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As a paranoid new mom, I spent the first days after Quinn's birth under self-imposed house arrest. Actually taking my girl out into the world seemed unbelievably stressful. But after a couple of weeks cooped up with the "colic queen," I had to get out. Our maiden voyage would be a trip to the grocery store.
Although my husband was willing to help, I was determined to handle the excursion alone. I planned to pop Quinn into her baby carrier/car seat, then head out, hoping for the best. But I soon realized that a simple trip to the store was even harder than I'd imagined.
Quinn could barely handle a diaper change without having a meltdown in those days, so my clumsy attempt at wrangling her into the carrier was met with pitiful howling. As I sat sweating in the backseat trying to calm her, I realized that I had no idea what to do once we got to the store. I'd seen parents with baby carriers attached to their shopping carts, but I was clueless as to the mechanics involved. With Quinn finally calmed down, I decided to figure it out once we got there.
Ten minutes later we arrived, and in a rare show of mercy, Quinn had fallen asleep. I cautiously removed the carrier from the base and found that clicking it into a cart was surprisingly easy. Locked and loaded, I whisked a slumbering Quinn into the store, satisfied that we were on our way to mastering the mother-daughter shopping trip.
After navigating checkout, I steered Quinn and the groceries toward the car, feeling giddy with success. Next I had to figure out how to get her, the bags and myself into the car, then return the cart, but the order of operations eluded me. I decided to turn on the ignition and get the air conditioning running before transferring Quinn so my sleeping beauty could cruise in comfort. Once I got the car and air going, I turned around to remove Quinn from the cart. Except there was no cart, and there was no Quinn. I looked up to find my 2-week-old sailing across the parking lot.
I ran to catch her before she could collide with a parked SUV, but I wasn't fast enough, thanks to my recent C-section and excess baby weight. The cart smacked right into the SUV. Thankfully, the carrier remained attached, saving Quinn from a life-threatening brain injury. I grabbed the cart and surveyed the SUV while repeating, "I'm sorry, I'm sorry," to the now awake and shrieking Quinn. The SUV was already covered in dents and dings, so I decided that one more would go unnoticed. We fled the scene.
By the time we got home, Quinn's wailing had de-escalated into plaintive sobs, and I figured she'd survive.
I wasn't so sure about me.
That day I realized I would never again move through life unencumbered by the presence or consideration of another person. Some days I've felt that I'll never get used to the pressure. But then there was the time Quinn was fascinated by the balloons for sale at the grocery store. Or the day we went for a walk in the woods and she was perfectly content just looking up at the sunlight filtering through the leaves. Moments like these make me know for sure that the joy and adventure are worth any burden.