Bye Bye Baby
Having a baby can really impact your normal lifestyle. Having a baby in a pandemic will turn your world completely upside down. Prior to having a child my husband and I had the luxury of working from home with flexible schedules. This allowed us to travel frequently and spontaneously. We knew this was going to be something we would have to "sacrifice" if we had children. Maybe sacrifice is the wrong word, how about "plan well in advance". Not only did we need a sitter for our son, but also our dog (aka first born). We knew how important traveling was to our personal growth and for our relationship so we vowed to continue to make it a priority even if we had kids. We just needed to carefully plan our trips in advance and be well-organized. Right? This is when the pandemic curveball was thrown our way.
We got married August 2019 in Las Vegas at the Wynn and Encore. This was no quicky wedding despite the stigma surrounding Vegas nuptials. After a 7 year engagement and 17 year relationship we decided to make it official and tie the knot at one of our favorite places in the world. More than 75 of our closest friends and family made the trip cross country to celebrate. We had an action packed weekend filled with everything you can expect from a weekend in Vegas and more! We had so much fun we promised to travel back every August for our anniversary.
Fast forward to August 2021 and we FINALLY got to travel and celebrate! Sonny was born in May 2020, only three months shy of our one year anniversary. If there was no covid crisis you better believe our bags would have been packed and ready to go! I did not travel until recently for several reasons. First and foremost my fear of getting myself and more importantly OTHERS sick. I am an empath. I could not live with myself knowing I got my parents or son sick simply because I wanted a vacation. I was willing to wait until I was vaccinated and my family (minus my toddler who is not eligible) were fully vaccinated. Having a baby at home really changed my perspective since I relied heavily on my parents for child care. We took the pandemic very seriously from the start and were overly cautious because of our family situation. We totally understand not everyone felt the way we did and we respect that. In many ways I was envious. It has been comforting knowing most children my son's age have recovered well or avoided COVID completely, but there are exceptions and we knew a child who was hospitalized twice at the age of one with complications. This kept me up at night.
So now you know why we skipped our first anniversary trip and didn't make it back until year number two. A week prior to leaving the number of COVID 19 cases surged and Nevada was seeing record numbers resulting in an indoor mask mandate regardless of vaccination status. Just our luck. To be completely honest putting the mask back on was NOT difficult at all and gave me a sense of comfort when we were in larger crowds. Our goal was to spend most of our time relaxing by the pool and eating outdoors anyways. We were determined to make this trip work. There was no point in arguing or complaining. We complied and wore our masks when required. I think the only difference is I would have made us take more photos if we weren't wearing masks. I'm sure my husband was thrilled I wasn't annoying him to recreate our wedding pictures. Also, going to a location we were familiar with was best because we didn't feel like we were missing out on anything. For example the spa wasn't allowing day passes due to COVID and restaurants had limited hours of operation. If we were some place new and restricted I may have been disappointed. At this point we both desperately needed a vacation and temporary escape from reality! If we didn't get away now it felt like we would never leave. It was time to bite the bullet and start living again.
We are very fortunate that Sonny stays overnight weekly by my parents. He has his own room, toys, outdoor vehicles, swing set, pool and a plethora of food. It truly is his second home and he loves being there. This really eased any fears of leaving him for the first time for an extended period. I knew he was in great hands, better than my own at this point since I was so worn down. Not everyone has this luxury, but since we did it makes traveling much more convenient for us AND the reason we would have been comfortable leaving him at a much younger age. The truth is the first time I left Sonny with my mom for a few hours to run errands I didn't cry. Even the first time I left him with her overnight I didn't get emotional. I FELT FANTASTIC and guilty because I didn't feel guilty at all. It was never my intention to be a full-time stay at home mom. It is just how the cards fell and I've been grateful we could make it work. I wouldn't change our situation for the world because I love spending so much time with my son, but that doesn't mean that I am not exhausted, stressed and at my wits end by the end of the day. Being a stay at home mom is the hardest job I've ever had and it is 24/7 365 days a year. Even on my "off time" I'm still momming. When he's with my parents or napping I'm running errands, cleaning or doing laundry. My brain doesn't get to shut off and I am constantly making a to-do list in my head. I won't even get into the pressure and isolation of being home with a newborn during a pandemic too. To say I needed a break and a vacation was an understatement.
Packing for Sonny and Pinot (our dog) was relatively easy because of our "babysitting" situation. Almost everything they need is already at my parents. A few days prior to their drop off I sent my mom a list of snacks and foods I knew he would gobble up. Luckily for me she took the stress of having to food prep and grocery shop for him off my plate. I highly recommend sending groceries in advance to your sitter through a delivery service if possible (i.e. InstaCart or Amazon) and include items like milk preference, pouches, snacks and quick food options like Dr. Praeger's Veggie Bites. While my mom was meal prepping I packed up some extra outfits, pajamas, bibs, socks and shoes. I made sure she had tylenol or motrin in case of an emergency. I text her our pedestrians information as well. I double checked she had enough sunscreen and daily vitamins on hand too. The very last thing I packed for him was his favorite blanket, security blanket (lovie) and our stroller. My mom has an umbrella stroller, but because of the length of time she had him we made sure she took the UPPAbaby Vista V2. Check out my stroller blog review to understand why this was a necessity. The best advice I can give is to pack up whatever you can early since you aren't scrambling at the last second. I had the dog and baby ready to go days before we were leaving so it was one less thing to stress about.
One of the things I hate the most in this world is packing. I find it extremely time consuming and it gives me major anxiety. No matter how prepared we were we always found ourselves up late the night before in a panic. My husband use to travel weekly for work and I always use to helped him. I refused to continue this cycle. This year I told him he was on his own since I had to get myself, a dog and baby packed. Naturally he forgot his running shoes and I got blamed for this mistake. Since this was my first trip post-baby I had some body insecurities given the nature of our trip. Teeny tiny bikinis and sexy tight dresses are a lot different than my daily attire of sweats! To mentally prepare my husband was thoughtful enough to surprise me and purchase some new clothes and bathing suits that fit my body to help my confidence. He knows I can be really tough on myself and wanted to ensure I enjoyed our trip. If you read about my babymoon you know I dropped the ball and was really uncomfortable in the clothes I packed. I wanted to avoid a similar situation this trip. I tried on everything I packed in advance to make sure I was comfortable and confident. Adesso was a great resource for styling tips and helped coordinate some of my outfits. They sent me the chicest casual two piece outfit that was under $30 that I'm obsessed with! I made it a priority to work out and when all else failed I gave myself an at home tan thanks to St. Tropez Express. After the baby and dog were packed up I slowly chipped away at packing my own bags. Again, best advice I can give is to be organized, make a list and get as much done as early as possible so you aren't freaking out the night before. Another thing that really helps to prepare for when I return from a trip is I make sure the house is spotless. I clean the bathrooms, wash the floors, finish all the laundry, clear out the fridge and put away dishes. I make sure the only thing I have to do when I get back is unpack, do dirty vacation laundry and order groceries. Coming home to clean house makes my trip more enjoyable!
I am really good at making lists and accomplishing tasks, but nothing could prepare me for how emotional I got when we left Sonny. I probably gave him an unnecessary amount of hugs and kisses. You have to remember I am with him all day everyday. He is my buddy! If you know me you know I typically do not cry. I'm the person who can easily watch The Notebook and not shed a tear. Even my cold heart melted leaving my baby for the first time. I sobbed for a substantial amount of time. The guilt of leaving him was crushing. My son is a really good kid with an amazing schedule. He eats and sleeps like a champion. He is a dream BUT he has no chill or off button. The second his feet hit the ground there is no sitting down or relaxing. We lovingly call him a tornado or hurricane depending on the day. I knew my parents had their work cut out for them. I wish I had one tenth the amount of energy he has. Needless to say my guilt went beyond just leaving him and was also about asking my parents to watch him for five days. I'd be lying if there wasn't some fear of never seeing him again. Flying isn't my favorite thing in the world, but I don't have a fear of it. I couldn't shake the feeling that if something happened to us he'd never see us again. I know that sounds morbid but it is the truth. I couldn't fathom not seeing him again. I had to keep reminding myself he was in good hands, we needed this trip and flying is extremely safe. In the days leading up to our departure I made sure I was really present when I was with Sonny. I focused less on my phone and more on quality time together. I squeezed in extra walks and trips to the park. I dragged out bedtime with more books and extra snuggles. I wanted to soak in as much Sonny as possible before I left.
The second I got to the airport and sipped my first cocktail I felt like a weight lifted off my shoulder. As much as I knew I was going to miss my boys I also knew I was going to enjoy myself! I know I deserved this trip. I know we deserved this trip together. Any feeling of guilt washed away as I relaxed poolside. The truth is I didn't realize how much freedom I lose on daily basis. Simple things like being able to sleep when I wanted to with no baby alarm clock to wake me up. Getting ready with two hands and no tiny human tearing the house apart. Working out everyday with no interruptions. Being able to eat multiple meals a day at my own pace and drink a hot tea without reheating it several times in the microwave. Showering without the fear of phantom crying during a nap. Having other people wait on me instead of the opposite way around was liberating. At one point my husband noted how messy and unorganized the hotel room was and I told him "I'm off duty this weekend and not picking up shit". I'm not complaining about my life and life choices, but it felt amazing to have those luxuries back (even temporarily) that I once took for granted. We spent our trip enjoying each others company and reconnecting. It felt wonderful to be just the two of us again for just a little while. The fabulous experience was what we needed to recharge as parents and partners. There were hundreds of reasons we could and should have canceled our trip, but I am so happy we were able to make it happen! We had an incredible anniversary trip and made memories we will never forget.
On our last day of vacation we both agreed we felt recharged and ready to see our baby. We looked forward to getting back to reality and our routine. We couldn't wait to take our daily morning walk to Starbucks and play at the park. The great thing about getting away is always getting to go home. And having a kid waiting makes going home even more special. Sonny was so excited to see us the next morning he woke us up bright and early at 4:30am (something he hasn't done in months)! There is no easy way to ease back into the grind of parenting and I'm not going to lie and say I didn't have a little bit of anxiety knowing I was coming home to a laundry list of responsibilities. The only difference I noticed when we returned was he was slightly more clingy and wanted a lot more of my attention, but overall it was like we never left him. He also learned to somersault when we were gone so that’s been fun to come home to. At the end of the day I'd trade all the freshly brewed hot tea, champagne and fancy dinners in the world for just one sloppy, drooly kiss from Sonny.
Physically and mentally we needed a vacation. I am forever grateful we got to recreate some of our favorite wedding memories on our anniversary trip even if it was delayed. If you are on the fence and wondering if the stress, prep and guilt of taking a trip sans children is worth it the answer is YES. Will you constantly talk about them and buy unnecessary souvenirs? ABSOLUTELY. Are you going to look at pictures on your phone multiple times a day every day you are gone? Again, YES. You most likely won't make it past airport security before hitting up your photo app. What is great about traveling in 2021 is the amount of technology at our fingertips. I was constantly getting photo and video updates from my parents and we FaceTimed Sonny multiple times a day. Anytime I missed him he was only a call away. If there is anything you take away from this blog post please remember you deserve a break! It doesn't make you a bad parent for wanting to get away. Happy parents equate to a happy household and happier kids. So take some time off and for yourself!