A year ago today, Nate, Waverley, Charlie, and I were one day in to our epic cross-country road trip from Maryland to Oregon to Alaska. The day we left Annapolis we made it an entire hour and a half to stay at our friend’s house in Virginia. Naturally I cried the entire drive: Waverley was three weeks old, I was recovering from a difficult birth, and we were moving. To Alaska! It was obviously a horrible decision to move across the country with a newborn but we were choosing the least of all evils at the time, and somehow this was the best option. Apparently Nate and I have a penchant for making questionable decisions. The packers packed up our apartment while I hid amidst tears in the room with Waverley in a postpartum/newborn fog and Nate finished up his last few days at work. Then we were on our way.
Just two days in we were driving through West Virginia when we realized the heater in our truck was blowing freezing cold air … and we were in the midst of a snowfall! We made a premature stop at a hotel there in order to fix the truck and we were making horrible time from our initial plan. It was our first night traveling with Waverley and we could not find a hotel that allowed dogs, so being sleep-deprived and desperate we smuggled Charlie in via a duffle bag. Surprisingly, Charlie made the least amount of mess. Waverley destroyed that hotel room with an early morning bout of explosive newborn poop. I spilled breast milk all over the carpet. And someone plugged the toilet.
The truck was a miraculously easy fix and we loaded it up again. Because I had a cesarean I was not allowed to drive or do much heavy lifting, therefore poor Nate had to drive the entire way (3600 miles by the end!) and load/unload all of our stuff at each hotel. Each night that included our three bags, breast pump, dog kennel, Waverley’s travel cot, and the growing supply of frozen breast milk. I pumped en route and in the hotel rooms (considering I was a brand new mother, I was pretty proud of myself for pumping and holding Waverley simultaneously). One time we actually got pulled over for speeding while I was pumping and I had no choice but to sit there hooked up to the guns while the police officer lectured Nate. Fortunately we only received a warning! We quickly discovered stopping every hour or so to feed Waverley was taking quite a bit of time, so I began riding in back to feed her via bottle.
When Nate and I first drove from Oregon to Maryland in 2010, we had such a blast. We spoke frequently of our return road trip and planned to see and do so much along the way. We wanted to go to New Orleans, Austin, and New Mexico. We wanted to take our time. Well, being on a time crunch, recovering from surgery, and traveling with an infant sped up our travels. We didn’t get much sight-seeing in and our days were spent performing roadside diaper changes and cleaning pumping supplies. Once we made it west of Kansas though, our road trip took an amazing turn. We began staying with friends and family rather than at hotels. It was wonderful to introduce people to Waverley when she was so itty bitty. We stayed at our friend’s ranch in Wyoming and Waverley met her great grandmother in Colorado. Everyone was so incredibly gracious and hospitable, which made our trek much more enjoyable.
The drive from Maryland to Oregon ended up taking nine days. It was an exhausting, painful, and silly adventure. I remember being so, so, so tired and incredibly sad about leaving Maryland, yet I would absolutely do the drive over again. Tackling the drive with Waverley as a newborn actually worked in our favor: she had no nap schedule, enjoyed sleeping in her car seat, and didn’t need toys to be picked up off the ground after chucking them every seven seconds. I think if we tried to do it now with her as a one year-old it would be incredibly difficult for different reasons. Plus, there are few situations that provide the opportunity to sit and talk for hours (days!) with your significant other and collectively spend time with your newborn sans the weight of household duties. Our only chore was to drive! We ate room service for dinner, enjoyed gigantic lattes to go, and just got to be. Together. Our new family.