That said, being a mom (and I suspect even if I weren't one), I love new babies, and watching the new parents as they struggle through this new part of their life, because it's still the most vivid and emotional part of my life. Having a new baby is at once beautiful and a complete nightmare.
And I didn't have to do it with a billion people watching.
Yesterday I checked Facebook near the end of the day and oh look! There they are, coming out of the hospital, with Kate in perfect pumps looking absolutely fabulous with her hair recently did. So... that part didn't match my experience one iota.
And there she is with a huge grin on her face holding a baby, looking like she doesn't quite know whether to rock it or pat it, and the husband awkwardly reaching over to take the baby from her as she tentatively puts the baby into his arms, looking the entire time like she's scared she'll break it, while he looks exactly the same. Yep, THAT part mirrors my experience pretty much exactly.
And then, this morning, this photo popped up on my newsfeed:
|"Good god, man, this is NOT how you strap a baby into a carseat!!"|
Sigh. OK, how about before we all get into a tizzy, we stop and remember our own experiences.
Now I'll take you back to that moment in the hospital where we are about to leave, and the nurse enters the room and says we can't leave until we can prove we know how to properly strap a baby into a carseat. My husband grabbed the little carseat and sat it on the bed. He loosened all the straps and got it ready, just like we'd practiced with the doll. Remember the doll? The one that won't break no matter how many times you drop it on its head, the one that never moves or fights or struggles or cries? That one that is EXACTLY like a real baby? Yeah, that one.
So then I set the REAL baby in there, so gently, and she immediately began moving all over the place, struggling and crying this new high-pitched cry that it took our ears several days to get used to. He tried getting the straps over the shoulders and it didn't work. Then I moved in and pulled up the harness from between her legs, and got it positioned on her lap, and we somehow pulled her tiny arms into the arm straps. And then it was time to tighten it, and... okay, how the hell do you tighten this thing? Is it... OK, if you pull up on this part, then... no, that just loosened it more. Oh for god's sakes, here, get the baby out, let's try flipping the seat over.
The nurse stood there, looking like she was trying to hide her amusement. "Do you know how you tighten it?" my husband asked. "I do, but I can't tell you because you need to do this yourself and I won't be at your house to help you later."
My husband stood up taller. "No, but if you tell me once, I think I can remember it. I'm not asking you to put her in, I'm asking for your help." She just smiled and apologized, and said she couldn't.
Back to the drawing board. Now the baby's getting fussy, and hungry, and while my husband started fooling around with the back of the thing, I had to go off to a corner to try to nurse the baby, something I still didn't quite know how to do. It took a while, he finally figured out that if you lift this thing in the back it'll allow you to pull them through the front, and then you tighten it using that strap there at the bottom.
Twenty minutes later, baby is calmed down, back in she goes. And the screaming begins again, and I grab one shoulder strap and he grabs the other, and we pull it quickly around the tiny flailing arms and pull it down, snap it into the three-point harness et voila, baby is in!!!
"Nope, try again," says the nurse.
What? The baby is in, we did it!
"It can't be loose like that. Tighten it." So my husband tightened it by about a millimetre. Any tighter than that and we'll seriously hurt the baby, right? "No, it needs to be tight. You should only be able to tightly fit a finger between the baby and the strap." Oh my GOD that's horrible! The baby was just born yesterday and you want us to strap it in so tight it can't move at all?! "That's... the point." Her amusement is giving away to frustration. (By the way, she hasn't been standing there the whole time, she's in and out of the room and often we have to pause to wait for her to come back.)
My husband started slowly pulling on the strap, I kept my hands at the top holding the shoulder straps on her tiny shoulders, and together we slowly tightened them, and as soon as it was snug, the baby calmed right down (they love the feeling of being snug, hence the success of swaddling).
One hour after we'd begun, our baby was in her carseat.
And, oh yeah, we didn't have a billion people watching us, unlike Kate and Will.
And we were driving a little faster than 10km all the way home, unlike Kate and Will (15km, yes, but not 10).
And we didn't have an entourage of security vehicles, ensuring there was no way in hell we were getting into an accident on the way home, unlike Kate and Will.
Kate and Will aren't stupid; they know that where every single parent has had to put up with judgement from every single other parent and non-parent, that the judgement thrown at them is going to be a thousandfold. But they got their baby in the carseat with the world watching, and that's quite remarkable considering what everyone else has gone through doing exactly the same thing. And Kate could have climbed in the car still holding the baby in her arms in the front seat and it still would have had zero chance of dying on the way from the hospital to their house, considering their transport entourage.
No one is watching them or looking at that picture and saying, "OH!! I didn't know I could swaddle the baby and just loosely put him in the seat and drive around like that! That is what I shall do from now on." Absolutely no one. And if they are, then there are bigger issues at hand here.
Kate and Will are doing just fine, and are being brilliant under pressure. I'm not a fan of the royals, but I can't help but like Kate and Will immensely. And I'm the daughter of a royalty fanatic, and therefore watched the Di/Charles royal wedding at 5 in the morning, and remember watching the TV to watch Di and Charles walk out onto the steps of the hospital with William in their arms.
I'm not going to say, "So let's just lay off them, and let them struggle through this wonderful time in their lives," because that's just not going to happen. But as long as I can watch them put their baby in the carseat all wrong and just tilt my head to one side and say, "Aw, bless, they're trying their best, and they'll get the hang of it," then that's one less person judging them today. And it's a start.