Lessons from the Market

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Even though spring officially started over a week ago, Mother Nature really kicked it into gear this weekend. Clear blue sky, temps into the 70s. In March! In Portland!

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We decided that it would be a crime not to enjoy the weather, so we decided to have a Family Outing. I’d heard about the Portland Saturday Market and thought that might be a nice thing to see. I figured we could stroll the market a bit and hang out at the waterfront park area afterward.

So after the 1pm feeding, we loaded up the babies and all their gear and headed downtown. (To give you an idea about how long it takes to feed two babies and pack up their stuff, we didn’t leave the house until 2:40.) This was actually the first time taking them downtown and our first non-restaurant outing. And we’ve only done two of those in four months, so this ‘excursion’ was actually kind of a big deal.

We parked in the garage closest to the market, but not before driving through small streams of pedestrians on their way to and from the waterfront. We got the babies set up in the stroller and set off in the sunshine.

Oh, and I have to tell you about my newest baby ‘invention.’ I was a little worried about the sun and heat while they were stuck in their car seats in the stroller, so I fashioned my own sun covers: muslin blanket draped over the top, held in place with a chip clip! I think it was pretty ingenious, if I do say so myself. 🙂 And it seemed to work pretty well too!

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Anyway, we arrived at the tent area under the bridge and ran into what felt like a wall of people. It wasn’t, but A) it’s been awhile since I’ve been in a big crowd of people, and B)it was the line for the bathroom, so it was nothing to sneeze at.

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My heart sank just a little bit as I realized that this was going to be more difficult than I’d thought. I mean, obviously I’d expected crowds. But maneuvering the stroller through the throngs was harder and took even more time and patience than I’d anticipated. Especially when I would say “excuse me” several times to someone and they either ignored me or didn’t hear me. (And I always said/say Excuse Me–I would never expect to or try to barrel through people.) I had to go really slowly and weave in and out of people all over the place. It was really annoying. Though I’m sure all the people thought I was really annoying and stupid for having this big stroller in such a place.

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As we made it through the first ‘aisle’ of the market, we saw the food area and turned that way. Oh dear. Those were definite walls of people, in a space not meant for it. So I wove around the ends of all the many lines, and because of where other people were standing, there was a single-person sized space to walk in. And since a steady stream of people was coming the other way, I just had to stand there and wait for like thirty people to pass. Meanwhile, Andy was already far away, further into the crowd.

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When we finally made it through that gauntlet, I agreed to wait with the babies while Andy went to get something to eat. While I was standing in the hot sun, I spotted someone with an Ergo. I barely restrained myself from literally slapping my own self. OH MY GAH why did we not bring carriers??? We are serious dumdums.

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Fast forward a good half hour or so. We had made it across the street (slowly) and Andy got a bit of food (slowly) and then we went back to the waterfront grass area (slowly) and found a shady spot. We used their sunshade muslins as ‘picnic blankets’. He left to get more to eat and I hung out with the babies.

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Except that about five minutes later they started crying. Screaming. Both of them.

Now, to be fair, it was close to their eating time. And of course we had packed their bottles in the stroller, so in theory I was prepared. But I wasn’t expecting to jump right into feeding them both by myself with no ‘equipment’. They can’t really eat lying flat down, so I did what I’ve done at baby group–prop them both on the diaper bag (precariously, because together they’re almost the same width as the bag itself) so they’re angled a bit, and hold the bottles. While hunching and leaning over and trying to help Malcolm, who continued screaming. Thankfully Emmett calmed down after a minute or so, so there weren’t double the screams to worry about. The bottles were still pretty chilled too, which probably didn’t help matters. Thankfully they’ve never seemed to be too picky about milk temperature.

It was at least ten very long minutes of shrieking crying before Andy came back and he jumped in to work on calming Malcolm. It took a long time and was frustrating–every time he would quiet for a moment and Andy would try the bottle, Malcolm would start crying again.

We guessed that poor Malcolm must have finally gotten overwhelmed. They’d never spent this much time outside, they certainly had never eaten outside before, and in general they’ve rarely eaten anywhere except our living room and bedroom. (And all those other times they’ve been a little fussier or distracted.) Plus all the noise and people–which they’d been totally quiet about for the previous 30-40 minutes, but I guess compounded with some hunger must have all added up to too much for that little baby.

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Finally Malcolm was able to eat again, though it was slow going. And of course he spit up all over Andy like three times. Emmett was happy enough but really distracted and kept chewing on the bottle rather than drinking from it, so I finally lay down to help my back.

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When they were both finally done eating, it was about 5pm and we made our way back to the garage. The streets and the parking lots were much quieter and emptier by then, so we made a mental note to keep our timing as late as possible. (I don’t even want to think about how much more crowded it could have been had we been there in the late morning instead of early afternoon!) And as we drove home, I felt completely drained and exhausted, and was literally slurring some words.

Oh, and ps, we only had a total of three encounters of people cooing over them/asking about twinness. I guess that’s not bad?

Overall, it wasn’t the fun and carefree weekend outing we had envisioned…but it had gone okay, sort of, all things considered. At the very least we learned some important lessons for future excursions:

1. For the love of all things holy, bring carriers. DUH. Crowds and double strollers don’t mix.

2. Bring our own food and water. Lines and exhaustion can be avoided.

3. Bring more blankets/pillows/something to put them on/prop them up with. (Not sure how to fit that in the stroller basket along with the diaper bag…)

4. “Heat” bottles to room temperature before putting them in the insulated bag, so they’re a better temperature when it’s time to eat.

5. Later is better. Though it’s a delicate balance, because later also means fussier.

6. Try feeding them in the car maybe, so it’s quieter. And their car seats are familiar, if not a place they love to be.

Do you have any other hard-earned nuggets of wisdom for going out and about with your wee ones?

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4 thoughts on “Lessons from the Market

  1. Those first few outings are so challenging. I think the more you do it, the more you and the babies get used to it. The prep will get faster and they will get more used to all the new stimuli. Carriers are definitely a plus if you can swing it. I never take our stroller into Manhattan, I always wear Lila – even now at almost 17 months. I just can’t deal with a stroller and crowds. I have no idea what size thing you need for propping the babies up but what about some kind of an inflatable travel pillow? Like – http://www.amazon.com/Lewis-N-Clark-Adjustable-Pillow/dp/B000SKXROI/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1364820459&sr=8-1&keywords=inflatable+travel+pillow. When I used to nurse L in public, a nursing cover always kept her more focused. So maybe if you do have the stroller with you, keep them in the stroller with the muslin blanket draped over it while you feed them so they can’t look around at all the things and can focus more on the bottle? It will all get easier the more you do it, and I think I’ve said this before, but the day Lila could sit up by herself (around 6 months, I think), was a magical day. Things got so much easier after that. That day is not too far off for you!

    • God, Manhattan with a stroller–UGH.
      Fantastic idea about the muslins over the car seat! And I’ll have to think/look into the inflatable pillow, that might work…

  2. Francesca is right – it’ll get easier once all four of you get into a routine. I bring food already heated up, this way it’s not cold. I try to feed the girls right when we get somewhere (so, time it so that we arrive at feeding time.) This gives me more time to relax. Also, full bellies can sometimes mean impromptu naps – WIN! Also, I usually have a plain t-shirt for myself in the diaper bag in case I get baby goop on me. Can you take a single stroller and a carrier? This way, one of you can rest while the other carries? It would seem that a carrier will get harder to do, especially as it gets hotter.

    These first few months are the hardest cuz they’re so…primordial. haha. Once they sit up and start eating snacks, it’ll get easier to distract them with things and keep them busy. You guys are doing awesome, though. Good for you for venturing out and exploring! 😉

    • Yes, we keep forgetting to bring extra shirts for us! I want to invent a shirt/cape made out of burp cloth material. 🙂
      Excellent point about feeding right at the start! Good idea!
      We don’t have a single stroller–splurged on an expensive double. Maybe we’ll get a cheapie single later on when they’re big enough for it. That plus a carrier sounds much more doable.

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