By Cristina Bedwell
NOTE: Yes, I skipped part 2 & 3. Yes, they are coming later.
It has been documented that our family motto (and by family, I mean myself and Josh, aka The Parents) is “We would rather be traveling than not traveling.”
This trip decidedly put that mantra to the test.
We took a 4 day trip to see my parents, who smartly escape the unbearable heat of Houston summers to the idyllic climes of Breckenridge, Colorado.
I took this trip last summer with the kids on my own. Josh had just started a new job and was understandably hesitant to take vacation time so early in his tenure. It, admittedly, should have served as a warning to me. I see that now. When I arrived, Townes was newly sick with a cold and I succumbed to the same shortly upon arrival. Elliott somehow managed to escape infection.
Altitude is an evil beast. It affects everyone differently, but it affects all. I recall a trip we took with two other families a few years ago- Our friend’s daughter was 2.5, Elliott was 18m, and another friend’s daughter was 6 months. All children were affected, and the spectrum was readily visible across the age range. Kara, the oldest, didn’t sleep as much as she usually did in the flatlands of Louisiana, but aside from waking up very early, was mostly fine. Elliott woke up multiple times a night, disturbing the altitude-addled sleep of his parents with his vivid bad dreams. Eva, the 6m old, as I recall, slept about 45 minutes the entire trip. I might exaggerate, but only slightly.
So, this trip last summer with just me and two kids went pretty much according to that early introduction to the perils of altitude. Elliott, at the time 3.5, didn’t sleep great, but was mostly fine, and Townes, one and some change, and sick, was a disaster. With a baseline of sick and cranky, he would dig his heels in and ardently refuse naps, crying until he threw up. Every would-be-naptime ended (or began?) with a bath and a reintroduction of the pack and play to the garden hose.
Fast forward a year, and here we are again with Josh coming and another pair of hands on deck. We left on Friday. On Wednesday prior, Townes suddenly became super congested and on Thursday I took him to the doctor, worried that we were flying with a potential ear infection. My suspicious were confirmed, and we set out on Friday armed with antibiotics.
The trip, and I’m writing this on the plane ride home, has been unanimously deemed a disaster. You know that expression, “If mommy ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy”? Let me introduce you to the lesser-known, “If two-year-old ain’t happy, burn it all down.”
This trip was primarily a time for my kids to reconnect with their grandparents who had been gone for a few months. Townes, who didn’t feel good to begin with, would cry whenever Mops or Pops offered to hold him, preferring to cling to me and moan. Elliott, a little peeved that most efforts were put towards making Townes feel better, responded to requests for hugs with a not-unnoticed dash of sullenness.
The trip concluded with the 1.5 hour drive back to Denver, Townes screaming almost the entire way. Surely due to the pressure in his ears as we went to lower altitudes, he instead verbalized his displeasure as “Agua! AGUAAAAAAAAAAAHHHH!” And then screaming “No want! No want!” when we gave him his water bottle. Repeat that about 8 thousand times, and you get the gist.
Relieved to be somewhat closer to sea level, or the Motrin finally kicking in, Townes finally stopped screaming about 20 minutes after we checked in for the flight. Despite the newfound lack of crying, Josh and I gave each other guarded, wary looks every few minutes, fearful it could start back up again at the drop of a hat. And then, once through security, we ordered two rounds of margaritas at the Cosmic Cantina, because, well, must I really justify that at this point?
I hope we look back on this trip and remember the beautiful weather, the exhilarating trips on the Alpine Slide and the Gold Runner Coaster, mini golf with Pops, the hunt for the elusive neighborhood moose family, the boys’ trout fishing trip and our discovery of a new local brewery, but right now I’m 30,000 miles up seated between a 2 and a 4 year old and beyond exhausted. I’m sure time will give me a little clarity, right?