Clara was five months old and I decided to try her stroller out for a spin in the neighborhood. Up until that point I had been using her car seat in a stroller contraption. It was a brisk but mild day in late November. I planned to walk ten blocks to my sister's apartment, take her dog for a brief walk, then head back home. Clara seemed happy - in her coat and blanket, stroller in the recline position.
Six blocks into my walk, I saw a middle aged woman walking down the sidewalk. As she apporached me she started yelling a blue streak. It took a minute for me to realize she was cursing me out - for not having a wind/rain protector on my stroller. You know - those clear plastic shields they put over strollers to keep the rain or wind out? As she kept getting closer, her yelling rose in decibels: "WHAT ARE YOU CRAAAAAZY, LADY! YOUR BABY IS GONNA FREEEEEEZE OUT HERE - YOU DON'T HAVE A WINDSHIELD PROTECTOR WHAT'SA MATTER WITH YOU, BITCH!"
The amazing thing was that she didn't even slow down - she just marched past me, still screaming - her voice fading with the Doppler effect.
I was shaken to the core - and promptly began crying. Here I was, a new mom trying out a new stroller and I had apparently made a serious, baby-killing mistake. I spun the stroller around, sniffling, and headed home. As I walked I called Gerald and found some solace in his outrage on my behalf. He assured me Clara would be fine. By the time I got home Clara had fallen asleep in the stroller. I left her their to nap and started doing some paperwork at my desk.
Not fifteen minutes later the doubts began to creep in. What if Clara had in fact been freezing? What if...she wasn't alseep in her stroller but was in fact suffering from extreme hypothermia? What if she wasn't sleeping but was in fact, in a cold-weather induced coma?
I tiptoed over to the stroller and watched Clara breathing...or was she breathing? I gave her a tentative poke. No response. I blew air on her face and her eyelids quivered then stilled. I tired to convince myself to no avail that Clara was just sleeping. I ended up taking her out of the stroller, trying to say in a happy voice: "wake up, wake up, wake up."
She did wake up - she was fine, if unhappy and grumpy from being woken from her peaceful baby nap. She was not frozen.
Did that cursing woman envision the ripple effects her yelling had on me? That it would affect me for hours? That it would make me cry? Did she think for an instant that perhaps I was an inexperienced, sleep-deprived, emotionally fragile first time mom? Did she think to stop and offer a bit of advice?
Since that time, walking with my now wind/rainshielded stroller I have seen strollers with and without the plastic protective shell. It seems to be a judgement call on how much it helps with cold weather. It is certainly not worth screaming at a stranger on the street over.