The Toddler and I stopped by the playground around the corner from our house on the way back from the dry cleaner’s, and I ran into a few library story time friends who asked me how far along I was…and I absolutely could not remember.
It’s that time again, the no man’s land between the earlier part of the second trimester, when you emerge bleary-eyed and excited from first-trimester fatigue, and your belly pops so you can start to feel cute in your maternity shirts, and the mid-to-late third trimester when you once again start to question your ability to survive the fatigue and aches and pains, but you also get to enjoy the building anticipation of meeting your baby.
I’m at the point where I feel like I’ve always been pregnant, and always will be pregnant.
Baby size: Cantaloupe, eggplant, Atlantic puffin, a package of Oreos, or 13 inches long and a pound and a half.
Symptoms: Last night marked my first extended insomnia-via-heartburn event, during which I got up and read on the couch for an hour or so after tossing and turning for the same amount of time.
I’ve also started noticing that gross, shifty-bones feeling I suffered the last time around, where if I sit for an extended period of time in a slouched position, or am on my feet with any extra weight (say, a large toddler), I can feel “stuck” because my joints are loose and it hurts to move. Thanks, relaxin.
I don’t have a whole lot else in the way of updates this week, other than I’m psyched to be leaving The Toddler with my parents this weekend to head off to an out-of-town wedding with The Husband. I’m going to do some napping in the minivan on the way down, some dancing, some mocktail-sipping, and probably, yes, testing the limits of those pregnancy spanx. More than anything I’m looking forward to a nice, long sleep.
This week, The Husband was off work, which was wonderful in most respects but had some unfortunate…side effects. More on that in a minute.
First things first, The Toddler has been repeating the same phrase over and over again, in every setting and situation. He’s picking up words left and right, and guessing at what he’s saying always feels like a big victory.
We CANNOT figure this one out, though. In the bathtub, in the car, wandering around in the yard, pushing his trains around the track, sitting at the table… there are zero context clues. What he’s been saying is, as close as we can discern, “Hobby dobby.”
“Hobby dobby, hobby dobby, hobby dobby.”
Sometimes it sound a little like, “Hoppy doppy,” and sometimes he starts with “Dobby.”
Anyone who can tell me what this translates to, I will mail you a gently used grocery cart cover for a baby.
Okay, so onto the week we had.
I haven’t been as tired as I was, but it was still a tremendous relief to have The Husband home the past week to help chase The Toddler around. I got to sneak in a nap or two and to finish a big, boring cleaning-the-basement project that’s been looming over my head for awhile.
The problem with The Dad being home is that it threw us all into a little bit of a vicious cycle: I’ve been too tired to consistently engage in fun mom time lately. If this isn’t a contributing factor, it certainly hasn’t helped the fact that The Toddler is OBSESSED with his dad. Which is great. I love watching them play, I love that they got to spend lots of time together, and I loved getting to kick back and put my feet up a little bit.
What I haven’t loved, what has gotten awfully old this week, is that The Toddler straight up loathes me. Every time his dad leaves the room, he says, “Dad? Dad!” Putting him down for a nap or for bed has been like wrestling a wolverine who is holding a serious grudge against me. Today The Dad took a shower and the only way we could keep The Toddler from going nuclear was to let him in the bathroom so he could run back and forth choosing shirts for his dad to wear and throwing them in the shower.
So, yeah, some of it’s hormones, and some of it’s hurt feelings that my son thinks I’m lame, and the rest of it is guilt that I am a lame mom lately. I had myself a good cry today on the floor of my bedroom surrounded by half folded laundry.
We did have a little overnight trip to The Husband’s and my alma mater. It was fun except that, while we packed every conceivable item The Toddler could ever need, we forgot our own clothes and toiletries.
In summary, Week 14 has been primarily dominated by lingering fatigue, heaps of Mom guilt, forgetfulness and occasional naps. Oh, and heartburn. The heartburn has started again.
I also put on my first legit maternity shirt this week. This bump is still mostly ice cream, I think, but it’s definitely there.
This past weekend we took a quick road trip through Columbus and to Cincinnati to visit some of The Husband’s family. Managing a single road trip does not make me a traveling-with-baby expert, but we were way more successful than I could have imagined, so I thought I’d share some tips for any new parents prepping for their own excursions.
Start with a good list. I love a list, and packing is no exception. Mentally go through a regular day with your baby and write down everything you’ll need, from diapering, to feeding, to naps and sleep; then consider any activities you are planning during the trip (for me, that was maybe using the hotel pool and going to the zoo) and list anything you’ll want for that (sunscreen, hat, swim diaper, etc.) If you are a parent and you are reading this, you know to plan for disasters, so it almost goes without saying you should bring a few extra changes of clothes/a few more diapers than you think you need.
Here are a few things I packed that came in handy:
Neatly folded plastic grocery bags for holding dirty diapers, soiled clothes, etc. I also brought a few zip-top sandwich sized storage bags for holding pacifiers, doling out small portions of baby puffs, etc.
Baby carrier. You guys, baby wearing is so handy for travel. We brought our stroller but it ended up staying in the car the whole time. I impulse bought a soft structured carrier the day before we left but I have zero regrets.
Boobs. Because I’m SAHM-ing and extremely lazy about pumping, I brought zero bottles and only the milk I carried. A bottle could likely have come in handy at some point, but honestly, probably not enough to make up for the having to wash everything. Obviously you will have to adapt to your situation.
Easy, mess-free snack. I knew we were going to be dining out a lot and I wouldn’t have a whole lot of control over sodium levels, etc., I bought a canister of Baby Puffs to keep The Baby occupied at the table if we were short on options for him.
Silicone placemat and a bib. Our hotel had a breakfast buffet with fruit and other BLW-friendly items, so we wanted to take advantage of it without being the worst hotel guests ever. This helped contain the mess (a little.)
All-purpose cleaning wipes and baby wipes. In addition to baby wipes for diapering, I kept a stash along with all-purpose cleaning wipes to clean The Baby and the table, respectively.
This is totally dependent on how your baby sleeps, but I brought a sleep sack and both Wubbanubs. The Baby uses them only when he is going down to sleep but I would have lost my mind if we hadn’t brought them. I also brought a very small fan to help with white noise if our hotel A/C wasn’t loud enough to do the trick. We carried our cosleeping habit to the hotel so didn’t bother with a Pack and Play or anything. I’ll talk about our nap setup later.
Toys and entertainment
We brought The Baby’s favorite book for bedtime, and I fished a few toys out of the box that he doesn’t usually play with (I try to rotate them to keep him from getting overwhelmed and/or bored with the same toys all the time.) I also strung several canning rings onto a plastic toy link to make a fun, noisy rattle that I wouldn’t mind losing. Because we’re trying to go with the whole low-tech baby thing, I did not set up any baby TV on my phone for the trip.
Plan your bags well. I used our large diaper bag as the “suitcase”/staging bag, filling it with all the diapers we’d need for the weekend, The Baby’s clothes, burp cloths, bibs, and blanket. I put all his clothes in one gallon size zip-top bag, the bibs and burp cloths in another, bath toys and baby shampoo in another, and used each pocket in the bag for other “groups” of items. Sunscreen and bug repellant in one, wipes in another, etc. I used a separate, small backpack to hold all the food-related stuff, as well as a mini diaper clutch with just enough diapering supplies for each leg of the trip. My point is, try to start off extremely organized. It made it easy to grab stuff in the car and kept me from feeling weighed down like a pack mule.
Don’t forget your own comfort. Comfy shoes, plenty of nursing bras, snacks for the ride and hotel room, and a pile of books. The one amazing thing for me was getting to read a little while The Baby napped because I was too far away from my dirty laundry and unfinished DIY projects to try to tackle them while he slept. It was, in short bursts, almost vacation-like.
Driving and time management
Plan around naps. We tried to time each of our departures around The Baby’s usual nap times to give him a chance to sleep in the car. It usually worked out great. I also chose to sit next to him in the back during the second leg of each trip to serve as entertainment (and occasionally lean over his carseat to nurse him, yep) to keep him from flying off the handle.
Break the trip up. We weren’t going far, but stopping in Columbus for a few hours (and then in Oxford on the way back up) gave The Baby a chance to stretch out, hang out somewhere other than the car, and burn off some energy.
Take your time and be flexible. We decided throughout the trip that while we wanted to have fun and see everyone, we weren’t going to try to stick to any overtaxing schedules. We tried to make sure The Baby at least had an excellent first nap each day, so if his second nap was spent being lugged around in a carrier at the zoo, he’d at least have started off well.
While it’s easy to crash anywhere when it’s just you/your significant other, I think it’s totally worth it to save up/find deals to get a hotel room that can serve as a good home base. Call me a control freak (I am), but when you’re away from home it’s really nice to be able to manage your surroundings to make your baby (and yourself) as comfortable as possible, and sometimes that’s just not possible if you have a fold out couch in someone else’s house.
I intentionally found a hotel that had mini-suites and decided to cash in some credit card points to offset the extra cost. We stayed in a king studio suite, and while there wasn’t a separate room for The Baby to sleep in, there was plenty of floor space for him to crawl around, and The Husband and I did have a separate sitting area to lounge in while he slept. There was also a mini-fridge and an extra sink, which came in handy for washing our placemat, etc. after breakfast. It was just nice to have the extra space.
Basically, we just did our best to stick to the home routine. I put The Baby in the middle of the bed with pillows blocking each edge (but nowhere near him… gotta love a California king bed), and we just kept an eye on him from across the room while he napped. At night, we did our usual bathtime, story time routine, and it worked out great. The blackout curtains were clutch and made me realize the really-dark-but-not-actually-blackout curtains in The Baby’s room are not quite cutting it.
While we had to be quiet and left the room fairly dim during The Baby’s sleep, I packed a picnic for our first night in the hotel (cheese and charcuterie, plus prosecco) and we actually had a pretty romantic cocktail hour in our half of the room.
Those are my tips for a successful road trip with baby. What are your go-to moves?
(By the way, I know I linked to a lot of products in this post, but none of this is sponsored. It’s just what I love/used on this particular trip.)
Just a couple years ago, I counted myself among the women who didn’t really see themselves ever becoming a mom. For those of you firmly set in that camp, I totally understand why you’d feel that way and I’m not here to convince you otherwise. I was never interested in holding other people’s babies, and while I liked kids enough, I liked my freedom more: I could sleep in until crazy hours–for example, 8 a.m.! I could spend my money on extravagant things like shoes or student loan payments! I could leave the house unburdened by a 75-pound infant car seat, and wear my hair down without getting it yanked out by sticky little fingers.
In many ways, being childless felt to me like a way to hang onto my youth. Having gotten married at 24, I felt like I had an eternity to figure my life out and eventually decide if I wanted to switch gears.
When did this all change?
As The Husband was approaching his 30th birthday in 2014, I remembered a promise I’d secretly made to myself years before as we were getting married, that I would find a way to take him to Greece, where his father was born, for his 30th birthday. I did a bunch of extra freelance work and saved and saved, and we were able to book a two-week trip in July 2014.
Neither of us has really been abroad before (except for a sequestered resort honeymoon in Jamaica, which I submit hardly counts), and flying into Athens and seeing the sights, tasting the tastes, experiencing the jet lag and trying to pick up tidbits of the language here and there made for an awesome vacation.
But it wasn’t just a vacation, it was a pilgrimage.
The Husband and I didn’t stay in Athens for more than a few days; we took an overnight ferry to an island just off the coast of Turkey, where his family is from. With the generous and welcoming guidance of a cousin we’d never met before but who became an instant dear friend, we got acquainted with the land and the history of The Husband’s family.
The villages in the north of this island are built like amphitheaters around the curve of the road, houses stacked like stairsteps on the mountainside.
The village we stayed in was like Eden. Fig, almond, mulberry and olive trees surrounded the houses, except in the small terraced gardens carved out by a few old-timers.
Most people have moved out of the village. While harvest time brings families back, the year-round population hovers around four. (You did not read that wrong. Four people.) A few residents and visitors we saw spoke English, but many did not. Nevertheless, each time we came back to the village after a trip to the beach or to the town 20 minutes away to check our emails at a cafe, we’d be summoned to a shady porch and served freshly peeled almonds, bricks of feta, sun-warmed cucumbers and over-generous pours of the local liquor of choice. The love and warmth of this extended family surpassed any language barrier.
At night, the quiet was so enveloping that I could hear the blades turning on a wind turbine miles and miles away across the valley.
I know international travel is often a transformative experience , but I was surprised to find myself sitting outside watching the sun go down one evening with tears streaming down my face. This also surprised The Husband, who asked me what was wrong. The closest I could come to putting my feelings to words was, “I just never imagined I would be here, doing this.”
But looking back, that feeling was a profound sense of my own smallness in the vast world and the arc of time. The village with its old houses and its ancient history made me begin to really appreciate how we are linked to each other by the love we share. The stories and traditions and all the other good things surrounding me existed because people in the past took it upon themselves to hand them down to the next generation. While I guess I always understood this in the more immediate sense, this was a macro-level view of just how precious family can be.
It still took another year for me to feel anything approaching readiness to have a baby, but the seed of wanting to share the beauty of life with another generation was planted in Greece.
The Husband’s grandfather (Papou), builder of the village house we called home for a week, who shoveled sand on the northernmost point of the island, who along with his wife raised four children in that village, who dared to cross the ocean and immigrate to the United States, who was even through a language barrier always just as exuberantly generous and kind to me as the relatives we met in his old village, died last week, just a few days after my grandmother.
(Remember I said that it’s been a rough few weeks?)
I’m grateful to have had the chance to see where Papou came from, and even more grateful that place made me realize my role in the world could possibly include motherhood.