Well hello there! How was your Christmas day last year? Mine was unusual and, well, a bit embarrassing. But definitely fun (that’s what counts, right)?!
December 25 in Serbia…
…is a perfectly ordinary day. Most of the Serbs are Orthodox Christians, which means that here holidays are celebrated according to the old Julian calendar, which is 13 days behind what we’re used to. So, instead of Christmas day being December, 25 it’s January 7. What about New Year’s Eve, you may ask? Well, the country graciously agreed to have it with the rest of the world on December 31, which means that the New Year comes before Christmas. Surely this can’t be right! The Serbs agree and that’s why they celebrate the Serbian New Year (Srpska Nova godina) on January 13. Are you still with me?
This Christmas Day (that’s December 25, in case I got you totally confused) I didn’t do a Christmas lunch because I had an appointment at the local council and because we ran out of nappies. Typical. So, my husband and I packed our boys, 4 y.o. and 4 months old, into our Astra H and set off.
Cars and Childseats
Opel Astra H is a great car and I love driving it (the UK knows it as Vauxhall Astra H). It’s smooth, has good aerodynamics, the seats are comfortable and the boot is just right for a hatchback. But, once you have more than one kids, a problem arises – where there are two child seats at the back, a third person can’t sit in the middle. There’s just not enough room for that. And that is terrible when you have a 4-year-old and a baby because when the baby starts crying in his seat, or rather basket, there’s nothing you can do even if you’re in the passenger’s seat. You can’t go and sit in the back row because there is no enough room. The child seats take it all up!
Speaking of child seats, let me tell you why you should have the safest options possible. You know, I was one of those people who thought “Nah, I’ll get a cheap seat just to have the police bog off”. I realized how wrong I was when we got hit from behind when we stopped at the traffic lights. I was 8 months pregnant with my second child then. We didn’t get hit hard and there’s no visible damage to the car – the number plate took the blow. But my son was sitting in that cheap car seat and he hit the back of his head really hard. He was crying so much! At first, I thought he was just scared. But when I examined his seat, I was shocked to find its back as hard as stone. The thin sponge inside lining that was supposed to protect the child was a joke. Now that’s when I got really scared. Had the crash been a worse one, I dare not think what could have happened. So, the next day I went out and bought the safest seats I could find, Cybex Solution Z-fix and Cybex Aton for when the baby would arrive. The Aton has a particularly great feature where you pull out a plastic wing and it protects the baby from side impact. Basically, it takes the blow, not the seat.
But now these two seats take up all the room and only a very skinny person could sit in between them (which I am not). Now, there are cars that have three proper seats at the back, like Peugeot 307, Renault Scenic, etc. but I’m not buying a new car just yet. So Astra will just have to do.
How Not to Breastfeed in the Car
Back to our Christmas day (ordinary day in Serbia). I had my appointment at the local council and then we decided to drive a bit further to the city of Nish, a 20-minute drive from where we were. In Nish, we thought we’d go for a walk in a park and then go to a shopping centre, have lunch there, buy whatever we needed (nappies), and head home.
Now, the shopping centre has a square shape where the parking lot is inside the square. I parked the car in the outside row, which meant that it overlooked a popular shop and people were walking by non-stop. Big mistake, as I realized when it was time to feed the baby.
Usually, I find a nice secluded parking spot, nurse the baby at the steering wheel, sometimes even without a shawl to cover him. Well, on Christmas day I forgot the shawl in another bag at home and there were too many people walking by to breastfeed at the front.
I don’t know how I did it and I was bursting with pride – I managed to climb to the back row, move the older kid’s seat a bit and squeeze my bottom in between the two seats. Success! I’m not fat! I was feeling like it was a huge achievement while I was nursing. And then… well, then I was planning to put the baby back in his seat, get out, put the baby into a Mei Tai carrier, and go shopping. A trendy modern mother. Ha! Not so fast!
You see, I forgot that I child-locked the rear doors. No worries, I’ll open the window, grab the handle from the outside, and open the door. But, of course, I forgot that I blocked the windows because Simon was opening-closing-opening them all the time. So I had no choice but to somehow climb to the front. I don’t know how but I couldn’t do it while facing forward so I sort of half-turned and moved my right foot and leg to the front, careful not to break anything. I then got stuck in that position because my left foot got stuck behind the parking brake. I tried to free it and by then there was a small crowd staring at my small performance (remember where I parked!). I did manage to break free but at a price. I lost my balance and landed on the steering wheel with my bottom. The horn went off, the crowd roared with laughter, and I slid off the wheel red with embarrassment. I had a fantastic laugh too because, by God, I must have looked so funny!
I hope you’ve enjoyed reading this post and please do think before you decide to breastfeed in the car unless you want to become a laughing stock!
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It’s so interesting how Christmas Day in Serbia is 7 days later than we have it in the US. We take for granted that everyone is celebrating at the same time, but they aren’t. I love Christmas, so it’s pretty neat for me to think that the Christmas spirit is “prolonged” each year and other countries celebrate.
It’s actually 13 days later! 😉 And yes, it’s so interesting and fun to see the Christmas spirit prolonged. Catholics celebrate Christmas on the 25th of December so all the decorations are in place. Then the holidays last until January 13th. Most people are off work between January 1 and January 9.
You had quite the adventure! I’m glad you could recap your story to us with such warmth and humor. Momming isn’t always easy!
Oh my gosh😂 so glad you could see the humor in it because if it was me I probably would have been so frustrated lol
What an ordeal! I feel like car maneuvering is one of the many skills we moms instinctually pick up once we have kids. Breastfeeding in the car is no picnic, especially when you have such a cramped space, but it seems you have it down to a science!
Haha oh goodness that sounds like quite the ordeal for you! But way to get it done and get out of there momma! By the way, super interesting that you celebrate Christmas on a different day in Serbia…I had no idea!