Maybe my favorite picture of him yet – just so much cuteness!
Midway through our family vacation to Palm Springs, my mother in law said, “I can’t wait to read about how you’d describe this experience on your blog.”
Apparently, Jason and I did not get all of our bad travel karma out of our systems with the ill-fated “babymoon” trip to Marco Island a little over a year ago, which ended in the ER for severe food poisoning. Lest I overxaggerate here, there was no ER on this trip. But it was not exactly smooth sailing.
I thought I planned extremely well for this trip. That planning included making sure Hudson would be entertained on the plane, and that both he and I looked very cute. My exhaustive planning did not account for the airline losing Hudson’s suitcase (which had my pump in it!) or Hudson getting sick.
Before I start whining, let me say that this trip was overwhelmingly great. I read something once that talked about how huge a factor proximity is in the amount of time you’ll spend with loved ones if you look at the total number of days in your life. That’s a pretty obvious statement, but it stuck with me—perhaps because of it’s “duh” factor. I often wish it were easier to spend quality time with our family or friends, and proximity has become even MORE of a factor when attempting the Herculean feat of Leaving the Home with a Baby. It’s ridiculous.
So despite all of the bumps along the way on this trip, having over a week to spend uninterrupted with family was awesome. Hudson may not remember it later, but mama will, and I LOVED watching him get to know his aunts and cousins. And even though Chicago had one of the mildest winters I can remember, we soaked up every second of that desert sunshine.
The trip to the airport went super smoothly thanks to my old pal from my traveling days—the Chicago Cabbie. We set up an SUV bright and early and were miraculously all dressed, fed, packed and ready to go when he arrived. Though we had about 3x as much stuff as we were used to traveling with–we were basically a caravan of three.
Even dropping the bags off at curbside check in was relatively painless and within about 15 minutes we were through security, two big hurdles I was pretty nervous about for our first flight. But it was all actually fairly easy, and we were free and clear to cruise into vacation mode…. or so we thought. (FORESHADOWING!)
God bless the Chicago United Lounge, because those wonderful attendants fixed what could have been a major issue: despite booking together and choosing our seats weeks ago to ensure we were all set, somehow our seats were moved around and we were all split up. After a few stressful minutes, it was taken care of and our seats were all back together… this time. (MORE FORESHADOWING!) We spent an hour relaxing in the lounge, while Hudson got some yogurt from the buffet and I drank a celebratory vacation mimosa.
We booked Hudson a seat for the flight which killed me a little bit because as a friend put it, we’ll be paying for his flights for the next 18+ years, so there’s a clear benefit to taking advantage of children under 2 flying for free. However, the more I thought about it, Hudson has not slept in our arms in months now, while he regularly sleeps in his carrier. This was a great move and worked just as I hoped: he snoozed out in the stroller at the airport for a bit, and again for about an hour on the flight. I am pretty sure he would not have slept at all otherwise, and he just does not have more than 3-ish hours of awake time in him right now before things get ugly. So, money well spent.
And thanks to him being able to snooze a little, the plane ride was actually pretty fun! He played with his new toys (a great tip I’d read), ate some peanut butter and more yogurt, and charmed the sweet ladies behind him. He didn’t even seem to register the pressure/ears thing that is commonly cited as the reason babies cry on planes. When he started to get a little fussy, we busted out the iPad which I’d loaded up with Mother Goose Club episodes on Netflix and he got to rock his ridiculously cute baby headphones. Judge me all you want: I support the use of technology 100% when the result is a smooth flight. All in all, could not have been a better first flight experience.
Then, we got to the airport at Orange County to discover that Hudson’s suitcase was MIA. And in fact, when we left it at curbside check in, they somehow never tagged it in at all—so they couldn’t even tell us where it was, because it was likely in the black hole of O’Hare’s lost and found. Life lesson: always count those bag tags that I typically stuff in a pocket and forget about.
Hudson was SO great while we spent an unexpected 2 hours in the OC airport. Just hung out in his stroller, watching strangers and playing with his toys. This was also the first time I nursed Hudson in public for real (with a scarf!) because there was no other choice. Another example of a scenario I’ve avoided for a ridiculous amount of time that ended up being no biggie.
When it became apparent that the suitcase was not showing up that day, if ever, we hit the road (after fixing a snafu with the rental car… nope, didn’t reserve a mini-van!) and the 2-hour drive from Orange County to Palm Springs was so scenic and beautiful. As planned, Hudson crashed for most of it.
Jason’s sister-in-law and her husband have a beautiful home in La Quinta in the PS area, where we camped out for the week. I hadn’t ever been to the area before last year but the California desert is so unique and beautiful. Palm Springs and the surrounding area is like a lush, green oasis with lots of (man-made!) water. And yes, I commented about a thousand times on the “dry heat” and how awesome it is.
A few trips to replace Hudson’s essentials were in order. My urban mind was blown witnessing the sheer scale of the local Walmart—my Fitbit registered more steps on that day than any other, and I didn’t even do much other walking that day! But we got everything he needed and then the first half of the trip was off to a great start.
Pool days with grandma
The guys took a side trip to Vegas so “the girls” spent a few quiet days at the house taking walks around the neighborhood, grilling dinner, and enjoying the perfect weather. As always, Hudson was pretty cautious with his aunt and cousin at first but within about a day was hanging with everyone like he’d known them his whole life. (Which technically, he has, haha.)
One of my favorite, funniest memories was when Huds’ cousin Alex was playing with him early on the second day and he was really starting to warm up, wiggling over to her and flashing lots of smiles. MAJOR progress. I was talking about my fear of Hudson’s 7 sharp little teeth and getting bitten and she said, “Oh, my friend just uses a really strong tone with her baby and it stops them, like ‘NO!’” Apparently that is a winning tip, because Hudson froze at the abrupt change in her tone, and then completely lost it. I felt awful… but could not stop laughing. One step forward, five steps wayyyy back. So funny, but everyone recovered nicely.
I dragged Alex with me to a nearby “lake” for Hudson’s morning walk one day which was a big fat fail. The “lake” was flat, dry looking, and surrounded by people fishing out of the back of their cars. In one of the most scenic areas I’ve ever seen, I managed to find the least scenic place of all. Should have stuck to our idyllic morning golf course walks.
Hudson at the zoo!
We also spent a nice day at the Palm Springs zoo. Hudson was crashed out in the stroller for most of it, including the giraffes. Which is unfortunate, because the giraffes were by far the coolest thing I’ve ever seen at a zoo. I couldn’t get over how beautiful and authentic the habitats for the animals were (Maybe because I’m used to Lincoln Park zoo?) and they just seemed… happy?
Once the guys all got back from Vegas, Jason and I headed out for a little day-date to the La Quinta Spa for lunch and some drinks. Jason treated me to a massage there last year when I was pregnant, and the resort is heaven on earth. One-on-one time for us is rare, so we enjoyed every second of our afternoon.
This picture is not really an accurate reflection of how the rest of the night went, but it’s still cute!
We also attempted an early family dinner out with Hudson at a beautiful restaurant called the Cliff House. To be fair, I didn’t anticipate this being amazing, exactly, but I thought it would be fine. Maybe a few little walks around, bites of food, just some basic baby management. But pretty early on it became clear that he was not having it. Since the Cliff House is not exactly Chuck-E-Cheese where I’d feel OK about Hudson fussing around while people attempted to enjoy their nice dinners, Jason, Hudson and I bailed.
That night Hudson started crying on and off at least every hour, and we pretty quickly realized that our poor little dude was not feeling well. He was coughing a bit and became increasingly congested. That night was an endless blur of trying to make him comfortable and short spurts of sleep. He didn’t have a fever but was visibly uncomfortable and stuffy—the poor guy looked like a caricature of a baby with a cold.
Hudson’s other aunt and cousin had just arrived and thankfully he got lots of love and new toys to distract him the next day, but by bedtime he was inconsolable and I called our doctor back home. He advised us to try some Benadryl to help him both breathe and sleep, and to head to an Urgent Care in the morning. All hail Benadryl, because we all finally got some sleep. The doctor at the Urgent Care was the sweetest thing and told us he was likely battling a nasty virus that she’d seen a lot of lately.
His grandparents kindly did the majority of Hudson duty the rest of the day with lots of snuggles and love so that Jason and I could get some rest and spend time with his siblings at the pool. Though I feel slightly guilty saying this since my little bud was feeling so crappy, it was actually a great day.
The next morning we said our goodbyes and drove back to Orange County for one fast and furious tour of the coast before flying out the next day. We considered skipping this or even delaying the flight home since Hudson still was obviously not feeling well, but ultimately decided that getting him home would be the best thing. And I’m glad we stuck with our plan, because the drive was beautiful, relaxing and Hudson got some much needed sleep.
The harbor at Balboa Island
My boys! <3
After checking in at our hotel, we did a quick walk through Balboa Island in Newport Beach, which was adorable. But it’s situated in the harbor, and I wanted to see wide open ocean. So after a little bit of Yelp-ing and cross-checking Google Maps, I found a restaurant close by called The Beachcomber Cafe and we drove down the coast to the beach. This was exactly what we needed to end the trip—we pushed the stroller through beautiful, winding trails of Crystal Cove beach and sat at a picnic table in the late afternoon sun, watching the water and waiting for space to open up at the cafe.
We had a few appetizers and drinks while Hudson attempted to take out everything within reach, which unfortunately included my awesome margarita. It was short and sweet, but a good last day for our little family.
Jason and I sat on the balcony of our hotel room that night and watched the sun go down over the water while Hudson slept inside. Between the suitcase and Huds getting sick, it was not an easy trip—as two of my favorite mom bloggers put it, moms don’t get vacations, they get relocations. But all in all, it was great memories with family, a break from Chicago’s early-spring gray skies, and exploring new places. We had all survived, and surely our bad travel karma was expended for at least the next decade.
Or so we thought, until the next day at the airport with our Benadryled child, we discovered that United had mixed up our seats AGAIN and kindly relocated Jason to a middle seat in the back of the plane. And ooh, sorry about that, they couldn’t do anything to fix it. I would ask how this is even possible but this week the video of the doctor being dragged off the United plane after refusing to give up his paid seat surfaced, so it’s confirmed: United is just the WORST with customer service.
Resolving this situation involved literally paying the jerk that United put in the row with Hudson and I, who declined to trade seats with Jason when he explained the situation. “I can’t take your cash…” he said with his hand out.
When we got home, Jason asked, “So, now what do you think about traveling with Hudson in the future?” And I admit my first thought was: NOPE.
But then when I really thought about it, none of it was Hudson’s “fault”—of course. Travel used to be such a huge part of our relationship and this trip crystallized for us, yet again, how different things are with the addition of one tiny person. It’s going to be a long time before travel is carefree or easy again. But really, most of what happened was just weird bad luck, and that will all fade in memory. Eventually, we’ll just remember how cute he looked in his sun hat against a backdrop of palm trees and mountains, and taking him to see the ocean for the first time. Worth it 🙂