Vacationing with a Toddler

It was a bit of a doozy. I’m not saying I regret the trip, but there are things I would have done differently knowing what I know now.

It started off bad from the start. Sunday night as we were packing up to leave Charlie woke up four times in a two hour period crying. I thought maybe she was just having a hard time settling in, but after the fourth time I gave her tylenol just in case something was feeling bad. She slept through after that.

It was an auspicious sign.

We had planned to leave around 10:00 am the next morning with the goal of making it to St. Louis (where we were staying overnight with my uncle) by 3:00 pm. Unfortunately our doctor couldn’t see us until 10:30. and it was a Monday, so that quickly turned into 11:30. The verdict was that the ear infection she had just finished up amoxic.illin for the Friday before had rebounded with a vengeance. This is exactly what happened the last time she had an ear infection.

Unfortunately this left us with some tough choices. Our doc doesn’t typically prescribe any other oral antibiotics after amox fails because she says it has the highest success rate. Once it fails she goes straight to a 1-3 day course of rocephin IM shots. The problem of course was that we weren’t going to be around for the second and third shot. At that point I was on the side of staying home. I didn’t like the prospects of traveling with a sick child because a) what if she got worse and we were far from home? and b) even if she didn’t get worse, she was guaranteed to be pretty unhappy for at least a day or so. But Chief was hellbent on going if we could manage at all. My doctor administered the one shot and then wrote out the closest oral equivalent to rocephin for her to take for the next ten days, but she said that the better thing to do would be to find a clinic where we were going to do the last two shots.

So we left after getting the shot. If you’ve never seen a baby get a rocephin shot I hope you never have to-it’s a horribly painful shot. You can see it all over their faces. It’s not just the typical angry face of getting a shot-it really hurts. Doing it three days in a row is absolutely awful. We had to stop a lot along the way to check diapers and let her walk a bit, but we finally made it to St. Louis by dinner time. She played and ate dinner and went to bed tired, and the next day we got the second shot at a very nice urgent care in St. Louis before heading out on our way. We made it to Chicago by 3:00 pm the next day and checked into our hotel. Charlie was visibly looking better and I was cheered thinking that maybe the trip was a good choice.

After that it was sort of a mixed bag. The thing about being in a big, foreign city, is that I couldn’t let my anxious self let my kid have much freedom. Everywhere we went she was in a stroller or a baby carrier, and that’s just not making her happy these days. She wants to get down and RUN everywhere. And the streets of Chicago were not the place to experiment with her freedom and limits. We had more than one meltdown. Here’s the places Charlie melted down in Chicago:

1. Nordstroms
2. The Shedd Aquarium
3. Wrigley Field
4. The Lincoln Park Zoo
5. A patisserie near the zoo (though she was bribed with a cookie by the proprietor and they were basically best friends after that).
6. The hotel lobby
7. The hotel room (always at night so I could be really paranoid about other guests complaining about us)

By Friday it was very apparent that Charlie was done having fun-and don’t get me wrong, we did have some fun. Usually after the meltdowns she could find it in herself to find something good in the experience. The problem was she was tired and the rocephin, just like before, gave her a horrific yeast diaper rash. Seriously these shots are awful. They do the job like nothing else-but the side effects are the worst. Diarrhea for days. Every time we had to change her diaper Thursday and Friday she would scream her head off because putting the lotrimin cream on (our travel substitute for nystatin) stung the rash so bad. We were supposed to leave Saturday morning and go to St. Louis again and go to the zoo and maybe Grant Farms with my aunt and uncle, but I felt strongly like getting home that day-nine hour drive and all. So that’s what we did. We made the nine hour drive all in one day. We relied heavily on Charlie’s favorite movies on our laptops, plus snacks and frequent stops, and we made it home by 5:00 that day which was such a relief.

Of course, once we got home we discovered that one of our cats had been really sick while we were gone and had thrown up in every room of the house at least once, and had diarrhea on the couch and in Charlie’s room. We had people come to check on them every day so how no one chose to tell me this is beyond me. Luckily it wasn’t anything life threatening because we haven’t had any problems since. Everything we had to clean up was dried so they had probably been better for a few days by the time we got home, but the first 24 hours I was on a paranoid lookout for a really sick cat.

So what would I do differently? Well, I’m not sure I would have gone at all after we found out she was sick. That part of it was okay-we did find good clinics in both locations, but it would have been easier on all of us to deal with it at home. Secondly, I would pick a location that isn’t so big and busy so Charlie could have some more freedom. Maybe a small, Stars Hollowish town. We loved Chicago. i loved riding the subway anywhere I needed to go and being right on the water, but in hindsight it wasn’t a toddler friendly vacation.