By 10 weeks of age, our little guy had been on two major trips, eight plane rides and set foot in four states. Not too bad for two and a half months of life, hey?! The first trip was to Florida, where my parents have a place. James was six weeks old. The second was to South Carolina for a dear college friend’s wedding when James was 10 weeks old.
For what it’s worth, a few thoughts on traveling with a little bean:
#1: Little babies are pretty good travelers. As Dan and I were packing up for Florida, we were both nervous. I mean, god, we could barely keep our shit together in our own house. James cried and cried as we gathered all the last minute things and loaded him into our friend Sara’s giant red truck. What have we gotten ourselves into? I thought. But then he slept. He slept as it took us ONE HOUR to check in at the desk (that’s right, we stood there for one entire hour. Parents take note: leave yourself oodles of time. This infant in arms thing is not as simple as it seems!). He slept through security and then had a breakdown during which we hid in the family bathroom (never loved a public restroom so very much then I did at this moment in time). Then, he slept all the way down to Florida. He slept so much that I fiddled with the idea of somehow living on a plane with all those nice vibrations and incredibly loud white noise so that I could enjoy the type of peace I enjoyed during those six to eight hours. #2: If they cry, they cry. For some reason, James fussed on the last leg of both trips after being a dream for the entire rest of the time. I bounced him and shh’d him, but sometimes babies cry. It totally sucks, of course, but as with all things in life, this too shall pass. Plus, my next point:
#3: Babies are the great the connector. If you’re nervous about your baby making you the most hated person on a flight, don’t be. It’s the exact opposite. I cannot tell you how many people looked at me and smiled, came over to ask: “How old?” and then said: “Enjoy it. They grow up so fast.” Many (maybe most) have children of their own. They’ve been there. If you pay attention, you’ll see all of their love for their children flash across their face as they look at yours. It’s one of the loveliest thing you’ll ever encounter – this brief but utterly profound sharing of parental love.
I sat next to a guy about my age who runs a micro-brewery on the flight from Florida to Minneapolis who had a toddler and we talked about parenthood- the ups and downs and everything in between. The guy behind me on that flight kept offering to hold James. I could tell he longed for the weight of a baby in his arms.
When I landed in Calgary, a volunteer in a white hat and red vest rushed up to me as I walked towards customs ran to me cooing: “Oh, you lucky person! What a beautiful baby! Please, let me show you the elevator! Oh you lucky lucky person.”
#4: Every week of baby’s life contains vital developments in those early months. Plan accordingly. We took James to Florida to stay with my parents and my brother and sister in law at six weeks. They say six weeks is the peak of a baby’s fussiness and that proved true for us. One day, James cried every minute he was awake. There wasn’t much sleeping to be had. To have the support of other family members, and have Dan around 24/7 that week was a life saver for me. My dad would lift James over his shoulder, pat his back and take him to another room to soothe him (We called it the Jimbo touch). My mom would take him in the morning after I fed him so that I could sleep for a little while. Kevin and Fiona (brother and sister in law) helped me get out when I might have just stayed home – so there was a boat ride and pina coladas and even an entire dinner out without babe! Everyone helped me laugh and stay sane. And believe me, laughter and sanity were precious commodities at that time.
By 10 weeks, James was SO MUCH better. He was full of smiles and starting to coo. Not to say he didn’t cry, but by then, his crying didn’t make me want to crawl into a hole.
My mom came with me on the wedding trip- and it should be said that I NEVER could have done that trip without her. We had bought a breast pump and introduced a bottle so that being away from babe for more than two hours had entered the realm of reality.
The night before the wedding I went out for dinner with my friends and then a cocktail reception. By 10:30 p.m. I was tapping my toes, thinking obsessively about James. In the bathroom with my best friend, I confessed: “I want to be the cool mom who can just forget about it all for a while and stay out late! But I just want to be home with him.” She assured me that that was ok. So I went home.
The night of the wedding, though, I vowed to just have fun. And have fun I did. The champagne and wine were flowing. The dance floor was bumping. All of my college girlfriends were there. It was the best to be there with them. To have my mom spending time with her grandson. Win, win and win. I had a lot of anxiety about the wedding trip before I went. There are so many unknowns when you are a first time mom. But, at the end of the day, you can make anything happen if you are prepared and flexible. Plus my next point:
#5: Know thyself. Travel is incredibly important to me and I think it was important to know that we could handle it early on. I personally could not have done the wedding trip earlier than I did, but I have a (way more amazing) friend who went to a wedding in France when her first was four weeks old. If there’s a trip you want to take: #6: It’s worth it. What other opportunity would I have to meet my girlfriends in the lobby on a hungover Sunday morning, clutching coffees just like the good old days and have them gather around my little son for a picture? Or see my friend Callie get married?! When else would I get to plop little J in a bouncy chair while my brother and sister in law boiled lobsters and my dad passed the chardonnay and we all clinked glasses? I would not trade any of it. Nope, not ever.