wow, our family has experienced quite a whirlwind in one week. we were all really looking forward to a fabulous eight day christmas visit to our hometown of chicago. one week ago today, we left a balmy 65 degree austin with a happy abel, an oskar who we thought had bounced back from a 103 fever that appeared the night before, three bulging suitcases, an overloaded diaper bag, our side-by-side stroller with two carseats and bases bungee strapped to it, and a “pump in style” backpack breast pump that WOULD NOT be returning with us (i was particularly excited about giving this piece of equipment back to my dear friend who loaned it to me).
the flight was uneventful and the boys did stellar as usual, but i couldn’t help notice how sleepy oz was the whole time and how he felt increasingly hot to the touch. by the time we got settled in to my parents’ house, i checked his temp and he was back up to 103. it was downhill from there – who wants to be in a strange house when they are sick?! abie was content, but i couldn’t put oskar down. he desperately wanted to sleep, but was so uncomfortable. i know i don’t need to explain the trials of a sick infant to you parents out there! we were able to get oz in to a doctor on christmas eve day and he thought it was just a virus, which we thought too. we just had to ride it out.
christmas day was actually really enjoyable. oz came out of his sick-funk to have a blast opening presents, ripping paper, playing peek-a-boo with uncle markey and exploring all his new toys with his bro. it was delightful and we all thought we were on the up-and-up. that was until oz woke up from his PM nap inconsolable, and then proceeded to wake up ever hour screaming hysterically after going down for bed. after four hours of this, j decided to check his temp, even thought his fever had broke that afternoon and he felt cool to the touch. it registered a frightening 95! we flipped and immediately packed up the boys for a trip to the emergency clinic down the street. that was at midnight and marked the beginning of some serious unraveling.
it’s a really good thing that oz was ultimately just fine and this wasn’t a true emergency, or else we would have been in big trouble. we got the boys loaded up but couldn’t find the keys to the car. so j had to switch the carseat bases to my brother’s car in freezing temps; it took the disgruntled woman 45 minutes to check us in to the clinic; and the orthodox jewish doctor wouldn’t even look at me, let alone address me when pronouncing a 95 degree temperature on an infant to be “perfectly normal.” that, in addition to having problems with the thermostat keeping a good temperature at my parents’ house, jordan and i decided that we had enough. we all needed to get home as quickly as possible; to the comfort and warmth of our own home, where everything is familiar, and where we have all the tools we need to comfort a sick baby within an easy reach. my mom got us booked asap on the 9am flight back to austin, with a short layover in dallas.
now this is where the craziness gets really good. my dad, unknowing that we were packing it up and leaving the house at 7am, decides he needs to get away from the craziness and goes for a drive…with our stroller in the trunk! our travel system is completely reliant on the stroller and without it we wouldn’t have the hands to roll our luggage. he hadn’t come home by the time we needed to leave, so off we went with just a diaper bag, the carseats (w/ bases attached), and of course, our boys. the flight to dallas went off without a hitch, save for the fact that we were 40 minutes late leaving chicago. we arrived in dallas, ran to the gate for our austin flight, to find it has left 5 minutes earlier. off we went to find the next flight, which left in an hour, but by the time we got there we were number 20 and 21 on the standby flight and the guy behind the counter was much more interested in helping the other customer find a mcdonalds than helping out two parents with babies strapped to them. the next flight after that wasn’t for another 3 hours, which is how long it takes to drive to austin, so we decided to complete our journey in the car. (and if some of you are wondering where the “trains” come into play in the title of the post, we were lucky to travel the new skylink train during our jaunt at DFW).
now we are at the car rental center and i scout a wonderful oasis of leather couches and caret at avis. granted, jordan was renting our car at advantage, but i thought if i could just be inconspicuous and nurse the boys on the couch, change their diapers, clothes, feed them solids and let them crawl around a bit…we’d all be a lot better for it. it turns out we had an angel watching over us at avis and margaret told us to make ourselves at home, made j and i coffee, got us bottled water, and gushed about the boys. despite the fact that we didn’t give avis any business, she even got us a big luggage cart that fit the boys in their carseats, along with all our other stuff, so we could comfortably get to our other rental car! suffice it to say, we are loyal avis customers from now on!
cruising down I35 at an eighty mile an hour clip, we all took a deep sign of relief. the boys were snug in their seats snoozing away and jordan and i stole a glance – we had made the right decision, it felt so good to be back in texas and on our way home. it was a long crazy journey, but we could feel austin’s closeness…that was until we hit bumper-to-bumper traffic 60 miles outside of dallas and were stuck there for the next 2 hours! ugh! the boys were major troopers through it all, especially as i took each of them out to nurse, fed them solids in their car seats, etc.
as we approached the austin city limits at 7pm, we realized neither of us had a key to the house. the last thing we wanted to do was trek to the airport, return the rental car and switch the boys to our car. we just wanted to be home! so i called anne who has a spare to the house and made a quick stop to pick up the key. saint anne had a bag of dinner goodies for us, but jordan quickly realized the keys she gave us were not our keys, and these were the only keys she had! resigned to go to the airport, i looked at jordan and said, “is there any window in the house that isn’t locked, because if there is, i can get in!” thank god our house isn’t burglar proof and our tiny, high bathroom window doesn’t lock (don’t worry – it does now!). so we sped home, popped the screen off, jordan hoisted me up over his head and i did thief gymnastics to get in our house. as soon as my toe hit the marble of our bathroom floor, my whole body relaxed and true relief washed over me. this was the end to one of our worst travel experiences ever. we were finally home and it never felt so good.
that night, after we put the boys to bed in their cozy cribs, we relaxed in front of the fireplace, strong drinks in hand, and relived the ridiculous hilarity of the past 24 hours. we marveled at how our boys were such exceptional travelers in every medium we encountered – given what preceded the day, oskar being sick, going to the ER, etc, these boys truly deserve a medal for being such great sports and holding it all together! and i have to say j and i maintained our cool and basically laughed through all the insane glitches we encountered. we couldn’t help but think this would be a great sequel to the great john candy/steve martin holiday classic.
that being said, we learned some very valuable lessons from the experience that we will not soon let go of:
1) we will NEVER travel if one of our team members is down. it just wasn’t fair to put oskar through the stress of traveling and staying in a strange place when he was sick. his temp had gone down to 98 before we left that morning, but we should have never chanced it (nor put any other children on the flight at risk).
2) we will NEVER let anything or anyone get in the way of the comfort of our children.
3) i will LISTEN to my husband’s instincts and take them much more seriously in the future. j had major reservations about traveling with oz having a fever the night before and i really blew him off. sorry j – it won’t happen again.
that about sums up our holiday tale. we hope you all had a much mellower, light and joyful christmas day! and to all our friends and family in the chicagoland area, we are so bummed we didn’t get a chance to see you and have you meet our rascals. after this experience, you are all welcome to come visit us in austin! (that’s a joke, i’m sure we’ll get the gumption to trek back to the windy city in a few years! =)