I’m always amazed when moms come up with “excuses” for their judgementalism of other moms. There’s always a reason it’s ok for them to be judgy. Yes, I’m still getting car seat-related hate mail. 🙂
I was pondering this as I drove to and from Iowa City today. Again. I should have started counting trips. 🙂 I have no idea how many times I’ve made that drive. How many miles on the car, how many gallons of gas. I can tell you how many sets of tires – two. In two years. (and that’s with NO VACATIONS!) I do know that we were driving out there at least weekly his entire first year, unless he was an inpatient, which he was an awful lot that year. (we actually went weekly from NICU discharge 12/2011 until 3/2013.)
I was pondering some of the things people have said specifically about my decision to put Teddy in the passenger seat during his first year.
I was pondering some of the reasons (or “excuses,” they’ve been called) for that decision. The big one was that I needed to be assured that he wasn’t choking on his vomit. He puked so much. SO MUCH before his transplant. 10 times a day, easily. Not spitup. NOT SPITUP. Vomit. In the car, he’d be hysterical, then he’d vomit, then he’d be silent. AMAZINGLY hard to tell while you’re driving whether your kid just choked to death, or whether he just fell into an exhausted sleep.
Now. I’ve driven in a car with a screaming baby. Genna hated her carseat. HATED IT. She cried hysterically every second she was in that seat until she was 6 months old. I could tune that out, for the most part, though we seriously limited our trips. Because I was relatively reassured that she wasn’t going to DIE in her carseat.
But I could NOT tune out Teddy because I was afraid he was going to DIE IN HIS CAR SEAT.
That’s a powerful fear, folks. If you’ve never experienced that kind of fear (and don’t tell me all parents have – I thought I had with the other two, and then I had Teddy and I knew what fear was), then you really can’t imagine what it’s like.
So there’s that. There was also the reality that I needed to do what I could to try to MINIMIZE his vomiting because dehydration was our biggest enemy. Dehydration could kill him. Dehydration (just from vomiting) led to more than one 2-week hospitalization. Dehydration could easily have been the death knell of that remaining 7-10% of kidney function he had at that time. If I could reduce the liklihood of his vomiting, I could LITERALLY increase the chances of him surviving his first year. So there’s that, too.
And then there’s this. This is what I was thinking about for the most part today.
Because I needed him there. Because I was trying to deal with the enormity of our situation, and failing miserably. Because, emotionally, I could not leave him alone in the backseat to cry hysterically the whole way there and the whole way home. Because I was driving to and from what was, for him, a House of Horrors. A place where he was poked with needles, where we did painful, terrible things to him. Where he was terrified. Where he was literally hysterical the whole time. Nearly every time we left the hospital, he then had an hour (or more – one visit, I clocked 3 hours) of hysterical crying in my arms. I came to view this as his DeStressing time. It was his way of dealing with his experiences. We paced around the parking garage, for the most part, during these sessions, and I cried, too. Because, after all that, I couldn’t put him in the backseat to listen to him scream and cry and vomit some more, in a place where I couldn’t provide him with any comfort. Because I cried the entire 2 hours to Iowa City and the entire 2 hours home from Iowa City, every single week, but the times I had him back there, crying alone, I couldn’t drive because I could not safely see the road, because I was crying so hard. Because we were both just little balls of misery and we needed each other. I couldn’t – I literally could not – deal with it.
So, yeah. That’s my “excuse.” Judge me for that.
There were real medical issues at play. His doctors were aware of and approved of my decision.
But there’s also that. And that’s probably the “real” reason I wanted him up front. Because I really and truly couldn’t cope otherwise.
And if you’ve ever had to experience what we experienced during Teddy’s first year, then you’re qualified to judge my actions.
If you haven’t, then you can stuff your judgmentalism as far up your ass as it’ll go.