Note – The baby has been nicknamed ‘Bobo’ for this blog.
I love travel (as anyone who has read this blog has probably guessed). D loves travel too. It is one of the things we love doing together. So when Bobo came along, I was keen to start travelling as soon as we could.
People told us that we should actually travel when he was small and not too much of a pain to handle. I could not get my mind around that idea. He seemed too tiny and too fragile the first couple of months. We were too overwhelmed with the idea of parenting to even consider experimenting with travel. Besides, any travel from Singapore would involve going to a new country. The idea of that seemed a bit overwhelming too. Still with much foresight, back in March we booked a getaway for a long weekend in May. Bobo would be five months by then. Hopefully we would be better prepared as a family to travel.
As D-Day neared, it was obvious that we could not have picked a better time to start travelling. From four months on, Bobo had started becoming more and more interested in the world around him. Practically anything could amuse him and he loved being shown the outside world. Plus he did not tire as easily as he did when he was a young baby. Also he was still breastfed, so we did not have the added complication of carrying separate food for him.
Our destination was Bintan, an Indonesian island located about an hour away from Singapore by ferry. We were taking the afternoon ferry on Friday and would return by the morning ferry on Sunday. The plan was to chill out on the beach. No hectic sightseeing, which was usually the mainstay of most of our holidays pre-Bobo.
The previous weekend I had made a list of things we had to take with us. People had warned us about the ‘new parent-trap’ where we would be really eager to carry the whole house with us. Despite these warnings, we ended up with a massive suitcase half of which was filled with Bobo’s stuff. How could we leave behind the third spare blanket in case we managed to drop the first two somewhere? (Of course in the end, it turned out that we could do without the third spare blanket. Even without the second spare blanket)
We reached the Tanah Merah ferry terminal an hour and a half before the departure time. This would leave us enough time to check-in, drop off our baggage, complete security and immigration and also have a spot of lunch. Infact it gave us more than enough time to do all these things and we soon found ourselves sitting in the departure area.
Singapore is an extremely well –ordered country and we had entirely forgotten what happens when there is no order (relatively speaking). The ferry tickets did not have seat numbers. This meant a free-for-all would ensue when the gates opened and we had to position ourselves as close to the boarding gate as possible. Except as time went by, multiple queues began to form since it was not clear which of the four gates would be the boarding gate. There were four of us adults (including my folks) and one baby. So we could spread ourselves thin and cover all possible bases. In the end, my mom and I hung out with Bobo pretending to keep him engaged, while we gossiped and did people watching. My dad and D bustled about in a manly manner joining different queues. Bobo was busy sucking his hands raw (he loves sucking everything these days. His hands, bib, mittens, the onesie he is wearing, any toys in the vicinity, the seatbelt of his stroller…as I said, everything).
Surprisingly again for Singapore, the terminal did not have a baby care room. I had to
discretely nurse in the terminal. We had to change Bobo’s diaper right on the seats.
Oh well. Motherhood teaches you to lose any self-consciousness you may have had.
As the departure time approached, the crowd grew restive and finally boarding was announced. There was a rush (of course nothing compared to what I was used to handling in India) and in the end we all managed to get good seats together.
Once we had all settled in, Bobo blessedly fell asleep. We began to admire the view, eat our packed snacks and do desultory conversation when the baby woke up again.
I began to try and put him back to sleep. Unfortunately I missed some crucial cue and ended up just agitating him instead of soothing him. Bobo began to cry.
If the earth had opened up and swallowed me then, it would not have been too soon. I had become one of those parents who I used to shoot dirty looks at.
Apparently, you don’t lose all self-consciousness with motherhood.
With a howling baby headed for a crescendo, I spent the rest of the journey standing rather miserably in the luggage area. D joined me and tried his bit but to no avail. The grandma tried for a while. Eventually when the ferry docked, we all breathed a sigh of relief. Bobo was beyond tired by now and just lay quietly in my arms as we disembarked, made our way to the hotel and waited in the spacious lobby while D spent over an hour trying to check us in.
Bintan Lagoon Resort was enormous and was packed to the hilt. By the time we managed to get two rooms on the same floor, it was close to five p.m. and we were all rather tired. To make matters worse, though our rooms were on the same floor, they were at the ends of a long corridor, involving a fifteen minute walk.
The room itself was rather nice. There was a double bed on one side and a low floor rise on the other side. The floor rise had a nice double mattress in which Bobo could play. We had gotten a blanket from home to cover the mattress. This was immediately unpacked and before long the baby was comfortably sprawled, sucking his favourite toys.
The room also had a baby crib (which we covered with our own mattress cover and wiped down with Dettol – the second act was a bit too excessive now that I think about it).There was a nice balcony from which we could hear birds and see a lot of green.
We began unpacking but D and I were still fractious, tired from the travels. Before long we were snapping at each other and at some point we heard a gentle thud. Bobo had rolled from the low floor rise and fallen on the floor.
Our hearts stopped.
The first time your baby gets hurt must be one of the most awful moments of your parenting life. I scooped him up and held him as he cried. D hovered around anxiously. We are usually careful about leaving him unattended, and believed in doing things like putting on seat belts even if it was for a minute. So this came as a shock.
A few minutes later, we noticed a bump on the baby’s head but otherwise he seemed to be fine. We called his paediatrician and got instructions on what to watch out for (dizziness and/or vomiting) but were told that he should be fine otherwise.
Finally both of us relaxed and decided to stop getting worked up and just go with the flow.
We put Bobo to sleep and then ordered dinner in the room. The grandparents trekked to our room and the four adults sat in the balcony, eating food and drinking beer and generally chatting. We could hear insects, we could see the gorgeous full moon. It was rather wonderful.