Thursday, December 2, 2010

How I survived my baby's first vacation

emma's first plane ride

I'm not gonna lie, I was SUPER anxious about flying with Emma for the first time. Heart palpitations coupled with an uneasy stomach began the night before as I performed my final luggage check. I'm pretty anal when it comes to packing, I HATE checking in luggage and have proudly perfected the art of NOT overpacking... then I had a baby and that all went out the window!

You see, when you have a baby, everything is all about the "what ifs" - what if she craps all over herself, what if the shit leaks out onto my pants during the ride, what if the flight gets delayed and she's already had enough milk, what if it gets late and we have to give her a bath at MJ's house... all these IF's amount to extra stuff to pack.

So Hillsy and I purchased a big suitcase and decided to check it in along with one smaller suitcase (typically a carry-on). The $25 charge for the smaller case was worth the extra hands. Going through U.S. airport security is stressful enough but try throwing a baby in the mix... we figured it was better to have both of our hands free. Definitely a wise choice, do you know that they make you take your baby out of the car seat (sleeping or not), then both the car seat and stroller need to go through the security belt. I can't even imagine traveling on my own with a baby!!!

Next up, timing my feedings. We got lucky that our flight time coincided with my regular feeding schedule. We also opted to get there super early - I'd rather wait around than stress about catching a flight. I fed her before we left the house then again right before takeoff. Being a breastfeeder was a huge advantage. I was able to feed her anytime and didn't have to worry about having enough bottles (although I did bring a bottle of pumped milk just in case). The best part? She has a habit of prolonging her feeds and is more than happy to stay put even after all the milk is gone and usually falls asleep on my chest. Unfortunately she took a crap an hour or so before initial landing, which woke her up (argh). She freaked out in the tiny bathroom but soon settled down once we got back to our seats. I made the mistake of laying her down hoping she'd go back to sleep, but she had other plans and started fussing. I sat her up and daddy kept her occupied until they made the initial descent announcement, my cue to start feeding (lasted until we rolled into the gate). All in all I think we got very lucky on both flights. Next time I'll probably be the poor helpless mom with the crying child.

As for the rest of our trip...
Our first night in Texas was ultra stressful. I thought I was the worst mom dragging my 3 month old into a situation she wasn't ready for. Or maybe a situation that I wasn't ready for. It's important to point out that I'm a stickler for routines. I'd drown without some sort of structure, so you could guess what it's like with me and a baby. My days run like clockwork - feeds, naps, activities are pretty much on schedule. It's all pretty easy for me to accomplish at home, it's just me and Emma and for the most part nothing causes me to deviate from my schedule.

Lucky for us we were staying with family and my brother and sister borrowed a bunch of basics (baby tub, pack n' play, bouncy chair) from friends. Unfortunately the tub was a little different from ours and my little sensitive bundle went apeshit on our first night. I guess she was used to her tub and taking a bath in our kitchen sink and not in a big ol' tub. We had to abort that mission immediately - I've never seen her so upset before. Some of you may be asking, really? was it really that bad you couldn't finish giving her a bath? Seriously though, watching your baby cry herself to purple as if someone was torturing her is gut wrenching. I've never experienced such a natural instinct to protect something/one before - I guess this is what they call a mother's love.

It was a challenge to find the balance between doing what's best for your baby/following your routine and being flexible so you can actually enjoy your vacation. Dinners won't always be at 7 or maybe she'll miss a couple of her naps for a day or two. I think by day 2.5 we got the hang of it and I no longer felt like I had made a huge mistake. I miss my family and wish we could see each other more often but a part of me is relieved to be home and back to our routine! I'm assuming it'll get easier traveling with kids as they get older... (right?)


yours truly said...

You are a funny writer!! I'm glad your trip went well, after some adjustments:) I have traveled alone with my 3 year old daughter back and forth to Dominica 4 times in the past year (and once to California) and I can say the more you do it the more tricks you learn, but I don't know that I can say kids get easier to travel with? Of course toddlers pose a whole new slew of problems... think tantrums, falling asleep on the random not- so-kid-friendly guy who unfortunately got placed next to you two, squeezing two into that 4" bathroom, and that whole security on your own thing! Well, I basically feel like Superwoman if I get through that without a hitch. Needless to say, I think kids will always keep up guessing... part of the job I guess. Sounds like you were prepared (and that's KEY) and did great!

190.arch said...

Don't worry too much! : )
Well, trips don't get easier, what happens in real is that you become a "mature mom", sort of... hehehe...
I think that younger is the baby, easier is traveling.
My Emma is 10 months old right now, she's a professional crawler, now she knows unvaluable experience of getting with her own hands what she wants. When she was younger, she enjoyed a lot walks with mum and daddy... now she's heavier, she likes to smile people, watching everything from her stroller... but just for a few time, half an hour maybe.
Now your Emma is happy with mum milk, my Emma already tries her food but she still cannot eat everything, it really drives me crazy because when we plan even a short trip, I go around with a sort of pantry : P
Don't worry... you'll see, you'll be always fine with travelling. Always trust yourself and your Emma.
Tomorrow we are taking a plane from Milan to Valencia, it's a short trip, I'm not really worried about it since we did a huge trip last summer from Milan to Mexico so... I think we can do anything!

Melissa de la Fuente said...

You did great hun! It is always daunting doing things for the first time, I think. And with a 3 month old? daunting...Sounds like it went really well and it is always really tricky with schedules and things when you are on vacation. Totally are such a great mom & in my humble opinion, it does get easier. Much, much easier. :) YAY!
ps how adorable is she in that pic with J? gah. I love that sweet little round head and her happy eyes! :) xo

Marichelle said...

Thanks ladies! I always love hearing from veteran mamas - thanks for the encouragement and tips!

Marichelle said...

Thanks ladies! I always love hearing from veteran mamas - thanks for the encouragement and tips!

Whale said...

That was a nice, informative and humbling entry. Love it!