In the first few weeks of motherhood, I could not conceive of managing to get the two of us out of the house by ourselves. We’d had a couple of outings to the chiropractor but Papa M was still on paternity leave and so it was a team effort. I was barely managing to get through everything I wanted to at home (and that really was the bare minimum) let alone factoring in travel time, packing a bag and managing CJ while we were out. You have to love those maternal hormones; I seriously wondered whether I would ever manage to get out of the house again.
In some ways I was very lucky to have the ongoing need to attend the chiropractor – this forced me to continue leaving the house with CJ even once my husband returned to work. The first time we went, I had absolutely everything laid out and showered the night before – I was going to be prepared! Everything went smoothly and it gave me a little more confidence. I managed a sojourn to the centre of our small town, to run some small errands. In hindsight, I kick myself for not heading out and about more often when CJ would sleep the days away. He became more alert and a couple of appointments later, CJ had a mega-meltdown at the chiropractors and you know what? The world didn’t end! I gave him a feed in one of their spare consult rooms and then even managed a visit to the neighboring cafe to pick up a hot chocolate (take-away of course) before heading home.
These days we’re much more mobile – we’ve continued our chiropractor appointments, attend a Baby & You postnatal class weekly and have a fortnightly coffee group. We’ve been to a couple of family-friendly parties, one at my dad’s and one at a friend’s house. We’ve visited a pregnant friend and have a visit planned tomorrow to see the new baby. One stir-crazy day we even dropped by to see my sister just because we could. Yet there’s one hurdle that we’re yet to overcome – the running errands/having lunch hurdle. We’ve managed to have lunch out once after CJ’s surgery – he was five weeks old and had flaked out after they had corrected his lip tie – but I am completely nerve-racked at the thought of attempting a solo grocery store mission or taking CJ out for lunch in a cafe.
I find what my midwife said very true: we just aren’t used to seeing people with babies out in public. Not infants; we see that often enough but small babies. Perhaps it is more common in other communities but I racked my brains trying to think of the last time that I had seen a woman with a small baby at a cafe. We’re no longer the village raising a child and so you’re muddling through trying to work out what is “appropriate”, how to manage an outing. I worry that if he cries, people will judge. I’m the mother of an alert wee boy who, bless him, is not a bountiful day sleeper and is very frustrated if his movement is restricted. He’s not content to just sit in his capsule and contemplate the world. On the other hand, however, he’s not subtle about his boredom if we have more that a couple of routine days at home.
What I have to remind myself is that eight weeks ago, I couldn’t contemplate taking him anywhere and now we manage to do that just fine. All it takes is doing it once and surviving to feel confident in doing it again. I’m planning to take CJ in to meet my former students next week and while the thought of it terrifies me, I remember how much he has enjoyed our outings in the past and how settled he is after having had that stimulation. I get bored out of my mind when it is just me and him at home – why wouldn’t he? I have to overcome my mama fears and consider his need for adventure because he’s a little person too!