Last week I turned 31 years old. In an ill-conceived attempt to celebrate in style with a newborn, I learned some very important lessons in how NOT to plan a luxurious day out. Realizing that a rowdy night on the town, dinner at a fancy restaurant and a solo trip to the spa were all obviously NOT going to be ways to spend my birthday (especially since Avery has embarked on a personal mission to refuse any and all bottles)…I decided I could at least get my fix of sunshine, outdoor fun and relaxation (in between breastfeeding, diaper changes, and shushing of course.) I wanted to go on a hike in Malibu, but after hours of scouring the internet, I couldn’t safely determine if any hikes would be baby-proof. I couldn’t figure out what hikes were stroller friendly and since my baby wearing skills are still a little rusty (I trip going down stairs, walk into things and occasionally come close to popping off his legs like a Barbie doll when putting him in the carrier) I think we should forego rugged terrain for a month or so until Avery is a little more durable. I also couldn’t ascertain what hikes were shaded (Avery is a furnace and sweats profusely in the heat) or somewhat easy (my body says lay the F down and rest but my mind says sure lets jog and hike a mountain…)
I searched and searched and finally stumbled upon a happy medium – the LA Arboretum. A beautiful natural oasis with like 127 acres of God’s glorious (man-planted, manicured and tended) flora and fauna. There were promises of a waterfall, a lake and peacocks roaming around at your feet! Suddenly visions of us happily strolling through groves of trees stopping to have a picnic lunch in the shade while listening to the patter of a waterfall started dancing through my head. The day would be relaxed and beautiful. We could marvel at the peacocks and breastfeed by the lake while Avery relished in the greatest mobiles around – trees blowing in the breeze. I was so excited! This was going to be perfect!
So…we got up, fed and walked Riley (our adorable Bulldog), ate some eggs, got ready, packed up the car and timed our departure to coincide perfectly with Avery’s morning nap and feeding. With a full belly and just as he was ready to doze off we did a quick walk up to the bank and by the time we returned he was sleeping like a baby. Just as planned. We hopped in the car and drove an hour out to Arcadia. We were happily trucking along, sleeping baby in the back seat, and about 5 minutes from the Arboretum when Micah noticed the temperature gauge had crept up from a nice enjoyable 78 degrees in Beverly Hills to a stifling 93 and climbing. Oops! We never checked the forecast for Arcadia – which we also never realized was in the desert – which apparently does not suddenly become cool and breezy just because the calendar says it’s fall. By the time we pulled into the Arboretum the temp read 100 degrees and Avery was awake and HUNGRY!
Since we were a little hungry as well, we found a mall nearby with a Chipotle. While I nursed Avery in the parking lot and changed his massive blow out diaper while Micah ran in and grabbed lunch which we scarfed down in the car. Oh yeah, this was just like I had envisioned…We got to the Arboretum (again), parked, put A in his stroller, paid and began our adventure – all the while thinking, hmm it is quite hot out, we should try to stay in the shade. We lasted about 5 minutes (during which we ran from shady spot to shady spot trying to cool our clearly overheated baby) We eventually stopped under a tree, stripped Avery’s sweaty little body down to just a diaper. We continued on searching for a shady spot to breastfeed to keep him from getting dehydrated – you know, since we were essentially putting him in an outdoor sauna. Finally mid-power walk to the waterfall (all I really wanted to see at that point) we begrudgingly decided 1. this is stupid 2. a birthday trip to child services for frying our baby like an egg on a hot sidewalk was not the best way to spend a birthday and 3. this was SO not what I had envisioned.
We retreated back to the welcome center, tails between our legs, and kindly asked for a refund since we didn’t feel like nuking our newborn. The manager gladly gave us re-entry passes to use at a later (i.e. cooler) date and time. We ran back to the car with a crying, sweaty, hot, naked baby in tow. I promptly breastfed Avery AGAIN in the car, then we drove an hour back to the park next to our house (where it was still low 70s and breezy). We laid out our blanket and marveled at Avery as he happily gazed and giggled at the trees for 2 hours.
All in all, I basically spent my 31st birthday nursing a baby in the backseat of our car, driving 2 hours, and almost getting heat stroke. Instead of a glorious dream-worthy day in a fabricated natural oasis I experienced my new level of mommy perfection – spending a lot of time, all my energy, and a bit of frustration to end up happily content enjoying the park next door. After all that, it was the best birthday – celebrating via Skype phone calls with family, and lazily enjoying the park, watching Avery soak in the sights and sounds with wonder, laughter and joy.
We look forward to returning the Arboretum mid-January when Avery is able to enjoy it even more and we aren’t turned into human shish kabobs. It gets cooler in the desert by January right? We will check the weather report next time…lesson learned.