My life is just like the movies.

Friday night I was driving to a meeting, and as I pulled off the freeway my car just stopped. All the indicator lights came on, but there was just…nothing. I turned the key off and then back on, and the car spurted back to action. Whew. Weird.dash lights

So I kept going, and by going I mean inching up the off ramp. I remember thinking that instead of “stop & go” they should call it “stop & crawl”. Then it did it again.

I realized that it was happening every time I took my foot off the gas. I panicked! There were so many cars in front of me, all barely crawling up to the intersection. There was no way I could keep driving!

I called the Mountain Man, kind of panicky. He said it’s not a big deal, just keep running some gas through the engine. BUT I CAN’T! Traffic was horrible! He informed me that I could (and I swear I heard a little chuckle) by popping it in neutral when I need to stop. OK, so if I weren’t freaking out at the moment I might have been able to figure that out.

Doing a little dance up and down the hills of Capitol Hill of braking-neutral-gassing-braking-drive I made it to my meeting.

Then, all too soon, it was time to get the Pie piled back in the car for the drive home, this time in the dark.

I was terrified that my car would just stop on the freeway – the engine would just cut in the middle of my drive home, and then I would get plowed by a car or (oh god) a semi while I frantically tried to hit my hazards and make it to the shoulder. I did the braking-neutral-gassing-braking-drive dance until I got to the freeway, and then just clenched my teeth and fists around the steering wheel while on the freeway, all 50 miles home.clench (you’re going to need to imagine what those clenched fists look like at night)

I tried to stay in the right lane, in case I needed to escape, but every time I had dropped below 1500 RPM on the way to the freeway it felt a little rough. So my strategy was to drive in the right lane the whole time, keeping it above 2000 RPM. People in the right lane drive slow! It’s like they’re trying to get off the freeway or something!


I had to either slow down, which even the thought of doing drove spikes of terror down my spine, or get over, which could be OK, maybe, as long as I kept it over 2000 RPM.

I thought about how funny/sad it would be when I got pulled over for going 70 in a 60, weaving in and out of the right lane, and having to tell the cop that I had to keep the RPMs up or my car would just stop.

And I thought about how I might have to get a new car. I may have reached the end of my rope with this one. It has been a downward spiral with that car over the past year and a half. Every system that could have broken has, and there are mystery problems that we just can’t crack.

I guess 15 years might be enough for me and this car.

I guess safety may trump frugality in some cases.

I would prefer to keep my car, I love that old Volvo. But when breaking down is more common than not, and with a baby with me in the car, the best choice may not be to continue repairing it. Besides, repairs on those old Volvos are expensive.

I finally got to the driveway, and my car died as I was pulling toward the house. I was so, so happy to be home. It had been a harrowing ride, my jaw and hands were tired. My stomach hurt and I had a little bit of a headache (probably from the clenched jaw).

I tore into the house, told my Mountain Man I was happy to see him, and started telling him about how scared I had been on the ride home.

I was home.

I got the Pie out of her car seat and sat down to feed her. She didn’t seem to want to eat – which was weird, because she hadn’t eaten much when we got to the meeting, either. All during the meeting, and now once we were home, she was acting hungry, pulling at my shirt, latching and sucking for a minute and then pulling off.

I started thinking.

I wonder if stress hormones are perceived in those little bodies the same way alcohol is.

If mama’s been drinking, baby nurses more frequently but takes less milk. Stress and anxiety can prevent let-down and cause a decrease in milk production. But aside from a decline in production or problems with let-down (which I don’t really think I experienced) do babies pick up on the adrenalin or cortisol (or other stress hormones) in mama’s milk and reject it?

My Pie did seem to keep “nibbling” all night long. She demanded to be fed, then latched, sucked for a moment and pulled off.

Maybe this is a new eating pattern that she’s picking up, coincidentally around the same time as my panicked drive. Or maybe my stress was acting like alcohol in my milk and making my Pie pull away until it was cleared.

Thankfully things are a little more “normal” now. We’ll start looking at buying a car (leaning pretty heavily on Nathan, friend & car expert, for advice) and I won’t be taking my car on too many more road trips. It will be sad to say goodbye to that car, but I will be happy to not have to worry about yet another break-down with baby in tow (yeah, it has already happened).

I didn’t have to laugh through tears while telling a cop about why I had to speed. But if that movie had been made about a breastfeeding mama, the ending would have been quite different – a family, piled in bed, trying to forget about the stress and get some sleep.

Anybody in the market for a well-loved red Volvo?  sweet ride


  1. yikes! are you okay?! scary scenario (we had a similar scenario last year, but luckily that was the day my poor husband was stuck with my car, not me).

  2. Yes, we're all OK. We can't replicate the problem though - it seems that it only does this after it's been running on the freeway for an hour and then goes onto city streets. So this weekend we took my car on our little hiking trip, and it didn't do it. But tomorrow, when I'm meeting the Mountain Man to look at a house, I'm sure it'll do it again. (Or maybe it's just me??)


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