So we got back from The Big Trip last night at around 11:30. I knew before we even left that our weekend with family and friends would fly by, but I couldn't anticipate just how fast it would actually go. It turned out to be a really great experience; even though Collin was running off of next to no sleep, constantly being schlepped from one unfamiliar place to the next and handled by people he had never met, he was still charming and adorable. I left Southern California with new respect for this amazing little creature, who is so resilient and brave. The one down side of the trip was that Collin, amazing as he is, is extremely distractable and it effects his nursing. Sometimes I honestly believe he would rather devote his attention to a play-by-play of grass growing than expend the effort to breastfeed. I believe the trouble started when we introduced the bottle (of pumped breastmilk) at four weeks, which is the age we were told was best because it was least likely to result in "nipple confusion" (which is a kinder term for "The baby would rather have a bottle than nurse from the breast").
Actually, we had just gotten over a month-long fight with nipple confusion after spending the bulk of Labor Day weekend in bed topless (me) and diaper-clad (baby) so we could have lots of skin-to-skin cuddle time to help "promote" breastfeeding. It actually worked after two grueling days, with lots of moments where I actually considered giving up and pumping for the remainder of his breast milk days while my baby cried and cried for a bottle. This trip, however, threw all our hard work out the window. At first, I put up a fight and tried to get him to nurse as much as possible during the six hour drive to Socal, which looked a lot like me twisted precariously over his car seat to put my boob in his mouth, smiling and waving at other cars as they drove by and stared. Eventually, I gave up and the bottle took another victory, so now we're back in bed for days until he is nursing again.
Introducing Collin to my friends and family was something I had a lot of anxiety about at first (What if he is uncharacteristically cranky and screams the whole time? What if he gets sick? What if he is afraid of all the new faces? ), but everything ended up going really well. The most amusing introduction was Collin meeting his six-year-old aunt, who was adopted into the family when I was a young adult, and who was immensely curious about babies and mommies. She watched me breastfeed with open-mouthed awe, and developed a mini-obsession with it. She drank cup after cup of milk and then announced she was going to drink my milk (didn't happen). The best part was her commentary about body parts that she didn't normally see, like my breast ("It looks like a big balloon is attached to you.") and my son's penis ("It's a sea shell!").
As for The Big Car ride, it could have been much worse. Collin had the most trouble on the way home, when he cried for an hour until he actually choked himself and scared the daylights out of all three of us. After that, he fell asleep and we drove for five hours in silence because suddenly the slightest sound would wake him up. It gave us lots of time to think and practice our miming skills. Now that it's over and Collin is liberated from his car seat, I can almost hear him declare, Braveheart-style, "FREEDOOOOOM!!" All said and done, it was an excellent first family vacation, and fun to be able to trade our redwoods for desert hills for a few days.