Friday, May 10, 2013

Dear New Grad...

Happy Nurse's Week!

Yes, the e-cards circulating on Facebook appropriately laud and encourage all of us nurses.  Like anyone who does or does not like their job, we work hard, see the best of the best and the worst of the worst, have stinky hours sometimes, and bear an enormous burden of responsibility.  The expertise of an experienced nurse is quite literally what can save your life.  But today I want to address a group of nurses who are quite possibly the hardest workers and who will face the toughest challenge this year:

New grads.

Over the past few years, as I've significantly scaled back my hours and sort of tabled a profession that I fiercely love and would love to grow in again at some point, the Lord has dropped in my lap some unexpected opportunities to mentor and encourage nursing students or new grads.  Whether it's a mock interview, meeting for coffee, or even being connected for a quick email to answer some questions but never meeting in person, these opportunities are a treasure.  Being a new grad is no joke. Especially in the current economy. When I was a new grad, hospitals snatched us up by the dozen, often before we even graduated; you slid straight from finals to orientation within a week.  It's not that way today, when hundreds or thousands of applicants may vie for one nursing position.  Being a new grad is an overwhelming, exhilarating, exasperating, amazing experience.

So, I would like to post some encouragement for you, new grad.  A lot of this could probably apply to anyone in a new position; but I do think that the experience of being a brand new nurse is its own animal.  I'm not trying to come off like I'm some spectacular know-it-all nurse; but there ARE some things that I wish someone would have told me before I stepped into that first job.  So, here's the summary of the past few years of mentoring some of the most hopeful, bright, and talented people I've encountered...who, by the way, did end up getting amazing jobs and are thriving.  So, nervous or discouraged new grad, it can be done. ;)

Dear. New. Grad....

Welcome to nursing, congrats, etc etc.  Let me dive right in.

If there's one thing I wish someone would have gently reminded me, it's that your work isn't be graded anymore, so-to-speak.  The research you seek out, the interventions you come up with, the care plans you write - yes, the whole of your work will likely be evaluated on an annual basis, but as a rule, your consistent source of feedback isn't there anymore.  I was used to professors applauding my words, my papers, my exams, and my efforts - and that's what pushes you through school. The A or the C- lets you know where you stand.  You won't really get that in your job.  Admittedly, many hospitals have excellent orientation programs that offer excellent mentorship, but once you're off orientation, you might not hear much about the great job you're doing.  Sometimes all you'll get is negative feedback - and if you don't get ANY feedback, it may mean that you're doing great.  I know this probably comes off as pretentious or fluffy, but when I look back at the number of days I came home from work and flung myself on the bed in tears, I realize now that it was because no one was patting me on the back and telling me that I was at least on track....and I desperately, desperately wanted to know that I was at least on track.  So you might not get that feedback.  And that's okay.  Keep putting one foot in front of the other.

You will pass boards.  I know some *incredible* nurses who had to take them two or three times.  Yes, a horrifying thought. -But- one, two, twelve years's really not much more than a blip on the radar.

When you interview, be prepared to answer the simple question, "So tell me about yourself." I've had a lot of interviews between being a traveler and simply moving around quite a bit in a few-year span, and this was almost always the first 'question.'  It sounds simple enough, but when you're nervous and dressed in your best and trying to put on your best face, just being asked to tell someone about yourself suddenly feels like a very loaded question. And when I've done mock interviews, it's where most people flub, blush, look at the ground, "er" and "um" a lot, and finally choke out a not-terribly-confident response about how they have a few siblings and like to knit or run.  So think about how you'd respond!  Then practice sitting up straight, looking that manager in the eye and saying, "I'd love to!" and tell them where you're from, a thing or two that you like to do, why you became a nurse, and perhaps what brought you to this current interview.  Or something like that.

You will make mistakes.  One night when I was a new grad, I received an order to give a patient 1 to 4 mg of dilaudid IV push as needed for pain.  She rated her pain as a "10."  SO, I gave her 4mg, the maximum dose.  She was the size of Thumbelina.  Four milligrams was WAY too much.  PRAISE THE LORD she needed oral potassium, and when the LPN went in to wake her up to give it to her, that's when we found that she had a respiratory rate of 4.  You know that sternal rub they teach you in school?  It works really well when you do it REALLY HARD.  A quick dose of narcan and she was (painfully) wide awake and breathing just fine.  The outcome could have been terrible and I wouldn't be writing this today.  The doctor was like, "Um, I meant for that to be titrated."  Yup.  Now when my patient rates their pain as a "10" I start out lower than the lowest dose.  The point is, you learn from your mistakes and you never make them again, guaranteed.  No one flunked me, yelled at me, or fired me.  The rest of my shift went fine.  It's okay.  Expect it and don't beat yourself up over it.

You will never be your own island.  Yes, when you study for your boards, you really do feel like if you don't know every. little. thing. about every disease, every organ, every medication, every single one of Erickson's stages and Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs, you will most certainly kill everyone in your reach.  But that's simply not true.  You will always, always be surrounded - or at least accompanied somewhat - by other people.  When things go down, other nurses are there.  When you have a question, there's someone to ask.  You will never find yourself alone without another soul for miles and miles with a patient who is dying on the spot.  There WAS the one time when I worked in a very large NICU that someone handed me the admission pager so they could run down to grab something to eat.  They swore that the 26-week triplets who were on the board weren't doing anything anytime soon.  Well blast it, labor and delivery hit that pager about ten minutes later, and those 26-week triplets were about to come out.  Problem was, they paged it incorrectly, so all of the other people with pagers (like the nurse practitioners who were also on their break) would likely look at the page and ignore it.  I showed up alone, at a c-section for 26-week triplets! when I should have had nine other people with me, and about soiled my drawers on the spot.  BUT!  at what felt like the last possible second, the rest of the team showed up and I nearly collapsed with relief.  And now in retrospect, no way would they have just started the surgery and handed three extreme preemies to one nurse.  But at the time, it sure felt like that's what was about to happen.

You may not land your dream job right away.  You've always dreamed of being a pediatric or labor and delivery nurse.  What's available is dialysis, renal, or the neuro step-down unit.  Take those jobs. Attack them with gusto.  The pediatric and L&D job will open up at some point, but if you turn down the other opportunities along the way, you may be looking and unemployed for a loooooong time.  And, you may find that you actually enjoy setting up peritoneal dialysis.  Who knows.  I did the traditional 1-2 years of med/surg - and I know that that is met with groans of great reluctance.  But dang, those med/surg nurses have to know their stuff...about a LOT of meds, a LOT of diagnoses, a LOT of age groups.  I learned that I loved working with the elderly.  You're doing everything from changing bed pans to giving blood transfusions to taking care of all manner of post-surgicals.  You learn to hustle your bustle.  In a good way. If you have an opportunity to do med-surg or any form of ICU, take it.  Right now doing anything for one or two or three years sounds like a lifetime, but it's literally the tiniest fraction of your career, but will pay dividends in the long run as far as experience is concerned.  You will get your dream job at some point, I can nearly guarantee it.

Be open to going someplace else.  I heard a few years back that Missoula, Montana was the place to go to find great nursing positions.  A big university town with a decent-sized hospital.  But yeah, it's in the mountains pretty far out there.  Take those jobs.  Make them the springboard for where you want to go next.  You want to be a travel nurse?  You need at least a few years of experience...BUT - pick a great place to start out, and begin your adventure that way.

Now, when you do land that job....

Have big ears, and ask a lot of questions.  Listen to other nurses and how they answer patients' questions.  You'll learn a ton.

No task is beneath you.   Sadly, I'm surprised by the number of BSN students who are less than enthused about filling a patient's water, changing linens, walking a patient, or (gasp) changing a bedpan or taking the to the bathroom.  I've even heard one or two of them say, "Oh, we don't need to do that...when we start working, that's what the unit assistants do."

*scoreboard buzzer.* 

No task, no matter how small, is beneath you.  Filling water umpteen times for your patients during your shift is a nursing intervention and an opportunity to teach about hydration, edema, keeping secretions thin, preventing a bladder infection, healing from surgery, you name it.  The contents of a bedpan will tell you much about your patient's current status.  Rubbing lotion on a bed-weary back will clue you into a whole lot about your patient's skin integrity.  You won't have time to do many of these tasks and they will need to be delegated...but they certainly come with the territory AND your degree.

Keep your patho book.  And your diagnostic lab manual.  That just goes without saying.

Yes, you will write care plans for the rest of your career.  Sorry!

Learn how to be a great teacher.  One of the biggest roles you will have as a nurse is to educate, educate, educate your patients.  I worked nights for a few years as a newbie.  I always felt out of the loop on the night shift, because you don't see the docs and social workers and everyone making their rounds during the day, so you don't hear firsthand what's going on, and the report you received from the off-going nurse may have had some holes (it's hard to remember every detail at the end of 12hrs).  So I started off going straight to the progress notes and the most recent orders, and used those as part of my teaching.  A) It helps you know what the doc said or has in mind about this patient, and B) you start to become familiar with the dubious scribbling handwriting of each doc, another bonus.  Then I could go in a patient's room and confidently say, "Here's what the plan is" (within reason...obviously you're not going to march in and say, "Did you know that your doctor wrote that your prognosis is very poor?"), go over their latest orders, use that as an opportunity to reinforce new med education, etc.  Then, as you do your assessment, use that as a teaching tool - as you're auscultating lungs, review the importance of C&DB.  When you listen to bowel sounds, reinforce the importance of ambulation and hydration.  And on and on through your whole assessment.  Boom.  You've now looked at the chart, checked the orders, done your assessment, AND can fill out your education record, all in one fell swoop. :)

All of that stuff your profs hammered into you about evidence-based glad.  You will never get away from needing to know the most recent research.

All that stuff you learned about culture...yep, you'll be glad you know about that too.  And while I'm at it, if you have the opportunity to learn Spanish....yeah.  My Spanish looks like a vaudeville comedy act.  So much for minoring in French.

And finally...

Plug into a good church or community.  It's easy to let your new career consume you.  But you need to keep your faith afloat, you need accountability when you start getting crass and judgmental, and you need a life outside of work.  Because work will get your number and will take as much from you as you are willing to give...and then some.  I let church fall to the wayside for a season (it was really hard on an inconsistent night schedule), and I wasn't a pretty sight emotionally.  Make it a huge priority.

And so, dear new grad, you are welcomed into a new world of odd schedules, working weekends and holidays, and amassing some great stories.  It's also a world full of some of the most incredible, sharp, intelligent, motivated and talented people you'll ever meet.  Congratulations - your education hasn't been completed, it's only just begun. ;)

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Choking on Words

These are the most ordinary pictures in the world, but they were taken on a terribly extraordinary day: December 14th, 2012.  The day the Sandy Hook shooting occurred.  I'm not normally given to emotional reactions to the news, but I think it was a day that every person - and certainly every parent - suffocated in horrified possibility.  I took these pictures just a couple hours after hearing of the events, just to feel the weight of this thing called normal that those parents haven't grasped since their babies were silenced.

I've been writing blog posts in my mind every day since, and time and toddler and baby steal my opportunities.  Or it's just too big and too much to speak to.  But I'm choking on words that beg to be written - so tonight I choose words over sleep.

My heart is beyond heavy tonight.  The weight of heavy discussions and questions this week press on me.  The cracking of a precious mother's heart in grief over a fractured relationship with her child presses on me.  The bitter rage of a mother who unexpectedly lost her toddler - a mother I don't even know, but social media is weird like that - presses on me.  Seeing how tender my own son's heart is.  All of it.  It is so easy to ask.... long, O Lord?  How long?

Our days, they are so fleeting.  Oh Lord, teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.

Several weeks ago a dear woman at church testified to the anxiety that has crippled her for years, confined her to her bed some days.  She was loathe to speak of the time it took from her children, and for her children to have to see her walk that road.  The fear that something - that huge unknown - would happen, and she wouldn't be there for her children, was unbearable.  And it locked her in and owned her.

Today this tiny minute of a woman stood before us, testifying again - this time of her release from her self-inflicted captivity.  The joy, the freedom that has finally settled upon her.

But her freedom did not come in a way that you may expect....

She is staring her worst fear in the eye, confirmed without expectation only a few weeks ago.  In just as many weeks, she may very well be standing in front of her Lord and Savior, and her good work here will be finished.

But we do not grieve as though we have no hope.

Like Paul, she rejoices BECAUSE of her chains, not in spite of them.  The worst has happened.  She no longer has to worry.  It came to close her in, but thanks be to a perfect Savior who already conquered death, who is her final hope and plea.  Cancer may take her brain and her body, but her joy and hope rest in the One who created her brain and body, who never topples off his throne wondering what will happen next.

Friends, I don't know what I would do if I didn't have the promises of our God.  I can't bear up the burdens of the people around me without knowing that they ultimately aren't mine to bear.  If I didn't have Christ to fall upon I would be *nothing.*  NOTHING.  A crushed, wrecked pile of ash.  I would not be able to handle the news on days like December 14th.  I could not bear the heartache of a devastated mother.  I just could....not.  My marriage would be a disaster and my parenting a joke.

Oh, I long for the freedom that this dear woman is experiencing right now.  The Proverbs 31 woman laughs at the days to come because no fear stands by her shoulder.  Do you laugh at the days to come?  No matter what they may bring?

I guess I really have no point in this post except to say...all of our days are few. We have no guarantee that our families will be safe, our health will be secured, our children will make wise choices, our worst fears won't happen.  But thanks be to God who is on the same throne He was on the day His Son died.  We do not have to live as though we have no hope.  There is still freedom and life to be found in our worst fear coming true, even.

I need to go to bed.  I still feel burdened.  And like I wrote a blog post that has no real point to it...but I will wake up tomorrow morning reminded that this IS the day the Lord has made and I WILL rejoice and be glad in it.  I will clean my house and feed my babies and be grateful - so grateful - that it is another normal day.

Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time....Ephesians 5:15-16)

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Not the most wonderful time of the year

I really don't have time to write this but I need to.

I don't remember the date off the top of my head anymore, but I'll find myself edgy and on the verge of tears for part of a day and not entirely certain why.  And I find myself at the kitchen table - usually the same spot each time - glancing at the calender and....oh yes.  That's why.

The day the Lord said, "Not yet, dear daughter...this one needs to come back to Me."

I cried plenty but I don't really remember asking why. It was a long month. I let it take its course naturally.  I was glad it was Christmas because sometimes the glitter took away the weighty feelings.  But it was not the most wonderful time of the year.

Was it the most wonderful time when Jesus came?

Mary and Joseph weren't exactly traveling under grand circumstances, in posh accommodations.  An impromptu trip to his hometown under the edict of a ruler who simply wanted to count heads, probably leaving a scoffing pack of busybodies who cackled about Mary's "story," on the heels of what was undoubtedly an awkward Jewish wedding.

Who knows how Mary's contractions began, if her water broke while she was yet being hauled on a donkey, or what.  But I'm sure the scene wasn't nearly as pretty or clean as the nativity on my entertainment stand.

The coming of our Lord was humble and unassuming.  The circumstances alternately wonderful on the eternal side of things and not so much on this side of heaven.

This is not the most wonderful time of the year for many people. Three of my most memorable NICU losses happened at Christmas...sad memories for me but a black mark on the holidays for those families.

Yet - YET! - the very One whose birth we celebrate is the One who more than understands our rejection, disappointment, grief, name it.  He experienced it in spades and bore it and took it to the cross.  Willingly.  It is the most wonderful NEWS but it's not the most wonderful time of the year...

...unless you look at it from an eternal perspective.

...and turn off the radio station that's playing all the Falalalalala and turn on the one that's playing Joy to the World.

Dear, grieving or hurting or anxious friend, don't buy it.  Christmas isn't snow and cookies and presents and trees and lights.  It's a God who exchanged eternity for space and time and filled His lungs with the murky air we breathe.  The God who stood right by you when you lost your baby, watched your husband walk out, when you tossed aside your willpower and fed your addiction, when your finances collapsed.  Celebrate HIM.

...though he was in the form of God...made himself nothing...being born in the likeness of men...

Let every heart prepare him room

Tuesday, November 27, 2012


I don't mean to brag, buuuuuttttttt.....'s our Christmas tree. Go ahead. Pin it.


You see, our house is just a hair small right now for a tree.  A diaper changing table resides where the tree would normally go, and there really is no other place for it.  At all.  So a 2D Christmas tree it is until Luke's outta dipes.  This two-dimensional fit of genius sports one roll of wrapping paper, a handful of to-and-from tags, a cheap garland, and a shiny bow on top.  If you haven't pinned it already, ya better do it.

Here's my other little piece of inspiration:

Actually, I think this turned out very cute. 

And finally, even better than any Christmas tree:

(Stop envying my mad photography skills, just stop!)

But seriously, Matt's mom gave us the nativity when we were first married.  It showed up at our condo when we lived in Denver and it came from a Catholic supply store in Missouri (??).  We didn't open it until after Thanksgiving, but we were so perplexed as to WHAT could come from a Catholic supply store?!  Matt surmised that it must be a blow-up St. Christopher doll.  Because clearly THAT is what you would buy at such a store.  So we kept referring to "the box" as "the blow-up St. Christopher doll" - and when it (obviously) WASN'T, Matt was actually a little bit disappointed.  I, on the other hand, was teary at the sentimental thought of having the tradition of setting up the nativity with our children one day, teaching them the story of Jesus' birth.  They would listen with eyes wide and filled with rapt, sparkling wonder as I quoted directly from the book of Luke and arranged all of the figurines.

Well, the box is actually still labeled "Blow Up St. Christopher Doll" with Sharpie marker, and I, shall we say, blew it up yesterday. I quoted as much as I could remember from Linus' speech on the Charlie Brown Christmas special (because he does quote directly from the book of Luke).  Levi whined because he couldn't stand up on the chair with me while I strung the lights behind the entertainment center, whined because I wouldn't let him watch a truck video, cried because I wouldn't let him swan-dive on Luke AGAIN, I kept yelling at the dog to GIT. OUT. OF. THE. WAY, my text alert from Matt (that he was on his way home) reminded me that dinner was far from being done, glitter was spread everywhere from Levi pulling out all of the decorations, and Levi was far more interested in the Santa Claus piggy bank that still had a few pennies in it.

BUUUT - the 2D Christmas Tree is up and so is the Blow Up St. Christopher Doll.  We'll keep working on making it meaningful, right?

Sunday, November 18, 2012


There's a reason it's been so long.

Well, there are at least two reasons, one of them being smaller, chubbier, and bossier than the other one.

You see, I suffer from a very fatal flaw as a "writer" (if that's what you can call what I do, on this wildly uncreative blog).  I can only - ONLY - write spontaneously.  I cannot start a post and table it for later; I cannot schedule time to write a post.  Nope.  An idea will hit me, I can marinate in it for a day or two, play around with the words in my mind, but once I sit down to write it, I have to write it from start to finish or it will never be completed.

Not exactly a writing style that is compatible with the life I have right now.

This is how I feel most of the time, most days.

If I thought my time was not my own with one little boy, it is abjectly not my own with two. (Is abjectly a word?)  People told us that adding a second child would be the most difficult transition yet...thereafter it gets easier.  Well, we can testify to the first part with a hearty "amen" - and will just have to take their word for it on the latter because there will not be a "thereafter" in this household, of that we are assuredly decided.

In the spirit of resurrecting my poor blog, I wish I had a stirring post to write, but I don't at the moment.  I will...soon enough.  But right now, the sound of one child's eyelids closing awakens the other - even though moments before, that child could have slept thru a marching band riding on a garbage truck.  So posts will have to remain steadfast in the steel trap of my mind while we ride through these upside-down weeks and months of having a bossy baby in the house.

Now that I have it started though, the posts will probably start to roll out as I seek a little solitude when everyone has gone to bed, forsaking sleep in exchange for a little bit of brain activity. :)

Welp, the dog just stuffed herself underneath the dangling toys of the baby's play mat and curled up on it.  Her clear message that she's tired and misses her bed.  I'm totally rolling here...but I should take that as my cue to wrap up and do the same...

...Good night, and please don't give up on my little blog.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

As a follow-up to my last post, I wanted to post this video that provides an awesome visual as to why RF is so important for our kiddos.  Watch for the crash tests that demonstrate what happens in an accident.  Thanks to one of my friends on one of the FB discussion forums that I'm on for posting this!

And then I'll crawl off my soap box and let you make your own decision. No judgment, just information so you can decide what's best for your family! 

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

The Bossy Nurse is IN

Okay. So.  I'm pulling the bossy (I prefer to think "informative") nurse card and doing a blog post about car seats.   A lot of people are having a baby soon. Or already had one. Or want to have one.  And if there's one thing that all of them have in common, it's that to my knowledge none of them drive a horse and buggy.  So, in some way, you'll have to obtain a car seat and need to know how to use it.  And if there's anything I've learned in the past...ummmm....ten? years of being a nurse for new parents, one thing is very clear: we love to prepare for our babies.  We love decorating, sewing, shopping, planning, cute-i-fying...but somehow, how to use that car seat is not on most people's radar.

So.  Let me help you out.  I promise I'll be way less dry than the instructions that you won't read anyway, my pictures are cuter than the drawings, and you'll probably find out something you didn't realize you needed to know.

I am NOT car seat certified. I would like to be.  There are great resources online, and car seat inspections are FREE at most police departments and fire stations, and take about fifteen minutes.  This is one of THE most important things you need to know as a parent, so please take that time on a Saturday or evening to do that.

First up: try to get a new seat.  Hand-me-downs and those bought at a garage sale may NOT be safe.  They should be no older than five years and NEVER in an accident. You don't know the exact history of a hand-me-down or second-hand seat.  Granted, there are many people who can't afford a brand new seat, and a hand-me-down is better than none at all. But for the heavy investing that we all do in stuff to make the nursery cute, cut some of that out and splurge on the good seat instead if at all possible.

Second: Take the car seat out of the box and look at it.  Before the baby is born.  Put a teddy bear in and practice adjusting the straps.  Legally, your nurse at the hospital can't do this for you, so you need to know what you're doing.  Install the base (if you have one with the LATCH system and a car manufactured since...oh crud, I think 2002????, it's way easier than you think).  Grind your knee into that base and pull the straps HARD.  There should be no more than 1" of wiggle room either way.

Okay, so now your baby is born and you're looking at it and the car seat and don't quite know what to do.  Here's a visual to help you:

WHO is that chubby-faced newborn? It's two-day-old Levi Gouveia!!! :)  Levi's in a Chico (say "KEY-co!") Keyfit 30, which means he could still use it up to 30lbs, but I think he'd be pretty ticked if I put him in it now.  The Chico is one of the most popular and well-rated ones on the market, but there are a lot of great seats out there.

So, notice a handful of things going on here:

1.  Notice how tight the straps are.  And not twisted.  I tell parents, if it seems like you're strapping them in too tight, you're doing it right. You should not be able to pinch ANY strap on their shoulders or by their legs.  Yes, he or she will cry and protest and make you feel awful.  I prefer that to the alternative in an accident.

2.  Notice where the chest clip is. It is NOT a belly clip and belongs between the armpits at the nipple line.  It is designed to absorb energy in a crash and MUST be on the breastbone.  If it's over the belly (where I see a lot of people position them), at best it won't do its job well, and at worst it can puncture the internal organs.

3.  No after-market products to position his head.  You know, those soft upside-down U-shaped things so their head doesn't bobble. Most infant seats come with one, and that's fine. But if it didn't come IN the box with the seat, the manufacturer does NOT want you to use it, and use of any positioning device - especially if you have to place it under the straps - will void any warranty on the seat.  Pretty much any owner's manual will tell you not to use it.  There are a lot of things on the market that make you feel like you need it, but don't do it.  The same goes for those fleecy J. Cole (or whatever the name is) things that people insert in the seat for the winter.  Get one of those covers for the seat that fits over it like a shower cap, but NOTHING that goes under the straps.

If your seat does NOT come with a positioning type of device, roll up receiving blankets and put them on the side of your baby's head.  As long as nothing goes BEHIND the head or under the straps.

Soooo...what to do in cold weather?  First, do not put your baby in a bunting, snow suit, coat, or anything like that.  They are too puffy, will interfere with you adjusting the straps, and will decompress in a crash and some babies (yes, what I'm about to say is true) will fly right out of their coat and straps.  Place your baby in his or her normal clothes in the seat, put on a hat and cover with a blanket. That's all you need.  Your mom and mother-in-law (note: this was not the case with MY mother and MIL, but I hear a lot of grandmas protest when I tell my patients this) will think you're being cruel for not putting a big snow suit on the baby while she's in the car seat.  Too bad. Not safe.


This is two-month-old Levi, which would be at the end of December.  See?  He's neither freezing nor unhappy.  Your bundle won't be, either. :)

There's a handful of other things I could tell you, but that's a good start.  When (WHEN!) you get your car seat inspected by a certified person, they will tell you even more. :)

Now.  Your kid is 12 months old.  Yay!!!  Time to turn them around and forward face, right?

*Scoreboard buzzer sound*  Maybe not so much.

Yes, according to most state laws, 12 months (or 20lbs, whichever comes first) is the legal time to turn them around forward facing.  But the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends rear-facing for at LEAST two years. Facing your buddy forward has nothing to do with a rite of passage or being more mature. It's just something you can now legally do, but it's not necessarily the best thing.

Now, if you don't like this, don't shoot the messenger.  I'm not judging you, calling you names, or pulling you off my FB friends list if you forward-face your kids.  If you have protests or other thoughts about extended rear-facing, take some time to look up the research and decide for yourself what is best for your kiddo.  I'm only informing.

The same rules apply to how to adjust the straps and chest clip.  Levi is in a Britax (say "BRIGHT-ax") Marathon 70 from Target. It's not the super-duper-space-shuttle-ready car seat, but it got high scores on consumer and safety reports, and Britax is a great brand.

Q: Why rear face?

A: A toddler's head is still proportionally large to the rest of the body.  For quite some time. It's the heaviest part of their body, and in even a minor rear-ending, will snap forward, and can even cause internal decapitation (look up "internal decapitation" on's a quick 1 or less video).  When rear-facing, the seat cradles the body and head and absorbs the impact, rather than the limbs and head flinging forward. No whiplash.

Q: But the legs are all crunched up.  They'll break in a crash.

A: It doesn't matter if their knees are against their nose.  There is no evidence cited from any study indicating that rear-facing children break their legs in a crash...and these studies are typically done in Europe, where in many countries it is completely normal for kids to RF until four years old.  Levi is a long kid and he sits criss-cross-applesauce, puts his feet all the way up on the back seat, or just sits spread-eagle.  He's never complained.

And if you think of it, think of how you drive. Or sit as a passenger.  Especially as the driver - and especially if you're tall - you don't get the luxury of extending your legs much. It's just the way it is.  We deal with it; so can they.

Furthermore, and this sounds perhaps rather crass, but it's what sold me: Broken leg - cast it. Broken neck - casket.

Q: But my kid cries.

A: Too bad.  You're the parent.  Sometimes I have to have wrestling matches with Levi to get him in his seat, because he can push his feet against the back seat and levitate himself off the seat.  So I tickle or blow on his tummy, or just plain old wrestle it out because I'm mom and I really don't care what he thinks about his position. I'd rather have him alive and not in a halo....of any sort.

There IS one huge disadvantage to rear-facing that I've seen:

Levi has never seen a train.

He's always facing the other way.  Oh well.  Someday, when he's in junior high and finally gets to see what's coming instead of what's already gone by, he'll see a train crossing.  But he does sit high enough to see out the back window and the side windows, and very much enjoys wow-wow-wowing at trucks, cars, dogs, people, and everything else. He in no way rides in a deprived manner.

There is a LOT more that can be said about rear-facing and the physics of crash forces that support extended rear-facing, but I'm not nearly on the uptake enough to speak to all of it, but I will say that it's compelling enough that I would not be surprised if it became law soon to rear-face your kids until the age of 2.  YouTube it, Google it, ask the car seat inspector about it WHEN you go for your initial (free!!!) inspection.  For all the energy we put into their cuteness and their diet and their discipline and their social-ness and their intelligence, this is definitely worth the small time investment to learn what's safest for all the time they will spend in the car.

I'm sorry for the long and boring post, but I don't spend precious Levi nap time blogging about things that I really don't care about.  I really, really, REALLY feel strongly about car seat safety, so please take this info to heart.  If you look around there are TOO many babies and toddlers incorrectly secured and it IS a matter of life and death for them, and if we as parents can spend however much time on Facebook, we can spend time researching what keeps them safest.  Right?