Monthly Archives: November 2010

Have Infant Will Travel

With all my recent travel, I’ve received a number of notes from mommy-friends looking for a little advice on how best to prepare for their own travel adventures with baby. So, here’s how baby and I roll when we’re on the road–or should I say tarmac…

First, when we fly, we arrive ungodly early. It’s painful for me because I’m typically the type that arrives about 1 hour before the flight and carry on or bust. But now that I’m a mommy, I plan on being at the airport 90 minutes early if it’s a small airport like Savannah or Syracuse and at least 2 hours early if it’s a big airport like Atlanta or Baltimore. (I haven’t flown with baby out of Dulles yet, but I have to say that I might plan on being there 2.5 hours before my flight just because that airport sucks in more ways than I can count. But I digress.)

Baby gets wheeled through security, to the gate, to baggage claim, and anywhere else we may need to go in his car seat, which is clipped into the Snap ‘n’ Go stroller base. I’ve seen people with babies in those front carriers, but generally they are still pushing a stroller so it just seems like the carrier is just more thing to lug around that I really don’t need. I mean, no matter where you’re going you need the car seat, so you’ve got to take the stroller base. But the carrier? If you really think you’ll use it wherever you’re going, throw it in the bag that you check. (And no matter how much you hate paying the luggage fees, check the darn bag; you’ve got enough to carry onto the plane. )

I’m sure that it’ll come as no surprise that going through security with a stroller, infant, and other baby accoutrement takes a lot more time than you’re probably used. (I’ll get to more on security later.) So, just try not to stress. You’ll have to take the stroller all apart and put it on the conveyer for X-ray or someone will come and whisk it away and give it some wand action. In the meantime, you have to hold the baby as you walk through the metal detector. Grabbing your stuff off the conveyor and setting up the stroller while holding an infant on one hip is a challenge, but if you take your time, you’ll get through it.

Once you’re to the gate, definitely take advantage of your priority seating status. It takes more time than you think to deconstruct the stroller and get into your seat and settled. But basically, you’re going to just gate check the car seat and the stroller base. Leave them with their pretty pink tags at the end of the jet bridge. I’d recommend putting the car seat in a plastic bag, but I forgot mine the last time and we survived.

Now for carry-ons… I use this rather large shoulder bag to lug most stuff and then I bring a small purse-like thing for my pump, mini cooler, and extra bottles. I figure if my luggage gets lost, I have the things I really need. In my big bag, I throw in: a gallon ziplock bag with a thing of wipes and a bunch of diapers; a full set of clean baby clothes (not just an extra onesie because inevitably you will have some sort of inopportune diaper blow out that will make the pants baby’s wearing unwearable); a sweater/sweatshirt for baby; this plastic container thing that has 3 sections, where I put formula, rice cereal, and oatmeal; a bottle of water (buy it once you get through security); 3 rattles; one small stuffed toy; two large, thin receiving blankets/giant burp cloths (one to lay down on whatever baby changing table you find in the airport bathroom); a washcloth; and then my stuff (wallet, ID, phone, and that was pretty much it). If you’re traveling in the winter or on an overnight flight, I’m guessing you’ll need an actual blanket, too.

If baby happens to be traveling on your lap (although I would seriously recommend parents cough up the cost of an extra seat if you’re taking more than a 4 or 5 hour flight), I’ll just tell you right now that you won’t need the normal stuff you travel with (Kindle, iPod, book, etc.). The baby will sleep, but you’re going to have your hands literally so full for a lot of the time, keeping baby entertained and quiet, that I really think it’s overly optimistic to bring all that stuff. However, if you are going to be on a longer flight, you might want to bring something if you think the gazillion movies they’ll play won’t be enough. I just wouldn’t burden yourself with lugging all that stuff around the airport when you can throw it in your checked bag.

As for baby food… You can bring as much breast milk as you can carry and you can even put it in the big 8oz or 9oz bottles. When you go through security, they’ll pull you over to the side and make you open every single one of them as they wave this vapor stick over them. This takes also takes up more time going through security, but at least there are no restrictions. You’ll also want to pack some formula, even if you’re not feeding baby formula regularly. You don’t know what kind of situation you’re going to be in—maybe the dude sitting next to you completely creeps you out and you don’t want to whip out the boob when you run out of bottled milk or maybe your flight gets cancelled/delayed or maybe the top comes of your boob milk and spills all over the cooler. These are all things that have happened to me, so you want to be prepared.

If baby is into solids, I recommend throwing some of the Gerber Nature Selects in the rectangular plastic containers into your bag as well. They are foil sealed and also have a plastic top if you need to re-close it. This last time I flew back with some jars of baby food Ian’s mom bought me and they made me open those but not the plastic containers.

As for keeping baby quiet and comfortable during takeover and landing, my secret was feeding him. I would try to hold off on actually giving him the bottle until we had pushed away from the gate and were taxiing to the runway. He’d be gulping away as we sped down the runway and then would be asleep by the time we’d reached our cruising altitude. I think the swallowing motion did a lot to relieve the pressure than can build up in the ears when taking off and landing. Same deal with the landing. If he was asleep, I’d just let him be and if not, I’d feed him until we were on the ground.

The only problem I had was at one point he just refused the bottle—either boob milk or formula. He’d never done that before. So, I had to pull out the boob for a couple minutes before he crashed. I was completely uncomfortable, but I figured it was a few minutes of self consciousness versus a crying baby.

Now, as far as seats go, I think I’d recommend mommies opt for the window seat. Although I do think on a long-haul flights, there could be some advantages to having an aisle seat; you might want to get up and walk baby at some point and having an aisle would make that much easier to do.

There’s also some row considerations. I got put in a bulkhead seat (you know the ones behind the business/first class and economy divider) once, and I didn’t like it at all. There was more legroom, but I didn’t like not having my bag with all of baby’s gear within arms reach. (I actually switched seats with someone.)

However, one of my girlfriends who also has an infant and will be traveling to the Philippines says that’s where she and her family will be sitting because the flight crew can attach a bassinet of sorts for the baby. For overseas travel, you might call the airline to find out if that’s a possibility because being hands free even for a little bit on what is sure to be a crowded flight would be awesome.

So, the last word: It’s definitely exhausting traveling with a baby, but it’s not impossible, even if you’re by yourself, if you’re organized.

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Filed under babies, baby travel, breastfeeding, daily life, feeding, formula, infants, moms, newbie parents, nursing, organizing, travel

Grandstanding for Grandma

I just got back from my second solo flight with baby in as many weeks. We did pretty well, considering this last one was fraught with my typical travel drama. This round included arriving at the airport at 5:15am only to find out that someone–it’s still not clear to me whether it was Travelocity or Delta’s mistake–canceled the reservation on my ticket when I had to cancel my husband’s ticket. So glad I got up at 3:45am for that.

Baby held his cool through it all, minus a 15 minute scream fest on the tarmac in D.C. while the plane  was stuck in runway gridlock. I swear everyone was glaring at me as the minutes ticked by so unbearably slowly. I rocked him, I burped him, I tried to feed a bottle to him, I held him up to the window, I turned him on his tummy–I did everything I possibly could to get him to stop screaming. I finally had to whip out the boob, which is something that I never do in public–much less in front of a captive airplane audience–if I can possibly avoid it. Thankfully the larger woman in the seat next to me was able to scoot over to the aisle seat after the man sitting next to her bolted to the first available free seat one row over, so there was some discretion.

But even though we got to South Carolina a few hours later than expected, we got there without major incident. Grandma Linda and Great Grandma Pat were there to meet us, which was fantastic considering what a challenge it is to wheel a suitcase as you’re pushing a stroller and carrying what feels like the world’s largest diaper bag. Not to mention that I’ve pretty much worn the wheels off my Snap ‘n’ Go, so it actually takes some muscle power to maneuver it.

The weekend went by fast–too fast, as it would seem–but it was fun. We saw the family, did some shopping, had a pre-Thanksgiving Thanksgiving dinner, and even stayed up until 1:30am having girl talk over a bottle of wine (okay, so it was two). But the best part for me was watching Ian’s mom just love on baby.

She’s been basically biting her tongue since the day we got married about having kids. She’s wanted nothing more in the past decade than to be a grandma. In fact, when we asked her what she wanted baby to call her, she didn’t even think about it. No need for a nickname that would sound young, energetic, even stylish. It was Grandma. End of discussion.

Of course, baby was at his very cutest the whole weekend so she would just go ga-ga over him, reveling in his every mood and movement. But I think the moment she loved the absolute most was most unexpected.

We were out Christmas shopping and randomly my mother-in-law says we have to go into PetSmart; they were having an adoption fair and she wanted to see the dogs. I should probably note that she (a) has a dog and (b) volunteers at a dog shelter, so she’s a dog lover through and through. I think she was also trying to tell us something about moving on from Joey.

There were probably 20 dogs there hoping to find a new owner, including eight Burmese Mountain-Beagle mix puppies that were oh-so adorable. So, there was a lot of barking. I was a little worried that the noise might scare baby; he generally gives a little jump when there are sudden noises like the doorbell or the phone ringing.

But not that day, not my kid. And fortunately, I happened to have my Flipcam hanging out in the bottom of my purse, along with some receipts, crumbs, and a random curtain tie back. (Don’t ask.) Baby heard the barking and just cracked up. Why? No idea. But it was funny enough that it kept us yelling out, “Ruff, ruff!” or “Grrr, grrr,” at every dull moment during the weekend. Check it out:

As I said, I was lucky enough to have my Flipcam on hand to catch this moment for posterity, or at least for the amusement of grandma. I highly recommend anyone who has kids should get this thing. It’s cheap, small, seriously simple to operate, and you won’t over do the whole video thing. It’s just perfect for any spur-of-the-moment grandstanding for grandma.

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Filed under babies, daily life, emotions, family, grandparents, infants, newbie parents, travel

My Baby Vampire

I can’t say that I knew baby was teething, even though looking back, I did think it was weird that when I would pick him up out of his crib in the morning, he would sort of crunch up and then try to hook himself, jaw first, onto my shoulder. Honestly, at first, I thought he was just excited to see me.

Then there was the drool.

But, having no other babies or even younger siblings of my own, I didn’t think it was all that weird that babies drooled. I  mean, they are babies after all, right?

Did I mention he was cranky?

Well, really only in the afternoons. And he wasn’t really inconsolably cranky; rather, he was just mildly annoyed and irritated all afternoon. I, being new at this mom thing, just chalked it up to the fact that he wasn’t too keen on napping on the afternoons anymore.

So, I guess you don’t know what you don’t know. Even though all the teething signs were there, I didn’t see them. He was four months old at the time; wasn’t teething reserved for the 6+ monthers?

Apparently not.

After a couple of drool-y weeks where baby couldn’t stop pulling things toward his mouth–from the blankie to the totally dirty diaper that I thought was out of his reach–finally he latched on to my finger. Owww! I felt the two little nubs on his bottom gums poking through the soft, pink flesh. No wonder nursing had started to feel more like a contact sport.

But even with the tell-tale signs and the biting, I wasn’t sure. I needed a look.

Open wide....

Good luck, sister. Try getting a four-month-old to open wide enough and long enough for you to get a good gander at whatever chompers might be debuting. I mean, a bikini-clad Tooth Fairy waving a $100 bill couldn’t have made this little man keep his mouth open long enough for me to confirm that what my finger had felt was indeed the real thing. But two weeks later, it was official; we clearly had two pearly whites staring back at us every time baby smiled.

But I didn’t really think past those first teeth. I never really considered the teething process–like how long after one tooth appears will the next one show up, whether the signs will be different for front teeth versus molars, or even how long before he’s got the whole mouthful of teeth. I had sort of hoped that baby would get some sort of reprieve between each debut, where he would go back to his normal self for a little bit before the drooling and crankiness started back up. But my cousin assures that I’m dreaming; once the teething process starts, it doesn’t stop until all the teeth are in. Of course at that point, the babes start losing them, but let’s not go there for now.

Besides the shoulder mauling, what pains me the most about teething is that baby turned into a real cranky pants in the afternoons. And he’s generally a pretty easy going little guy, so this was disturbing to me. Even more disturbing was that even if I fed him, he wouldn’t sedate. He’d gnaw on a bottle nipple or, worse yet, decide to check out something else in the room while nursing, pulling with his not-yet-developed pearls on what I used to consider some delicate pink parts. I hate that.

The biggest change I made once I realized he was indeed teething was I started him on solids. (You can check out my post on baby’s first solids here.) And it seemed to do the trick–at first. But then the newness wore off and I still had a cranky, drool-y baby on my hands.

So, I turned to teethers. I have to admit that I always thought that teethers were a crock. They seemed like they were just something over-tired parents bought in hopes of getting another 15 minutes of sleep or 15 minutes more in front of your inbox. Here I am a month+ after the first teeth appeared and I’m pretty sure that’s really all that they are. Here’s my proof:

Needless to say, we’ve tried a lot of teethers. But as much as I’d love to tell my mommy-friends that I’ve got the fool-proof teething solution, I don’t. Honestly, sometimes I think my baby is happier munching on the nose of his stuffed Tigger than any of the other approved teether toys I give him. Which is sad. Because I really love these little guys:

How many bites does it take to get to the center of a mesh teether?

There are a number of manufacturers, but I happen to have the Munchkin Fresh Food Feeder. And although I feel like they should be easier to open, I love them. And I don’t even really use them for their primary purpose, which is to give babies a chance to gnaw on some food to get some flavor without worrying about them choking on it. At this stage, I mostly just stick an ice cube in it and hope that it numbs whatever dull, irritating pain baby must feel in his mouth constantly. I’d love to say that it works, but, despite how genius I think this contraption is, it doesn’t really solve the whole pain problem. But nonetheless, this little thingy tends to make it into whatever new-mommy-and-baby gift basket that I happen to be putting together. I really think that if it’s not now, it’ll be soon enough when I get my money out of this thing.

My husband keeps saying that I should rub some vodka on his gums–that’s what his grandmother used to do for the babies in his family–but I feel like he might have gotten that wrong. I always thought it was brandy, but maybe Polish people do it differently. But baby’s not so unhappy now that I’m ready to medicate, in one way or another, so, I guess for now, I’ve just got to remember not to stick my fingers inside baby’s cage.

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Filed under babies, child development, daily life, feeding, infants, moms, newbie parents, teething

Tit for Toque

Nothing says hilarious like a boob hat. Seriously check this out from Etsy. Thank you Pregnant Chicken for pointing tit out.

As if you couldn't miss them...

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Filed under babies, breastfeeding, infants, lactation, moms, newborns, nursing, post-pregnancy

Driven To the Brink

I don’t know what it is, but every time I try to install, assemble, or set up some type of baby apparatus, I end up on the brink of a meltdown.

It started with the car seat. That exercise had my husband and I tearing the car apart in 90 degree heat as we tried to figure out whether to follow the car seat installation directions or the car manual, which of course, said opposite things about how and where best to install the car seat. Then it was the pack ‘n’ play. I still think it’s counter intuitive that you would have to put the sides up before pushing the bottom down. And you can forget about getting all the extras–diaper caddy, sunshade, mobile, etc.–back into the bag once you’ve taken them out.

Drivin' Me Mad

My latest battle with the baby gear, however, was with the jolly jumper. Or at least that’s what I call it. I think it’s technically called an activity jumper these days. But whatever mommies call it, it’s basically a seat that you hang from the door frame. You pop your wee one in it and–BOING!–you’ve got a few minutes of hands-free time. Your wee one can amuse himself for a few minutes by jumping up and down while you fold laundry or empty the dishwasher.

So, today I decide I’m going to be the greatest mom in the world and set this thing up for baby. He’s big enough, strong enough, and I know for sure he’s going to love being in it. And selfishly, I really want to go through the pile of junk mail and shred a bunch of stuff.

I pull the Combi Activity Jumper out of the box and my first thought was, “Awesome! There are only three parts to this thing.” Oh, and it’s totally cute and goes with baby’s fun car-themed nursery. It took me about 10 minutes, after reading the directions, to put it together. I thought I was rockin’.

And then I tried to hang it.

The assembly directions said it fits most door frames. I should have learned by now that with my horrendous luck, anything that says “most” means “not mine.”

I first tried to hang it between my dining room and our library, which is this weird little parlor room that many houses from the early 1900s had. I figured this was a very strategic location; I could see him from both the kitchen and the living room. What I didn’t realize is that the pocket door that I found so charming when I bought my house made the doorway too wide for the jolly jumper’s pincher-like door-frame attachment.

Not to worry, I thought. I’ll just hang it on the door frame between the library and the living room. It’s in the same line of sight, so baby will still be well monitored as he bounces to his heart’s content. What I didn’t realize is that particular door frame is taller than the one on which I had first tried to install the jumper. Consequently, despite my struggle to lengthen the strap, it appeared baby would have to be the height of a 13-year-old to be able to sit in this thing and have his pudgy piglets touch the ground.

Well, then, I say to myself, I’ll just hang it upstairs. The door frames are much narrower, so I’ll have to take it down after every use, but I can deal, I think. But why would it be that simple? Turns out every door frame upstairs has a transom window on top of it, preventing any sort of clamp-like installation.

Now, I’d like to say that I was like, “No biggie, I’ll just send it back.” But if I’m honest, every failed installation doubled my frustration level. Add to the aggravation the fact that the baby began screaming for no apparent reason. Well, maybe he was starting to get hungry again. But still, it couldn’t have been worse timing.

At any rate, I dial up the company to ask about what the best way to send this thing back was. It was ordered through Babies ‘R’ Us but shipped from the manufacturer, so I had no idea where to send it so I could get a credit of some sort. No dice. The company is only open Monday through Thursday from 8:30am to 5:30pm and half days on Fridays.

To this point, I’ve managed to hold it together. I’m annoyed as all get out, but I’m calm. Until I try to get the damn thing back in the box.

As I mentioned, this activity jumper has all of three parts. And yet, after 20 minutes of wrestling with it, it’s still not in the box. I mean, I’m sweating–I’ve ripped off my sweater and thrown in somewhere into the living room–and I’m cursing. (This, of course, is making the baby bawl even more.)

The problem is the toy bar. I can’t get it to detach no matter how hard I wrench on the thing. I’m literally stepping on the seat and pulling up with all my force. At this point two things are going to happen: (1) It’s going to come off and I’m going to go flying onto my ass or (2) it’s going to break, I’m going to go flying, and then I’m not going to be able to return it. I decide that it’s better to stop yanking on it.

So, now I’ve got a jumper that I can’t use but that I can’t return because it won’t go back into the box. Never thought a toy car would drive me right to the brink.

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Filed under babies, daily life, infants, moms, newbie parents, play time, toys

All Joeys Go To Heaven

Sorry for having gone radio silent over the past couple of weeks, but we’ve had a bit of a pall over our maison since our beloved Doberman Joey exited this world.

Best Dog in the World

We always knew Joey was never going to be an old dog. To say he had health issues would be an understatement. He was the sole survivor of a small litter, was blind in one eye, and was most often under some sort of treatment for things like a sensitive stomach or itchy skin. In fact, his ailments pretty much turned me into a canine chef, whipping up gourmet dinners of white rice, ground meat, and $60 a bag venison dog food nightly to keep him a healthy dog.

Although I always knew Joey’s life was going to end sooner rather than later, I still never thought he’d be two years old, almost to the day, when we lost him. And never would I have ever guessed it’d be the stuffing to toy that would lead to his unraveling.

See, we almost lost Joey once before. He contracted leptospirosis, a rare and very severe bacterial infection that landed him in the doggy ICU for five days. I’m embarrassed to say how much it cost–seriously double the figure you have in your head–but I would’ve spent it all over again for that dog. In fact, I almost did.

Joey was a lot of things–a goof, a gourmand, and a guardian, to name a few–but above all he was my friend. We learned a lot together. While he learned to sit, lie down, and shake, I learned to be more patient, forgiving, and reliable. He reminded me that life was best lived simply, measured by nothing more complicated than a long walk, a beautiful day, or a good cup of coffee. I’m pretty sure I can say that I was a better person by the end of his short life than when my husband picked him up at the baggage claim at Reagan National.

Needless to say, he was much loved and is much missed. But one of the things I most regret about this most regrettable event is that baby will miss out on Joey; he would have been the best dog any boy could have. I had already imagined seeing baby’s little footie-pajama feet straddling Joey’s back and his little arms wrapped around his big, muscular neck.

But I guess for as much as we can mourn the memories that never will be, it’s best to just remember the good times that were and hope, as my sister said, that doggie heaven is filled with plastic Elvis chickens and spoons full of peanut butter, two of Joey’s favorite things.

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Filed under babies, daily life, family, pets