So this was the start of our journey. Our first with a baby. I was so excited to finally leave the hospital. The first of many journeys.
I have decided to write about travelling with a baby – highs, lows and poo.
That first car journey home I sat in the back seat with a pillow against my stomach. Every bump and corner had me wincing. Post c-section the stomach muscles are just not there. I felt like a water balloon sloshing around the back seat.
The first time we tried to leave the house as a family was a walk around B&Q. Close enough to home that we could run back if needed. I wore slippers. Actually I think I wore PJ’S. Despite the meticulous planning, it still took an hour to get ready. I cannot fathom how it takes so long. I mean really you don’t need that much. But whatever the cause, getting out of the house is a herculean task. Until your baby is in some vague pattern of sleep / eat where you can time the trip for minimal poonami/meltdown potential, leaving the house is a complete gamble. How many nappies? If I feed her now will we be safe for a 10 minute walk? To be fair, with a newborn, all bets are off.
My first few trips out of the house were terrifying. I was afraid that Matilda would cry and people would judge me – ruling me a terrible mother. I was afraid that the pushchair would not fit through doors or that someone would take their eyes off the road, mount the kerb and hurt my tiny, fragile baby. I have pre-existing anxiety but I’m fairly certain all new parents feel this to some extent.
My first experience of public transport (barring a trial run on the bus with my mum) was taking Matilda into London to meet some of my “mum squad”. She was 6 weeks old. My heart was pounding. Don’t fall on my baby. That man is sneezing. She hasn’t been vaccinated yet. Oh gosh it’s busy. Please don’t judge me. I’m in everyone’s way. What if I can’t find a lift? Will someone help me?
Matilda slept all through her first underground experience. I aged about 10 years. I have taken her on the underground on 2 more occasions since and the only tip I have is to pre-plan a route here checking for step free access. Some lines are more baby- friendly than others. Jubilee line you wonderful thing you! Bakerloo line not so much. Avoid rush hour.
When it comes to fear of being stuck with a flight of stairs, I have to say I have never had to look around for help. People are generally far kinder than I would give credit for. Surprisingly, it’s often men. I would have thought women, having potentially been in this situation (huge pushchair, several huge bags containing enough food drink nappies and clothes for a 2 week holiday) would be the first to help. But, in my experience this has not been the case!
We have been fortunate (or foolish) enough to have taken Matilda away on holiday twice already. We travelled to Crete in May 2016 at 14 weeks. And again to Rhodes at 19 weeks.
The pros of taking a baby this small away on a plane is that they tend to sleep for most if not all of the flight. Matilda has been extremely well behaved on planes. So far. Matilda wasn’t weaning so it was just milk. Obviously mamas still boobing your taps come with you. However any formula feeding mums have to think about so much when travelling. Which is a blog for another day if anyone is interested in a checklist for what to take away for a baby in my experience?
The cons. Economy class with a human on your lap. Other people’s germs ( I have a real bug bear about this!) Tutting. I was fuming to walk past a middle aged couple who rolled their eyes at each other when I sat in the aisle opposite them and made a snide comment to their friends in the seats in front. Of course I said nothing. But I paid just as much for the flight as they did and have just as much right as them. Now don’t get me wrong. I was that person crossing my fingers and toes that I wouldn’t be sat next to a baby. So I do get it. Now I hope that any mum/dad could sit next to me and have a cheery hello! Or at the very least the empathetic nod/smile. You know the one.
I have to say Thomson were absolutely fantastic with us. What a lovely touch! Definitely going in the memory box.
Nope that’s not a typo. But whatever you want to call it. Poop explosions are par for the course when it comes to parenting. Matilda has a great knack for hazard level pooping in public. Nothing is safe. I can look back and laugh now but my first solo public changing room poonami occurred on that trip into London when Matilda was 6 weeks old. By this point I was a dab hand at nappies. At home at least. I’m not even sure how the poo got as far as it did. It was a complete outfit change. But it was like a crime scene that changing mat (I bring my own for her to lie on. Those pesky germs again!) I had poop on the packet of wipes, on my shoes, on her changing bag. I panicked. It was one of those double changing rooms. So a succession of far better mothers than I came in and took one look at my shituation and gave me sympathy smiles. I wanted the ground to open up and swallow me.
However, the ultimate poonami came on a plane. Just as the seatbelt sign came on for landing. At 2am. Matilda had dealt so well with the heat. No poop explosions on holiday at all. So this came so out of left field. Karl was holding Matilda who was quite happily asleep. He looked at me and just said “Nicola” with panic in his eyes. As soon as we realised the gravity of the situation (Karl’s hand on her bum.. his hand… covered in poop) I began damage limitation. Blankets, muslins, small sleeping children nearby (ok not that one but you get the point) were wrapped round the offender to try and soak it up. Of course we were also sat in the middle of the plane meaning peak smell exposure and also we would be last to leave the plane. I used an entire pack of wipes. Karl had poop on both the front and back of his shorts. I found some later in Matilda’s armpits. It was my worst nightmare as both a mother and a passenger. To the lovely young girl who endured that with us, thank you for not moaning. It meant the world to us. We did it. We got through it. It’s far funnier in hindsight I must say. And so will you. And it’s so worth travelling.
Even now Matilda finds new ways to challenge me in public. Today for example, I prepared an extra oz of milk as it was warm. Which she promptly regurgitated all over my chest and then rubbed her face in it. What can you do?
From someone who was afraid to leave the house with my baby to someone who has experienced all of this…. the fear does lessen and the benefits outweigh the negatives. Memories.