Road trip hazards – highway rest stops with an infant

Hugo in stroller

Hugo proved himself to be beautifully portable this weekend when we took him to visit our friends in southern Vermont. We’ve had some trouble with car rides in the past, so I wasn’t sure how he would take a four hour trip (without stops).

I learned some lessons for next time, such as it would be a good idea to bring a bottle of breast milk in a cooler pack in case your baby wakes up hungry while you’re driving through a section of highway with no place to stop. It would save twenty minutes of tears and confusion and irritable quips exchanged with your spouse.

Also, Hugo really doesn’t need much to be happy. Even being at a street fair on a hot day didn’t prevent him from eating and sleeping on time. Taking naps and starting out the night in his pack and play actually improved his sleep schedule.

The biggest problem we ran into was at a rest stop on the way home.

There was a fair amount of traffic on the New York Thruway on Monday afternoon, but we stopped at the Ramapo rest area just as Hugo was running out of patience with his toys and my singing. It was time for him to nurse in the back of the car as we’d done every couple of hours.

Ramapo on the southbound side is the worst rest area on the Thruway. I think it’s the only one that hasn’t been renovated and I was glad I didn’t need to use the facilities. The parking lot was packed. Rick parked close to the rear of the lot where there were a few spaces open and went into the building.

I fed Hugo, who promptly filled his diaper. I lined him up on the backseat to change him as usual, which meant standing outside the car and crouching over him. His outfit did not escape the poop but the diaper bag was equipped with a spare onesie.  Hugo was a good sport but my back was starting to scream from the strange angle.

Sometime during the diaper change, all the other parking spaces besides the one next to our car must have filled up. My attention was solely on Hugo as I stood outside the car with the door open.

I heard a honk and did not look up. It was repeated a couple of times and I saw a woman in an SUV wanted to park next to us and apparently didn’t think she could make it with my car door open.  I closed it until it hit the back of my legs and turned back to my son.

Hugo was completely naked and I was hoping that there were enough wipes to clean him properly, that no poop would get on the seat, that my back would stop screaming in pain, that Pandora would STFU with Beck right that instant!

She kept honking. Now I could see several cars lined up behind her. I turned and said too low for her to hear “I am changing a diaper, I’m sorry,” and gave her no more thought. She kept honking.

I was still dressing Hugo when I believe the woman in the SUV parked somewhere else nearby and stormed up to my car. I could kind of hear her in the background but didn’t turn. I think she reconsidered confronting me when she finally saw what I was doing or because I completely ignored her while tending to Hugo.

I picked up Mr. Go and made Beck stop blaring. I was pretty well shooting sparks by the time Rick got back and we were on our way again.

The rest area is gross and all those bathroom changing stations are filthy and covered in e coli. There was no reason why I shouldn’t have changed Hugo in the car. Yes, it took longer that I expected but I also didn’t think I was taking up a whole parking space. I’m still not sure that I was.

Before I had a child, it would have annoyed the hell out of me to lose a parking spot to someone changing a diaper. I think lots of parents of older kids get amnesia about certain baby related activities and behaviors, too. I cooled off.

If it hadn’t been the end of a holiday weekend we could have taken up more than one parking space with impunity.

Hugo and me

At a nicer rest stop





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