Posts Tagged ‘ travel with baby ’

Would You Sail the Seas With Babies? The Kaufman Family Did

Tuesday, April 8th, 2014

Before I had kids, I was obsessed with travel.

When I was pregnant with Fia, I continually said that I wasn’t going to change my traveling lifestyle a bit. I said I would strap the baby on my back and just “go.” In some ways, I did. But it wasn’t as simple as taking her and a backpack. I took a steamer trunk of baby supplies wherever I went. I was cautious. I remember strolling her through O’Hare at 8 weeks thinking, I am doing this! I am still my old self. But what wasn’t my old self was the fact that I was exhausted and crying. A lot. Still I forged on. We took 21 flights that first year. All domestic, all safe and within a doctor’s reach.

I also declared when I was pregnant with Fia that we would indeed, go to the World Cup in South Africa, like we had always planned. We had tickets and we had gone to the games in Germany 4 years earlier. And the Euro Cup 2 years after that. Why wouldn’t I travel with a 6-month old, barely vaccinated, on an 18-hour flight, halfway across the planet? I would simply strap her on…

It didn’t happen. And I didn’t miss the fact we didn’t go. It was just too much.

That’s not to say it’s impossible. But it’s hard and not without risks. Plenty of people do it, plenty don’t. I sit here torn, internally debating the front-page story today: The Kaufman family who took their 1- and 3-year-olds on a sailing trip around the world, only to have it go awry 3 weeks in.

Their 1-year old girl, who had salmonella a few weeks earlier, came down with a fever and a rash that wouldn’t go away. Then the steering on their sailboat stopped working. From reading the stories and their own blog, it appears she got sick, but they didn’t give up the trip. It was only after the ship stopped functioning that they radioed for help and got rescued. I don’t know how much time lapsed between the two incidents. I hope it all happened nearly at once, or I will begin to judge their judgment.

They had a dream. They wanted to sail around the world. They had doubts, too. Here’s an excerpt from Charlotte Kaufman’s blog on Day 8–March 26:

The girls have no one to talk to but each other, and me and Eric. There is no true place to have alone time. We can’t go for a run, or take the girls for a stroll to get their wiggles out. We are all tired. We rotate watches. The wind dies completely at night and the resultant swell makes it very difficult for Lyra to sleep. She won’t sleep wedged in a lee cloth, or in the baby chair we brought her. She ends up rolling all over the place, waking up frequently, and burrowing into my side to try to find a place where her body won’t move. This keeps me up, or wakes me up, and the whole thing is exhausting….

…There is a lot to be said for reaching a goal. Not everyone gets to realize their dreams in life, so I really am trying to focus on the amazing things. Like the fact that I’m doing something that very little people have ever done, or ever will do.

I guess as a parent, this is where I begin to wonder what the point of their “goal” is. The children are too young to really remember this, or frankly enjoy it.

A couple years before I had Fia, my 64-year old Aunt Nancy and I went to Tanzania, to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro.  Two days before we flew home Nancy got sick. Not emergency-room caliber sick, but stomach pains so severe she could barely eat or drink. I was worried, but since she was an adult and could talk to me about her exact illness, I felt reassured she would be okay. And she was. Back home the doctors said the strenuous climb had caused the lactic acid to build up in her stomach. They gave her medicine and she recovered.

There are obvious risks when you travel no matter your age.

I think when you become a parent though, you have to decide what the reasons behind your goals are. If they are purely selfish and just for you, then I think you need to reevaluate why you’re doing something. If you really think they are going to enrich your entire family–including tots–well, then, maybe it’s worth it. I can only say that from where I sit, it’s not a decision I would have made. But I’m not them.

Phil and I often impose the “risk-benefit” analysis on one another. Example: is it worth speeding to get your kid picked up from preschool in time? What is the risk versus the benefit? It’s pretty simple. But still, I can’t say I haven’t gone faster than I should, even with Em in the car with me, to get Fia on time.

I think this comment on Charlotte’s blog summed it up best for me:

As an older cruiser my advice is to not be afraid to turn back if it gets too hard. There is no shame (and a lot of pleasure) in coastal cruising in the Carribean, Mexico or South America while the kids are young. You can sail until you are 70+ so why not do the Pacific on a comfy vessel with a washing machine, hot water and separate shower, down the track. Look after your marriage and your kids…

As I sit at my breakfast table, with a nice cup of coffee, I feel the comforts of my life. The sun is streaming in, I hear the birds and I hear Emmett laughing to himself as he pages through a book. I have everything I need.  Our days are very content. And mellow. It’s a space I have had to learn to enjoy since I had kids. I have found happiness in the tedious and mundane.

But there is still a part deep down that can’t wait to travel again. To stay in a yurt in Mongolia and hike through Bhutan. I want to show my kids the world, but it will be when they are a little older–when they can understand it, and take it in. I also want it when they can voice their pain or discomfort. Fia is getting close to this time. She started asking me about going camping last night. But then she came down with a rash and a pain in her leg. She said her rash “stung” but she couldn’t explain if the leg pain was sharp and shooting or just dull. I put cream on the rash and it went away. I suspect it was from the 90-degree heat wave we are having. And the leg pain was probably exhaustion because she hadn’t slept well the night before. Still, it’s a huge relief to have her doctor on speed dial and a short drive away.

I tiptoe in their rooms every night before I go to bed. I touch the hair on her forehead and put my hand on Emmett’s heart. Then I go to sleep feeling safe. My children are secure, and therefore so am I. Adventure will come later. And it will be amazing. But right now, this is all I need.

 Death Valley with family, Dec 2012
Preparing to sleep on rooftop, Dogon Country, Mali, West Africa
 
 On Top of The World, Tanzania, Mt Kilamanjaro

In mountains of Belize (also with Aunt Nancy)

In Timbuktu, Mali (before the coup d’etat)

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(My) Milestone Monday: Bad Vacation Decision. What’s Yours?

Monday, July 2nd, 2012

Damn, three weeks in a row and I’m still writing about my own milestones. I hope this means I’m vastly improving myself. Either that or I’m getting dumber and need more fixing.

Sometimes I really think we suck as parents. We decided to take a last minute mini-vacation. Saturday we started looking for hotels and cool places within a 6-hour drive from Los Angeles. We’re hotel snobs and all the places we wanted to stay were sold out. After exhausting the morning, we gave up. Then Phil had an idea.

“How about Sequoia National Forest?” he shouted from the office.

“How far?” I shouted back.

“Looks like only 3 hours. I found a cabin with a private pool.”

Done. We threw ourselves into a packing frenzy and headed out the door.

As soon as we were on the road, our old-life, (pre-kids) started knocking. We have always loved going off the beaten path. We’ve trashed many a rental car by finding dirt roads and rural routes to ding up the paint and ruin the shocks. Once in Hawaii we went off-roading so badly that we nearly rolled our rental jeep. With kids, we don’t take dangerous driving risks. But taking a scenic route with what looks like a 2-hour detour to see an old ghost town? Totally within the realm of reason.

A few weeks ago, we went to Palm Desert. On the way home we took “the scenic route” through Joshua tree. A 2.5 hour drive turned into a 7-hour one, with temperatures hitting 102-degrees. Poor Fia and Emmett were troopers, but by the time we got home, we were hot, exhausted, and dirty. Whatever “rested vacation feeling” we had was left behind on a cactus. You’d think we would have learned our lesson.

Nope.

We take off on our detour towards Silver City. Turns out it’s a ghost town made up of relics from other ghost towns. In short, a tourist site. Having said that, it was still pretty cool to see all these old buildings and let Fia run around obsessing over spider webs from the 1800s.

Pre-Barf Ghost Town

I looked at the map and told Phil that the shortest route appeared to be through the mountains. You can’t tell on the iPhone how twisty the roads are. But you can guess where this is going. Two hours later, with each turn getting sharper, I start to feel sick. No sooner did I say to Phil, “I’m feeling queasy” did the projectile barf of Fia go splatting all over the back of my seat.

We had a half-pack of baby wipes and one small bottle of water and about a gallon of barf. There wasn’t a house, a store, or a gas station within an hour of us. Yup. We definitely got our wish. We were in the middle of nowhere.

We pulled out Fia, getting covered in barf ourselves, reassuring her through her tears that it was okay. We tried to wipe the barf off the car seat bedding, the safety straps (where vomit was stuck in all the grooves), and of course Fia, all the while cursing that we should always have paper towels in the car. Or at least napkins. Or maybe a better f–king plan where our own selfishness doesn’t dictate. We used all the baby wipes but 3.  We saved those for Emmett. (Oh right, nearly forgot about him. He slept through it all. God, he’s good.)

We got Fia as clean as we could, promising her the pool in a mere 90 minutes. That’s like 90 years to a kid. Nothing we could do but forge on at about 5 mph with Phil practically walking the car at each turn. The windy road ended 3 miles (30 minutes) later.

At the cabin we all jumped in the pool, letting the residue of barf and guilt wash away.  The water was heaven and all the playing made up for our stupidity. But seriously, no more of this ridiculous decision making. We have to remind ourselves that with babies it’s not about YOU. I think after this trip we finally acknowledge that.

 

Image: Windy Road via Shutterstock

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Nanny Driving=Me Crazy

Tuesday, December 6th, 2011

My nanny wants to drive Fia places. Playgrounds, the zoo, playspaces–in other words, do things that Fia loves. This is fantastic news, right? Except that the worry will put me in the looney bin.

In Brooklyn, driving was never an option. No one has cars, plus you walked to everything. Rain, sleet or shine. Didn’t matter. It’s one of the things that kicked my mom ass…the constant schleping.

Now we live in Los Angeles, which is the equivalent of living in the suburbs. There isn’t anything in walking distance. You drive to places.

After a frustrating search, I found this amazing nanny to watch Fia part time. She’ll be full time once the new baby comes. With no family in the area, it takes a village, even if that means hiring the village. So that’s what I’m doing.

I’ll call her M.C. She raised 5 kids on her own, she’s here legally, she’s going to speak Spanish to Fia, and all the moms who have used her said that she drove their kids everywhere. She has a perfect driving record. I have her license and am running a check myself.

But man, putting your baby in someone else’s hands to drive is a whole new thing for me. As my one friend said, “It’s like putting your most prized possession in a death trap.” I drive with Fia everyday. But only I. Or Phil. No one else has driven with her before.

I guess this is where a leap of faith comes in. Another friend of mine once said, “At some point, you have to learn to trust.” Maybe this is one of those times.

I printed out a list of activities in the area that I thought they could go to. None of them requires the interstate and it’s all within a 5 mile radius. Still, I’m torn. It’s not fair to either of them to force them to stay at the house all the time. And to shuttle them around myself seems counterproductive to having help in the first place.

Any thoughts?

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Moving With a Barfing Baby

Wednesday, October 26th, 2011

We Broke All The Rules. TV. Pacifier.

When we got to JFK I saw 2 signs: one for the chapel and the other for the restroom. I wasn’t sure which one I needed more. Divine intervention or soap.

We had just left Brooklyn at 7 a.m. to begin our new life in LA. We looked like the Brooklyn-to-Beverly Hillbillies. We had Wayne Sanchez as one carry on, 4 other carry-ons, 4 pieces of luggage, her stroller, and of course we three humans.

The driver, like most of them in New York, kept hitting the gas and brake. Stop and go. Stop and go. I was getting worried, but just hoped we’d make it. No such luck. 10 minutes from the airport, Fia whispered, “uh oh” and out came the barf. It went everywhere. Luckily for us, I had asked to use the driver’s car seat, because I didn’t feel like dealing with installing ours at that hour.

I won’t go into the stench. All parents know how horrendous it is. Make that double horrid when you’re 7 months pregnant and your sense of smell is heightened.

Poor Fia was crying. The driver didn’t say a word. I’m sure he was furious. I told him we’d give him extra for the cleaning. Phil and I were dealing with the aftermath, trying to clean up Fia with wipes, but really there was no point. She just had to sit in her vomit. And we all had to sit in the smelly van with her vomit. The only person who wasn’t rattled was Wayne.

I rushed Fia to the bathroom and the kind TSA women who saw us rushed over some plastic bags for her clothes. Thank god for national security.

I gave her a bath in the sink and managed to get off the smell. Slightly redeemed, we rushed to our gate, the last to board, looking like the 3-ring circus we were.

The plane was packed. All our carry-ons had to go under the seat. Wayne took up so much space we were literally scrunched with our knees to our chest. Fia fell sleep on takeoff and landing. The remaining, oh, 5 hours or so, was sheer entertainment and avoiding the ambush.  Wayne didn’t make a peep.

This may have been the worse travel day of my life. Oh, but it gets better.

(more…)

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Moving to LA–the Sad Part

Monday, September 26th, 2011

Fia with her favorite friends (and my babies too)

I have written a lot about my mom mafia here in Brooklyn–the small group of mom friends I hold close to my heart. I feel like their babies are in some ways my babies too. They are my shoulder, my crutch. In moving to LA, I’ll make new friends, but this chapter will never be repeated. It’s been the time of new motherhood–22 months of navigating the toughest waters of my life while at the same time basking in the magic of it all.  You only become a mom once. This next baby, while just as loved, won’t signify the same crossing of this life-changing threshold.

(In fact, I’m hoping it will be easier, since it’s a road I’ve already traveled.)

Thing is, I’ve always known that regardless of geography, this time is fleeting.  In a year or so, our tots will be starting preschool, and if I lived here, they’d probably go to different places. My mom mafia would move on, replaced by a new set of parents. Sure, we’d keep in touch and see each other when we could (and we will, via email, text and phone). We’d reminisce about our constant conversations of this time and laugh about the tears and the triumphants—from sleep strikes and nap woes to the first tooth and the first fall. But even with that, it wouldn’t be the constant it is now.  Because babies grow, and so must we. It is part of our journey.

So as I prepare to bid farewell to my dear friends, I feel a deep well of gratitude along with a heavy heart. These women helped make me the mom I am today. They have not only saved my sanity many a time, but also have helped me to become more patient, more caring, more kind. In essence, they have made me a better person.

When I board the plane with a one-way ticket, in many ways, Fia and I will be starting over.

It is going to be a chapter closed. But also a chapter well lived.

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