brave new world

 once you have a baby, bravery takes on a whole new meaning.
double that when you've got two.

it took me a while to get used to going on solo outings with lucy when she was a newborn. i remember the first time i took her to the thrift store, the first time i drove twenty minutes down to trader joes, the first time i took her to target. i also remember lots of stopping, running around the car and getting in the backseat to nurse her, to soothe her, to get her out of her seat for a minute and pace around by a busy boulevard. the blood races, you can feel a paleness take over your worried face. maybe it comes down to the fact that i can't stomach a screaming baby. maybe i'm spoiled because neither of my babies have been mega-cryers, so when they do cry, especially when they scream that gasping/choking scream that tortures a mama's soul, well i just cannot take it.

so embarking on outings with two babies, unpredictability is high, preparation is key, and you must have the energy and wherewithal to face any situation. it might not seem brave exactly, to tackle that kind of situation, but once you go through some of the inevitable challenges that happen while traveling with baby, well, you do feel pretty damn brave to willingly go forth.

i was well aware of this when i decided to venture to north lake tahoe alone with my babes on saturday while darin was at a long day of work. it was our friend doniella's birthday celebration weekend, and they'd rented a big cabin up in the snow. most everyone drove up from san francisco together. my sister decided to pack up little Utah and meet us there as well, coming up the other side of the mountain. i had not really committed to going for sure, but i woke up feeling excited and refreshed, like I CAN DO THIS!

and i did.

you're looking at a couple of brave mamas.

the drive up was two hours. i took it nice and slow. my babies both fell asleep within the first twenty minutes. i had made a mix of lullabyes and slow songs that perfectly accompanied the majestic drive into the mountains. the sierra nevadas are high, snowy, peaks covered in towering pines like wizards communing. highway 50 curves along up into these mountains next to the american river, and sometimes you can see old damage from avalanches and fires.there is a cold bite to the air, so fresh it makes your skin glow, and as i drove i felt on top of the world.

the view from doniella's cabin:

the birthday girl herself, with the most perfect carrot cake she concocted for her own birthday celebration.

this group knows how to party....

...except this year, with the addition of....BABIES.

we weren't the only baby-wielders. amanda and spencer brought their adorable little gal, Chloe, who is only ten days older than polly but already has two teeth, is practically sitting up, has fingers and toes as long as Lucy's, and is communicating like a six-month-old. Polly seemed quite petite and reserved by comparison! 

lucy and utah were so excited to see each other, and set immediately about the very important business of playing.

babies definitely change the dynamic of a social situation. this is another aspect to a mother's bravery. if you want to be in the social world, you risk jarring your adult friends' nerves with the fussiness, constant attention-seeking, and varied demands that a tiny person brings to the room.

we were lucky in that these particular adult friends were super cool about the baby bombardment. not to mention super helpful! 

sara helping lucy get yet another snowball to eat. 

i forgot to bring gloves. her hands were icy, i know they were aching, and yet she refused to leave that snow alone. it was all very confusing for her, and a toddler meltdown was on the horizon.

sara and suzanne are nannies for twin three-year-old boys, so they helped normalize the situation. lucy was losing it quick, and those two gentle ladies never skipped a beat. they just stepped right up and took her under their wings until the difficult part passed and her psychotic toddler moodswings went the other way and she was happy again!

suzanne trying to stave off said-meltdown with a look at the crazy icicles:

lucy really couldn't even handle a nice pull on the baby sled, but utah was definitely game.

back inside the warm cozy cabin, sara took off lucy's wet things and fixed her up a snack of sliced bananas, rosemary crackers, raisins, and a drink of water. complete turnaround. 

my girls getting cozy. on polly's three-month birthday.

two lovely capricorn women getting to know each other, with a spark of recognition. sara says capricorns are born old and get younger. indeed everyone does say that my polly is an old soul. 

the dudes in the hot tub thrilled these babes by throwing snowballs at the sliding glass door. ka-boom!

old friends. OLD friends ;)  i love this woman dearly. was a little later than i hoped once i left (6:30). i was thinking, i could still get home very close to dark. i knew once it got dark the car trip would be a terrible idea. well i drove over highway 89, around the west side of the lake, where there are switchbacks and crazy cliffsides with no railing, and bone-chillingly beautiful vistas off the side of the mountain. lucy was on a high, talking all about the day, and polly fell asleep. we were singing songs and all was going well. then, about a half hour later, as we came through south lake tahoe, polly woke up, assessed the situation, and started crying. at first i hoped she'd go back to sleep, but her crying built and built in a heart-breaking crescendo. we were coming over echo summit and it was already twilight. it was getting bitter cold outside. my hands were white-knuckled on the steering wheel with my sweet baby's piercing screams in my ears. finally i had to pull over. trucks with their headlights already on whizzing past me over the summit. as soon as i went around and opened the door and she saw me, polly smiled right through her terrible tears. that made it even worse, i could tell she just wanted to be with me. but i had to get us home! i nursed her for a minute (she wouldn't really nurse because she wasn't hungry) and shushed her and she calmed but as soon as i started driving again, the crying started again. let's make the rest of this grueling story short, mkay? i limped home, getting five or ten miles until i couldn't bear it again, getting out in the ice cold now completely dark night on the mountain in a mud pull-out and rocking my babe for a minute, while lucy fussed too, and just dying to be home. it was around kyburz that i thought to dig frantically through the diaper bag for a pacifier, and lo and behold, i found one. polly never even takes a pacifier, and when she does she usually doesn't keep it in, but i think she was so desperate that for once she kept sucking! it was suddenly calm and quiet. i begged lucy to keep quiet too, and talked softly over and over again about the things we'd seen and done that day, and made up some story about a green-tutu-wearing fairy, to keep lucy happy. that pacifier kept my poor baby calm for about the last twenty minutes until lucy accidentally knocked it out with a book and she started screaming immediately; then it took two more stops to get us home, with the last one being right up on Broadway about two miles from home. it was absolutely a physical and spiritual relief to pull into our driveway. darin came right out and i don't think i've ever been so glad to see him. he took polly in and told me she seemed dazed. lucy was fine, excited to be home and get into her toys. both girls were visibly glad to be home. almost as glad as this brave, tired mama.

so although i might end this on a note of how worth it it was, and it was, well i will also say it's important for  mamas to learn lessons. and i did. journeys are fine as long as we're home well before twilight. i should've known better; evenings are not good for babies. polly is grown up enough now to not fall asleep any old time or place, and to know her wants, and in the evenings she just wants me. if darin had been driving and i could've sat in the back with her we would have been fine.

so be brave, mama, but be brave within reason.


oh god, both my kids were screamers the entire time they were in carseats until they were 6 months old. just driving to the store was traumatizing. by baby #2 i'd become a hardened, black hearted mom who just kept driving as long as they were dry, fed and not hurt, because with kid #1 i learned that when i pulled over to soothe him i just made it worse when i had to stop soothing him. i remember a road trip with my siser where she drove and i was in some crazy position trying to nurse the kid while he was in the carseat so we could keep driving with out screaming. glad you guys made it home safe! you are brave!
Amy Beatty said…
What a fun party!Sorry about sad babies though. GLorys ZZ who is number 3 cried like crazy, kind of like bonfire said and she just would drive through it, there was nothing you could do. he just hated driving or his car seat. I was lucky that my kids have always been good in the car. I can remember drives home from placerville with babes screaming all the way to cameron park but they were usally pretty good. but it was always so nice to get out of that car. the tension that can build and make my mind explode and my neck and shoulders just kill. I can remember being so proud to go out and about with my babes though. It made me feel good - like I had this!!! matt during all three babes had a day job and night school so it was something I really had to get down if I ever wanted to do I anything and I wasn't one to stay home. Daddys are lifesavers though, thats for sure.
dolly anna said…
you are brave. i know what it's like to weigh the odds/pros/cons/guests. it's true, some people are real eye rollers when they see a toddler hanging from my hand, but most people are cool, non-ageist folk who enjoy the magic of little people. what a relief it is as a mother to go to an outing where friends help with the kids. the community feels so blessed! sometimes i feel discouraged from going places now due to the effort and stress it can cause, we've had some REAL flops (like the time i drove with a little linky and teddy all the way to eugene to live in a yurt with mostly baby-hating strangers? ugh, shivers.) even now, planning our summer trip, i take note of the distance/time a million times more than i would as a singleton. they get antsy, which can turn into my own (and yours) personal hell. :) but we're brave, and we keep on going because it's good for us. xoxo
Rachel Weaver said…
How quickly I forget about similar harrowing experiences. The cry of an infant is far more rattling than a sixteen month old. It always takes me a few months to readjust to driving with a babe, but then again, I never have naviagted mountains with them in tow.
You're awesome. Keep up the good work. I think one of the great things we can do for our kids is to get them out among other adults who can nurture them and help revive us.
Andrea said…
Tis brave indeed! I'm not sure I would have been able to make that trip (given all of the mountainous twists and turns) alone or at night-- nevermind with two little ones. But, then again Ms. Heather, you strike me as a very brave women-- I think even before you were a mother you had that in you. You are just learning to cultivate that much stronger now :) Go you!
anne said…
Oh man! You should take a car trip with us! Hahaha I think you'd feel a lot better :)

Even though the day ended on a stressful note, it did look like a fun time.
Haha Anne, I'm sure it just gets crazier with each kid! But can't the older ones entertain the babies or plop a paci in her mouth or something? That's what I'm banking on ;) Hope you're feeling good sweet mama, can't wait to hear about Maggie's birth!
Teeny said…
mmmmm i thought i posted here about twenty mins ago, but the post isn't here? I may have put it randomly on one of the other pages from your blog that i had opened. So, um, if you get a random comment from me that seems not to make any sense, it belongs here! x

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