It’s not that hard: a nursing mom’s dilemma

So, next week I am scheduled to attend a one-day conference not far from home.  When I registered, there was a section about special needs.  I filled it out to indicate that I will need a nursing mother’s room in which to pump.  The conference is from 9am to 5pm, with a two hour drive before and after it.  I will need to pump at least once.

So, today I get an email from the conference organizer, CCing the Director of Catering and Convention Services who, I’m told, “has a suitable room on the third floor of the hotel.”  And whom I should contact directly for specifics.

Below is our exchange.

___________________________________

3:34pm

To:  Director of Convention Services

From: Momma, PhD

Hi Director Woman-

I will be attending the [Conference Name] event next week and will need a private space in which to pump (I’m a nursing mom).

[Conference Organizer Woman] suggested I contact you directly for the details.

Thanks very much for your accommodations.

Momma, PhD

________________________________________

4:01pm

From: Director of Conference Services

To:  Momma, PhD

Hi Momma, PhD, I did speak to [Conference Organizer Woman]. We have a large REST ROOM* with a comfortable chair on our third floor. It is private and the door locks. I will be in at 8am on the 3rd. Feel free to ask for me and I can show you the space.

Regards, Director Woman

(*emphasis mine, as in, she wants me to pump milk in a place designed for people to urinate and deficate, and then feed it to my baby.  Is this the space that Federal Law requires them to provide?  Certainly it mustn’t be since that law specifies it can’t be a bathroom.)

______________________________________

4:05pm

To:  Director of Convention Services

From: Momma, PhD

I thank you for your effort, however, a bathroom isn’t going to work.  Is there a guest room I could pop into, or even a conference room with a lock?  Pumping milk in a bathroom isn’t really sanitary.

________________________________________

4:18pm

From: Director of Conference Services

To:  Momma, PhD

The meeting space is committed. What times will you need so I can come up with another solution.

______________________________________

4:24pm

To:  Director of Convention Services

From: Momma, PhD

The lunch break is from 11am to 1pm.  Assuming things will run over (as they always do), a 30min period sometime between 11:30am and 1pm would suffice.

In the past, venues have just given me access to a guest room (at hotels) or the employee nursing mother’s room.

Does the [large hotel] not have a nursing mother’s room available for employees?  That would work.

________________________________________

4:22pm,

From: Director of Conference Services

To:  Momma, PhD

I just spoke to our reservationist we are trying to work out half of a parlor suite. Please stand by.

________________________________________

4:28pm

From: Director of Conference Services

To:  Momma, PhD

We will certainly make a reasonable effort to accommodate your needs.* I am not sure if you had seen my last email.

(*Emphasis mine.  Where I come from, this translates as:  “You are a pain in the @ss and I’ve already exerted a tremendous amount of effort to deal with your unreasonable demands, so kiss my behind.”)

______________________________________

4:31pm

To:  Director of Convention Services

From: Momma, PhD

Well, if you cannot accommodate me, please let me know because it will mean I am unable to attend.*

(*Where I come from this translates as, “Give me a flipping break.  You are a HOTEL, full of rooms.  Check out is at noon.  Check in is at 3pm.  I need a room for a whopping 30 minutes anytime between between 11:30am and 1pm.  If I do not pump, my boobs will explode.  Federal law says you should have a room that fits my needs.  Figure it the f^$k out.”)

________________________________________

4:32pm

From: Director of Conference Services

To:  Momma, PhD

I am sure we can, I just need to make sure we have an available guest room. Honestly I am not trying to be difficult.*

(*Emphasis is mine.  Heads up- if you are in a customer service profession and have to say this to a customer in need of service, you are not doing your job well)

________________________________________

4:57pm

From: Director of Conference Services

To:  Momma, PhD

I will have a room for you but will have to let you know where it is the day of event. The hotel is going into a sold out situation and knowing you wont need the room first thing when you arrive is great information to have.

We will certainly work this out. You can ask for me when you arrive and I will get you to the right place.

________________________________________

5:03pm

To:  Director of Convention Services

From: Momma, PhD

OK.  Thanks.  I appreciate your efforts.  This is my second kid, and I’ve done this for many conferences, and never had it be such a problem for the venue.*

(*Emphasis mine.  Where I come from this translates as, “You are bad at your job and even though you are helping me, I’m still pissed off by your ineptitude.”)

________________________________________

5:06pm

From: Director of Conference Services

To:  Momma, PhD

The issue is we are very busy. Which is good! [insert smiley face emoticon here]

________________________________________

That was the exchange.  How do you respond to a smiley face emoticon?  Is that standard operating procedure for a Director of Convention Services?

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2 Comments

Filed under #scimom, breastfeeding, Mother, Scientist

2 responses to “It’s not that hard: a nursing mom’s dilemma

  1. I nursed for a while and was surprised at how difficult it could be in hotels and at venues that weren’t my office. It’s a commitment. Kudos to you for sticking it out!

  2. Katie H.

    This one gave me a chuckle as it reminded me of a time when a coworker and I (who both needed to pump) spent our thirty minutes in a large supply closet facing opposite walls because it was the most convenient spot they had available at that particular conference. They were very kind about it, but we were definitely amused.

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