October 1, 2018

Traveling with a Baby - Part 4 - Prepare for the Unexpected!

In my conclusion of this series, Traveling with a Baby, I'm going to share some of the unexpected surprises and challenges we encountered that came from our trip to Nigeria to visit my husband. 

For our 9 day-stay, these were the things that I packed for Cocoa and myself. I really thought I had done very well in getting everything ready and making sure we would be covered during our vacation. However, life was just waiting to laugh at me.

  1. My first shock came as soon as we landed in Lagos, Nigeria. Typically, just before you board a plane, you are required to put your baby's car seat and stroller aside for check-in. Ideally, when you land, they will be waiting for you at the door of the plane, so you can easily take your child to baggage claim. What I forgot was that this was Nigeria, and common sense is not at all common. All the parents waited for the car seats and strollers for a good 20 minutes before the airport staff informed us that they had been taken to baggage claim already. If you haven't been to the Murtala Muhammad International Airport, then you don't know just how far the walk from Delta's gate is to baggage claim. Now imagine, having your baby or toddler, while carrying a diaper bag, carry-on and your personal bag. I did not find this funny at all. What I found less funny was finally getting to baggage claim, and the staff there didn't know what a car seat was - they had just my stroller, and couldn't find the car seat. HABA! After the money I paid, there was no way in heck I was leaving my car sear behind. They eventually found it and we headed our way out of the airport.
  2. Unexpected illness. If you looked through my post on what to pack in your diaper bag, you'll notice I added Medicines. Not only do you want enough of your baby's prescription medicine, but you also want to have some "just-in-case" medicine (can be over the counter). I learned this the hard way. 4 days into our trip, Cocoa got a bunch of heat rashes all over her body (I'll explain why in the next point). She had never had heat rashes before, and I was totally unprepared. I didn't know what to put on her skin, if anything and it caused us a lot o  Chloe got heat rashes - and I didn't have any topical medication for her. Luckily, she's got a pretty strong immune system. By that night, we were back in our apartment with the AC on, and the rashes cleared within a day.

    I thought we were done with any sickness, but then Cocoa's tummy started running. I can't say what caused it exactly. Cocoa likes to eat - as in EAT! Even if she's done eating, once she sees you with food, she's coming up to you to give her some. Cakes and I had some guinea fowl a couple of days before, that she wanted to try. I think I gave her a few bites. Additionally, because she had just turned 9 months old, her pediatrician gave us a new formula for her to try out, so that she could transition easier to regular milk. All the water she drank was bottled water, which I boiled as well. Anyway, I didn't have anything to give her - I'm not even sure if you can give babies anything for runny tummies. I didn't have Pedialyte either, and so we had to run around Lagos looking for some to replenish her fluids and electrolytes. Thankfully, I had enough diaper cream to cover the 2 or 3 days of her sore bum.
  3. I ran out of diapers! For our 9 day trip, I took around 70 diapers. I figured that 7 to 8 diapers a day would cover us. But, since I didn't think about emergencies, her tummy issues from my previous point caused me to run out of diapers a day before we were scheduled to leave. I'm kinda particular about the diapers she uses and was not too happy at having to buy a pack of diapers in Lagos that I really didn't care for. It was a brand name diaper, but I think the way diapers are made are different depending on what country you're in. I don't really know how to explain it, but ultimately, I ended up coming back with diapers that I threw away (if the pack wasn't open, I would have donated them to a shelter). 

  4. I also ran out of Cocoa's food! Like I said, she likes to eat and try a lot of different foods. However, at that time, she was transitioning from formula and bottled foods to table food. I brought quite a number of her bottled food and cans of cereal and formula. Unfortunately, she started rejecting her bottled food, and I had to supplement it with cereal and formula. Because I had only projected for a certain number of cereal/formula feeds, our supply started to dwindle. And then, when she had the running tummy issue, I completely switched her to cereal and formula. And just like the diapers, we ran out of them the day before we were scheduled to leave! I couldn't find the exact formula in any of the stores we went to (I think we went to 3 or 4 different shops), so I ended up with a different variety from the same brand that we were used to.

  5. While in Nigeria, we needed to get our passports replaced. Prior to our trip, our passports got damaged  (long story) and the Nigerian embassy in Atlanta didn't answer their phones or respond to emails inquiring about how to replace them. Luckily, 5 days before our scheduled date of departure, someone gave my dad information on what to do - apply for Emergency Travel Certificates. I quickly ran to the embassy, filled out the necessary forms, made the payment and picked everything up the following day. The plan was to get replacement passports while in Lagos... but of course, it's Nigeria. There were no passport booklets available in Lagos, and we had to make arrangements to fly to Abuja immediately, as we had only 3 more days of our trip left.
    All I can say is THANK GOD, because we were able to get our passports done before we left Nigeria. However, it was during this process that Cocoa got heat rashes. We spent literally 11 hours in that office (we weren't allowed to wait in the offices with ACs), and there were no restaurants or hotels in the area for us to hang around in (P.S. - this is the best and easiest way to get AC, clean toilets, and if you're lucky, wifi when you're on the go in Nigeria). Some of the office employees were shocked to see us still waiting as they went home for the day! All I knew was I wasn't leaving that office without our passports. And again, thank God and everyone who helped us in our quest. And major kudos to Cakes for being with us and making sure we were taken care as much as possible that day.
So that's about it. It wasn't quite a fun week for us, but we made the best of what we had. And I know better now to prepare for the unexpected when traveling with a baby.

If you've traveled with kids before, did anything happen that you learned from? Let me know in the comments!

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