Have you taken your scariest drive yet? If you are a parent, you probably have or if you have taken one of my childbirth prep classes, you know it’s coming.
The scariest drive of your life will most likely be your drive home from the hospital after having your first child. As you struggle to wrestle (gently) this massive chunk of plastic car seat into your back seat, which used to seem so spacious, without shaking your newborn in the seat – DON’T SHAKE THE BABY! – you click it / strap it / bungee cord it in to place, sure you did it wrong. In your mind you question the car manufacturer credibility, the car seat maker, the car seat safety inspector and your college degree. There were so many belts and tabs and the manual for the car seat was like, 275 pages long.
Did you follow every step? Did you run the serial number through the recall website this morning to make sure this seat is not now deemed, “Death Trap?” Oh man, you are really sweating now.
The hospital candy striper is patiently standing and waiting for you to negotiate this miracle and trying hard not to roll her eyes and check her phone. You get all your bags, balloons, flowers, linen, pillows and diapers in to the car – now you are worried the balloon will block Baby’s breathing – or the string – she’ll choke on the strings – or the balloons will block your ability to drive safely and you’ll cause a huge, fiery crash somewhere in the 10 miles between the hospital and home. Wow! Did you even know you could sweat this much? You haven’t even started the car yet!
You start the car – oh man, did that wake the baby? Is she okay? OK. OK. You can do this. You put the car in drive and ease your foot off the gas. Did the movement wake her? OK. OK. We got this. You slowly pull on to the main street. Are you even registering a speed at this point? I think a snail is beating you. OK. OK. Wow, deep breaths – what are these called? Deep, cleansing breath … that’s right, OK, you’re relaxing a bit. Whoa – red light! Did the braking wake her? Is the car seat intact? Why is your mouth so dry?
Merging time – on to the freeway. Good Lord! Why is everyone going so fast? Geez – this feels very unsafe. It’s a bunch of maniacs on the road right now! Maybe you should pull off, go on the side roads. You don’t think you’re going to make it to the next exit. Are you only going 42 MPH on the freeway right now? There is sweat dripping from your face. Breathe. Okay, let’s just get off. Where are you? Oh no. Is this a dangerous part of town? Did this get super sketchy overnight? I don’t remember it being so dirty. Did you get a flu shot? When did you get your last oil change? What about the tires? What if you get a flat tire out here?
Oh no, baby made a noise. Is she going to cry? What do you do now? Should you speed up, pull over, turn around and go back? Are you questioning every decision you ever made in your life yet? You have made it exactly 2.7 miles from the hospital. Only 7.3 more to go – piece of cake.
You get yourself on to a main road that looks familiar. You’re breathing. Baby is NOT crying. Doing good. Everything is under control. It starts to rain. Or was it raining? What day is it? Do you even have shoes on? Why is that car honking? And that car? You crane your neck around – cars are passing you and one driver is giving you the middle finger. Oh my gosh! Did Baby see that? Cover her eyes! This place is filled with maniacs. We better think about moving. This is no place to raise a child! You look down at the dashboard and realize you are cruising at a solid 11 mph. Oh. Maybe it was you. You give it some gas, sure the lurch of excess speed (now 17 mph) has caused whiplash for Baby and you will never forgive yourself. Are you home yet? My gosh! It feels like we have been trying to get home for 4 hours.
Gas light comes on. How did you not prepare for this? You are going to run out of gas with your fragile baby in the car for the first time and have to risk your life and theirs to get some gas. Oh wait – there is a gas station. You pull in. What side is the tank? How do you even get the gas in the car? Do you have your wallet? Oh, not that bay of pumps – that guy looks like a serial killer. Oh, not that one either – pretty sure that lady is sick – she looks germy. You’ll just wait until everyone leaves.
Twenty minutes later, you ease into a row of pumps, try to pay with your library card about 5 times and eventually get some gas into your car, all along constantly checking on your precious cargo. What about the fumes? How many people have touched this pump? You feel dirty. Where can you wash this filth off? Oh ya – antibacterial gel in the car! You squeeze a good 1/4 cup on to your palm and kill the dirt.
Okay – let’s go. You get back out on to the main drive, cruising so confidently at apparently your new accepted speed of 19 mph – on your way. You got this! No problem. Are the roads feeling slippery to anyone else? You think this rain might be dangerous so you slow down. A car pulls up next to you at the stoplight and you realize they are BLASTING gangster rap – oh no, it’s too early to expose Baby to that language and bass. Go! What are these kids thinking these days? Maniacs. You realize it might actually have been Taylor Swift and a mom in a mini van but still. Maniacs.
You’re almost home. You can do this. Baby is sleeping. Your sweat streams seem to have slowed a bit and it is all good. Then you see it. Up ahead. A construction zone. Did the road collapse? Why did you come this way? Are you trying to die? Can you go around it? The flagger signals it is your turn and your snail pace returns. You see a water pipe streaming water all over the place like a volcano. Or maybe like a tiny faucet. But now you start to wonder if you will have running water at home? Will you be able to bathe your baby? Bathe yourself to get the awful germs from the dirty gas station off of your skin? What about coffee? How will you make coffee? Because that is truly all you think will help you live another day. You give the entire construction site dirty, evil looks, as if it is their fault you will be dirty and coffee-less forever. Curse you Howard Construction! Curse you!
There is your driveway – right there. You pull in, scramble to find the garage door opener, sure it will wake Baby and she will start screaming for all to hear what a horrible parent you are and everyone will know the truth. You glance back, still sound asleep. What an angel. You wipe your sweaty brow. Then you wipe your sweaty palms on your jeans and go to get out of your seat, realizing there is sweat all down the back of the seat and shirt you are wearing. Yummy.
You get all of your bags, balloons, flowers, linen, pillows and diapers in to the house. You gently unhinge the massive plastic bucket of a car seat from the back seat and carefully maneuver it inside the house and set it down to softly on to the carpet – still asleep. Phew! You did it. It only took a total of 53 minutes, two nervous breakdowns, 3 buckets of bodily fluids, one middle finger and a massive amount of deep breathing and irrational thoughts. And as you fall, face first on to your familiar coach, you think, “We. Are. Never. Leaving. The. House. Again. ”