After our I-95 adventure last week, Maddie and her family took the advice of Horace Greeley and headed WEST. Just the thought of another I-95 nightmare left all of us sick to our stomachs.
The Westerly route was like a little slice of heaven:
- No speeding idiots
- No massive traffic jams
- No un-Godly construction delays
- And NO freaking tolls (Heaven I tell ya!)
The trip started off a little on the rocky side, Maddie’s appetite kicked up after we had been on the road all of ten minutes, but Gina stuck a bottle in her mouth and it was smooth sailing for the next 200 miles.
We were about 50 miles short of home when we stopped for a diaper change and another bottle for the baby. Gina took over the wheel and I climbed in back with the Mad Madster. Keep in mind, PaPa is a terrible passenger, if he’s not driving, he’s sleeping. This made feeding Maddie a real challenge.
I plopped the bottle in her mouth, but the baby also looked plum tuckered out. It soon became apparent; one of us was going to fall asleep on the other. I was struggling to stay awake, but the motion on the car and the soft quiet noises coming from the baby were putting the zap on my consciousness.
Twice I snapped awake to the sound of Maddie’s protests because I hadn’t noticed the bottle slipping out of her mouth. The harder I focused and tried to stay awake, the more Maddie kept falling asleep on the job as well. It was like the narcoleptic Olympics in the back seat where two idiots were just too tired to do anything except catch some Z’s. We were fighting the good fight, but sleep had the upper hand.
I woke up about three miles from home and both Maddie and her PaPa were in the same positions we had been in 45 minutes ago when we feeding time was supposed to begin. Like Father, like daughter: “If this car is a moving – Baby and PaPa will be snoozing!”
For those of you who live on the East Coast, you already know that Interstate 95 is chalk full of traffic jams due to idiots who wreck their cars and SUV’s going at least 25 mph over the posted speed limits. However, after more than 40 years of driving on that god-cursed stretch of road between New York and DC, today was the worst trip ever and poor Maddie was front and center for the entire 9-hour ordeal.
That’s right, 9 hours to go a little over 200 miles and every suicide jockey in a 400 miles radius was looking for a prom date to the hereafter.
It’s a very bad feeling when you have a 4-month-old baby in the car and every inadequate loser is zipping by at speeds of up to 100 mph on rain-slicked roads. Maddie and her parents got snagged in at least 4 dizzying traffic jams in three different states due to the exploits of these expert drivers with amazing insecurity issues.
It is hard to fathom how Maddie endured hour after hour with Zen-like patience as her parents complained bitterly about the nightmare that would not end. We had to stop and feed her twice, but she was such a good girl and helped her mom and dad keep their wits about them.
Maddie was sound asleep when got off the highway nine hours later. We were less than a mile from her grandparents house when Maddie was jarred awake by the sound of a terrible impact. Her father had just tried to straddle a dead deer on a curve, and the undercarriage of the car made full contact with the carcass.
Even after being woken up by this spectacular impact, Maddie took the incident in stride and didn’t even cry. I don’t know how she keeps her cool like that, but there is a lesson to be learned here.Maddie was obviously thinking that despite the exhaustive journey and mashing the dead dear underneath the car, it’s important to be thankful that everyone arrived safely. She also couldn’t have been happier that once again, it was time to eat!
Call it a lapse in judgment due to sleep deprivation or just plain stupidity – but Gina and Stay Home PaPa were enjoying a lazy Sunday afternoon with the baby on the banks of the Hudson River when we realized that time had somehow gotten away from us.
It was 3:24pm!! Only six minutes before Maddie’s eyes would flutter open and she would be looking earnestly for a bottle of baby growing goodness. The only problem is that we were more than 20 minutes from home with nothing but rough sidewalks and train tracks ahead.
Who doesn’t love a challenge? It was our family version of the Amazing Race through Jersey City and our competition was our daughter’s empty belly.
Maddie’s stomach has already received universal accolades for its startling ability to keep track of time – and we could only hope that this Sunday afternoon would be the exception.
The race is on! We took off at a half walk – half jog with delusions of victory dancing in our heads. We raced south, but trouble was already emanating from the stroller. This trio of racers rounded the first corner near Exchange Place just before 3:30pm and Maddie picked right up on the fact that no one was making any efforts to feed her.
Our first obstacle was the Hudson-Bergen Light Rail crossing– a treacherous stretch of rumbling train tracks sure to induce a hunger filled tantrum! We went rumbling, bumbling and stumbling across the tracks and incurred our first penalty of the race. During the crossing, Maddie chirped out a protest but the little angel was willing to grant some leeway. We are now on notice and the clock is ticking.
We are making good time – but Maddie decides that enough is enough and stages her first howling protest. Fair enough – time to stop and mollify our lion cub. A few reassuring words and the strategic placement of a pacifier and the race is back on track.
Race obstacle #2: Do we take an unknown shortcut to Grand Street? Heck – roll the dice. The short cut is a success – but the baby’s stomach is grumbling! We finally make it home and you know who’s waiting for us – Phil Keoghan, the host of the Amazing Race.
He solemnly tells us: “Gina, John – I’m sorry but you are the last racers to arrive and you have been eliminated. You did not get the baby back in time for her feeding – What were you thinking?”
Maddie seems equally disappointed as her look seems to say, “We’ll address this little adventure later, for right now, FEED ME!”
Monday was Stay Home PaPa’s first solo campaign with Maddie and to quote the movie Good Will Hunting – the little girl was chalk full of shenanigans, tomfoolery and ballyhoo.
Things kicked off quietly with a little nap after the 5am feeding and the world was our oyster. But feeding number two at 9am was not quite so seamless.
The first challenge was that the baby’s normal four ounces suddenly became woefully inadequate. Maddie downed her normal meal and was screaming for more within seconds of the last swallow. Am I missing something? OK, I’ll heat up two more ounces and we’ll go from there. Little did I know that this was just the intro to the triple play delight she had planned for PaPa.
Once we were done feeding, we retired to the back room for a diaper change. The process was nearly completed when Maddie pulled a classic diversionary tactic. A little bit of spit up was all it took for Dad to really take his eye off the ball. I was wiping her mouth when the poop actually started flying. Whoops, time to fall back and regroup.
We were successfully meeting the first challenge when Maddie spit up all over her new shirt. (Maybe that extra two ounces was mistake?) No problem, the shirt came off, the poop had been captured and I was still holding my own.
But before I could start patting myself of the back – Maddie had one more card to play. That’s right, not a trickle, but a full-blown urine session. Due to the other incidents, we were in between diapers, papers towels and whatever else usually protects us from danger. Maddie and Daddy were treated to an impromptu loving liquid session that sent both of us to the HAZMAT showers early.
The set up was perfect.
We recreated every detail down to the time of day, temperature, even clothing.
Our drive down to Virginia a week earlier had been a smashing success – Maddie slept the whole way and we were in awe of our brilliance.
Enter the Klumps – despite our elaborate planning and meticulous attention to detail – Maddie proved that what works one time, is no guarantee for success during the next go around.
Our seamless drive down to Virginia was the polar opposite of last night’s funny little trip home.
The little lioness was wild right of the box. As we gently placed her in the car seat – “The child done lost her mind!” The screaming started and we realized that we might be in for a rocky trip. We went through the checklist – Maddie was in good shape, but man, she was cantankerous! The little lungs that initially emitted a tropical depression, were revving up to hurricane speed. We made it a little less than 20 minutes when we pulled over see if we could calm the storm. 45 minutes later, the little girl was finally ready for sleep.
The next 140 miles were smooth as silk, it was the magical carpet ride we had all dreamed about – until we ran head long into the diabolical maze of NIGHT CONSTRUCTION!! Oh yes, I-95 went down to one lane ONLY 2 different times during a 6-mile span in the useless state of Delaware!
Somehow Maddie slept her way through it – but it was the construction project on the wild and wonderful New Jersey Turnpike that proved to be our undoing. Mad Maddie unleashed the fury and we were stuck in the toxic New Jersey soup.
Finally we made our way to a rest stop so Maddie could pick up some Mom’s milk – but by that time – the weary trio just wanted it to be over.
Less than an hour later – Mom and baby were safely tucked away in bed – and Stay Home PaPa was left to ponder where it all went wrong.