During our time away, I thought a lot about Trips Before Baby. Remember sleeping in? Eating whatever we wanted whenever we wanted? Lazing by the hotel pool as waiters refilled our fruity drinks? Traveling with Charlie was a bit different.
We took him back East to see my grandmother, whose health is failing. I resisted taking the trip – travel generally stresses me out – but didn’t want to regret never taking him to meet her. He’s her first great grandchild.
My mother also joined us, an automatic trigger that Husband Charles would come as well. I adore my mother, but traveling alone with her can get overwhelming fast. Add a baby to the mix and you may have found me hiding in an airport bathroom stall, muttering to myself. That being said, it was really nice to have an extra pair of hands.
In general, the trip was rough, but not because of Charlie. Seeing my grandmother ill, and saying goodbye, knowing I may never see her again, was heartbreaking. But let’s focus on the good stuff, and the lessons I learned traveling with a baby.
1) Security: On the flight out, I made the mistake of carrying Charlie through security wearing the Pikkolo carrier. Had I run it through the machine and simply held him, I wouldn’t have needed an extremely intimate TSA pat down, which took an extra 20 minutes. It’s also unnerving to watch them send my bottled breastmilk through some kind of special machine that tested for whatever they look for. What toxins are you zapping my milk with, TSA?!
2) Plane Ride: We gave Charlie an A- on the way out; a B- on the way back. Miraculously, he slept for both take-offs and one landing. For the other landing, we gave him a pacifier to help his ears, but since we’d never given him one before, Charlie looked at it like WTF and just banged himself in the head.
We sat next to a nice grandmotherly-type on the outbound flight (Mama was sitting in a different row), so she didn’t mind being kicked and slugged when I attempted to nurse Charlie. And she made goofy faces and tickled him. Charlie was pretty happy throughout.
The ride home was tougher. At a few points, we were those people with the shrieking baby. The flight was much longer (stupid jet stream), so I think he was getting tired of sitting on our laps. Bless those crinkly packets of pretzels for their endless entertainment value.
My favorite moment occurred as Charlie wailed his balls off for Grandma. Nothing she could do would calm him down, so I asked for him. As soon as he was in my arms, he quieted and even put his head on my shoulder. OMGLOVE.
3. Meeting Great Grandma. “Where’s my baby?!” was the first thing she said when we walked into her nursing-home room. Suffice it to say, my grandmother loved Charlie. We put him next to her on the bed and they cuddled. He cranked up the cuteness. Other nursing home residents found their way to us so they could see him, too. At one point, we played Polish music on my phone and she sang to Charlie. Seeing them together was the reason we took this trip, and it was great. I just wish we didn’t live so far away.
My Mama got a little action, too. At the nursing home, the receptionist told my mom she liked her shirt. Some old guy in a wheelchair piped up, “I like her ass!”
4. Sleeping. I envy Charlie’s ability to fall asleep anywhere. I stress out about sleeping in strange places, especially on the first night. Charlie, of course, did great. It was actually nice to have him on an East Coast schedule; he went to bed between 9-10 p.m., which meant we were able to have dinner AFTER 6 P.M.!!! At BFF Ashleigh’s suggestion, we downloaded Easy Relax Lite on our iPhones, which provided the white noise that Charlie is used to hearing at bedtime. The hotel provided us a crib, which we placed at the side of the bed.
5. Laughing. You can see one of the best parts of the trip in the following video. We discovered a new game that makes Charlie squeal in laughter. Is there no better sound in the universe?