Traveling is difficult enough with a baby who does not enjoy car rides, but a weeklong beach vacation is not really what I would call relaxation. There were a few moments of sweet napping, smiling at family, and watching the waves, but there might have been more whining, confusion, and exhaustion (for the new parents and the baby).
Our trip began with a 5 hour drive from Gadsden to Orange Beach. We expected to stop a few times, but we did not expect for the baby to fuss about half the time. He decided that an hour and a half was all the nap he needed, and when he was awake, would easily become upset. Oh and mom forgot some pumped breastmilk, so 30 minutes down the road we turned around to start the trip over again. I sit in the back with the baby and pulled out all the stops as usual — music, toys, books, sound machine that cannot be heard over crying, my boob to nurse — and nothing worked for more than a few minutes at a time. At stops, I immediately took the baby out and he’d stop crying and smile. He simply does not enjoy the car (or being set down).
But we trekked on. We made it to the shore in a little over 7 hours, including Mama’s mishap. That night Lucca woke often, the next night every single hour, one morning woke up at 6am, and the other nights his sleeping was just as off. Who needs to sleep in on vacation?! Not only was his sleeping off, so was his tolerance of new surroundings and people.
Everything was new for him, the environment, not being with our dog Lizzie, the bed, the routine, etc. I believe he was also in a developmental leap, meaning his brain growing. In addition to this, I think he had a little growth spurt! He was tired often from all this and constant stimulation, therefore he wasn’t quite himself. Regardless, we kept trying to introduce him to his family and his surroundings.
We were a little optimistic, packing a blowup baby pool and Bumbo with the tray for beach time. Do you think we used those? No. It was enough effort getting the baby, tent, picnic mat, towels, and everything else down to the shore while holding sunglasses over his eyes. The sand is so white and of course, he likes to stare straight at it.
We would get down to the chairs, and as soon as I would sit down, Lucca would fuss. Sometimes arching his back and crying– this was new. The people relaxing or reading in the chairs next to us must have loved that! Should we go in the ocean? Okay, let’s do that. It turns out Lucca loves all water — bath, pool, sea — so he loved being in the big ocean. He would smile and laugh when we dipped him in. Due to him being 4 months, he is too young for sunscreen. Our time in the ocean was very limited. After no more than 15-20 minutes in the sand or water, up to the chairs we would go. And his whining would happen all over again. Do you think he wanted his toys? No. He napped and nursed a little, but soon enough the fussing would kick in.
Once our last day hit, the baby had not had a bowel movement since Sunday. He usually goes every other day or third day, but nothing in five days had to add to his frustration. We stayed in the condo and helped him. He had the biggest explosion and didn’t even whine when we cleaned him up. We thought, that was it! That was what was bothering him, he’ll be fine now! As soon as we got down to the beach for our final afternoon, he started crying. We quickly went for a walk, he fell asleep, and then was acquainted to everything. He barely whined and was very happy the remainder of the day.
The car ride home the following day again made me questioning ever leaving the house again. It even made me questioning another child! Once we made it home, Lucca was back to himself. He barely cried and was content.
Our biggest lesson of our first vacation: stick to some sort of routine. Our days are always different at home, but the nights are always the same. Bath, pajamas, bottle with Papa, Mama rocks baby to sleep. A few nights we didn’t do this, and Lucca let us know how terrible it was to drift from his normalcy.
All in all, we might not have taken a nap or finished a book, but we had a good time. Lucca adores the ocean and my brother-in-law. We learned that 4 months is a hard phase, so maybe plan around that time next vacation! Next year will be totally different, and I’ll be happy to see how he does.
And I will try to nap plenty beforehand 😊