Four and a half months post-partum, it was an out of body experience traveling to New York City and attending a fashion trade show. Since having Flynn I’ve become really curious about the hustle and bustle of life – the outside world – because pregnancy and birth and the fourth trimester have made me slow way down. A solid year of sickness, natural birth, magic, love, centeredness, home-body-ness and nature was slapped in the face last weekend during our newly-expanded family trip to a New York City fashion trade show.
It was a spur of the moment trip, a trip I knew I had to take. I was on a hormone-fueled mission to create the best life possible for Flynn and our family, and that including starting The Black Layer. The plan was to stay in a cheap Days Inn because we had one night free-of-charge. In total, we paid $70 to stay two nights and, on the morning of the Capsule Tradeshow, Dan drove me a half hour to Secaucus Junction and picked me up after. Parsippany was far enough outside the city to make the majority of the car trip a bit less for Flynn’s sake and cheap enough for our very limited budget.
I spent the week leading up to our trip pumping and storing milk so Dan could feed Flynn at the hotel while I was at the show (my husband is incredible). This was OK, but I can’t stand pumping. For one, I feel like a cow hooked up to a machine and two, I have a bad association with pumping. When Flynn was a week old and, because of unfortunate circumstances involving our original Pediatrician (who wanted nothing more than for me to feed Flynn formula because she didn’t understand nor support breastfeeding), I had to exclusively pump for a week, every 90 minutes, around the clock. Toward the end of that week, I made the decision, of my own volition, to go back to the breast and switch to a Pediatrician that supported and understood breastfeeding. If you’ve breastfed, you might know that “Nipple Confusion” isn’t just a fantastic name for a band (you’re welcome), but a very painful reality when switching from breast-to-bottle-to-breast at such an early age. Pumping as often as I was destroyed my nipples and, as I put Flynn exclusively back to the breast, I can only describe the pain as feeling like shards of broken glass crunching over my nipples as Flynn nursed. It took a solid week and a half of pure pain and basic trust (and emotional exhaustion) until slowly, finally, one by one, the feeds became less and less painful and eventually the pain was gone. Our breast-feeding relationship was unnecessarily interrupted for a week but we were lucky to re-develop it through sheer determination. Now, Flynn is five months old and we’ve continued to exclusively breastfeed and it’s so beautiful and empowering and it strengthens our bond every day. And my new pediatrician is all for it, like I naively assumed all pediatricians would.
I have a higher level of anxiety after having Flynn, but I’m awake so I’m pretty aware of my body, mind, and emotions. This post-partum anxiety is clearly hormonal and I’m hoping my anxiety will settle back into normal-for-me levels when Flynn weens off breastfeeding and my hormones regulate back to my baseline.
With this higher state of anxiety, I was scared of this trip. I was scared of the drive and I was scared of taking the train into the city by myself, I was scared of being away from Flynn for so long and I was just operating with a thickness between my mind and body, like we were separate and my mind wasn’t really in charge of my body – I was so tense but so much was happening at once that I had to sort of disassociate just to keep going to fulfill my goals for the trip. Probably not the healthiest way to accomplish what it is I want.
We got to Secaucaus Junction around 8am, so I could get into the city well before 9, stop at a coffee shop between Penn Station and Pier 92/94, and arrive at the trade show by 9:30, pump, and start rounding the show floor as relaxed and easy as possible.
And then… Public Transportation always has its own agenda.
Like I mentioned, I was scared of taking the train and subway, which was actually a fear of terrorism– intellectually, I completely understand how illogical this is, but post-partum anxiety doesn’t really follow logic. I prepared myself for the short train ride from Secaucus to Penn Station NY – I had downloaded the new Jack Johnson album to my phone, and I was going to use his laid-back, mellow-mood to help me exude more laid-backness, a good plan that usually works. Earphones were in, the train came, I found a seat near a couple of women who looked like they knew what they were doing, and I was fine… relaxed even. I was doing this thing I had feared all week with much more confidence and ease than I predicted for myself.
The train ride was underway. We got about half way from New Jersey to New York when the train just stopped. That was okay- I understood that sort of thing happens all the time on public transportation. We stood still, mid-trip, for about 45 minutes. Then, we started rolling backwards, slowly at first, then faster and faster. Then slower. Then faster. Then faster still. Just like my heartbeat. The locals started questioning what was going on, saying they’d never seen anything like this; nothing was being reported to the passengers about the situation. I took one earphone out to hear what was going on and the other earphone tethered me to some level of sanity as “You Can’t Control it” whispered sweetly into my ear. Thanks, Jack.
The train backtracked all the way back to the departing station, in which we all sat in silence for another 20 minutes until finally, the conductor announced we all had to get off this train, find our way to the Path line going from Secaucus to Hoboken, then take another Path line from Hoboken into The City. WHAT!? –THIS WAS NOT IN MY PLANS. JACK, HELP ME WITH YOUR MELLOW RHYTHMS. BE LAID BACK ABOUT THIS- YOU’RE A COOL, NEW YORK BUSINESS WOMEN DURING THIS TRIP. THESE THINGS HAPPEN. WAS THERE AN ATTACK?? NO, NO, YOU’RE FINE.
And this is when my mind escaped and my body drifted from one point to the next for the remainder of the trip, with specks of grace carrying me through. Specifically, the people I met were my people – I could see them and, though, I was out of sorts, they could see me.