One of my best friends, who I met at University, is shortly getting married. I am one of her bridesmaids, along with our other Uni friends and her sister. Today was her hen night. The plan was to have afternoon tea at the Athenaeum hotel on Picadilly. This is a 5-star London hotel, just along the road from the notorious Ritz. Initially I declined as I was worried about taking the baby and upsetting the other well-heeled customers with her crying. But, as bridesmaid I really felt I should, and if I went, then baby went. Eventually one of my friends cajoled me into going. Since then I have been worrying that we may be refused entry or that breastfeeding could be a problem. I couldn't have been more wrong.
I travelled to London on the train, a long boring 2 hour journey. Halfway there baby began to cry. I am happy to say that I just turned my shoulders slightly towards the wall to preserve my dignity, latched her on uncovered and fed her. I was all nonchalent. OK, there wasn't anybody sat next to me, but it was still quite a busy train.
On arriving in London I walked from Victoria to the beautiful Athenaeum hotel, with it's lovely foliage covered frontage. My heart fluttered a little as we were greeted by a waitress. What if she threw us out, or argued? I certainly didn't want to make a scene on my friend's special day. However, the waitress simply smiled and said 'Oh, a little one, how lovely!'. I beamed and we went and joined our friends at our table. The baby was immediately borrowed by the mother of the bride to be and she was stripped out of her coat and declared lovely by all of the hen party. However, on beginning the game of pass the baby (when the music stops, whoever has her has to keep her :D) she began to put up a protest. I grabbed a scarf feeling that decency was probably a good idea, latched her on and proceeded to drink my champagne (only one glass of course). Many tasty crustless sandwiches followed, then cream teas with the most delicious jam. Completely stuffed, we were then presented with plates of beautiful little cakes. During this time the baby was passed around several times and had three bouts of breastfeeding. The staff were amazing and did not react in any way to my breastfeeding.
It was truly a wonderful afternoon and I felt completely at ease. My friend was beautiful as ever and appeared to have a great time. As she, and the rest of the party, went on to have cocktails, another friend and I left to catch our trains home. I must take a moment to praise a kind man on the tube. I jumped on a packed train with baby in a carrier on my front. Most of the commuters continued their careful stares at the floor. He immediately offered me his seat even though he wasn't in one of those priority ones. So, kind, ginger haired man on the Victoria line, should you ever read this, thank you again.
I now sit, typing this on my way home on the train. I have plenty of time having caught one of those extra slow trains that stop at every tiny village station. I am feeling proud of myself for my breastfeeding exploits today. Busy train and top London hotel and still only positive responses, just the way it should be. Baby is currently quietly feeding, having been the only thing that has made the two paddle boat/steam train enthusiasts sat on the other side of the aisle from me stumble in their conversation. However they quickly continued unperturbed. Occupants on this train have definitely seen my pasty flesh, but I am totally unworried by this, and if anything, just a bit dozy. Maybe a little sleep with my little girl...
(Photo borrowed from tripadvisor)