Let’s face it: There’s nothing fun about having to change your baby in public. Pulling off a diaper switcheroo when there’s no changing table to be found or the luxury of nearby plumbing in sight is every parent’s nightmare.
Here are the ever-so-joyful things you can expect when you’re out and about with your beloved poop machine:
1. The Panic
You’re out of the house, enjoying the world, engaging with other adults and feeling like you’re nailing this parenting thing when you feel it. Your baby’s bottom is beyond soggy, and there’s something warm making its way down your arm that you really, really hope is sweat but deep down you know isn’t. Unless you want your leggings to get a very limited edition pattern on them, you’re going to have to change this diaper — now.
2. The Peanut Gallery (aka The Unexpected Audience)
It’s hard enough to change the messy diaper of a wriggling baby, but at least when you’re in private you can take a second to pause and collect yourself (or gag, if necessary). When you’re forced to change a baby in public, everyone looks at you. Do you ignore them, pretend you don’t feel them watching your every move like judges at a cheer competition? Or do you narrate what you’re doing for their entertainment, like the star of a cooking show? “Next, I’m going to add a touch of Triple Paste.”
3. Not Remembering ALL THE THINGS
Of course, the day your infant has a massive blowout in public is also the same day you forgot to restock the diaper bag. You’ve got the patient stripped, prepped, and ready to go, and that’s when you realize you’re completely out of wipes. You’re digging through the bag as fast as you can without trying to look like you’re having a panic attack, but deep in your heart you know you used the last of the wipes yesterday to clean up the wreckage of that applesauce pouch. So you keep your head buried in the diaper bag, taking deep breaths and trying not to cry as you frantically look for a receipt or notepad. When a kind stranger approaches you with a fistful of napkins and an understanding smile, you’re tempted to ask, “Are you my guardian angel?”
4. Unsolicited Comments (aka The Judgment)
Just because you’re crouched below eye level doesn’t mean you can’t hear what people are saying about you as they walk by. Their hissed judgments about your parenting skills are ridiculous — as if a “better mom” would somehow magically stop her baby from having a bowel movement in an inconvenient location. The words still sting though, and if it weren’t for the tiny ears on the ground in front of you, you’d be tempted to give them a piece of your mind.
Sometimes an angel appears in the form of another mom, wielding a double stroller to help shield you from view or just a kind word to tell you she’s been there too. Your eyes well up, both from the smell that surrounds you and your gratitude for the experienced help. You’d get up and hug her if you weren’t afraid of smearing her with poop.
5. The Quarantine
You didn’t want to change the baby near the trash cans because your only thought when disaster struck was getting as far away from people as possible. But now that you’ve got a clean baby to carry and a gross pile of nope to dispose of, you realize you’re in a bit of pickle. Can you dash to the trash and back to baby super fast? No, that’s not how the five-second rule works. Okay, think. Finally, you figure out how to hold both baby and the bundle without any cross-contamination (RIP favorite green cardigan) and begin a precariously unbalanced walk of shame toward the dumpster.
6. Intense Dread
This is the joy that just keeps on giving. Sure, you’re proud of yourself for your Survivor-like skills in getting the job done, and when you retell this story to your girlfriends via text later, you’ll be the hero who changed a baby in public using only leaves, sticks, and duct tape. But the truth is this won’t be the last time you find yourself forced to do public diaper duty. Knowing disaster can and probably will strike again is almost enough to make you swear off leaving the house. Until next weekend that is!
The Moral of Our Story
Keep a stash of diapers, diaper cream, wipes, and some extra clothes everywhere. In the diaper bag, for sure, and also…in your car, in the bottom of your big fancy purse, at your mom’s house, at your mother-in-law’s house, in a plastic bag taped under a table at your favorite coffee shop where no one will find it (okay, maybe not that last one, but you get the point!).