I always forget that not everyone got the lecture on carseats that Joe and I did when I was pregnant. Our experience was so…startling. As birth was approaching and we were winding up our last childbirth preparation classes, we met The Carseat Lady. This woman took it upon herself to provide carseat education all over Humboldt County and had a number of stories to share. They all had a similar theme and went a little something like this:
You have to really climb into that carseat to get the belts nice and tight against the seat, otherwise when you get into an accident it will go bouncing around and your precious baby’s spine will snap when his head falls foward and he will die.
Also, make sure the line on the side of the carseat is level with the ground like the instructions say, otherwise the tilt of the seat will cause your brand new baby to slump, chin to chest, cutting off his airway and he will suffocate and die. An accident doesn’t even need to occur for this to happen!
Don’t forget all that debris floating around on your floorboards! In a crash that will all go flying at full speed right at your baby and kill him! Clean your car! Get cargo nets!
Now let me show you this old style of carseat. It has a plastic bar that comes down over the top of the child’s head and rests at mid-torso. I know, it SEEMS like a really good idea, but let me tell you – if you have this seat and you get into a wreck, that sweet little child’s head is going to smack against that plastic bar and his skull is going to crack wide open!
And I know you parents are all very concerned about your baby’s comfort, so you might loosen up the harness or move the clip further down than it should be. If you do that, though, your infant is going to launch out of that harness in an accident and shoot straight through the windshield and onto the cement. Folks, I’m imploring you, please keep that harness tight enough that your finger barely slides under it and keep the clip at armpit level! You want that baby to live, don’t you?!
Her brutal depictions shared with a group of hormonal women (all nodding their heads because this was the stuff of their nightmares) and shocked men (who were obviously all thinking, “Yes, I think it’s a REALLY good idea to seek out help from the fire department!”), brought up the most vivid, horrible imaginings of broken babies lying in a pool of shattered glass on the cement. You know what, though? The lessons stuck. They stuck so much that I cringe every time I see a harness clip hanging out at belly level. I get the shakes if I notice that a newborn isn’t facing backward, or the carseat is obviously tilted. THIS is why installing a carseat is so stressful! You have this overzealous lunatic of a woman yelling at you to do it right or your bundle of joy (as yet unborn) is going to perish before you even leave the hospital parking lot!
We saw the carseat lady again just a few weeks before our move out of Humboldt. I didn’t recognize her at first but Joe knew her right away and poked me in the ribs. ”Hey, look at that! That crazy carseat lady is married to Jack’s pediatrician!”
Ahhh, ya gotta love those small towns…