DC-Baltimore

And now, a brief and disjointed post round-up because it is naptime and whoo boy, I have a lot to do between now and the next irritated howl from the nursery. So lo and behold, the Brief Monkey Travelers’ Guide to Being a Tourist With A Sick Kid, a.k.a. How To Have Fun Or Die Trying.

Traveling with a child redefines where you eat. Sure, we brought Maggie to Brazilian barbecue and to Brasserie Beck, where she happily chowed down on pate and cheeses, but that’s not the norm for baby mealtime. You can do that, but you have to take the earliest reservation and be prepared to be seated in the loudest area of the restaurant so your kid will be drowned out. Sometimes it’s nice to go somewhere that offers crayons and a twisty straw. And balloons.

“Zombies Hate That I Am So Awesome.”
Next, you will probably have a table but not a high chair in your hotel room. We were fortunate enough to stay at a Residence Inn, which had a full kitchen and crib but no high chair (not that they knew of, anyway). So the Chicco Hook-On high chair is your new best friend that allows you to feed your child in your room and not chase him or her down like a banshee wielding applesauce. It also folds flat into a large backpack and can go with you to coffee and lunch dates at restaurants downtown that are not trying to hear about accommodating babies.

Bib: “I’m a McCutie!” Yes, yes you are.
Some of you may feel as I do about travel photography. My least favorite shots of all time are ones composed solely of “Hey! This is Me! Standing in front of Some Famous Thing!” This is all well and good for you if you like that sort of thing, and surely there are several amateur photographers taking these shots. Thanks to falling prices on DSLRs, every ass with a fanny pack and $600 bucks can pop for a Digital Rebel and try to add an artistic component to the Some Famous Thing shot. (I include myself in your numbers, amateur photogs, sans fanny pack. That shit’s just not right.) But I don’t like that shot and I don’t like to take it.
Be that as it may, you have grandparents to satisfy now. They want to see Their Grandbaby in front of Some Famous Thing. And we could not leave DC without a few Famous Shots.

About to fall in.
Next, try to engage the child with things that might interest him or her by tying it back to their life. This may be effective if your child is cognizant of things other than Cheerios, stacking toys, and how much this damn stroller sucks and will you take the picture already, Ma?!

WWII Monument
Failing that, plan for some child friendly activities. The National Building Museum was free and SO AWESOME, OH MY GOD. It was perfect for kids of all ages, including Tom who wanted very badly to find someone to build an arch with him (I was eating my sandwich. You don’t interrupt Mommy’s roast beef). The Baltimore Aquarium is also fantastic, and not even really for the animals, though those are wonderful. No, the Baltimore Aquarium has several clear water-filled columns near the entrance, through which bubbles flow. That’s it. No fishes, jellyfish, krill, nothing. Just bubbles. And if you’re eleven months old…well, what else do you need?

Tom, attempting to engage Maggie’s attention, failing.
As far as the rest goes, I wrote an article for Matador last year that really sums it up. Just assume that the rest periods and knowing where urgent care is (and thank YOU, friend’s iPhone!) go double for long vacations that begin with an illness.
It turned out to be mostly fun–not what we expected, but certainly fun. At the very least, we’ve repressed the bad nights to the point where we can laugh now and color-correct our vacations into revisionist history, and isn’t THAT what memories are made of?
I thought so.

Viva Florida!

So I live in Florida now. Let me explain.

Wait, is too long, let me sum up: I didn’t leave Tom and we aren’t getting a divorce.
Okay, now the long version: Maggie and I are doing some extended visiting with our families. My parents and grandparents happened, in a brilliant moment of familial serendipity, to buy homes in or within five minutes of Tom’s hometown. The majority of Tom’s family still lives here. So in an effort to get our little girl more accustomed to her family and strengthen the bonds between grandparent and child and also eat a lot of Cuban sandwiches by the pool, I’m here with the baby until the end of July.
I spent my first day lying by the pool while Maggie took an extra-long nap and then read some blogs while my mother and Tom’s dad insisted on taking her for a walk. Those were possibly the most delicious 20 minutes OF MY YEAR.
I have a big photo roundup post prepared from our trip to the DC/Baltimore area, but I am bone-achingly exhausted. Just let me say this: you can prepare to travel with your child. You can prepare plans, you can make arrangements for their comfort. But you can’t fully realize how much travel will take out of your child until you arrive. It is the biggest crapshoot when traveling with a baby, one that can make your trip a delight or, to continue Princess Bride-ing you, break you on The Machine until you are more than mostly dead.
We had a good time, overall, but at the moment we are mostly dead. At least I am. Tom, being without wife or child to slow him down, is likely spending tonight drinking the beer I left in the hotel, calling room service for extra pillows, and passing out facedown in his new fluffy fort.
Maggie in particular is a red-hot mess of separation anxiety, smashed sleep schedules, and…how do I put this delicately…Belly Troubles. I feel nothing but wrenching guilt every time she cries these days, because it is almost always the pissed-off shrieks of confusion and disorientation. It will get better. I know it will. But for now…I need a Miracle Max. Or failing that, a decent night’s sleep in my childhood bed.

Back in the Saddle

I am BACK, BISHES!

Not that I really ever went anywhere, but between jet lag and Maggie’s illness and general grumpitude on the part of the supposed adults in this hotel room, our intrepid exploring spirits were somewhat dampened. But today is sunny, we’ve had fantastic visits with friends, and morale is high once again.

This is just too delicious. Without going into too much information about Past Issues, I got the rundown about some people who once Done Me Wrong today and well, my life is looking downright charmed comparatively (even when you factor in Maggie’s sleepless days of illness). So charmed by comparison, in fact, that I have been singing “Schadenfreude” from Avenue Q all day long. One could argue that I am tempting karma myself by being so happy about their misfortune but I would then counter One by telling One it was a buzzkill.

Tomorrow is more sunshine, tonight there will be draft beer with longtime friends. It’s warm enough for the baby to have jettisoned her pants AND she has taken to pursing her lips and cooing “Oooooh!” whenever something fascinates her. It is so adorable I am overcome with an incredible need to gobble up her tiny neck and cheeks, which she enjoys as well. There will be grandparents and family togetherness on Friday in Florida.

How is your week?

Tomorrow’s another day

Today didn’t start so hot.

Maggie woke up at 10am screaming, and from 10-2 she either napped fitfully or screamed. Not much of a fever, just angry and pained.

She’s still rejecting solid foods. I had to hide so she wouldn’t reject dinner in favor of nursing while Tom tried to get her to eat applesauce. I let her nurse after but her belly just isn’t getting full enough from nursing and hunger is interrupting her sleep. Felt guilty, but what can you do? She has to eat to get her strength up and she got to nurse eventually. Even ate half of a biscuit.

Went down hard, cried randomly an hour later.

Jet lag is whooping her butt seven ways from Sunday.

Then I talked to a friend who said his visit with us made him realize what he wants from life: a family like ours. Stability. A career that will support them, not just a job. And I realized how lucky we are. This will pass.

Today didn’t end so badly after all.

Blorf

Perhaps this was inevitable and forseeable to everyone else, but the winery road trip was cut seriously short with a sudden fever spike and copious vomiting (Maggie) and a need for a total wardrobe change (me and Tom). Unfortunately we were all the way out in Loudon County at the time and had to make our way back to Columbia with our sicky-sick little puppy girl. She dozed off and on like a smoldering little lump next to me on the bed from the late afternoon until about midnight with a brief period where she wanted to play around eight, and then slept hard from midnight to ten this morning.

I feel really guilty and awful. I had no idea the flight and jet lag and moving around so much would be so physically hard for her. People travel with kiddos all the time. But I should have, I should have known, or at least thought about the possibility. She was so pitiful last night, fever-bright and glassy-eyed in a little ball next to me, allowing me to rub her back and belly and snuggling up in a way that she never would if she were totally well. Maggie managed to throw up on her dad and then when he passed her off, she got sick on me. I think it says a lot about the thresholds you’re willing to cross as a parent when you whisper soothingly “Okay honey, there there, get it all up–throw up into my shirt, get as much as you can on me and not the floor.”

And oh, GAH, I am so frustrated with her total and utter refusal to use a cup or bottle! Maggie has gone from seeming to not understand the purpose of a cup to flat-out shunning them. At best she flips the cup and absently chews on the bottom, unmindful of the liquid flying everywhere; at worst she pushes the cup away while crying. Only twice has she voluntarily put a cup to her lips and shown interest in consuming the contents. So no cool water or helpful Pedialyte for my little red-hot, and we’re nursing a ton to keep her hydrated.

She’s almost completely rejecting all solid foods in favor of nursing, too. I’m guessing her belly is feeling sensitive and since she can’t articulate that, she’s rejecting solids (either by throwing them on the floor animatedly or pushing spoons away with lips sealed tight) until she feels right again.

We noticed her nap schedule regressing to two naps a day almost immediately upon arrival, and now she’s nursing at a rate that I haven’t seen since she was five or six months old. Her poor little body is trying the best ways it knows to heal itself and try to recover and we feel absolutely terrible for her. We didn’t know. But we should have.

And now reading back over this, I’m starting to get paranoid that we’re raising a total brat-tastic kid with the pushing away the food and cups and screaming when we try to get her to use a glass but that’s just how tired I am. She’s not even eleven months old, she’ll use a cup eventually and usually her diet is fantastic. This is just a weird period, compounded by one of my first bouts of capital-G Guilt about a decision that we’ve made. Being Daddy and Mommy Monkeys is a hard job.

Thanks!

Thanks for the encouraging words! We weren’t actually in DC for the hotel, but in a northern Virginia town called McLean. Last night we had to move up to a hotel near BWI Airport in Columbia and I guess Maggie is just anti-Virginia because she fell asleep at the usual hour and is now, at 7am, sleeping like a stone. This is sort of amusing because some people in the area tend to have strong opinions about living in the DC metro area suburbs–VA vs. MD–and we lived on the Maryland side when we lived here. We never really cared, but Maryland was more convenient for our commutes. I guess Maggie has just thrown her lot in with the Maryland people. :) Columbia isn’t even really in the DC metro area, it’s closer to Baltimore, so maybe she saw more of “The Wire” when she was an infant than we intended.

Before we moved from the Virginia hotel, Maggie spiked a terrible fever and was generally listless. I thought she was warmer than usual when I picked her up and then gasped when I began to nurse her; her little mouth was so hot, it was like nursing a burning ember. Motrin and a long nap knocked the fever out and kept it down, but we stuck close to home and had a quiet day. I took her to Whole Foods for lunch and found a great fruit salad with strawberries, pineapple, raspberries, blueberries, blackberries, and mango. I fed her as much fresh berries and mango as she could handle and it did wonders for her system. Mine too, since I ate the rest of the fruit salad. We’re living on restaurant food and our bodies just really needed something fresh, I think–Maggie is used to a diet of very fresh Hawaiian fruit. I also bought a bottle of 5000 IU Vitamin D and am making Tom and I take double-doses.

This hasn’t stopped me from picking up a vicious head cold. Blarg, I was constantly sick when we lived in DC and I attributed that to public transportation, stressy work environment, and lack of natural daytime light because I was sick exactly three times in our two years in Hawaii, and only once was it a cold (the other two were jet lag sickness and mild food disagreement). My old friend Sudafed Sinus Headache is there for me and I feel passably good, enough for the three of us to go on a winery road trip today with friends.

In short, we’re recovering from the flight and transition to the new environment ever so slowly, but we are recovering. And our new hotel room is not only a full studio apartment with a kitchen, but it is a corner room so we’re only bothering one person.

Life is better on this side of the Potomac.

Lagging

Our first few days in DC have been a disaster.

Oh, everything’s fine during the day–lots of friends to see, things to explore, and so on. The National Building Museum in particular has a lovely play room for kids that Maggie loved, and lots of open space to tumble around when the weather outside is icky.

The jet lag, however, is kicking Maggie’s be-diapered behind all over the Beltway.

Tonight is the third night of Maggie suddenly awakening at 11, screaming blue murder, and not being able to stop despite nursing, bouncing, singing, and other comforting techniques. In desperation, Tom even took her for a drive last night and she was up and screaming the second her head hit the crib. The people in the rooms on either side are pounding on the walls, it’s so bad. Guys, I have been on the listening and now on the in-the-room end of the crying baby at four in the morning and it is SO MUCH WORSE IN HERE. To you wall-pounders out there, let me apologize and then let me tell you to suck it. Be grateful you can just put in earplugs. I’m sorry, truly, but I don’t know how to make it stop and she really isn’t normally like this. If I could make it stop, I WOULD.

Um, I might be feeling a little raw and defensive. My nerves are a mite frayed, as you can imagine.

So does anyone have any advice? I’m guessing that in addition to the jet lag, the room itself is freaking her out. It looks weird to her, the new pop-up crib is noisy and we were given a room with two doubles instead of a king bed by accident, so co-sleeping is just NOT an option. We’ve been getting her into the mid-day sunshine, sticking to the routines…nothing’s helping. We’re going bonkety-bonk-bonkers.

HALP.