On Wednesday, Isabelle Ames posted a photo of a handwritten note on Instagram. She received the note from a waitress named Erica during breakfast at Snooze, An A.M. Eatery in Gilbert, Arizona. She shared her emotional experience at the restaurant in the caption.
Ames has a 10-month-old daughter named Charlotte. That morning, she said she was struggling to “wrangle” her active baby and get just a sip of her coffee. Charlotte was hungry, so she started nursing her ― a task that had become difficult for the mom.
“She has a total of 6 teeth now, and we have both been sick for a week,” Ames wrote. “When she finished, my server came over and said, ‘this pancake is from me, to you. Here is a little note to explain why.’ She then began to tell me how ‘us mommas gotta look out for each other.’”
The note said, “Thank you for breastfeeding here! Much love and respect!!!”
Ames wrote that she burst into tears and gave Erica a hug. The mom explained why the interaction was so meaningful in the caption.
“Breastfeeding is one of the hardest things I have done, next to labor,” she wrote. “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.”
After giving birth to Charlotte, Ames could only pump breast milk for the first two weeks due to latch problems, which made her feel “brokenhearted.” For the following month, she could only nurse with a nipple shield, but then finally the baby really latched for the first time, and she could feed her without help. Ames said she cried tears of joy.
“Even at 10 months old, it is still hard some days, without even talking about breastfeeding,” she wrote. “I haven’t slept in days because she is sick. I am beyond exhausted. Yesterday I got so frustrated I screamed fifty curse words into a pillow,” she added, describing this reality as #momlife.
Hearing recognition and gratitude from a complete stranger gave Ames a sense of empowerment.
“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,” she wrote. “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.”
The mom concluded her post by thanking her fellow parent, Erica, and evoking the hashtags #normalizebreastfeeding #lovewins.
Ames told The Huffington Post she wanted to share her story because it was such a positive experience. “You oftentimes hear about mostly negative experiences related to breastfeeding in public,” she said. “I had seen videos of women being harassed and it scared me at times and made me recognize that it could be a very real possibility for me one day.”
Although Ames often breastfeeds her baby in public (with and without a cover), she said she’s never been harassed or received negative comments. “I have been stared at, and some people seem annoyed,” she said. “But I just ignore them and look down at my beautiful baby.”
The mom believes her experience was not only a simple act of kindness but also an example of a step in the right direction toward broader acceptance of breastfeeding in public. “I also wanted to share my story because it was an experience that shows support among mothers and support for breastfeeding ― both of which rarely receive enough encouragement,” she said.
Ames hopes her story raises awareness of the difficulties many breastfeeding women face ― from physical challenges to public outcry ― and demonstrates the power of kindness and support.
“I hope this encourages people to understand that being a parent is hard at times, whether you are the mother or father, whether you are breastfeeding or formula feeding,” she said. “Spread love and respect. It takes something so small, like a pancake, to make someone’s day.”