For spring break my freshman year of college, I drove from Bellingham, WA to Los Angeles, CA with three of my girlfriends. I will never forget how epic it seemed to drive almost the entire length of Interstate 5 in a 1984 Chevy Suburban with "Cali or Bust" on the back. So recently, Ryder's first road trip brought back some of those memories... Or at least illustrated to me how much my road trips have changed in the past 15 years.
We knew a long time in advance that we wanted to attend Patrick's Army Commissioning, but the timing of the babe's arrival definitely put our plans to head 300 miles south in limbo. When I was still pregnant, I had no idea if it would be a good idea to take a trip like that with our six-week-old baby. But after we brought him home, and some time passed, I began to realize that it might be possible. After all, before we decided to have kids we had always promised ourselves that we would try our hardest to maintain our current lifestyle, tiny humans in tow. We wouldn't be scared to travel, or hike, or boat, or generally miss out on any of the adventures we're used to. We want our kids to be well-rounded, happy, eager little travelers... just like us. And here was our opportunity.
So even though I was kind of terrified, I packed us up and created a little home away from home for little Ryder and his first road trip and overnight adventure. He had a blast!
Ryder was a perfect angel in the car. He slept the entire way to Vancouver, WA during the first leg of the trip, and arrived at Grandpa's house for the night without making a single peep.
I was pretty apprehensive when we first arrived, because we had never spent a night away from home before and I wasn't sure how it would go. I was terrified that he would cry all night and wake the entire house, like I did the time I got the stomach flu at Thanksgiving. However, our little angel didn't give us any trouble. We brought his Snuggle Nest, a portable infant sleeper that is designed to provide a safe sleeping area for baby in an adult bed. And even though Ryder had been comfortably sleeping in his own bassinet for a while at that point, he was happy to slumber back between Mom and Dad again for the night. The queen sized bed made for tight quarters compared to our larger accommodations at home, but we made it work.
Ryder woke up hungry about every two hours that night, which is about his usual. Just like at home, I nursed him in bed and then changed him as needed. As for diaper changes, I had to create a makeshift changing station on the floor in the guest room, which worked out just fine. Mr. Poopy Pants even seemed to like it! But he's always enjoyed getting his butt wiped.
The next morning we got up two hours early to make sure we left the house on time. It was still tight with showering, changing, eating, pumping, packing, and cleaning, but we managed to get all three of us into the car with enough time to grab breakfast and hit the road. Once again our dear boy slept the entire way to the University of Oregon. We were so proud of our little traveler!
Unfortunately, we arrived just as Patrick's Commissioning Ceremony was about to start, and Ryder chose that opportune moment to alert us (with a wail) that he was hungry. My heart raced as I whisked his stroller out the back door and into the women's bathroom, where earlier I had spied a bench where I planned to nurse him. We emerged a little while later calm, cool, and collected (one of us a little milk drunk) just in time to see Patrick's part of the ceremony. We had to watch everything standing in the back near the exit, but we made it! It was the reason we had come, and we pulled it off. I was more than a little satisfied with our little family's adventure so far.
|Daddy had to hold him, but Ryder made it through the ceremony without making a scene... well done!|
After Patrick's portion of the big show, Stew and I took Ryderoo for a sunny walk around campus, and later he got to meet some family members and we had lunch nearby to celebrate. He was moderately fussy at the restaurant, so Stew and I had to take turns holding him, giving him a bottle, and attempting to swallow a few bites of food ourselves. I've never felt so distracted, but it was also really fun to be out with the family, celebrating.
|Meeting Great Aunt Arlene and enjoying just a few seconds of sunshine before we had to cover up that baby soft skin!|
After lunch it was time for us to head home. I thought one night away was enough for our first trip, so we planned to drive the entire way that evening. Ryder was still on board with the plan, and he slept for several more hours until finally we had to pull over so I could nurse him. After that we made a short pit stop at my parent's house in Olympia and then continued on, arriving home just in time for bed. Ryder did have a pretty fussy night (probably because he had spent the whole day dozing in the car) but we spent the entire next day relaxing and recovering -- no big deal!
Our road trip had been a success!
We definitely achieved some huge milestones, and learned that with just a few basic necessities we can really make a home away from home for Ryder just about anywhere. I nursed him in the car, changed him in public bathrooms (and once in the trunk), switched several ruined outfits, kept him quiet at important moments, transported breast milk and prepared bottles, and even managed to keep my own anxiety to a manageable level... enough to enjoy the trip a little myself. Stew was a huge help and there's no way I would have been able to do it on my own, I admit.
But now we know it's possible to travel with our little guy, and each time will be a little less scary. And Ryder didn't seem to mind one single bit! I think for him, home is where his family is, and as long as Mommy and Daddy are nearby, he'll be a content boy.