Tuesday, July 12, 2011

camping + baby = disfreakingaster.


I have learned, in this life, that you can divide people into categories. Not based on skin color or religion or economic status or that stuff, because a lot of the time that is a bad plan and also racist, but based more on things they like (and don't like) to do.  For example, there are "TV people" and "non-TV people."  TV people like to talk about the latest episode of Grey's Anatomy and that funny commercial with the e.trade baby.  Non-TV people like to talk about how they save all this money by not paying for cable and the latest article they read in National Geographic and then you feel like you are turning into an American Idiot for watching four hours of Des.perate Housewives last weekend, but you had to because your brain was incapable of processing anything more complex than that and DH was a more dignified choice than, say, a marathon of Bride.zillas.

Can you tell which of those categories I fall into?

Anyway.  There are also "outdoorsy people" and "non-outdoorsy people."  "Indoorsy people," maybe.  And I am unashamedly, unabashedly, totally in the latter group.  I am an indoorsy-kind of gal.  I like the outdoors - it's pretty - but I like to observe it from the comfort of my own home, or car, or possibly a reasonably-priced hotel.  I am not terribly high maintenance.  I mean, the hotel doesn't have to have mints on the pillow or anything, but it does have to have a bed.  And a shower.  (And possibly a TV.  But I digress.)

My brother-and-sister-in-law are outdoorsy people.  Also, they are cheap.  In their case, I find these to be related phenomena.  It isn't always, because I've been to R.EI and that is not a cheap place, but there's no denying that camping out is a frugal way to vacation.  They drove up to our neck of the woods from theirs, and they wanted us to go camping for a night with them.

Let me say, first, that I had my doubts about this.  Because I know a bunch of people that say they like "camping," but what they mean by "camping," is "hanging out in my air-conditioned/heated trailer/camper with a fridge and lights and a toilet and a bed," whereas what my brother-and-sister-in-law mean by "camping," is "tent on the dirt. And possibly a campfire."  I would be okay with version #1, even though a cheap hotel would still be my preferred choice.  But option #2 does not really light my fire.  I mean, nature is beautiful and all, but I don't really want to sleep in it.  If you say to me, "but our ancestors did that all the time, it's natural," I will say, "that's because they hadn't invented the Holi.day Inn yet, and if you gave Cro-Magnon Man a chance to sleep at Mot.el 6 instead of his animal-skin tent, I can guarantee you he'd take it in a neanderthal heartbeat."

Let me also say that I realize I may sound insane to you, especially if you are a Camping Person.  I happen to live in a very camping-friendly, outdoorsy, hiking-adjacent, mountain-biking, all-cool-people-like-to-hang-out-in-nature area of the country, so I am the odd person out a lot of the time.  I don't hike, or ski, or waterski, or sleep in tents, or pee in the woods, or know how to tie those kinds of knots that keep your tent from flying away in a windstorm, or anything particularly useful in the outdoors.  I am a kick-ass knitter and I can read at a ridiculous pace, but this doesn't really do you any good on a camping trip.  (I guess I could read the tent instructions real fast and then knit you a cover for it, but again - not super useful.)

But I'm willing to try it for a night.  It would take too long to tell you all the details and, as you might guess, I am a little short on sleep after this experience, so let me sum it up:
  • boy, does it take a lot of stuff to attempt camping with an 8-month old.  A. LOT.
  • and the drive will take significantly longer than you thought.
  • when you get there during bedtime, in the summer, it will take the baby (previously asleep in the car) a LONG DAMN TIME to fall back to sleep, because it stays light pretty late in the summer and the campers in the site next to you are kind of loud.  
  • also, the baby is distracted by the super fun zipper pulls on the snowsuit you made her wear for fear of her getting cold at night...
  • ...which she does several times so finally, about 1:00am, you think it will be a good idea to put her in your sleeping bag...
  • ...which is good for her, except that it leaves no room for you.
  • and that is a bummer of a time to realize that the self-inflating sleeping pad you bought on the way to this camping extravaganza must have self-confidence issues because it did not inflate.
  • Sleeping on the ground is not all that comfortable.
  • In the same way that "stabbing your eyes out with a fork" would also be "not that comfortable."
  • And it is cold.
  • 45 degrees doesn't sound that bad, but it is when you're sleeping in it.
  • Counting the number of miles to the nearest hotel (68) does not help you fall asleep.
  • But boy, do you appreciate your bed afterward.
Yeah.  It pretty much sucked. 

When we got home, my husband and I were discussing the trip and what we would have done differently, and he said, "well, I guess we learned that next time, we should bring a third sleeping bag."  And I said, "what I learned is that there is NOT GOING TO BE A NEXT TIME."

If you are thinking about going camping with a baby, here's what I've got for you:
  • If you are a Camping Person, go for it.  Let me know how it goes.
  • If you are a Non-Camping Person, get a hotel.  Go hiking in nature the next day.  Take photos.  Then go back to your hotel and sleep in a bed.  And take a shower.  And enjoy the temperature-controlled air. 
To all my Non-Camping peeps: stay strong.  Make hotel reservations.  Learn from me.  There is no need for the suffering to continue.   The Camping People will keep our nation's parks system running.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm going to go run all the electrical appliances in my house whilst doing laundry and taking a nap in a bed.


Friday, July 1, 2011

bite me

Well, it happened.  She bit me.

Not that hard, and I'm about 99.9% sure it wasn't on purpose - she was almost done nursing and smiled at me and then absent-mindedly latched back on with her teeth (oops) - but WOWZA, that hurts.  I can hardly imagine what it's like if the kid takes a big ol' purposeful chomp down on the girls, which have been doing yeoman's work for the past eight months.

I took her off, said firmly, "OUCH.  NO."  And then we were done nursing for that session.  It happened again the next time, and we did the same thing again - OUCH. NO. DONE. - and, since then, she hasn't bit again.  On the other hand, I have totally stopped my half-dozing during nursing sessions and am, instead, keeping watch like a prison guard who's heard rumors about a jailbreak.

What do you think about taking an eight-month old on a camping trip?  My idea of 'camping' is 'Motel 6,' but my brother-and-sister-in-law are coming to visit, and they love camping, and there are a lot of cool places to camp around here.  Plus they have all the stuff for it which means we can try it for a night without investing a bunch of money in items for which we have no storage room anyway.  But wouldn't she get cold?  And she moves around so much during the night that I can't imagine a blanket would stay on her for more than ten minutes.  I'm not sure one sleep sack will do it.  (The last time we took her on anything like this, we stayed in a "cottage" which we later termed, with no affection whatsoever, "the shit shack," and she woke up every 45 minutes screaming because it was so freaking cold in there.  I have Post-Shit-Shack-Stress-Disorder from this.)

Last night, I was with a family as their 64-year-old husband and dad died from a lung disorder.  He had been diagnosed some three years ago, and he was ready.  It was time.  They took him off all the machines, and we waited with him as he began to breathe for himself, long, labored breaths, getting slower and slower, until finally he stopped.  There were a few startling moments along the way, and doctors and nurses hovering in case anything went wrong, and all the while it occurred to me that his work of dying was not so different than the work of giving birth.  A lot of frantic hurrying, interspersed with moments of silence and breathing and people waiting, holding your hand and telling you, "it's okay, you can do this," and I watched his three kids as they held his hands, and I went home and put my daughter to bed, and I thought:

someone told me once that, when you meet your child, you are meeting the person who will hold your hand when you die.

There are a lot of reasons that doesn't always happen, of course.  But many times, it does.  And it struck me that the holiness of both moments - birth and death - are deeply connected, and terrifying, and peaceful, and we are very rarely, truly, prepared for either one.

I realize this seems to have taken a turn completely different from where I started this post, but if she bites again, maybe (just maybe, no guarantees) I'll be able to keep it in some perspective.