Recently, more and more people have been casually mentioning/joking about the “Next One”.
Pip has only just turned 11 months old, but is bigger than most of his contemporaries, including many who are walking (he’s still 98th percentile for height) and I think my well-meaning commentators are starting to see him more as a toddler, i.e. old enough to be a big brother.
While understanding that conception is a miracle and we are incredibly fortunate to have been blessed with one child, it is fun to speculate about when the next one might arrive – if it does, of course. Just because we have little or no control over this doesn’t stop me wondering… it’s like being pregnant and fantasising about whether the bump is a boy or a girl.
As tempting as it is to continue the holiday theme and regale you with Pip’s tropical adventures, I’m going to save that for another time and instead tell you about something rather less glamorous but just as exciting: teeth.
While we were away, Pip cut his first tooth and surprisingly it was a top one. I don’t know any other babies whose top teeth arrived first – I can’t find any statistics on how common this occurrence is but it does seem to err on the side of the unusual. It’s quite funny that Pip has been teething for what seems like about six months (I wrote this post back in November!) and when one finally arrives it is not as expected. I had been monitoring his lower gums for so many months – feeling them practically every day – that the top ‘uns really crept up on me. There had been two whitish lumps on what looked like the outside of his gums for a while, but I didn’t realise these would actually manifest themselves as teeth so soon!
I promise we will one day get off the topic of holidaying with babies – I assume that day will come when we fail to find an excuse to go on holiday again and / or run out of money. But bear with me on this one as I have many words of wisdom to impart on the subject of flying transatlantic alone with a baby – some might sum this up by saying “don’t”, I might provide additional enlightenment on this frankly pessimistic outlook and instead say “maybe don’t risk American”.
A single 10 hour flight across the Atlantic would be too easy, no, Elphie and I had to add another short haul 1.5 hour flight to make sure we had covered all bases for flying alone with an infant. The incentive for this insanity was an opportunity to spend quality time with my matron of honour, Julia, who hoping for a chilled out few days with me last summer as I started maternity leave was instead treated to unanticipated week 0 chaos. This was too good an opportunity to miss to get to hang out with her for ten whole days, something we hadn’t had a chance to do for a decade!
I was a bit nervous before heading, my first flight being during the day and hence likely to involve a lot of Elphie entertainment as we all know she ain’t a great napper. But she’s been pretty much fine on all her other flights so was confident it wouldn’t be that bad. My concern was about the seating arrangements – I had rung up American Airlines before flying and been told I could not book a bassinet in advance and would have to do it at the airport. This made me more nervous as being by myself in a bulkhead with a bassinet or equivalent to put madam down in was one thing – sitting with her on my lap for ten hours was entirely another! Continue reading →
Fred has been visiting Rio for a few years now and always suggested I find a way to come along. When I was working it seemed crazy to give up my limited holiday allowance to explore Rio by myself while he worked, but while on maternity leave this is no longer an issue as I have all the time in the world and a companion (we are ignoring my unhealthy bank balance for the purposes of this post). But I had been avoiding it – Rio in my mind was a dangerous city full of druglords and thievery around every corner; how could I put myself and my baby into that environment? With four days of Fred working, I was worried we wouldn’t leave the hotel room. How wrong I was.
You may be beginning to wonder if this is a travel blog rather than a baby blog, but maternity leave is too good an opportunity to go travelling (limited funds allowing) since when else can you travel for weeks on end without worrying about whether you’ll have enough annual leave left to cover Christmas? So when Fred declared that he wanted to visit his clients in Rio de Janeiro and asked if we wanted to tag along and extend the trip to have a few days holiday, there didn’t seem much sense in declining.
Brazil would give Elphie a third continent before her first birthday. It would also continue to provide material, to traumatise her with in later life, of photos of her living it up in exotic locations that she can’t remember while staycationing in Bognor for the rest of her childhood to avoid paying full price airfares once she hits two. So Fred booked the flights and hotel on Tuesday night and we were on the aeroplane by midday on Thursday.
It was only once on the aeroplane that it really hit me what we’d signed up for – the flight direct to Rio was 11.5 hours and we were doing it in the middle of the day with little miss never-nap. This could be a long flight.
There’s nothing like a spontaneous holiday – hopping in the car and driving somewhere, looking up hotels en route and hoping they are still serving dinner when you get there (or you can find the local Chinese takeaway before it closes if they are not – but I digress).
Some say that such spontaneity is impossible once you have a baby as they require so much clobber. Well “Pah!” I say to that. If your sense of adventure is still intact then anything is possible with a bit of ingenuity and a Tesco Extra.
One of Pip’s little girlfriends, who is a actually a few weeks younger than him, iswalking already (with a push along walker, but still!) While Pip himself hasn’t shown much interest in moving around yet, this has brought home the imminent prospect of crawling, or at least some bottom shuffling. Babies’ development at this age seems so rapid: it only feels like a minute ago that Pip mastered sitting, and so many seasoned parents have informed me that I will “miss” these days of immobility that I’ve started to think there might be something challenging on its way that will need thought and preparation devoted to it before it hits us.
Enter the concept of “baby-proofing” or “child-proofing”: essentially preparing your house so that it is a safe zone for your baby to roam, by way of nifty inventions such as plug socket covers and stair gates.
We have just been invited to our first 2014 wedding, which is in… Australia! We are no strangers to weddings abroad, having travelled to the Philippines, California and what feels like most European countries with suit and fascinator in tow. In general they are a wonderful excuse for a holiday, and some life-changing events have happened during our trips such as getting engaged in the Philippines and conceiving the reason for this blog in Italy. What we ARE strangers to is travelling at all with a baby, let alone travelling with a baby to the other side of the world on a 24-hour flight.
Our little one will be around nine months old by the time the Australian wedding comes around, so we have a bit of time to think about it and see how he/she turns out, as well as establish whether babies are even invited!
But even if this trip is nixed for whatever reason, thinking about it all did make me want to find out more about the practicalities of flying with babies.