I asked my husband what he thought, and he suggested Carla.
So perhaps I should go with that.
Let’s try it out, just for this post, and… if you return to this blog in future days and see that I have begun calling the baby something else entirely, well, just know that is a possibility.
So Carla and I are westward bound. Alone. Together.
My husband has a Medical Conference to attend, and I am, apparently, more apprehensive about spending five days alone at home with Carla than I am about flying with her, alone, on an airplane.
Why are we not flying together with her father? Vacation days, that’s why. I don’t want to use them all up on THIS. We will all fly home together, so that’s good. Especially because I will be, at that point, A Seasoned Flyer-With-Baby-Er, which will certainly impress my husband.
Of course, ever since we booked the flights, I have been in a semi-panic about EVERYTHING.
Not just the flying. Although HOO BOY there is plenty to panic about when it comes to flying!
I have been reading up on flying with a baby, though, so I feel like I have A Plan. Whether it’s A GOOD Plan remains to be seen, but it’s A Plan, and that helps.
First, I am going to check a bag, and carry on just one bag. It will primarily be Carla’s diaper bag, but it will have to contain purse-y type things, too, like my wallet and the phone charger. What will I do with the breast pump? I guess I have to check that, in my luggage? That makes me slightly nervous; that thing has been my near-constant companion for over seven months, and I would hate to lose it. Maybe I can carry that on, as well? I could use the little freezer compartment to hold some frozen milk. Hmmm. Maybe that’s a good idea.
Okay, so my Plan is clearly still taking shape.
One or two carry-ons, plus the baby. She will have her stroller, of course. My husband and I are going back and forth on whether or not to bring a car seat. WAIT A SECOND, before you freak out: Carla will of course travel to the airport in her car seat. And she WILL have a car seat in the Western City we are visiting. We just haven’t decided whether it’s better to rent or bring our own.
The pros to bringing our own:
– Familiar (to us – I doubt Carla cares)
The cons to bringing our own:
– Just another thing for me to Deal With
– Possible damage during the gate check process
– We can’t ALSO bring the base, which reduces the convenience factor about a thousand-fold
So that part of The Plan is still under construction, as are others.
I also plan to bring some little Ziploc baggies with earplugs and a note from Carla inside and maybe some sort of candy. These I will hand out to the passengers in front of us, behind us, and across from us. (What about the people behind and in front of the people across from us?) I have also been panic-thinking about buying a couple of $5 Starbucks gift cards for the people directly around us, juuuuust in case Carla freaks out and spends the whole flight screeching. But a) I doubt my husband would jump on board with that plan and b) it is probably overkill. The baggies with earplugs are probably overkill, I just really really want my fellow passengers to be on my side juuuuust in case.
The Plan involves me bringing a variety of – quiet – and easily washable – toys with me. Several for the diaper bag, that I can switch out as Carla gets bored. And maybe several others that I can pack in my suitcase or in my husband’s suitcase to use on the plane ride home.
It also involves a big package of anti-bacterial wipes that I will use to scour the seat and armrests and tray table and seat belt and my rowmate, if s/he lets me. Carla puts EVERYTHING in her mouth and airplanes are just TEEMING with disgusting things.
It ALSO involves a couple of clothing changes, and probably… five diapers? Is that enough? We aren’t connecting anywhere, thank goodness. And the flight is during the time when she’s getting ready to go to bed, so hopefully she’ll sleep. But I am TERRIFIED that she will have a blow out on the plane, and then I will have to use the on-board lavatory, which I typically avoid at ALL COSTS.
Listen, I can and will change her in an airplane lavatory if necessary. I once had to change her IN A SINK at a restaurant that didn’t have a changing table – it was a complete diaper change and FULL outfit change, and the sink wasn’t exactly a pedestal sink, but the counter wasn’t anything to write home about, and the hand dryer was an automatic jobber that kept leaping to [loud, blow-y] attention every time my elbow passed within five inches of it, and Carla for the most part was stunned into stillness because she was being changed IN A SINK for Pete’s sake, but she did do a little wriggling and maybe licked the faucet, I try not to think about it too hard – and nobody died. But I am totally That Mom who would rather change her baby in the trunk of her car than in a public restroom. So you can imagine that the thought of using the airplane lavatory is giving me the vapors.
Oh, this reminds me of Past Me, who was Not a Fan of kids, and who watched with utter horror and disgust once as a mother changed her baby’s diaper on the seats of the airplane I was flying on. I was just… dumbfounded. And wanted her to be ARRESTED, that instant! for daring to change her grimy little offspring in the very seats where other people rested their delicate rear ends! Oh, Past Me. Pat, pat.
Maybe I will pack ten diapers. Juuuuust in case.
I also plan to bring two bottles. One for takeoff, one for landing. To relieve ear pressure, and also to soothe her to sleep. Listen, I think breastfeeding her would be a better option (and more convenient and less to lug around), but Carla and I have never really mastered the whole nursing-with-a-cover thing. We’ve tried it a couple of times, and she usually reacts by flailing at it the way that you or I might flail at a spiderweb we’d inadvertently walked through.
And even if I were more comfortable about nursing WITHOUT a cover – which I am not, strangely, even though my boobs got a LOT of Public Viewing Time when Carla was wee – the thing is that Carla is extremely nosy. Like to the point that if her own boring old dad walks into the room while she’s nursing, she has to immediately contort her body to be able to see what terribly! fascinating! thing! he is doing. So imagine how distractible she would be in an unfamiliar space with all these cool people walking around and sitting in their seats.
I am going to pack the nursing cover, juuuuust in case, and I will also wear a nursing friendly top, but I am going to bring bottles in hopes that they do the trick.
I have toyed with the idea of bringing the Ergo baby carrier, and trying to wear her on the plane. It has a hood, so presumably she could nurse that way… But I don’t know if it really WORKS while the wearer is sitting… and, even if it does, I’m not sure that I’d be allowed to wear her while we were in the air – or, while taking off and landing. No idea. Plus, it’s a new toy that we haven’t really mastered anyway, so this is probably not the best time to be adding new thing on top of new thing.
So… I think that’s it for the airplane, right?
I’m a little worried about getting through the actual AIRPORT, but I will have the stroller and I’m a seasoned enough traveler that the security stuff doesn’t bug me. I haven’t decided if I will ask to be frisked rather than take Carla through the x-ray machine… Maybe. That doesn’t bug me, to do that – I did it while I was pregnant, so it’s not a big deal.
I better not drink anything the entire day before the flight, right? I mean, how do you use the bathroom with a baby? The toilets in airports aren’t usually built to accommodate a traveler and her carry-on suitcase, let alone a giant stroller, so I don’t have high hopes. I guess I could hold out for a disabled stall? Or use a family restroom? I DON’T KNOW. The best choice is to not have to pee.
Then we get to the part of the trip that has me… I’m not going to say MORE panicked, but… additionally panicked.
The whole Staying in a Hotel With a Baby thing.
I mean, what do you DO with a baby in a hotel? Where am I going to stow her while I take a shower or use the restroom? (Remember, my husband will be at a conference all day.)
I feel about hotels only slightly better than I do about airport lavatories. So I suppose my big package of wipes will come in handy, there, too. I am going to wipe down every surface.
My husband suggested that buying some necessities once we get to Western City is a better idea than transporting them across the country. So I think he will pick up a package of diapers, and some wipes, and some hand soap (I can’t imagine using bar soap for three days, when I wash my hands about 80 times a day, and also need to wash pump parts and bottles). I already ordered, from Amazon, some disposable diaper changing pads, so that I can change her easily in the hotel. Although… where? On the dresser? On one of the beds? (Past Me is gagging the corner, just thinking about it.)
And sleeping. THAT will be interesting.
I am trying, delicately, and without much hope of success, to edge Carla’s sleeping patterns toward waking up later. Because now, she wakes up at six on the dot every morning. Which means that she will wake up at four on the dot every morning in Western City. That sounds… terrible. So if I can coax her into sleeping until seven here… well, we’ll see.
We ordered a little Travel Sleeper that we’ll be taking with us. It’s something that she can use – hopefully – for at least a couple of years (I am now realizing I have no idea what age kids are when they start sleeping in a real bed – two? five?), and it seems simple to pack and use. And easy to clean. But she’ll have to sleep in it on the floor, and I’m not a fan of that.
(By the way, if you are the anxious type, I recommend against researching options for where your baby should sleep while you’re on the road. Because it doesn’t matter whether you are looking into Travel Sleepers or looking into Using the Hotel Pack-and-Play or looking to Co-Sleeping: they are all RIFE with warnings and horror stories and I am in a PANIC about it. I would just as well have Carla sleep between me and my husband, but… HORROR STORIES. Plus, we are planning more trips with her next summer, and we think the travel sleeper we found will be useful multiple times.)
(This is NOT an invitation for you to share ANY horror stories in the comments, please and thank you.)
Should I be packing up her high chair and taking THAT with us? It is really easy to lug around, but… add it to all the other stuff we have to take, and it’s not really something you can just throw in on top of things. But if we don’t take it, where will I put her if we go out to eat? She is MUCH too wriggly for laps. Although that will probably be what happens – we will pass her from lap to lap. And what about feeding her? Carla is just starting to (be forced to) eat purees, and it’s a grueling and messy process (that we try to make delightful, so as not to give her the impression that eating is a grueling and unpleasant experience), and I can’t imagine setting her up on a hotel bed and trying to shove pureed bananas down her throat. Also, I suppose we could buy food there, and maybe bring a spoon and a bowl with us, but it just seems like a lot of trouble, you know? Is it terrible for her to take a break from “solid” food while we’re away?
Likewise, is it terrible for her to take a break from BATHS while we’re away? She still bathes in a little plastic whale-shaped tub that sits inside our bathtub, because she’s just too little. And she is MUCH too slippery to bathe with me, my near heart attack and I can assure you of that. Plus, she’s so small, she doesn’t really get DIRTY. Except for the blowouts. And the pureed food all over her. In any case, I am leaning toward no baths.
And how am I going to keep her entertained in a HOTEL? A lot of my parental survival skills involve moving Carla from Baby Containment Device to Baby Containment Device: she has a swing and a chair and a play gym and a bouncy thing in the kitchen and a bouncy play gym in her bedroom. And then, in desperate times, she has a pack-n-play and a crib, too.
But she’ll have NONE of those things in the hotel. She’ll have her little Baby Sleeper, but that’s not really a place for playing. I can put her on one of the beds, but I can’t leave her there. She’ll fling herself off the edge.
She also spends a lot of time just moving around on the floor. She’ll roll around on her bedroom floor, or the living room floor. I have a towel I set up in the (enclosed) hallway outside my bathroom, so she can roll and crawl around while I get ready in the mornings. But no way am I putting Carla down on the hotel floor. I don’t care WHAT you say about “germs are good for her immune system” – she gets PLENTY of germ exposure at daycare, she doesn’t need to put her face into the yuck that makes up a hotel carpet.
I am happy to stroll her around in the stroller… but I admit, I haven’t really researched this Western City or our location yet, so I’m not sure if there’s anywhere to stroll TO. Plus, if she wakes up at four in the morning? I’m not strolling. I refuse to stroll before seven a.m.
Sure, I’ll have the aforementioned toys. And perhaps I will have to bring a couple of books as well. It’s not like I can bring a LOT of books. Man, it’s going to be a long three days if I have to read Madeline thirty thousand times. Maybe I can read her The Goldfinch.
Why did I agree to do this again?
Perhaps I can cajole my husband into taking Carla with him to the conference. That ought to liven things up for those physicians, right?