“Well, did any of those articles about tips for travelling with a baby help you,” Himself asked as we boarded the plane in Dubai for our last leg of the journey home. I juggled a baby, a baby bag, a handbag and my hand luggage, trying to remember which needed to go into the overhead bin.
“Um,” I thought about it for a minute, or I tried to think. Fourteen hours of running through airports, shushing a baby and trying to get said baby to vomit on the arm of the man who was encroaching onto my half of the armrest had done a number on my brainpower. “I don’t think so.”
“Maybe you can write your own tips for travelling with a baby,” he suggested.
“I don’t know,” I murmured, trying to get the baby’s bottle into her mouth, for some reason neither were cooperating. “Did I really learn anything that would honestly help anyone else?”
“You could always write a what-not-to-do,” Himself said, taking the bottle away from me, taking off the lid and handing it back to the kid.
“Gah!” Slytherin Baby exclaimed in agreement.
“Apparently if you don’t have to get up every night, deal with every tantrum and change every pooey nappy, babies are cute and people want to hold them.”
“Everyone’s a critic,” I muttered looking around desperately for an air hostess
“They don’t bring the drinks around till we take off,” Himself told me helpfully.
So, despite my child’s scepticism, here are some of the things I learned from two weeks travelling through Portugal and Spain with Slytherin Baby. For what it’s worth.
1. This is the perfect time to visit family who are considerate enough to live overseas.
Apparently, if you don’t have to get up every night, deal with every tantrum and change every pooey nappy, babies are cute and people want to hold them. Especially for family members. This means that you have access to people who are dying to hold your child and play with them. I was able, for the first time in a long time, to have a shower from start to finish without running through the house shivering and covered in soap suds to comfort a screaming baby (Slytherin Baby has excellent timing when it comes to tantrums). I was also able to sit down and drink a cup of hot coffee.
If I would make a suggestion, it would be to try to keep track of who has your baby: this helps avoid awkward conversations.
“Where’s our child?” asked Himself when he came across me sitting in a square, enjoying a cup of coffee.
“Er,” I glanced around the square vaguely. “Tia has her somewhere around here.”
“Which Tia? And where?”
“One of them. Don’t worry, they all know what they’re doing. And more importantly, this cup of coffee is hot. Try one…” I waved the cup tantalisingly under his nose. He bit his lip and looked around; his overprotective fatherly instinct warring with his need for hot coffee. The coffee won.
2. Babies have an innate sense of timing
We all know that babies are going to pitch an incredible fit at the most inopportune time. They won’t freak out when you’re walking through an open park with plenty of benches and open spaces, nor will they do it when you’re at home, surrounded by family members to help you. No, they will wait until you are crammed onto a bus. A really hot bus. For a very long time.
They will wait until the moment the doors close for a 40-minute trip before they screw up their faces, yowl, arch their backs, levitate and spin their heads 180 degrees. And you’ll be forced to clutch your squalling, possessed offspring while all 200 tourists packed onto the bus glare at you, as you unite people of all languages and creeds in their mutual disdain of your inability to parent your child.
Of course, if like me, you have a Slytherin Baby, this is not the only time you can expect your child to display an outstanding sense of timing. I held my child just a little bit closer to me as I stood in front of the awe-inspiring altarpiece in the lofty cathedral. Behind me, the devout knelt in silent prayer and the occasional tourist walked quietly and respectfully, admiring the ornate chapels and stained-glass windows.
“Don’t you dare start crying in the church,” I whispered to my baby, who looked back at me and opened her mouth. “Or burp, or vomit.” She closed her mouth, looking mutinous. I turned back to the contemplation of a kind-looking Mary surrounded by stern angles. And then I heard it. A loud, echoing fart. The sort of fart that is designed to test the acoustics of the lofty, vaulted church.
I stared at Slytherin Baby in horror; she looked back at me smugly, her look clearly saying, “You didn’t say anything about not breaking wind in the church.”
“Why are you the way you are?” I hissed as I hurried to the exit away from the noxious smell, taking one last glance at the altarpiece. Mary looked at me pityingly while the angles glared at me.
3. The language barrier will be a problem
One of the great things about Slytherin Baby is her robust health; I’ve never had to deal with any of those niggles and minor ailments. So, I don’t have any supplies on hand and, of course, the first time we have any problems would be in Spain, where we can’t recognise any of the products. Or read any of the boxes. Or talk the same language as the pharmacist.
After 10 frustrating minutes, I left the shop and went to speak to Himself, who was waiting outside with the baby. “You have to do this.”
“Okay. What do you need me to do?”
“I need you to get something for nappy rash and something for constipation for the baby. Good luck miming that.”
Amy Lalouette lives with Himself (her very patient husband) and Slytherin Baby. By day she’s an English teacher and by night she reads, writes, holds murder mystery parties and does belly dancing. Unfortunately, all this interferes with her lifelong ambition to have a spotless house and an empty laundry basket! She records her experiences (and confusion) of pregnancy and being a first-time parent on her personal blog “Mommy’s Off her Meds”.