I was very much looking forward to visiting my sister-in-law, her husband & their new baby at their home yesterday. Despite the fact it’s a long drive, (A little over 100 miles each way from our house to theirs); Despite the fact that part of our journey is the dreaded M25 and we have to go through Dartford, which is always a nightmare (apart from late at night, and even then sometimes it can be a pain); Despite the fact that it would cost us half a tank of petrol or just over to make the journey, and we had to leave early to maximise the time we had there, and returned late; It’s not every day your sister-in-law has a baby, and it’s not every day you become an Auntie for the first time, so I was excited despite all the things about the day that should have put me off in the planning stages. Especially when you add to those factors a baby boy of almost 11 months old whose teething (the dreaded molars are coming through as far as we can tell, and all our friends have warned us about how hellish and awful this will be, and it already is!)
Our plan was to set off after The Boy had eaten breakfast, which he starts at . Sometimes he’s finished by quarter past, other days it’s almost 10 before he has the last bit, but yesterday was not either sort of day. Yesterday was the sort of day that he made a lot of fuss, he screamed, he flapped his hands at the spoon and he cried some more. We ended up with Summer Fruit cereal decorating the high chair, the floor (to the delight of the dogs) and in The Boy’s hair. After thirty minutes of struggling to get him to eat more than a couple of mouthfuls, I gave up with the idea of breakfast and took him upstairs to get him ready for the day.
We set off at , on a journey that should take 2 hours. I was a little annoyed that we hadn’t left as early as I wanted to, but decided that arriving at about twenty past twelve would be no big deal. The Boy was secured in his Maxi Cosi Opal, rear facing still since he’s under 13kg, he had his sun cream and sun hat on, a terry towelling tucked into the window on his door over the regular shade to protect him on the journey, as well as his Nuby teething bunny attached to the carseat harness with a Clippasafe Toy Handy, and his Nuby crinkle book and a random plastic music-playing Butterfly in his lap (a £2.50 bargain from Wilkinsons I picked up ages ago to hang in his Group 0+ carseat for entertainment that he still absolutely loves!) I had a beaker of cool water in a bottle insulator pocket ready for The Boy if he wanted a drink, and we plugged in the fan I got a few years ago from Tesco, which plugs into the cigarette lighter in the car and suckers onto the window, so The Boy had some air movement, even if it was the same warm air, at least he’d have a bit of a breeze.
We set off. I’d gone to the petrol garage the evening before and filled up the tank, plus The Hubby had checked the lights, oil and water first thing in the morning, so we were good to go. Our journey went magically well up until we hit the roadworks just at the
Dartford crossing – well, coming in our direction it was for the Queen Elizabeth II bridge – and then it was gridlock.
came and went, and we were sitting stationary in a traffic jam that stretched as far as we could see, amongst roadworks, and we couldn’t even see the bridge yet. The temporary speed signs proclaim a 50 limit – the chance to get that fast would have been nice.
Time ticked on, and The Boy, who had been asleep for most of the journey, woke up and got grumbly. Naturally he wanted to know what was going on, and we had a little moment of the plastic singing butterfly and the Nuby book flying around the backseat of the car, then his sun hat joined in too and disappeared behind my seat. I managed to get the water beaker to him so he could have a drink, but he wouldn’t settle again until we were on the move, and by the time we were, all three of us felt worse for wear.
Naturally, as soon as I’d confirmed arrangements for this mega driving day and huge journey to visit The Nephew, not only had The Hubby done a day of work which had thrown his back out, but my period had arrived. So not only were we completing this journey, we were doing it with me hormonal and stressy and him folded into a minute space at a point when his back isn’t great anyway. Terrific!
We eventually arrived at Destination Number 1 – My parents house – an hour later than anticipated, at almost half past one in the afternoon. My aunt and cousin were there as well as my brother, visiting from Uni for the weekend, and we drank coffee, ate sandwiches and melon slices and grapes and cheese biscuits in the garden, and my mum fed The Boy his lunch.
Disaster Number 2 occurred shortly after The Boy had eaten, while he was sitting on the floor in the front room (relatively new grey carpet) wearing beige colour Chinos and a cream and beige t-shirt, with bare feet, eating a Party Ring biscuit, when a bit got caught in his throat and he coughed and it made him sick – bright red vomit (thanks very much Cow & Gate for the tomato content of 90% of the jar food produced) all over his t-shirt, his trousers, his feet and, of course, the carpet.
My brother fetched the stuff to do the cleaning with; The Hubby and my dad did the cleaning up itself of the floor, while I dealt with The Boy. Luckily I had another outfit for him, so I put that on and took him into the garden to play on the rug with my mum, auntie, and a slice of melon.
We set off to visit my sister in law shortly afterwards, a further thirty minutes in the car from my parents house to hers, during which The Boy fell asleep again, and on a journey where several other motorists decided the rules of the road didn’t apply to them, and made several attempts on our lives. One overtook us as we turned off the main road into a side road; One pulled into a side road directly in front of us, and as we approached the road, then pulled out across the front of us, stopping us going into the turning and leaving us side-on to the oncoming traffic; One slammed his brakes on so late and so hard in a van that when he finally did stop I couldn’t see his headlights, despite the fact they would have been up higher than my window due to the height difference in vehicles; Another decided that when approaching a roundabout you take the far right lane and cut across the centre and left hand lanes when you want to take the first exit from the roundabout. It was a stressful half hour drive!
Upon arrival at my sister-in-laws house, it was three in the afternoon, two hours later than I’d hoped to arrive. The Boy woke disgruntled, and his mood didn’t lift the whole time we were there. While The Nephew was sleepy and quiet, The Boy grizzled and moaned and dribbled and grumbled the whole time. Even a dose of Calpol at did nothing, and at we had to leave.
We returned to my parents house where The Boy had dinner, a bath, and a bottle. We packed everything up and we left them at . Our drive home was pretty uneventful – apart from when The Boy started crying in his sleep, the same heartbreaking sobs that he’s been doing about his teeth, at around , which of course was about the time the Calpol would have worn off. We got home without issue, just after eleven, and I took The Boy upstairs for a final nappy change and bottle before I put him to bed.
He moaned a little, he kicked up a bit of a fuss about having his nappy changed again, but he calmed down with the final dose of Calpol and a bottle of milk. By eleven thirty he was asleep, and I was downstairs pouring cereal into bowls for ‘dinner’ – we’d been so pushed for time, we’d had tea and cake with my parents at six o’clock when we’d got back to theirs, but no real dinner to speak of and I wasn’t about to go cooking a meal at almost midnight. We ate our cereal and we went to bed. Exhausted, I slept from the moment my head hit the pillow until The Boy woke me at . I gave him a nappy change and a bottle, and he slept from until , when The Hubby got up with him.
Today, while The Hubby has been at work, The Boy and I have been lazing around not really doing much. It has taken all of today for us to recover from what a busy, long day it was yesterday, and it makes you realise just how difficult stuff like that is once you’ve got a baby. We couldn’t make a friends wedding last weekend, as it was miles away and would have meant a four hour drive both ways; The trouble is, The Hubby isn’t that keen on the bride, who invited us, and our other friend who was invited couldn’t make it as his sister is due to deliver twins any day now, so it would have either been me, on my own completely at a wedding where the only person I know is the bride (and she’ll be a little busy all day) or else I take The Boy and cope with him without back up all day after four hours in the car.
I don’t think people without kids can truly understand; I know I didn’t. When your friends say, “Oh I can’t, because little Gertrude needs her milk at four” or “Tommy doesn’t like sleeping in the carseat” and you think, Oh whatever, but taking a kid anywhere is a major mission, especially when you’re travelling any sort of distance from home. Over the course of the summer, I’m going to take The Boy back to stay with my parents for a few days – maybe a long weekend – so that I can meet up with some old friends I haven’t seen in years; But maybe I won’t. After all, I’m the one with the baby and all the stuff to bring – if they want to see me, shouldn’t they make the effort? Or am I being selfish to expect them to come to me, should I make more effort, because it was my choice to have a baby, knowing the commitment that means?
Oh I don’t know. I’m off to cook the dinner. I just know I won’t be making any long drives like that again any time soon, if I can help it! Though I will say, despite the stress of it all, meeting my nephew was definitely worth it.