Last night I went to spin class and the teacher played an entire set of Billy Joel songs. Aside from loving it and wanting to sing along, it also reminded me of a stupid mistake I made when I first gave birth.
Billy Joel was playing Shea Stadium — concerts that were being billed as the “last play at Shea” since he would be, what else, the last artist to play the stadium before it was knocked down. The concerts were scheduled for mid-July. I was due mid-June. I bought the tickets in March because I figured what would be the big deal about leaving a month-old baby with her grandma? I delivered a week late, though, which meant that Little Girl was only 25 days old on July 16th, the date of our concert. Still, no big deal, I thought. Boy, was I wrong.
It took me forever to leave the house. I kept asking if my mom was going to be okay. Little girl was so little. My mother shooed us out of the house. We got on the Long Island Rail Road, planning on transferring to a special line that only runs during Mets games and other events. We got there, meeting our close friends who are Billy fanatics like us. And everything went downhill from there.
I had a physical ache in my body wondering if the baby was okay. Elsewhere, on the stage, Billy was doing his best to thrill the crowd. And he did. Angry Young Man, My Life, Everybody Loves You Now, The Entertainer. The hits kept rolling. So did the stars. Tony Bennett came out for an amazing New York State of Mind. The crowd went wild. John Mayer was next to sing along to This is the Time. Don Henley came out for Boys of Summer, a tip of the hat to the Amazing Mets, Shea and its baseball heritage. Normally, I would have been singing and swooning and swaying along. Not this time, though. For example, I can’t remember if I stuck around for Pink Houses with John Mellencamp or if my husband told me about him.
Yes, I left. I left that amazing concert on that beautiful, historic summer night. I couldn’t concentrate on the music. I kept calling home. I wanted to see my little girl more than one of my favorite musical stars. I told my husband to stay (why should he waste what was a pretty expensive ticket) and jumped on the train by myself. I transferred at Jamaica — or was it Woodside, I can’t remember — and drove myself home. I then walked the two or so miles from the train station to my house. I beat my husband by maybe 30 minutes since he didn’t wait for the train and he had the car to drive home.
At the time, I thought I was insane. Why couldn’t I be away from my little girl for a few hours? She was in very capable hands. But when I calmed down a bit and did a little research I realized that my desire to see a great show was up against biology, and of course biology was going to win!
When babies are born we have chemicals like oxytocin, which is called “the hormone of love and bonding” that flow through our veins. Chemicals that trigger feelings. Chemicals that make us want to take care of and nurture our babies. Biology wants us to bond in a big way and keep those babies right next to our bodies so they can eat, grow and be happy. (In fact, one study links the first trimester levels of oxytocin in a woman to the level of bonding they have with their newborns. And another April 2010 study suggests we might be able to help autistic children recognize emotions by introducing oxytocin via nasal spray into the equation.)
And so, looking back at that crazy night I can finally forgive myself for being so erratic and missing out on such a historic night. Am I sorry I missed Piano Man where the entire crowd sang so loudly the stadium shook? Sure, but some things are bigger and stronger than Billy Joel. (Sorry, Billy!)