That First Big Step

On any journey, setting off with that first big step is generally the most difficult. Be it a cross country drive, long distance hiking, bicycle touring, or just getting me and my often overstuffed pack to the airport before making the jump into the unknown, I’d made a few such steps. And, one way or another, I’d always fared pretty well.

So, it was in this frame of mind that I approached the procedure of driving Kaia home from the hospital. It was, after all, only a ten minute ride. Maybe four miles, at most.

We’d cleared the first hurdles: demonstrating to hospital staff we A) knew the basics of how and when to feed and bathe our daughter and B) that we had the correct fitting, space-aged, baby capsule with all the bells and whistles.

Once in the parking lot, with our little one properly strapped in beneath what seemed enough layers to ward off a Tasmanian winter gale, all that was left to do was drive… like I’d done a million times befoScreaming infantre. Only this time less aggressively, slower around the corners, no tailgating and no dramatic, last second slamming on of the breaks.

Essentially, as if I was still in high school and my parents were in the car–the same one I needed to borrow for the weekend. I could do that easily enough, I thought…simple.

And it was… at least, that is, until I hit the first stop light.

Suddenly, emerging from behind me, a sound like a mix between an air raid siren and fingernails across a chalk board filled the inside of the car. Instantly, Bec clamored between the two front seats to assess the situation not sure if a tourniquet or a fire extinguisher would be needed.

Of course, it was neither. That was the good news.

The bad news was nothing seemed to placate the little thing…that is, until a miracle in the form of a green light allowed us to proceed. Apparently, for Kaia, that was all she needed. As quickly as she’d started, she’d turned off.

And so it would play out at least three or four more times: the perfect picture of serenity as we motored; complete Devil’s Spawn at the slightest sight of a red light. Needless to say, by the third traffic light, it was only Bec’s firm, authoritarian voice that penetrated my rising exasperation and forced me to resist adopting a ‘no-cars-are-coming,-let’s-go’ attitude.

It got so bad that three blocks from home (with only one light remaining) I considered steering the car into a roundabout and doing multiple rotations just to prolong the silence for as long as possible in an attempt to avoid another red light.

The little thing wasn’t facing forward and couldn’t even see the streetlights so I reasoned it must’ve been the motion of the car that was, apparently, to her liking. Still, it was little consolation as I pulled into our driveway and begrudgingly forced myself to apply the brakes.

The fact was, had Kaia been a toaster, I’d have been very tempted to return her to the store for a different model. Yet, obviously, it wasn’t to be. We were stuck with each other.

Baby Care 101 had officially begun.

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