(For those not in the know, DestinyUSA is a very large mall in Syracuse, NY, with a ton of great stores, restaurants, and attractions.)
You are, in general, a very awesome mall with lots of things to do, places to eat, and stores to shop in. The “green” expansion is pretty great too, even if we did have to wait a long time for it to be finished and opened.
However, I have a smallish bone to pick with you.
The hubs and I took Babycakes, who is about five months old, to DestinyUSA for the first time. She had a great time. So did we, except when it came time to see to her needs.
You see, Babycakes is a breastfed baby. We’ve started her on a select few solids, but breastfeeding makes up 99.9% of her nutritional intake. Now, I’m not really squeamish about breastfeeding in public spaces. I do try to find a quiet, somewhat secluded corner to feed her, but it’s not about me, or the rest of the public. It’s about her.
When she’s eating, Babycakes needs it pretty quiet and free of distractions. Otherwise she really can’t eat well. We use a cover when necessary, but it makes feeding more of a circus than anything else. So I really do try to find a private space to nurse her if she’s hungry when we’re out and about.
Many people would likely say, “Why don’t you just give her a bottle?” Believe me, DestinyUSA, I would if she’d accept one. But she won’t accept any type of container that even remotely hints at being a baby bottle. Sippy cup, yes. Straw cup, yes. But she’s just learning to use those and isn’t good enough with them to get a full feeding. And besides that, she really doesn’t eat well in general if she’s distracted, be it breast, cup, or spoon.
Here’s the issue I had today. There are no nursing rooms anywhere in DestinyUSA. This surprised me, especially since a competing mall (which shall remain nameless), had very nice, new nursing rooms by the food court. I mean, private, quiet, slightly softer lighting, with a changing station (though no sink, and that was a small complaint I made to them), with an actual cushy chair and cushy love seat. It was surprising and wonderful to find.
At DestinyUSA, however, my only option was a family restroom. It was clean, I’ll give you that. But the only non-toilet seating option was a hard plastic chair, the type you’d put on your back porch. It took some serious finagling with my coat to make it remotely comfortable for Babycakes and me. The lights were super bright. Plus, the changing station was broken. Lastly, because it’s a restroom placed between the men’s and women’s facilities, every time someone used the hand dryers, she unlatched and stared at me like it was the scariest sound she’d ever heard in her life. And (okay, this is lastly) the music piped into the mall was so loud, it was another distraction.
She didn’t eat well, and then I had to change her on the station out in the corridor, where it was cold.
Now, this was in the old section of the mall, so I thought the family restroom in the new section would be a little nicer. We shopped, ate lunch, and then went to find the family restroom.
Sadly, it was out of order. So not wanting to traipse all over the mall searching for another family restroom, we returned to the one we used upon our arrival. At this point in the day, it wasn’t that clean anymore. It was till bright, loud, and distracting. I still had to change Babycakes in the hallway. And she still didn’t eat well. I foresee a wakeful night for her, because she didn’t get enough calories today despite my best efforts.
You are a great mall, DestinyUSA. But you dropped the ball on this one. Perhaps you should consider allocating some of the available space (and there is some because you’re constantly adding new stores and restaurants) for the purpose of nice, clean, quiet, softly lit, well appointed nursing rooms. The breastfeeding moms (and probably some bottle-feeding moms) of Central New York will thank you.