Sunday, March 13, 2005

Myth: Babies Always Sleep During Car Rides

Once again, Celeste is proving that she just hates to sleep. We drove up to Evelin's sister's new place in northwestern New Jersey yesterday day for K---'s first birthday party (no cake-throwing antics; she actually was very upset by how the frosting felt on her hands and wanted nothing to do with the cake) and for the six-or-so hours in the car on the way up, Celeste slept for less than an hour.

Saturday morning, I woke up around 5:00 a.m. to get some work done before we had to leave, and Celeste decided she'd rather be hanging out with me than sleeping, so she was out of bed and in her exersaucer by 5:30 a.m.

We had to run into the District to drop off some baby food and a note at the Topaz Hotel for some friends who were flying in later that day. They have a little boy, G---, a few days younger than Celeste and we're going to meet up with them all on Monday or something but we wanted to make sure they didn't have to try to find a grocery store or anything as soon as they got here. G--- eats a lot.

Anyway, to make this side trip and still get up to New Jersey in time for the party, we had to leave around 8:00 a.m. Celeste did fine getting into her car seat and watching the activity as Evelin and I got everything together for the trip, but, on the way back from the hotel she started getting fussy, which is when Evelin checked the time and realized that Celeste probably would have like to have had her second breakfast about the time we were getting on the road. After a quick stop at a park for a feeding, we were on the road to New Jersey by a little past 9:00 a.m.

M--- and M--- used to live just the New Jersey side of the George Washington Bridge. It was a pretty easy three-and-a-half to four hour (if the New Jersey Turnpike wasn't too trafficky) trip. After K--- was born, they needed more room, so they moved out west near Lake Hopatcong, which is about 45 minutes from the Delaware Water Gap. Instead of being all interstate/turnpike, the trip now includes a long stretch of two- and four-lane roads with lots of stoplights and, on a Saturday midday at least, a lot of traffic.

We arrived around 2:15 p.m. or so, and I brought in a few maps to see if there could be a faster way home, probably through Pennsylvania. Adding to things was that Celeste had only two sub-30-minute naps the entire trip. This was the first long road trip Celeste has taken since Thanksgiving and Christmas, and back then she was pretty good about sleeping in the car: Not this time. Evelin had to stay in the backseat with her, fetching toys as they were dropped out of reach and otherwise talking to/playing with Celeste.

Originally, we planned to spend the night in New Jersey, but I was stressed about the work I should be doing now (as opposed to blogging) and I was growing increasingly worried about Celeste's refusal to nap in New Jersey. (She did go down for about a half hour during the party, but she was well into the realm of overtired and was still refusing to sleep.) After some consultation with Evelin, she agreed to head home that night.

The plan was to try a Pennsylvania route (something the all-New Jersey crowd at the party had trouble figuring out; they kept suggesting easterly routes to the turnpike or the Garden State Parkway that wouldn't really save us much time). M---, M--- and M---'s brother-in-law, did come up with a higher-speed road route down to Allentown, which we ended up using rather than the two-lane roads that would have been a diagonal, albeit slower, route there.

It was a bout 6:45 p.m. and we struck out, heading west on I-80, turning south on PA-33 to get to I-78 where we could pick up I-476 to head down to I-95. We were home by 11:15 p.m.

We did have to stop for gas, one bad crying jag, and two missed turns, but it still turned out to be a quicker trip home, about four-and-a-half hours, which would probably have resolved to about four hours if you take out the having to double back on the missed turns and the stopping for gas. Even though it was all high-speed controlled-access roads, the scenery north of Philadelphia (as best I could tell in the dark) was a lot more scenic than the New Jersey route — although the New Jersey way did pass some very nice old buildings, especially around Princeton.

The best bit was that Celeste slept almost the entire trip. After a bit of crying early in the trip, Evelin moved into the backseat and Celeste ended up falling asleep pretty quickly. About 90-minutes later, she had a five-minute fit of hysterical crying that she didn't really wake up for, and there was a little more crying around the three-hour mark. Both times she was able to be soothed back to sleep. The final wakeup of the trip happened near Goddard Space Flight Center, with only about 15 minutes to go. She didn't really get back to sleep after that until we got home, but she did learn that she can go for longer than four hours without eating; maybe she'll take that lesson to heart and start to work on the sleep-through-the-night thing.

One funny story from the party: As a decoration on the present we brought K---, Evelin tied these Bobbing Sprites bath toys to the ribbon. They have a suction cup that sticks to the bathtub wall or floor and the baby can push them around and they make noise. K--- was having fun shaking them, while Evelin and M--- were playing with the suction cups. Evelin stuck one to her forehead — and I'm honestly surprised this ended up happening to her and not to me — when she pulled it off, it left a big hickey dead center on her forehead. I can see it right now from across the room. Hopefully, it'll fade some before she has to go to work on Tuesday, but Evelin thinks she'll be experimenting with some makeup before then ...

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