On the eve of a road trip…

It seems appropriate to share with you all this interview I just completed.  Kendall and I will be taking off soon, on our own, for a road trip down to south Texas, and while driving long distances with him still isn’t a walk in the park, momnesia pretty much sucked the traumatic memories of those early road trips right out of my brain.  When I began this email, suddenly I was flooded with all the horrific flashbacks of the screams, the static, the vigorous shaking…er…jiggling.  I thought I’d post this here in case any of you are dealing with something similar.  Hopefully, it will comfort you to know that this, too, does pass.  Even though we aren’t completely out of the nightmare, I can certainly appreciate how far we’ve come after reminiscing about how terrible it used to be.

Where did you drive to and from, and how old were your kid(s) at the time?

The DC area to Dallas, TX.  Kendall was 8 weeks old.

Did you feel apprehensive about being stuck in the car with your kids for that long? What did you do about it

OMG.  Absolutely!  However, that was pretty much dwarfed by a lot of other stress factors, including moving all our possessions and 2 dogs and a cat across half the country on our own, where we would sign on our first house and move in within a day of arrival.  But, yes, I was incredibly apprehensive.  This was right around the time colic was getting really bad, and he was not calmed by the car like most colicky babies.  We had a lot of ground to cover, and I had no idea how we were going to make it work, especially since I was breastfeeding him every 2 hours.

Luckily, it ended up working just fine.   While riding in the car didn’t soothe him, the sound of static did. So anytime he started to fuss my sister and I (she was the other driver in the car while my husband drove the U-Haul) searched for a fuzzy radio station on AM and turned it up as loud as we could.  We could usually make it about 15 miles before something started to come through (oddly, lots of Polka music).  Since then, I’ve actually downloaded an MP3 of a blow drier and another of a vacuum cleaner.  I burned them to a CD (one for each car), and to this day we still play it on repeat if we need to get him settled down and to sleep, although not nearly as much as we used to.  Another factor on our side at the time is that he was still a newborn and slept a lot.  We stopped every 2 hours for me to breastfeed and change his diaper, and my husband just stayed the course with the U-Haul. This worked perfectly because we were able to cruise at 75 mph, while he was stuck doing 60.  We all ended up at our hotel each night around the same time.  If when we stopped he didn’t seem like he was going to go back to sleep, my sister or I just sat in the back with him, made funny faces, entertained him with various toys.  As long as someone was back there, he was generally pretty happy.

Wait..  I take that back.  I forgot to add that a lot of times the static alone did not do the trick, especially the first 4-5 months.  He was only soothed by very hard jiggling. Odd, I know.  So we would have to somehow try to get his infant seat to jiggle.  Oh, I am laughing right now thinking about how funny we must have looked.  My husband and I used to take turns shaking the top of his car seat to get him to sleep.  God.  That probably sounds terrible. You’re probably thinking you’re interviewing a child abuser.  I swear, it wasn’t as bad as it sounds, and he seems to have retained all his brain cells.  It was the only thing that worked, I swear.  Maybe you don’t want to include that.  Moving on…

What kinds of things did you bring to entertain along the way? Was their anything that you were really glad you had?

At that age there wasn’t too much  that really caught his eye, like I mentioned before, the static is what saved us (and, really, lots of jiggling…we’ll call it jiggling because that sounds better than shaking).  However, in more recent trips I’ve found if I keep a steady rotation of toys he can chew on (he loves this Baby’s First Toothbrush, so it stays in his carseat for trips), he’s happy for a bit.  The key for us, really, is for someone to be back there.  He could have all the toys in the world, but he gets bored fast if you’re not back there (he’s still rear facing, obviously), and he’s not afraid to scream at you as you’re driving down the interstate.

What was your one best memory of the trip? Could you paint that picture for me of that wonderful memory in your head for me? (i.e. What song was on at the time? What was the scenery? What was your child saying and doing exactly?)

It was so traumatic that I think my brain has suppressed all memories 🙂 Okay, maybe not.  I think I vaguely remember at some point driving through  the mountains of Tennessee (?), the noise of static coming through on the radio with just the faintest hint of Polka music in the background (but not enough to have to find a new station yet), Kendall was peacefully sleeping and my sister and I were sharing some funny stories.  About what?  I can’t remember.  I’ve had a baby, keep in mind, and am running short on mental capacity these days.  It was a beautiful day and I was filled with excitement.  My husband and my new son and I were moving back to Texas, close to family for the first time in almost 10 years.  We had our first home awaiting us, we were on our way to our American Dream.  All our hard work had paid off, and it was well worth the three day, insanity inducing drive.

What would you do differently? The same?

Probably nothing.  There really wasn’t anything I could change.   Looking back, it seemed to work out as best it could.  If I could change the fact that Kendall had colic, I would be all over that, but, unfortunately, that’s just never an option.

Would you take another road trip with your kids?

We HAVE!  Lots.  And we will continue to do so.  Lots.  We have places to go and people to see.  I keep telling myself that one day he will like the car.  Either that or we’ll at least get to an age where he can be entertained by endless DVDs as we drive.

Kendall is 10 months, 2 weeks and 1 day old

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  1. Baby Sister liked the very hard jiggling too. We do a five hour trip to visit family about once a month and sometimes it goes well and sometimes it does not. 🙂 You never can tell

  2. The portable DVD players are the BIGGEST lifesavers on long-trips – EVER! I have a 2 1/2 year old and a 10 month old…most of the time we never hear a peep out of the toddler, thanks to Elmo and Disney! 🙂
    I don’t know how many times I’ve turned up the radio to help drown out the very pissed off baby (who does NOT want to be in her seat) on trips because I really can’t multi-task that much while I’m trying to driving and she certaintly wasn’t dying, so there was no need to pull over! lol
    The things we do as parents…

  3. the thing with the radio static doesn’t surprise me. You can also buy white noise generators (though i would think it could be a hazard for the driver’s alertness)

    I gather a hair dryer MP3 works just as well! heh

  4. Big props for portable DVD players. I so don’t care if my kid zones out in front of Nemo x 5 if he is quiet.

    And thanks for reminding me of how far we’ve come with him–I just recalled a road trip we took over Labor Day when he was a month old. The colic was so bad, the screaming so fervent, the traffic so stand-still, that I got out of the car on the highway at one point and just stood next to the car. And wondered if I could sell my baby on ebay. 🙂

  5. Jiggling the carseat is a lifesaver. The static on the radio never occured to me – very smart. My husband thinks anything by David Cook works just as well as white noise, so we are sure to keep his CD in both cars at all times.

  6. Pingback: Road Trips with a colicky baby BABY RABIES | Wood TV Stand

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