OK, not the comparison you were expecting but hear me out....
Vacationing with an infant is a lot like having sex because it's never as perfect as in the movies but, once you let go of that idealized vision and live in the moment, there are an awful lot of great 'moments' to enjoy.
Our week in paradise was definitely not perfect and we had to make some adjustments based upon previous trips: there was none of that idle floating in the ocean and topping off our tan (we barely got a tan); we didn't do any exciting excursions (in fact, we barely left the resort); and we spent more time in our room than we ever have before (3-4 hours a day just for naps). Yet, it was all worth it.
The moment we landed in Montego Bay with our smiling munchkin, a lump swelled up in my throat and I was filled with joy: I said I was going to travel with my baby abroad and I said I would be back to Jamaica... and there we were! Then, as I waded into the calm, aqua-blue sea with Daisy in my arms, I think a tear even escaped my eye. Just under two years ago, Hubby and I left that same stretch of beach in Negril having celebrated making it through my hip surgery, and in month one of trying to get pregnant. The very next month Daisy was conceived. And now there we were with our beautiful daughter, sharing our favorite place in the world with her. There is nothing like sharing the things you love with your kids, I have discovered. Jamaica is just the first of many places I'm excited to show her as she grows.
That car seat saved our sanity
Thank GOD for binkies!
After we changed our vacation dates last December, our flights ended up being a tad cheaper and so we put some of the remaining credits toward a seat for Daisy vs. putting her on our lap. Since she is now walking (vs. just crawling in December) it was the best decision we have ever made. Let me say this now, unquivocally: I WILL NEVER FLY WITH DAISY WITHOUT BUYING HER A SEAT.
Maybe you have a kid that will happily sit on your lap for a few hours at a time and play with you, or snuggle in your arms when he/she is sleepy. If so, I'm happy for you. Save the money and don't bother with the seat. However, I do not. Daisy is a physically active, wriggly, independent and wilfull child. I wouldn't have her any other way but putting her on my (or anyone else's) lap for 4 hours at a time would have been a complete and utter nightmare - for us and everyone else on the plane.
Even with the seat, the most amount of sleep we got out of Daisy (usually an excellent sleeper) was an hour and a half per flight - and that was even with with doing a red-eye! The rest of the three or so hours was spent trying to get her to sleep, reading, singing to her, or walking up and down with her. Of course, it didn't help that, on the way out, we got stuck right at the back of the plane next to the engine (holy noise, Batman!) and right where everyone was coming and going from the bathroom.
Inbetween flights we didn't get much respite either. The two or so hour layovers we had in Atlanta consisted of giving Daisy the much-needed freedom from her seat that she needed to make it through the next flight. Pretty much what this meant was popping some shoes on her and letting her run wild through the terminal, Nanny usually in tow. It was pretty hilarious to see our little 30 inch munchkin toddling through a sea of passengers.
In short, it was hard work. But, for the most part, we avoided screaming fits and melt-downs. For that reason, we're calling the traveling part a success. Ms. Daisy made it through a four hour flight, a two hour layover, another two and a half hour flight, then a ninety minute taxi ride to the hotel and arrived with a smile on her face, ready for a dip in the ocean. A parent can't ask for much more from an eleven month old.
A rocky start
Having made it through the mammoth day of travel, we arrived into our room with a huge sigh of relief. First things first, we set about unpacking and getting all the miscellaneous baby paraphinalia organized - diapers, wipes, formula, bottles, onesies, toys, dolls, books... Except... We were missing a duffel bag. Yes, we had managed to leave the airport and get all the way to the hotel without realizing we had completely forgotten one of our bags. In our defense, we had seven bags and a stroller between the five of us. But, of course, we missed the biggie - the bag with the formula and the diapers in it. The only two things we knew we absolutely HAD TO make sure got to Jamaica because who knows what they use in Jamaica!?
Mortified, I called the airline and they were able to confirm that the bag did indeed make it safely to Jamaica and that it had never cleared security, meaning we had indeed just left it on the carousel. Unfortunately the Delta rep couldn't get a hold of the baggage claim in Montego Bay and couldn't find out if they were willing to deliver it to our hotel - the usually do not but given the critical nature of the contents, the rep was hoping they would make an exception. He told me that the phone just kept ringing, ringing, ringing without answer but that he would put in a request for them to help us out. However, if we didn't hear from them in an hour and a half, he suggested we go back to the airport (a 90 minute, $80 cab ride each way!) to retrieve it personally. This was at 1pm and the baggage claim closed at 5pm. Knowing the laissez-faire, "no problem" attitude of Jamaicans, we weren't holding out much hope for them to answer the phone or deliver the bag. So Hubby took it upon himself to bite the bullet and head back to the airport. After a hair-raising cab-ride and the greasing of some Jamaican palms, he did indeed locate and obtain the much-needed luggage but it meant he was gone for a good few hours on our first day of vacation.
Despite missing a Daddy, we headed out to the beach anyway, where we quickly learned that our visions of making sandcastles on the beach with Daisy were unrealistic. Daisy thought that sand made a better snack than building material and she was more interested in picking up handfulls (or bucketfulls) of it and dropping it on her head, than being artistic. It ended up in her hair, her ears, her mouth, her eyes... pretty much everywhere. Which made her mad. But not as mad as she was when we tried to take her off the beack. OMG, that was a doozy of a tantrum.
Oh, and let's not forget how much we DID NOT LIKE being slathered with sunscreen or having a hat put on our head. It took us two days to get her to accept a sun hat and the bucket was quickly relegated to the "too young for that" pile.
A rare moment on day one with our hat. I think she whipped it off shortly after this pic.
After our sand excursion, Daisy finally pooped out on my chest in a darkened hotel room (thank goodness for black-out curtains!) After a while I rolled her onto the bed where she stayed for more than two hours, totally comatose. Bless!
Yawn... more tomorrow...