Diaries of a working mom Chapter 4: Traveling (without baby)

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One of my close friends and colleagues gave me a bottle of wine during my pregnancy and told me to save it to celebrate the completion of my first work trip. I didn’t realize what an “accomplishment” that would be! (Thank you, K, I enjoyed the wine this weekend)

I’m now in the middle of my second trip without the baby in two weeks. I am currently sitting in the back of a very small plane, surrounded by three little boys (five, three and two years of age). Their dad and nanny are trying to keep them in their seats to no avail. The boys are alternating between singing (screaming) “Jesus Loves Me” and playing some kind of hitting each other game between the seat. The five year old is next to me, the three year old is behind me with his dad and the two year old is across the aisle pinned down by the nanny and screaming for his dad.

This inspired me to write the next of my mommy diaries… what it is like to travel without my boys. Last week I was stressed for several days before leaving Gus and Eric, almost as stressed as I was about bringing them with me! As I prepared for a three day/ two night trip away, I wondered and worried … Would I go crazy being away from home? Would the boys get any sleep? What would happen if we fed Gus formula? And here… my preliminary answers:

Question: Would this ruin my whole plan to breastfeed Gus?
Answer: No, at least not yet!

It took some preparation, for sure. Part of why I didn’t travel without him earlier was that I didn’t have enough of a stock in the freezer. I had to build that up for weeks. The next challenge was carting all of the paraphernalia, including a breast pump the size of a small carryon, all of the accessories and then about a gallon of milk on the return flight. Lucky for me, I’d long ago mastered the art of traveling so light that by just ditching my workout gear, I was able to pack it all in. I was preparing for a big run in with TSA, but they didn’t even scan the breast milk, all sixty plus ounces of it. It was frozen in little baggies and I pulled it out separately for them. They did, however, rescan the pump.

I called Eric on the way home from the airport and he told me to hurry home, because we had three ounces left! And I made it back to restock the freezer just in time, with about 10 oz less than I’d left. I had a La Leche leader scare the crap out of me that any nights away from Gus could be devastating to my milk supply but so far it seems to be okay… although I’m not quite ready to risk more extended travel just yet. Not only do I not have enough milk stored to last more than a couple days, I also still am a little paranoid about how production can slow down without really breastfeeding.

Question: Would my boys make it without me?
Answer: Of course!

Gus seemed pretty oblivious to the whole thing, despite his parents’ increasing nervousness as the day approached. Until about a week before I left, Gus had been sleeping short, unpredictable stints both day and night, usually with me, either in the bed or on the Boppy pillow in my lap in my office. In preparation for the trip, our nanny suggested we start fully bottle-feeding him during the day and Eric encouraged me to try to get Gus to sleep in his own bed at night. Gus adjusted to the bottle very well through the day, but I was still caving when he was fussy and letting him into our bed towards the end of the night. As the trip approached, he was sleeping in the bed less and less but I encouraged Eric when I left just to let him sleep there if it helped. But Eric was determined! And he claimed two full night victories … and now has reclaimed our bed. I guess that’s what I get for leaving town. So yes, they did great, although Eric was pretty wiped out when I returned after getting up and doing the bottle rigmarole 2-3 times both nights.


Question: Would it be easier to travel with or without him?
Answer: It depends…

“Easier” is a more complex equation now.

For me, I’d say it was a wash. Yes, I had more freedom. The trip flew by because in typical Thought Ensemble form, we planned every minute of the trip to be fully productive, primarily in meetings. But I didn’t sleep any better since I still had to get up and pump, which is much less fun than feeding Gus. And of course I missed my boys.

For Gus, while I’d like to say he missed me terribly, he seems pretty satisfied with any of his three primary care givers. Now that he’s getting on a schedule, it is arguably better for him to be at home.

But for Eric… well, he clearly took the brunt of the pain. Not only did he have to wake up a couple times each night and deal with heating a bottle, he had to take care of Gus by himself before and after work. Usually we pass him back and forth quite a bit to give each other breaks.

So if I look at the full utilitarian view it might be even, but if I throw finances in the mix, it clearly sways it back towards leaving the boys at home. Sorry, honey!

We talked about it this weekend and while it is totally doable, we’d both prefer I minimize travel, at least until little Gus is sleeping through the night. Once he is, life will get a lot easier all around…

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