On this perp walk to the nest the woman kept telling me how cozy and how lovely the nest was.
She then directed me to sit down. Still in total shock I sat. I suppose feeling satisfied from keeping me from an act of percieved public indeceny she left me to nurse.
The nest was not cozy.
In fact the rocking chair didn't even look very clean when I saw it.
I felt like I had been treated like a child and placed in time out.
The longer I sat there the more upset I felt.
Because if nothing else I couldn't see my daughter AT ALL.
When I held my phone all the way up to my face this is what it looked like from inside the nest.
I sat uncomfortably, nursing my son, and straining to see if there was any way I could see the daughter I had hurried left in another room.. This is the best you can hope to see when attempting to look through the "branches."
There really was no seeing over it either.
When the forced time-out ended I looked around making sure to take pictures of this deer blind I'd been placed into under duress and in violation of both Ohio state law and my civil rights.
I noticed that "the nest" is placed directly next to the administrative office.
What on earth was I going to do?
I sent a letter. This letter:
Subject: Violation of Ohio Rev. Code Ann. § 3781.55 (2005)
Today in A Hands on Adventure, in Lancaster, Ohio my rights as a breast-feeding mother in this state were violated. I was stopped from publicly nursing my one month old son and ushered into "a nest." It caused a minor scene, I was unable to watch my other child from the location I was placed into under duress, and the entire event has left me upset and uncomfortable.
I was told I could watch my other child, a two year-old from inside the nest and I was not. It was also suggested that I take my child who was fully engrossed in play into "the nest" which would not have accommodated her as well. I could not have been able to get her to stop enjoying herself to wrestle with her in an enclosed space while attempting to breastfeed.
I would appreciate being contacted back about this matter ASAP before I take any further actions about this upsetting violation of my civil rights.
And then I waited.
Part 3 concluding this story will be tomorrows post.