Traveling Horrors. Oh…I mean: Traveling With A Baby.

This last weekend I learned three very vital things: 

1) When you pack for a baby, you WILL mimic moving your house with all the crap you need. 

2) Yes. You really DO need all that crap.

3) Always, ALWAYS bring enough breast milk to feed the child three to four times a day for each day you are gone.

This last one caused such an immense amount of stress that both my child and I are still recovering a full week later.

Here’s the long, painful story of why I discovered #3:

I needed to travel to my husband’s home town for a photo shoot for a client. It’s normally a 6 hour drive, with gas and snack stops. However, stopping to breast feed, diaper changes, extra time to calm the baby because they didn’t wake up to eat until AFTER the rest stop was 5 miles back, needing more than just chips to last you because you’re breast feeding…to get TO Idaho took 8.5 hours. Oh. This was AFTER we left two hours later than planned because, again, feeding, diapering, packing the car like we were moving. 

I always pack an extra outfit or two because you never know what is going to happen – a spill, Aunt Flow, food poisoning. I’ve always regretted it when I didn’t pack extra. So I knew that with a two month old I also had to worry about the daily occurrences of spit up, poop, diaper leaks, the Fountain of Damian (because not only do baby boys pee EVERY TIME their little penises get cold…but they have amazing range), and everything in between. We were also going to be outside for a few hours, and this year’s cold snap was providing 30˚ – 35˚ weather. [Product plug! The RoSK is warm, adjustable, waterproof, and fits around carriers, strollers AND carseats! It’s awwwwwesome!] 

So, needless to say, Little Man had his own suitcase. Pretty impressive considering he is basically in doll clothes. No less than:

  • 4 short sleeve onesies
  • 6 long sleeve onesies
  • 6 pants
  • 8 tops
  • 3 jackets
  • 3 sleeper sacks
  • 6 pj sets
  • a laundry bag
  • small wet bag
  • large wet bag
  • 22 diaper inserts for cloth diapers
  • 8 diaper covers
  • 10 disposables
  • 2 packs of wipes
  • 6 pairs of socks
  • 3 pairs of mittens
  • 4 hats
  • 2 fluffy blankets
  • 10 receiving blankets
  • Every bib we own (GREAT for spit up. You change the bib…not everything!)
  • Pacifiers
  • Sanitizing bag
  • Baby soap
  • Baby lotion
  • Coconut oil with lavender and melaleuca (tea tree) essential oils
  • Breast pump and pump bottles
  • Frozen/refrigerated Breast milk
  • Breast milk thermos bag and ice pack
  • Bottle
  • Boppy
  • Ergo
  • RoSK cover
  • PlayYard
  • Bassinet Insert
  • and a single pair of shoes for family pictures

Seriously. Ridiculous. I know this because I made a list. I knew I would forget something either here, or there, if I didn’t mark things off. I still forgot things…like warm clothes for me and my husband. Thank goodness for fleece and cars. 

But here was my big mistake number 1. I thought it would be easier to breast feed my son in the car, than give him a bottle of milk I had pumped. DON’T EVER TRY THIS! 

First, if your baby is anything like mine, they can empty your boobs in less than 20 minutes when you are snot, spit up, and poop covered and probably haven’t showered in three days. But when you need to be somewhere, or you look nice (as in brushed hair and actual clothing not pajamas), he will take 45 minutes on one side. Add in stress of a car seat for a few hours, the sun in his eyes, and the tension you’re giving off to get there…and frankly i was lucky he ate at all. He kept unlatching, bowing back and crying, or kicking and hitting me. Then of course “family” gas stations and rest stops are not permitted to put changing tables in the bathroom. (This is my theory because not a single damn one had a changing table!) So while I peed, my husband dealt with a screaming child who was freezing and half naked on a car seat changing his diaper. Plus, he wouldn’t sleep…for all the same reasons.

The day I had to work, the day after we traveled mind you, I kept waking my son (mistake number 2). Here’s the thing…he’s like his mom. He sleeps like a champ. Always has. He takes four and five hour naps in the day, sleeps seven to ten hours at night. However, like his mom, if he can’t sleep…well, he’s kind of an asshole. So, 8am rolls around and I wake him to feed him and dress him. He’s drowsy because he usually gets up around 9, but he’s ok. 9:30 and he starts screaming because he’s hungry again, and stuck in a car. He’s NEVER screamed when hungry. My best friend proceeds to feed him with one of the two bags of milk I had brought for the weekend, so he calmed a bit. But then he didn’t get his morning nap because my dearest friends were playing “Pass the Baby” while I conducted the photo shoot. Finally around 1, he was able to sleep…for 30 minutes. This time he’s a little pissy when I woke him. Around 3 he falls asleep on daddy in the hotel room while I get ready for our family photos. 

Mistake number 3 – I decide to wake him to bring him to get my hair done instead of leaving him to sleep peacefully on his father…the one that could have soothed him until I came back to feed him if he woke up. He was fine in the car up, at the appointment and getting in the car after…but the 20 minutes from the shop to the hotel, he was ballistic. I was here that I realized he gained another of mommy’s traits: hypoglycemia. I knew this because his inconsolable, frantic, nearly-in-pain, irrational freakout is what I feel every time my blood sugar drops too far. Now I’m beginning to feel like an awful mother. 

I get to the hotel, my husband feeds him with the second bag of milk, I pump for future milk, and miraculously…our family photos go off without a hitch. But we decide to visit friends instead of going to the hotel to crash. Mistake number 4. 

The next 18 hours were a blur. All three of us sleep deprived, missing home, over stressed, and emotionally drained. Because of this, we decide to drive home Sunday night instead of Monday morning. Mistake number 5. Remember breast feeding in the car fiasco? Multiply that by 8. To make it worse, we got pulled over because our dumb rental car has taillights that turn on separate from the headlights…why?! Why would Ford DO that?! So we not only loose thirty minutes, but the cop’s amazing spotlight and disco lights shined right in the back window – into my (previously) sleeping baby’s eyes. He doesn’t sleep again for two hours. 

3/4 of the way home…he’s sleeping, and I need food. Do I think about getting hot water for milk just in case? What? Why would I? So of course 1 mile away from the gas station…with no turn around…he wakes up, and flips out again. 30 miles later, my husband gets hot water from a station in the middle of no where and I give my son a bottle. He falls asleep…and I sobbed for the next 30 miles. 

As a brand new mom I now i should forgive myself for not knowing. But as a former child care provider I am so annoyed with myself because I DID know better. Breast milk not only feeds them, but calms them. It helps them deal with stress, so to make them wait like you would at home only tortures them. So I’m writing this simply to help other new mom’s.

You can always pump, a bottle is easier than your breast in the frantic stress of traveling, go ahead and change your baby on the random tables in the gas station to prevent them from freezing, travel at night when they can sleep for a long time because of the dark and the motion, until the baby is a few months old let everyone be slave to THEIR schedule, not the other way around…and always, AL-WAYS, bring three times as many bags of previously expressed milk than you think you’ll need.