Ready, Set, Go (Maybe?)
Okay, so seven months ago when I was barely 20 weeks pregnant with Vivien, I had a great idea: we would travel to Europe as a family of four during my maternity leave. Yes, you read that right.You see it wasn’t “real” yet that we were having another baby and our cozy family of three traveled all the time. (Granted never to Europe, but we traveled.) Flying to Austria and road tripping through Slovenia and Croatia is a trip of a lifetime, right?
But the night before we left, I was staring at suitcases, piles of clothes, lots of baby gear and my sweet 6-week old baby thinking THIS IS A TERRIBLE IDEA!
At the time I planned the trip, I thought she’ll be easy. She will sleep in her stroller, love her wrap, and I have all the milk she needs. I’ll just need to pack a few pacifiers and blankets and we’ll be good to go. I was thinking that this family trip will give us lifelong memories, we’ll spend lots of time together, and it’ll be an amazing adventure.
We Did It
And guess what? It turns out that despite my second guessing and fear—it was AMAZING.
Both my littles have passports (baby passport photos are seriously cute by the way) and they have seen other parts of the world. I can’t wait to share the photos and memories we’ve made together. It’s easy to share this all with Jake (6); he can talk and have a conversation. But Vivien, that’s a different story. I realize she probably didn’t get a cultural lesson or admire the castles or take in the gorgeous countryside. But I did. I saw all those amazing things, with my 6 week old baby and my 6 year old son. I never thought it would be possible, but with courage and a HUGE leap of faith, we had a blast.
What I Learned
Just do it! Just book the trip and deal with what comes. That may sound crazy, but it was worth it. My fears were just that—fears. I grew confident in myself as a mother, as a partner, and as a woman. I added to our family history and became the mom I always hoped I’d be.
I probably would have made the trip a tad shorter. Thirteen days is quite the undertaking (kids or no kids). And while we were sad to leave the Adriatic Sea behind, we were all ready to sleep in our own beds.
I would have waited until Vivien was a bit older. My eyes were sightseeing—they were fixated on the beautiful architecture, the countryside, the beaches, and the sunsets. But I was so busy looking around, that I forgot to look down. Part of me feels like I missed out on watching Vivien grow from a newborn to a baby. When we arrived back in Chicago, it was a shock to see her holding her head and being so alert.
Do not fear the flight. We took a 9.5 hour overnight flight and it was one of the easiest parts of our trip. I put Vivien in my wrap and she snuggled in and slept the entire time. I fed her on the way up, once during the flight (in between my movies, of course), and on the way down. It went by faster than I thought it would.
No matter if it seems like schlep, bring the gear. Take your stroller! Take your wrap! Take whatever you need to survive the day. And for night time bring the Dock-A-Tot. It is a lifesaver. Vivien sleeps so well in that thing, cozied up in her favorite M+A blankets.
Oh, and one last thing: don’t forget the European electrical converter. I did. I brought the pump, but couldn’t use it. Having to breastfeed exclusively meant learning to expertly manage my wine intake. Next time, I won’t forget it.