Observations From Our First Trip

airplaneNow that we’re back from (and survived!) our first cross-country trip with a five-week old, here are some observations that we’ll be sure to pay attention to in the future:

  • Keep the Sock Bandit Away – We totally should have had the baby in footies on the plane. Instead, we found ourselves chasing after the loose socks that the Sock Bandit kept on stealing from the baby’s feet.
  • Bye Bye to the ‘No Wash, No Touch’ Policy – There’s no stronger magnet for hands than a baby’s face. For the first four weeks, we were adamant about visitors washing their hands before holding the baby. The trip put the kibosh on that. Everyone wanted to squeeze her cheeks, and there just was no good way to say, “please look but don’t touch (unless you’ve washed your hands).” All we could do is bite our tongue and wash her face as soon as we got back to our hotel room.
  • Going Formula – To this point, we’ve fed the baby nothing but breast milk. We  learned how handy formula would have been since the baby got hungry at a couple inopportune moments, including the beginning of my brother’s wedding ceremony. Without an alternative, my wife had to skip away to feed the hungry bear.
  • Milk Drunk for Take-off/Landing – We were fully dreading the scene that the baby would make on take-offs and landings, but she was just an angel. We were told to feed her or give her a pacifier during take-off and landing, but we ended up feeding her right before. She was in such a milk-drunken stupor that she slept through those critical moments.
  • To Buy or Not To Buy a Seat – After debating back and forth, we chose not to buy a seat. The real reason was I had misread JetBlue’s policy, thinking they gave infants less than 2 a free seat when in reality, the baby gets to sit on our lap for free. Nevertheless, it worked out just great because she slept most of the way. But if she were more rambunctious, I would buy a seat for her going forward. As far as having the baby in a car seat on the plane, sure that’s the safest way to go. However, buying a seat doesn’t guarantee us being able to use the car seat. All we can do is call the airline beforehand to get clarification and hope that the crew at the airport/plane follows through.
  • To Definitely Buy a Diaper Bag: If you’re travelling with a baby in toe, the right bag can be a life saver. After reading WAY too many diaper bag reviews, we settled on the Okkatots Travel Baby Depot.  Despite its high price, we couldn’t be happier with the purchase. It’s great for carrying extra socks!
  • Mirror, Mirror on the Wall – Changing our little one on the plane was actually a cinch, thanks to the bathroom mirror. She quietly entertained herself looking at the mirror while daddy took care of the dirty diapers. Maybe a mirror by the changing table at home will help miss squirmy stay put.
  • Delays, Delays – Fortunately, we didn’t experience any. However, we did listen to a friend who told us to pack extra diapers and change of clothes. After all, we didn’t want her to come off a plane in nothing but a diaper like her son had to.

With the first plane trip under our belt, we’re ready for our next! Too bad we don’t have any scheduled in the foreseeable future.

Adventures of our Nanny Search in NYC

daycare cartoonSince I’m cheap and unwilling to pay the ransom that nanny agencies charge (a month to two months pay), we went the craigslist and word-of-mouth route. Yeah, yeah, I know agencies may have better, more qualified candidates, but we’re happy to do the grunt work. We even looked at some daycare centers, which all have waiting lists until our baby’s baby is born (all right – I’m exaggerating).

When we began our search, we were hoping that we might find someone who can teach our baby Chinese so she can speak with her grandmother when she grows up. We quickly found out that most of the candidates spoke little or no English, and their Chinese isn’t even proper Mandarin. On top of that, hiring a Chinese nanny is becoming a fad among the super-rich, with some securing salaries of $100,000 after a bidding war.

More important to us though is that we wanted someone who looked at the position as more than a job, that she would be excited to be an integral part of our family. We were disappointed by so many of the candidates we met, in spite of the ringing endorsements they have from their references. Often times, it felt like they’re interviewing us rather than vice versa.

Here are some snippets from our interviews (our thoughts in bracket):

  • “I don’t have to give baths to the baby, right? [um, what kind of question is that?]
  • “I speak two languages and I have lots of experience so I should be paid more.” [hmmm, you don't speak either language without an accent.]
  • At a daycare center: “The baby is sleeping on his tummy because he can roll over.” [if the baby is too small to even lift his neck, how is he supposed to roll over?]
  • “This baby rocker is no good. You’re sharing a room with the baby? Why don’t you have a rocking chair? You need one!” [let's see - what else can we get for you?]
  • [Wow - your perfume is so strong. Are you going out or are you coming for an interview?]
  • At the start of an interview: “What are the hours? How much are you paying? What do you expect me to do? That works for me.” [Hello, we haven't hired you yet. And do you even care about our baby?]

After countless emails, phone calls and in-person interviews, we finally found a nanny who will take care of our little one as if she’s her own – no Chinese spoken though (we had three very good candidates we really liked).

Mommy can now go back to work without worrying about whether daddy is keeping a close enough eye on the baby (while he tries to work at home).