Well, we made it home to my parents' house, safe and sound, at 5:30 am. Believe it or not, it only took us one hour more than what the GPS had predicted. Not bad for traveling with an 11-week old infant! Ella--though not pleased to be locked in her carseat for so long--was a great trooper...for the most part.
My child is definitely NOT the type to fall fast asleep the moment the engine turns over. From the very first trip home from the hospital, she has never seemed to like the car (in fact, perhaps I should have had some sort of indication that this was going to be the case because she always kicked like crazy during my drives to and from work when I was pregnant with her). On our trip last night, she would cry for the first 3-5 minutes or so after getting her strapped into the carseat (actually, the crying usually started as we were strapping her in...as if she knew that we were about to start driving again). We aren't fans of the "cry it out" method at home (I admit that we tried it a handful of times and it broke our heart each time), but there's not too much that we can do while on a 14-hour road trip when we know that she is fed, clean, and warm. So whoever wasn't driving would sit in the back with her or reach over her carseat to stroke her cheek and offer her a pacifier (which she's not a huge fan of either...but sometimes works) and "shhh" or try whatever way possible to calm her. I don't know if it actually did her any good, but at least we were trying to comfort her in some way. Anyway, after about 3-5 minutes of "why the heck do I have to be strapped in here again?!?!" crying, she would tucker herself out and fall asleep until our next stop...where we would go through the whole routine again. I did feed her (from the boob) twice--once when we stopped for dinner, and once when we stopped for gas. Other than that, I pumped and she took a bottle beautifully despite being strapped in. (I do admit that while I refuse to jeopardize her safety to nurse her in my arms while driving--as convenient as it would be--the thought crossed my mind that perhaps I could find some way to lean over her carseat to offer her the boob...but I figured that wouldn't be safe either...especially since it rained pretty much the whole trip).
So like I said, we got home around 5:30 am this morning and Ella was so happy to be out of the carseat! It's like she somehow knew that we were home. The car stopped, she woke up without crying, and she gave us the biggest smiles and coos when we plopped her on the floor to stretch and play. And that's when my brother emerged out of the guest room...where I thought we would be staying. Turns out that he had planned on sleeping on the hide-a-bed in the family room at the back of the house, but when they opened it up, they found a happy little family of black widow spiders! (And my brother was kind enough to sleep on top of the blankets so that my husband I would still have clean sheets when we finally made it to bed). So my poor mom has been spraying and cleaning and laundering and vacuuming the back family room all day long to get rid of the spiders, and Ella is limited to the front of the house...not that it really makes any difference to her. I don't freak out about creepy crawly things that much...but the thought of them getting near Ella definitely gives me the goosebumps.
Aside from the spiders, it's really nice to be home. Ella and I went to church this morning while my husband caught up on some sleep (I drove for about five hours and he drove the rest), then came home and had a glorious nap. She's now playing happily with her grandparents, and I'm hoping that she'll be able to get a "normal" night of sleep tonight (which has been to wake up for a 3:30 am feeding these days...still not quite ready to sleep all the way through the night, though she got close a couple of times).
Today's blessing was sharing Ella with everyone at my parents' church. We moved here when I was seven, so these people have truly watched me and my brothers grow up. Knowing our history of loss, so many of them prayed fervently for me through my pregnancy, so it was such a blessing to share her with them.