Batten down the hatches

Oh, how I hate subjecting you to my dramatic posts. I have the unfortunate inability to write any emotional post without sounding like I've copied the words verbatim from some 13 year old's diary. I'm funny (at times) and swear a lot, I should be writing witty anecdotes about baby poop or the follies of a postpartum sex life, yet here I am waxing crap poetic about my dead dog. Mea culpa dear readers, mea culpa.

Moving on to brighter and slightly more interesting topics, The Dude, P, and myself are venturing over to the States in July to spread joy and cheer to all. We will be staying with my Mom in PA for five long old weeks, so have faith that my flat ass will be noted, as well as my gelatinous Pipgut commented upon.

I am having some difficulty planning what to take, being all new to this parenting thing and travelling with the little grubbit. At the moment we're leaning toward just buying a load of the gear in the US with the assumption that we will leave it all there and use it again during subsequent visits. I get very flustered when out in public with P. for extended periods of time and I don't fancy the potential breakdown at Heathrow resulting from being loaded down with a carseat, luggage, a stroller, and a screaming baby with reflux.

I plan on earmarking a stroller and a high chair for my Mom to buy from that bastion of refined taste, Wal-Mart. However, the carseat thing is really fucking with my incredibly shrinking mind (which is as useful as a turd these days), because I have no idea what the carseat requirements are in the US. In the UK, a child can be put in a forward-facing seat from 20lbs. Additionally, carseats are not uniform and will not fit in every model of car. If this is the same in the US I will struggle a bit since we will be alternating family cars depending on what is available. My brain hurts and I'm getting sweaty palms just thinking what a clusterfuck that might be. Enlighten me please.

I feel incredibly stupid rather than brave for taking a 12 month old on a trans-Atlantic flight. I can't even take her to Starbucks without swearing off any future trips outside the house. She's a lovely baby really, but she is very vocal and incredibly fidgety. I know, I know, she's a bayyyyybeeee, but seriously, my kid is in a league of her own. Her babble is incessant and quite loud, and trying to confine her to a lap or an unmoving stroller is as easy as trying to get a leash on a bumblebee. She has boundless energy, and I put myself near stroke considering how this behaviour will manifest itself when she's a toddler. Any tips on airline travel with a small child? Help! Help!

Since I will be in the US for such a long period of time relative to my previous trips, I hope to meet a blogger or ten. I will be entertaining all comers on a date of my choosing, wearing a crown of pussaries, a necklace made of Puregon Pens and pregnancy tests, and a white cloth draped delicately over my venus mound. I'll probably get tripped up over the logistics since The Dude is a cheap bastard and doesn't want to rent a car, so all these marvelous blogger meetings that are going on in this dreamy little head of mine might never happen. Conversely, if they do happen I'll be fearful that my real life self will bore the tits off any takers. I suppose at the very least they would be able to view my gloriously flat ass in the flesh.


Alexa said...

Ooh, ooh! I wish you were coming to the midwest! You will be so near, and yet so far...

Jen said...

Aw, air travel with babies/toddlers. Enough to make you turn to drinking heavily, isn't it?

Here, kids can face forward in a car seat once they are a year old and weigh over 20 lbs. Carseats do vary in shape & size & fit in different cars--sorry!

Friends who have done the transatlantic flights with small kids have vehemently recommended buying the little one her own seat, into which you secure her car seat. That way, you'd have a safe place for her to sleep (hee hee) on the flight, and a car seat she's used to that would hopefully work in at least some of the US cars you'll be in.

These same friends have also recommended doping the kid a bit (with allergy or cold medication), though that's of course controversial--and open to the potential for a paradoxical reaction, resulting in a super-hyper-baby.

Good luck!

Karen said...

I live in MD, so PA is really close! Don't worry about air travel with a 12 month old. It won't be nearly as terrible as you expect it. Do have your mother purchase stroller, carseat, etc.

I've never had a problem moving car seats from one model car to another, so I'm not sure what your concern is there. True, some cars have the latch system and some cars don't, but all car seats that can use the latch system can alternatively use a shoulder belt if the car is not latch-system-equipped. Yes, I believe 20 lbs. = forward facing in the states. Certainly when our foster son was a year old and 24ish pounds he was forward facing.

We use a Britax Marathon for carseats, but it's on the pricey side... so there's the Britax Roundabout. Gosh, I wish you were coming to Maryland, because honestly, we have an extra we could just lend you! Where in PA? I have a friend who travels to Central PA and/or Philly on a regular basis (she's from State College, her husband is from Philly and they do a lot of visiting)... it's possible I could get her to drop a car seat off somewhere on one of her trips. If you want to try to arrange that, feel free to email me. My email address is in my profile.

I'm currently pregnant with triplets, so may not be up for actual, you know, driving in July, so I can't say I could actually make a trip up to PA to see you while you're here, but if I could manage it, I'd love to meet you!

Bittermama said...

I'm quite close to parts of PA as well. Please do email and let me know where you'll be.

Once she's a year old and 20 lbs., forward facing is fine. Carseat compatibility will only be an issue if the cars you'll be using are super tiny. Our Britax Marathon (one of the largest carseats I've seen), fits just fine in our babysitter's Jetta, so it should fit in most cars.

I'd have your mom buy a pack-n-play, a stroller, a carseat, and a booster seat to use in place of a high chair, and also a few key toys. I moved in with my parents for about six weeks when big G was 18 months old and a sturdy push toy, an electronic button pushy thing, a few books and a big dump truck were key to our happiness.

As for the flight. I think they have little fold down cots for most of the transatlantic flights. Not sure whether a 12 month old would fit though. The flight won't be as bad as you're fearing. You can get up and walk her around the aisles and she might like the people watching. I'm always amazed by how much my kids are entertained by staring at all the people on board. Lift-the-flap style books will be great at that age. Or maybe even a portable DVD player. She might be a big young to be entertained by it, but the baby einstein collection might work.

Foxxy One said...

Hello my old friend. I'm across the river from PA. Email me and let me know where you will be and when - I'd love to see you!

Jenn said...

Ditto what every one else said on car seats. If she would still fit in an Graco Snugride (no more than 22lbs and 29 inches), I have two that you are welcome to use while you're here. I'm in Maryland so not far. I know Flicka mentioned trying to have a meeting of the Barren Bloggers this summer so hopefully she'll see this.

I also second a booster seat instead of a highchair. Fisher Price makes a nice one that we use all the time for about $20. It straps right on to a regular chair and it's highly portable.

Nico said...

Nothing more to add on the carseat question, I think it's been covered nicely.

But oooooooh, a meeting would be lovely! Do keep us apprised of the details!

DD said...

Well, crap. Why couldn't you have family from the Midwest? Now that I think about that, if you did, you probably wouldn't visit. It's just not fair! East coasters have all the fun!

Flicka said...

So does this mean we can FINALLY have Barren Blogger Luncheon with Drinks #2? And you'll ACTUALLY show up this time? 'Cause I'd really like to do that and I've held off planning anything because certain bloggers promised trips to good old U.S. of A. and I am nothing if not a promise-rememberer. Okay, that last line was dumb. But seriously, I've been waiting for you. And I love to make this work.


Flicka said...

And also, I live in Delaware, so I'm close, too. Plus! The library will be closed for a few weeks in July due to fact that we are moving so I will have plenty 'o time off to plan something fabbo, including the huge surprise thing I promised a long time ago.

I'm going to stop squeeing all over your blog space now.

T said...

Well dearest, I just did this lovely trip, with an extended leg to Ireland. I used a sit and stroll that a friend (who took her baby to India!) lent - which I was very glad of because the regular airline seat would never have done for squiggly, energy girl. The trip over was very good (sleep!), the trip back, a little tough (that high energy thing remember).

Katherine said...

I had a Honda Accord, so I know what you're worrying about regarding carseats. I have a Britax Marathon carseat that I am giving to my sister because it is too damn big for my car. I am looking to get the Sunshine Kids Radian65 Car Sea. (available at Amazon) because it is highly rated and very narrow, so it should fit perfectly in my backseat. You can check the dimensions and then compare them to Graco carseats, which are cheaper and also smallish. P. is about the same age and size as my 10-month-old, so she should be rear-facing. I plan on keeping her rear-facing for at least another year because it's safer/

Adrienne said...

Crap. All the good advice has already been given. One additional bit - if she's at all interested in the teevee, buy yourself a portable DVD player and drug, ahem, I mean mesmerize her with repeated watchings of Dora, Elmo or whatever induces a glassy-eyed coma for the 5+ flight hours ahead. Oh, and buy some alcohol. For yourself. I did the flight from LA to Honolulu when Max was 10 months, so I know of what I speak.

tonya said...

Yes, I second Adrienne's tip, inflight DVD.... with headphones for the kid so you won't have to hear it at all. Soooo nice! There are headphones for tots that limit the decibel level and have volume control (by Kids Gear). A real sanity saver.

Also, we have a Sit-n-stroll, and it is great for travel (airline seat approved, and car approved too, forward and rear facing, LATCH and seatbelt). Not the sturdiest as a stroller, but it gets you through the airport and if you can hoist the child and seat together, you can even roll her straight onto the plane and plunk down into the airline seat still all buckled into the sit-n-stroll... less wrangling. ;-)

You can easily supplement with a cheap umbrella stroller for times when you'll be doing lots of walking, as going up and down lots of curbs is not its strong suit.

Jennifer said...

For the airport, you can buy those wheel attachments to go onto a regular carset. I don't know where you can buy them in the UK, but here is an example:


I don't have a blog, but if you are interested in meeting a long-time reader (although crap commenter), I live in NJ, which can be pretty close to PA, depending on where your family lives. I would love to meet you and P!

Cass said...

What kind of carseat do you have now? I know it's a pain to schlep on the plane, but if you're getting an extra seat you'll want the carseat so your hands are free. If not, you might consider having your mom get the FisherPrice SafeVoyage (made by Britax, but with fewer frills than the Marathon - I think just the padding, really, and the cute covers). I think it's about $150 if you order online. Legally, kids can front face at 1 year and 20 (or 22?) pounds, but I've heard lots of recommendations for keeping them rear facing much longer as it's considered safer.

Sadly, I don't think we're coming east this summer so we won't get to see you this time, either. :(

millie said...

I will be visiting the in-laws in PA this August. Just how far does your five weeks extend? I will have a rental car and even though my trip will be short I welcome many excuses to leave said in-laws for safe haven.

Major Bedhead said...

Ok, in addition to what everyone else said - unless your mother is made of money, have her get stuff from Craigslist, Freecycle or garage saless. Except the carseat. Those should ALWAYS be bought new.

I fit a Britax Marathon in my Honda Accord, but at $270, it's pricey for something you won't be taking home with you. That said, they're good to 60 lbs, so it will last you a long time.

Twisted Ovaries said...

You're going to stay with your mom for 5 weeks and not have a car?

You want me to send some happy pills now or closer to the visit?

Rachel said...

I will email-stalk you until you tell me where you are going to be. Depending on exactly WHERE in PA your visit will be, I am within shouting distance here in The Jerz and will happily buy you a drink or seven.

April said...

Yes, definitely do keep me in the loop when you'll be stateside. It's just a short plane ride there, and I'm sure I could come up with some sort of work excuse.

electriclady said...

Oh man--I have nothing helpful to offer on the gear/travel advice front, seeing as we are taking our first trip with Bat Girl this weekend and I'm flipping out. But should you want to make an escape to the big city (NYC, duh) while stateside, we HAVE to meet up. I would offer to come to PA but I don't have a car...still could work something out with trains etc. maybe...

statia said...

You whore. With your damn draaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaama.

Seriously. You can do either the britax marathon, which probably everyone is suggesting. We have the graco safe seat, which bonus, works up to 30lbs and you can then cheap out and get the snap n' go. which the safe seat fits right into. Viola, instant stroller.

As for traveling with a kid, dude, it's easy once you do it once. One, benadryl, that might help her to sleep on the plane. The Mini sleeps on planes still, since he's so young, but I've got it down to a science. Also, only bring as much food as you'll need on the flight. Security poo poo's you bringing enough to feed a baby army. I also invested in bibsters, I'm not sure if you can get them in the UK, but they're basically disposable bibs. They rocked because they took up little room in the diaper/carry on bag.

The only thing I would say is to pay for a seat for her, and bring your car seat (it should still be compatible in a car without a base) because as much as you luv your preshus, you'll want to not have to pass her back and forth on the flight the whole time. Six hours is a long flight and your legs will get numb. And bring something for her to suck on. Either feed her right at take off/landing or if she's into pacifiers, you'll want one to hep her pop her ears.

It's really not as bad as you think it'll be. I stressed for WEEKS about it, and it was cake.

I hope we can meet up and shit talk the crazy internet people. Um, I mean, have a mojito.

gingajoy said...

PA, huh! Are you by chance going to swing over to Chicago for BlogHer? GOD I HOPE SO!

OK--well you know I've Been there Done that on the whole baby trip thing. I once travelled alone with my son at 18 months to England, and it was quite hideous on the way over, but fine on the way back. Having the extra adult is key, I think.

Hmmm. advice.
Lots and lots of small things to amuse her with. If possible, make as many of these things new poss--although she might be too young to get excited about new yet.

Definitely look into the cot/babyseat thing--I'vce seen small toddlers in them on flights (British Airways).

Main thing is to relaaaaaax. Just take it in shifts, and keep your sense of humor. SHe'll be a handful at times, I'm sure, but at others she'll hopefully mellow.

If you do the allergy medication thing, do a test run first (it can have adverse affect--hyperactivity).

I second all the good advice here! (and if you can swing an extra seat--it is a bit cheaper--then do it. But if you can't, know that many of us have done it and lived to tell the tale)

Anonymous said...

Lots of advice for flying withing the US, I see!

Ring the airline NOW and request a bulkhead seat (even if you don't use the cot because she's older, you get room for them to sit and play in front of your legs). Check again a couple of days beforehand, at check in and at the desk at the gate.

If you're flying British Air they have toddler seats which attach to the same fold down thing the cot does. It looks like a bouncinette.

Obviously, a DVD player isn't really necessary, because you can just have her watch your video screen. Depending on the airline and the plane they're either on group cycle or on demand.

Take a small soft bag that'll fit in the seat pocket for immediate needs during the flight, because there's no under seat storage in the bulkhead row, and you don't want to be sitting there with a sleeping toddler on your lap dying of hunger/thirst/boredom. Make sure everything in your carry-on is in seperate easy to see sections, in case you need to ask a hostie to get stuff for you.

Have one bag of new and exciting tiny toys, but seriously, the video controls and the emergency card are pretty exciting.

Be warned that UK security is currently enforcing ONE carry-on bag per person, and that includes a handbag. You will be made to check one if you try and swing a backpack as your hand bag and a small carryon. It seemd to be independent of airline and airport when we were there last month.

Oh, and if you need help on the ground anywhere, just ask the hosties before you get off.