Last time I talked about teensy babies, I was urging those just-post-partum mommies to get out there and find their just-post-partum sisters. And you should. But there’s no need to limit yourself. You can take that teensy baby almost anywhere.
The summer after M was born, our first year in the Capital District after years in New York City, my husband and I spent much more time out at events than we had, ever. I know that sounds crazy. But here’s the deal: prior to M’s birth, it was relaxing at home. On a Sunday, we might lounge in bed with the paper for hours. M arrived and she preferred to be held at all times, and I felt guilty having the tv on in her presence (because I was a new mommy–is that freakish?) Honestly, it’s a little bit baffling now that I have walking, talking, squabbling children. . . I see other people’s infants sleeping and I can’t remember why it felt so difficult, but it sure did. Maybe it was the sleep deprivation? So to pass the time, and in an attempt to “tire her out” before night fell, we’d often take advantage of free concerts and all sorts of events.
Now, at any time, you might have a fussy baby or you might even have to Abort the Mission. So I wouldn’t spend a great deal of money or go anyplace fancy. But you have time, now, and it’s a nice opportunity to pursue places that you’ve always been interested in. What’s nice about this is that you can do some stuff for yourself instead of focusing entirely on your baby’s schedule and the contents of each diaper.
Museums & Historic Houses: Your baby will be happy to be with you anywhere, so you might as well sway in front of a lovely work of art.
Businesses: You can browse while it’s not too busy and the sales clerk is likely to chit chat. Now’s the time to check out that cute little independent shop that you never had time for before. Or if you’ve always wondered, say, about a gym or yoga studio, you can stop by for a tour. This can also give you a little boost because it will remind you that your body will get back to normal (even if it’s a “new normal”).
Kids’ destinations: Especially if you know that you’re going back to work soon, now’s the opportunity to research activities that you might want to do a little bit later. Most kiddie gyms and dance classes have evening options, but you can visit now during the day while you have a bit more “leisure” time.
Free Concerts, Lectures, or Lunch Hour Activities: There are often casual activities that take place in downtown areas for the entertainment of folks on their lunch hours, but you don’t have to be wearing a suit. Pack a lunch and people watch. Or libraries, churches, and non-profits will often have daytime programs that you normally couldn’t attend–they usually welcome any attendees, and they’ll be charmed by the baby.
Movies: Some small babies hardly make a peep, and even older ones can be relied on to settle down whenever you nurse. Some moms take their babies along to an early matinee. I had a vague recollection that one of the big multiplexes had an occasional showing designed for moms, but when I called, no one knew what I was talking about. Still, it made me wonder if one of the independents, like Scotia Cinema or the Spectrum 8 Theatres, would be willing to show a mom-and-baby friendly-chick flick some late morning or early afternoon. Would anyone out there be interested in this? If enough people are, I could call and ask if they’ll try it and then we could spread the word.
Walks: Take yourself for a walk. It’s an opportunity to do a little Robert Frost nature-trail-not-taken (emphasis, alas, on the Frost part right now). Here’s where I urge you to find a sling or carrier that you and your baby can agree on. And I know, you’re worried that your baby will be too cold or too hot. My pediatrician used to say, “You know, there are babies born in igloos and babies born in the desert. And they manage and so do their mothers.” If you’re starved for adult conversation, go to a business district or mall. There’s sure to be someone who’ll start cooing over the baby.
Moms’ Groups: I’ve added more moms’ groups to the links page just for this occasion. For those who hesitate about going to join up with an entire group of strangers, keep in mind that you’ve already got something in common: you’re all parents. It’s easy to start a conversation by noting how adorable a child is and asking how old (s)he is, what’s his name. Of course, you might not have anything else in common. I showed up to one playgroup and the hostess had expensive bottled water and crystal goblets arranged on the table for the moms along with peanut butter and marshmallow fluff sandwiches for our toddlers. I met another mommy on a walk and she mentioned that her husband wouldn’t “let” her go out more than once a week. The point is, you might have to kiss a few frogs, so to speak. Second, once you get to a moms’ group, you are likely to have small panic attacks, and that is normal. Allow me to talk you off the ledge in advance, okay? PA #1 “Oh my God, I’ve just brought my child who cannot even sit up to a playground/apple orchard/outdoor fountain and all of the other moms have children who can actually play and I must be an idiot.” No. You needed to get out of the house. If you feel the need to explain yourself you can say, “I just really needed to get out of the house.” All of the parents will understand. PA #2 “These toddlers are the most colossal, loud, terrifying, destructive creatures imaginable, and they are sure to maul my darling infant.” I remember seeing my beloved niece shortly after my first child was born. She was 18 months old and she suddenly seemed obscenely huge. Poor thing–it was my perspective that had changed. The toddlers are being toddlers. Their mothers may be more or less observant of their behavior, but it’s true that no one will be as vigilant as you in protecting your baby. That said, if a mom notices that you’re clearly unnerved or even appalled by her child’s actions, it will absolutely hurt her feelings, even if the “big kid” is acting abominably. You might want to keep your baby stowed in the car seat or a sling for your first visit. If you want to give the tyke some tummy time, take an extra baby blanket that will sort of “mark your territory”–generally moms will tell their children not to go on a baby’s blanket.
Finally, do try to keep your baby sheltered from the rampant germs. Especially in the first two months, if your baby gets a fever, you’re likely to get sent to the hospital to determine that it’s not something really serious. Not fun. But you don’t have to freak out–just keep the baby cuddled up to you or nestled in the infant car seat and don’t start passing the bundle of joy around with wild abandon.
Okay, I know that the last Teeny Baby post had all sorts of specifics and this is all general, so thank you if you’ve been patient enough to read through my New Mommy Pep Talk. I do have more specific information coming up: I’ve been asking people for suggestions about good places for that first time you go out and breastfeed in public. There were so many good suggestions that it needs its own post, so that’s coming up soon. If you have suggestions for that, or if you have more “teensy baby” tips to pass on to the brand-new mommies who read this post, please add them to comments. It’s so nice to receive actual comments between all the auto insurance and cialis spam.