I remember when I was single and/or childless, I was so organized about trips. I packed gradually over a few days with a good list. I had just the right amount of food to feed us through the departure date. All perishables were perfectly consumed right before we left for the day. A day of pre-made and well preserved foods were prepared for the return trip. I left a clean and tidy house.
Oh and I usually traveled with a carry on bag that met my every need well enough.
Usually packing and travelling with a two year old is a little different. We'll leave the house in shambles, half-dressed and running late, and return with a bag full of lord knows what and a desperate need for take out, I imagine.
It's always a mixed bag, traveling with a two year old. Often literally. Our luggage is complex, confounding and always light on something. But I oughtn't blame all the travel headaches on my kiddo.
Of late, my body continues to attempt to outdo itself with various cavils and conditions. I'm sure there's something in between the eczema and the back pain and the indigestion and the... yadda yadda yadda that connects everything in one nice House, M.D. type package. Being alive, for instance. That's a pretty strong comorbidity. I have some additional theories. I think that the whack back and pectoral muscles speak for themselves: children are simply *not* ergonomic and I've been lax on the self care that would help correct some of the things that threw me out to begin with. The stresses of being underweight for a long time are still present while the side effects of weaning and weight gaining are also running rampant.
Chaya hasn't nursed in four days now. We had a pretty abrupt decrease a few weeks ago and then I was going to stay the course with that last feed until after our trip. But she skipped a night feed a few times in between resuming the demands and finally went two days straight of starting to nurse and then laughing with hilarity and wanting to go back in the crib. I figured enough was enough and we'd just roll with it this time. I'm not sure it will survive the sleep-traumas of a trip away from home (last year our visit was slightly shorter and still seems to have been a trigger for a massive month-long sleep regression, so who knows what will happen). But at the moment my body is taking this seriously and I can feel all kinds of strange physical changes that are a little bit "going through puberty all over again" and "midway through pregnancy and my body is strange"...
Things that could conceivably be blamed on weaning and the resulting hormonal fluctuations: allergy and eczema flare ups, dry eyes, the last two to three days of non-stop head aches, eye twitches, emotional mood swings, fatigue, occasional spells of mild nausea, my increased tendency to get overheated in a room hotter than about 66 degrees (complimenting my Reynaud's and cold hands and feet not at all)... there are more that could come up soon, so who knows!!
It's kind of a tradition to go into the Thanksgiving holiday with something bizarre happening to me. The last two years have just been the usual "tired and with baby." The year before that Chaya had just been conceived (though we didn't know it yet) and i was on heavy progesterone supplementation. I guess before that, things were "normal." But yeah.
Currently I'm kind of a mess. I've always been sensitive, mentally and otherwise, but I'm coming with a much longer list of props and ways in which lacking control and a home base can be tough.
At any rate. We have our literal baggage to pack and cart. Figured it might be worth pitting me against the two year old for the most difficult travel preparations there.
In vague categories because why not?
We do have a head start with a pack and play already in San Francisco. After some traumatic sleeplessness, I've strongly martialed for having some separation between Chaya's room and our own sleeping quarters, so she might be camping out in a bathroom. Not the worst place to chill. We're going into this sight unseen though, since memories are poor, so who knows how it will all work out.
Chaya needs her books, her pajamas her sleep sack, her bunnies, and about a forty to hour long ritual to sleep. That's a bare minimum. At that, she probably still fights it, although not nearly to the level of some. The world is too engaging when you're two! We also have an ok-to-wake clock so she doesn't wake up in the middle of the night. It's also a good night light, but we'll probably want another lamp of some sort for stories. And a sound machine to level out distractions. I have no idea if she'll be able to nap, but we'll probably want something to black out the light streaming in from the bathroom windows. It's already often a long slog at home, but she's comfortable and familiar there. And of course I want a baby monitor so I can go upstairs while she's nursing but still be in range.
Me: I rarely sleep well even with the most elongated and careful rituals, but I can control a lot of that when I'm at home. And I have the props to do it. I'm currently sleeping with three pillows to my back and one under my legs. One blanket over most of my body. A robe wrapped around my feet since they get cold, and a smaller blanket that goes over my upper body so my gloved hands can rest outside of the covers (they get itchy if they're underneath or too warm). I am sensitive to noise and light so I'll be bringing at least an eye shade and ear plugs. None of this is foolproof. Especially if/as Chaya's sleep deteriorates during an off-schedule exciting holiday. I probably won't bring all the pillows but I'm tempted. Really.
Me: After that ER visit, I've been ordered to drink at least two liters of isotonic beverage every day before about 2 p.m. It's not that difficult, but it means (1) either making 2 liters per my recipe a day or taking a small army of nun tablets along, (2) always having two water bottles on me on an average day. Worse when we're travelling, (3) and having to pee a fair bit. Bathrooms are always a necessity, but still not that much extra I need to take.
Chaya: Chaya has a tendency to get backed up due to insufficient hydration. She does best with one serving of Miralax a day but guessing what drink to put that in is a crapshoot. Flavoring water with as many different vitamin powders and hydration packs as I can. Changing up cups. Adding as many liquidy fruits and veggies as she'll take. She usually goes through at least one sippy cup, one small open cup, one straw cup, and one of my water bottles, just to get a middling amount of liquid.
Me: No, re-gaining a bunch of weight hasn't suddenly made me easier in this fashion. I'm am still a grazer. I still get light headed if I don't eat often. And I still can't eat a lot at once. My family has a history of IBS. I don't exactly have IBS, but I pretty much only thrive on a pretty high fiber diet with lots of veggies and whole grains.
Travelling can make that really challenging, since a lot of people eat, say, three times a day. And not having control over when and what I eat can be kind of tough. Often I end up eating a diet of meal bars and various other smaller snacks that I have with me at all times. I'm better if I just live in the kitchen surrounded by roughage basically. So I often pack a ton of food for myself and try to have food and drink on me at all times.
Chaya: She gets constipated if I hadn't mentioned a million times. She LOVES cheese, but of course that becomes a no-no pretty quickly. And handfuls of white crackers don't really help. She isn't super picky, but she's been known to eat a diet exclusively of ketchup for sure. I'm desperately trying to encourage her to listen to her thirst, but I also have a tendency to try to make up as much as I can in food. That involves soaking oatmeal and chia seeds over a long period so they absorb a crazy amount of liquid. And all kinds of water based fruits and veggies. That means bringing along some of the very particular foods she'll only eat a certain way and bringing various containers, bowls, spoons, and t-shirts.
4. Toiletries and Others
Me: I've always had eczema, but I feel like the hormonal challenges of weaning fairly quickly during winter has upped the ante quite a bit. My hands are a disaster and my whole body itches. I requires several varieties of gloves for every occasion. I mostly look like a mime with white cotton gloves, but also have vinyl gloves for food and regular kitchen dishwashing gloves. I need heavy duty moisturizers and emollients and do best if I apply grease about 3 times daily to all of me (plus my hands non-stop). I need to have a soak in luke warm epsom salts every other day. I'm also bringing benedryl and Claritin for anti-histamine effect. And it seems to be starting in with headaches and the like. Luckily with Andrew's collarbone, we'll have plenty of ibuprofen around!
And I need my vitamin D, my fish oil, my Calcium, my thyroid medication.
Of course then I also have tooth brush and paste, allergen free soap... the usual stuff.
Chaya Largely she needs a ton of wipes for all occasions. A few eczema friendly bubble bath packs. And about fifteen different toothbrushes. She likes to exert control over her world by selecting the brush for use each time. And for helping her various friends also brush.
5. Um... TMI zone
Me: Ok, I clog toilets. Regardless of what or how I eat, but I'm assured my current digestion is healthy, if embarrassing. And it makes it a little extra stressful being away from my home bathroom with a trusty plunger. Yeah I've packed one before. I don't think we'll have room this time.
Chaya: As above, Chaya needs Miralax. Wipes. Changing gloves. a plenty of daydiapers since she goes back and forth between encopresis like seepage, dry and hard, and gushers. A handful of overnight diapers. Sometimes she gets a yeast infection that needs a prescription ointment, so we'll bring that too.
7. Travelling Olio
Me: Chargers of course - at least a few. Clothes. Socks. Coat. Warm warm warm socks for my feet to go underneath slippers. I do better if the slippers have arch support because - oh yeah - I also have plantar fasciitis. I have given up on books largely. I'd love to have my computer but doubt I'll use it enough. A USB adapter to charge my fitness watch. And oh yeah then there's however much lumbar support my back needs through plane and car rides. I would probably do well to go out shopping now and replace my ill-fitting polyester clothes with pure cotton, but let's be realistic about what's getting accomplished before we travel!
Chaya: More books. Roughly ten thousand toys for the plane and for the dinner table and and and and... This is the area where I"m not entirely sure how much to bring. At any moment Chaya can urgently demand any item she's ever seen in our household. We can't pack it all. So how much to bring? Lord knows.
But she's getting my old phone on the plane for sure. And don't forget the stroller. We ought to bring a carseat for the plane but with Andrew's shoulder, that's not happening.
Ok, so basically, I could be a huge PITA traveller and need extra luggage, but I'm guessing Chaya's stuff goes first and we'll go from there.
Despite all this, I'm mostly thankful. Thankful that we have so much to even consider stuffing into an oversized suitcase. Thankful to have a toddler to need all the extra luggage. Thankful that the things I can bring are for irritating but not hedonically-destructive conditions. And grateful we have such a warm and loving family that makes room at the table for us and all our unique needs.
Also, again, that the family is only a 2 hour plane ride away. Because let's not talk about the