Friday, July 16, 2010

Our first solo road trip!

My son is 5.5 months old, and a prolific gurlger when he's upset.  During a tantrum, he let's all the saliva collect in the back of his throat and gurgles while he cries.  He does it so forcefully that he turns bright red and sometimes starts choking if he can't be made to stop.  Because of that, I've never gone on a drive longer than 45 minutes alone with him.  I prefer to sit in the back seat to keep him entertained and succored by his bottle when necessary.  Because I'm house sitting until the 23rd, I could no longer put off the mommy-baby road trip and we finally did it last Wednesday!

Orchestrating the preparations was a feat in and of itself.  Bringing everything a cloth diapered, bottle fed 5 month old needs for 10 days is no small task.  The gas tank was filled the day before, and some of our clothing was brought a few days ahead of time for an impromptu practice run with my mother.  The amount of bibs, blankets, towels, socks, and clothing he goes through between laundry days must calculated and packed.  All the bottles must be washed and packed with just the right amount prewarmed for the car ride and a couple of spares to go on while I was unpacking.  Laundry had to be timed just so in order for all the diapers to be washed and dry.  I admit it:  I used disposables to make this last bit happen.  No stinky diapers in the car!

Then the big day came, and it was a choreographed dance of loading the car during naps and arranging everything so that nothing dangerous for the baby or my car upholstery was in reach of his little hands but still keeping enough toys close enough that he'd have a nice assortment for the 1.5 hour drive.  All the essentials were placed in easy reach of the driver's seat and the departure was timed in the hopes he would fall asleep during the ride.

Well....he didn't fall asleep at all.  But he did, thankfully, quietly entertain himself for the first half of the ride with only minimal complaints that he didn't have a play mate and that he found his view less than interesting.  Meanwhile I was silently cursing the fact that you can't see your child in a rear facing car seat while driving and that keeping the seat in the middle like you're supposed to makes it hard to install any kind of usable mirror, and I vowed to myself to remedy this problem with some sort of wonderful, patentable invention that will make my son and I very rich one day.

Because he refused to nap, necessity, the catalyst by which genius is often born, demanded that I learn how to feed a baby in the backseat with one hand while driving, and must say that I can't wait until he can feed himself consistently in the car.  Then his primary source of entertainment, the play mat arch I had placed within his dangling reach, shifted against the car door.  At a stop light, I was able to shove it back toward him, but he didn't appreciate my efforts as much as I would have hoped.  He was not nearing point of gurgling yet, so I tried talking to him in the voices he likes and singing his favorite songs.  They didn't help.  I know that he somehow must be pacified without me stopping and holding him because the only way to make him stay in his car seat without a royal fit at that point will be to wait until he's sleeping.  And I refuse to capitulate like that.

In a last effort to prevent the gurgling-choking-face-flushing extravaganza, I rummage through my purse to find an Altoid container still in plastic wrap.  "Great," I think to myself, "He loves crinkly plastic sounds!"  For the remaining 20 or so minutes of the trip, I kept him entertained by rattling the tin and crunching the plastic.  At first, he even laughed every time it made a noise.  Even though he soon grew weary of it, he remained interested enough to refrain from going into a full blown tantrum.

Finally, we reached our destination.  He was hot, sweaty, and irate but gurgle and choke free.  Success!

In roughly a week, I get to do it all over again.....