Oscar is just over six months old now and has only recently started to not scream in the car. From the moment he was a newborn up until he was about five and a half months, he despised being put into his car seat and despised it even more when said car seat was then fixed into the car. Everything was about perfect timing with him. He had to be fed and he had to be sleepy. We had to guarantee that he would fall asleep in the car in order to go anywhere because if he didn't, there would be hell to pay.
The biggest problem we had, was that he had that period of time where he had a really awful cough and any sort of crying meant he would just end up choking because of it. I couldn't leave him to cry at home (not that I wanted too but I am certain it's the reason he is a super clingy baby), I couldn't leave him to cry for food – I basically had to attend to his needs immediately to avert any coughing episode. This however was not possible in the car. If he was crying with unhappiness, he would then start coughing, cry more because of the coughing and it was a whole cycle over and over again. As the driver of the car, every journey was agonising. He wouldn't always scream, but I never knew when he was going to and so I found myself constantly on edge and wanting to get to wherever I was going as quickly as possible.
He always seemed to know when the car had stopped moving. We would have tears at traffic lights and I couldn't just wait outside a shop while the other half popped in, I had to drive round and round the car park and once even that didn't work and he just screamed until we got home. We once went to a shopping centre for the day and even though we thought we had timed everything perfectly for the journey home (he was fed and he was sleepy), we were wrong and instead he screamed for half an hour down the M25, only stopping when we took him out of the car and indoors.
On another occasion, we were on the way back from the nursery run and stuck in traffic as there were roadworks leading down to our road. He woke up (of course) and was instantly unhappy. The only way to settle him when he gets into a state is with the boob and so I turned around, drove back up to the mini roundabout, turned into the road that the library is on, and went in there to feed him!
What all of this has done, is make me a really nervous driver. I have never had a problem with driving, I have always quite enjoyed it, but now? Now it's just this constant worry. Being permenantly on edge as to whether he is going to have a meltdown, if he is going to wake up unhappy. Or that I am going to get stuck in traffic and then what?!
I now avoid main roads. You will find me driving the slower route, going round the houses in order to keep that car moving and my child happy. The route to nursery can be taken via a large dual carriageway. It is faster and more direct but you know what? I cannot easily get off of that road if there happens to be a traffic jam and so I just stear clear of it, driving up the high street instead. Because the high street has roads coming off of it. It has places that I can pull over and stop if he is having a meltdown.
I now avoid motorways entirely if I can. I recently went to visit a friend who lives about 40 minutes away. I could have gone on the M25 but instead I drove through the country roads because I knew that if I got stuck in traffic I could simply turn the car around – something you just can't do on a motorway. And boy was I glad that I did as the other friends going who did take the M25 got stuck in traffic.
The lovely Hannah from Budding Smiles recently put up a photo of her being stuck in traffic with her two littlies in the back. She'd been stuck for about an hour and was nowhere near home. The thought of it made my blood run cold! As did the picture my friend put up of her stuck on the M25 in gridlock! It is my absolute worst nightmare to drive into anythiing resembling this!
I thought I was alone in this, I even had the odd comment from my mum and the other half about how I was suddenly so nervous about it all. And they both soon realised why I was like it when they experienced a journey full of screaming! I discovered on Monday though, that I am not alone, as I was talking to a fellow new second time mum at gymnastics and she was saying that her daughter suddenly hates the car and it too has made her a really nervous driver. It was so refreshing to hear that someone else was dealing with the exact same thing and that's why I had to write this post because there are bound to be others out there who have this problem and by writing about it, they now know they are not the only ones!
As I said at the beginning, Oscar is getting better in the car. We have a lot less meltdowns, it tends to be that I don't need to time everything quite as much as I did before and he'll happily stay awake for a period of time before he nods off. He even happily sits in his car seat at home while we are putting our shoes and coats on. Not every time, but more often than not. We have discovered one of the key ingredients is his Lamaze Pirate Pete toy. The one time we recently forgot it, he had a meltdown and we realised we can never ever leave the house without it!
In July, we are going on holiday to Bournemouth. It's a two hour drive without traffic and is all on motorways. To say that right now I am dreading that journey is an understatement. But we have four months for things to improve even more and so I am hoping that it won't be anywhere near as bad as I am thinking it might be. And hey, if he still doesn't like the car journeys by then, we'll take him swimming beforehand – he napped for two hours after we went a couple of weeks ago! And I'll just be praying that there's no traffic hold ups!