This is Why Car Seats Are So Panic-Inducing

I distinctly remember the first time I was forced to interact with a car seat.  I’ve teamed up with Tesco this week to share what it is about car seats that I find so harrowing.  My nephew was an infant and I was pregnant with my first child.  My sister-in-law, a seasoned mother of two, was getting out of her car, deftly juggling her iced tea, a couple of diaper bags, her purse and her toddler, and I asked if there was anything I could do to help.  She quickly responded that I could, “Get Leo out of his car seat” and then smiled as she added, “It’ll be good practice”.  I quickly regretted offering my assistance.

I panicked.  

Then I remembered that I would soon become a mother and have to do hard things like this so I took a deep breath and opened his door, determined that I, a woman who had successfully four-pointed her Master’s program, could retrieve him out of the car.  I ogled the harnesses and clamps and straps and I (remembered) realized I had no clue what I was doing.  I had no clue how to begin to unbuckle  this car seat and no clue how I would ever survive the demands associated with being a parent.  I could blame my terror on hormones, but I’m pretty sure I felt this way pre-pregnancy as well.

I backed away from the car seat and told her I would just carry her bags into the house instead.

Now, two children later, I’m a car seat pro.  Sort of. Okay, maybe I’m not a pro, but I at least buckle in, tighten straps, unbuckle straps, loosen straps, heave a kid in, and heave a kid out what feels like a thousand times each day.  I’m at least car seat experienced and car seat comfortable.

I still panic.  Car seats are intimidating, yo.  

I panic about whether or not I buckled the car seat straps together (even if I know I already buckled the car seat straps together).  I panic about when I should move my children from rear-facing to front-facing.  I panic about the financial costs related to ensuring my children are in the correct type of car seat during each growth stage, about whether the fabric of their coats protects them from the climate while preventing them from being too puffy.  I panic about whether or not the straps are tight enough and sometimes I worry about whether or not the car seat has reached it’s expiration date.

I worry about whether or not I’m worrying enough about whether or not the car seats are expired.   

I panic about keeping my children safe in the car, even if I did manage to worry enough to do all of those things correctly.

Sometimes I just panic about the amount of energy I need to expend in order to get my kids in and out of the car, regardless of where it is I even need to take them.  There are many days that I do not take a trip to the store because the thought of taking my kids in and out of the car sounds like too much effort.  Because it IS too much effort.  Carrying, lifting, pulling, strapping, unstrapping, lifting, carrying.  Those are the steps of taking my toddler in and out of the car, and sometimes those steps seem insurmountable.  At the very least, inconvenient.

Sometimes in a moment of clarity, I reflect on the fact that our kids are so much safer than they were back in the day.  It wasn’t too long ago when kids literally swung from seatbelts in the backseat or played with their dolls on the floor of the car, their parents up front, unbelted.  In these moments, I attempt, again, to take a deep breath and let go of the fears.  
As it turns out, letting go of the fears is one of the most difficult demands associated with parenting.  Even harder than pulling that car seat strap tight.

carseat

Parenting: Reasons To Panic #1 – Jogging With Baby

So, I’m trying to get back into shape.  Pre-baby shape.  Which I’m quite sure is a fairy tale notion.  My core is a disaster.  My pelvis is broken.  (Full disclosure: It’s really NOT.  It’s just offset enough to FEEL like it’s broken and there’s nothing that can be done except steroid injections, which I haven’t yet tried, but am quite sure I will have to if the pain gets any worse.  Inhale. Exhale.  Complaining completed.

Bah.

But, I figure I should do what I can before Baby Number 2 starts cooking, if we are to be so lucky, because if things are this bad NOW, I can only imagine how I might feel after 9 additional months of swelling and enlarging and hormoning.

So, I decided to get off my ass and go jogging.  In the heat of May.  Something I don’t typically do because I overheat in anything above 55 degrees.  My running season is October to April.  My aerobic activity of choice is running outside, whilst catching snowflakes in my eyelashes.  Once it hits 50 degrees, I’m stripped down to a t-shirt by mile 4.  But, I figured I just ran a marathon 3 weeks ago, I should be able to go for a short, 6 mile trot.

English: Female Jogger on Coleman Avenue in Mo...

Of course, I had the baby with me.  “No problem, I have a stroller/jogger!  I’ll just bring her!” I thought this was a grand idea until I started to panic about the following:

The baby is going to overheat!  I was ROASTING.  Granted, I always overheat when I run, but mid-way through I started to panic that Baby Grouch would combust.  How much do babies sweat?  How much of a breeze was she getting?  How hot IS IT out here?  How long does baby sunscreen last?  When you run you usually feel about 20 degrees hotter, right?!  It’s not really as hot as I FEEL, right?!!!  I started sprinkling her with ice water out of her sippy cup.

The baby is going to get Malaria!  There were approximately 83 billion mosquitos out.  I don’t want my child to get infected with Malaria or West Nile or Yellow Fever.   I had to walk a few times and dump water on my head and gasp for breath, and each time I panicked because the mosquitoes were swarming my child.  I flailed my arms and batted away.  An ungraceful, maternal, totemic dance.

The baby is going to get fussy!   I started to panic about mile 2.5.  How on Earth did I think a LOOP made sense?  There was no shortcut home.  I’m dying of heat exhaustion and this run is going to take me for-ev-er!  Of course at this point, Baby Grouch was sleeping.  But, still.  What is she woke up screaming?  Around mile 4.5 she DID start throwing her hat/toy/burp cloth out the edge of the stroller.  I ran over her doll once.  At one point I was jogging while holding all three items in my hands.  NO TIME TO STOP.

The baby is going to get sunburned!  Her arms are showing! She keeps pulling off her hat – her head is showing!  The canopy isn’t QUITE long enough – her face might get burnt!  The canopy is too long – I can’t see the baby!  The baby needs to be covered with a blanket to protect her from the Sun! The baby is overheating, I need to take the blanket off! I figure all the bending over and rearranging, though panic-driven, was probably good core work.

The Baby Is Going to Get Hungry/Thirsty!  I was worried about overheating so I offered Baby Grouch the sippy cup with water once every mile or so.  This may or may not have been a good idea, seeing as she puked up water and strained squash out her nose about 14 minutes after we got home.  My eyes burned as sweat poured into them while giving her a bath, and were still doing so while I cleaned the carpet.

OMG, Running is SO HARD.  I hadn’t ran in 3 weeks, and I could feel it.  My legs felt great, but my head felt fuzzy and lightheaded and horrible.  My face was abraisive to the touch, gritty with salt.  I tried to just focus on my legs. I had thoughts like, “Once you stop running, you have to start completely over again” and, “What the hell was I thinking?” and “I’m so not cut out for running”. And, “You can’t stop running because you have the BABY”.  Also, I got a blister on my hand, which was a first for me, as far as running injuries go.

I hope I don’t see anyone I know! The temperature outside was ovenlike.  I had to take off my shirt, despite the jiggly pouch.  And the early 90’s tribal tattoos on my back.  I had to roll my capris into bootie shorts, despite the expansive thighs.  You know how you look at someone and McJudgingly think, “Why are they wearing THAT?” This was exactly what people were thinking of ME as I was undulating down the sidewalk, pushing the stroller.  I crossed my fingers and hoped I didn’t see any students or parents I knew, but I took the risk because if I didn’t cool my chubby body off enough to keep moving, my child my overheat and get Dangue Fever and starve to death.  

Whew.

Ever had a jaunt with baby that scared you to pieces?