Ugh. Public toilets. I’m not a fan and never have been. They smell, you never know what state you will find them in and just the thought of how many people have sat on the seat between cleaning is enough to make me feel icky inside. I genuinely would rather pop a squat somewhere than use a public toilet. And I have (well hidden of course and only for number ones).
Luckily, for most of my life I’ve had a bladder of steel and managed to avoid using them much. There was the occasional time I had no choice (especially when out drinking although I didn’t seem to mind them as much whilst under the influence), but I could usually rely on my bladder to get me home without having to even think about using a public toilet.
Then along came pregnancy. Yes, I wanted to be pregnant, but the constant need to pee wasn’t something I was looking forward to.
My bladder went from strong to weak within moments of discovering I was pregnant. Not exaggerating. Gone were the days when a pit stop on my lunch break at work would suffice, suddenly it was every time I stood up, every time I looked at water, sometimes even every time I shut the bathroom door after using it was enough to trigger the need to go again. The only time I didn’t need to go was when I was asleep, but for most of the first trimester I felt like I was spending at least a third of my day on the toilet. It let up a little during the second trimester, but came back in full force once I hit the third.
Public toilets are necessary. We’ve all got to go sometimes and when we’re out and about it’s nice to know that most places offer us a place to relieve ourselves. They’re usually far enough away from the action of the mall or wherever we may be that the people who aren’t using them don’t have to be bothered by them either and I’m sure everyone can agree that it’s much better than business being attended to on the side of the road in broad daylight for everyone to see.
But they’re disgusting!
It’s actually ridiculous. I’m over 39 weeks pregnant and can still make it through most nights without needing to get up for the bathroom (no idea how), yet as soon as we leave the house, BAM! I need to go. Even if I’ve just been. It’s like my bladder has developed some sort of vendetta against me and knows exactly when I’ll have no option but to use public facilities. I imagine it sitting there laughing at me while I try not to think about what I have to do. I wasn’t happy about it, but I figured that I’d gotten myself into the situation so it was in my best interests to suck it up and just deal with it.
But I had no idea how difficult it would be.
Let’s start with the smell. Pregnancy heightens the sense of smell. I can smell chocolate and other noms a mile away these days, but, I can also smell yuck from a great distance. This makes approaching the toilets the first challenge in a line of many. Some are worse than others, but they’re all bad no matter how recently they’ve been cleaned. It’s a mixture of human waste, sweat, bleach, perfume and air freshener type fragrances mixed together on a grand scale unleashing the biggest oxymoron of an assault on the nostrils. Seriously, putrid and overly sweet at the same time is not a good mix.
Then there’s the fact that you don’t know what state you are going to find the cubicle in. I avoid cubicles with closed lids at all costs. I’ll wait longer if I have to. In my experience, those are unflushed or have skid marks a boy racer would be proud to make with his car. I don’t want to see other peoples business, I’ve a delicate stomach since becoming pregnant and if the smell hasn’t made me gag then an unflushed toilet will. Unfortunately the open lid toilets often aren’t any better, but at least I don’t have to touch them to find out.
The floors are always wet. I don’t know if this is from women who can’t aim (not even sure if that’s a thing), from the over zealous toilets that spurt water far and wide when they flush, or just from bad wiping etiquette. They’re just never dry and it’s not right. Add dropped toilet paper that people have munched into a pulp as they’ve walked across into that mix and you have quite the eyeful of disgusting to be contending with. And this is in public toilets that get a high level of cleaner attention. Although that is because they get a high level of public use.
I’ve learned to live with these things. There is nothing I can do about it, complaining about it won’t change anything (although I am enjoying this rant). I just need to go in, wipe the seat if necessary do my business and get out as quickly as possible.
But my biggest issue with public toilets is that that so many of them are just not designed to accommodate the bump! So many of them have a tiny gap between the edge of the door and the toilet seat during the closing process. So small that I’ve had to contort my body whilst gripping the door for stability and still putting enough pressure on it to get it closed at times. Pregnant women do not have the strength for this, it’s hard enough for us to get up off the couch let alone limbo our way over a public toilet seat just to garner some privacy. The process is exhausting and results in a much needed rest period before the relief process can begin, all the while trying not to throw up from the smell and the state of the facility.
The sinks are usually tolerable, water everywhere but most of them have touchless taps these days which I must give high praise to whoever came up with that idea, they are just wonderful, so I can quickly wash my hands and get on to the only part of the experience that I enjoy, the time to GTFO!
I’ve heard that this bladder weakness will be with me for life now but even if it’s not, I’m pretty certain that I’ll have a toddler who will need to use a public toilet the second we arrive anywhere and then again just before we leave for good measure. I’ve accepted that public toilets are now an inevitable part of my life. I just don’t have to like it.
Smiles and Sunshine