I wasn't going to post this, however after thinking about it I thought I would post in case anyone needs some helpful advice or support. (links at bottom of post...highly recommend the Peaceful Parenting group...they're also on Facebook)
If you follow on Instagram, you know that I've had a "fun" few days with Madalyn's car seat saga. She has been in her infant seat because:
1) She is still a tiny girl and I feel safer having her in the infant seat since she is still under the weight limit that our infant seat allows.
2) It's a lot easier to run errands when she is in the infant seat because it can be pulled off the base and put on the stroller!
The other day we forgot to put the seat back in my car, and M left for work. Since I had somewhere that I needed to go that day, I decided to pull out the car seat we had registered for and received as a shower gift before Madalyn was born. I read the manual, and installed it in our car rear facing, because I firmly believe extended rear facing is the safest for a baby/toddler.
Admittedly we did not do much extensive research on the car seats other than the infant seat...ya know...what with being first time parents and overwhelmed with all that, preparing for our natural birth, and still having the fear of a possible miscarriage and losing the pregnancy in the back of our minds (after it happens once, it puts a damper on the 9 months that you are pregnant...not until Madalyn was born and in my arms did I stop worrying about miscarriage or something happening...although I now worry about everything else!)...well, with all of that going on researching a seat she wouldn't be using until she was beyond the infant stage was too much for me to deal with at the time. All that to say, we registered for a seat that *gasp* had a nice look, and seemed like it would fit in our car.
So there I am tugging and pulling and reading directions getting the car seat installed the way the manual directed. It's been pointed out by some people that the "car seat manuals are easy to read", however I disagree. The particular manual I read was not clear on a couple of points, and the diagram was only shown for 2 steps. I still had it installed to the best of my ability, it was securely tightened with the seat belt install, which is how the manual recommended for rear facing...it also stated to only use the latch system for forward facing.
As we drove down the road, I looked over my shoulder to check on my girl and noticed the car seat was askew and tipping over to one side. Not cool. I drove to the fire station that I was close to, and some of the firemen said they could help me, but also that they were not certified...apparently only CHP (highway patrol) is certified. Considering I was not close to a CHP office, I decided to accept the assistance of the firemen that were willing to help me out.
They tried EVERY way they could to get the car seat to be secure rear facing. Even tried connecting with the seat belt and the latch system. Nothing would work to keep the seat from tipping over while rear facing. The very back of the seat was loose and the seat was very top heavy. I'm guessing that the way the seat of my car sits has something to do with the angle. Even tried putting a blanket rolled up under the front end and the back...nothing we did kept it secure. They suggested that the seat would be more secure while in the forward facing position, for temporary use until we could sort out the situation. They informed that the law for forward facing is 1 year old and 20 pounds. (I've since discovered that the law is in fact actually 2 years old. Big fat oops on my part). ***EDIT*** 5/8/13 I called the CHP office and spoke with an officer because it was very unclear on the website and when doing website searches...the law in California is that for forward facing a child must be 1 year old and a minimum of 20 pounds. SO, while it is strongly recommended to have a child rear-facing for as long as possible, the LAW in CA is 1 year and 20 pounds.
All this to say, I posted another Instagram photo of Madalyn in her seat today. We were parked in the garage, I had loosened her straps because I was going to take her out of the seat, but I changed my mind and wanted to take a photo because I wanted advice from friends on a good safe car seat that also has good head support since she was all flopped over having fallen asleep.
I posted it on my Instagram feed with a couple of hashtags hoping to get some helpful advice, and while I did have several random nice people comment with great advice, I had one comment in particular that really got under my skin. Basically this person was trying to be "helpful" by pointing out that I was essentially going to kill my child by having loose straps. Yes, I already knew this bit of information because I also feel strongly about car seat safety and have tried to educate myself on the subject, and yes the thought did cross my mind that I might get a couple of comments on the fact that her straps were loose and low (which, as I stated above was because I was getting her out of the car) but I really wanted and needed advice from friends on which car seat would be the best since it's an expensive and important purchase...and I feel word of mouth experience is the best.
I didn't expect, and quite frankly was disappointed to get a rude, arrogant and condescending comment from a fellow blogger, a blogger that has built her blogging community and appears to be quite successful at what she does. And good for her...I wish I had the time to devote to blogging the way that she has. I always think it's amazing and powerful when women, especially moms, are able to keep a blogging business going while being a Mama. I was just very taken aback, and to be honest, offended by her approach. I'm not a blogging expert by any means, but it seems to me that you catch people's genuine attention and their listening ears by being nice, and keeping it professional.
Which brings me to the next topic...Mommy Guilt. WHY why WHY do mothers continue to guilt and judge each other?! I mean really, don't we have enough to deal with, without adding more to it? I haven't dealt with post-partum depression, thank goodness, but if I had or if I was, a comment in the tone that hers was would have been devastating.
I understand wanting to educate parents on car seat safety. It is extremely important! I also understand having a passion for something, especially something that can effect children and their well being, such as breast feeding, natural med-free birth, organic food, vaccinations or no vaccinations, baby wearing, co-sleeping, circumcision or not, etc... I get it. I truly do.
What I don't understand is how being accusing, condescending arrogant, brash, and just down right rude will inspire me to seek out further education from said person? (Because after all, "however we word it, it will cause you guilt" because you are going to kill your baby with loose car seat straps while they are parked in the garage??? wow. )
Perhaps a better approach would be to gently educate parents...a more friendly and helpful tone DOES matter if you want people to hear you, especially with the written word over the internet. A successful blogger should already know this. Hopefully this post, if its read by her, will help her to change her approach. Because I do believe that she is genuinely concerned for babies and kids that aren't properly restrained.
***EDIT 5/9/13*** I found these Instagram terms of service...the above mentioned user might want to read them and perhaps re-think her approach even further so as to comply with the TOS, and additionally stop posting pictures she has copied from other users to make her point...I'm sure she has not received permission to post them...and it's against the TOS.
And PS, we will be purchasing another seat very, very soon...we are leaning towards the Diono Radian, or one of the Britax models...preferably one that will grow with Madalyn in to a booster seat eventually...but most importantly keep her safe and rear facing for as long as possible!
If you're not sure if your seat is properly installed, please have it checked by a certified professional. Obviously every parent wants their child to be safe and protected in the event of the unthinkable happening. Prevention and preparation is key! As is education...so here are some helpful links.