Dr. B called me often to see how I was doing–at least once per week in the months that followed Miss J’s birth. One day, I explained to him that the pediatrician had scared me by telling me that Miss J had jaundice. The pediatrician suggested that Miss J would need vitamin D supplements and possibly phototherapy to treat the jaundice. I was a wreck. I could not imagine her teeny body under a UV lamp. With everything else I had going on post surgery, I was full of anxiety. Dr. B encouraged us to get out of the house so she could get some sunlight, a natural source of vitamin D. When I told him that I was afraid to leave because I felt too weak and too scared of hemorrhaging again, he told me to start by walking one block at a time and coming right back home. Then he said the next day walk two blocks and come back home. And, so on and so on until I was more comfortable going for longer walks with the baby. Dr. B insisted that it was good for both Miss J and I to get some fresh air and some sun. I didn’t want Miss J to have to get phototherapy, so I decided to leave the house. I started by walking one block up the street to a Dunkin Donuts. It felt like a huge accomplishment to buy a donut and return home safely. As time wore on, my walks lengthened and Miss J’s jaundice disappeared.
One day, I ended up walking two miles along the Hudson River front, taking in the beautiful views of New York City. I stopped at a nearby school playground to rest my legs and feed Miss J. The playground was empty. I sat on a bench and enjoyed the warmth of the sun on my skin. A bell sounded and several pre-school aged children came running towards the playground from every direction. I watched the children as they climbed the monkey bars, played tag and zipped down a winding slide. Staring down at Miss J, who was just four weeks old at the time, it was hard to believe that one day she would be one of these “big kids.” One girl came running up to Miss J’s stroller and looked inside.
“I like your baby!” She said with a huge grin.
“Thanks! I like her too!” I replied.
“ I have a baby sister at home. I’m a big girl. My sister isn’t a big girl. She’s a baby.”
“Do you like being a big sister?”
“Yes. I feed her a bottle and hold her.”
“That’s awesome! I bet you are a really great big sister. I bet your mommy is very proud of you!”
The little girl ran back to her group of friends. She pointed in my direction and giggled.
The walk back home was long, but I was proud of myself for finally venturing more than a couple of blocks. I opened the cover to the bassinet and let the sun shine down on Miss J. She looked up at me and then up to the sky, trying to figure out the world around her. A tiny smile came across her face. I took that as her way of thanking me for treating her to a nice afternoon. We made it home safely.
Then, she dozed off to sleep. We needed to get outside more often.