Sunday, May 11, 2008

How not to take your newborn to Florida

The Parent Bloggers Network is asking for stories of our 'rookie mom' year this week in celebration of the book - The Rookie Moms Handbook by the authors of website. This one is mine. It is a cautionary tale.

Havoc was born in early October. We traditionally drive 1000 miles over the course of 2 days to visit my parents in Florida for the Thanksgiving holidays. We thought adding a newborn would be no big deal. How much trouble could a baby be? Havoc was a screamer and sleepless those first few months. We were insane to decide to pack him up and spend 18 hours shut in a sound proof car together. I say our judgment was impaired by our own sleeplessness. Day one the drive went ok. Not too much screaming & since he was being supplemented with formula one or the other of us could sit back there with him and give him a bottle, cutting down on our need to stop so often. Night one he was up most of the night, wailing while I desperately tried to quiet him to keep from disturbing the neighbors. Halfway into day 2, DH was driving. We were behind a semi. It had one of those giant semi truck sized tarps rolled up and strapped down on the empty bed. But it wasn't strapped down securely enough. We are about 30 feet behind this truck when the rolled up tarp, as wide as the car and about half as tall comes loose & falls into the road right in front of us. No time to swerve and avoid it & that would probably still catch the wheels & overturn us, so we slam right into it and skid off onto the shoulder of the road.

DH & I are mentally shaken but physically fine. Havoc is very quiet. I recline my seat & climb into the back and check him out. He looks fine, bright eyed & curious. I run my hands over him & he doesn't make a sound but smiles happily. I think he enjoyed the entertainment. I unstrap him and sit up in the front seat and nurse him while DH hikes up the on ramp pass to find a phone. (His cell was dead. we weren't big on carrying cells in those days). Eventually a tow truck shows up and Havoc & I get in the front while the car is loaded on the back. Only once we are on our way to get DH do I realize I am holding Havoc on my lap. Doesn't really matter, there is no place to put the car seat in the truck cab. The guy takes us to a hotel where he drops off the car & us and we start calling around to my parents, the insurance, rental agencies, etc. Havoc was pretty good through all this. Until we went to dinner. We had to get it to go because Havoc hates Ruby Tuesdays apparently. He started wailing as soon as our drinks order was placed (and we really needed those drinks, fortunately we could get them to goo too). That second night DH tried to keep him quiet while I tried to get some sleep.

The next morning the tow truck came, picked us up and took us to the rental place. Havoc just adored sitting in my lap in the front seat. He could see moving scenery as opposed to that mosaic thingy I had hanging on my back seat. He giggled & smiled the whole time, completely unaware of the terrible physical danger he was in. We loaded him, his car seat & the luggage into the rental car and drove the remaining 8 hours to my parents. Havoc screamed the whole way down. Having experienced the joys of sitting in the front seat he was exceedingly unhappy to be relegated to looking at the back seat of the car.

Our heads were throbbing by the time we arrived. nothing we did had made him happy. We handed him off to Grandma the moment we arrived and he fell instantly silent. We were there 2 weeks almost while the car was being repaired 400 miles away. Te night before we left DH ate some potstickers on a Chinese buffet. By morning he was feeling the effects of food poisoning. we *had* to pick up my car, 8 hours away, by 6pm that day or pay storage fees. I drove. Havoc screamed bloody murder the whole way there. DH had to sit in the back & feed him because we could not afford the time to stop. He sat back there, with his head throbbing from the screaming, his stomach rolling from the food poisoning and sweating profusely. We picked up the car at 5:45, dropped off the rental and immediately checked into the same hotel we had been forced to stay at on the way down. Havoc was exhausted from screaming all day and DH was exhausted from illness. We still had an entire day of driving ahead of us. Fortunately we all slept well that night.

The next couple of years we flew down to Florida. It still involved a lot of screaming & frustration, but for a much much shorter amount of time.

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