Dear Wendy
Dear Wendy

The “Joys” of Traveling with a Baby

A funny thing happened last week in Dominican Republic on our first vacation since having a baby: I realized for the, oh, 78th time or so that life is completely different now that we’re parents. Leading up to our week away, I fantasized about the lazy hours we’d spend on the beach or by the pool, Drew and I sipping tropical cocktails while Jackson slept peacefully in the new baby tent we bought specifically for this trip. In the evenings, we’d hire one of the $5-an-hour babysitters the resort mentioned on its website, and Drew and I would head into town for a delightful dinner of fresh fish caught in the ocean by one of the local fisherman earlier that afternoon. Maybe we’d even stop somewhere on the way back for dancing or a nightcap. It would be glorious! We’d have lots of family time, lots of couple time, and I’d have an extra pair of hands to help with Jackson all week long. Maybe I’d even finish some library books or write a few essays or build a school for the local children. Anything was possible!

But in reality, Jackson reverted back to his newborn sleep schedule, waking two or three times every night and deciding to start his day for good at 4:30 in the morning (5:30, on the two days he felt like taking it easy), we never did use that baby tent, and I realized that, duh, our cell phones wouldn’t work in DR and I wasn’t about to leave my kid with a stranger in a foreign country when I was completely inaccessible should anything happen. (We did end up hiring a babysitter twice to literally sit next to Jackson while we swam in the ocean for a couple of hours. He stayed in our line of vision the whole time). It was super hot there — another duh — and while the view from our condo was gorgeous and the grounds were pretty and comfortable, the town itself was … well, not up our alley, let’s say. The beach was nice, but we didn’t have a direct path to get to the main part where all the good restaurants were, which meant we had to either carry Jackson over a bunch of steep, slippery rocks, or take the main road where there were no sidewalks and people drove like maniacs, or cut through some back alleys that smelled like urine. We opted for the latter. We did find some lovely seashells along the way, though.

Also, out of his normal routine and surroundings, Jackson, who is normally a pretty great baby, was super restless and cranky, especially by day four (note to self: all future “vacations” should be four days or less). He fussed and cried and refused to nap. That, as you can imagine, made Drew and me agitated and we, in turn, fought, which we rarely do. At one point, I left Drew and Jack by the pool to go use the bathroom up in our room. Tempted by the peace and quiet of my own company, I sat down for a bit, read a few pages of the book I sadly hadn’t had much chance to read all week, and drank a whole glass of wine. I was probably up there for 20 minutes or so. When I came back down to the pool, Jackson looked like a wild animal you might find in your garage that makes you want to back away slowly before running with all your might for animal control, and Drew, who had suddenly grown a unabomber beard in the 20 minutes I was gone, looked ready to kill (me).

“Where were you?” he said, accusingly, handing the baby to me.

“I had to use the bathroom,” I replied, “and drink a glass of wine.”

I can’t remember what was said after that or how long we stayed mad at each other, but I probably made some point like, “Welcome to my daily life!” and he probably made some comment about how rude it was to just leave without saying where I was going or when I was coming back.

Ahh… isn’t it nice to get away from it all?

Oh, and don’t even get me started on the plane ride home. The trip there was no picnic, but the ride home was basically every new parent’s nightmare: the baby screamed and cried the whole way, we couldn’t do anything to soothe him, and I worried that every other passenger wanted to drown us all in the lavatory toilet bowl. Oh! And that library book I still hadn’t finished after a week “relaxing” on the beach? I left it on the plane. What will all the bottles and blankets and toys and baby books and teething rings, it got lost in the shuffle.

I don’t know why it didn’t occur to me that maybe a vacation with a baby wouldn’t be as relaxing and recharging as the kinds of vacations we used to take pre-kid. I guess I was in denial. I guess I wanted to believe there was still some small part of my world that could remain untouched — protected, even — by the torpedo-like winds of change that have swept through every other part of my life. But there’s not. And that was a bittersweet realization to make against the backdrop of swaying palm trees.

It’s a constant adjustment and readjustment, this parenting business. And just when you think you have a handle on the current state of things, it changes again and you have to readjust once more.

And yet, it is getting easier… and more enjoyable, even. Every week — every day — I love being Jackson’s mom a little bit more. He is bursting with personality and has an easy laugh that is loud and infectious and fills me with more joy than I could have imagined. In the mornings when I check on him, he greets me with a smile so big and bright it’s like he can’t believe his good luck to get to see me again — Me! — even though he sees me every morning, all the time. And without checking, I’m sure I must have the same look on my face — all giddy and lovesick, because I, too, can’t believe my good luck to get another whole day with him.

Now. Who wants to babysit? Mama needs a real vacation.

 

 

 

89 comments… add one
  • littlebit

    littlebit June 13, 2012, 1:26 pm

    I couldn’t help but laugh out loud about Jackson’s wild animal look and Drew’s sudden beard comment! The image that comes to my mind about that is hilarious lol. Although I don’t have any kids, i’ll take your experience as a note to myself: babies on vacations= unpredictable
    Well..at least you came back home w/ interesting memories/experiences from the trip and maybe came back w/ a glowing tan (hopefully you didnt burn!)
    It would be amazing one day to see a video of Jackson laughing, though! I love when a baby laughs, it automatically makes me smile and brightens my mood 🙂

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  • bittergaymark

    bittergaymark June 13, 2012, 1:33 pm

    Sorry to hear it wasn’t exactly all you had hoped it would be…

    But wait. Wait. Doesn’t ALL of NYC smell like piss anyway? Or is that just me being a mean Angeleno? 😉

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  • avatar

    kerrycontrary June 13, 2012, 1:34 pm

    My coworker recently told me “You know, not much changes when you get married, but EVERYTHING changes when you have kids”

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  • bittergaymark

    bittergaymark June 13, 2012, 1:39 pm

    That is a truly brilliant statement, kerrycontrary. As somebody who has many, many married friends with kids, it strikes me as profoundly true.

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    LANY June 13, 2012, 1:51 pm

    Great article, and I hope that you get a mini break soon! 🙂

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    EmFerg June 13, 2012, 1:52 pm

    What a trip. But I can’t say I’m surpised, sadly. I remember when I read you announced you were headed to the DR with your baby for a week, I winced a bit thinking of the plane ride, the massive amounts of the baby related items you’d be bringing along, and the lack of relaxation time you’d actually be getting on this “vacation”. At least, it was a lesson learned and probably why parents with infants become shut-ins for the first 3 years of their child’s lives. I hope the scenery was nice, the food was good, and the wine kept coming though!

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    lets_be_honest June 13, 2012, 1:52 pm

    Oh Wendy. I felt like I was right there with you. I’m sorry it was like that. I wish someone had warned you it might be. My first several trips with the baby were like this, and I had a ton of family members with me. I hope when your regular sitter comes, you can unwind from this “vacation” at the coffee shop for a bit.
    p.s. This is why I hate beach vacations now. No more naps listening to the waves. I don’t know when that will change, but its been years of eyes-glued-to-kid-so-she-doesn’t-drown/get kidnapped. I wrote on the deleted thread, not sure if you saw, that if you and Drew plan on taking trips alone, do it sooner rather than later to prepare Jack. I never did and at age 6 or 7, I left her for one overnight. By early the next morning, she was calling my from my mom’s hysterical about missing me.

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      bethany June 13, 2012, 2:24 pm

      I don’t have kids, but I have to agree that it’s a good idea to occasionally have a night or 2 away from your baby/child if you can find someone you trust to stay with them.

      My friend left her 8 month old baby home with her husband overnight to go to a friend’s bachelorette party, and even though she missed her terribly, I know it was great for her to just get to be herself for a while, and not be someone’s mom. She called her husband plenty of times, and before bed I pulled out my phone and we looked at pictures of the baby together. Now that she’s about a year and a half, both of her parents have been away from her overnight, and she’s really social and easily adaptable. The baby spends lots of time with her granparents, and extended family. It works out great for everyone!

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      • avatar

        lets_be_honest June 13, 2012, 2:31 pm

        Let me tell you, it was WEIRD. I felt like all of a sudden, this person I used to be was apparently hidden for years and now she was back. I of course missed her a ton too. Felt like everything I did or saw, I felt guilty that she wasn’t seeing it too. “Oh, she would love that” syndrome.
        Even though I knew I was different since having her, I still felt like myself. I still acted like myself. But then I went away (for one night, I sound ridiculous, don’t I?), and there she was again! This girl I used to be. Free to come and go. Use foul language. Wander aimlessly without having to look at my watch. It really was such a weird experience, feeling like I erased the past several years of my life and was just back to the day before I got pregnant.

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    • JK

      JK June 13, 2012, 6:17 pm

      My eldest spent the night away from us for the 1st time when the youngest was born (so at 3 1/2), since then she´s asked to stay the night at grandma´s another couple of times, and a month or so ago I even got date night with my husband! We had to go back to pick up the 1 year old after the concert and dinner(she´s still breastfeeding) but those few hours just the 2 of us were SOOOOO weird.

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    • avatar

      AnotherWendy June 13, 2012, 9:03 pm

      Once my daughter hit about 14 I could enjoy the beach again. She is happy listening to her ipod while I nap, she isn’t looking for constant beach entertainment from me (help me make sand castles, help me find crabs, play wiffle ball with me,etc etc) and she wants to stay in the water about the same length of time as me. So beach days do get better eventually! And then you miss the sand castles and crab digging cuz you realize how fast their childhood goes by.

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  • MaterialsGirl

    MaterialsGirl June 13, 2012, 1:57 pm

    For whatever reason, my cousin’s three month old was a brilliant rock star at international travel. Probably because she was still in the sleep all the time phase. Dunno what it’s going to be like when they travel again now that she’s closer to a year. I guess leaving Jackson at the grandparents or traveling closer next time? What is up with kids and early wake ups? When does the ‘sleep til 9’ part happen? In other news, my friend just gave birth to a truly beautiful little girl. Went to visit (and brought champagne) already.

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    • avatar

      lets_be_honest June 13, 2012, 2:17 pm

      Sleep til 9 happens at around at 15 🙂 The trick is teaching them how much fun it is to let mom sleep in while you stay in bed reading.

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      • dandywarhol

        dandywarhol June 13, 2012, 2:28 pm

        15 years old?? Shit, my nephew sleeps till 9 and he’s only 4.

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        lets_be_honest June 13, 2012, 2:33 pm

        I was (hopefully) exaggerating. Mine’s an early bird. I am so far from it.

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      • dandywarhol

        dandywarhol June 13, 2012, 3:10 pm

        Haha I figured. I think my brother has trained my nephew well in that area.

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      • avatar

        Addie Pray June 13, 2012, 2:33 pm

        I’ve never in my whole life slept til 9. I was the kid up at 5 (or earlier). On the flip side, my parents NEVER had to tell me to go to bed. I’d let them know I was ready for bed at 8 and go tuck myself in. Shit, I still do that. I am the definition of a morning person. Right now? I’m ready for dinner and wine.

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        bethany June 13, 2012, 2:42 pm

        I’m the same way. I’ve always gotten up early, and always gone to be early. My ideal schedule is awake at 7:30, asleep at 10:30.

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        lets_be_honest June 13, 2012, 2:45 pm

        I remember when I was getting older, becoming a “grown up” my dad would tell me before I knew it, I’d be getting up early even on the weekends. That was like 10 years ago. Nope, still hasn’t happened.

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      • MaterialsGirl

        MaterialsGirl June 13, 2012, 2:54 pm

        Haha I know right? I was a later sleeper for awhile(like 8or 9) but once I was in college an having to get up 515 for practice….well now I am programmed to get up early unless extenuating circumstances. Of course I’m also plagued with ‘minnesota tired’ also known as falling asleep anywhere and everywhere around 10pm

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      • CatsMeow

        CatsMeow June 13, 2012, 4:52 pm

        I’m WAY more of a night person as well. Getting up in the morning is the hardest thing for me. Everyone always told me I would “get used it” but nope… it hasn’t happened yet. I think that I not only function better when I can sleep later, but I also need more sleep than the average person. Without an alarm, I might sleep 9 or 10 hours.

        My favorite work shift EVER was 1:00pm – 9:30.

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        rachel June 13, 2012, 6:17 pm

        Yes, I worked 1-10 for a while in college and it was amazing!

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      • dandywarhol

        dandywarhol June 13, 2012, 3:11 pm

        Omg i’m the same! I wake up early and am tired by 10. My boyfriend thinks I’m like 80 years old.

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        Sunshine Brite June 13, 2012, 4:24 pm

        Addie, you’re like my niece (or she’s like you?) 2 years old and up at 5am. Has this whole routine of playing with some toys and getting dressed kinda ok. You just back away and hope she doesn’t realize that anyone else has gotten up yet. I’m don’t go to family holidays for 2 year olds at 5am and I’m not her mama.

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        Addie Pray June 13, 2012, 6:33 pm

        Well, I like gold fish crackers and putting ketchup on pasta, so I may be more like your 2 year old niece than she is like me.

        I used to do that – wake up early and play by myself. Well, first I used to wake up early and run to the neighbors and ring the doorbell to see if Angie could come out and play. Angie’s mom called my mom and the new rule was AP wasn’t allowed to ring the neighbor’s doorbell until at least 8 am. (I guess I was going over there pretty early like 6 ish. …) When I spent the night at friend’s homes, I’d wake up and go sit in the closet and read until everyone woke up. (See, I learned to be respectful of everyone’s morning sleep.) But even to this day I’ll fall asleep – anywhere – early. The movies, plays, in cars, on the floor, at the table, in bars. I just can’t stay up late. There’s something wrong with me. But I wake up with so much energy that I just can’t go back to sleep.

        There, I’m sure everybody needed to know all of that.

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      • iwannatalktosampson

        iwannatalktosampson June 13, 2012, 6:46 pm

        Haha I don’t ever go to movies at the movie theater because I will fall asleep with the lights off. It doesn’t matter what time of day it is – even the matinee, if it is dark I will fall asleep. I am pretty much in bed at 8 all winter.

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        bethany June 14, 2012, 10:15 am

        I hear you about the winter!! I feel like I can’t leave the house when it’s dark, for some reason, so I sometimes go to bed at 7:30pm! My husband thinks I’m crazy.

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        AnotherWendy June 14, 2012, 6:39 am

        We used to tell our daughter -before she could tell time- that she couldn’t come in our room unless the sun was out. Our place had no east facing windows so it actually would keep her in bed for a bit longer. But those mornings where I was playing school with her at 7:00 am on a Saturday morning were rough! And then she would carry on more conversations with the imaginary students than me! There was even an imaginary teacher’s pet named Mardy who always got called on and always got the answer right (of course I couldn’t actually hear her answer!) My daughter would write me a “blue slip” that I had to take home to my parents to sign off on because I always called the imaginary principal, named Mr. Marconi, Mr. Macaroni instead. Mardy never got a blue slip, of course!

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    Addie Pray June 13, 2012, 2:00 pm

    Aw, Wendy, I know the vacation was tough and I don’t mean to laugh at you… but this was kind of funny! The “scene” (I realize it was real) where you are in the room trying to write and drink your glass of wine with Drew out the window looking up for you… was funny. Mostly because this account of the moment felt different than the same moment described in your Vacations – A History piece. Only because after the Vacations piece, it seemed like you *wanted* to put the iPad away and get back downstairs. Very romantic. Here, less so, haha. But I guess that is the thing with motherhood that you’re experiencing (and that we are lucky enough to read about) – it’s wonderful and stressful at the same time!

    If you bring Drew and Jackson to Chicago, I’ll gladly take on Jackson duty in the early morning hours. I’m usually up at 5 anyway. And you can hand him off and go sleep til noon. 🙂

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      Addie Pray June 13, 2012, 2:02 pm

      By hand “him” off, I mean hand off Jackson, while you (collective you – you and Drew) go sleep. Just in case that wasn’t clear. I do like Drew’s videos though, we established on the deleted threads.

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    • Dear Wendy

      Wendy June 13, 2012, 2:14 pm

      Full disclosure: I actually escaped upstairs for the bathroom and wine time twice. The first time, Drew got really pissed off. The second time, I warned him I was going to be 20 minutes and made sure he was ok with that. It was during that second 20-minute break that I wrote the last piece. Make sense?

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      • avatar

        Addie Pray June 13, 2012, 2:18 pm

        Aw, ok, that makes sense. You deserve *multiple* bathroom and wine breaks, so don’t know why I assumed you got only one. Of course, no pressure to keep me/us informed of *all* bathroom and wine breaks, though I love reading about them, which I guess makes me weird.

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  • FireStar

    FireStar June 13, 2012, 2:08 pm

    This explains a lot about my best friend. Whenever she gets back from a trip with her kids she can barely get out a full sentence and just emails me “spa. NOW.” Her plan is always for us to go away on vacation as soon as she gets back. It’s all clear now.

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      lets_be_honest June 13, 2012, 2:19 pm

      I used to think it was obnoxious when people would say ‘I need a vacation from my vacation.’ Like, way to be greedy dude, I take just one vacation! And then children…now I get it.

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      • bittergaymark

        bittergaymark June 13, 2012, 2:24 pm

        That must be it. Because I am always like, huh? Whenever people say that. Of course my recent vacations have been me and other grown adults soaking in all of Bali or Thailand…

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        kerrycontrary June 13, 2012, 3:33 pm

        Eh, I just had a long-weekend where my boyfriend and I attended a wedding and vacationed. Because we had so many friends to catch up with and being on the beach really takes it out of me, I was exhausted every night. I definitely could’ve used a day of normalcy without work to recuperate from that vacation.

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        lets_be_honest June 13, 2012, 3:45 pm

        Woe is you. I kid, I kid. I have heard it from people I guess referring to partying too much on vacations. You know, people I am way too jealous of 🙂
        Always plan the last day of your vacation to be at home! I’ve done it for a while now and it is always worth losing another vacation day at work.

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        TheGirl June 13, 2012, 4:07 pm

        I ALWAYS do that. I find I need that day to do laundry, unpack and just get back to normal again. It makes the transition back to work much less jarring, you know, so I’m refreshed and ready for a full day of DW stalking while I pretend to do work…

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      • bittergaymark

        bittergaymark June 13, 2012, 5:17 pm

        See, I am the opposite. I arrive home at the last possible minute. To me a day doing laundry is pointless, especially when I could have still been at the beach…

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        ele4phant June 13, 2012, 5:34 pm

        I don’t know if I need a “vacation from my vacation”, but when I am traveling somewhere new there’s this inner monologue I have that goes “You must use up every second to experience and explore this new place because who knows when you’ll ever be here again! Who cares if you’re tired! Get your butt to that museum/market/famous park! This is your chance!!!!!!!!”

        I also feel traveling to the same place is a waste of money, so my vacations are usually to new places.

        I always have a blast, but I wouldn’t say vacation = relaxing or refreshing for me.

        Oh, and no kids yet.

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      ktfran June 13, 2012, 3:13 pm

      It’s so true! Even when I go home for a weekend, I spend every waking minute with my family. Including the two nieces – ages 6 and 3. I love those girls to death. But afterwards, I need a break. Like a day to recuperate. And it’s only a weekend or holiday. I can’t imagine how my sister, or any mother, must feel.

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  • avatar

    bethany June 13, 2012, 2:20 pm

    If I lived in NYC, and you actually knew me, I’d babysit for you!

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    Ginger87 June 13, 2012, 2:23 pm

    I’ve been lurking on this site for quite some time now. I love Wendy’s advice and I really enjoy reading everyone’s responses. I guess it’s about time that I finally make an account ..

    I just want to say that, although I’m sorry to hear you didn’t have the most amazing time while on vacation, I find this post extremely refreshing. I think I’m in the middle of a break up (and how I don’t even know is beyond me). This is causing me to be overly sensitive, introspective, etc. Lately, I’ve become really disenchanted with how people *present* themselves/their relationships and what they’re *actually* truly like. I log onto Facebook and everyone claims to have amazing jobs, perfect relationships, etc. I feel like some people feel the need to act like their life is perfect on social media. And frankly, it puts a bad taste in my mouth. So this post was very refreshing … “Hey, our baby was acting up, we fought, we didn’t have the best time, but oh well, life goes on” – it’s nice to see someone tell it as how it is. -end rant-

    I’ve also visited DR and like Wendy, didn’t really enjoy my time there (although I think it was mostly due to staying at a bad resort). I was hoping for more cultural experiences in the town, but we were pretty much told it isn’t safe for tourists (what a great way to welcome guests to your hotel!). If you’re able to vacation in the Caribbean again, may I suggest Grand Cayman Island? Hands down, it was the best vacation of my life 🙂

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    • Dear Wendy

      Wendy June 13, 2012, 2:54 pm

      I wish we had gotten more cultural experiences as well, but we received the same sort of unwelcoming attitude. I will definitely look into Grand Cayman Island for the next time we feel brave enough to try a family vacation again. Thanks for the rec.

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      • dandywarhol

        dandywarhol June 13, 2012, 3:14 pm

        The Bahamas might also be nice. I was just there, and although on the expensive side, most people were very friendly and helpful. We got a good mixture of culture and touristy things.

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      Kathy June 14, 2012, 9:54 am

      It is true – it’s not always safe for tourists to just walk around on their own, but the cultural experience doesn’t truly hinge on walking around the closest city to your resort, right? In all honesty, I think you can always have a great vacation if you go for one of the all-included resorts… or just try to get off the beaten path. Most people I have talked to that have gone to DR end up in Punta Cana or Bavaro, but there are SO MANY OTHER places to go to (Puerto Plata, Samana, Rio San Juan, Boca Chica, and Juan Dolio, just to name a few).

      Feel free to dismiss it, since there’s a humongous bias on my side – you know, being dominican and all 🙂

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  • mandalee

    mandalee June 13, 2012, 2:28 pm

    Awww, Wendy! I’m sorry to hear your vacation wasn’t as relaxing as you hoped! As wonderful and amazing as children are, they are the rulers of chaos and stress in new situations. haha

    One of the families I was a nanny for went to great lengths to make part of their hotel room when traveling look like their daughter’s nursery so she would sleep better. They even brought the two pictures with them that hung above her crib lol I always thought they were a little weird for doing that, but clearly any sanity a parent of a young child can salvage on vacation is worth it.

    I love how honest your posts are about motherhood! It’s refreshing to hear and comforts me a little bit for my future adjustment to parenthood.

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  • KKZ

    KKZ June 13, 2012, 2:30 pm

    If I can say this without sounding mean/judgey – BOY I’m glad I don’t have kids or plan to have kids. I’m glad your vacation wasn’t a total letdown, Wendy – and your story gives childless women like me a little insight, too.

    The other funny thing is, I’ve never thought of the Dominican Republic as a vacation spot, but as a generally impoverished and troubled nation not unlike Haiti. You’re the second person I know personally who has gone there for vacation. I guess it’s kinda like Jamaica – there are happy beachy fun touristy spots, but get more inland from the beach and the facade isn’t so shiny. *Shrug* That’s my best guess, anyway.

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    • KKZ

      KKZ June 13, 2012, 2:33 pm

      “know personally” <— Well, I guess that's a stretch, but you know what I mean. 😉

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    • dandywarhol

      dandywarhol June 13, 2012, 2:40 pm

      I agree with Both of those points! My bf suggested both those places for vacation and I was iffy about if for those same reasons. But hey, some people go and have a blast.

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      • KKZ

        KKZ June 13, 2012, 3:15 pm

        My MIL and FIL went last year as a spur-of-the-moment thing. That was the first I ever heard about it being a vacation destination. I was pretty surprised! I’ve studied Spanish for many many years and am absolutely enamored of Spanish-speaking countries, but gotta admit, DR has not been at the top of my list of places to visit. I bet it’s pretty budget-friendly, though, maybe that’s why it’s so attractive to people during a recession? But then again, cruises are dirt cheap these days compared to what they were, so I don’t know. I’d still be a little hesitant to book a trip there myself if I was expecting a relaxing vacation.

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        lets_be_honest June 13, 2012, 3:16 pm

        My brother spent a month there about a year ago. Said it was one of the favorite places he’s travelled to so far, and he’s been all over the globe.

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      • dandywarhol

        dandywarhol June 13, 2012, 3:34 pm

        Really? Hmmm interesting, what area was he in? I’m all about new places.

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      • Fabelle

        Fabelle June 13, 2012, 3:21 pm

        A lot of island attractions are like that, unfortunately! My parents went to Bermuda not too long ago though, & they loved it because the whole area was nice (none of the poor vs. tourist-y thing going on)

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      • dandywarhol

        dandywarhol June 13, 2012, 3:34 pm

        Nice. I will add that to my list of places to go, I am a sucker for a good beach vacation.

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      lets_be_honest June 13, 2012, 2:40 pm

      I think almost all beachy touristy places are like that though…touristy near the beach, far from it inland.

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        jess June 13, 2012, 3:08 pm

        i think puerto rico is good the whole way through… right? Its practically a state of the us so it better be! lol plus I hear it has really amazing nature for hiking/kayaking/whatever

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      • becboo84

        BecBoo84 June 13, 2012, 4:40 pm

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    • mandalee

      mandalee June 13, 2012, 3:07 pm

      Yeah, on my way from the airport to my resort in Jamaica (about 1.5 hours) we just saw a LOT of poverty and drove through a ton of unsavory places. It wasn’t really that safe, and our driver was only allowed to take us to two rest areas to stop. We were riding with a couple who traveled to a lot of Caribbean islands, and said it’s like that in a good amount of them.

      That being said, I had a blast in Jamaica and loved being there probably because I stayed at a huge, secluded resorts that stuffed me with alcoholic beverages. haha

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      • dandywarhol

        dandywarhol June 13, 2012, 3:15 pm

        Yeah I think it depends on what you plan to do on vacation. If all you want is a beach and booze, then those places are great for it! (Which is basically all I look for haha)
        But getting culture and exploring might be better somewhere else.

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      • KKZ

        KKZ June 13, 2012, 3:26 pm

        You’re probably right. Personally I’m a cultural traveler and tend to avoid touristy stuff (beach days are just NO fun when you’re a redhead and constantly paranoid about sunburn & sun protection) so resort vacations don’t hold much appeal for me. I’d much rather be exploring and be in a place where I’m comfortable interacting with the locals.

        But then there’s another question – we’ve got resorts stateside, why go to a different country altogether if you’re just going to stay locked up in your resort the whole time? That’s something I don’t get.

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      • Dear Wendy

        Wendy June 13, 2012, 3:34 pm

        I can maybe answer this for you. We are big cultural travelers, too, but with the addition of a baby and the crazy year we’ve had adjusting to parenthood, we just wanted to veg out on a beach where we could relax, and not worry about sightseeing and lugging Jackson around in taxis and on trains and stuff. We chose DR because it was cheap, a direct 3 hour flight from NYC, and had beautiful beach scenery. We found a resort where we could stay in a 1-bedroom condo for less than what we pay for rent for our apartment back in brooklyn (score!), plus it was right in town so we didn;t need to rent a car — a big plus for us! — and I envisioned us spending lots of time walking around soaking in the Dominican culture when we tired of the beach (wrong). Oh well — live and learn.

        It wasn’t a bad place, and we did enjoy parts of it. It just wasn’t what I expected, though much of that is my own fault for being naive.

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      • KKZ

        KKZ June 13, 2012, 4:04 pm

        Thanks for replying, Wendy. I figured budget was part of it, I’m sure DR is pretty affordable compared to other popular destinations. I would guess the resorts we have in the states in a similar climate to the Caribbean are probably more expensive and more crowded than you would get in the DR.

        And I can totally respect your desire for a low-key relaxing vacation as opposed to a cultural excursion. I don’t mean to diss on either style of travel – to each their own. I can’t imagine trying to do a lot of sight-seeing with a child in tow, whether it’s a baby or older. Kids get tired and cranky and bored long before most adults do.

        I just went to San Francisco for the first time with my husband (he’s working out there temporarily, I dropped in for a visit) and we went to the California Academy of Sciences, an AWESOME museum. And I said something about how I can’t wait for our niece to get a little older so we can bring her to museums and stuff – yeah, I want to be THAT aunt. But I’ve never actually tried to go through a museum as an adult with a child. I don’t know how I’d deal if the kid was bored, or got tired before we’d gone all the way through (I like to see EVERYTHING), or started whining or crying or had to be carried or something. The possibilities are mind-numbing.

        Yet another reason why I don’t think kids are right for me – or rather, I’m not right for kids. I’m far too self-absorbed and not willing to concede my wants & needs to another little creature who has different wants and needs. I’d much rather explore museums and go culture-hopping to my heart’s content without having to worry about where my kid is and what s/he needs at any given moment. Props to parents who can do this! (Including mine, who are responsible for my love of museums because they took me to so many as a kid!)

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      • dandywarhol

        dandywarhol June 13, 2012, 6:02 pm

        Eh, you live and you learn. We all have places like that. I would recommend doing research on Tripadvisor if you didn’t, I learned a lot from other travelers.

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      • mandalee

        mandalee June 13, 2012, 3:51 pm

        For me, I wanted an all-inclusive resort, so I didn’t have to worry about money, and they don’t offer them stateside. I actually did leave the resort to climb a local waterfall, snorkel and go shopping within town, but we had resort contracted transportation so I knew I’d arrive safely back. My husband went there for spring break in college and went out into the city of Negril every night. I just didn’t want to be pestered to buy pot, cigarettes or some random tourist knick knack, so we skipped out on that this time.

        I love to travel for culture too, but when I thought honeymoon I thought alcohol, beach, bedroom time and was about it. The food and culture was a pure bonus.

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      • avatar

        Shannon June 14, 2012, 9:51 am

        Where’d you stay? We’re going to Couples Tower Isle for our honeymoon in a couple of weeks, and my attitude is about the same as yours as far as what we’re looking to get out of the trip – though I can’t wait to climb the falls!

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    • avatar

      Ginger87 June 13, 2012, 3:09 pm

      My sample size is small (just family and friends) but it seems like the Dominican Republic is THE place to vacation this year. I know of 8 different couples that have already or plan to vacation there this year (2 of those couples are having destination weddings there).

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  • dandywarhol

    dandywarhol June 13, 2012, 2:38 pm

    Well another reason I won’t be having kids. I always felt like vacations with kids would end uo like this one. You could have the most well-behaved child, and they will still get into crabby mode at the worst times. Sorry to hear it didn’t go so well. But hey, its a learning experience, so now you know what to do and what not to do. And it’s refreshing to hear your adventures in motherhood, both good and bad! Most people make it out to be this constant, wonderful thing, and I like that you can be honest with all facets of it!

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  • dandywarhol

    dandywarhol June 13, 2012, 2:41 pm

    I do also want to give you mad props for how you handled it. I would have turned into crazy psycho woman.

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    • Dear Wendy

      Wendy June 13, 2012, 2:55 pm

      Hmm, Drew might say that I did…

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      • avatar

        rachel June 13, 2012, 6:27 pm

        It’s probably much easier to sound calm after the fact 🙂

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  • Fabelle

    Fabelle June 13, 2012, 3:19 pm

    Oh man, I remember I’d initially assumed you traveling without Jackson (until the update post). That sounds so hard! I’m sorry it wasn’t as relaxing as you hoped, but kudos for getting through it & writing about it honestly. (Seriously, I’m learning things about parenting that I never even considered before)

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    • avatar

      MissDre June 13, 2012, 3:33 pm

      “I’m learning things about parenting that I never even considered before”

      Me too! On a side note… Jackson is ADORABLE! and I still want a baby 🙂

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  • avatar

    anonymous June 13, 2012, 3:38 pm

    This was hilarious! I’m sorry for your bad experience, though. We’ve had our most successful post-children vacation by renting a condo (in Hilton Head) with friends with kids. It wasn’t the most exotic vacation but there were enough adults that we could trade some date nights with each other and play video games together after the babies went to sleep.

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  • Lili

    Lili June 13, 2012, 4:34 pm

    Thanks for the honest and accurate description of what parenthood really is like. I feel like I’m just repeating what others have said about how you always write such moving essays, but I want to add that I really appreciate your candor. In today’s ‘photoshopped’ and taken for facebook photo world, its easy to assume that parenthood is just like the photos we see, all smiles all the time with none of the real behind the scenes work that it comes with.

    I’ll be honest and say I’ve been envious of family and friend vacay photos with the baby and I long wistfully for that phase of life after. But your essays show that it WILL be a challenge all in its own. I should enjoy this current childless time because it too is a phase that will be missed like one misses childhood and college days. So thank you Wendy!

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  • avatar

    Sue Jones June 13, 2012, 4:55 pm

    When my son was 16 months we went to Mexico with my husband’s extended family. It was much the same as your trip, though my brother and sister in-law were great about watching the baby so I could eat and try scuba diving, and there was also a 3 year old on the trip so naps happened. And I was completely paranoid the whole time that he would fall into a pool or the ocean and drown… I cannot imagine going on a trip out of the country with just my husband and my son. I am quite sure we would have killed each other… Remember… Brangelina have nannies… Lots and lots of nannies…

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  • avatar

    Meredith June 13, 2012, 5:42 pm

    Yes! I agree, vacations with young children/babies are not vacation! It knocked me on my butt the first couple times, because I soooo needed a vacation, and it just wasn’t relaxing. Of course my daughter got sick, and I mean REALLY sick to the point we had to go home, the first 3 vacations we went on. I think the magical age is 3, where vacations start being fun again. Just came back from a week at the beach and we had the best time. But now I’m pregnant with our second, so I guess it’ll be another 3 yrs before it’s fun again… Oh well 😉

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  • JK

    JK June 13, 2012, 6:28 pm

    I can sympathize, Wendy.
    Our first vacation with the 2 kids was in january, the youngest was 9 months old.
    We went to a place supposedly about 8 hours away by car, which ended up being 10 hours because of the stops we had to make to rest our ears from the screaming the baby did. She slept for the 1st 3 or 4 hours, and then just let out blood curdling screams the rest of the way. Until I finally gave up, sat in the back and breastfed her.
    The 10 days we were away we were in a cabin in a really quiet place, and the owners of the complex are parents of a friend, so they were really good with the girls, so we could get a break in the afternoons. We usually planned our days to go sightseeing in the mornings (we even managed a 3 hour hike one day), in the afternoon back to the cabin for a nap (for the girls), then pool time, and in the evening a walk then dinner. They were both pretty well behaved, and luckily the ride home was a LOT better than the way there.
    But, we came back exhausted!

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  • avatar

    scattol June 13, 2012, 8:01 pm

    What you want to try is Bermuda. You might not be able to afford it, but if you do, you won’t be disappointed. There isn’t a spot on the small island where you can’t or don’t want to go. On our first Sunday we walk up to the island wide city bus stop to go to town. We apparently just missed it. A old lady in a Nissan Micra drives up to us asking where we are going. In the end she drops all 3 of us to the aquarium. It’s that safe of a place.

    Still waiting for my second business there. Just haven’t managed it yet…

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  • avatar

    Foots June 13, 2012, 9:42 pm

    Hahaha; sounds like the story of my life!! In any case, it will get easier…until he turns 2 and starts with the “No!” Lol.

    He sure looks cute with his paci, though. I’d babysit for you if I was there.

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  • avatar

    Sue Jones June 13, 2012, 11:02 pm

    Oh, and now I understand why my mother always complained that our family vacations were not vacations for her! Once my older siblings started going off to college (and they are much older than me) our family vacations stopped. The last one was when I was 10! Sad! But what they would do is send me off to camp for 2 weeks and then go off to Europe! Sounds like a great idea to me now! And now I know why we never went camping!!!

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  • avatar

    SpaceySteph June 13, 2012, 10:42 pm

    I flew home from vacation on Christmas Day last year because I had to work on the 26th. On the flight there were two young babies from different families, who tag-teamed bawling the whole flight. Literally one mom would finally get her baby to sleep and the other baby would take up screaming right in it’s place. Rinse and repeat.

    I felt SO BADLY for the moms. Sure it was annoying but I could only imagine how they felt- exhausted, traveling with babies, and on top of that having to worry about 150 of their new worst enemies giving them the stink eye. I just wanted to hug the two of them and tell them they were doing a good job.

    I don’t even have kids. So Wendy I can assure you that anyone on the plane who had kids and some empathetic but childless people like me did not actually wish your death. And for the rest of them… fuck ’em.

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    • MELH

      MELH June 14, 2012, 12:37 pm

      I agree. We were coming home from our honeymoon, and our flight has major issues. We sat at the gate for over an hour because the fuel thing wasn’t working, then we set on the runway for 2 more hours because bad storms were closing down runways. There were parents across from us with a little girl, maybe 1 1/2 or 2. After a certain point, she just started crying and crying, which was understandable, we sat on the runway longer than our flight was supposed to take. If I hadn’t gone the opposite direction into total slaphappiness (no kidding we started moving and then 2 seconds later they closed the runway again and I just started laughing uncontrollably), I probably would have been crying too!
      Her poor parents were trying to hard to calm her down, but there was just nothing they could do, the little girl was tired and bored and cooped up in a plane on a runway with severe storms all around. We tried to look over and smile at them whenever they looked around so they at least knew someone on the plane was being understanding. I started giving mean looks to the people around us who were making comments or clearly showing their annoyance. I hate how people won’t cut parents a break sometimes. Letting your child run up and down the plane aisles screaming without comment is one thing, being unable to calm your upset young child through no fault of your own is another. You can’t force a baby to stop crying, and people need to understand that!

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      • Lili

        Lili June 14, 2012, 1:12 pm

        Am I going to be a BAD mother if I’m already planning on drugging my kids for flights? I mean, ‘Mommy’ (me) needs her ‘medicine’ (aka BOOZE!) on flights to fly. So… well, why shouldn’t my kid get their own (dr approved of course!) medicine?! If my kids are ANYTHING like me, they will have an innate hatred of small closed confined spaces that aren’t easily escapable, so some medicinal help WILL be as vital for them, as it is for me.

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  • avatar

    Ravage Maladie June 14, 2012, 9:11 am

    It’s been said here before, but I’m so genuinely grateful to this website for honestly portraying the pros and cons of motherhood, from such an intimate and personal perspective.

    THIS is the stuff you want to know if you, like me, are becoming more and more sure you’ll never want to have children, or on the contrary, if you think you do. I haven’t found anything else exactly like these columns online (most ‘motherhood’ columns are very tongue in cheek). And hell, even my friends who are mothers sugarcoat it more than you do..:)

    So just know that, I guess. Recently you expressed your sadness about not being able to write as much as you’d like, but in writing these columns you already are a very powerful and influential author, and you’re doing so many people a favor. Thank you!

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  • avatar

    Miss T June 14, 2012, 11:16 am

    I’m engaged and have been (unrealistically) wanting to have a child for years. Now that the possibility is so close, I’m having second thoughts about whether I’m really ready right now–I know I wouldn’t have been two or three years ago. I’m still very young to have kids and I thought I wanted to be a young mother–keeping up with them and being able to enjoy their lives as an active participant even when they get older–but I find that I have no energy or patience left when I get home at the end of the day (I’m a high school teacher in a VERY rough urban district). I’ve been following your posts about your pregnancy and Jackson’s infancy, and I so appreciate the balanced perspective it provides. I love how much you love being a mom, but I love even more that you aren’t afraid to say “Hey, I love my kid, but this is really hard, and my life has changed, and I miss some of the things that are no longer a part of it!” Now, I’m thinking we need to wait a year or two before we start seriously trying to have a child.

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  • Kristina

    Kristina June 14, 2012, 12:59 pm

    Like a few people have said, I do like how honest you are about saying that you didn’t have the greatest vacation, but still made the best of it. It’s true that it’s too easy to filter whatever you say on the Internet into being all positive and happy, but obviously that’s not the case, so I like the refreshing reality.

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  • avatar

    tbrucemom June 14, 2012, 3:33 pm

    Words of advice from a long time mom. Vacations with your child will never be like they were pre-baby, so you have two choices. Leave him with someone you trust or accept the fact that you’ll have to take kid friendly vacations until he’s a teenager (and then probably won’t want to be seen with you)! People always say your life will never be the same after you have a baby and everyone thinks they’re exaggerating until they have one of their own. Just remember that the time will literally fly by and you’ll have the rest of your lives together and will laugh about this trip along with a hundred other memories that seemed so difficult at the time. It’s hard to keep the spark in a marriage after a baby comes along so please make sure to make time for you and Drew alone, all 3 of you will benefit from it.

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  • avatar

    Bailey @ Onederland or Bust! June 15, 2012, 10:48 am

    I love how honest you are!

    I’m from Canada and a few years ago I went to Cuba for the first time. It was beautiful and SO family friendly. We could walk into the town (Varadaro), take one of the many buses or hail a can and feel perfectly safe. The people were so friendly as well!
    This winter my boyfriend and I went to Playa del Carmen, Mexico. Which again, was beautiful and I enjoyed it even more than Cuba! There was SO much to do and I never once felt unsafe. We were a 10 minute walk through a lovely neighbourhood to get to the main strip which was filled with probably 50+ restaurants and 100+ shops and all of this was a block from the beach.

    Hopefully you have better luck next time 🙂

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