Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Driving Time

Last weekend was Caroline's first road trip.  We were headed across the state to my hometown of Nevada, MO.  Usually it's about a four and a half to five hour drive, depending on how often we stop.  And usually we just stop once.  We weren't sure how it was going to go down with a baby in the car.

Most of the time, Caroline is really good in the car.  She doesn't mind being in her car seat as long as we keep things moving (not a huge fan of stopping though!) and she usually falls asleep.  We were crossing our fingers that things would go smoothly, and figured that we were in no rush so we'd stop as often as we needed to.

As our luck would have it, the day we planned to leave was the day Hurricane Isaac ventured up to the midwest.  Obviously we weren't dealing with full-fledged hurricane weather, but the Midwestern version of it--severe thunderstorms and potential tornadoes.  Not exactly ideal driving conditions.

My mom had thought we'd need to postpone our trip to Saturday morning, but it turned out that the severe flooding they had expected was no longer in the forecast.  So we decided to head out Friday when David got out of school.  His school is west of the city, so the plan was for me to drive out and meet him at school and we'd leave from there.

Since we originally thought we'd be leaving on Saturday, this meant that we did no prep work on Thursday, made our decision Friday morning, and I spent all day Friday packing bags, running to Target, and then strategically loading the car in between rain showers and baby activities.  Fortunately Caro was pretty cooperative, and willing to spend some time hanging out in the pack and play looking at dangling stuffed animals, so with just a few interruptions, I managed to pack all of our bags and then get David's golf clubs, her travel swing, the rock and play sleeper, our suitcase, her tote bag, her diaper bag, and a box of champagne glasses all loaded up in the back of my car.

The plan was to leave here by 3:15 to be at David's school by 4pm.  We'd miss the after school pick up line, but still get a good early start out of town.

I didn't make it out of the house until 3:30, but I still thought I was doing pretty well considering I'd had to pack up everything all by myself.  The timing was going to work out perfectly, as Caro would be ready to eat again when we got to David's school, so I could feed her in his office and then we could hit the road.

I got Caroline settled in the backseat and called my parents to let them know we were on our way, but said to my mom, "I feel like I've forgotten something vital, but I can't tell you what it is..."  I tried to shrug off the nagging feeling as just the anxiety of being rushed and having every other task interrupted by a baby who needed to be fed or changed or rocked.

But when I was twenty minutes from home, it hit me.  I hadn't packed any pants for David.  Shirts, yes.  Underwear.  Socks.  Shoes.  Hat.  Golf shoes.  But no shorts.  DAMMIT.

So I started cursing and took the next exit, heading back home.  By the time I made it home (it took 30 minutes since we were moving into rush hour) and grabbed the shorts and raced back out to the car, it was close to 4:30pm.  An hour behind schedule already.

I knew Caroline would be getting hungry soon, but I was really hoping we could make it to David's school before she ate.  I figured if I got there in 45 minutes, we'd be doing just fine.  But that time didn't account for (1) rain or (2) rush hour traffic heading out of town on a holiday weekend.

After another half hour hour in the car, we'd only made it to Chesterfield, which is a suburb about 15 minutes from my house, and another 30-ish minutes from David's school.  On a normal day.  Caroline was awake and HUNGRY.  She was not shy about declaring her discomfort, either.  So she started crying in the backseat, just as the rain started coming down harder, and traffic was at a virtual standstill.  I started freaking out.  I had no idea how long it would take me to make it David's school in that traffic, and I knew the baby was hungry, and I couldn't stand to listen to her cry.

So I started cutting my way across the highway to take the next exit.  It was POURING rain at this point, so I was happy enough to get off the highway.  And then I climbed into the backseat from the driver's seat because it was pouring rain.  And then I sat in the backseat and breastfed the baby in the parking lot of Walgreens.  And then I changed a poopy diaper in the backseat (I had to scoot the front passenger seat all the way forward so I had room to maneuver).  And then I changed her outfit because the poop had oozed out of the waistband of the diaper (we hate disposable diapers for that very reason).

Half an hour later, we were back on the highway and heading toward David's school.  By this time it was almost 6 o'clock.  I arrived at David's school two and a half hours after I'd originally left the house.  Fantastic start!  And we only had four and a half MORE hours to go!

Fortunately, the rest of the trip was relatively uneventful and we made it to my parents' house well before midnight, even with stopping to have dinner and feed the baby again.  Caroline slept almost the entire way.  Excellent traveler!

The drive home was much easier in terms of weather, much more difficult in terms of keeping the baby happy.  She slept the first half hour, fussed the next twenty minutes as we tried to find a place to pull off the little two-lane highway (I felt somewhat awkward about blocking a farmer's driveway to nurse the baby and finally ended up breastfeeding her in the gravel parking lot of a grungy gas station.  Awesome).

She ate, got a diaper change, and then settled back into her seat.  We started rolling, and she started SCREAMING.  She was full, had a clean diaper, and was just totally pissed off.  

I labeled this Screamfest '12 when I posted the following picture on Instagram:

The picture does not adequately depict the agony of being in the car.  It was NOT fun to listen to.

And by "NOT fun," I mean that listening to my baby cry makes me want to claw my face off.   I was tempted to climb over the seat to the back, even though sitting in the backseat tends to make me carsick, and it's not like she's quite old enough for me to entertain her.  But I knew that all she wanted was to be out of that seat, and it's not like that was an option.

So when it got the point that I had my hands over my ears and was yelling "Pull over!" at David, he started looking for another place to stop.  A few (neverending) minutes later, he pulled into Sonic and I leaped out of the car and snatched her out of her seat.  She was perfectly happy to sit on my lap and hang out as we drank limeades and ate tater tots.  But then...  it was time to get going again and I had to put her back in her seat.

Sad face.

She did fuss a little bit, but then she quickly fell asleep and slept the entire rest of the way home.  In fact, she slept so long I thought my boobs might explode before we got home.  (You're welcome for that visual.)  Screamfest '12 must have been exhausting because our girl was worn out.

All in all, the drive was not so bad that we wouldn't do it again.  And the weekend was definitely worth the drive.  More about Caroline's Debutante Ball Sip & See later....


  1. We drove from Georgia to CALIFORNIA last Christmas. I had my fair share of odd/grungy places that I nursed Finn in the car. Fortunately we brought Roscoe so while Miles was using the bathroom or getting us food, I felt a little safer with my fierce guard dog :)

    Glad you'd do it again. I don't, however, recommend two 12 hours drives. :)

  2. Oh man, screaming kids in the car is THE WORST. You feel so helpless!

    I totally would have bought some Target shorts instead of turning around. You are a hero. Packing for three while caring for a baby is HARD.

  3. I'm glad you'll drive it again despite Screamfest '12 - I think Baby Caroline just didn't want to leave Grams' house!

  4. My heart bursts when Grace cries. And my boobs do when she sleeps. It's crazy, huh? :)

    I don't have that many issues with poopy diapers exploding though- only in the carseat, which leads me to believe it's the positioning that gets us. ha. ).

    Side tangent: chesterfield is what we called couches growing up. British thing, perhaps?

  5. I'm with Becca. You are brave to turn around in rush hour! I would have used forgetting the pants as an excuse to buy new things!

    LJ, my grandmothers couch was a chesterfield... totally a British thing, as was she :)

  6. Shoulda ran to Walmart and bought a couple pairs of shorts!
    Minivans are awesome. Would that help with the carsick thing? I was quite comfy in the captain's chair next to luke in the minivan for our Chicago trip.
    Glad you survived the road trip! Also I did not know you lived so close to Chesterfield! We should start meeting up there!

  7. Makes me want to claw my face off too! Oh we've had some long trips.

  8. Imagine this: Hudson was Caroline's age the first time we drove to Cleveland, (and back) 14 hours each way!

  9. The farthest I've driven with the kids is DC to NC, 4, 4.5 hrs tops. The girls have always been easy-goers. This boy? Pssh. He ain't havin' it. He's done it once (we stopped twice). I'm hoping he'll be better next month since he'll be 3 and there will be portable video devices to the rescue.

    I did drive with my first daughter to a friend's baby shower in VA. I'd read the directions, but not the length of time I'd be on the highway, then on unpaved back roads. It took 2.5 hours and I had to stop and nurse at the gate of a farm. A nice older woman driving by asked if I was having car trouble until she noticed the car seat and blanket across me. She smiled and said if I needed anything to "come on up to the house." I was really thirsty but when I was done I kept on driving because I thought the lady was going to kill me, bury me under the rows of corn, and raise my baby as her own. What?

  10. AHH I feel for you...we also drove through the Issac aftermath in Missouri, and definitely got delayed, although not as much as you! Can't wait to read about Caroline's party!

  11. Oh road trips aren't what they used to be are they ;-)

  12. The next time you come to school you should shoot me an email so I can run out and say hi. I mean, as long as it's not 6:30. Glad the rest of your trip went fairly well. I do not miss the baby-screaming-in-the-car days. Now I get the boys-fighting-in-the-car afternoons!