Things We Learned in Sofia (And Unrelated Pictures)

Our little family headed to Sofia this weekend. Nikola was supposed to play baseball, but the games were canceled so we had three days to putz around together. We took the night train on Friday night, and our only mandatory engagement all weekend was to go to the US Embassy on Monday to apply for Peatuk’s certificate of birth abroad. It was a very stimulating three days. Here are some things I learned…

  1. When traveling across Bulgaria by train, reserving a berth in a sleeping car is a good idea. When you can rent out the whole sleeping car with friends it is a bit more fun. However, when you rent out the sleeping car as a family, it becomes absolute heaven. Peatuk was a champ on the train, especially on the way home. As long as he was cuddled next to me he didn’t mind the noise and I think he enjoyed the rocking movement. It was great to have a private place to change and feed him. 
  2. Three days of “vacation” with a five-month-old feels like a month. I was refreshed and stimulated way more than I usually am by a trip to Sofia, but by the last day I was also exhausted and ready to be home. All three of us spent the majority of yesterday napping, went to bed early last night, and slept in late this morning. I am surprised that Peatuk didn’t get fussy until Monday evening. 
  3. You can’t take pictures at the U.S. embassy. I guess I knew that, but I expected to be able to take a picture of Peatuk in front of it. You know, first trip to the United States for him and all. But, no luck. He wasn’t overly impressed by the embassy anyway, but he sure liked the consular officer. 
  4. We had to get a little creative with bathing, and Peatuk loved it. Most mornings and evenings we just tossed him in the sink- a luxury reserved for the summer time, I am sure. On Saturday afternoon he took a soak in the tub with mommy- his first! And he loved it. I definitely want a bathtub in our next home, even though it will be too late for Peatuk to enjoy as a baby. 
  5. Doing baby-led parenting really works for our family. Peatuk is not used to having a routine. He sleeps when he is tired, eats when he is hungry, and plays when he is playful. Luckily, with both of us at home full time, we can afford to do that. It makes traveling much easier than it could have been. He slept anywhere, including on the bus, train, tram, and metro. He also ate in all of those places. He only got cranky twice. He didn’t mind late nights or early mornings. It was great. 
  6. I was afraid that hanging out with couples who didn’t have kids would be weird. Luckily, Peatuk was a complete charmer and it went really well both times we hung out with non-kid-couples. I relearned the term “DINK,” and although I am slightly jealous of that freedom, I wouldn’t give up our family for it! 
  7. You really don’t have to do anything special to entertain a 5 month old. Part of me wanted to go on the pedal boats, and part of me wanted to go to the zoo. Peatuk was more amused by people watching and riding public transportation. 
  8. Peatuk is not really sure what to think about other babies. Right now I think he thinks he is the only baby in the world. We ran into this little girl at the photo shop. She is three days younger than he is. She was chatting with him, trying to get him to respond, but he was just like, “What IS that tiny human!?!” (I think he thinks he is just as big as mommy and daddy). 
  9. Cloth diapering while traveling was a total success. I thought it would be much more difficult than it was, but because we had access to a washing machine it was almost as easy as it is at home. I will say that I am grateful for his rare bowel movements. He waited until we were home to poop! (Three days is about his average, so the trip was timed perfectly). Nikola says that, “Home is where you feel comfortable pooping.” I guess Peatuk agrees. 
  10. I try to be considerate of others when breastfeeding in public, but this weekend I realized how selfish it is to demand that women breastfeed at home. My breasts are not sexual, it is other people who view them as sexual… and they need to get over it. I am done apologizing for my son being hungry and me being an active member of the world instead of shaming the early years of motherhood. That being said… I LOVE my woven wrap. I used a new carry (Front Cross Carry) in which I can just lower Peatuk, attach him to the breast, and he can comfortably and discreetly eat while I am walking around!!! 
  11. Traveling with Nikola is great, still. I read several blogs in which all of the caretaking falls on the mother when traveling. One guy, while saying how easy camping was, even said, “Just bring your breastfeeding wife, and the food is all packed.” Yeah, well, changing diapers, putting a baby to sleep, and feeding him while wandering a huge city and navigating public transport is anything but easy. Having Nikola willing to go halfsies made it all fun instead of an unbearable chore. 
  12. Babies are not like dogs. Peatuk has freaked out when held by two people. One of which was one of our hosts this weekend. Most people Peatuk is shy or curious about, but sometimes, like most babies, he just screams and cries when a new person holds him. Part of me wonders if he knows something I don’t, and I will admit I am more cautious around people he doesn’t like. However, I think it is important to teach babies that it is okay to be nervous around people, and even to not like them, but that does not make them bad people. 
Overall, what I think we learned this weekend is that travel is not off the table until Peatuk is older. In fact, it is probably much easier while he is still being breastfed and can’t walk! Preparing for this trip I searched the internet for, “Fun things to do with a baby while traveling.” All I got were lists and advice for traveling with a baby that made it sound like it was really difficult and no fun at all. As if traveling is, “possible, but not advisable.” Poppycock. Our son loves it. We love it. Once he gets a passport… we are heading to… wherever. 

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