Yesterday I packed up the baby and set off for the Citadel Outlets in Commerce, California. Unlike other outlets in southern California, this one is easy to get to and not too far from pretty much anywhere in Los Angeles.
Before we left, I checked out their website to see if they had any information about accommodations for nursing mothers. Sure, I could've just headed over there and plopped on a bench outside the shops and fed the baby... but I don't really nurse in public like that anymore. For one thing, JP is much too wiggly - for my own comfort I prefer to cover up when out in the open, and he will not tolerate the cover anymore. I can pull my shirt around to cover myself but getting started is the moment of truth. And, he's also taken to stopping and starting several times during one feeding - it's too revealing.
So I clicked on the "contact us" link and sent an email asking if they had a "family or mother's area" for nursing a baby. I was very surprised: I got a response from someone in about an hour, stating that they do have such an area, called the Mother's Lounge.
I think this might be a new feature, because when I got there, a woman was photographing it. She was very polite and didn't bother me, so I just sat down and did what I needed to do. The room is right inside the ladies' restroom, and beautifully lit and decorated. There are several couches upholstered in a very soft fabric, a couple of chairs, and a little play area for older kids. There's nice lighting, and pretty pictures on the wall, and mirrors, and soft fabrics everywhere.
Before I fed the baby, we stopped off in one of the "family" restrooms so I could change his diaper. Again, beautifully done - big, clean room for just us (there are six of them, I think); we didn't have to share. There's one regular toilet, and a little one for the kiddies. Next to the sink is a changing table covered with a nice fuzzy fabric. My only criticism is that they installed the paper towel dispenser (automatic) right over the changing pad, right at baby's level. On the one hand, this gave JP something to do instead of squirming while I changed his diaper, on the other hand, wow that's a lot of wasted paper towels (I used most of the ones he caused to dispense when I washed my hands later). And my other criticism: they have two outlets, also at baby level, in the changing area. Why couldn't these two things have been placed higher up, away from inquisitive little hands? Otherwise, the family restroom worked out great for us.
So after feeding JP and using the restroom, we kept shopping. It's been awhile since I've been to the Citadel, and the Gap and Banana Republic used to be the only stores I cared about. This time I went to the Gap (but not Banana... I'm too fat still to want to buy anything from there anytime soon) and spent most of my time in the baby section (got him the CUTEST long-sleeved onesie with an old boom box on it... Patrick will love it), among other things. I did also get a pair of pants and a top for me, but this shopping trip was really about the baby. We received so many clothes for him as gifts but now we're starting to run out. And he needs warmer shirts and another little zip up jacket, and pants... I had fun shopping for him.
The Citadel has a good selection of baby stores: we went to Carter's, Gymboree, Osh Kosh B'Gosh... it was a fun day. We had lunch at Panda Express (but after I got my food there I wished I had tried the Mediterranean restaurant they have, called Lamajoon), and then I went back to the Mother's Lounge to feed JP again before the ride home. This time there was a woman feeding her 11-day old baby (so tiny!), and a couple of ladies just resting their feet.
We got a lot of stuff and had a fun day. To be honest, I think I'd rather go to the Citadel from now on, rather than the regular mall.