Being a Dad…the best role I've ever had.

One of the benefits of being a Dad is that you are not the Mama. In my case, I don’t breast feed my 12 week old son. For me, that’s a bonus.  For my wife, however, it is both a blessing and a curse. However, before I go on, let me say that is a beautiful thing to witness: that closeness of mother and child. A symbiotic relationship that, until recently, I never fully appreciated.

My late wife was unable to breast feed and it always angered me the attitude that many took toward her for not doing so.

Fast forward fifteen years and my current wife is breast feeding our infant. I totally get why mother’s want to do so: that is a very strong bond and something that is just wonderful to witness. Overall, it’s such a natural and lovely thing…until you go out.

While April has yet to encounter any prejudice or been told to stop, you can see how uncomfortable and just how ill-equipped many places are to handle such things. Places that purport to be family and child friendly. Like a theme park. Busch Gardens Williamsburg, to be specific.

I had recalled seeing several ‘nursing stations’ in the past, but never paid much attention to them. Well, we recently went to Busch Gardens Williamsburg-it is, after all, our favorite amusement/theme park. Big, beautiful, good food and very family friendly.

Except for the nursing stations. 

Elmo land, Sesame Woods or what ever they call the newest kids section is one area where, one would think, there would be nice, accommodating nursing areas. Wrong. They have ONE, little, tiny room with a stool.That’s it. If there’s more than one child who needs feeding, well…mom just has to whip it out and let the child eat.

And that is precisely what happened. 

April was lucky and got the room.  I  am standing outside, waiting. This tall, somewhat thin woman walks up with her infant. Knocks, realizes the room is occupied and turns around and sits on the carrier that she was pushing her child in. Next thing I know, the child is feeding. The woman is sitting there, just smiling and feeding her kid. She did it so fast, I did not realize what she had done.  The woman obviously knew how to discreetly feed her kid. Thing is, she should not have had to do that. (As it turns out, she was a lactation specialist…she and April spoke for a few minutes.)

Now, the other theme park in the Richmond area, Kings Dominion-which, really, is second rate to Busch Gardens-has a really nice BUILDING devoted to the little ones with nearly half of the building devoted to breast feeding Mom’s. It is a decently sized building. A large play area, staffed desk, diaper changing areas, microwave and bottle warmers are available and…five rooms to breast feed. Comfy chairs too.  The difference in the parks, I’m sure, is that there were likely women involved in the Kings Dominion area and men for Busch Gardens. (In fact, we did speak with an employee who suggested that it was, in fact, all men who were in charge.) It is almost enough to me ashamed to be a dude.

However, at least BGW does have them. Most public places do not.  Now, I’m not advocating a law that would require it, however I would think that many business with the room would at least have a small area where a Mom could take care of such things and not make others uncomfortable.

And, I have to wonder, what’s the uncomfortable business about anyway? Most woman can ‘whip it out’ in such a manner that you: don’t see anything and baby just looks like it is using a pacifier (which, I suppose, a nipple is anyway.) I can’t believe I ever worried about it or felt uncomfortable.

Once in awhile, someone will get it and actually talk about it. I recall, recently, an older waitress noticed and just started talking to April about it. It was like it was something that happened all of the time (I don’t think it is in that particular place) and it was as if she knew my wife for years. That was the first time they ever saw each other. 

Males are the worst at hiding it. Some will act like nothing is going on and make sure they direct their attention at me while others will discreetly stare or, at least, appear to look my wife in the eye. I know they are angling for a glimpse…horn dogs.

I have to admit…when she first started, I was very aware and a little embarrassed. I got over it quickly. I don’t care where she feeds Xander now.  It is a natural and wonderful thing.  People just need to get over it.

Seriously.

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Comments on: "Busch Gardens Williamsburg…not putting its breast foot forward (here’s a hint…they need women in charge)" (11)

  1. chris schwsrtz said:

    In response to they need a woman incharge. Seaworld entertainment the owners of BGW does have a female on the board of directors Judith A. McHale.

    • Sorry, but that’s not what I meant. I was referring to someone making the day to day decisions about running the park and what amenities go in and how. Yes, I am being a bit sexist when I say that a man, likely, would either not consider such things as nursing stations to be that big of a deal OR even consider them. Women, especially mothers, would. Carmax is another company that took into account the female buyer…mainly due to them actually involving mothers in the design of the showrooms.

  2. I actually contacted BG about their lack of areas for Bfing and how they have designated a spot in a BATHROOM for feeding babies. I have yet to hear back from them

    • You won’t. But you may get a lot of people defending them, like I did on Facebook.
      It’s preposterous from a company that is ‘family friendly’.

      • VERY VERY true. People were defending them tooth and nail. ON the flip side, I went to Kings Dominion this past weekend. They have a CLEAN Beautiful NEw and amazing Child Care facility for feeding, nursing, pumping and for children to de-stimulate. They bent over backwards to be there for me. (I had to pump and my son was 4 hours away). They kept my milk in the fridge, they had a room set aside for me and were amazing!! BG has a lot to learn from them. We will not be renewing our season passes to BG, but I fully attend to buy them for a true family friendly theme park.

      • It is ashame BG does not do more. In every other way, it is a better park. Glad you had a similar experience as we did at KD.

  3. maureen said:

    Email I received today so it looks like they are going in the right direction.

    Dear Ms. C :

    Thank you for your interest in Busch Gardens Williamsburg. We do offer multiple locations through out the park for nursing mother. The following locations have stations or a station to let you nurse:

    · Sesame Street Forest of Fun: we have a companion bathroom that is made for feeding

    · New France rest rooms: there is a brand new bathroom built by the Caribou Train Station that has a room dedicated to feeding

    · Land of the Dragons: our lost children area has two rooms dedicated to feeding

    · Octoberfest festhaus: our newly renovated restrooms include a private room for feeding

    · First aid station: first aid will allow nusing mothers to use their beds and facilities for feeding

    We are getting there with our enhancements to our nusing stations.

    Thanks again for visiting our website. Should you require additional information, please contact our Customer Information & Sales Center at 1-800-343-7946.

    Sincerely,

    Anna

    Busch Gardens Williamsburg

    Guest Correspondence Team

    • Yes, they appear to have listened, but… In bathrooms? They could do so much better. I don’t know about you, but I wouldn’t want to eat in the bathroom.

  4. 7/16/15 I read this blog and the other one linked above before coming to BGW today and was very concerned. Today around noon I used the nursing room in Sesame Street. It was unoccupied first try. There was a glider in there, sink, paper towels, hand dryer and changing station. Worked well. As we were finishing up there was a tug at the door and that familiar hungry cry outside so we got out and finished packing up outside.

    Later on I used the restroom at Oktoberfest and wanted to peak in but that one was occupied at the time. It is a private room with a frosted glass door in middle of women’s restroom.

    We had brought a bottle for last feeding but forgot a nipple (rookie mistake, baby 10 weeks old). We asked if anyplace sold bottles and we were told Sesame Street. Turns out they were sold out of nipples so I had to feed a second time.

    Second time at the nursing room in France. Chair had a vinyl like texture, sink, hand dryer, changing station (no paper towels).

    Both places I used were totally private, locked door, felt comfortable and this was my first time nursing outside of a home environment.

    • Sounds like they have stepped things up a bit. We have not been this year, but may get there by October (no season pass this year.) Glad your experience was different and nice to see they seemed to have improved.

      Thank you for visiting my blog and taking time to comment.

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