…Our first family holiday was so much more of a success than I had expected it to be….
The night before we left I panicked about leaving the comfort of all the little tricks and toys I had to keep Munchkin happy -the bouncy chair, the bouncy ball, the sling, the Moses basket, the mobile she liked – all those had been packed (!) – but I still felt like I was leaving behind the safe little world I’d created to get me through each day, and heading out into the unknown. How would she be on the flight? Would she sleep? Would she cry? How would she cope with the heat? What would we do all day? And what about at night? Where would she sleep? Would I ever get any rest or time away? Why wasn’t I taking my mother with me? How helpful was R really going to be?
I can now answer all of those questions…
- She was fine on the flight. Amazing in fact. As I had been told, I fed her on the way up and the way down and she slept through take off and landing both times. She smiled at everyone when she was awake and then fell asleep in R’s arms while he walked up and down the aisle with her, smiling ruefully at the other dads as they did the same.
- Yes she slept – three times a day after a feed she would crash out in my arms – so I made sure I had a book and a glass of wine handy and relaxed into it. Easier than I thought!
- Yes, she cried. Of course she cried. She’s a baby. But not on the flight, not when she wasn’t tired or hungry and only with good reason.
- She coped with the heat like she copes with everything else. Amazingly well. Took it in her stride, rocked some frilly knickers,a floppy hat and a vest and smiled and smiled and smiled. We kept her in the shade and were lucky that there was always a bit of a breeze, and made sure to feed her lots so she kept hydrated and stayed indoors during the worst of the heat, which was only an hour or so a day.
- We did plenty all day – we were up early every morning so could go to all the markets and get fresh fish and Portuguese custard tarts; we pottered in the house while she played on her mat; we walked along the beach with her in the sling; we played mini golf; we went swimming; we had sardines at a beachside cafe, twice. Sure we didn’t go out late and we spent much less time sunbathing, but in many ways it was similar to holidays we’ve had before.
- She was great at night – she seems always tired enough to nod off pretty quickly and stayed asleep till 1 or 2am so we got an evening, every evening. Amazing.
- She slept in our room – this was a bit of a downside – I could hear her every sniffle and she could hear us when we turned over in the creaky beds, it was all a bit up close and personal and the nights were probably the most challenging part of the holiday.
- R was amazing – so I got plenty of rest and time away – one afternoon, after lunch, he made me walk down to the pool BY MYSELF and left me there, sunbathing and reading for over an hour. Bliss. He also got up with her in the morning, helped with nappies and washing and changing her, took her swimming, took her to a bar to watch a band so I could snooze (she loved it), and ran around after me bringing water, snacks, wine etc when I was chained to a chair with a sleeping Munchkin. I was incredibly grateful to him. And very touched.
- It turns out I didn’t need to have taken my mother or R’s mother with us, we coped admirably, just the three of us, all together.
In actual fact, this holiday was a real turning point – a week that saw us settle into our role as new parents – rather than fighting it – saw us learning how to be together, how to help each other and quietly accepting the myriad ways our life has changed. So it was hard at times, but it was what we needed and it was SO much better than I could ever have expected.