I recently took my nine month old on a week long business-ish trip to the East Coast. I had travelled with her on four other occasions prior and was pretty confident I had things down. She had been pretty much perfect previously: she fed just as we were taking off, drifting into a deep sleep for the duration of each flight only to awake as we touched ground. Well, this time went a little differently. Charley is now SO active that each flight consisted of an arm workout trying to balance her on my lap. She danced, laughed, screamed, cried, slapped, and wiggled her way across the country. As much as I tried to get her to eat during take off and landing, she would scream and kick, flinging my nursing cover off leaving my poor vulnerable nipple flailing about in the wind for all to see. Luckily I had my mom with me for the outgoing flights and my husband on the way home or I would've lost my mind!
On all previous trips, I had worn Charley in her wrap which had worked out great. I seamlessly walked through security without a hitch and onto my flights with both of my hands free to hold my carry-ons. She's too big to breastfeed in the wrap now without pretty much taking it off completely so I decided to use the carseat with the stroller base this time instead. This was a huge pain. Going through security, I had to take her out of her carseat and somehow hold her while putting the stroller and carseat and bags through the scanner and put it all back together on the other side. I also had a carseat suitcase since it had to be gate checked so that meant an additional bulky bag to carry and no extra space in the stroller. My mom and I somehow got separated going through security the first time so I did this all by myself. Wah.
The first leg of our trip was Philadelphia. I went to college at Penn State so I was thrilled to be able to see some of my sorority roommates. We had a wonderful few days visiting and making some new business connections as well. After two nights, my mom, Charley and I took a train directly to Penn Station in New York City. Boarding and deboarding the train with our massive amounts of luggage, pack n play, stroller, and baby made flying look like a cakewalk. First, the train almost left Philadelphia with my friend on it who was helping us with all of our bags (since no one else would). Luckily getting off the train, a nice gentleman helped us bring our bags off the train. We grabbed a cab and ventured on to the hotel.
When I booked our hotel room, I merely went by proximity to my best friend's apartment and good reviews. I guess I should've read the fine print that we would be staying in a closet for five nights. The hotel itself was pretty nice but our room was literally about 10' x 10' with a king size bed taking up 80% of usable space. Now I am a very flexible person in the figurative sense. In fact, I have slept on a concrete floor in India and in the fetal position in a jeep in South Africa... just ask my Semester at Sea friends. But my nine month old... not so much. I had prided myself on maintaining her consistent napping and sleeping schedule at home and she loves her crib. Now her pack n play barely fit in this hotel room, much less provided her any kind of solitude from the action in the room. Have I mentioned she has a pretty serious case of FOMO (Fear of Missing Out)? I'm not going to lie to you, several hours of those five days in New York City were spent huddled in the bathroom in the dark so we didn't disturb her, waiting and praying for her to fall asleep!
My best friends had a dinner party while we were in the city. In lieu of a babysitter, we decided to take Charley with us. She has still never been with a babysitter besides my family. Mind you, I am the only one of these friends with a baby! Most people bring a nice bottle of wine to a party, maybe some flowers. We brought our pack n play. Okay okay, we brought wine, too. But I have to say we were the only people in the subway with an infant and pack n play on that fateful Saturday night. In my mind, Charley would just go right to sleep upstairs while we all hung out downstairs. Yea, it didn't really pan out that way. She could easily hear us and screamed bloody murder when I tried to put her to bed. Did I mention the FOMO? She finally got her way and came back to the party before eventually passing out, just before we were getting ready to leave. Then of course I had to wake her up leading to a very cranky Über ride back to the hotel.
I could go on and on about this trip (oops! I already did) but it was definitely the biggest reality check since having a baby. It was undoubtedly the most stressful week with Charley so far, and she is the most easy going baby ever. All in the name of momtrepreneurship, right? When all is said and done, I would much rather have my daughter with me on the adventure than leave her at home. (She has yet to develop separation anxiety. I, however, have it big time). New non-negotiables for future trips: nonstop flights, rental cars, and hotel rooms bigger than a breadbox.