Carseat Terror

Something is wrong with Liam and his carseat.  Despite so many people telling me that it is normal and he will outgrow his, let’s say, adverse reaction to the thing, I really think I need to talk to someone about this.  I feel like maybe I’m not describing it accurately enough for the appropriate response which should be OH MY GOD, THAT IS NOT NORMAL AND YOU ARE PROBABLY CAUSING PERMANENT DAMAGE TO YOUR CHILD!!
Let me try to explain here.  He begins with the crying right away, I usually can’t even get from buckling him into the seat and buckled into my own driver’s seat.  There might be a whimper or two as a warning but he doesn’t give any consideration to being calmed by a soothing voice telling him everything’s okay.  He very quickly turns the cry into the “car alarm scream.”  I believe I’ve described it before…it goes from a low pitch to a high one over and over again like the car someone brushed up against in the mall parking lot whose owner has just walked into the building for a 3 hour stint.
Soon he’s choking on phlegm and gasping for air, but not enough to stop the screaming; it’s basically a simultaneous act.  His voice gets hoarse.  AND HE NEVER FALLS ASLEEP FROM EXHAUSTION.  I should state that this has only been tested on a forty minute car ride as it’s longest comparison.  Perhaps at the hour…2 hour…3 hour mark he would conk out.  Or hyperventilate.
The screaming is grating.  As a 6 week postpartum mom it is particularly difficult to focus on the road.  And soon my eyes overflow with tears too because all I want as a mommy is to make this baby feel better and I can’t do that without staying home.  Believe me, at this point, if I’m leaving the house at all it’s for a damn good reason because I can NOT drive this way.
But this is not all.  In the least.  When you actually go to take this poor soul out of the carseat…I’m not sure I can give the description just accuracy…I’m going to say it’s half Exorcist and half like the kid has Freddie Krueger popping in and out of the back seat threatening to shred him.  His eyes are bugging out of his head.  His body is completely rigid and he stares out in this REALLY creepy possessed way.  That stare might be as bad as the screaming, except that I can’t see it while I’m driving.  His face is MAGENTA and he has sweat beads popping out of every pore and streaming down his face.  His clothes are soaked through.  His core body temp seems to have sky-rocketed in an alarming way.
So have other people REALLY gone through this with their children, like I’m told??  Because if so, they are awfully calm and secretive about it.  I’m a wreck wherever I end up and need to rock myself in fetal position in the corner just to try to get past the reverberation of the screaming through my ears…and try to black out the seared image of the stare from my brain.
Just in case you’re going to suggest the following, I’ve: adjusted the carseat straps, re-belted down the base in case it was too wiggly, added a cozy blanket in case it helped make him less…lonely (?), hung an infant “car gallery” from the back seat facing him so that he can focus on the riveting black, white and red shapes.  I’ve opened windows for “white noise,” played classical, rock, folk, pop, or shut everything up and off so that it would be calm and peaceful.  (Peaceful beyond the banshee in the back.)  I’ve EVEN tried two different PACIFIERS, which I was holding out on until we got the whole breast/latch/suck thing down on body parts first.  (He seemed to think the pacifiers were a fun game while he was figuring out what to do with them…and then…GAGS on them as he sucks in.  Every time.  Which essentially starts the tears even before I can make it to the front seat.  Dammit!)
Dear Abby…I really want to leave the confines of my house without the need for Zanex.  What’s a mama to do??
Miserable Motoring Mama in Maine

10 thoughts on “Carseat Terror

  1. Oh no! This is so not what we, moms-with-children-who-don’t-like their carseats go through. You are right this is much, much more. What a horrible experience – for you both. I’ve been there, (not with this though) , I know the stare and it is totally freaky. I have no good advice, but does he do it if one of you sits in the back with him? Have you tried buckling him in some at home and hanging out with him there? Have you tried another brand of seat… you need a visit…..take-out….shopping done for you, or a shoulder? This situation is clearly not working, but you can’t stay home ALL the time either? Can you hold his hand while driving, guilty of a bit of that myself. Does it happen more after eating, does he seem reflux-y? Mine never slept in the car either……sorry I can’t offer more. But, no – this is extreme – the plus side is that they really mellow around 7ish weeks, so maybe it will phase out. Hang in there, and trust your instincts – they sound incredible!!!

    • I am definitely guilty of reaching back to hold the little man’s hand (mostly while at stoplights though) and he grips onto my finger. The times I have tried putting him in the carseat while in the house or while sleeping he goes into freak out mode as well.
      He is not reflux-y at ALL…which it seems like he would be. I do think he had some gas/tummy issues, so I tried giving him gas drops before we got in…and coincidentally or not he was quiet for about 5-7 minutes into the trip.
      PRAYING there is a miraculous turn-around near this 7 week mark!!!
      Thank you for the offers! We accept company at any time, but I can usually escape for errands when my husband is here (although those are always hurried since I’m feeling like the baby will need to be fed any second!)

  2. Okay, so first off, WTF? You have a blog? Next – did you call your doctor? What did he/she say? Have you tried another car seat? There is such a thing as a car bed for babies with certain issues, I’m not sure on the details, but I’ve seen them before. It allows the baby to lie down rather than be in a traditional car seat. Lucy has NEVER done this. This is definitely above and beyond.

    • Pen,
      I posted the link to my blog on the yahoo group when I was pregnant! Disappointing how the activity fizzled on that…
      So, I just researched the car bed and it looks like they are made for preemies who can’t fit in regular car seats and of the 2 models I found one of them only fits babies up to 5 lbs and 20″, which Liam never was, and the other one says up to 26″ which he is about 2″ away from. My big baby seems to be too big for this car bed. (And seriously…after all the frickin car seat changing…ANOTHER $100 for ANOTHER car seat?? shoot me in the face.) But this was a good idea and I may need to delve further.
      My pediatrician was one that I don’t think I had adequately convinced of the gravity of the situation. She didn’t seem overly concerned, thought it might be some gas issues, which we were hoping would get better when the thrush cleared up. (Gas issues did, car seat issues did not.) I told her I was worried about his blood pressure and heart rate…I’m afraid the kid is going to have a heart attack on me!!…but she didn’t humor those concerns.
      Some people have thought maybe he gets car sick with it rear-facing and it might be better when he is forward-facing. (Again…shoot me in the face as that would be…11 months from now.)

  3. Poor thing! Imagine how restraining that harness can be… especially after securing it properly (with barely a finger to fit between their chest and the belt! I know my oldest child just hates it since he was a tiny baby (now he is three). He used to scream.. but now he just sticks his chest out like Tarzan thinking I do not suspect anything… but of course I catch him! My son is characterized as being more serious and sensitive than most. Maybe that’s how your child is? I pondered the idea of being claustrophobic but I did a search and the condition doesn’t seem to develop until older. I did, however, come across this dated post from someone in a similar situation on Mamapedia (happens to be a great site for getting advice from other moms. I love this site…) Check out the comments and you may want to sign up and post your own query:

  4. Oh, Katie! I DO know how you feel because I went through the same exact situation with Samantha. Her pediatrician said that 98% of children LOVE their carseats, 2% hate them. My child & possibly yours, are in that 2%. I wish I could tell you that it gets easier. My daughter was better as she got older- but the first part of the infant stage was difficult. The only thing that I found that worked somewhat was a CD that played white noise. It was called “For Crying Out Loud!”. It has ocean waves, hair dryer, rain… but my daughter only responded to the Vacuum cleaner sound. The thing is, I had to put it on full volume. So, I substituted one loud sound for another. But, it really was the only thing that helped at all,and since she would cry so hard she’d vomit (she had re-flux), It was the better of the two situations. It made car rides a stressful event. I can relate with everything you are saying. I think the reason why you’ve never heard of this, is because most children love their carseat. I am here to tell you, you are not alone, you are not over reacting, or exaggerating. It is a really, really hard situation and I pray you find something that will soothe Liam. I am here to listen anytime you want to talk.

    • Looked for this CD on itunes so that I could download it to my iphone and have instant gratification for tomorrow…but they don’t have it on itunes. They did have it on amazon, though.

  5. Try putting the oil of lavender where he sleeps for a few days so he associates this scent with rest. Then put that scent around the car seat and hold him near it so he gets a good whiff, then place him in the car seat to see if he’ll relax into it and fall to sleep.. just an idea. You can buy Oil of Lavender at Whole Foods.

    Also– deploy some of your new tools learned in the meditation class– Center of Head, grounding – in the planet, calm aura, put stress in in roses and explode.. ground the car and the baby seat before you place hi in it. I’ll work on a cd for you to use to help reclaim the relaxation vibe from class.

    I hope this helps, my thoughts are with you.

    • Bought lavendar oil tonight…put drops on cotton ball and put in his co-sleeper for tonight.
      Corded him and worked on blue aura while rocking him to sleep.

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