We recently traveled with Noah, it's not easy. In fact, although I'd like to say that perhaps we gain more skills on how to do it better each time, Noah throws us a new traveling curve ball because he likes to be a tad unpredictable. Just when I think I've found away his take off and landing sensory vomiting episodes with Motion Ease, a Vomit bag, and a bib to best protect his non-FAA approved Car seat (yes I'm a rule breaker for my child), from being covered in a sensory overload evidence, he'll do something he's never done before - just to keep us on our toes I'm sure.
I took Luke to the bathroom at the Orlando International Airport. I
couldn't find a family restroom the best that I tried for Noah. I
refuse to place him on a bathroom dirty floor to change him - I just
can't do it. I can't. So I recline his wheelchair the best I can and
it takes both his Dad and I to change him one lifts the bum, one
switches out the old with the new, one holds him so he doesn't flop out,
one pulls his pants up, one hollers to Luke to just stand there and not
touch anything that isn't sanitary.... you get the idea. It's not
easy, nor a picnic or fun. And it could be so much better if proper Changing Spaces were in place that allowed us to make this easier and
change Noah with some dignity. But until the world catches up with our
needs we're doing the best we can.
While taking Luke to the bathroom I realized that the handicapped
stall in the women's restroom was unusually awesome and rather perfect
for our changing needs for Noah. It was huge. And by huge I mean had
it's own personal sink in it, room to turn around, it probably could
have accommodated two wheelchairs to be honest. It would have made a
decent family bathroom but instead was tucked away inside the women's
public restroom. I went back to Chris who was sitting at a Ruby
Tuesday's table feeding Noah prior to our flight. Told him I found a
bathroom for Noah - but it was inside the women's restroom.
He shook his head in disbelief of what I was proposing. I wanted him
to just waltz in a public women's restroom. He looked at me and said
"are you trying to get me arrested, so we can't go home?" Funny as that
may have been (although I would have put up the bail money if needed), I
was quite serious. He was going in that bathroom and helping me change
our 8 year old wheelchair bound child even if I had to push him the
whole way into that stall. No, wasn't an option.
First I thought, well perhaps I should announce my husband's presence
to all the ladies in there. But then I was like nope. Advanced warning
wasn't needed. We're a family, he's not a bathroom threat to anyone.
Chris, walked behind me like a shrinking violet. I kept telling him to
come on already. He walked like a sloth, dragging his feet in utter
terror. I was somewhat amused with his extreme discomfort about the
situation. And even more amused by the looks we received by other women
in the bathroom. I much didn't care. I was standing my ground and
marching into bathroom battle. Some jaws wide open, some pretending to
look away but then glancing my direction. Little girls not even so much
as thinking twice, because at young tender ages they haven't yet
developed a sense of discrimination or dislike for differences yet.
Chris hustled into hiding into the large disability stall - he stood
against the wall looking at me like he couldn't believe I was forcing
him to do this. I ushered Luke into the stall told him to stay in a
corner with his hands clasped in in from of him and not to touch
anything with germs while we worked on helping Noah. Luke follows
directions as if I put him through military school at age one. I had no
worries that he'd leave his corner germ-free post., which was great
because I could place all my focus on changing Noah with the help of his
Noah's diaper change was a little bit messier than we had anticipated
it would be, which always presents an extra layered challenge trying to
do this while he remains tilted in a wheelchair. It sucks really. I
won't play it up as anything less. But the main goal is not to fumble
our precious Noah onto the floor when we do this. It took a bit longer
to change him, but was really thankful for the sink inside the stall
that certainly helped the situation. Chris did his best to whisper as
if was trying not to give away his location. I laughed under my breath
likely about the challenge of changing Noah in this way and having my
husband backed against a tremendously uncomfortable situation. If you
can't laugh about it all, you'd lose your mind. Laughter is important.
Never fail to laugh about the hard things. I promise you it helps.
After Noah had been taken care of, and Luke was given permission to
come out of his germ free corner, Chris looked at me for direction.
Part of me told him he should march out first just because I wanted to
see everyone's reaction. There isn't much like true shock value of a
guy in a bathroom with his disabled child and family. What fun right?
People need to see more of this - really they do. They need to see how
hard our reality is. Why hide it from everyone? Perhaps if I showed
them enough things would get easier for us? Or not -
But I took one for the team and just told him to follow me out. The
look in his eyes said could you please at least hurry me out? It is
honestly really sad that we've placed so much gender stigma on bathroom
situations. We all have to use one - and we all have different body
parts. So what? I've used plenty of men's bathrooms at events and
concerts back in the day when the women's bathroom was line was to
eternity. And the men were really great about it. Wasn't there picking
up a date (nor am I interested in looking at anything I shouldn't be)- I
just had to pee really badly. Will Noah's daddy ever get over the
shyness? I doubt it. Bless his heart he's just sweet in that way. And
cares a bit too much about what people think. However, I have full
faith in him that if I wasn't around he'd have the courage to go the
distance for Noah and entering a women's bathroom if need be to get to
the only and best changing location for Noah on his own. He could do
it, if the occasion required it. He'd do anything for Noah, that much I
That's why I chuckle whenever I see people have bathroom gender
debates. You all haven't a clue. None, zip, nada. Everyone wants to
view things as black and white, and there are so many shades of grey in
life. We're so quick to judge, point a finger, and increase someone
else's hardships and difficulties that we lack tolerance, patience,
understanding and above all else kindness.
Luckily for all the ladies that were present they didn't utter a
word, although mind you I was ready and most certainly would have put
anyone in their place that dared to question or say something about my
husband entering a women's bathroom to help me with our severely
disabled child. I dared them to do so and shot back glances in the
direction of all those that looked like they even might think about
going there. So the next time ladies that you see a guy in a bathroom -
especially with a young child or one that is disabled. Cut him a
break, not all daddies are entering a bathroom because you think they're
a predator. Just calm down. Do you bathroom business and move on.
And for all of you that continue to remain uncomfortable with the
idea that I'm now forcing Noah's daddy to enter women's restrooms if
need be - then please fully support Changing Spaces worldwide to give us adequate
changing space for Noah, so we don't have to make you feel uneasy about
our situation. Same with the dudes - if I think your bathroom area is
equipped with what I need... I'm going in... wink wink.
Noah's Miracle by Stacy Warden is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.