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Babies and Airstreams

Posted by on January 20, 2011

Mom is just going to put pictures of me on this entry because I'm so cute.

Hi, Friends.  I’ve become a terrible blogger, have I not? I apologize.  Several of you have asked how it’s working having a baby in an Airstream. I haven’t been avoiding this question.  (Okay, maybe I have…)  In all honesty, I’ve drafted numerous versions of this post only to delete them because I didn’t like my writing.  It’s a difficult entry to write, apparently.

Emerson just turned six months and in the last few weeks, I finally am starting to feel like a human being again and not an exhausted and overly-emotional new mother.  Those first few months really knocked me off my feet.  I faced some postpartum issues.  Let’s just say, there was a lot of crying that I couldn’t seem to control.  A lot.  For example:

  • Our pediatrician informed me that I was endangering my child because I was allowing her to sleep in my arms at night.  I cried.
  • I was exhausted because my child would only sleep in my arms.  I cried.
  • At night, while sitting upright holding my child, I would look over to see Chris sleeping. Lying down in bed.  I was extremely jealous.   I cried.
  • Emerson was somewhat colicky and she cried.  A lot.  So, therefore, I cried.  A lot.

So, yeah…those first few months my eyes stayed in red swollen state from all my tears.  It’s a good thing Chris is incredibly patient and supportive.  I’m a lucky woman.

On one of our horrible long drives, we stopped so Daddy and I could catch up on some football. Go Hokies!

The explanation above should answer the main question:  Where does the baby sleep in the Airstream?  In my arms.  Eventually, I was able to put her down beside me and we shared the bed while Chris slept on the couch.  But, for the most part, she was in my arms and I learned to sleep upright although it was never really quality sleep thus leading to my extreme exhaustion and subsequent crying fits.  (And, please, no lectures on how this sleeping arrangement was dangerous to my child.  I’ve already been lectured enough by the pediatrician.)

The other major challenge became apparent once Chris started back to work.  He’s on the phone for most of the day.  And, since Emerson cried a lot in those first few months, having conference calls with a crying baby in our small space became an issue. When the weather permitted, Chris would try to work outside but oftentimes, this proved difficult, especially if he needed to be on the phone. We always seem to be in windy campgrounds.  So, Emerson and I took a lot of rides, went for walks when possible, and tried to stay out of the Airstream so Chris could get his work done.  But, sometimes, I just wanted to be in my home to try and comfort my child. Sometimes, having to leave with a crying child wasn’t always the best option.

Here I am sleeping on the bed in the Airstream. I prefer mom's arms as this mattress is not too comfy!

So, yes, a baby in an Airstream isn’t easy.  It can be done, but it isn’t easy – at least for me it isn’t.   Which brings me to the events that occurred after Boston.

We needed to be in Georgia shortly after Boston so we tried to get a lot of driving done that first weekend.  We wanted to get down to Virginia and see some family before continuing on to Atlanta.  What used to be an easy day trip turned into a traumatizing and exhausting drive now that we have a baby on board. That was in October.  We are all still recovering from the Boston to Virginia trip.  But, we made it.  And, we stayed with family in Staunton, Virginia for the week. But, after that trip, we vowed to never EVER drive for that long again.

At a rest stop on the Mass Turnpike, I realized that tummy time wasn't so bad. So I didn't cry for the first time and I held my head up high!

We were allowed to unhitch in the parking lot of the old mental institution in Staunton where my sister-in-law and her husband live.  (Um, I should probably clarify that it’s not a mental institution anymore. It’s now renovated condos.)  During the day, Chris remained in the Airstream working and Emerson and I walked around town and spent time in the condo.  We played on the floor in a spacious living room.  I did laundry (another challenge:  Laundromats and infants.  Not easy!).  And, at one point, I was even able to lay Emerson down for a nap while I enjoyed some peace and quiet.  And, then it hit me: I was ready for more space. I needed rooms with doors.  I needed for Chris to have his own working space while I had my own living space.  I wanted Emerson to be able to play on a floor, to practice her rolling, learn to crawl, etc. I needed more space for the dogs who were driving us crazy and not liking the newest member of our family. I needed more than 160 square feet.

I hated to admit it, but the Airstream life wasn’t working for me. At that point, I did the only thing I knew to do.  I cried.  I sat in the condo and sobbed.  Was our Airstream adventure coming to an end?  More importantly, how do I break the news to Chris that this just wasn’t working for me right now?

Once an Airstreamer...always an Airstreamer!

That night, we talked.  It was a difficult conversation.  The important question we had to ask was what was the best thing for our child and our family at this time?

That was in October. We’ve had a few campground stays since then but for the most part we have taken a hiatus from traveling.  Our wonderful families have opened up their homes and allowed us to stay with them. We are currently enjoying the warm weather in Florida and trying to figure out our future plans.  Emerson is now sleeping in her own bed and for longer periods of time. I am no longer sleeping upright.  And, Chris is no longer sleeping on a couch. We are all happy campers…err…home dwellers, right now.

But, don’t worry – we don’t have another place to call home yet and so we will be back in the Airstream once the rest of the country warms up. (Did you know that last weekend, Florida was the ONLY state without snow.  True story.) Once we are back on the road, our search for property begins.  And, while we may have lost our full-timer status for now (*tear*), we will forever be Airstreamers. And, for those of you attending Alumapalooza this year – we will see you there!!!

In the meantime, stay tuned. I still have more to travels to write about and I will keep you all updated about our plans. As soon as we have them.

13 Responses to Babies and Airstreams

  1. Nicki

    The first 6 months of my son’s life were the hardest I have lived through.. and we lived in a 3 bedroom house. I can understand the decision you are trying to make and won’t offer any advice. Only you know what’s best for your family… but I will say that unless you are born with an infant that slept through the night from day one this was always going to be difficult. You were just doing them in a smaller space than most and no matter the lectures etc… you do the best you can with what you’ve got.

    Good luck with those tough choices in your future! In the end, Emerson will be worth all the hard times!

  2. marlene

    oh lani, this must have been a tough decision to make. sounds like you are making the best choice for your family. but you are right, once an airstreamer… always an airstreamer :)

  3. Mom

    Good entry and wonderful pictures!!!

  4. Willow

    Hello again Lani and thanks so much for the honesty of your post. We are expecting our first child in May and I am grateful for all the insights you’ve provided. I wish you much luck in your future decision-making!

  5. Frank amarosa

    I remember those first months when my son was born — I know just what you mean — living in a OLD 1835 farm house heating with wood living in only 1/2 of it because it is so cold out — your life changes for ever — and I can say as it all turned out life’s experiences –” I wouldn’t change a thing” — and some pretty good stories to boot — tuff choices I’m sure you will make — make them you will –all the best — till I see you art the next bend in the road — frankie — from N.H. — suppose to be 22 below zero this week end — can hardly wait !!!!!!

  6. kim

    that’s the thing about life, it does have a way of making decisions for you! I’m glad you are coming out of the postpartum stuff, must have been hard in that tiny space on top! Sounds like a house is a good plan for now, and i’m sure the wind will push the airstream dreams into reality at some point again in the future. Meantime hope you keep writing!

  7. Lotus

    Oh Lani!! I’m so glad you posted this! Every day something new comes up so I’m sure your Airstream won’t be retired for that long. My little one is almost a year old and I can honestly say that doing this whole baby thing is finally getting to a fun stage. I look back on those first six months with awe that I survived it. I thought we would be at our Airstream retreat so much more. And that’s just for weekends and not the long trips that you all took. But we didn’t get there much and I’m sad about that but Spring is approaching and I’m getting excited for this upcoming season.

    Isn’t it great that you and Chris got to do it fulltime for so long? You all had some great adventures and I loved reading about. Now the adventure is different and I still love reading about how you all doing.

    Take care yourself and your sweet little one!

  8. Lani

    Thanks, everyone, for the kind words of support and encouragement. We’ve had such an amazing experience in our Airstream, especially with Emerson. There just seemed to be more difficult days. And, as pointed out, those days would have been difficult in a 3000 square foot home, too. Our little break has been nice and really good for me. I’m not sure what our future plans are at this point and how much Airstreaming we will be doing. (If you ask Chris, we are totally moving back in to the Airstream!) But, whatever our plans may be, I know it will be full of adventure. Thanks, again!

  9. Carol Haley

    Just got back to reading your blog & I am sorry that the first six months have been difficult. Colic & postpartum blues are no fun. Have you read Brooke Shields book about the postpartum blues? Of course, I don’t know when you would have time to read, but maybe Emerson will allow you a few minutes here & there! As your friend Nicki says, Emerson will make it all worthwhile. You have to remember that pediatricians aren’t always right about everything. You have to trust your own judgement. There are cultures who carry their babies all the time or practically all the time and I am sure the babies grow up to be fine human beings. I hope everything gets better from here on out. You will still be able to travel, just not full-time for awhile.
    All best wishes to you & Chris & Emerson.

  10. jess

    Lani,
    I am the mom of 4 boys ranging from 5 months to 15 years, and each and every one of them slept in my arms, or my husband’s every night for at least a year. Please follow your heart and ignore your pediatrician. Think of our collective history. Humans are the ONLY mammals who sleep apart from their babies, and even this strange custom, has only occurred in the last 100 years. Prior to that, all 100,000 years of human history, it appears that babies slept with their parents. It is true that you should be smart about it – if you’ve taken sleeping pills or alcohol, don’t co-sleep. But really, there is a ton of research about how co-sleeping greatly reduces SIDS because baby matches breathing and heart beating and temperature to mom, and it helps keep the serotonin leveled. Sounds to me like you have a very outdated, old fashioned pediatrician. SCIENCE NOW just released a study showing that children who are held and sleep close to their parents are more empathetic and compassionate towards others. The time will pass all too quickly and your little baby will be running and then wanting to sleep in her own bed. Treasure each and every moment that you have, and really, just trust your own motherhood. No doctor should be able to take that away from you. No one knows your child the way you do.
    Best of luck! We’re thinking of taking a year long Airstream adventure in a year or two to tour the US, so I love reading this blog!

  11. Peggy

    My son is now 29, but I STILL remember sleep-less nights. We recently bought a 1962 Safari, and as we purchased it from the people that owned it from 1963 – 2010, the woman made this comment: “We raised our family traveling in this trailer. When my daughter was a baby we used the bathtub for her crib. She is now a pediatrician.” Just a thought….the bathtub! Good luck. Peggy

  12. Shirley

    A first baby is never easy, Airstream or not. As the mother of three grown daughters, it wouldn’t matter where I had to sleep or where I put the baby. As long as we could sleep, that was JUST fine. Somehow, our children survive all of that to actually grow up fairly normal. Glad you got through it. It will be much easier next time.

  13. Lhody

    SO cute little angel pictures.
    I know that airstream like could be at up and downs at times.
    Sooner, you’ll find ways to be able to surpass all your worries.

    Lhody
    To visit my website, kindly click here.

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