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How Early Is Too Early?

POLL! How early is too early to take your newborn out of the house? Like, say, to Goodwill where you want to hunt down some midcentury glassware for spray painting and Gorilla gluing purposes, because pregnancy turned you into this giant quasi-DIY freak and you absolutely cannot help yourself? 

Or, you know, to Target, where the normal moms go. ???????

Emma was about three and a half-ish weeks old when I took us both to Goodwill (after dropping Molly at preschool) and A Lady My Mother's Age made a Comment about "young mothers" and how they are "taking their babies out so early". This probably would have flown in one ear and out the other (believe it or not, I don't go all neurotic over EVERY criticism) except that I think I DID take the baby out too early this time. And I've been thinking/wondering about it ever since. 

Emma was born at three in the morning on a Friday. I took her to church on Sunday. Too soon? To be honest, I've been looking at this mainly from the perspective of the New Mom In Recovery, not the Fragile Infant With A Tender Immune System. It's not like I was going to let any snotty-nosed dirty-fingernailed kid (or grown up!) touch my new baby anyway. As for being, ah, SORE, I just didn't want to stay home anymore! And I was feeling fine. Sore, yes, but church was no big deal. You go out, you sit a while, you visit with the old ladies and then you go home. 

But by day five and six I was probably feeling worse than I did when I came home from the hospital. I hadn't noticed any improvement in the, ah, Sore Areas. But I wasn't really worried about it or planning to DO anything about it - I just figured that I had a new baby and that's how things go. Until my mother found out I was planning to attend a baby shower AND a church event on day seven and said, in her I Don't Want To Tell You What To Do Except I REALLY KNOW BETTER THIS TIME voice, "You! Need! To stay! Home!" 

Apparently I needed to take time to heal? Something like that? And really, this wasn't NEWS to me. My Chinese father-in-law was already irritated with me for painting my kitchen the day I went into labor, and I knew that he expected me to be sitting on satin pillows in my bedroom eating a certain kind of soup and not taking showers. (A better blogger than I would call up her in-laws and ask for the lowdown on all the Asian post-partum traditions and observances, but that would just provide FIL with an opportunity to Disapprove, no thanks.) Anyway, it wasn't like I was going out and running a 5K the next day or even FINISHING my kitchen paint job. I was just getting out of the house, running my errands, taking the kids to school, stocking up on breastfeeding survival supplies at Target. Things I felt I HAD to do. 

I should say that I'm also the kind of person who 1) thinks she CAN do everything and 2) doesn't see why NOT. That said, I took a Bodily Ache Inventory after that conversation with my mother and concluded she had a point. I bailed on the shower and backed out of the church event. I stayed home, in bed, while Phillip took the big kids out to playgrounds and lunch. I made a point of Doing Nothing for the next several days, and you know what? I felt a lot - A LOT - better. 

So my answer to the poll is: don't take your baby out just because you CAN. I think those older moms know a thing or two. It was super fun to show off Emma at church, but did I HAVE to be there? Who knows if that two-hour excursion really postponed the healing process (or infected my new baby with Pew Germs) but it wouldn't have hurt to be careful. By week three, though, I DID have to take the big kids to school and I DID have to buy groceries lest we eat another dinner of The Cereal No One Really Likes. Sometimes the satin pillows are completely unrealistic. 

When did you take your babies out?