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First Time Out to a Restaurant Post Baby. How Do Breastfeeding Moms Do It?

Back when we were newlyweds–three long years ago–life was simple. If we wanted to go out for dinner, the only question was where we would dine.

Fast forward to this spring. Our duo transformed into a trio. The husband and I managed to get out for Sunday brunch the May weekend after we came home from the hospital, when my parents were still around and could babysit.

But what do you do when you’re a nursing mother, and all of your family lives in a different metro area? In our case, you don’t go out much, and when you do, baby is always in tow. That makes it nearly impossible to enjoy a calm and leisurely dinner, while you worry about the possibility of impending meltdown or have to feed baby before, or while, you yourself eat.

For our wedding anniversary, what we really wanted was some time together, just the two of us. The thought of adult conversation over dinner–without a side of spunky baby attempting to back-flip out of the Ergo carrier or grab my place setting–was highly appealing.

I don’t mean to say that I don’t adore my Baby Girl. I do. But, if parenthood were a law firm, I would have billed north of 600 hours a month for the last four months. It’s meaningful and fun, but it’s also exhausting work to be a full-time stay-at-home mother. Now and again, you need to take a break.

My parents understood this and kindly agreed to drive up to Boston to babysit. My husband reserved a table for us at the restaurant we went to the night of our engagement. And I began excitedly contemplating what dress would fit post-baby me and be sufficiently spiffy for our big night out. This required some thought, since my outfit would not have to be nursing-compatible; this opened up a closet full of possibilities.

Everything looked promising until the weather reports for Hurricane Irene became increasingly dire. My parents began to waver. The Thursday before the storm, they decided it made more sense to stay in New York. We understood, but were disappointed. Without a babysitting team, there could be no evening out. So, we relinquished our table and prepared for another Saturday night in with our munchkin.

At play group the next day, I mentioned our bad luck to the other mommies. One mother said she had a good babysitter she’d used before and immediately contacted the woman on our behalf. Only the babysitter wasn’t available the next night. Having hit another road block, the husband and I thought our weekend plans were now irrevocably canceled. Except, it turned out they weren’t. That other mother felt bad that we might miss our anniversary dinner. As it turned out, she and her husband were planning to stay in on Saturday night, so if we were able to bring Lila over, they’d watch her along with their son.

We couldn’t believe our good luck! We raced to find a new dinner spot – since our original table had been given away, in spite of Irene – booked a Zipcar, and downloaded directions to Lila’s Saturday night play date. There were many moving pieces, and luckily, all the logistics gelled. My husband and I made it to dinner only slightly late.

When we arrived at the restaurant, it was like wandering through a time warp. We couldn’t remember the last time we’d been to a fancy restaurant, just the two of us. It was like we were on a first date. Only this time, in between talking about us, we spent some time talking about Lila and wondering how she was doing. Thankfully, we learned via text, Lila was enjoying her first play date.

The one complication that evening was lactation. I spent all of dinner increasingly aware of my ever more engorged breasts; that certainly never happened on our real first date. Six hours elapsed between Lila’s pre-outing feeding and goodnight feeding. I was full to bursting by then and couldn’t wait to share my milk. It made me wonder, what do other nursing mothers do? Do they sneak into the ladies room and pump mid-outing, or just keep outings short?

In the end, engorgement seemed like a small price to pay. It felt like a revelation to be out for an evening as myself, a woman, as opposed to just the mommy cow. I can’t imagine a better anniversary gift.

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