gentle

Yesterday, my wife and I woke up grouchy. We were trying to pack away a million Christmas decorations and do approximately 950 loads of laundry and had to shovel the walks and it was cold out. Also, I wanted coffee and Bumby insisted on helping me make it which of course meant half the water was dumped in the coffee part and half the coffee grounds were on the floor. When my wife came in from walking the dog, she snarked about the likely-gross Bumby coffee. I snarked back about something, I don’t know what. And this continued for a bit until I got a little mean and made my wife cry. She went upstairs. I thought I would give her some space, but really it is more likely I didn’t want to admit I had been an asshole. 

But Bumby. Nothing gets by him.”Mommy crying.” 

“Yes. Mommy’s crying.”

“Nap?” 

“Well, no. I mean, she might want a nap. But she’s crying because I hurt her feelings.”

He hopped down off the couch and grabbed my hand. He started dragging me toward the stairs. “Mama. I’m sorry, Mommy. Gentle gentle. I’m sorry.”

This is what we tell him when he hits or scratches or otherwise attempts to injure us or his siblings when he is frustrated. You say you’re sorry, and show the person you know how to be gentle in your touching. So, right. Also with feelings. 

We walk upstairs and find Mommy at the computer reading about Trump. (Hard to see how this would make her feel better, but to each her own, right?)

“Sorry, Mommy,” says Bumby. 

“No no. You didn’t do it. I hurt Mommy, not you. You are fine.” He looks at me expectantly. So I say to her, “I’m sorry I hurt your feelings.” She looks at me a bit skeptically but gives me a hug. 

“Gentle,” prompts Bumby. 

“Yes, gentle. I will be gentle with them.” The hug becomes real, and we go downstairs. 

The coffee was not ruined after all. We ate toast and cleaned house and played outside and watched the Steelers pommel the Dolphins. It was a really good, tiring day.   Sometimes when you hurt someone, it’s best to apologize like a toddler, to just say you’re sorry and promise to do better, without explaining your side or making a lot of excuses or discussing who started it. 

a year

Bumby is almost a year. It is only nine days away. I can’t believe it. My timehop app keeps showing me pictures of me in all my enormous glory a year ago. Instead of seeming fluid, the last year seems to have passed in fits and starts, snapshots of moments that I spent with my little boy.

  • We are leaving the hospital. Although my wife has had three children before, we are both equally terrified. We have put Bumby into a three-month size set of pajamas, because we are afraid of breaking his arms by trying to fit them in the newborn size pajamas.  We have to roll up the sleeves in order for his tiny fingers to show.  He is jaundiced, and has red, raw cheeks that are shedding the top layer of skin.  He is nine pounds, and 20 inches. He is the most beautiful and frightening thing I have ever seen. I stare at him the whole way home, and make my wife drive 10 miles an hour under the speed limit.  I want to cry all of the time because my heart is breaking with love.
  • It is late, and I am exhausted. I am nursing my two week old baby for the hundredth time that day, and it hurts so bad it brings tears to my eyes. We will never get this, I am sure. I wake up my wife, because WHAT IS SHE DOING SLEEPING WHEN SOME OF US ARE TRYING TO BREASTFEED OVER HERE?
  • He is four months old, and we went for a walk in the woods with the dog.  We came home and I ate a bowl of strawberries while I nursed him (painlessly, effortlessly). We both fall asleep and take a long afternoon nap together with the sun streaming in through the windows.
  • He wakes, again, covered in vomit and screaming. I hold him and rock him and nurse him. An hour later it happens again. I look down at my poor little baby, and think that I would gladly take this reflux from him so he could sleep without pain.  Instead I call a doctor, and then another one, and then another one.
  • I pull him onto my lap, with his blanket and his pacifier. Here are Paul and Judy. They can do lots of things. You can do lots of things, too. Judy can pat the bunny. Can you pat the bunny?  It turns out he can! He dutifully pats the bunny, and looks in the mirror, and smells the flowers, and sticks his finger through mama’s ring. We skip the page with daddy’s scratchy face. That page is weird anyway.
  • I have washed the sheets on the big bed in his room. I am trying to make it, and he keeps crawling all over the sheet.  I sit on the floor with him, and we hide under the sheet. He laughs and laughs, Mama and Bumby in a tent.
  • I wake up in the night, engorged. It has been eight hours, and my baby is still sleeping. I tiptoe into the kitchen and pump, just enough to take the edge off, while peering at him on the video monitor. He snuffles, then moves, then snuffles again, and sighs himself back to sleep.
  • He flies down the stairs, on his back, headfirst, tucked into a ball so his head doesn’t bang. I scoop him up when he gets to the bottom, terrified of what has happened. He does not cry. I do, enough for both of us.  He sticks his finger up my nose and laughs.  He is fine. One day later I pay obscene amounts of money to have sturdy gates professionally installed all over our house. I hate that it is impossible to protect him.
  • I throw him on the bed on his back, and his mouth opens wide in a laugh. I call my wife in.  I give him a good tickle, and he opens his mouth wide again, laughing. She and I stare in shock at the fifth and sixth tooth in his mouth, which he cut without a single complaint. We didn’t even know he was teething this time.
  • I pull him onto my lap, with his blanket and his pacifier. Here are Paul and Judy. He looks up at me, closes the book, lays his head near my breast, and takes out his pacifier. Too tired for a book tonight, Mama. Let’s just get to the good part.
  • I am unloading the dishwasher, and realize the house is quiet. Too quiet. I look around, and find Bumby under the dining room table, feeding the dog triscuits out of a box he has snagged from the snack cupboard.
  • I come home from work, and he looks up from playing when he hears my voice. He pulls up on the coffee table, and walks over to me as fast as he can, falling all over the place, saying “mama mama mama mama.” He flings himself at my legs, “Up up up.”  I pick him up.

My little baby. My only baby.  I can’t believe how fast the year has gone, and I can’t believe that Bumby has not always been a part of our lives.

eavesdropping

Last week, for the second time, someone unplugged the refrigerator in our garage, and the freezer completely thawed.  This is where I store my frozen breastmilk, so… yeah. I was not that happy.  It needed to be cleaned out anyway, since there was white wine in there leftover from our wedding THREE YEARS AGO, but still. Not how I would have spent my Sunday afternoon.

Boo was watching the Bumby for us while I cleaned the fridge and my wife cooked dinner.  “Want me to take him upstairs to play with his piano?” she asked.  Sure, sure. Whatever, Boo, thanks.

The monitor was downstairs though, so we could hear the Big One join her, followed by our other son. We could hear the piano toy, and giggles, and chatter. Soon, we couldn’t hear anything other than shrieks of laughter.  Every now and then, one voice would rise above the rest.  Bumby screaming and cracking up at something.  Boo shouting, “NO! He doesn’t need that lotion right now; what are you doing?!”  The big brother signing “Na na na na na na, nanananana BAT MAN!” And then laughter, laughter.  It went on and on.

I scrubbed out the freezer to the sound of my kids’ laughing. I have really never heard anything like it.  Finally my wife went up to see what was what.  Apparently, Bumby had pooped.  The big brother was entertaining him, while the girls changed him. They had a little trouble with the cloth diaper.

Boo came down a couple minutes later and handed him to me.  “You might wanna check that diaper,” she informed me matter-of-factly.  The diaper change took almost as long as cleaning the fridge, and it only seemed to be covering his left cheek.  “It’s okay, Boo.  I am pretty sure he only pees on the left side anyway.”  She smirked, and nodded, and then bounced off to do whatever twelve year old girls do in their rooms.

I have the most loved baby, and the nicest kids.

there was a day

Over the summer, I had the hardest day. We were out at the beach house, and my wife was at work, so I was totally alone with Bumby with no access to any friends or family or other support. He was in the middle of a no-sleep patch, and I was exhausted. I was trying to make the huge, horrible decision of whether to go back to work or not. It was 80 degrees but like 900 percent humidity so we were both uncomfortable and soggy all day. And Bumby would. not. nap. and give me just ten minutes to be alone with my overwhelmed thoughts. And then the dog started asking to go for a walk. 

I thought to myself, I just can’t. I can’t deal with any of it, and now this dog wants a piece of me too. I can’t. I can’t stay home with him, and I can’t bear the thought of going back to work. At that point, I had literally not been away from him for more than 2 hours, and had been away for  2 hours only once. I couldn’t stand the thought of a day without my little barnacle by my side, and I couldn’t stand the feeling that I was never alone even for a minute. We were still bed sharing at that point, so he was literally on top of me 23 hours a day, even at night. 

Also, he was teething. 

I just couldn’t deal with the dog, and the baby, and never being alone, and being so totally alone. 

And then…. I just did it. I took Bumby’s clothes off so he would be more comfortable in the heat and humidity. I put him in the carrier, and picked up the leash and put it on the dog. I walked slowly around the boardwalks until she pooped, then I awkwardly squatted down and picked it up, which I hate hate hate so much. I was miserable, but I did it. 

I went home, and Bumby caught sight of mama and Bumby, our little duo, in the mirror. When his eyes met mine, he broke into a massive grin. And with that, I was through it, and I was fine. 

  
 I put Bumby on the floor of the bathroom with some toys, and finally showered for the day so I wasn’t so sticky. My wife came home, we cooked dinner, I had a glass of wine, and it was fine. I decided to go back to work. 

I was fine. 

operation bumbysleep: the worst night, and the best

The worst night

Two nights ago, I nursed Bumby to sleep, like I always do. Well, I nursed him, then I rocked him, then I placed a sleeping baby into his crib. It was relatively painless.  He hadn’t nursed fully, so before I went to bed, I decided to pump.  I had a business trip the next day, so I would be away from home for over 16 hours, and I thought an extra bottle couldn’t hurt.  At midnight, he woke up.  I tried to nurse him, he did not want that.  I tried to rock him.  He did not want that.  I walked around holding him, patting his back.  He screamed, and screamed, and screamed.  I tried to rock him again.  He flung his head backward and bashed it on the arm of the rocking chair, and screamed.  I stood up and bounced him, and he kicked me hard enough in the bicep that I almost dropped him.  I persevered.  Time went by.

My wife came up as I was sobbing, he was screaming, and I was shouting “STOP HURTING ME!” at a baby who was kicking me in the arms and chest while simultaneously pulling my hair.  I handed off.

After 20 minutes or so of my wife doing all the same things that had not been working for me, we stopped.  We laid our wailing baby in the crib, and she patted his back.  He calmed down, we stepped away.  He cried again.  She patted again.  He calmed, we stepped away, we left the room.  This went on, and on, and on.  Sometimes, patting didn’t work, and we picked him up.  Once, I went in to pat and he stood up, wailed, and clung to my arm with the most pathetic face I have ever seen.  I picked him up, he calmed, and I set him down.  Repeat, repeat.  When he got particularly wail-ey, and wouldn’t be soothed by holding or patting, we set him down and decided to give him 30 seconds.  We stood outside his door talking about whether we were okay with how this was going.  We are both adamantly opposed to letting him cry it out. This wasn’t that, but it wasn’t always far off either, especially at that moment when we were standing outside his door as he cried. It was only a short while, a minute at most, but it was probably the first time in his life when we had not responded to his cry. Listening to us outside of his door, he quieted.  It was around 2 am.

At 2:15, we were lying in bed, and listening to Bumby make all kinds of little baby mouth sounds over the monitor.  He was not crying, just chirping to himself, chewing his fingers, occasionally amusing himself enough to giggle a bit.  And then….. he just wasn’t.  It took 2 1/2 hours, but he went back to sleep on his own, alone, in his room.  At 4, he woke, and I nursed him.  He fell asleep easily after nursing, and I put him back in his crib.  I got up an hour later and went on my business trip with a solid 2 1/2 hours of sleep under my belt. It was the worst night he has had since he was born.

The next day, I fretted.  I was away from my baby for his morning nursing for the first time ever.  He had fallen asleep alone in a dark room for the first time ever. Did he feel abandoned by me? Was he angry?  Was he doing okay?  I have read all the sleep research, and I agree with Dr. Sears on this point — If you do something to get your baby to sleep, and he’s not himself the next day, he’s telling you that what you tried wasn’t okay with him.  But I was away!  Was he okay with what we had tried?  I didn’t know.

I called home, and learned that he had been happy all day. He took a nice long nap in the morning, over 2 hours, to catch up on some of the sleep he missed overnight.  He ate well, he played, he laughed.  He was okay.  I was not, but that was for me to work on.  After all this, I am not sure I was ready for a baby who didn’t need me multiple times in the night, a baby who would only nurse once.  But the way things were going clearly weren’t good for him, so we had to try this.

The best night

That night, we committed ourselves to staying the course.  I would nurse and rock Bumby to sleep like usual, but if he woke in the night before 4 am, he had to go back to sleep on his own.  We would help him calm down, but going back to sleep was his job. We set the stage for him.  I gave him his reflux medicine, and he ate dinner.  I put him in his jammies and changed his diaper. I put a couple drops of a fennel/catnip natural gas drop that we just got onto his pacifier.  I turned on his nightlights and his heater so his room was dim and cozy.  I sat down to nurse him, and he was PISSED OFF.  Just like in the middle of the night the night before, he would not nurse, he would not be soothed by rocking.  I thought about it, and realized that I had just nursed him about 2 hours before, because the business trip had thrown off my nursing and pumping schedule.  So I got a small bottle, maybe 2oz of milk, and gave him that instead.  He sucked it down, snuggled into my belly, and drifted off to sleep, just like that. I picked him up and set him in his crib, no drama.  He stayed asleep.

He woke at 10:30 or so, and I gave him back his pacifier.   He rolled onto his side, and went back to sleep.  Thanks, mama.

He woke at 12:30 wanting to nurse, but no dice. My wife went up, and patted him.  He screamed louder — you are not mama, and you do not have milk for me!  She stepped out for a second.  He calmed almost immediately as she stood outside his door.  She came down, and we went back to sleep and so did he.

He woke at 4:45.  I snuggled in the big bed with him and nursed him.  He drank a full meal, rolled onto his back, and went to sleep.  I roused him to burp, then put him back in his crib.  He snuggled in, grabbed his blankie, sighed, and went back to sleep.  I went back to bed myself.

He woke at 7:45 with a diaper full of poop and a smile on his face. He slept over 10 hours, and woke up three times. This is the best night we have had in months.

We are committed now.  We will make him as comfortable as possible so that sleep will come easier for him.  We will help him get to sleep at the start of the night, with a full belly and a comfortable room and even some rocking to help him transition from his busy day to his nighttime.  If he wakes at 4am or later, he can have a snack.  But if he wakes before that, or if he doesn’t fall asleep nursing, going back to sleep is his job.  We will always respond if he cries, and he will never be left to cry himself to sleep, but in the middle of the night he goes in his crib awake, because he needs to go back to sleep on his own.

I am sure we will have more setbacks, more nights like the worst night before we have more nights like the best night. But for the first time I have some hope. I think his reflux medicine is working, and I think his gas drops are working, and I think he’s finally comfortable.  He liked the bottle at bedtime, so if it seems like there is not enough milk to nurse, he can have another one if he wants so that he goes to bed with a  belly full of milk and can make it to 4am.  I love putting him to bed gently and having him fall asleep in my arms.  I love nursing him once in the night, so I am in no rush to night-wean completely, but a partial night-wean and some self-soothing in the middle of the night seem to be good for him.  And also good for me.

milestones

On Saturday, the big brother turned 10.  He’s in fifth grade, which is the last grade of elementary school in our school district. Since I moved in with the kids, one thing that has always been my responsibility (and one of my favorite things) is making their birthday cakes. Some years, they try to out-smart me by asking for super-elaborate designs, but I always come through.  This is one of the ways I show these kids how much I love them.  They can have whatever birthday cake they want, no matter what they come up with. This year he asked for two kinds of frosting, strawberry and vanilla. Not too complicated.

On Thursday, I made cupcakes for him to bring into school on Friday morning to celebrate his birthday. I try to make the cupcakes the same as the birthday cake.  Of course, we did not have the strawberry and vanilla frosting, so I had to run to the grocery story Friday morning after drop-off, and finish the cupcakes to get them to school before snack time at 10.  This is nothing compared to what I have done in previous years.  Once, I got stuck working late and had to bake the cupcakes at 2 am.  Once, I accidentally turned all of them a frightening shade of hot pink (it turns out you can’t really make things red with food coloring — they just get more and more pink).

Thursday night, Bumby’s new reflux medicine finally kicked in. For the first time in his life, he slept five and a half hours straight.  If you’re obsessed with baby sleep, you realize this is the clinical definition of sleeping through the night.  We did nothing differently — no different bedtime, or routine, or soothing method, or periods of crying.  He just wasn’t hurting anymore, so he slept.  I woke up Friday morning giddy with sleep. My little baby was finally sleeping the way a 7 1/2 month old baby should be sleeping.  He was so happy, and comfortable. Even when he did wake to eat, he didn’t scream and writhe around the way he used to. He just fussed, nursed, and went back to sleep.

My happy, well-rested little guy crawled around the kitchen and poured the dog’s water on the floor as I frosted the cupcakes. This is when it hit me. These were my last cupcakes. Big Brother was in fifth grade, and wouldn’t be allowed to bring cupcakes to school the next year. The guy who used to be the baby wasn’t a baby any more. Bumby won’t be at the elementary school for five years, so for five years, I don’t get to make the cupcakes.  Five years from now they probably won’t even be allowed cupcakes — they’ll have to bring in birthday carrot sticks or pretzels.  Making them at 2 am, turning the whole batch hot pink, and every other cupcake mishap was now water under the bridge.

Big Brother finished out his cupcake years on the same day that Bumby slept through the night.  Sometimes, the milestones feel good. Sometimes, they feel sad. Either way, they just keep coming.

Operation Bumbysleep: Adventures in GERD

Wondering where I have been these last few months? Well. I will tell you.  I have been trying to get my baby to sleep. Or sleeping myself, in the rare event I have been successful.

Bumby is a fantastic baby. He barely ever cries. He eats well. He laughs a lot and loves the kids.  He is very fat and adorable.  But he does not sleep, at all, ever. He falls asleep easily, but if left unattended, rarely stays asleep for more than 40 minutes during the day, and rarely sleeps more than two hours in a stretch at night. Still, at seven months old, this is the case.

At around four months, I took Bumby to Michigan to visit some family and friends. I may have mentioned that one of my friends, who has reflux herself, and is blessed with two babies with severe reflux, watched Bumby playing for about an hour, heard me complaining about my lack of sleep, and said very definitively, “He has reflux. Get him to the doctor.”

After a bit more hemming and hawing, I finally did it. They gave me a prescription for very low dose of Zantac and told me to have him sleep on an incline (which we had been doing, with no success). The Zantac did nothing, so we went back for more. They quadrupled his dose, and he stopped projectile vomiting 15 times after each meal. This was a success!  However, he became very constipated, so he still. did. not. sleep.  We started giving him prunes, and water. The poop started moving again, and at last our baby was comfortable. He still needed to learn to sleep well, but the intervals started stretching out.  First it was a three hour chunk of time, then four. We transitioned him to the crib, and the four hour chunks became somewhat reliable. A few blessed times, we heard him stirring and talking on the monitor, then… nothing. He put himself back to sleep, waking only once in the night to eat.  I was giddy, drunk on sleep.

But then… for those of you with reflux babies, you know what happens next.  Bumby ate, and grew, and gained weight. His body adjusted to the Zantac. The four hour chunks of time dwindled to three, then two and a half, then he was waking every hour again. What is going on?  Is this a normal developmental night waking problem (he’s teething, he’s learning to crawl, he’s growing)?  Or is it the reflux?  Finally, the last symptom would come back — he would start coughing and choking, then spitting up, a little at first, then after every meal, then many, many times after every meal. Back to the doctor, weigh the baby, increase the dose. Enter constipation.  Then his little body adjusts. A few weeks of sleep, and then the long stretches of sleep start to decrease as he gains weight and the medicine loses effectiveness. Lather, rinse, repeat.

It’s miserable for us. But if I am tired, what must it be like for a seven month old baby getting this little sleep? His eyes are constantly red-rimmed. They have a little rash around them because he sucks on his hands and then rubs his saliva in his eyes so often. Sometimes when he wakes from a nap, he looks up at me, miserable.  Mama, I’m tired.  And yet, he doesn’t cry. He laughs a lot, and loves his siblings. I think he is being quite a trooper through all of this.

We are currently in the “adjust the dose” period, which means that he has now gone about 3 weeks without sleeping more than two hours at a time. It always takes us a few weeks to assure ourselves that his night-waking doesn’t have another cause, because we hate to medicate him more than is absolutely necessary.  And he is in fact teething, and learning to crawl.  But yesterday, we upped his dose just a little bit on our own, pending a call to the pediatrician, and he slept for four hours straight before waking to eat. When he did wake, his shirt was soaked in spit-up.

I feel so bad for the poor little dude. Slowly, we are learning though. Next time he starts waking, we will take him to the doctor first, not only as a last resort. We will offer more and more prunes as we adjust the dose, to stave off the constipation. Probably just as we get our heads around this challenge, he will outgrow it though, right?

solids (the off-switch)

Bumby loves his solids. He actually loves all food, the milky food and the (relatively) solid food. He likes fruit, and veggies, and oatmeal, and little bits of chicken. He likes mashed potatoes, and grapes that I have bitten off 3/4 of and peeled the remaining 1/4. The problem here is not that he is picky, or that I am wasting a half a jar of baby food after I open it, or any of the other things I have heard complaints about. 

The problem is that he has no off-switch. He will just eat and eat and eat and eat. When you look up “how much food should my doc month old eat?” on the Internet, it says not to be discouraged if they stop after a tablespoon or so. HA. 

One night, as an experiment, we decided to see if he would eventually stop. After nursing and then eating an entire jar of homemade peaches and THREE toddler size bowls of oatmeal, I stopped feeding him because I was just horrified. After that, he nursed again. Then he was up half the night with a tummy ache. 

So I have decided to take it up with you moms. Have any of you had a kid like this? Bumby is very fat, but of course he is a six month old baby so he is supposed to be fat. But what if his off-switch is broken? How do I help him learn what it feels like to be full and that, at some point, you need to stop eating? 

back to work

This is actually my second week back at work, although it really feels like my first. Last week was a week of one half of one day in the office, and a lot of document drafting during nap time. This is the first week I am really back and on my real schedule. I have a part time arrangement, much to my delight, which includes two half days from home, and two full (long) days in the office.  

And we do not have a nanny. 

I lay this at the feet of the agency we have been working with. We actually have a nanny that we love, and want to watch our kids when I work, but it has just been one roadblock after another. And every time I call the woman (the agency, not the nanny), she is in the middle of some personal chore, doesn’t have her notes, can’t remember our last conversation. 

Maybe this is a good thing, in a way. (I am working on finding a silver lining to this very very dark cloud.) Last Monday was the first time I was away from Bumby during a time he needed to eat. This means that in six months, we haven’t been apart from each other for more than three hours, and even the three hour stretches can be counted on one hand. So leaving him with milk in the fridge, to get on a train into the city for five hours, was hard enough, even though I was leaving him in the capable hands of his other mom. Today there were definitely tears on my part, as I get ready to leave him for twelve whole hours, but again. At least he’s with his mom. 

However, my wife has exactly 3 vacation days remaining, and the nanny agency lady informs me via garbled email message last night at midnight that we need to “have a verbal conversation” about our nanny to go over some details. Details of the formal offer we asked her to make to the nanny TWO WEEKS ago now, and details which I have told her verbally three times and sent in writing twice. Oh but. She has a personal commient this morning, so could we speak around lunchtime?

I am pulling my hair out over here, faster than it is falling out of my postpartum head. And yet, I do not like a lot of people, and I adore this nanny. Considering that she will be in the house with me two afternoons a week, this is important. Considering that she will be feeding and holding and bathing my helpless, non-verbal baby, this is essential. So we are slogging through with the unprofessional, disorganized nanny agency. And also developing any number of stress-induced maladies. 

In case you are wondering what it looks like to work from home with no childcare for your four kids, last week I had a conference call and had to have Boo watch Bumby for about 45 minutes. Halfway into the call, which Boo thought had ended, she burst into the room. Looking panicked and holding a very grumpy Bumby, she said at top volume, “He wants some breastmilk REAL BAD.” I wish I could say the phone was on mute, but it was not. So everyone pretended like it didn’t happen, Boo and I nearly died of laughter, and I breastfed Bumby while I discussed an agreement I would be drafting. Needless to say, I showed Boo how to warm a bottle of milk after that. 

have baby, will travel

In the past six weeks, Bumby has been on six planes, in four states and three countries.

It all started while I was pregnant, with a trip to Michigan to visit an aunt that I was particularly close with in college. The rest of my extended family lives there as well, so it made sense to take Bumby for a week while I was on maternity leave so everyone could meet him. We planned this for June. The big kids were still in school, so my wife stayed home with them and I planned a visit to my aunt’s farm.

Then we got the opportunity to take our family to France at a huge cost savings (we worked it out with the big kids’ dad — we brought them over with us and spent 10 days in France, and then he had some time in Europe and flew them home, saving both of us three international airfares.  He’s from England so he wanted the opportunity to take them to see his family). So we planned five days in Paris and four in Antibes a few weeks after I was to return from Michigan.  Bumby will be nearly six months, we figured. He’ll probably be sleeping great by then! (haha)

Then we got the invite for a friend’s wedding on the Cape, only a few days after we returned from France.  Okay, we thought. We will make it a little weekend getaway of it.  No problem.

And then, finally, a couple of weeks before the Michigan trip, my wife’s aunt’s sister passed away in California.  Of course we had to go to the funeral.

And so it went — a flight to California and a long weekend in the Bay Area, and a flight home.  One night of “sleep” at home, and a flight to Michigan.  A week in Michigan, and a flight home.  A week and a half at home in New York, and a flight to France (with a day trip to Monaco!). Ten days later, a flight back to the US.  Two days after that, a road trip up to Cape Cod.

I am happy to report that we are home, at last, for good.  Bumby was a trooper through the whole thing. He really is a happy, easygoing baby.  He has seen more of the world in the first 24 weeks of his life than I saw in the first 24 years of mine.  There were a few times when the tour de France got to be a bit much for him, but we had rented an apartment and a house through Airbnb for our trip, so at those times I just stayed home with him and let him play and relax a little.  In the midst of all this travel, he got his first two teeth, at the same time, on the fourth of July.

We had a lot of adventures on our trip to France.  La poussette (the stroller) got nicked from the Eiffel Tower, so we had no stroller for the second half of our trip. We almost missed our overnight train to Antibes, and when we were about to board, we discovered we were out of diapers. The train station drugstore didn’t sell them, so Bumby spent the night with maxi pads stuck inside his diaper cover.  Bumby had an explosive poop in the middle of dinner at a nice restaurant, which squirted out the leg of his diaper and onto my shirt, so I just held him in front of the stain for the rest of the night. He also threw a cup of coffee on the floor of the cafe at Versailles, and was quite pleased with the commotion he caused. All in all though, I am proud of our family for all we were able to do with a baby in tow, and I am proud of Bumby for his adaptability and good nature through it all.

I have, however, promised Bumby that he does not have to go in his car seat for four days.

This stone bench in Provence seems like a perfect place for a baby to nap.

This stone bench in Provence seems like a perfect place for a baby to nap.