Saturday, August 4, 2007

Newborn in the great outdoors

When Rob suggested that the boys and I accompany him on a trip up to Callaway Gardens, where he would attend a talk at a forestry conference for an hour and a half and then meet up with us for an outing on Robin Lake beach, the idea sounded daunting. Juggle a nursing newborn and a strong-willed toddler in a public gardens in Georgia’s oppressive August heat, and with no secondary adult help for nearly two hours? But it sounded better than another day at home. Sometimes I get a little stir crazy.

I’ll admit that in the early part of the morning when I was in the midst of nursing Owen, and Will announced that he needed to poop, I began to regret our plan. (Half-hungry, crying Owen gets forced into the front pack while I hold Will up on a too-tall toilet in the handicap stall of a public restroom.)

But then we settled into things: Owen sleepy in the front pack while Will and I wandered through the backyard wildlife habitat demonstration garden and across a bridge over the lake, finding things on a nature bingo sheet: a blue dragonfly, some fish in a tiny stream, turtles, ducks, spider webs, bird feeders, and yellow and pink flowers (black-eyed Susans and some showy exotic I couldn’t name). We couldn’t shout BINGO! until we saw some crows by the road after picking Rob up from his stint at the conference.

Then I enjoyed the most relaxing two hours I've spent since we became a family of four. Owen and I sat together under the generous shade of a tree, he asleep in his car seat, with a light breeze sweeping up from the lake. I read and wrote and nursed Owen once, looking down now and then at Will and Rob wading in the water, digging in the sand – even walking across the beach toward a cove in the lake for a little father-and-son paddleboat adventure. We even managed a whole-family abbreviated game of miniature golf, while Owen dozed more in the front pack.

So good for us all to get outside. I’ve noticed that Owen craves it. When he’s fussy indoors I can step outside and the crying comes to a halt. Maybe newborns were happier in humanity’s more primitive days, before we started cooping them up in houses for the first weeks of their life.

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