We recently took our first vacation as a family, a trip two years in the making. I know some people pack up their newly born infants and fly around the world, but we are not the jet-setter type, nor am I that brave. This little excursion with our 22-month-old daughter was, for me, so monumental an achievement that I need to start by telling the story of the anticipation.
The last pre-baby trip we took was to Vancouver, Canada in July of 2011. We traveled by train and had to hoof it around the city, or at least to the skytrain. I was seven months pregnant and walking was slow and difficult. Except for a delicious French café and a fantastic maternity tank top I found, it was not a particularly memorable vacation.
Last year passed without so much as a day trip, so worried was I about upsetting the baby’s schedule. As I said, we’re not that big on vacations, but normally I try to get us out of the house at least once a year.
I decided we were ready to try just one night away this year. The big question was where to go. We had settled on taking the Clipper to Victoria, Canada for a night when our oven gave up, putting a strain on our finances. Truth be told I was wavering before that, thanks to the early morning ferry schedule that would greatly disturb our routine, the length of the journey compared to the length of the stay, and the fact that we’d have to obtain a passport for Sonja. So we settled instead on a three-hour road trip to Seaside, Oregon. Driving ourselves would allow much more flexibility to our schedule and would allow us to cater more to Sonja’s needs.
Once I booked the hotel, about a month in advance, I became as excited as a kid waiting for Christmas. I spent a lot of time planning. I decided on an itinerary that had us leaving in the late morning, stopping about an hour into the trip for a leisurely lunch, then hoping that Sonja would sleep the rest of the way. I made a list of things to do to prepare, like washing the car and putting snacks in the cooler. I also made a detailed packing list of everything we would need for the baby. If you put this much work into an overnight car trip, you’d space your vacations two years apart too.
I counted down the days. I taught Sonja how to say beach and got her excited about going there. (Asking her if she wanted to go to the store sometimes resulted in the response, “no, go to beach!”) I checked the weather forecast daily. I started packing Monday morning for our Tuesday trip. I agonized over what clothing to bring for both myself and the baby (and as you will soon hear, got it wrong.) I woke up at 3:30 a.m. the morning of the trip thinking it was time to get up, then had trouble falling back asleep. When I did get up, I rushed around trying to get everything ready for our planned 10:00 departure time, occasionally taking a deep breath and reminding myself that the point of this particular vacation was that there was no schedule to adhere to. And at 10:01 a.m., we backed out of the driveway and were on our way.