What a Difference a Year Can Make
by Christy Sillman
“I’m impressed with how well Noah is doing, and you are doing really well too,” remarked my mom in the middle of our mini-vacation to San Diego this past weekend. I laughed and reminded her that anything would be better in comparison to our last vacation – The Bahamas.
That vacation was so stressful and traumatizing it’s taken me over a year to be able to write about it.
Rule #1: Don’t travel out of the country with a 2.5 month old who has colic.
Colic really means, “I don’t know why your child is miserable but hopefully they will grow out of it.”
Rule #2: Don’t travel out of the country with a new mom at the height of her post-partum depression.
My post-partum depression was more of a post-partum anxiety disorder. I know, I know, all new Mom’s have heightened anxiety, but when you can’t sleep at night because you are plagued with images of all the possible ways your child can be harmed or killed it really becomes a problem. Everything around me was considered a potential “death-trap” and I obsessed over doing everything “right.” This level of anxiety was preventing us from properly bonding, and I was a wreck of emotions.
Rule #3: Don’t go to Nassau, Bahamas — it’s dirty, scary, and I’m pretty sure zombies live on that island.
Rule #4: Don’t stay in the room up the narrow steep stairs that you have to climb with said 2.5 month old in your arms. It was the ultimate death-trap in my stressed out mind.
Rule #5: Don’t stay in a house with seven other family members.
Besides traumatizing my brother and sister-in-law to the point of inverting and sealing up their reproductive organs, we did survive this trip.
Don’t get me wrong, there were some really good times – Grandma’s birthday dinner at Old Heidelberg (a German restaurant in Fort Lauderdale, Florida), swimming with dolphins (something that was at the top of my bucket list), and sitting next to beautiful Caribbean waters. I’m super appreciative of my parents for organizing and financing this entire trip.
This trip had been planned and booked well before I got pregnant with my son Noah. It was a big family trip to celebrate my parents’ 30th wedding anniversary and my Grandmother’s 75th birthday. I waivered many times on whether or not we should go, but ultimately decided that I would be jealous and lonely if we didn’t go. What I didn’t know then, and certainly not while we were on the trip, was that this trip would push me to my limits and ultimately help me overcome my post-partum depression. This was that “rock bottom” some people speak of.
After the Bahamas, I could face new motherhood obstacles with confidence. I realized that if I survived that crazy trip I definitely could handle a blow-out in the middle of Target.
Now, it’s been a little over a year, and I finally feel ready to take the vacation challenge on once again. I decided, last minute, to go with my parents to San Diego for a mini-vacation before the BIG vacation next week to Hawaii.
I called it our vacation appetizer — the warm-up to the real deal.
I knew I needed this vacation test ride to build my confidence for next week.
Noah was much more tolerant of the disruption in our routine. We didn’t have to travel with nearly as much baby gear as last time. Noah and I have a much stronger bond and trust in each other, and so unlike the Bahamas trip, we could lean on each other when the travel stress got to us. I have more confidence to know when to ask for help, and to know what I need help with. I’m not crying every time something goes wrong — in fact I laugh a lot now.
We leave Monday for Hawaii, and although I’m super nervous about a five-hour flight with a 16 month old, I know we’ll get through it. Hawaii has always been my most favorite place to vacation, and we’re going there to attend the wedding of a friendly member — that’s a friend who feels more like a family member.
I’m hopeful that this trip will help heal the trauma of that Bahamas trip, and maybe we can convince my brother and sister-in-law that having children is a positive experience. I remind Noah often that if he doesn’t lay on the cuteness he won’t get cousins any time soon.
It’s time for our Bahamas’ “do-over” trip, and although I know our family vacations will never be the same as they were B.N. (Before Noah), I’m hopeful that they will be even more memorable with Noah in tow.
Wish us luck and send a travel prayer our way.
A’ohe hana nui ka alu’ia – No task is too big when done together.