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Tuesday, August 16, 2011

to face front or not to face front?

I changed my son's car seat to forward facing the other day.
It was kind of a big deal, considering he's 18 months old now and has been rear-facing since that first ride home from the hospital.

The "rules" (from whoever makes up such things, I have no clue!) just a year ago were that babies needed to be facing backward until one year of age. Then just as my luck would have it they changed the rule to babies need to stay rear-facing until 2 years of age.

My goal all along was to make it to the 2-year-mark, because, well, "they" (the infamous they, as in doctors, gurus, people who write blogs, the picture perfect mommy friends in the play group, etc.) said that's what is best for baby now. I figured I was just supposed to do this, so I'd do it.

But then for the last few months my post-12-months-old toddler grew four inches - literally 4 inches - in three months and absolutely despised being in the back seat. His legs were so long they could not stretch out at all. He got bored back there, constantly throwing his hand back for me to hold, saying, "Mama, hand, mama!" Something I found totally cute the first hundred times, but then after my arm fell asleep every day on my 30-minute commute home from work it started to get old.

Family members started asking us when we would turn Owen around in his seat. We started getting frustrated by Owen's complaints in the car seat. So I decided let's just get to 18 months, the end of the summer, hopefully when most tourists go home and don't endanger us as much anymore on the roads. We'd turn him around in my car because of the way the seat was it made him so uncomfortable, yet leave him rear-facing in Dad's car because his legs can stretch out more in that car. Best of both worlds, right?

So a couple of days after Owen's 18 months doctor appointment we turned him around to see the world from our point of view. We made it 18 months and 4 days rear-facing. That first car ride was awesome. He was giddy, laughing hysterically, dancing, saying, "Mama, Dada drive!" pointing to the steering wheel. Then everything we saw on the sides of the road he now saw, too, like cows and trees and tractors. It was weird at first for me to finally see him back there, but then cool to check him out in the rear view, seeing what he's been up to back there for the past year and a half.

I started to rationalize in my mind that yes, it was OK that we moved him 6 months earlier than is recommended now. I thought, 18 months is good, it's so much better than 17 or 16 or 14 months, good job. It just sounded better in my mind, but really, who cares?

I began to compare myself to people and how they tackled the whole rear vs. front-facing car seat issue. Why? Who cares? They just changed the rules anyway from 1 year to 2 years, "just" as in literally months ago. My child looks and has the weight and height of a 2 year old (literally, the doctor told me so!)... isn't that enough?! (For the record, the pediatrician said to check the weight limit on the car seat itself and if that was OK then go ahead and turn him around. He weighs 27 lbs 11 oz. The car seat recommendation for turning to front-facing was 20 lbs. Good to know. See, we went 7 lbs and 11 oz. extra rear-facing! Score!)

This is one of those ridiculous things that we new moms (I say moms only because my husband was all "huh?" on me when I even brought up this topic!) experience and compare ourselves to other moms and their kids with. It's silly. One thing I have learned is that we really do need to do whatever is in our and our children's best interest at the moment. For some that may mean changing a seat at a year, others will wait until 2, and others like me will meet in the middle. Regardless, it's not worth judging others over or comparing ourselves to others. It's all relative, really.

It was mostly exciting to watch Owen in the back seat those first few days, in spite of the minor guilt I was feeling about, "is this the right time to turn him around?" (too late!). And because it's the last of the baby stages gone by... turning forward in the car seat! Well, I suppose next on the list are dropping the sippy on the cup to just drink from a cup and moving to a toddler bed and potty training, but those seem far away right now, like I have more time. This was the last of the really baby things. And yet I'm not sad. I'm relieved and happy and proud. Oh, and I'm totally OK with this decision because who the hell are "they" anyway?!

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