A week before they’ll be three months old, Siren and Imogen took their first road trip. The 600 mile drive, which normally takes 10-12 hours took us 17, and the last half was pure misery.
In general, the babies do really well in the car, otherwise I wouldn’t have even attempted it. Of course, their longest trip before this was about 2.5 hours, which just doesn’t stack up in comparison.
On Friday the 1st, the babies woke up around 3:30. We had been up until midnight packing, so I was already starting the day feeling super tired. I showered and got everything packed up that we couldn’t do the night before. Will got up a little after I did and loaded the car. We fed the babies one more time around 6:30, and then we hit the road.
The babies slept until we got to Ellensburg. We pulled into the Perkins parking lot. Will took Nieve to go potty and then went into Perkins to order food for us. I tried to figure out where to change a diaper in the minivan when we only had a tiny bit of empty floor space. I changed both babies’ diapers, then put Siren back in her car seat and brought Immy up to the front seat to nurse. Will came out a few minutes later and took Immy when she finished so I could nurse Siren.
I never figured out a way to nurse both babies at the same time in the car. Stopping to change their diapers and nurse them basically took an hour each time. I’m wondering if it would have been better to pump on the way and then Will and I could each feed them a bottle when we stopped, but I never did try it. Maybe we’ll experiment on the way home.
After both babies were fed, we hit the road again. I ate my food and then helped Will eat his while he drove. I was hoping we’d be able to go another couple of hours, but this wasn’t to be. Within 30 minutes the babies were upset again. We managed to make it to Moses Lake. Then we pulled into a grassy park by the lake.
We took the babies, the diaper bag, and our picnic blanket, and we spread out on the grass. We spent about an hour letting the babies kick and play. We took turns walking around with Nieve. And then we changed and fed the babies before heading out again.
(Imogen’s on the left, Siren’s on the right)
I drove for awhile to try and give Will a break. We got a little farther this time, but the babies started fussing again within about an hour. Our goal was to get to Coeur d’Alene. We made it there, but the last 30 miles or so the babies were absolutely melting down.
As soon as we stopped the car, they stopped crying. Again, we found a grassy park by the lake, and we spread out. We got to meet my friend Anna, which was really nice.
After eating some food from the concession stand at the park, we hit the road again, hoping we’d be able to make it another couple of hours. Unfortunately, less than 30 minutes later, both babies started crying again.
We pulled over at the turn off for a state park. Both babies had really poopy diapers and were hungry again, even though it had only been about 90 minutes since we’d fed them. We fed each of them in the car, losing another hour, and then started driving.
It wasn’t too long before the babies were crying again. This time I got out of my seat and attempted to sit between them, only I don’t really fit between the bucket seats in the van, so I had to crouch between them. Not safe, I know.
I did this until we got to Missoula, which was around 9:30 p.m. Fortunately we were able to stop at my friend Jessi’s house. We got to see her two kids. Siren and Imogen were kind of fascinated by seeing another, bigger baby. And they were content the entire time we were out of the car.
At this point, we were 120 miles from Helena, so we wanted to keep going. The babies were asleep when we put them in the car. Unfortunately, less than 30 minutes later, they were awake and crying again. I sat between them the rest of the way to Helena doing every trick I could think of to get a baby to stop crying, and none of it working for more than a minute or two.
We finally got to Helena around 1 a.m. Accounting for the time change, it was a 17 hour trip, officially the longest it’s ever taken us. Thank goodness once we got inside, the babies ate and went to sleep right away, and they let us sleep for about 6 hours before they woke up.
What I would do differently: I would spread the trip out over two days. We will be taking two days to make the trip back. If we would have stopped for the night in Coeur d’Alene, it would have been a much better experience. I would also rethink our leaving time. It would have been hard to drive at night, but since I’d had very little sleep anyway, driving during the day didn’t make much difference. Maybe if we’d gone at night, the babies would have slept more and wouldn’t have been so miserable. It’s also important to have SPACE. I would have packed fewer things so that the babies could have been in the back row, and I could have sat between them. Even if that meant going without my running shoes, or my hiking boots, or wearing the same clothing every-other day.
That’s really about the only advice I have for anyone traveling with babies. It’s just a hard thing to do. Fortunately for us, they are adjusting well to Montana. I was worried they wouldn’t sleep in their portable crib, but they have been doing really well at night, sleeping from 9 or 10 until 3 or 4, and then going right back to sleep for a few more hours once they’re fed and changed. They usually wake up for good around 8 a.m., so I almost feel like I’m actually getting enough sleep. I guess if I went to bed when they did, I would be.
Even though the drive was tough, I’m glad to be here. It’s fun to see my parents with their grandkids, and it’s been really fun to introduce my friends and family to the babies. It just doesn’t feel like summer until I make it to Montana, either.
Here are a couple of more pictures. Thanks for reading!