Charleston Part 2 (and what it’s like to travel with a baby)

 
Happy Election Day everyone! I’ll avoid getting too political here today (because let’s face it, we’re all sick to death of politics right now), but I am super excited to take Ryland with me to vote later. I may or may not get a little misty when I cast a ballot for our (hopefully) first female president with my daughter there to witness it. For all its flaws, it’s still a pretty cool world my daughter has been born into.

I think last time I left off I shared the beautiful pictures of the neighborhood we stayed in during our Charleston trip. We settled in Tuesday night and then Wednesday morning set off for breakfast down the street and then a gorgeous stroll around the Old Village.

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Couldn’t get enough of these Old Village views

Later that day we headed into the city and walked, walked, and walked some more. One of the many things I love about Charleston is how immensely walkable the city is. It’s geographically pretty tiny and all smooshed onto a peninsula, so you can literally walk from one end of the city to the other without going more than a few miles. We got lunch at Bull St. Gourmet (one of my favorites, then walked around the Battery and up King St. a little ways. After a full afternoon of walking we were tired so we headed back out to Mt. Pleasant and walked down the street to Shem Creek for dinner at Red’s. 
As I mentioned on my last post, I spent many a college night at Shem Creek bars so it was kind of a mind trip to come back here with my baby, but in a good way. This was taken around 6 which is normally the time Ryland is winding down for bed, so she was not in the best mood during the meal. We hurriedly downed our food and drinks while passing the baby between the stroller and each other’s laps. Not the most relaxing meal in the world but still couldn’t beat the views. After dinner we strolled around the new Shem Creek boardwalk that extends out onto the marsh. It was gorgeous, but unfortunately by this point the baby was really done with everything and cried for most of the walk. 

We all recharged overnight and after a 5:30 wake up (definitely not the time I used to get up on vacations), started day two. After coffee and breakfast we headed out to Sullivan’s Island, my favorite Charleston beach and a must stop every time I go back there. We put the baby in the carrier (which I hadn’t done in a while, but I forgot how much easier it can be, minus the strain on the back).

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We tried the “backpack” option and she was not a fan.

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Much happier in the forward facing option.

It was about 82 degrees and GORGEOUS, and we took a long and lovely barefoot walk on the beach. The baby fell asleep almost immediately (ocean = giant white noise machine and carrier=tricked into thinking she’s back in mama’s belly, a total recipe for sleep). I love Sullivan’s, because the beach is beautiful and the houses are set WAY back from the sand so for long stretches you can’t even see them. Plus there are no hotels on the island so you really feel a lot more isolated and secluded than you do at the other beaches.

When Ryland woke up we took her out and let her “play” on a blanket. Her hat is the dorkiest thing ever, because it makes her look like a mini baby fisherman, but I love it. She was much less freaked out by the beach than last time we took her when she was around 3 months. She even hung out with her feet in the water for a few minutes without complaint.

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Mother/daughter pensive beach shot

 After our beach time we hit Poe’s Tavern a few blocks away for my other Charleston Must-Have, their cheeseburger! Even better post-beach walk and washed down with a cold wheat beer.

We rested for a little while after lunch and then headed back into the city for more walking. We strolled around upper king and then swung by the college for some reminiscing, and because in my totally unbiased opinion it’s the most beautiful campus in the world. Had to stop at the Cistern of course. 

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Future College of Charleston student?

We walked and walked some more, through the Market and to Minero for an early and absolutely delicious dinner (Minero is a Sean Brock restaurant and a lot more baby friendly than his other two fancy schmancy places, Husk and McCrady’s)
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We are just starting the high chair thing, and she looks comically teeny tiny in it.

And then because we needed to soak in as much Charleston as possible we walked down the Battery again and grabbed some gelato on our way back to where we parked near the college.

It was a short but sweet trip, and so nice to be back in my favorite place. But because this is an honest blog and not one of those ones that just make everything look perfect, I will say that traveling with a baby can be super hard and stressful. 

I spent almost every restaurant meal we had in a state of tension, despite my efforts to relax. I wish I could give zero you know what’s about what other people think when it comes to bringing the baby out in public, because it would make life SO much easier. But I do care unfortunately, so when we bring her to a sit down restaurant, I spend the entire time worried she’s going to cry or fuss or throw a fork across the floor. And because we were off her schedule and in a new place, she did cry and fuss and throw forks across the floor every time we went out. She would do okay for the beginning of the meals, but inevitably start to freak out a little by the end, and so instead of relaxing and leisurely vacation meals, I pretty much unhinged my jaw every time we ate out and threw back my drinks like I was still in college. 

Vacations pre baby can be spontaneous and fluid. But with a baby, at least when you’re a crazy person like me, you feel like ever minute has to be planned carefully. Do you get back to the rental so she can nap in the pack in play or do you hope that she will nap in the stroller/carrier? Is she going to throw off her sleep if she naps in the car on the way home from dinner? Is she going to be able to hang being out and about past 6? Most of our Charleston trip the nap situation worked out just fine, but on our last day I had assumed she would nap when we strolled around the city (and we walked for like 2 hours so she had ample opportunity). But of course babies laugh in the face of your plans and so she didn’t nap, which meant by the time we got to Minero for dinner she had been up for over 3 hours, and it was around her usual bedtime, which meant I was a giant stress ball because I kept waiting for a nuclear meltdown. 

Oh and I also don’t usually feel enormous amounts of guilt on my vacation, but bringing Ryland meant heaps of mom guilt. I felt bad every time we were out “late” (and by late I mean past 6, we were literally home every night by 7:30). I felt guilty on the car rides there and back that she had to be strapped into a carseat for so long. I felt guilty strolling her around in the city for so long, because wouldn’t she be happier out of the stroller being able to stretch our her arms and legs and get in some exercise. 

None of this is particularly rational, but if you’re a mom, it’s hard to escape the feelings of guilt whenever you take your baby out of her comfort zone. Which I know is silly, because I do not want to raise a sheltered little Howard Hughes shut-in who can’t handle leaving her house. I want Ryland to be comfortable traveling and going to new places and trying new things, because I think that’s an important trait to have. I want her to be adventurous and have wander lust in her veins. But even knowing all of that, the guilt was inescapable.

Vacations with a baby also mean a huge restriction on your freedom to do fun stuff that you would have before. We could literally see the Shem Creek bars from our cottage, and R and I wistfully a few times said how much fun it would have been to be able to go out (and “going out” for us would mean being home by 9-10pm tops, but still!) and be able to have a few drinks on the water and not have to worry about driving, listen to live music, relax and feel young again. The last time we went to Charleston (almost 2 years ago) we stayed out until past midnight and danced and drank and went to bars.

Going there with Ryland meant that none of that was going to happen. And I am okay with that for the most part because 1.) I am 90 years old and 2.) I would have missed her terribly if we didn’t bring her, but it’s still a little bit of a shock the first time you travel with a baby and realize how many restrictions there are on what you can and can’t do.

And I haven’t even mentioned the logistical challenge of traveling with a baby, all of the things you have to bring like pack and plays and baby baths and enough diapers and wipes and formula (and white noise machine and lovey and stroller and carrier and some toys and on and on and on).

It’s not easy. Traveling with a baby is an entirely different beast than a vacation pre-baby, and there’s a lot more work involved than normally associated with a vacation.

But, and this is a big but, even with the stress and the guilt and the work, I love to have my baby with me as much as humanly possible, and I’m so glad I was able to take her to my favorite place in the world. I can’t wait to travel more with Ryland in the future and show her as much of the world as possible. Because it’s a big, wide, beautiful world out there. Seeing it through her eyes makes it seem even bigger and more wonderful.

sam
11/9/2016 07:04:23 am

ah I totally feel you on all the hidden behind-the-scenes tension/stress inside us during vacation with baby! and the mom guilt! I thought that was just me! i felt terrible too, about keeping him cooped up in the stroller or carseat while we tried to sightsee, thinking the same thing, wouldn’t he be happier if he was free to stretch and play instead of being dragged around with us? ahhh

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