It seems like every time I go out these days, I get stuck having to do a public diaper change. I try to reserve diaper changes for the car, but my baby seems dead set on forcing me to change her in the store or restaurant by choosing opportune moments to explode her diapers.
After many, many, many trips to the public changing station, I’ve come to one conclusion: The people who decide where to put the changing stations have never changed diapers in public before. There are seem to be five different public changing station scenarios and all of them seem to create a comedy of errors.
Scenario No. 1: There is no changing station, the baby is poopy, you are at a restaurant and your car is parked five blocks away. What on earth are you supposed to do? I’ve changed many a diaper on the floor, blocking the main entrance to the bathroom and causing people to laugh at my inconvenience while I feel absolutely disgusting touching the bathroom floor.
My husband encounters this phenomenon more often than I do. It’s 2010 and in a lot of places they are still only putting the changing station in the women’s room. I find this absolutely infuriating.
Scenario No. 2: There is a changing station, which is definitely a step up, but the changing station blocks all the bathroom stalls. People keep coming in and the first thing they see and smell is your baby’s poopy bottom. They have to turn sideways to shimmy past you to get to the stalls. You apologize profusely, as if it is somehow your fault the changing station is so poorly situated. Perhaps you should have prevented the baby from pooping to prevent their inconvenience? No one ever complains to you about your blockage of the restroom traffic, but you can’t help but feel badly about it.
Scenario No. 3: The changing station might not block traffic, but it’s set up way too close to the automatic hand dryer. While you are trying to change your baby, your elbow keeps setting off the hand dryer. You curse and try to reposition yourself, but every time you wipe or reach for a diaper the hand dryer goes off again. Every time the hand dryer goes off, the baby starts to cry because the noise is so startling.
If the hand dryer isn’t by your elbow, people are using it inches from your baby’s head. Whatever the case I now hate automatic hand dryers and think they should die.
Scenario No. 4: The changing station is on a counter attached to an automatic sink. This seems nice, but sometimes the counter gets splattered and is wet when you go to lie the baby down. You put your diaper bag down next to the sink and it tips over into the sink. You don’t lunge to catch it thinking it wouldn’t hurt for your bag to rest against the sink, but what you failed to realize is the sink is automatic. The bag is instantly drenched. Between this, the automatic hand dryer and the terror my potty training 3 year old exhibits when confronted with an automatic toilet flusher, I think automatic bathroom stuff should be outlawed! Forget germ avoidance!
Scenario No. 5: The changing station is in the handicapped stall. This is in a lot of ways the best case scenario, but of course there is always the possibility that a disabled person actually needs to use the restroom while you are changing the diaper. And we all know that diaper changes take forever! I once came out of the handicapped stall after a particularly long diaper change to find someone who appeared to be in a great deal of pain had been waiting for my stall for who knows how long. I felt so guilty for hogging the stall so long.
I’m to the point where I want to find the bathroom designers and hand them my kids so THEY can deal with their poor set-ups. I’m not sure what the solution is except perhaps making these bathrooms bigger and better equipped. Surely there has to be a better way!
Jenica Chung is a stay at home mom and unemployed journalist. She blogs over at Kids Play the Darndest Things, a reader submission toy humor blog that shows the funny and creative things kids do while playing.