When we first brought Townes home from the hospital, it was mid-February and the weather in New York was unpredictable. For the most part, this year was a mild winter compared to years past, but the temperature did fluctuate between the 20s, 30s and 40s. Since we don't own a vehicle, we have to walk or take public transportation everywhere we go (or rent a ZipCar.) From the ten-block walk to the pediatrician's office to picking up groceries to (attempting) to get some sunlight to promote the passage of bilirubin, we had to be outdoors on occasion with our newborn.
My doctor gave me some advice when we left the hospital, on Townes' third day of life, and I thought I'd share this little nugget of wisdom, in case you might find it helpful as well: don't be outside longer than the temperature. If it's twenty degrees, twenty minutes outside is the max for a newborn. Forty degrees, forty minutes. And so forth. So everytime we left our apartment, I'd set the timer on my cell phone and made sure we didn't surpass the time/temperature. We did this until Townes got his shots at two months of age.
This has spiraled into what I call Walking the Temperature. Every day – even if the weather isn't the greatest – I check the weather around nine or ten in the morning, look at the high temperature for the day, and attempt to walk that amount of time. If it's going to be 80 degrees, I try to walk during the coolest time of the day, and make sure I have enough water, sun/rain coverage for Townes, and all the neccesities like a nursing cover, sunblock, and diaper goods. Fifty degrees, and I'm out walking with the sun. Usually my infant son's in tow (fresh air is good for both of us!), but not always. I'd wager to admit that I've had a harder time than many recovering from pregnancy and labor, and this challenge has been a great way for me to ease back into a workout routine. Sometimes I break the time in half, walking in the morning with Townes in a stroller, and then heading to the park in the afternoon with him in a carrier for added weight (and to give him a different view of the world.)
Yesterday I was lucky enough to have the morning free, and I ran 3.5 miles down along the Hudson (trust me, it's rare for me to do that these days.) But that only took care of about 40 minutes of the temperature and the high was 89. So later that day, when the sun went down a bit, I took Townes for a long walk down Broadway and up Columbus Avenue. I was able to pick up food for dinner, drop off some mail, and catch up on phone calls while Townes took a power nap, and we were able to knock off the rest of the day's allotted minutes.
Believe me, I don't always walk the exact temperature, and there are days when things are just so insane or the weather is brutal or I'm having a breakdown or Townes is having a breakdown or I'm on a writing/work deadline and the whole walking-the-temperature-thing just doesn't happen. But it's a daily challenge, it gets us outside, exploring, exercising. And I just try to make sure I'm moving for the entire temperature-time – so if we stop and sit on a bench for twenty minutes, or lay out on a blanket, or visit the park, I don't count that time.
Townes is becoming more and more aware of his surroundings, and he loves looking at all the buildings and cars and trees and people. It's truly amazing to watch his reactions and interact with him outside. Hopefully one of these days I'll be doing more running than walking (I have a race to train for! Eeep!), but for now, I'll just keeping doing what I can do, when I can do it, and let myself feel good about that.