An Open Apology to the people riding the #TTC with me on this day
Guest post by: Charlotte Dobo, Writer Extraordinaire, Fitness Person, Mama to small people
You see, I had my six-week follow up with my obstetrician scheduled for 9 am. My baby is still wee, so she goes where I go.
Having regard for all of you, and the treacherous icy weather and, honestly, for myself and my short fuse currently fuelled by lack of sleep, I gave myself 40 minutes to do a 20 minute trip from Donlands Station to Mt Sinai Hospital. I thought, without a doubt, I was giving myself enough time.
I even wore the baby in a carrier to avoid the criticisms about “SUV-sized” strollers (I got this just the other day – Tuesday- when riding the subway midday, again, in an effort to be less of a perceived nuisance). But I hate baby-wearing, for the record. I did this for you, transit riders.
Today is warm. Not like Monday and Tuesday. So wearing a baby against my postpartum body beneath her snowsuit and my coat was warm. Too warm. Warm as fuck, if you will. And I had my purse and a diaper bag. Both necessary.
It took 35 minutes to get some 5 stations West to Yonge. And then another 20 minutes to get two stations further West to St George. Baby was calm and sleepy and warm. I was dying of heat but happy she was calm through the repeated messages about fire alarms and signal problems and my favourite – “overcrowding problems” (ahem, under-service problems? But I digress).
When we arrived at St George to a proverbial wall of angry, late-for-work paying TTC patrons, there was no turning back. We kept getting pushed further into the depths of the crowd while people pushed and sneered and sighed and huffed – all wearing winter coats and hats and holding hot drinks and wishing they weren’t.
And we stood. And stood and stood. And waited and watched as people packed into the trains and the crowd grew larger and the people grew later and angrier.
The messages about signal problems and overcrowding kept coming. Promises of trains to come.
So when we finally were shoved into a train it was no surprise that baby finally awoke. Pushed to her calm and sleeping limit, she awoke with a hunger so intense it’s resulting cries could interrupt TTC signals further and no amount of bouncing or ssshing or signing would appease her: she was hangry.
But I was still wearing her – in a carrier – clipped across my hips and the back of my shoulders and inside my cardigan and coat. The heat and frustration was growing like some kind of domestic volcano.
Those of you around me started to shuffle around uncomfortably. Your noise canceling headphones weren’t canceling these hanger screams and after listening to them for ten solid minutes, you were done.
So was babe.
So thank you to the lady who held the baby while I stood to take off my coat and my cardigan and the baby carrier to feed her. Thank you to the young and fairly attractive man sitting next to me who tried his best to hide his shock at what a breastfeeding breast looks like. I’m sorry for the therapy you might need now. I promise you I never wanted my tits out on the TTC like this but sometimes you do what you gotta do. When I apologized to the entire train and said “she’s just saying what we’re all thinking” and you all laughed, I was reminded that this city is great, shitty underfunded transit system aside, and that if a harried new mom with the worst hair you’ve probably seen since Melanie Griffith in “Working Girl” and two massive wet circles on her shirt can get an amen, anyone can.
Hope you all get where you’re going. My trip took 95 minutes, and I probably sweat more than I did when I ran a marathon.
Thank you to Charlotte for sharing this real, open account of what a day with a new little babe can be like. I know many of you (my readers) have dealt with similar situations whether it be on public transit, traveling and being in an airport or lining up in a busy office/store. Patience and flexibility is needed by all to make this human experience of living, working and existing around other people work. In preparing to post this I came across an article written by Richard Whittall in the National Post on how these two groups can co-exist on the TTC (passengers with kids and passengers without). Honestly Mr. Whittall’s view of the two sides: “you must try and tolerate children” and “parents please understand we wish you and your kids weren’t here” was intolerable in itself and in my opinion offensive. I am glad Charlotte met kinder and more understanding travelers.