I can't explain why, but pictures of Beyonce and Jay-Z taking their 7-week-old, Blue Ivy Carter, out on a lunchtime stroll in New York City for the first time this past weekend dug up all kinds of crazy memories of me hoarding my then-newborn, Mari, in our apartment -- too afraid to let anyone so much as breathe anywhere near her, let alone take her out in public.
I promise you: Except for her visits to the pediatrician, my Mari didn't take in fresh air until well into July -- more than six weeks after she came onto this Earth on a cool early June morning, tiny, precious -- vulnerable. Every book I'd read and our pediatrician, too, said we didn't need to sequester our daughter in the house -- that there was no medical reason to avoid taking her outside. But that didn't stop my worst-case-scenarios from taking over whenever I considered putting my baby in her stroller and crossing our apartment door threshold. What if the chill gives her a horrible cold and she dies? What if one of the ducks or dogs at the local park has fleas and it gets on the baby and she dies? What if a grubby little toddler sneezes on her or, worse, Dave the Dopefiend Shooting Dope Who Don't Know the Meaning Of Water Nor Soap is lingering in the parking lot and he goes "blah!" in my baby's face and she dies?
Nope -- I wasn't taking any chances.
Nobody was allowed in the house, save for my parents, Nick's parents, and our siblings -- and every last one of them had to practically strip at the door, do the surgical scrub in the bathroom, and wear a layer of freshly washed cloth diapers on their shoulders and over their arms before they were allowed to pick up my baby.
Yup. I was that mom.
And if you think that was bad, you should have been there the first day I actually did take my baby for her first walk. It was at the park right next door to where we lived -- no more than 15 paces from the back door of our apartment building. It was 80-something degrees outside. I wrapped that baby in a onesie, pants, a sweater and a blanket, and stuffed a second blanket in a diaper bag filled with a half a box of diapers, a new packet of wipes, a bunch of diaper cloths, a change of clothes, a chest-full of baby toys and three pacifiers. Just in case.
My God, I crack up now thinking about just how maniacal I must have seemed -- like I was the first woman on the planet to ever have a baby. But isn't that how we do with the first child? Exhausted, strung out and clueless, we stumble through our first weeks with our babies, damn-near memorizing every line in our stacks of baby books, Googling every little doggone burp/squeak/spit-up/poop/pee/cry, and tearily demanding the pediatrician call us right now, right now, right now! Or else she can just meet us at the emergency room. Basically, driving ourselves insane over our little miracles.
Of course, my poor Lila, who came three years later, didn't get the "benefit" of clueless mommy. By then, I was a know-it-all. And exhausted from raising a toddler and newborn, working a full-time job, writing books, volunteering and paying attention to my man. That poor kid was lucky if I bothered to wipe off her pacifier when it hit the floor. She'd live. And be just fine. Come to think of it, this is probably why the little one is so doggone tough. Strong. There was no babying that kid. It was what it was. Is what it is.
Anyway, more power to Beyonce and Jay-Z for getting little Blue Ivy Carter out of their apartment and out into the beautiful streets of New York City for her first stroll around town. I can only imagine the anxiety the singer faces wrapping her baby up in a bundle of leopard print cloth and all manner of blankets to shield her baby not just from the winter chill but the prying eyes of paparazzi, fans and haters who continue to question this new mother, her husband and their beautiful, young family. Probably helps to have a 7 ft., 300 lb. bodyguard moving lockstep with you, but still, good for them. Here's to hoping that her new mom jitters don't drive her batty!
Follow Denene Millner on Twitter: www.twitter.com/@mybrownbaby