I still can’t believe they let us walk out of the hospital with him. There must have been some mistake right? How could they trust someone like me to be responsible with someone so important?
It was easy to look like a semi-competent parent when a team of nurses was present to supervise. But once we left the hospital, my precious safety net would be gone and the real trial by fire would begin. The first test would be the drive home from the hospital.
I imagined a cartoonish scene playing out in my head, complete with plenty of horn honking and fist shaking. I envisioned drivers waving at me with one finger as I drove five miles an hour down the road. But I wouldn’t care. I’d be toting cargo more precious than the Crown Jewels.
I used to laugh at the vehicles, usually mini-vans or SUV’s who would proudly display their “Baby On Board” signs in the back window. I’d see them and scratch my head. Did they really expect others to magically respect their car, as though it was the pope-mobile? “Keep fifty yards distance at all times. Can we get a police escort over here?” Sorry Soccer Mom, you don’t drive on water. You didn’t perform a miracle. You joined a cult. The cult of parenthood, where all members worship their self absorbed and tempermental leader, the baby.
Boy was I wrong. So what changed my mind? It wasn’t what I watched my wife go through on delivery day. Though she earned that bumper sticker like a badge of honor. It’s more than that. To me, that bumper sticker is a one strike style warning that says,
“Hey Asshole! I was crazy enough to endure childbirth. Think about what I’m crazy enough to do to you.”
Also it gives me unquestioned access to the carpool lane. I can see me zipping past a police cruiser now. “Hey, that fat guy looks like he’s alone in that car.” Just as the officer is about to flip on the siren, her partner stops her. “Nah, don’t pull him over. He’s got a baby on board. It counts as a second person.” Goodbye gridlock.
Anyway, the drive home was pretty uneventful. Lots of dads, former dads, and wannabe dads warned me about the car seat. Most of them told me not to worry about it, no matter how much I fumbled with it ahead of time, the nurse would just redo it anyways.
Others recounted their own horror stories. My own mother said that she sat there holding me in a wheel chair outside the hospital while my father tried to figure out the car seat for forty-five minutes. Eventually, the nurse lost her patience and just did it for him.
So when it came time for me to pull the car around, I didn’t want to seem cocky and have the nurse tell me I did it wrong but I didn’t want to fumble for forty-five minutes either. So, to avoid looking like an idiot, I checked out the car seat base on my own ahead of time.
Turns out, it was a piece of cake. Two clícks from the built-in buckled, tighten the straps and you’re already halfway home. As an added bonus, the car seat can lock into the stroller as well as the base, completely universal. I would highly reccomened this idiot proof car seat for any new parents.
I meant to undo it all before the nurse came out with Bex but everything happened so fast that day, I forgot. As soon as I opened the door, I caught the nurse sizing up my handiwork. My stomach tightened as I waited for her to correct me but nothing happened. She handed me the baby carrier, complete with semi-fresh baby (five days old) and wished us luck.
Normally, I would have taken the freeway home. Even in traffic, we get where we need to go in about twenty minutes. That day I took the side streets home and it took us a whopping forty minutes to get home. That’s a lot of time, I know, but there was no way I was taking the kid on the freeway. He doesn’t even have his license yet.
It was worth it. There was no honking. No one cut me off. And to my disappointment, no one waved at me with one finger. But I will have my “Baby On Board”sticker ready when they do.
I’m shopping for it while I write this. Amazon has one with the Batman logo printed on it. Don’t worry we have prime(Try Amazon Prime 30-Day Free Trial). It’ll be delivered and slapped on my car window by lunch time tomorrow.
So the next time I see someone with a “Baby On Board” sign in their car, I will not scratch my head or laugh. I will happily wave to the other driver and smile. These are my people now . . . and I’ll probably drink Kool-Aid with them at the next cult meeting.