Last week we traveled to Gloucester County for 5 days at the river/bay/large body of brackish/salty tidal water that I'm not sure what exactly to call. We rented a house with my parents and with my sister and brother-in-law (and their three kiddos).
And it was great for many reasons, but it was also an interesting experience for many reasons. Traveling with an infant is already "fun" because it is like traveling with a temperamental pop singer. You have to meet their every demand at any hour of the day or night. You have to bring a whole car's worth of gear and items just to cater to one person. They are prone to fits and tantrums when they get off their normal routine. And sometimes they won't make eye contact and scream at you for no reason at all.
Basically, babies=Mariah Carey, complete with the ability to cry in a multi-octave range. And traveling with a baby is like traveling with Mariah Carey.
So with Mariah Carey strapped into the backseat of our car we set off for Mobjack Bay in Gloucester County. Our car was literally filled to the brim. We brought a pack n' play. We brought a bouncy seat. We brought the stroller. We bought two different carriers. We bought her play mat. And her bath seat. And the sound machine. And the sleep suit. And about 20 onesies.
So yeah, we are THOSE parents, the first time parents who literally pack up their entire nursery to bring their child an hour's drive away from home for less than a week. What can I say? I like to come prepared. And in our defense we did use everything we brought.
The house was on a remote but beautiful piece of land about a 20 minute drive from the cute little town Gloucester Courthouse. To get there you had to go down dirt roads. And even though the house has clearly been neglected a little bit in the last couple of years (huge rips on the screen porch, yard completely let go), you couldn't deny the view. It really felt like being in the middle of the water.
The first day there was great. It was just like a family beach vacation with multiple children should be, noisy and chaotic and full of diapers and sand and cousins bonding.
I put Ryland in her most ridiculous bathing suit (I couldn't help myself) and took her down to the little beach in front of the house. The water here was perfect for an infant, because there were hardly any waves. I sat in the shallows with her and let the water run over her little chubby legs. She didn't scream or flail like when we tried to put her in the baby pool a month ago, so I took it as her loving the water. She let me hold her for a solid 30 minutes and just watched the waves contentedly, or at contended as one can be when wearing a silly bathing costume and massive sun hat.
Later in the day I took the kayak out a little ways from the house and enjoyed the total stillness and peace of the water (plus took a little dip). R fished. In the evening we sat out on the porch with snacks and wine enjoying the salty breeze and holding babies.
The next day was where the fun began. Tropical Storm Hermine was on its way toward us from Florida, and even though she hadn't arrived yet the water was a good bit higher due to the storm surge. There were pretty legitimate waves and wind, but still clear skies so we wanted to make the most out of another good weather day before the storm arrived. R and I took a kayak ride through the choppy water and got totally soaked. But the water was beautiful covered in choppy white waves and it was refreshing and invigorating.
Once back to shore, I still felt invigorated so I decided to take a dip in front of the house. Now as I mentioned the storm surge made the water level higher than normal and it was also high tide. This is important, because at low tide there were two clearly visible concrete abutments (large blocks to prevent beach erosion) in the water in front of the house. At high tide you couldn't see them at all. I thought I had a general idea where they were however, so I set off and instead of walking out a little farther in the shallow water, I decided to swim. A few feet out I felt a sharp sting in my ankle. It hurt, but it honestly wasn't that painful at the time. I knew I had cut myself, but assumed it was fairly minor. I swam around a little more and told R that I had cut myself. And then I stuck my foot out of the water to show him. The look of horror on his face was enough to tell me it was more than a little scrape. Now if you get squeamish you may want to stop reading now, because there will be photos.
All the squeamish people gone?
One last chance.
Okay, so R told me to get out of the water and that we needed to go somewhere immediately to get the laceration stitched up. He's a physician so I kind of trust him on these things :) Out of the water I also could see how bad the cut was and that it was bleeding profusely. I washed it out in the outdoor shower and wrapped it in one of R's t-shirts. After a quick shower we left Ryland in the care of my mom and headed out to the nearest urgent care in Gloucester.
Luckily there was no wait and we were able to be seen almost immediately by the very nice doctor there. I ended up with 8 stitches (the worst part of that by far were the two injections of lidocaine put directly next to the laceration with a HUGE needle, I don't mind needles, but this hurt like crazy, however it made it so I didn't feel the stitches so that part was nice). Because I cut myself in nasty river/bay water I also had to get an IM shot of the antibiotic Ceftriaxone (the oral antibiotic that would have covered the same organisms wasn't safe for breastfeeding, go figure). Because of the size of the dose I was lucky enough to have two more needles jabbed in my bottom (something I haven't had since I was like 7). I also got a 7 day course of oral antibiotics to take home.
The less gross after shot:
After all this we decided that an enormous Cook Out milkshake was a necessity. For the first few hours after leaving the urgent care I was amazed by how little my foot hurt. And then the lidocaine wore off and it hurt like crazy. It got so sore by the end of the night that I couldn't put weight on the foot at all (which made rocking the baby to sleep interesting), but luckily that improved dramatically by the next day.
This also meant that my water activities for the weekend were over (no kayaking or swimming), but as luck or lack of luck would have it, Hermine arrived the next day. We lost power for about half the day (thank goodness the rental owners had a propane powered generator!). To make things even more exciting when my sister and dad tried to go out for groceries they discovered the one little road leading out of the neighborhood had been blocked by a fallen tree, completely trapping us in (luckily someone who lived nearby had a chainsaw and we weren't trapped for long).
We spent the day watching the wind and waves, playing Scrabble, and drinking wine (if all else fails on vacation, drink wine).
Things calmed down by Sunday and our last day was beautiful weather. Since I couldn't swim or kayak R, my mom, Ryland, and I drove into nearby Yorktown (somehow I managed to grow up in VA and never go there, such a neat spot with SO much history, plus a really cute waterfront with shops and restaurants). Ryland slept through all of the important historical sites, but I'll try not to hold that against her.
We spent a nice hour in the late afternoon sitting on the beach while R fished, and I FINALLY got the baby to take a nap on me on the beach (I had been trying the entire vacation, I definitely miss the newborn ability to sleep on people anywhere and anytime). I soaked in her warm little sleeping body on top of me while I watched the waves roll in.
I had a great time, but I was definitely ready to come home by Monday. The baby was starting to get super fussy on our last night and I could tell she was overstimulated and exhausted (as a first and only child she is not used to being around 3 other rowdy kids day and night). Plus since I couldn't go in the water, there was only so much to do.
So it was definitely not a perfect vacation (I generally don't like to visit urgent care and get stitches on my beach excursions). The weather didn't cooperate totally. The house had a few issues. It was loud and chaotic at times.
But life isn't perfect, certainly not with kids. I got to spend 5 nights in a beautiful house surrounded by water. I got to spend time with my wonderful family. I drank a lot of wine and ate delicious food. I saw a new part of Virginia. And I got to introduce my daughter to the joy of salty water.
And I can't ask for much more than that.
I'm a thirty-something mom of two, wife, pediatric RN, and writer with a passion for the all the big and little things in life.