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Published on August 18, 2020

The new mommy diaries

First road trip: Those dreaded red lights

By Stephanie Johnson / The Bulletin

Please, not another red light.

We prayed that we didn’t catch any red lights. Everytime we did, there was a scream coming from the back seat. When the car was stopped, he was not a fan. He wanted to stay in the fast lane.

We were traveling with our newborn for the first time. It was only a two-hour trip, but when you have a screaming baby, it feels like you’ve been in the car forever.

We were also having our first overnight stay, which meant packing the entire house, including the kitchen sink.

It took us longer to pack for the weekend than to drive there and back. We were only staying one night, but if you saw our car full of baby items and bags, you would think we were going away for the summer. I packed multiples of things just in case anything were to happen - and I mean anything.

It makes sense now why parents are often late. Not only do they have to take care of their children while packing, they have to make sure they don’t forget a single thing, or there could be a roadtrip meltdown or an emergency trip to the store. We didn’t want either, this being our first time traveling with baby in the backseat.

I couldn’t imagine the horror of forgetting to pack a pacifier.

The trip started off rough. We weren’t sure how it would go. As soon as we got on the highway, he was fast asleep. Is he O.K.; is he breathing? We kept asking each other and worrying. We are first-time parents, so worrying about him is our rite of passage. We are allowed to be paranoid with the first one.

We checked back. I could tell he was sleeping, but I couldn’t tell if he was breathing.

We had to stop and get gas, and I figured I would climb back there and check on him. There was no need, because as soon as we stopped, he let us know he was awake. He is not a fan of sitting in a still car; he wants to go fast.

Our dog was not a fan of red lights either because he checked on the baby every time he was crying. We did learn that our dog is tolerant to baby screams, probably more than we are.

As we continued our trip and merged back onto the highway, the baby was fast asleep. When we got to a portion of highway with lights where the road is always backed up, we both knew what to expect.

We were prepared this time and ready for the meltdown. Someone upstairs must have felt sorry for us, because we didn’t get one red light, which has never happened before.

We arrived at our location, and overall, he did a great job on his first road trip, except for the screaming. He had a fun-filled weekend with his family. I didn’t forget anything and had brought just enough diapers, which felt like a major parenting win.

We weren’t sure how the overnight stay would turn out, but we brought his pack-n-play, which he enjoys sleeping in. I thought about just packing up his whole room, but that was going to take a little longer. I almost did, anyway.

He only woke up once during the night to eat and went straight back to sleep. All that screaming in the car at red lights probably tired him out.

We had warned everyone that he could be active at night, but he proved us wrong. The next morning he woke up smiling and giggling. He was on his first mini-vacation, and he enjoyed looking at a different white ceiling.

But all good times must come to an end, and it was time to pack up and get ready to leave. Packing for the return trip seemed easier. It felt like we had become semi-experienced travelers with baby.

And baby has become a more experienced passenger. He learned that when mommy and daddy drive, baby sleeps, which he did - the whole way.

When we stopped at a red light and waited for a meltdown, nothing happened. We stopped to get a snack, and nothing happened.

I climbed in the back to make sure he was breathing again, and he was sound asleep. I wonder what he was dreaming about - maybe about going fast in the car - because he was happy as could be.

Yes, he was breathing. I checked several times.

(You can reach Stephanie at stephanie.bulletin@gmail.com. Or by writing to: The Bulletin, P.O. Box 2426, Angleton, TX. 77516)