Travel

Traveling light…just me and the baby!

carseat

Flying cross country with just me and the baby? That’s practically as easy as traveling alone!

Of course, I didn’t feel that way when my oldest was born… it takes traveling with the whole family, 2 carriages, 3 carseats, 8 carry ons, 6 checked bags, 2 diaper bags, 3 food bags and a few other random pieces to make flying with just the baby seem easy.

Unfortunately, it wasn’t for a happy reason; I was going to visit my family after my grandfather’s passing. I wanted to go, I needed to go, and flying with just me and the five week old baby wasn’t so daunting at this point in life.

I was traveling light, after all; just the baby, the carseat, the Carseat Canopy and  J.J. Cole fleece lined cozy bundle-me to combat the frigid east coast weather, the Graco Click-Connect wheels for the carseat, my overstuffed diaper bag, my handbag that barely closed and weighed more than the baby, my Baby Bjorn in case I didn’t have a seat for the carseat on the plane and my carry-on. I was being gone for barely 48 hours, I didn’t need much.

I checked in at the counter, doing my best to elicit some motherly empathy from the representatives for this brave mom flying with the baby.

They weren’t all that empathetic.

Instead they told me that coming January 15, you can only take one carriage piece with you to the gate.

I looked at them blankly, pointing to my Click Connect-carseat contraption (the best thing since sliced bread).

“Yup, you can’t take those two pieces. Come January 15, you can only take one.”

Umm, someone obviously is a bit clueless about traveling with a baby.

“You mean either the carseat, or the carriage base?”

“Yup, ma’am, come January 15, you can’t take that with you to the gate, you have to check in one at check-in.”

I’m not sure which is worse; imagining wheeling the baby in the basket of the stroller because the carseat is checked in, or lugging the carseat across the whole airport in one hand, while wheeling my carry on in the other…

Someone either doesn’t know what they’re talking about, or this is the work of the Surgeon General who is out to make moms across the country lose their sanity.

I file away the info to google later, and continue on my way.

Security.

Although I know that the baby needs to come out of the carseat for security, I pretend I don’t. He’s in a deep sleep, can’t they see? Don’t they know you don’t wake up a baby when they finally fall asleep??

“Ma’am, you have to take the baby out.”

I think they’re talking to me.

I pretend they’re not.

He says it again.

Pretending is over.

“Ok, I’ll take him out, but only if you promise you’ll put him back to sleep after the carseat goes through.”

He chuckles. What do you know, a TSA agent with a sense of humor! But still he tells me no, he won’t put the baby back to sleep. I knew that. I just never give up trying to get out of it…

And time to take apart everything I stacked so well…off goes the handbag, the diaper bag, hoist up the carry on, take out the baby, hold baby and disconnect carseat from base with two fingers, lift it up with my pinky, click the base closed with another two fingers, clumsily pick it up and dump on the belt, still carrying the baby…

Only to walk through the metal detector and 30 seconds later reassemble it all back together, only this time the baby is not sleeping.

I don’t like going through security. It does not make me feel secure. It makes me crazy.

Off to the gate, still silently praying I’ll have that extra seat near me on the plane…I approach the desk…and there’s no seat for the carseat on the plane.

Oh there is a seat, if I want to buy one. No, I don’t want to buy one..

Baby Bjorn, here we come.

I’m not a big baby-carrier fan. I find them quite restricting and borderline claustrophobic. But Baby Bjorn it was. I started the strapping process, eight clicks in total, and baby was secure. I couldn’t breath, but that’s not relevant. Baby was comfortable. I could barely bend down to get the diaper bag and handbag on my shoulder. I felt more like a walking baggage rack than anything else. I leave the carseat at the door, and then stop. The Carseat Canopy and the bundle-me…it needs to come off if I ever want to see it again..

And so, velcro by velcro, I disconnect it alI and add the two pieces to my ensemble, somewhere between my elbow and my shoulder.

I make my way onto the plane. Of course, I’m in row 30…and so I try to pretend no one is staring at me as I make my way down the aisle, diaper bag tapping each person on the head.

I sit down and stay still, trying to figure out how I’ll manage the flight. It’s the first leg of the trip, only an hour until the stopover.

And this delightful stewardess, who is either clueless or also in cahoots with the surgeon general, says; “Oh ma’am, for takeoff you have to hold the baby, can’t keep him in there.”

I just stare at her, because now that I’m stuck in this carrier, I have no idea how to get out.

She’s so helpful.

“Just slide it over your head ma’am and you can hold him.”

She’s obviously never been inside a carrier; once those 8 clicks are clicked in place, it’s pretty much as a part of you as your head itself; there is certainly no sliding it over.

I smiled and thanked her for her sweet advice, with a “it’s not so simple” half laugh.

Only half a laugh, because I didn’t think it was all that funny.

And so I started unclicking.

1 click,  2 clicks, 3 clicks…held him, take off, 1 click, 2 clicks, 3 clicks…

I silently hope that the baby won’t have to nurse during this flight, because as experienced as I am, I couldn’t figure out how I’d do that.

And the flight went well, other than the fact that I couldn’t reach my food bag at my feet.

Off the plane and time to reassemble; click stroller base open with one hand, click in carseat, unstrap baby from carrier and breather again; on goes my bags in perfect order; I’m good at this by now.

Off to the the next flight; I make my way over to the ticket counter.

The guy looks up. He smiles; “I know what you want; let me check if there’s a seat.”

And Otto is my hero of the day, we get a seat! Actually, a whole row!

I settle on the plane, feeling as if I won the lottery.

Fewer things can make a mother happier than having an extra seat on the plane.

It’s good I traveled light; with a whole row to myself, there was room for everything.

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Motherhood

Surgeon General, we’ve got a bone to pick

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I’m looking for the Surgeon General. I’m determined to uncover who is this ambiguous being who has the authority to issue ominous warnings and rules on a whim, without ever checking with those it affects.

Surgeon General, we have a bone to pick.

Boruch Hashem, two weeks ago I gave birth to another little beautiful baby…boy! With the help and support of my dear friend Ep E. Dural, who always stands firmly and supportively at my side through each birth, (well, except at baby #3, which I still haven’t forgiven him for, but I will save that for another time!) I’m not a big fan of unnecessary pain, and I enjoyed every moment of the pain free labor and delivery, truly experiencing the wonder of it all.

And with the announcement of “It’s a boy!”  I couldn’t stop my response from escaping,  “Are you sure, can you check one more time?!”

They were sure, and I assumed that anyways, because by now I’m a tried and proven Mom of Boys. I’ve earned my title. What ten years and a band of boys have done to me is pretty wild. I can just imagine what another ten years will do…they’ll be walking on the ceiling, I’ll smile and wave and go back to what I was doing without even taking a  picture.

So back to the Surgeon General … apparently the Surgeon General is not a mom…because this Surgeon General decided that it was best for new moms if they closed down the nursery in this particular group of hospitals and require all moms to room in with the new baby….huh?

If you’re one of those moms who prefer that, well, we don’t talk the same language. The best advice I ever received was before my first was born…a dear friend advised me; send the baby to the nursery for the night!  For your good and the baby’s good! You will go home from the hospital well slept and you can catch up on your sleep deprived nights for months to come! Don’t feel guilty, you have to take care of yourself!

Yes, best advice ever.

I’ve gotten a good night sleep and come home a step ahead, not a sleep deprived mess.

Well, enter Surgeon General…with his new ideas.

Baby was born at 10:39 PM. By 1 AM, all quieted down and I was pretty exhausted. With the nurses finally giving me some peace and quiet, and the baby asleep in my room, I started drifting off…1:10 baby was up…fed him again, put him back in his little bassinet thing, laid back in the awkward hospital bed…1:40, he’s whimpering again…1:50 he’s back asleep, 2:20 he’s back in my arms…I adjust the bed, up and down, trying to find comfort and trying not to fall asleep while sitting up feeding the baby…after all, the nurses told me that the Surgeon General says not to fall asleep while sitting in bed holding the baby…yet another clue it’s not a mom, because falling asleep isn’t something a mom can control…

2:40 he’s back asleep…3:10 he’s whimpering…3:30 they need to check vitals…4:00 they need to clean the bathroom…4:10 he’s up…and I’m hitting the 24 hour mark of being awake…

Where is that Surgeon General?? You’re telling me this arrangement leaves moms well rested and more competent to take care of the baby upon arrival at home?!

At 5:00 am I call one of the friendly nurses and plead with her, please oh please can you watch my baby for a little so I can get some sleep…

And the nurses are so sweet and nice in this little small town hospital, and three hours of sleep is granted!

Ready to take on the day…of course, sleep while the baby sleeps…in between nurses coming in and out, doctors checking in….filling out paperwork, another cleaning crew to clean the bathroom, meals being served (my lonely kosher tray of a banana and an apple juice…it’s good my husband brought me some goodies of my own)…

And the day continues, with a total of 41 minutes nap time…And the night begins, I bemoan my tiredness to the visiting nurse of the hour, inquire about this know-it-all Surgeon General who obviously never slept in a room with a newborn or has never experienced interrupted sleep…11 PM we’re both asleep, 11:30 we’re both up, including the visiting nurse…12 AM we are both asleep, 12:20 we are both up..by 3 AM I call a nurse and she kindly takes the baby for 3 hours…and a total of 3 hours of sleep is under my belt.

If I find that Surgeon General…I’m already planning my lawsuit.

I leave the hospital more sleep deprived than I’ve been in 5 years.

No, Mr. Surgeon General, your plan did not work. Depriving new moms of their precious little sleep is not the way to send them home to start motherhood responsibilities in their best shape and form.

I’m not a first time mom-you can’t sell me a boat like that.

And all the articles I’ve read that nursing creates the same hormones the brain secretes during sleep or something like that, so really, you’re just as well rested whether you sleep or nurse all night…I don’t buy it.

I remember sitting bleary eyed in bed, nursing my oldest, wondering where that hormone was and what was wrong with me that I was so tired…

Nursing at night is tiring. It’s sleep depriving. No sugar coating it. It’s not easy. Period.

But I do it anyway. For as long as I can, so long as it isn’t affecting my daytime functioning as a mom. It’s part of the uniqueness and joy of motherhood. But let’s not pretend it’s not tiring!

And hence the reason a sleepful night right after childbirth is so dire; to me, it’s like refilling  the fuel tank (which goes on empty after childbirth), and the full tank goes a long way.

So, dear Surgeon General, I will find you. And you have a lot of explaining to do.

Motherhood

Mommy obsessions

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What is it with us moms that we never tire of hearing about other people’s kids’ crazy antics? There’s such a thrill and satisfaction in seeing someone else’s house covered in flour, marker on someone else’s white couch or even just toys strewn across the floor from wall to wall.

I can look at photos of such stuff and listen to people talk about it for hours on end.

And I know I’m not the only one!

And the truth is, I think I know why.

Because it validates me. Of course I know it can’t just be my kids and my house; but there’s nothing like seeing it to feel comforted.

And so hence the obsession.

Somethings are funny only when it’s not my own kids.

The other day I was at an event with some of my kids.

I was talking with some people near the food table, and out of the corner of my eye I noticed the table lifting upwards slightly. As a mom, that didn’t startle me. That’s a normal thing.

But I was sure I knew who was under the table, making it happen, and I could feel the annoyance at my kids rising for hiding under the table.

Ready to call my sons’ names and demand they come out, two little heads popped out from under the table.

And miracle of miracles, they did not belong to my family!

The annoyance was gone.

Actually, I thought it was funny. Cute. Whatever. It really wasn’t a big deal, didn’t disturb me in the slightest and totally didn’t matter.

But more than that, I was amazed. Where did the annoyance go? How’d that happen so quickly??

Why, if it was my own kids, would it bother me so greatly? And why, when I discovered I wasn’t related to the culprits, did I barely give it a second thought?

I filed that image in my mental mommy files, one to keep in mind when my kids are up to something like that the next time – other kids do that too. It’s OK!

And that goes back to the obsession; we so enjoy seeing other kids doing stuff like that.

Yesterday was a good example of a day that would have been funny if I was with someone else’s kids.  It was Wednesday, the no school day. It’s the day of the week that the four younger ones are home with me. And it’s always an action packed day.

7 and 5 year old found a wilting lulav branch in the garage; after fighting over it for ten minutes or so, they went out to the backyard to play some game that I decided not to see. But the winner of the game was apparently the neighbor, because that’s the backyard the lulav branch ended up landing in.

Great, just what I needed. Another reason for the neighbor to be annoyed at us.

Off they went, back to the garage, hunting for something else.

In they came with a big grin and a bottle of diet coke they had found hiding in the garage fridge, that one of our guests had left behind. They were ready to make a L’chaim and enjoy it, but I crashed the party and poured it out.

Back they went, looking for some more stuff.

And on it went.

They went to play in the backyard again; I had to make supper, it was getting late and we had to get to swimming lessons.

And then one year old came walking in, looking a lot dirtier than when he had gone out. The firepit and all its ashes had been “sprinkled” on him…

Pretty funny, if it was someone else’s kids.

And back to trying to finish up my quick dinner; but this time with the helpers indoors. And the salt contents poured on the floor once again, in a nice neat mountain.

And the love-hate relationship I had with the water dispenser on the kitchen door…well at that moment it was all hate, with ice shooting across the kitchen.

And three year old gave himself a nice beard with the new markers, a combination or orange and brown. To match the colors of his arms.

Five year old was pretty proud of his red marker “nail polish.”

And I noticed they moved their tic-tac-toe game to the couch, and I mean literally to the couch. There on the armrest was a nice tic-tac-toe board, that I hoped would come off with a clorox wipe. But I had no time to allow myself to be annoyed.

We had to get to swimming lessons – so off we went.

Three year old with a multi colored beard, and 1 year old looking like he came through the chimney..

Only after arriving, did I notice that no one had bothered taking their shoes with them.

And they were all as happy as can be.

And I used all my effort to imagine that this crew of adorable little wreckers were someone else’s kids, because then I’m sure, at that moment, I’d be happy too.