The blood drained from my wearied face, as I stared at my smiling 8 –week-old son, sprawled precariously on the thin change pad barely separating him from the gritty and germ-ridden coffee shop bathroom floor upon which he lay.
Desperate times. Desperate measures.
My little man had just blown through his 5th diaper of the morning.
Through my “work” in the field as a mother and my own countless unfortunate, surprising, and embarrassing moments, I’ve come to an undisputed scientific conclusion:
Newborn babies are conveyor belts.
Nothing goes in without something coming out.
But, the real kicker?
As any parent knows, babies up their game when the stakes are excruciatingly high.
Public outings where finding any semblance of a change table becomes a veritable logistical-nightmare,
lengthy car rides,
and, my personal, much-revisited favourite, that moment when you’re about to put freshly changed Sweet Cheeks down for the night, visions of rest and relaxation dancing in your head.
My sister and I had chosen this particular sunny Saturday morning to venture downtown for our first shopping adventure, my then-two-year-old daughter in tow.
Coincidentally, Prince William, Duchess Kate, and their two children had come to visit our beautiful city on their Canadian tour. The crowd spilled out onto the streets. It was insane. Fanfare, celebration, and electric excitement was in the air.
Armed with idealism and naiveté, we walked amongst the people with a skip in our step. We entered the first store, only to be hit hard within minutes by reality. Unyielding demands from the two-year-old for snacks, toys, and adventures behind sales counters combined with the very real need to feed a new baby, forced us to re-evaluate.
Shopping would have to wait.
We ducked into a popular nearby coffee shop chain and claimed the corner of a communal table for ourselves. We sipped, snacked, and scanned the room.
My eyes immediately met the kind eyes of a woman, busily tending to her own baby. Gentle-faced, warm, and open, she nodded and smiled at me silently signalling her solidary as a fellow mom.
Instantly, I was lurched back to the present by the unmistakable sound of The Blowout.
Clutching my black diaper bag close to my body and my son even tighter, I stood up, and painstakingly wove my way in and out of the bodies crammed in the serpentine queue for caffeine.
After an eternity, I reached tiny bathroom. There was a line up several people deep. When it was finally my turn, I shoved the door open, my eyes searching the room frantically for a change station.
“How is it possible that a busy coffee shop like this doesn’t have a change station?” I thought in frustration as I dug through the bag, retrieving a portable change mat and placing it on the greying, discoloured tile. This would have to do.
I couldn’t help but think how unlikely it would be for Duchess Kate to find herself in such a predicament, as I dug around for the diapers.
My heart stopped.
For a never-ending minute, panic and desperation washed over me in relentless waves.
I envisioned them sitting forgotten on the dark stone counter in my kitchen. In my state of new-mom-exhaustion, I had failed to actually pack them into my diaper bag.
Thankfully, having remembered the wipes, I cleaned my little guy up redressed him, and ventured out diaper-less. A scary, but necessary prospect.
Sheepishly, I made my way over to Solidarity-Mom. I felt stupid and exposed. Shame quickly followed suit. What kind of a mom forgets THE DIAPERS?
Smiling apologetically, I asked her to bail me out.
“Oh my goodness, of course!” She exclaimed with a warm smile, with neither pity nor judgement, but total empathy.
As she held out two diapers in her outstretched hand, I felt so grateful. It felt like she literally saved my life, or at the very least, my dignity.
That night, I couldn’t stop thinking about her. I had to find a way to thank her.
I happen to be part of an outstanding mom’s Facebook group. These women build each other up, share stories without fear of judgement, and mobilize when tragedy strikes. In a world when motherhood can be a minefield of over-commitment, snotty noses, and unrealistic expectations, this group has been a beacon of strength for many.
I posted a short version of the story, exclaiming how impactful that moment had been for me, hoping to “pay it forward.” Numerous moms immediately commented, not only to reassure me that I was not alone in “screwing up”, but hoping we’d connect, becoming friends in the future.
Sure enough, within a few hours, Solidarity-Mom, Abbie, responded:
“That was me and you are more than welcome! By the way, my guy is 8-weeks old, too!”
As luck would have it, our baby boys were coincidentally born on the exact same day. After some back and forth, we made plans to meet up for a walk with some of the moms from the group. We hit it off, and it has become tradition to see each other as much as our packed schedules allow.
Because of the diaper disaster, not only have I gained a friend, but my son has, too.
Sometimes it seems hard not to believe that the universe works in mysterious ways.