The other night Alya & I went to a birthday party for our doula’s daughter who’s turning 5. It was big outing for us: M wasn’t able to come so we went alone, and it was a party, and it was at night. But we love our doula and her daughter, and we had a gift for her, so we went.
The party was delightful – lovely people, a sweet and grateful birthday girl, other mommies, and good food. Around 7 p.m. I put Alya into the Baby Bjorn and she went to sleep. I ate some cake, and decided to get going while she was in a good, deep sleep.
Unfortunately, by the time I’d gathered my things, bundled her up, put her in the car seat, and got myself dressed to go, she was awake. And not happy. The line of kids whooping past her chair may have scared her. Or possibly it was the tight fit in the car seat, now that she was wearing big winter snuggly outerwear. In any case, she cried, was calmed, then the lower lip jutted out again – tears on the way! I held the car seat in teh air, jiggled it, talked to her, and thought she’s settle down once we started driving. We got in the car -her crying worse – and drove down the block to louder and louder protests. I stopped 2 blocks down, determined not to put my daughter through this and wanting to respond to her obvious requests for me to fix what was wrong with the situation. I tried the bottle on her – no. I pulled her out of the seat and tried nursing. No. Crying, crying, and more crying. So I did something I will probably get a lot of flack for: I held her on my chest in the front seat, buckled us in, and drove back to the party. No way was I going to forcibly strap a crying girl to a car seat.
Carrying her and the milk, I returned, took off boots and coat, walked up the steps and settled down to nurse. oh hello, smiley girl! Nothing’s wrong in the world-girl! She nibbled a bit, but was more interested in eye contact with mommy & bonding time. I tried the bottle too -not interested. After about 20 minutes I figured she was calm enough to get her home, so did the same thing in reverse: down the steps, boots and coat on … and she starts crying as we get to the bottom of the stairs. I consider my options, then disrobe for the third time and climb the stairs again.
This time she does take the bottle. We sit and bond some more. And at around 8:35, I head down the stairs, fingers crossed. I wouldn’t mind getting home some time that evening! She protests some this time, but not the “I’m miserable, save me!” cries of before. More “I don’t really like this … but it’s not too bad” whines. I buckle her in and drive – the groans and grunts continue, I shake the seat as I drive, and we manage to get home a bit before 9 without too much pain.
Looking at the experience, I’m glad I’ve been reading the Sears’ Baby Book wiht its emphasis on maintaining the trust and bond with your baby by responding to her needs. It confirms my intuitive take on parenting: listen to your kids. IF they cry, something’s wrong. Meet their needs. This isn’t spoiling – this is teaching them that they have a voice, and that they can trust their parents to care for them, and thus that they can trust the universe.