Minnesota and Home!

We survived last night. Late driving, starving baby (apparently she loves to pound 2 bottles at 10 at night rather than half a bottle), tiny town – all of this makes for interesting ‘experiences’.

Dave learned how important swaddling is. I asked him to take the early feeding, and he said no problem. Then Tess squirmed and whined for 4 hours. 4 hours! The poor people in the hotel. I kept waking up to ask if I could help, and Dave just wanted me to sleep so he’d say no. Turned out he was fooled by the oldest baby trick in the book: the “I hate being swaddled” routine. He finally asked for help, and I had her asleep in 2 minutes. I’d love to claim some extraordinary baby genius, but I swaddled her. That’s all she needed. A swaddle lesson this morning with the same result gave us an extra hour of sleep. Daddy’s now a believer.

We also did something new this morning – an unplanned moment of normalcy. Up until now, Tess has been under the direct watch of one or the other. We tucked her in after a clean diaper this morning, and while I was in the shower Dave was brushing his teeth. Suddenly it occurred to me that Tess was alone in the other room – safe! But alone – for the first time. And we weren’t freaking out! Sure enough, he walked out a few minutes later and she was happily staring at the ceiling. Baby steps.

We hit the road at 9:30. Yes, that’s late.We went to bed at 4:30. I’m sure you understand! The countryside is green, green, green. No more desert! Dave is loving the big sky and the windmills, and I’m loving the broken-down barns. Tess is, bless her, absolutely asleep. This kid loves the car and carseat, to the point that Dave is worried about having to drive her around when she can’t sleep at home!

I think yesterday was the hardest day of this trip. We were tired, the final stretch was in pitch black, the landscape was fairly monotonous and we just wished we’d gotten a bit closer to home.

Today is sunshine and optimism. We’ll be sleeping in our own house tonight!!!

We got to within an hour of Milwaukee and Tess demanded food. She’s the boss of us to an extent, so we pulled over for her last meal and stretch on the road. We’re so close to home it’s making us lightheaded. Our family and friends, our home, our lives just an hour a way. This whole journey has been mind-bending and life-changing to such a degree that we’re feeling a little overwhelmed by how close we are to slipping into our comfortable little routine. Will it be simple or complicated? Will we pick up where we left off or will everything feel different? I’m looking forward to summertime hibernation to a degree – reaquainting myself with our house and hood, sorting out work, finding a nanny for the fall, and just hanging out with Tess and everyone we missed! On a limited basis of course, but a few more people will be able to meet our daughter. And let me tell you, saying ‘daughter’ never gets old!

It’s official: I’m writing this from our living room with Tess snuggling on my lap. The changes mom made are incredible. The house looks the way I alway dreamed it would, and here is this beautiful baby in my arms! My parents and friends Max and Patty came by to welcome us back, and just casually seeing people and experiencing home have been delightful. We are so cashed from the trip – all 3 of us! – that I think we’re headed for an early night. In our room. In our house. Tess in her bassinet. All is right with the world. 🙂



South Dakota

Well, we kind of slept last night. More importantly, we slept in this morning! Dave made an executive family decision and did not wake me up at 7 to leave. Bless him. I think he realized that when I’d neglected to mention his 30 mile dirt road wrong turn over a mountain in yesterday’s post, I was no longer in sound mind.

So at 9:30am we left Rapid City with a fed, washed baby and coffee in hand. After a bizarrely awesome stop at Wall Drug Store (thanks, Sue!) and a drive through the beautiful and impressive Badlands. It seems appropriate that Tess’ first road trip be through a number of national parks. Dave grew up with them, but for me they’ve been a revelation in my 30s. Hopefully she’ll appreciate their beauty at least a little as she gets older! Then we drove pell mell down 90 East, towards home.

We feel we saw everything South Dakota has to offer – lol! The Corn Palace was our grand finish: then we took care of Tess and settled in for the hours remaining to the Minnesota border.

We’re getting better at this. We’ve figured out that one of us takes the first part of the night and the other takes the rest. Tess has to eat before we do, and if we need a block of time that should be during the milk coma. Anything we attempt to fit in before we feed her will fail. She senses the opening and suddenly becomes frantically hungry or does something shocking in her diaper!

The whole ‘Tess In the world’ thing has given us some weird moments, but not the ones I expected. We spend most of our time in the car or a hotel room, so people, the great threat!, haven’t been as worrisome as I thought they would. The awkward moments are when the ones we do see all want to know how old she is and then look kind of confused. Also, the “oh, what a tiny baby!” people startle me. I like to be invisible when I travel, and let me tell you: baby on board is a shining beacon of cuteness! I’ll adjust, I’m sure. We’ve both said it feels like practicing for our real life when we get home!

Thanks to our awesome primaries, and yes – the word awesome will always precede them, we know not to freak out about exactly how many ml’s of formula she’s taken, or how many diapers exactly she’s filled. After weighing diapers and tubing 5 ml after a bottle feeding for weeks, we had memorized those metrics! In the real world, we have to learn which ones still matter (how often she needs a diaper change, when she’s had her vitamins and prune juice, weight and temperature kind of) and which ones don’t (how many grams each diaper weighs). Being me, I found an app that still lets us keep track of how much and how often she eats, and how often she needs a diaper change. It gives us a sense of how close she comes to the ‘model’ from the hospital so if anything dramatic happens, we’ll know right away. Until we see the pediatrician, we won’t know what’s important anymore other than her gaining weight!

What we don’t need a monitor for? The biggest surprise ‘on the outside’? Sleep! The under baby sleep monitor is completely superfluous, as Tess makes noise constantly. We’re taking it back. I haven’t needed an alarm to wake me up once to feed her, no matter how tired I get! Dave either. Tess is…a very good communicator. 🙂