The alarm went off a three in the morning; we stumbled to the shower with half open eyes. The bags (mostly for Noah) were packed and waiting by the door to be dragged through the dark to the car. We arrived at the airport around four thirty and I dropped Erin at the terminal with some of the bags and drove half way back to the house to park the car in the economy lot. In the airport, Noah gazed pie eyed in amazement at the lights, sounds, and new faces around him. Strapped to my chest he kicked his feet with glee and drooled as we made our way through security, where the TSA officer made some crack about needing to see his driver’s license.
Two stops, one plane change and seven hours later we landed in Albany glassy eyed from lack of sleep. Erin went to get us some coffee and I headed to the rental car counter. While the clerk tried to up-sell us, Noah and I stared at him pie eyed and drooled. Three trips to the car and we were on our way, at twenty-five miles an hour behind a plow scraping the snow off the shoulder of a two lane country road. Two hours later we met up with my brother and continued to drive to our parent’s house. We knocked on the front door and stood whispering with anticipation. Dad opened the door, we yelled, Noah screamed (because we woke him up), Dad looked puzzled. After months of planning we had managed to make it home to surprise Dad for his 70th birthday.
We learned two very valuable lessons about traveling with a baby on this trip. The first one was that the “mattress” in the pack and play is little more than few slats of wood with a couple of feathers zipped in for “padding” and that was one of the reasons Noah did not sleep very well. The second and most important lesson is that having your child sleep in the same room as you downright stinks. Babies, at least ours, make a lot of noise in the night. Noah would scream, coo, cry, cough, and make a myriad of other noises that would jolt us awake and send us scrambling to his little wooden floored pen only to find that he was fast asleep.
Our time in Vermont was spent relaxing and was filled with good food, good drink, and a lot of laughter. Noah learned to roll onto his stomach in front of the roaring fireplace that kept out the winter chill. I strolled through the fields I had played in as a child and sketched the old barn on the hill. We walked past maple groves and listened to the river as it tumbled over rocks. This is what going home is all about, slowing down and spending time with those who are most important.