We (the hubby, myself and baby J) left for Australia last week and returned on Monday. We've been asked how was our trip, and well... I find it hard to answer with the usual expected "It was great!", since so much happened during the trip! Here's more or less a summary:
6th Aug, Wed:We have dinner with the boys, and then leave for the airport. Lil J is on the verge of tears. If he cried, I would have cried too. Thankfully, the boys find a toad in the grass near the car, and get distracted. A church friend very kindly brought some food for the family, and gives us a ride to the airport.
Choosing to fly at night in the hopes that baby J would sleep through is a BAD idea. He sleeps fitfully, and wakes every time they switch on the lights or make an announcement. He absolutely refuses to stay belted down. He screams all the way for take off and landing because of the pain in his ears, and thrashes and refuses to nurse, even though that would help to ease the pressure. I am quite at a loss, since his older brothers were pretty good flyers!
7th Aug, Thu:
We stumble, bleary-eyed into Brisbane airport at some early hour in the morning. We grab our baggage, meet the hubby's colleague and have some fast food for breakfast. It is freezing outdoors, and I'm glad I packed the sweater for the hubs.
There is still a domestic flight to catch, to Cairns. Will the baby scream? He does. I half don't blame him. He's tired, and has hardly slept. Many times when he manages to fall asleep in the carrier, we have to pop him out of the carrier to put his seatbelt on. Which wakes him up, and brings about more fretting.
Finally, we land in Cairns. Meanwhile, we've more or less decided that we will no longer take long plane rides with this little one. At least until he's much older. We take a bus to the resort. Both baby and I are so exhausted, we both fall asleep on the bus ride.
We check into our apartment, which is lovely. Nespresso machine, a fully equipped kitchen, two bedrooms (one for us, the other for the hubby's colleague). We have a quick lunch. All of us go for a long afternoon nap. We end up ordering pizza for dinner. Baby is not well and is starting to cough.
8th Aug, Fri:
We wake up and both the hubby and baby are sick. The hubby is having chills, and baby J is croaking away and really grumpy. We decide to bring him to the doctor in case he gets worse, since we are not sure if the clinic is open over the weekend.
A strange thing happens: baby J gets remarkably better when we step out of the apartment! We take a bus down to the clinic. Since he's better, the GP is not impressed, and talks about Vitamin D deficiency (lady, we get plenty of sun in SG, ya?) and allergies. We grab some food at Coles for dinner, and head back. By now, hubby is having chills and is running a fever. He pops some meds, and everyone goes for a nap again.
Dinner is simple, and most were items on offer from Coles. I love the tomato soup. Eating out here is pretty expensive, since Palm Cove is a tourist spot (think Sentosa for Singapore, or Batu Ferringhi in Penang), so I am glad to have a good dinner at a fraction of the price.
Baby J is now feverish, so we give him paracetamol. He vomits everything out. I am so glad that the apartment also comes with a dryer and washing machine. We take recordings of baby J's breathing and send it to a PD friend in Singapore, who thinks the baby may have croup.
9th Aug, Sat:
The hubs is better, and heads off for his workshops. The baby is not, however, so I head down to the bus-stop. The bus to the next town comes every hour on weekends, and I have just missed the bus. Our appointment is at 11 am, and I have 1.5 hours to kill. I decide to try to walk instead.
We slowly meander through the shops and I look out for hats, since I need one for the blog awards ceremony (its a derby theme). I'm at the right place, as this is truly hat country, and there are hats sold in every souvenir store and every pharmacy. Even some of the tiny supermarkets sell them. Again Baby J is better outdoors.
I keep walking, and reach a junction. I am not sure which way to turn. I pop into a pharmacy, and they say the mall which I am headed to is way too far, and I need to take a bus (actually another 15 minutes of walking would have taken me there). So I end up waiting for 25 minutes at this bus stop, under the hot sun:
We get to the mall. We see the doctor. She is again not impressed and says it is allergies. I play the recordings to let her listen to his breathing. Today, he is worse and is hoarse even when he is outdoors. She ignores my suggestions of croup, prescribes antibiotics as she thinks he may have an ear infection, and gives us steroids.
I head to the pharmacy to get our prescription and buy some supplements and creams for friends and family. Then we pop into Target, and find a hat for $10, and some t-shirts for the older two which were on offer. Finally, I make a dash into Coles, and grab some stuff. We lumber to the bus-stop, heavily laden with bags, to find that I had just missed the bus. AGAIN. So I walk back and order a quiche at a cafe, and try to feed the baby his lunch. Without a high chair. Thanks to a kind lady at a neighbouring table who helped me to pick up all the stuff baby J threw down, I manage to get some food into him, and I ask for a paper bag and pack my quiche as I didn't have time to eat it. We catch the bus. Back at the apartment, Baby J goes for his nap. I am so tired, I forget about my quiche and fall alseep with him.
Since being outdoors seems to help him, we head out after his nap. We take a nice walk by the beach. It is beautiful but chilly, and a friendly shopkeeper tells me they are having crazy weather this week. The beach is lovely, but we keep an eye out since there may be jellyfish or crocodiles.
The hubby is back in the evening for awhile, and helps me to bathe baby, before he heads out for the workshop dinner. I eat the stuff from Coles again. I did say I loved the tomato soup right?
Baby J is worse, and keeps waking up every two hours to cry.
10th Aug, Sun:
Our PD friend said we could try giving baby J the steroids as it might help decrease the inflammation and ease his breathing. So we give baby the meds, and he shows improvement hours after. The hubby and his colleague head off for their workshop, and baby J and I head to the shops to hunt for presents for the older boys. It starts drizzling, so we head home pretty quickly.
The hubs and his colleague come back and he arranges to rent a car for the rest of the day. Since baby J seems better, we drive down to Port Douglas, which supposedly is one of the most scenic drives in Australia. It is gloomy weather, but the sea view is lovely. We wander about the town, stopping by the supermarket to pick up biscuits for their colleagues, and Target so that the hubs colleague could find presents for her niece and nephew. We stumble upon a weekend market, but most of the stalls had already packed up. We spot a rainbow.
In the end, we head back to Palm Cove and have a nice seafood dinner. It is another long night with baby J.
11th Aug, Mon:
We are up early as we have an 8 am bus to catch to the airport. Baby J is tired, but cries less this round going up and down for the domestic flight to Brisbane. It really helps that we have a super steward by the name of Adam, who took the time to introduce himself, and even invited me to stand in galley of the plane when he knew I was trying to rock baby to sleep. And he told me "please take all the time you want here, and let me know if you need anything". I nearly cried hearing his friendly voice, after all the dirty looks I've gotten from other people, when I had to rock baby in various corners of the plane for the previous flights.
Then its homeward bound on our final flight! We meet another friendly stewart who also has three boys, and he clears a corner of the galley so that I can rock baby. The flight seems endless, but only lasts 8 hours.
This is when I finally succumb and fall sick. It starts with chills, and by the second half of the flight I am aching and shivering. I no longer have the energy to rock the baby, so I stand at a narrow corridor and put my head on the wall, and let the rocking motion of the plane do the work. In the end, I concede defeat, pass the baby to the hubby, and curl up in my seat to sleep.
When we get home, Junior J is already asleep, but Lil J is still awake and fighting sleep. It is so wonderful to curl up next to him and ask him about his week, and hear him chatter in his babyish voice about feeding millipedes leaves and how he saw a baby millipede, and about how he likes the zoo and the giraffes. It feels so good to be home.
12th Aug, Tue:
We bring baby to our regular PD, who confirms that he has croup, and no ear infection. The hubs rushes to work. I am having a high fever, and I do what mums to newborns are advised to do: nap when baby naps. I feel guilty for not being able to hang out with the boys, but I am feeling so sick all I can do is dig frozen food out of the freezer and let my FIL know what pasta to cook with it.
The boys are sweet. Junior J reads me a story. Lil J decides he would be my doctor, and comes running up to me with a yellow spoon, and declares it is a needle. He pokes me hard with his needle, and says "It is healthy! This will make you better!" which makes me laugh. I am so so thankful to be back.
So, that was our trip. We had lovely moments, we had our challenges. No matter what, we have lots to be thankful for:
:: Friends and family who helped or offered help: The older boys had a wonderful time hanging out with their two grandpas when we were away, and both grandpas did a fantastic job caring for them! They went on many adventures, and had lots of stories to tell me.
Due to some unforseen circumstances, I discovered pretty late that I had to prepare a week's worth of meals for the boys and the gramps (both grandpas can't really cook, and Lil J cannot eat out due to his allergies), and I was rather frantic and shared about it with my cell group. Immediately, there were offers of food, and they actually cooked up four meals for us! With their help and some extra cooking on our side, we managed to leave with a week's worth of meals (sauces and soups) in the freezer, so all the grandpas needed to do was to follow the menu plan, cook the pasta/rice and heat up the sauce or soup.
Other friends also offered to cook when they found out about our situation, and I was really touched. All in all, I left knowing that the kids were in good hands, and should anything happen to us, there would be people looking out for them.
My mum managed to help to cook some meals in the end, so that meant we had extra frozen meals, which really helped to tide us over when I was home but sick in bed. The FIL is still here, so that means I was able to rest. God's timing really is perfect.
:: God's protection: We are so glad that we had journey mercies for the entire trip, especially for the four flights. Seeing that rainbow at Port Douglas further reminded me that His promises are true.
:: Good doctors: Ok so the Australian GP wasn't too great, but we are so thankful that we had a PD friend we could message to ask for advice, as well as a good PD to come home too. Our PD has always been spot on for diagnosis, and we are so grateful that her clinic is nearby.
:: Good health: The boys attended our usual co-op the week before we left, and four out of six families who attended came down with Influenza A, with very high fevers and bad coughs. We were rather worried that the boys would get it and the grandpas would be saddled with sick kids while we were away. We prepared medicines for the home and brought some medicines up too. Thankfully, the boys seemed to be spared, and only the hubby, baby J, and I were hit. I am so glad that I only fell sick later, since that meant I was able to care for baby J when hubby was attending his workshops.
:: Time to rest: We managed to rest a little more when we were there, and having to take care of one kid meant I could nap when baby napped.
:: Cyber-break: The internet was terribly slow at the resort, and it meant it was almost impossible for me to do any blogging or homeschool prep as most sites took ages to load. However, this forced me to stop being online so often, and it was a good cyber break for me.
:: A break away: Absence really makes the heart grow fonder. The boys drive me crazy on a daily basis, but I missed them so much when we were away, and I am glad for the break to remind me how precious my little boys are to me.
:: Kind strangers: I've mentioned some earlier on: Understanding stewards and stewardesses, ladies who help to pick up all the stuff your baby throws, friendly shopkeepers. Then there is also the Target cashier who asks if you need the tags cut off the baby toy so that baby can play with it. And those who willingly give you directions when you are lost.
The hubby's colleague was a great help too, and she helped to carry and take care of baby J at times. We were thankful for the extra pair of hands!