We’d been fretting (or at least thinking) about Connor’s first trip to Cleveland even before he was born. It would be his first car ride of more than maybe 20 minutes, and our first attempt to wrangle him away from home. Sure, by the time Thanksgiving finally rolled around, we’d managed to take him out to restaurants and Starbucks and the occasional store, but we hadn’t actually changed his diaper or fed him in public (either via bottle or boob). These would all be new things; just as well for us to try them out in the comfort of Uncle Pete’s home.
We knew we’d be either on the road or at Uncle Pete’s all afternoon and evening. We also knew that I wouldn’t be too keen on hiding in someone’s bedroom every two or three hours to feed Connor. So, we packed a few bags of both frozen and refrigerated breastmilk in the diaper bag (with a bottle, of course), along with eight diapers, two changes of clothes, his blanket, the Moby wrap, wet bags (to transport soiled clothes in case of a blowout or leakage), diaper disposal bags (just to be polite and not put nasty nappies right in their trash), and a partridge in a pear tree.
Normally, we’d arrive for a holiday around 2pm, food would be served around
3pm 4:00ish, we’d chat with the family, then people would start to trickle out and head back home around 6-ish. We’d usually stay until around 8pm, arriving home sometime around 11pm; we expected we’d leave earlier this time around, since Connor would probably be getting tired and cranky after such a big day.
So, out we headed on Thanksgiving morning, leaving the house around noonish. I sat in the backseat with him, as I always do, since Connor tends to have freakouts in the car sometimes. As it turned out, though, Connor was a sleepyhead the whole way.
Once we arrived, Connor was the center of attention. Everyone said hello to him as we walked in — almost like we were merely Connor’s entourage. (I kid! I kid! …Everyone did say hello to him first, though.) Aaron had to beeline for the bathroom, and by the time he came out, cousin Megan was already holding Connor.
Connor immediately got passed around to everyone who wanted to hold him — from Megan to Nate (who has two kids of his own) to Natalie (who had no clue how to hold Connor — kind of like how I felt before having him). I had to take Connor back from Natalie to calm him down (again, same reaction I used to get from babies), and we only got a few minutes of chilling and chatting time with everyone before Connor decided he was hungry.
Aaron’s youngest cousin, Joe, got his room volunteered for the task, since his older stepbrother was gaming in his room, and Pete and Dee’s room was full of boxes, as I recall. Aaron and I both went back for the diaper-changing part of the program, and were pleased to find that Joey has a quite passable futon in his room, in addition to his bed, dresser, and computer desk. The changing pad that Amy got us for Connor’s baby shower got some use for the first time, and it was perfect. Pad on the futon, baby on the pad, extra diaper on hand at all times because HOLY CRAP would it be embarrassing to have Connor pee on Joey’s futon.
With the first part of the mission accomplished, Aaron went back out to schmooze with the fam and left me to chillax on the futon with Connor (and my iPhone, as always). Feeding Connor has gotten a lot easier since he’s developed better head control; I never used to be able to feed him in a standard cradle hold, with his head in the crook of my elbow, because his head would fall into my armpit. Now, though, I’m able to position him without any extra pillows or whatnot — which was a good thing, because I didn’t want to have to procure one of Joe’s pillows for feeding Connor, then have to hide (or explain) any lingering spit-up. The feeding was pretty uneventful, though, and I emerged from Joe’s room 15 or 20 minutes later with a happily-fed and moderately sleepy baby.
We spent some time talking with everyone about Connor, eating veggies and Nate’s awesome spinach dip, but tt wasn’t long before the announcement made it to the living room: dinner was ready! Turns out that the turkey got done much faster than they’d been anticipating. Works for me! I strapped myself into the Moby wrap (which confused and confounded all who watched me), then got Connor all snug as a bug in a rug up against me in the Newborn Hug Hold and got ready to go make myself a plate of food.
Cue Aunt Dee: “…Are you really attached to him right now?”
Seems she was more than willing — eager, in fact — to hold Connor while the rest of us ate. I removed him from the wrap, handed him to Dee, untied myself, and got myself some food. Dee contented herself with holding Connor all through dinner: gazing at him, talking to him, all the while reminding me so much of my Mom. Aaron and I were both glad to have some time to talk and eat — not with each other, though, since everyone else had already taken seats at the two tables, and we were left with single seats at separate tables.
Dinner was traditional and delicious: turkey, of course, both “normal” and smoked; stuffing (in-the-bird, outside the bird, and gluten-free); sweet potatoes (or were they yams?); green bean casserole; rolls… I’m sure I’m forgetting something, just like Pete and Dee forgot to put out Nate’s cranberry relish.
We weren’t sure how long we planned to stay after dinner, but we knew we’d be staying long enough to talk for a while and enjoy the pies and cookies (once we had room). The conversation revolved around Connor, and children in general, with some new stories surfacing about Aaron and his brother Matt when they were little. Aaron’s dad was actually much more animated than I’m used to seeing him at these things, which was very cool. (He still didn’t want to hold Connor, though, and that’s just fine. Connor was still pretty little… but maybe at Christmas…)
Connor ate like a fiend (it was Thanksgiving, after all): four times from a bottle, and only once from the boob. I was enjoying a bit of a breastfeeding vacation, actually, passing Connor around to whomever wanted to hold and/or feed him (usually Dee), so I took advantage of the opportunity and partook of my first alcoholic beverage since New Year’s. That put the kibosh on breastfeeding for a while, even though it was just one Mike’s Hard Lemonade.
Surprisingly enough, we stayed until around 8:30pm or so — our usual time. We didn’t leave early after all, despite Aaron’s cousins (usually our main conversational partners) leaving earlier than normal. Aaron’s dad and brother left when we did; usually, they leave a bit earlier, when Nate and his kids take off for their longish trek home.
Once we got on the road, I realized I’d made a critical error: I’d ignored Aaron’s suggestion to nurse Connor before we left Uncle Pete’s. Connor did get a bit cranky off and on, and I fed him the last ounce or two of a bottle we still had on hand — but my bigger issue was my boobs. OMG, did they ache. They ached like they’d never ached before.
By the time we got home at 11:00pm, I hadn’t nursed Connor for something like eight hours. The first thing I did once we got in the door (after using the bathroom) was to sit down on the couch with Connor and feed him. He only ate for maybe five minutes (it must have been like drinking from the fire hose). After he was done, I pumped six ounces. That’s about a feeding and a half, and nearly twice the amount I usually pump.
So, lesson learned: be sure to nurse Connor regularly, and don’t rely on the bottle for convenience’s sake. I’ll remember that for Christmas Eve!
(PS – Sorry for the lack of pictures; writing on the iPad makes it more challenging to include them in the post. Perhaps I’ll go in later and add some when I have some actual computer time…)