Brian and I recently attended an Infant Safety Training course, and I was feeling pretty proud of myself for signing us up, despite being completely unenthusiastic about actually going. This is a hallmark of good parenting.
Whatever sense of pride we felt upon enrolling was stifled when we realized we were joining a new mom and dad who came in a group of SEVEN (grandparents on BOTH sides, plus an aunt thrown in for good measure), so that anyone who had contact with their baby would know how to do CPR. Why, this sort of vigilance never occurred to me! Damn you safety overachievers. This family was lovely, but their presence served as a threat to the snack supply, so I had no choice but to hate them. I think you would feel me on this point if you were competing with the cast of Modern Family for a handful of Oreos and a half pitcher of tap water.
Oreos or not, attending this class would at least give me an opportunity, when I’m not adequately protecting my baby like other new moms, to casually ask, “Did you sign up for the baby CPR class? I sure did! Safety is my number one priority!”
You see, I need to be able to say this sort of thing as a counterpoint to my relative negligence in mommy-land. Like when I’m surrounded by moms talking about how they’re terrified to take their hands off their strollers in Target for even ONE SECOND, lest their baby be snatched right out from under their noses, while I just straight-up left my Nolan with the girl who works at my local coffee shop so I could run to the bathroom. Do I know that girl’s name? No, no I do not. But I figure I see her enough that she would be disinclined to steal my baby. If she stole my baby she would DEFINITELY get fired, AND she would have a stolen baby to support with no job. It’s just bad math, folks, and baby snatchers are nothing if not “numbers people.” But such topics were not being covered in Infant Safety Training.
What was being covered was how and when to use an Automated External Defibrillator (AED). This jazzy little device is a life saver. That much is clear. What is not clear is how in the hell you use it. We actually watched a video on AEDs which went something like this:
“In the event of an emergency, you scream ‘Get me an AED’! (side note: if I heard someone yell “Get me an AED” I would go get an Athletic Director). Once the AED arrives, you turn it on. Any questions?”
Uh, yes, we have questions. We don’t know one single thing about how to use an AED. In fact, we don’t know what the hell an AED is. All we know is to turn it on. This seemed like a less than comprehensive overview.
The class wasn’t entirely about AEDs. It was also about the many, many ways your new baby could be maimed. Whoever designed the curriculum seemed to have the competing goals of both terrifying and boring new parents in equal measure. This is a lofty goal as the adrenaline that comes with fear tends to reduce sleepiness. Not in this case!
A few key takeaways:
- Your entire house is a death trap. There are things that can kill your child in every square inch of your house, and you better start clearing that shit up before you even conceive. Maybe just move into an empty yurt and call it a day.
- You can call 911 anytime you are even marginally anxious. It does not need to be an emergency. Unsure of your judgment? Give 911 a ring. They don’t mind. (note: I’m pretty sure they do mind. But per this class they don’t mind and welcome calls of nervous new parents whose child is not in any actual danger. Think you see a little cradle cap? Give 911 a ring! Did your infant make a disgusted face while eating peas? Check with 911, they might be poison! And so on).
- CPR is important! Doing it right is only kind of important. The gist of the class seemed to be that even if you don’t really remember anything about the class, just give CPR the old college try.
Brian and I embarrassed our little family during the CPR practice drills, when Brian got overly enthusiastic in giving breaths to his dummy, causing quite an excess of saliva to cover our shared plastic mouthpiece. The Modern Family cast was paired off, sharing mouthpieces with a partner, but after Brian’s display I had to ask for my own piece. Family or not, that shit was disgusting. I will say that Brian and I both kept up a really nice rhythm in our CPR pumping, better even than the people in the videos. Better mainly in that we had more fluid hip action, which is important if you need to do CPR when you’re out on the club scene. I have strayed off course here. Back to my safety tips.
A few bonus takeaways for you all, straight from personal experience:
- When you are supervising a young child on the toilet, carefully check the circumference of said child’s butt against the circumference of the toilet. I found this out the hard way when I dropped my then-toddler niece Abby straight into a toilet bowl. I thought this little life lesson was between Abby and me, and feigned ignorance when a few days later Abby’s mom Sue said, “It’s weird, Abby acts afraid of the toilet now and she never did before.” Weird indeed. I love my niece dearly, but that little narc ratted me out YEARS after this incident. I think there is an obvious additional lesson here, which is that children have loose lips and should therefore not be involved in your criminal enterprises. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.
- As a kid from a family with 9 siblings (the Irish Catholics really know how to get their numbers up!), when my dad went on family vacations as a boy and they couldn’t fit all of the kids in the car (which was every time they went out, I presume, as nobody can fit 11 people in their car unless they have a really big trunk), he would sometimes be asked to hitchhike to their destination. This is not so much a tip. But it is a reminder that 50 years ago parents were way less safe, and their kids survived more or less. Ok maybe slightly less, but only just slightly.
[footnote: Baby safety is actually super important. You should probably take a class.]