Last October, my son was born at Northwestern Memorial Hospital
in downtown Chicago, right off the Magnificent Mile. Right from the
get-go, this was different than my childhood. In my rural Michigan
town, expectant mothers have one hospital at which to deliver their
babies. Living in Chicago, I got to choose.
My son is now approaching eight months old, and I can't help but
notice that I'm raising a baby in a metropolis. At first, I
questioned if having a baby in the city would be good for a child,
not to mention a nervous new mother. In the small town where I grew
up, it's safe for kids to run around all day, and it wasn't
uncommon to take off on my bike without any plans. There were
streams to wade in and woods to get lost in.
Chicago, I knew, would be a different kind of childhood for my
son. Now, months into this adventure, I can see that we made the
In my hometown, everyone drives everywhere. Here, we're a family
without a vehicle and I'm a "stroller mom." We pop on and off the
CTA buses and trains without hesitation, and we've put many miles
on the stroller. My son was eight days old when he got on the CTA
for the first time, and he loves it. (For a while, the Brown Line
was one surefire way to get him to take a nap.)
Chicago is an incredibly diverse city, but it's also a very
friendly one. Every time I take my little boy for a walk, people of
all ages and races and differences smile and wave at him or stop to
When I moved to Chicago fresh out of college, I did it for the
opportunities the city held-cultural institutions, new people, new
Before my son turns 1, he will have visited museums, aquariums
and multiple zoos. He's growing up in a Lakeview apartment, so he
may not have a backyard to play in-but in a way, Lincoln Park (and
its zoo) is his backyard. How many kids grow up with a rhino within
I feel fortunate (and excited) to be able share all of these
things with my little dude as he grows up an urban, Chicago baby. I
can't wait until he's a little older and we can go to some of the
wonderful children's theater shows or he can learn about dinosaurs
by visiting Sue at the Field Museum.
Of course, nothing is perfect-including Chicago. Crime and
safety are always in the back of my mommy mind, and something I
consider before heading anywhere.
Also, we're far away from our respective families. My parents
live in Michigan, and my husband's family is from Texas. We're
making the best of it, though. Thanks to modern technology like
texting and Skype, we keep in touch as much as possible. I also
started a blog so our long-distance family and friends can see my
son's growth day by day.
Raising a baby in Chicago is an adventure every single day, and
one I'm loving. The city might not be for everyone, but it's just
right for us.
Jamie Prahl is a freelance writer living in Chicago.
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