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  • Niamh

Stop Hogging The Baby Changing Bathroom

Get ready for another rant. All I seem to do is rant these day, but as a new mum, I’m really getting to see the world with new eyes. I’ve already ranted at length about the parent and child parking space battle that appears to be getting worse not better. Next on my shit list? Its baby changing facilities.

First, I get that not every shopping centre, restaurant, café and public place can have a decent sized, dedicated baby changing bathroom. I realise it takes space and a serious investment to provide this and it’s not always do-able. But when I go somewhere and there is only one baby changing bathroom that has been fused with the wheelchair accessible bathroom, I feel my heart sink. Why? Well invariably I tend to be in there for a while as I grapple with my son’s nappy, dodge the pee spray and deal with an often toxic up-the-back ‘poo-nami’ while trying to make sure he doesn’t roll off the changing table. My point is, I hate to think there is someone outside the door in a wheelchair or with special needs waiting on me, but I’m in there because the world thinks it’s okay to have a multi-tasking bathroom that serves two groups with high needs. Yes I know some bathrooms have a baby changing table tacked onto the wall in a tiny corner, but it’s a complete afterthought that doesn’t give you enough room or privacy to actually change the child, plus the loud noise of the hand dryers scare the crap out of my baby and I don’t want him roaring crying every time I’ve to change him when I’m out somewhere.

Anyway, that’s not really what I’m ranting about, although it does irk me. What I’m sick and tired of is able-bodied people with no kids, hogging this said bathroom. Case in point. I was in small clinic a few months ago visiting someone. Bear in mind, I was only emerging from the newborn crazy-haze and simply getting out of the house with the baby was a real victory for me, so you can imagine how I was feeling about actually doing a solo change with him outside of the house. In fact, this was the first time I’d be doing a nappy change beyond the confines of my house or my parents’ house, and silly as it sounds now, that was a scary prospect for me with a little newborn, bonkers hormones and zero confidence. But needs must and as I was leaving, the baby had to be changed, so I headed for the baby changing facilities in reception.

I got down to reception and followed the signs for the bathrooms and low and behold it was one of these combined wheelchair/baby changing bathrooms. I hated that I had to take up the bathroom, especially in a clinic where there was a higher chance that someone on a crutch or in a wheelchair might need to use it. Of course when I got there it was occupied. So I waited. And waited. And waited. I was pretty sure at least 10 full minutes had gone by and so I did my usual polite attention-maker and coughed. Nothing. I tried again, this time with a little chestiness to it. Still nothing. At this point the baby was getting pretty insistent.

‘I know baba, it won’t be long now I promise,’ I said in my overly loud mammy voice in the hopes that the person the bathroom might think about making an exit sometime this century.

Of course, I was aware I was in a hospital and there could be someone in there who was unwell, there could be another baby in there, although if so, it was the quietest baby I’d ever heard. And let’s not forget, it was the wheelchair accessible bathroom too, so there could be someone in there who needed extra time to get themselves together.

Patience is a virtue, but sadly I’m not really blessed with much of it. And at this point I was getting pretty hacked off.

Then, just when I was about to start banging the door, it opened.

But it wasn’t another mum and baby who greeted me. It wasn’t someone in wheelchair. It wasn’t someone with a crutch. It wasn’t a child with special needs who needed assistance. It was an able-bodied male in his 20s with no child in tow.

To say I was fuming was an understatement. In truth I was ready to blow. But before I could get the words out, he had pushed past me, fly half down, crushed up Hunky Dory’s and Centra bag in one hand, phone in the other, looking wild-eyed with embarrassment, as he tried to hot foot it down the corridor. My mouth opened to begin my tirade of abuse as he practically ran away from me, but I closed it sharpish, as I was nearly knocked down by the smell that exited in his panicked wake.

Clearly, he had decided to go in there on his lunchbreak to take a huge dump and read twitter. Why couldn’t he have gone to the actual gents toilets and had his poop/lunchbreak/twitter-fest in there instead of taking up the only baby changing and wheelchair accessible toilet in the building? Was it ignorance? Apathy? Or that he just didn’t give a shit (literally!) as he sat on the toilet eating his chicken fillet roll and Hunky Dory’s, completely oblivious to the fact that his lunchtime man-cave, was actually both the baby changing bathroom and wheelchair bathroom.

Maybe he had the runs. Maybe he’s shy about pooping in a public bathroom. Maybe he just didn’t think. Frankly, I don’t care which it was. Just don’t do it. If you’re able-bodied and there’s an entire bank of bathrooms cubicles or urinals on offer, don’t think it’s okay to hog the baby changing/wheelchair bathroom. It’s not okay and I’m just sick to death of this indifferent attitude toward parents and their babies. Be it the parent and child parking spaces, the baby changing bathrooms or the lack of decency in even holding a door open for someone struggling with a pram. It’s time we started calling out this bad behaviour out when we see it.

So speak up mammies and daddies, speak up!

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