The fourth trimester isn’t just awesome because of that delicious cuddle hormone oxytocin that’s coursing through your veins…
It’s also the time you’ll be able to party the most while keeping your child in tow.
You see, my newborn son was three weeks old when I heard something that changed the course of the next year…
My son’s godfather is a surgeon and has some pretty strong opinions on anything health-related, as you can imagine. When my son was born, our friend the surgeon strongly recommended that we didn’t leave the house for the first 30 days. So, being that he’s a doctor and all, we took his advice and didn’t leave the house for Thirty. Whole. Days.
When I say “we”, I mean my son and I. My husband was definitely having drinks at a bar within 18 hours of labor. It was with my dad so I let it slide. So to clarify: I didn’t leave the house for thirty days with my newborn son.
I live in a remote mountain town with less than 3,000 people and no grocery delivery service. In fact, my nearest neighbor is across a river and up a hill. Our nearest grocery store is nearly 13 miles away. I was pretty trapped. And hungry!
My son and I got pretty cozy during this time. I walked around our yard. Then I nursed and changed the baby. Then we walked around the yard. And then… you guessed it. Boredom set in. I couldn’t work out due to my delivery and some charming damage my little one did coming out during our natural birth. I wasn’t just stir crazy, I was losing my mind.
I’d suddenly gone from a woman who’d been traveling for twelve years, living in exotic places in Europe and New Zealand, running a company with five employees and at least thirty-five contractors, and suddenly the most important thing in my life was wondering if my infant had pooped yet today.
During that time another dear friend, a father of three from our town, came by to help with some handyman issues we were having. He heard of my having been locked in a tower for thirty days and told my husband: “you’ll be making the biggest mistake of your lives if you shelter this child. It’s not good for him; and it’s especially not good for you! This child is only a potted plant for another sixteen weeks – you’d better get out and enjoy it while it lasts!”
Your Child Is Only A Potted Plant Once
Our friend likened the child’s first six months to the “baby Buddha” stage when the child pretty much sits where he’s placed and is entertained by things such as ceiling fans and lamps.
Not long after that fateful conversation, my husband and I found ourselves celebrating our new lives over a fabulous four-course dinner complete with wine and dessert pairings. Our potted plant was happy as could be; he watched us with fascination and periodically smiled or burped.
Until my son was 9 months old, he was pretty much a potted plant. As he grew he would play with spoons or drool on pieces of ice or slices of lemons. But for those precious first months, we got out. And how!
A Baby Is A Baby In Any Environment
As new parents, we learned quickly that whether we hunkered down at home or painted the town red that night… the baby would be a baby in any and every environment.
He sleeps irregularly. He pees and poops constantly. He cries sporadically and often without warning.
But that was no reason to sit at home and watch the trees grow!
With each passing month certain things about having an infant become much harder, while others become enormously easier. What’s most important is that you engage your child with love and attention no matter what is going on around you and you will definitely make it through anything life and travel throws at you.
My son has been in more states than I can count and he’s traveled on planes, buses, trolleys, trains, and slept in freezing airports when we’ve been stranded without a car seat.
We’ve gotten stuck in blizzards on long road trips and we’ve had thrush, ear infections, and mysterious rashes over 1,000 miles from home. But we aren’t sitting around and letting life happen to us: we’re adventurers milking this marvelous life for everything it’s got.
Now a toddler, people often ask me how my son is so well-behaved and contented with strangers or why he’s so happy seemingly all the time. (Even moments before he falls asleep at night, what other parents call the ‘witching hour’.)
I stop and think of all the adventures we’ve had together and I think, “yeah, right. Do you think this is going to affect him after all we’ve been through?” But then I simply reply, “well, he’s had a lot of training.”