On the Anxiety of Venturing Out into the World with a Newborn

My son Tadashi* is officially two months old today, but I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve left the house with him (not including doctor’s appointments and visits with lactation consultants).

I can blame my reluctance to venture into the outside world with him on a few tangible things:

  1. His current lack of immunization. I tell myself that I’m keeping him safe from any airborne pathogens or potential sickness by keeping him indoors.
  2. The fact that it is now flu season. See above.
  3. Pure exhaustion. Getting Tadashi* and all his belongings ready for some time away from home is a huge production, and — more often than not — I simply lack the energy to do so.

But, when it comes down to it, all those excuses (while slightly valid) are still excuses. Sure, there’s a risk in taking Tadashi* out when he hasn’t had his first round of vaccines, but there are still places we can go and precautions we can take that limit his exposure to potential sickness. And, yes, I’m tired — but, as I tell everyone who asks how I’m doing: How can I not be tired when I’m taking care of a newborn? There’s really no reason why I shouldn’t be able to leave the apartment with him.

So, if I’m being 100% honest with myself, I’m not really scared about leaving because Tadashi* might get sick; I’m just scared about being responsible for a young human life on my own, out in public.

Sure, taking care of my son at home, on my own, has its own stresses (more on that later) — but at least home is familiar. I know we have diapers; I know his bassinet is handy; I know that I can breastfeed him with privacy, on a comfortable couch, with something entertaining and relaxing on the television. Outside, there are so many daunting unknowns. If he gets hungry, will there be a place where I can comfortably nurse? Will I have access to a changing table? Will he behave, or will today be another fussy day where it will take every trick in the book to console him? And, of course, the worst: will people judge me if he acts up?

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