We should’ve known.
You know when you have that sinking feeling about something, but fail to acknowledge or mention it? As my husband and I scrambled around, getting ready for a trip to Montreal with our 19 month old, she tried her new trick, sliding off a dining room chair. Only this time she had on slippery fleece pants and socks. She slipped right from the chair with a sickening thud, and onto our hardwood floor, face first. Her shrieks echoed in our small home, and I ran to her just in time to see blood in her mouth, her lips and nose growing puffier by the second. Kurt, my husband was in the shower. “Kurt! I yelled, I need you!” She cried and cried, leaning into me and whimpering. At that moment, both my husband and I were thinking: We shouldn’t go up to Montréal. Just had that feeling that we should bag the trip. But our logical, reasonable selves won out, because of course, now she was happily looking at my necklace, and toddlers fall all the time, we know. Error in judgment number one.
So we pulled out of our driveway and began the trip. My girl falls asleep almost instantly, and we were in business. See, we planned that she could have her nap while we drove the 2 and a half hours to Montreal. We had to make a few small stops to get a few things we needed (swimmy diapers for the hotel pool), but surely she would sleep through that. Error in Judgment number two.
She woke up after 20 minutes, and stayed awake the entire trip. We knew we were in trouble. Meanwhile, it begins to rain. And rain and rain.
We arrive in Montreal, and find our hotel no problem. We gather our ridiculous amount of baby gear, food and stuff and schlep it to our room. It is a beautiful room, just like online, with a kitchen, a dining room table, and a king bed. But something smells kind of like old people, a grandparent’s home from the 1950s, say, and we can’t put our finger on it.
We go out for a walk in the pouring rain, and the streets are filled with people getting off from work. We swerve in and out of people, stroller, huge umbrella, avoiding large puddles and aggressive city folk. This serves to over stimulate the Miss Tired Girl even more, which we do not realize. Error number three.
We come back in, and Kurt heads out to find an ATM. I take my girl up to the room, and notice the sign. It says: This floor is reserved for our smoking guests. I clearly requested a nonsmoking room when I made the reservation online. No wonder the room smelled like old socks. Mistake number four.
When I call down to the hotel clerk, after being on hold for 10 minutes, they tell me there are no other rooms left, and I had not requested a nonsmoking room. OKAY. We decide to stay anyway, despite the fact that I have a tacky throat, and my eyes burn a bit. Meanwhile, Addy keeps grabbing the stroller, and heading for the door. “Walk? Walk?” She says. “No honey, we are going to stay in here.” Not happy.
Miss Fussy begins many more moments of unhappiness. She falls on the floor again, cried and cries, and is finally calmed down. Only wants a few pieces of Veggie Booty for dinner. This is getting worse.
We bathe her, read to her and begin to settle her into her pack and play. We turn off almost all of the lights, scurry to the other side of the room, and eat our take out pizza in the dark. I have had FOUR bites when my girl stands up in the pack and play, and starts saying, “mommy, mommy, mommy…” I tell her to lie down and go to sleep. No avail. This continues for about a half hour. Then Kurt tried to lay her down. She stays for a few minutes and we silent high five. Premature. She pops up, “mommy, mommy, mommy….” I go to her, and here it is folks, she’s pooped. No one can sleep with poopy pants, right? Some lights go on, we change her, and then try to put her back down. She knows the deal now, and is wide awake. That passed tired, delirious, I’ll never sleep again awake, and we know we are completely screwed. We try all lights out cuddling in bed, and almost get her to sleep, but not quite. She cries every time we even suggest the crib.
Then she walks to the door herself, she’s had enough of this smelly place and opens the door (we thought it was locked). She finds it heavy, and promptly closes it right on her fingers. Instant, and earth shatteringly loud shrieks cloud our small room in hell.
There is no turning back. Her fingers are fine. It’s just her ridiculously tried, cranky and out of her element self that is inconsolable. She cries when walk around. She cries when we read to her. She cries when I sing and rock her.
My husband and I don’t believe in TV. We have no cable, and our daughter hasn’t watched more than 5 minutes of television in her whole life. But we love watching it, us adults, as a treat sometimes. Exasperated, and exhausted, we turn it on. This will surely put her to sleep, we think, boring TV drama. Mistake number, oh hell, should I even count anymore?
She watches for 40 minutes, and I feel like a failure parent the whole time. My heart sinks as I watch her eyes dull over but stay wide awake. Finally, we decide the whole family will get into the big bed, turn off all the lights and TV, and truly go to sleep. She will cuddle in and fall happily asleep, and then tomorrow we can take her to the Biodome as planned, then put her down for a nap, then go out for a nice, Montreal dinner. Yes!
All except that she won’t even lie down. We try to bring her into bed, and she protests, screaming. I try rocking, walking, singing. Nothing. An hour passes of what is wrong with her? What are we going to do? Is this room toxic? Are we damaging our little girl? My eyes fill with tears. Our last family vacation, before our next little baby comes, is slipping away. I become as upset as she is, which only makes things worse. My head pounds, and we struggle in the dark.
Finally, Kurt has had it. “Let’s just go home,” he says. I let it sink in. Spend 130 dollars for a hotel room that we don’t stay in? 30 dollars for pizza I didn’t have time to eat? Or simply watch my girl suffer and scream all night? After a few more minutes (which feel like years), when he says it again, I say alright. Lights on, my girl still screaming, Kurt begins compressing our lives into bags again, and half and hour later, we head for the lobby. When I open the hotel room door, I sense a change in her. She quiets for a moment, then cries again, but not as loud.
I wait for the car, as all the people in the lobby are treated to the cries of our toddler. I pace, and think how bad things can get, really fast. The car appears, I put her in her seat, and Kurt starts checking out. She sits in her seat, says, “Home………..Home.” Breathes deeply and falls right to sleep, instantly.
All I can think is you’ve got to be kidding me. I watch as a family enters the hotel. Toddler and baby in toe. THEY can do it. Why can’t we? What were we missing? What did we do wrong?
Of course, it is pouring rain. Endless rain, to match my mood. We start the drive home at 10 pm. It pours the entire time, and I struggle to keep us on the road. At the border, when they ask for my ID, I hand him my credit card. I can barely remember my name, citizenship, and job. How exactly is it that I should be driving?
We make it home shortly before 1 am. I drag myself to bed and lie down. One of Addy’s favorite expressions is "Oh well, it happens". I think, I am not quite there yet, but maybe after some sleep, I will be able to say that tomorrow.