On Feb. 17, I was shopping at the Monadnock Food Co-op with my 4-month-old baby strapped to my chest. My baby started to fuss and I pulled my mask down to talk to him.

Babies need to be able to recognize their mother’s facial features and expressions. It is extremely dehumanizing for a baby to look at their mother’s face and not be able to recognize her.

An employee saw me pull my mask down and immediately told me to pull it back up over my nose. I complied and walked away. This employee continued to follow me around the store and harass me every time I pulled my mask down to communicate with my baby. I explained that I was talking to my baby and he needed to be able to see my face.

The situation escalated and she was adamant in her harassment. I told her I would leave the store. The confrontation made my nervous system activate into fight or flight, and as someone with CPTSD, it was extremely triggering and I started to shake and panic.

As I was walking to the register to check out, I pulled my mask off, as I have a history of panic attacks and I needed to focus on my breath. As I was loading my items onto the register, the manager told me I would not be able to make a purchase. The cashier continued to ring me up regardless.

As I was loading up my vehicle, two police offers showed up. The officer was pleasant and compassionate. He could see that I was shaking and that talking to me was exasperating my nerves. I explained to him that I will never be returning to this business.

Is traumatizing a new mother the way this business wants to handle these types of situations? Is calling law enforcement truly necessary when it was clear that I was leaving the premises?

Is the Monadnock Co-op training its employees to be modern-day Gestapo? Are people with autism, PTSD, severe asthma, deaf or hard of hearing not allowed to shop in person at the Co-op? Are we being discriminated against because we are not capable of covering our faces for extended amounts of time?

I find it ironic, since the Co-op had a mural on its wall that stated “All Are Welcome Here.” Obviously, this is a blatant lie.

KIRSTEN ANDERSON

Walpole