Mafe Maria: Personal stories by autism parent mentor, Maria Stultz

Bollo Campeche (i.e. I may have to stay at home forever)

This will have to be a short one. Gotta run and dry my hair so we can go out later to the aquarium, the next destination on Joaquin’s getting–out–of–the–house training series.

In a few words: Bolliti HATES the car seat. HATES the car. Tolerates motion in his new lightweight stroller, but HATES the stroller if the thing ain’t moving.

This all started when in baby’s first checkup out of the hospital, the pediatrician told us not to take the bollo out to shopping crowds for two to three months. So mom, Bolliti, and I have stayed in the house all that time, with the exception of a couple torturing strolls around the neighborhood, and a few highly planned trips of mom to shop, and me to do boring errands.

With the coming arrival of Joaquin’s fourth month, we dared to take the bollo out to Maggie Moo’s. We paid dearly, and quickly decided that this campeche bollo needed to be trained to get out of the house ASAP if we didn’t want to condemn me to an eternal stay at home.

Iracundo by Mafe Maria, on Flickr

Seeing that the newly alert bollo isn’t too happy about being carried in a sling, and because the fully–featured stroller I have at home is impossible for me to carry around, open, and close at the speed Bollo demands (not to mention he HATES the infant cradle), I went out and bought two lightweight strollers for Joaquin to road test. He cried and bubbled his heart out with the first one (the cheap one), and tolerated the second (more expensive, and luckily my favorite). We began the training by putting the bollo on the stroller and taking some laps around the house every day. Then, mom and I ventured the high seas and went out for a shopping trip with the bollo to IKEA.

Ahhhh, how he tricked me… He behaved beautifully at IKEA…

As it was to be expected, Bollo cried during half the car trip there, but somehow mom got him to calm down. At the store, when we attempted to transfer him from my warm arms to the stroller, he protested. So I let him stay with me and only attempted the transfer a few moments later, when he seemed more willing to tolerate the insult. While mom tried to shop for quilt covers, we were forced to entertain him constantly in order to keep him in the stroller. The situation was precarious, and sure thing, he quickly broke down and asked for teta… Not a problem: I was totally ready with my Hooter Hider and went straight to the cafe upstairs to nurse the bollo in public.

Bollo had a nice and calm feeding under the flowery design of my boob cover, and amazingly went straight to sleep without the need to burp, poop, or fuss. It was BEAUTIFUL!… I had a decaf coffee and a dessert, and read my small book about baby sleep while sweet bolliti took a pretty decent nap for that time of the day (i.e. usually he doesn’t sleep past 3pm). Then he woke up and was totally mesmerized by the lights. Got happily on the stroller and loved the trip around the textiles and lighting sections of the store. He gave my mom time to keep doubting her shopping choices, and it was really me who ended the trip, fearful that Joaquin would start crying any minute. He never did. Not at the store…

We got on the car and things went all smoothly until the car stopped at a light, and that’s when all hell broke loose. Bolliti’s eyes now produce tears, and man: There were many of those. They break your heart. In fact, this is one of the hardest things I have to report on mamahood… Driving a car while your sweet baby cries himself to death in a rear–facing seat on the back of the car. You hear him choking on his angry tears and can’t do anything about it but keep driving. I guess this confirms that I’m a terrible candidate to attempt the Ferber method.

However, back to the story, that cry was the only real low of the IKEA trip: I called it a rotund success, deserving of a next episode.

Yesterday we attempted another trip. This time, we’d go to Target (Cuchi needed to shop for something there), and we’d use the Starbucks at the neighboring Barnes & Noble as my nursing station. Again, Bolliti started crying halfway through the 10–minute car ride. We got to Barnes & Noble, and the bollo asked for teta pretty quickly (i.e. as soon as the stroller stopped moving and parked in front of our table). He had the teta furiously. The chairs were uncomfortable, so after the feeding I put him back on the stroller. With a feeding between “now” and the past agravio of the car ride, we thought it would be safe now to go to Target… Wrooooong… At Target, he didn’t take it more than 10 minutes. He was initially ok in the stroller until I made the unforgivable mistake of touching him and saying hi. Buahhhhhh!!!!!… It was the end of it. Time to head back home. He cried all the way to the house although mom reports that he had tiny glimpses of self–control.

As you may notice from the time stamp of this post, it’s night, and we didn’t go to the aquarium. I guess I chickened out of one more dramatic experience trying to get the bollo out.

Once more, I feel totally unprepared for this drama. Along with the secret of the “colostrum to breast milk” hell night, I’m afraid parents kept this one from me too. Or am I alone here? Is my baby the only one who hates riding a car, riding a stroller, being carried in a sling, and just plain: leaving home?

Discussing the issue with Joey, I comment that this is unsustainable… I can’t plan to begin every single tiny errand with a feeding as soon as we reach our destination (grocery store, bank, craft shop, mall, etc). This bollo HAS TO get used to leaving home and riding a car!… Joey asks me where I need to go. I mention places like the grocery store… Because he is the one who buys groceries in our household, Papa Bear replies “You don’t need to go the grocery store. I can get you anything you need”.

Although it’s tempting (for the dramatic effect), I won’t end this post with those sad words. We all — even Papa Bear — understand that this cannot end with me and Joaquin staying at home forever… Does it get better?… Are we just expecting too much from a three–month old?… I just can’t imagine that my child is the only one who’s gone through this… TELL ME my child is not the only one who’s gone through this!!!…

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  1. On , joey wrote:

    He’s a toughie …. I am scared about this Sunday when you and your Mom go out….

  2. On , Petie wrote:

    I’m sorry to not be able to add insight. Elise was never like that. At 1 week, Nana, Poppy, Joelle, Chris and I took Elise to Hungry’s for dinner. No tears. I do remember being anxious about planning around her feeding and that she might get unhappy (aka hungry) while we were there but she did not.

    Joelle, like Joaquin, didn’t go out to public places until about 3 months, but she did go on daily walks starting at about 2 weeks. She loved them. Once I started venturing her out to the mall and such, she loved that, too.

    I guess my girlies like to be on the go, maybe that’s why Joelle was such a hellion as a baby – I do remember commenting once that I thought she was bored.

    We sent Joaquin a little giftie, hope you got it! :)

  3. On , Chris wrote:

    While our kids weren’t like that in that they didn’t mind going out, there might be a distinction with the trips we took and the ones you take.

    When we went (go) places with our kid(s) we don’t go to do something for ourselves. We do something they would find interesting and hope that we can get something done. IKEA for example. There are some places for kids to play so we go there to play. On the way we might look at some couches or take measurements on a bookshelf. We can’t browse the whole store. Some adults can’t handle that.

    Another example, grocery trips – go at off times so your “time to exit” is minimized if you have to abort the trip. It happens.

    To me that’s a change when you are a parent, the focus is on the kid(s). If there is something that you need to do for yourself (haircut, long shopping trip, night out) then that’s when it pays to have a spouse or family member who can watch the baby.

    If he is still fussy for short trips where he is more or less constantly moving (walks, trips to stores with minimal stopping) or can watch something (i.e., be entertained like at a busy mall) then it seems like you should give it a few more tries. You will all be better off…maybe he’s just a homebody at heart?

  4. On , Edith wrote:

    Hello, Maria…I saw your site on OhDeeDoh and I really like it…my son (Diego) is now 2 and he still hates almost every single car seat ride. He was the same way Joaquin was…every car ride was a heart break..but you can’t condemn yourself to stay inside the house..I still worked back then and I had to take him to daycare at 6 was really the routine that eventually got him used to it. It took a long time though..and once he was old enough to face forward it got better ..but he also got strong enough to start to fight me..and to this day..he becomes stiff as board when he doesn’t want to get in. Sometimes I start to sing his favorite song I made up for him..and it works…sometimes…he just wants a toy/something to hold…don’t give up yet…I hope you have a repeat Ikea trip at another location of your choosing..but then again..i love I understand why he would be happier there :)Buenas Noches

  5. On , Maria wrote:

    To Petie:
    That’s the problem with Joac having been born in the winter… I would’ve loved to take strolls with him when he was little, and I think it probably would’ve made a difference now: He’d be used to that at least…

    We’ve tried walks a few times, but Joaquin HATES the cold breeze hitting his face. Although he tolerated it when being pushed from B&N to Target, he would not take it next day around the neighborhood, and it was a sunny day. I’m really hoping that things will get better in the spring.

    LUCKY YOU with those little social butterflies!!!

    To Chris:
    Yeah. I’ve thought about that (specially with the Maggie Moo’s incident). At the same time though, I’m not sure that he’s old enough to get the difference between a trip for him, and one for me. Being so little, he still can’t sit or play… So visual stimuli is all I try to give him, and I’d think he can get that anywhere bright and busy.

    Having said that, though… It’s so cute to see how excited he gets when watching the ocean animals on that DVD mom got for him. That’s why we thought he might enjoy the aquarium. I’ll report back on how that goes… Hopefully he’ll be happier staying, though I’m pretty sure he’ll demand teta as soon as he gets there in compensation for his abundant tears inside the car.

    To Edith:
    Welcome!… and more importantly: Thank you for telling me about your son. It’s a great relief to know that I’m not alone with this issue, and knowing that Diego hated it as much as Joaquin does — yet eventually he turned around — gives me hope. I don’t look forward to another torturing episode of car crying, but if there’s a happy ending I gotta keep trying.

  6. On , KSR wrote:

    fortunately for us, our kids mostly loved riding in the car…as long as it was moving..(that was often a way to get them calmed down at night)..for the stroller, does it have a position that lets bollito face you? With our kids, that helped when they were teensie because they could still see you and didn’t think they were being thrown into the world all alone…..w/o being able to see a known face…..biggest key …and maybe impossible is for mom/dad/whoever to stay calm and not get upset…..they can sense it….so you gotta stay cool as a cucumber…(fall apart later out of sight)…a big demand when one is running on empty in terms of sleep and unhappy babies break a heart…The good news is that I don’t believe they truly remember the trauma at that early age…..

  7. On , Us wrote:

    maybe he would enjoy hunting hogs…..I have a few I wish he would pop.

  8. On , Maria wrote:

    To Kim:
    I know!… Every single article or book I read mentions the car as a sleep aid, not as a tear–jerker… I’m jealous of everyone I see out with babies carried in infant car seats and strollers. For instance, the idea to take the bollo to Ikea came mostly after having seen three babies strolling in perfect peace around the store one Sunday Joey and I went there sans–baby.

    To Pete:
    I read about your beautiful grass ruined by those hogs. Ask Joaquin in a few years… I’m sure he’ll jump at the opportunity of helping Poppy and getting some fun, if not hunting, at least chasing those bad boys.

  9. On , mandarine wrote:

    Our son hated a car ride all right (until he was allowed to sit upright and watch outside), but he was the exact opposite of your bollito regarding home: he was never as happy as when he could go outside. Apart from sleeping and feeding, inside was apparently not the place he wanted to be.

    But it changed. One thing I’ll keep in mind for next time, is that babies change faster than one can say Jack Robinson. After all, a six-month-old toddler doubles his age in six months. It will take 33 years for me to change that much.

  10. On , Maria wrote:

    Ahhh… Wise thoughts Mandarine. I completely agree with you: Deep inside I’m hoping that Joaquin will change his mind about car rides with a little more experience. The first few times I strapped him to the swing he turned into a tiny red ball of fire. Now he loves it and takes long naps in there. Can’t imagine my life without that little break.

    The last time we went out with Joaquin he cried hard, but mom (riding on the back of the car with him) says that she saw him starting to look outside, and when he did, he tried to calm himself down. That gives me hope… Yet, I know that I’ll wish the bollo had stayed the way he was when he starts insisting on riding motorcycles and taking on extreme sports like mountain biking : )

  11. On , marla wrote:

    Can’t offer much, but I see how frustrating it could be. Have you talked to your pediatrician? They get pretty wise about these things and might be able to tell you stuff that worked for other parents.

    Maybe it’s just a matter of having you disappear and be just a voice that isn’t coming to soothe him? What if you tried a mirror on the back of the seat that he could look into to see you? And if he didn’t see you, maybe he’d get distracted enough at seeing himself.

  12. On , Maria wrote:

    Good point. Our first pediatrician was no help at all, so we switched. I’ll ask our new doctor next time I see him.

    Regarding the mirror… I was so ready to buy one, until I found out that it’s considered a safety hazard: In an accident, the mirror becomes a projectile object headed straight to the baby.

    I think I’ll just have to car-ferberize Bolliti :)

  13. On , marla wrote:

    Yeah. Hmmm. Edith did say that routine helped hers so carferberization might be the thing. 10 minutes then 20 over time at the same time everyday. I know you’ll figure out the best way to work it through. Trust your intuition!