November 30, 2015

Overnight Driving with a Toddler (+ 2 Dogs)

Babies change every day. Sometimes I forget that, and then it bites me right in the ass.

We took both dogs and the baby to Michigan for Thanksgiving and did our Christmas celebration at the same time, since we definitely won’t be doing this godforsaken drive again next month. We called it Thanksmas.

Nine days was too long to kennel the dogs, so we took them. Being packed in the car with coolers, jackets, toys and a dog on each side made for kind of a cramped trip. Not as much as our overland journey when we moved to AR, but quite a bit more than our last trip to Georgia, when we didn’t have the dogs.

We decided to do an overnight drive again, planning to arrive around 10am. I picked Mr. Go up from work at 6 p.m. and we were on our way.

Our problems started just one measly hour into the trip. Babs was fussy. I thought she was hungry. She’d been a little stressed that day with me trying to pack the car. It was dark out and I was trying to hand food back to her without either dog getting it first. She ate some pouches, cheese and milk.

Then she threw everything back up.

In about four heaves, she was covered in vomit. Her car seat was covered in vomit. Flotsam and Jetsam very helpfully tried to assist me in cleaning it up, but I respectfully declined. I did what I could while standing on my knees turned backward leaning over her with washcloths and baby wipes, and we stopped at the next gas station to wash everything out in the bathroom.

Flotsam tried to make his escape at this time, and happily took a turn about the parking lot before my death threats were taken seriously.

Babs, once clean of vomit and dressed in her jammies, was simply delightful. She danced a little bit in the gas station to the smooth jazz playing on the radio, then fell asleep in the car. For a while.

Babs is more alert and inquisitive than she was on the initial trip out to AR, and even the overnight trip to MI this summer, so when we stopped at night for gas, the boys woke up and made some noise that then woke her up. The first time (after a white-knuckled ten miles in desolate Illinois when we nearly ran the tank to empty) she was awake for two hours. I fed her a little more, afraid she was hungry but also afraid we’d have a repeat performance of The Exorcist. Then I twisted my arm back over my seat to hold her hand until she fell asleep, then snuck my cold, nearly dead arm away once she was zonked, after several failed attempts. 

All the while our cramped, enclosed space smells like baby vomit and dog breath. Mr. Go has been awake for 18 hours and will be awake for another 10. We were understandably crabby.

The second time we stopped for gas she was only awake roughly one hour before falling back asleep. The unplanned stop for vomit clean up and all the other stops for baby soothing put us back two hours.

After everything, the morning drive might still have been the worst part. Babs woke up around 6 a.m. after being cramped in a car seat all night and wanted to get out and play. We distracted her with food for a while before stopping for breakfast and a brief play outing, then Mr. Go took the wheel again. For the paltry few hours I drove, Babs was awake and Mr. Go was on baby duty, so he slept maybe an hour that night.

When we arrived at our destination around noon, we ate and napped, after foisting Babs onto a deliriously joyful Grandma.

Eight days later, the return trip went 80,394X better. First of all, she didn't vomit. Win. 

We started at Noon. Babs woke up early that day so she was realllllly tired by that time. She fell asleep instantly in the car, and slept for over two hours. It was glorious.

jetsam slept for a good 15 miles like this

We stopped a couple times that afternoon to let her get out and run around, then put her to "bed" around 6:30. She fell asleep just after 7, which is a little early for her bedtime, but she'd had a lot of excitement.

She did wake up a couple times in the night and cried for a minute or so, probably because she wanted to stretch and couldn't. So we woke her up next time we stopped and got her out. Then she slept for a good solid stretch until we got home. 

We arrived just after 5 a.m. Then, the little angel ran around the house for a few minutes to check things out and play, and let me put her back to bed for another two hours. Mr. Go and I slept, then I napped when she did that afternoon, though Mr. Go was too interested in football to sleep, despite running on roughly 3 hours sleep, walnut that he is.

Fun side note: When I opened the front door this afternoon to go out for the mail, I had a mystery surprise cactus on my front steps. One of those weird Southern things, maybe?

hello there, do you have a moment to talk about our lord and savior jesus christ?


It was a good trip. Packing all our stuff up to go back and forth between Grandparents’ houses four times was a little annoying, but it kept everyone happy and Babs took it as well as could be expected. At one grandma’s house we shared a room with Babs, so she didn’t sleep quite as well, able to hear us and the dogs shifting. 

We spent time with Babs’ great grandparents as well, which to me was the biggest win of the trip. It’s all precious time, with them getting up in years and us living so far away. My grandpa has been struggling with health issues for a while, and he absolutely lit up just by sitting there watching her play.

It’s amazing the way a child’s joy is contagious, if you take the time to stop and notice it.

So yeah, good trip. I learn something new about my daughter every day. Sometimes it helps me project her behavior in the future, sometimes it doesn’t. You get used to the feeling of being lost. #momlife