When my baby was 2 weeks old, my partner and I had to take her to the 2 week pediatric checkup. We were living with his parents because we had only closed on our apartment the week before I gave birth. Our trip entailed taking the subway from Murray Hill to Washington Heights…where we would have been already living if our co-op board hadn’t taken 4 months to schedule our Board approval meeting.
Standing on the platform a pleasant looking woman in her late twenties smiled down at our little baby girl in her car seat stroller said: "I have a six month old…how old is yours?" When I answered "2 weeks" the woman's smile disappeared into a gasp of horror. She half-shrieked: “OHMYGOD you can’t have such a little one on the subway it’s so dangerous all the germs and their tiny immune systems I wouldn’t let MY nanny out with her until after three months an then I got the germ net for the stoller. It’s a meshnet that keeps out the germs from the baby. You shouldn’t be on the train with her yet or ever! You could take cabs or a car service.That’s what my nanny does.”
Needless to state my heart started pounding. Was Clara in danger from subway germs? Though I immediately questioned the efficacy of mesh netting in keeping microscopic airborne germs off my baby…did this woman have a point? Why hadn’t my What to Expect Book detailed the dangers of public transportation? I certainly didn’t have a nanny or a car service or even own a car, so my options were limited. Mentally shaken, I smiled and thanked this apparently well-meaning stranger while silently vowing to ask a doctor for advice.
Frazzled and already sleep-deprived, Gerald and I rode the train uptown. I eyeballed the subway atmosphere looking for free-floating germs that might attach themselves to Clara's tiny face.
When we finally made it to the pediatrician, I unloaded my worries onto her is a garbled stream that ended with: "Is she allowed to ride the subway?!" The doctor’s advice was simple: “As long as Clara isn’t holding onto the handrail in the subway she should be fine.”