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Parades, Planes and Road Trips: Awkward Diaper Changes

By Charlene O'Hanlon

Being the parent of a toddler and a teenager, I have had my share of awkward parenting experiences - a diaper change in the middle of a somewhat formal dinner; a whole baggie of cereal thrown into an indoor fountain "to feed the ducks"; my youngest taking the hand of a stranger's child and deciding she was coming home with us to play ... the list goes on.

But perhaps the most awkward situations, especially as a new parent, were the diaper-changing sessions that were, shall we say, less than ideal. Whether it was location, equipment or just plain lack of planning, some of my past diaper changes make me cringe today (or laugh out loud, depending on my mood).

Without further ado, here are a few of my most memorable awkward diaper changes:

On a cross-country flight: While most, if not all, airplanes have diaper-changing facilities in the restrooms, the drop-down table seems flimsy and, frankly, not very safe to change a calm baby, let alone a fussy or active one. So in the interest of safety, I decided to do the diaper change at our seats in the main cabin. However, this was one particularly messy, stinky diaper, and the second it came off, the entire plane knew what I was up to. Needless to say, I made no friends on that flight.

During the St. Patrick's Day Parade in New York City: My family and I march each year in the St. Patrick's Day Parade up Fifth Avenue. We normally "step off" with our group at 1:30 or so, which just so happened to coincide with nap time for the youngest. However, the little guy wouldn't nod off as usual, and the culprit was a wet diaper. So, mere minutes before we were to step off, my husband held the little guy under the arms, while I stripped him down, did a vertical diaper change and re-dressed him. The entire process was accomplished in less than two minutes - a personal record, I believe. And we gave our group something to chuckle about. (By the way, the little guy fell asleep almost as soon as we started marching and slept the entire walk.)

During a Sunday drive: It was a lovely day for a drive, until the car was filled with a noxious odor. Finding a safe place to pull over, we parked at a roadside picnic area and unbuckled the little guy to do a diaper change. I laid him down in the back of the SUV, pulled off his dirty diaper, opened the diaper bag and ... had no clean diapers. I had forgotten to replenish the diaper bag from our last trip. Luckily, we had one (one!) diaper wipe in a baggie we could use to get him somewhat clean. Little man went commando until we could find the nearest store - a convenience store attached to a gas station that charged $20 for a pack of five diapers. I swallowed my pride, bought the diapers, put one of them on the little guy and went home. Never again did I forget to repack the diaper bag.

All parents, at one time or another, will do whatever we need to do to make sure our babies are healthy and well cared for, even if it's embarrassing. But we do it because we care, and eventually, these moments become will become laugh-out-loud memories.

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