So my wish was to stay home and have people come to us this year. Didn’t happen – not in the least. We travelled to 3 different family homes with 3 sleepovers. I was riddled with anxiety about it, but my wife urged that it was good for both the baby and I to move out of our comfort zone. I can’t believe I’m saying this, but it was good for us. Not easy, but we learned and grew a lot from the experiences.
And the biggest development that came from holiday travels: my baby sleeps in the crib now. Just like that. Like magic.
Trip 1: Christmas day at the in-laws
We spent Christmas Eve and Christmas morning at home with just us and our baby, making magical and personal memories. Avery seemed to love her gifts, especially her Cuddle + Kind Benedict Bunny.
As soon as our gifts were opened, we headed to the in-laws for Christmas dinner and a sleepover.
When we got there we were hit with a wall of noise. This is the sound of a happy, boisterous family. Kids TV shows blaring, kids electronic toys beeping and singing, 9 month old shrieking with happiness, adults trying to talk over all the noise. Avery is unfortunately pretty sheltered from noise as it’s just her and I alone all day through the week and we watch quiet documentaries with the calming voice of David Attenborough and the like. She got overstimulated on this trip but held her shit together really well.
I got some judgements passed on my parenting, but not as much as I was fearing. Just the typical “you’re making her a momma’s girl” and “she needs to be better with other people holding her”. For the record, she was great with other people holding her until she got overtired, and even then she just whimpered softly. It can be hard to brush off judgments on your parenting, but I’m getting a lot better at smiling, nodding, and maintaining my confidence that I’m doing fine.
This was our first overnight somewhere and it went fine. I had to step away from the dinner table early to go to bed with her because she was starting to become inconsolable with all the noise at 7:30. If we had a portable little monitor I could have left her in the bed once I got her to sleep, but I had to stay with her. I was secretly glad of that because I needed the reprise from all the noise as much as the baby did.
On the way home the next morning things fell apart. We were stuck in traffic (anyone familiar with hwy 401 in Ontario would not be surprised) and she was NOT happy with the 40km parking lot we sat in. She doesn’t like when the car isn’t moving. So she screamed that blood curdling newborn scream for about 40 minutes until we got home. My nerves were frayed, but ultimately she survived and with puffy red eyes she was all smiles as soon as we walked in the door.
Trip 2: Christmas with my family
The next day we repacked our bags and headed out to my mom’s farm. This is a 2 hour drive, but we drive away from the direction of the city so it makes for a good scenic country drive.
She really enjoyed the one-on-one attention from my parents, the quiet atmosphere, and the fresh county air. She met a chicken and a horse for the first time – the chicken was interesting to her but the horse was a bit scary. We’ll keep working on that because I want her to have a pony one day.
Intermission: the day off
We spent one day not travelling, and poor Avery had her 4 month dr appointment and vaccines that day so I wouldn’t even call it a rest day. We spent the day running errands putting away Christmas presents and catching up on laundry just to pack it all up again.
It was this travel intermission, Thursday night, when we decided to put her in her crib after she’d fallen asleep. I was just so uncomfortable from all the overnights in strange beds that I really needed to be comfortable in my own bed. I don’t know why it worked when previously she cried in her crib. The books all said to do it differently and the parenting community said not to try new sleep habits over busy holidays, but it worked. Until the sleep regression at least, night-time (not nap time) crib sleeping is working wonderfully.
Trip 3: New Years with Extended In-Law Family
Avery got some more time with her cousin on our last trip of the holidays. I caught this tender moment of a kiss on the forehead but I didn’t have time to focus the camera! Her sweet little cousin did this all on his own with no prompts.
My wife’s aunt hosted us and cooked a lot of dairy free food for me, including muffins and bread for the next morning. This sleepover went the same as the other two – we tried putting her in the pack’n’play but she would only sleep in the bed with us.
We were in a big wine and beer region and since it was new year’s eve the day we were heading home, we stopped at a couple of breweries. I had to drive because my wife had a couple of beers, and I hate driving on the highway. I don’t know if it’s because we were in the car after a nap (instead of during) or if Avery fed off of my nervousness, but the drive home was THE WORST. She screamed and screamed and I eventually tried to pull off the highway but got lost in some industrial area and it was too cold and windy to even take her out of the car. Eventually, after feeding her, changing her diaper, and leaving her pants off, she fell asleep in the carseat. But there was a good half hour of horrible screaming and my nerves were so frayed that I was shaking almost too much to change her diaper.
Finally we were home. For some reason she was wide awake until midnight on new year’s eve so we rang in the new year sleepily and crankily from bed. We did have Prosecco, though! By 12:30 she was finally ready to go to the crib. We spent New Year’s Day cleaning our disaster of a house and putting away all the Christmas stuff. It definitely feels like a new year has begun. We’re off to a good start with crib sleeping and a clean, tidy house and my wife starting a new job on Tuesday. 2016 will be a tough year to beat for us, though.