When I see extended family members and friends they always ask how I am “doing it”. By that, they mean having a baby and living in New York City. Well, it might not be the most ideal thing in the world, but I have found many conveniences and advantages to being here with my babe. So here it is, the good, the bad and the ugly.
1. Babywearing. All the time, anywhere. We brunched one day for 5 hours going from place to place with friends while Amata stayed cozy cozy in her carrier. She napped when she was tired. She nursed when she was hungry. We didn’t have to get in a car once. (This was when she was younger and not nearly as mobile.)
2. The dollar. You want to do a sing along class? Great. That’ll be $165 for a 30 minute class. (Kidding! It’s only $50 for drop in, silly.) Things cost here. There’s a lot of fun activities to do, but you have to get creative if you’re trying to get around on a dime.
3. Activities! There are ways to get creative though. Sure, you don’t have a backyard with a kiddie pool, but you have story time at the Met! Water sprinklers in Central Park! The Botanic Gardens in Prospect Park! And did you know that there is a movie theatre in Williamsburg that hosts a weekly movie where you can bring your baby (under 1)? Okay, there’s some crying and fussing and you don’t get a whole lot of movie watching done but they will bring you snacks and cocktails. Also there are probably 37 meet ups on any given day within a mile range that would be up your alley. There really is anything and everything here.
4. Community. I’m sure there’s community no matter where you live, but there really is something special about being somewhere so physically close with your neighbors and people in the hood. I think with city living, you are more dependent on people. So we naturally appreciate the connections. When I was pregnant, the UPS guy delivered so many of our registry items. Our giant rocking chair. The car seat. The bassinet. Then we had the baby, and he was delivering diapers. He has watched this kid grow in person, sadly, more than some family members (because of circumstances, not by choice!). There is this connection where everyday items I use, I know who personally helped get it to our doorstep.
5. Community. On the flip side, all this close knitness has a downside. I know people are going to tell you how to parent no matter where you live. But because there’s an increased volume of people here, there’s an increased volume of unwarranted advice. I’ve had two separate people ask me on the same train ride, “Don’t you think she’s cold?” and then “Don’t you think she’s too warm?” When you’re riding 7 inches from a stranger on public transportation, there’s bound to be some conversation you didn’t ask for.
6. Convenience. After our home birth, we sent every piece of laundry out. Yes, even the sheets I gave birth on. Around 7 months of pregnancy I was fed up with carrying groceries so we started getting them delivered. We haven’t looked back. In the early days postpartum, we ordered casseroles like they were going out of style. The bodega down the street? They’ll deliver pretty much any hour of the day. I would do Target shopping at 2am while nursing my newborn. The modern day method of shopping is two thumbs up for this NYC mama. It was also easy and convenient to go out for just a cup of coffee in the middle of the day in those early weeks where I wasn’t ready to socialize, but just wanted to get out for 15 minutes. The coffee shop across from our building we call “downstairs”. Kyle will sometimes ask, “Do you want to go get a bagel downstairs?”
7. Aaand inconvenience. Like the stairs. Oh the stairs. I live in a walkup. Granted only the second floor. But yea, it’s an art to carry the stroller, the diaper bag, the picnic blanket, a lunchbox and a car seat down the stairs. Did I forget anything? Oh, right. The baby. Has that happened in real life? Yes. Sadly, yes. But I never have to go to the gym. So there’s a bright side.
8. R-E-S-P-E-C-T You have to hustle here. So if you’re hustling with a little one, you deserve mad respect. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had an elder man (usually hispanic) do a sign of the cross and say, “God bless you and the baby.” I don’t know why this is a thing, but it happens almost every time I’m out with the babe. I usually get a seat on the subway. And people generally are really happy to see a baby here.
9. Diversity. Kids grow up here seeing all different walks of life. All different religions, races, and economic brackets. I think that’s kind of cool.
10. Small living spaces. This is a pro and a con. We don’t have much storage space so we really have to think twice before buying that new amazing wing ding bing toy that takes up a fourth of our living room. But it’s cozy and I don’t have to worry about keeping my eye on her. She’s nearly always in my line of sight because that’s how my apartment is. She still sleeps in her crib in our room for the first half of the night and then eventually comes in the bed with us. I suppose now it just feels normal to sneak into our bedroom at 10pm. Sure, she’ll get her own room one day. But we’re making it work for now. Also, it’s pretty easy to clean all the floors and tidy things up in 30 minutes. Who needs more than one bathroom anyways? 😛
We don’t know how long we will stay in the city but we’re really having a fun time with it. Especially this time of year, there are so many exciting things to go and see and take advantage of. And little Amata can always say that she was born in a New York City apartment. That’s gotta give her bragging rights on the playground, no? 😉