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Thursday, June 7, 2012

Short Flights, Short Wedding, Long Blog: Traveling with Twin Babies

Stop. This blog is not funny, or an easy quick read. This is merely a documentation of the traveling and events of May 30-June 3 2012 from my perspective. For other much funnier anecdotes and differing perspectives of this trip, see Janell Shirk, Brandi Goldstein, or Sylvia Gonzalez. I know each would have lovely things to say. Furthermore, you may notice this blog entry is written in both past and present tense. I am aware. I could not make up my mind. Please disregard.


When I finally stopped procrastinating and decided I needed to really focus on packing for the big trip to Maryland, it was the day before our flight. I can only efficiently pack when there aren't any babies on my hips, so when they finally went down for a nap that morning I quickly ran to the fridge to get a small snack before the heavy duty packing commenced, and as I opened the fridge door, 11 eggs came crashing down on me. Some fool didn't push the tray back all the way that morning. So I spent 20 minutes cleaning egg yolk, all the while thinking this was some ominous sign that our trip was doomed. But I'd say overall I'd give the trip, flying with the kids, sleeping in new places, and some illness, a B-.

 

Packing Notes: We flew Southwest so each ticket got to check 2 bags.  I checked the largest piece of luggage and it held my clothes, bridesmaid dress, Ryan's suit, all of my shoes and Ryan's dress shoes, a Bumbo, random baby toys, and a door frame jumperoo. (I use the Bumbo for baths since they still need support sitting up, as well as feedings if we attempted solids on the trip. The jumperoo collapses easily and they love it, so it got packed up too.)   Ryan checked his small luggage piece for his clothes, and one pack 'n' play. Luke and Juliette shared a medium size suitcase for their clothes and shoes, and we had to check a small duffel with toiletries, and the 2 infant carseats (the babies weigh in at about 20 lbs each now, so they have maybe another month in those seats).  Lincoln/Jackson would be lap babies, so we didn't buy them plane tickets.
Ryan and I each had backpacks for our carryons, filled with diapers, wipes, butt paste, 2 toys each, disposable bags for dirty diapers, an empty bottle (for water if they needed to swallow for popped ears, I can only nurse one at a time on a plane!), and spare clothes.
Luke and Juliette had backpacks too, filled with favorite little toys from home, Luke's DS with the new Pokemon game bought especially for this trip, Juliette's Leapster Explorer with newly purchased game and UmiZoomi videos, and some new-to-them books.
We checked everything but the backpacks, carseats, and double Snap and Go stroller. Stroller and seats we checked at the gate right before boarding. We rented a high chair, a bouncer, and an exercauser from a baby rental company in MD, so we had more options.

Travel Log, May 30, 4:45am: We set the alarm for 4:15am, and didnt hear it until 4:50am, just enough time to throw the kids (Luke almost 6, Juliette 3, Jackson/Lincoln 8 months) in the car and drive to Ft Laudy to catch our flight at 11:45am, factoring in time for traffic in Miami, diaper catastrophes, and other mishaps.  The drive isnt so bad, I squeeze inbetween the carseats to nurse as needed (judge not), and we changed diapers when we stopped to get gas and doughnuts. Older two are pretty good, just anxious to get to the airport where we'll be meeting up with sister #1 Brandi, her husband Ashby, and her three children (Rebecca 5, Jake almost 4, and Caroline 18 m). Also driving up from Key West with us, to fly out with us, are sister #4 Samantha, fiance Nick, and #6 brother DJ--extra hands for the impending flight. 

Flight Log, May 30, 11:45am: Just in case you lost count, that's 3 babes under two, 4 kids under five, and 7 adults.  2 babies can't sit on laps in one row because there aren't enough oxygen masks to cover all 5 people in the row, so we passed babies back and forth so I could nurse whoever was hungry or fussy. I was so nervous about the babies on the flight I didn't get to enjoy watching my older two as they experienced flying for the first time, but they had their cousins and tias and tios, so they were fine and very happy. We got a lot of big eyes from the already seated passengers as we boarded, those poor people counted the children with little nods from their heads and their eyes grew bigger and bigger. Their sighs of relief as we passed them and the empty seats around them was not discreet. I especially enjoyed watching 3 college girls with PINK sweatpants, tiny spaghetti strapped camis and oversized sunglasses in their perfectly straightened hair exclaim, "hooooly sh*t..." as our company boarded and walked by them. They pulled their sunglasses down over their eyes and exchanged disgruntled whispers with each other while we walked by. :)
When we finally made camp in the back, I just prayed for a fast flight with no disgusting blowout diapers. The young woman sitting next to Ryan was a good sport, she ordered some strong drinks for herself but smiled throughout the flight. Babies were great though, Caroline was fiesty and squirmy but she's almost 2 and it's hard to explain to a 2 year old that she's not allowed to walk around for 2.5 hours.
My mom rented a beautiful 7 bedroom/5 bathroom house for her children and their respective families (18 of us?) while in MD, but we had to stay at a hotel for one night before we got the keys to the big house. I don't know why I brought the packnplay. The babies sleep with me because we still wake up every 2 hours to nurse, and I'm too dead tired to pick them up after feeding and put them back in the packnplay. Lincoln started a fever around this time in the trip, and was irritable for the next 2 days. Ryan Luke and Jbelle slept in the other bed at the hotel. Sleeping arrangements at the big house were tight, Ryan ended up sleeping on the floor with the big kids each night. He probably slept better there though, than he would have with me and the babies.

Travel Log, May 31, Rehearsal Day and Dinner: We had to pack up the hotel situation (now20 people thick) bags and all and commute over to the "New House" as Juliette calls it, 30 minutes away. My parents rented a 12 passenger van and a compact car for the week. We jammed ALL the luggage we could into the cars and took off, Tia Estela had to come back for the remaining luggage that didn't fit. The bridal party then ran off, leaving the kids with Ryan and Brandi's husband Ashby, Nick, and Brian.   Ashby and Brian then went to the grocery store, leaving all the kids with Nick and Ryan for awhile...
Let me just say here that if it weren't for Ryan, this trip wouldn't have happened. As one of the bridesmaids I had to be away from him and kids for a good chunk of the trip, and be absent almost the whole wedding day.  He's the most compliant, easygoing, goodnatured, patient, tolerant father and husband you or I know, and I'll bet you on it. No one that I know can even compare because no one that I know has to live at Georgia St with his kids, twin babies, and the crazies. So just to be clear, if you think you know a candidate that might be even more of a superdad or husband than Ryan, just trust me. There is no such person.
Sorry for going off on a tangent. Rehearsal was straightforward, chapel and grounds were gorgeous, weddings at the Naval Academy Chapel are scheduled back to back, so we actually met 2 other wedding parties for a "group" rehearsal.  I don't know how things were back at the "new house", but when we got back a few hours later the backup had arrived (More tias). Everything was fine.
I had to run to Burlington Baby Depot to find clothes for the babies and Luke for the wedding, so before the rehearsal dinner Brandi and I ran out to grab those few items we needed for our kids.  Dad needed to get some grocery items for dinner so we all drove out together in the rental car, and he hopped out of the driver seat at the store, and let Brandi and I continue to Burlington.  We were cutting it close with time but Burlington was only a few miles down the road so we figured we'd have enough time...except we didnt factor in that as my dad hopped out of the stupid "keyless" car, he'd take the stupid "not-a-key" with him in his pocket. So after our 20 minutes running through Burlington, we have about 15minutes to get back in the car, drive home, change for dinner, help dress our kids, etc, we get in the car and realize he's got the stupid piece of technology in his pocket and we can't start the car. Brandi didn't have her cell phone, (she had given it to my dad because his was dead), and my phone was also almost dead, like, very near death. We decided to have Ryan and folks bring us makeup and clothes to the restaurant to save time.
If you know my dad, you know he does not like to be late, and he doesn't like to be made to look like a fool. In this case both happened.  We then got lost for a few extra minutes before finding the dinner location. The van of crazies and kids showed up with my wardrobe change, but as I pulled my dress on over my head and stepped out of the van, and saw Ryan's eyes pop out a bit, I remembered that this lowcut dress only fit presentably AFTER I nursed. Before I nurse, I become my alterego Super Tetas, and the lace on the dress doesn't cover nearly enough skin. I hold a baby closely to my chest, to compensate for my sexiness, and slip into the backdoor of the private room where the rehearsal dinner is already starting.
After 2 glasses of wine, a few hours of bouncing babies, nursing in the bathroom stalls, and passing babies around the table so we can eat, the dinner is over and it's time to move into the nighttime routine (bath babies, nurse babies, change babies, make cake balls for wedding favors, have a bubble foot soak with the other maids, a little more vino, sleep, nurse babies, sleep, nurse babies, sleep, nurse babies...)









Travel Log, June 1, Wedding Day whirlwind: Hair dresser arrives, starts on me first, makes my hair look presentable, and moves on to the other bridesmaids. Makeup lady comes, does some makeup for a special select of maids, mother, and bride. Blowdriers, Pandora, female banter, babies laughing, screaming, and crying, kids running in between your legs, all in all a very calm prewedding experience for sister #5 Kimmie. We run up and down the stairs of this huge house, calves burning, suddenly running late (how did that happen?), doing each other's makeup, getting kids dressed, nursing again, fixing Juliette up in her flowergirl get up, helping Ryan if I can, taking pictures when we can. Photographer arrives, starts with Kimmie upstairs, more family arrive to hang out and be part of the commotion, helping with babies/kids if possible. Limo arrives, and I leave Ryan again for the umpteenth time.
It goes without saying that Kimmie is gorgeous, she looks stunning as we take our pics, all of us tearing up every few minutes at the sight of her. The wedding was brief and beautiful, Michael and groomsmen look sharp in their uniforms, and the 72 yards Kimmie and Dad walked down that huge chapel seemed to be crossed in seconds. When the final vow was spoken, and the kiss sealed the deal, we filed out and then watched Mr and Mrs Labrada come down the front steps, walking through the tunnel of swords Michael's brothers-in-arms held high above them. At each step down, two opposing swords dropped to block their way, and one officer says "The right of passage is a kiss", and so it followed. At the last step, after the last kiss, one officer spanked Kimmie with the flat of his sword and says quietly, "Welcome to the Navy, Ma'am."
How cute is that.
We took a gazillion pictures, and poor Ryan with all of our children, was waiting for us to arrive at the reception 25 minutes away. Then the rain came down down down.  It started to pour, and the blisters started to burn on all of the bridesmaids toes and heels from our fabulous nude peeptoe 3 1/2 inch pumps.  At about 8pm the babies and kids had had enough, so we stayed another hour to really get them good and miserable. The party was great though, the guests had a great time and Kimmie and Michael were topnotch, mingling with guests, smiling for more pics, and cutting the cake with one of those fancy Navy swords.  The tribe with babies (us and Brandi's fam) left before the sparklers and the big sendoff, but eh. We had to cut our losses and take the exhausted children back to the house.

Travel Log, June 2, Cookout: I'm getting tired of typing, and Lincoln already woke up from his nap. It's only a matter of time before Jackson follows, so I have to be brief. The "new house" was able to accommodate tons of family with it's huge backyard and patio furniture, so we got to spend time with those family members that we don't see very often from all over the east coast. There was a cornhole competition, Nick and Samantha remained the undeafeated champions, corn on the cob, bbq chicken, baked potatoes, and we even squeezed in a birthday cake for the cousins (JJ, Luke, and Jake) who had upcoming birthdays on June 8, 9, and 10, respectively. Ryan and Ashby "volunteered" to take the big kids to the pool down the block, but those Florida kids couldn't hack the water temp, and they came back bluelipped and with seizure shakes.  That night the cool kids (over 21, under 25) went out for some drinks, and the Party Pooper Parents had to stay back for obvious reasons. To be honest, we were exhausted, but weren't going to admit that.

Travel Log, June 3, Home Again:  We checked out the downtown scene of Annapolis, got to see where Michael proposed at the docks, got some ice cream and walked the grounds of the Naval Academy, before we had to head over to the airport for the return flight.

Flight Log, June 3, 6:30pm takeoff: Return flight was not so great, all because Lincoln wanted to screech and squeal and cry for the first hour. I was so embarrassed, I wanted to cry. Jackson slept the whole flight, but Lincoln was so tired and frustrated he wouldn't pipe down. I finally decided to do the walk of shame and go through the entire plane to the bathroom for a changing table, but the bathroom was occupied and I wasn't allowed to "form a line", so I had to walk back to my seat with Lincoln over my shoulder, trying to avoid meeting anyone's eyes as I walked back with my little nugget of joy.  That was about the time that I started to feel the tears filling my eyes. I squeezed back into my window seat (I asked for window for nursing modesty) and continued to bounce him up and down, change positions, try to nurse, etc. I changed him on my lap a few minutes later but he didnt really need to be changed.  My biceps and triceps burned as I tried to keep Lincoln happy. He finally fell asleep in Ryan's arms a few minutes later and things calmed down again, for the remainder of the flight. I took Lincoln back into my arms because he started to stir right before landing, and he fell back asleep again. When we got off, the stewardess made a point to compliment the older kids on their great behavior. She did not make direct eye contact with me though, or make any comment about the spectacular passenger in my arms.
When we landed in Ft Laudy at around 9pm, and after saying our goodbyes to the Goldsteins and sharing Children's Advil with little Caroline who was running a fever, we wandered around the airport for 30 minutes trying to find where we parked. We eventually arrived back in Key West around 1:30am.

 

 

I don't think we'll be flying anywhere anytime soon, thankfully. But overall the trip was exciting and lively, and we wouldn't have missed Kimmie's wedding for anything. Not for extraneous plane ticket prices, or multiple babies, or blisters, or coughs and fevers...not for anything. :) Congrats Kimmie! And Michael, welcome to this crazy family.  There's no backin out now.