Over a week ago, we took our annual trip to Chema’s by the Sea (Samal Island, Davao City) to celebrate Lola’s birthday. We already did this with Squish last year and also when I was pregnant. Even though I’m not a huge fan of nature and the outdoors (stickiness and bugs), I am sentimentally fond of Chema’s.
Chema’s is where Mikey and I honeymooned. This is where I swam pregnant for the first (and only) time. Last year, Max went on his first airplane ride to get to Davao. That was also when he went swimming for the first time. And during this trip, he rode a boat for the first time (last year, we stayed in a car that was ferried across).
Many memories have been made in this beautiful resort. And we hope we get to go back enough times for Max to actually be able to remember it.
I still get a little anxious when we go out with Max (especially when we’re out without Mikey). A five day, out of town trip would have meant taking that anxiety and multiplying it by 1,000. But because we knew this trip was coming, I had some time to zen out (and prepare). While there were a few heart-in-my-tummy moments, I was able to enjoy the trip. And more importantly Max and Mikey had a blast!
Here are the things that I could have potentially freaked out about:
- The airplane ride (both ways)
- Max’s meals
- Max getting sick or hurt
- Mikey getting sick or hurt
I was most stressed out by the plane ride. Last year, Max slept throughout the Manila-Davao plane ride. But he was fussy and angry (and poopy) during the Davao-Manila plane ride. I remember feeling so helpless back then. And now that Max was a full fledge walking and running toddler, I knew it would be harder to make him sit through the whole trip. THANKFULLY, we didn’t have to force him to sit because he slept through both plane rides! It was a miracle!
The morning of our departure, Mikey and I woke up early to get ready. Our flight was at 11:30 AM and we didn’t want to rush. Max was sleeping soundly, but I accidentally woke him up (at 7 AM, he normally wakes up at 8:30-9:00 AM) with my hair dryer. He wasn’t crying or cranky, so I decided to let him stay up instead of offering to breastfeed him to sleep again. He spent the morning lazily eating Vienna sausages and watching Max and Ruby while Mikey and I got ready and loaded our things into the car. We made a quick breakfast (and coffee) stop at a nearby UCC before heading to the airport. Mikey and I really wanted Max to sleep on the plane, so we planned to let Max go crazy in the airport. It wasn’t hard because he was raring to go. After retraining him while we were checking in, we let him go nuts. We knew that he was hitting sleepy zone already, but he got a second wind when all his cousins arrived. We literally had to scoop him up mid-run when we got our boarding call. We had to ride a bus to get to the plane (Max’s first time also!). It was really cool because we got to see a lot of the planes and loading cars up close. It was exactly like the airplane scene at the end of Toy Story 2. Max was quietly observing and taking everything in. When we finally got on the plane, he was curious about everything—the buttons, foldable tables, and that piece of cloth on the headrest. But even before our they played the in-flight safety video, Max asked to breastfeed and was knocked out for the entire trip. The flight back to Manila was more or less the same. Our flight was at 10:30 PM. Mikey found a play area in the Davao airport and they hung out there until it was time to board. By the time we settled into our seats on the plane, Max asked to breastfeed and slept through the entire ride. It was amazing! 2 for 2!
Another thing that I was worried about was Max’s meals. We pretty much let Max try anything now, so we’re not picky about what he eats. And while Max will try almost anything, he likes what he likes and he won’t continue to eat something if he doesn’t like it. I’ve learned to relax a bit when it comes to his eating because I believe that he will eat as much as he needs to. I also think that if he doesn’t eat that much at a certain time, he’ll make up for it later on. What was stressful was handling everyone else (the grandparents) who may become stressed over Max’s lack of appetite. I toyed with the idea of bringing a blender so that he could have a failsafe (mushed up veggies), but Mikey said no. He thought it would be a good opportunity for Max to try other things and I agreed. We brought some staples though: small boxes of fresh milk and Chuckie. I also packed him some of his favorite crackers. There were some meals that were a hit (buttery shrimps and mixed veggies with squash) and some meals that were misses (almost all of the breakfast food). But overall, I think he ate the amount of food he normally eats. He also snacked a lot because swimming makes you hungry and thirsty. And because we were on vacation, his nap schedule was all over the place and we let him have a lot of screen time during meals (so we could enjoy our food too).
Last year, we barely made our plane to Davao because we spent most of the previous night at the hospital waiting for Max’s fecal analysis. He had his first bout of diarrhea and I was a headless chicken. The test results were normal and we were cleared to go by our doctor as long as we made sure that he was properly hydrated. Max was such a trooper back then—apart from the round-the-clock-pooping, you couldn’t tell that there was something wrong with him. But it was stressful for me and I was extra careful about not wanting him to catch anything before we left for Davao. Thankfully, he was completely fine. But just in case, I brought a huge medicine bag with me (complete with a travel sized nebulizer). I also made sure to pack everything Mikey would need if he got sick also. It was important for Mikey to stay well because the fun would almost immediately stop if he wasn’t! Mikey was the MVP (most valuable parent) on this trip because he did the heavy lifting when it came to playing and swimming with Squish. And apart from a few episodes of gassiness, Mikey was well throughout the trip. Hallelujah!
I’m still not sure if I’ve mastered the balancing act. I think that it’s really important to be prepared, but also equally important to let go and have faith in your partner and child (and also allow yourself to be present). It took me two whole swimming days before I could enjoy holding Max in the pool by myself. And it only happened because Mikey really needed to pee and Max’s floaters were in another pool. I expected Max to be uncontrollable and both of us would end up drowning in a 4 foot pool. But he was the opposite of uncontrollable. He let me hold him and allowed me to help him float while he kicked. It was so cool. Before that, I would watch Max and Mikey from the side and yell “Love! Love! Love!” every time I thought Mikey wasn’t paying enough attention.
Even though it drives me nuts sometimes, I think that it’s really helpful that Mikey and I interact with Max so differently. If it was just me and Max, I don’t think he would do anything fun (like jumping into pools by himself).
Overall, this trip has encouraged to be a bit braver as travelers with a toddler. And I can’t wait until our next adventure.