We took our adorable (of course!) baby to Japan in early 2014. It was our first time flying with baby-chan. And our first trip longer than a few hours. And our first time crossing several time zones. Despite a lot of travel experience and perhaps because we are now befuddled parents, we hadn’t counted on the notable, souped-up facsimile of baby that would appear within the first 24 hours of coming home.
All the other times I travelled to Canada from Japan, I had space to recover from my jet lag or I was turning around and going back so it didn’t matter. I had heard somewhere that it takes about one day for every hour of time difference to recover from jet lag. This was about true for me, pre-baby.
Before taking baby far across the Pacific, I had not considered how I usually fare in jet lag la-la land. I had forgotten how I would wake from surreal dreams feeling woozy and unable to discern where I was. I would be hungry at all the wrong times and craved water as if I were being drowned in a sand pit. I would drag my body around and generally feel sorry for myself. My world was all about me.
Photo Notes – It’s the first morning of our holiday back in Japan. We’ve been up since 4am and we’re waiting for our clothes to dry at the 24-hour coin laundry since our bags were lost, again. This is B.C. (before child), which means I have time to embarrass hubby by asking him to take a pensive photo of me in a rice polishing booth at 6am. (I know of no one who takes photos the day after arriving in Canada to show off a jet lagged state but you can use your imagination.)
Back to the story.
Our weary but cheery family got home on a Saturday. Hitoshi had to work on Monday. No problem! I would have a wonky schedule with baby so H could get enough sleep to get to work in a reasonably cohesive state. Baby and I would just sleep all day! It would be superb.
9pm. Baby is asleep and parents are cheering wildly but silently. We sleep peacefully.
“Geeeee!” squeals baby. I imagine it’s 5am and turn over to stare into a large pair of suspiciously alert eyes. In my gauzy state, I roll a wiggly bundle into my arms and step into the living room. The clock is obviously wrong because it says 11pm.
Three hours later, H is snoring and I am still up with baby who is joyfully gurgling and playing in the playpen. I bask in the feeling of being a responsible mother because I have chosen to play with my baby and stay awake with full patience and enjoyment. We are up for another hour and then baby falls sweetly asleep.
9pm. Baby is asleep and parents cheer, but with less enthusiasm. We collapse into a lovely sleep.
11pm. Baby is wired awake. Could this be a coincidence? Baby and I make our way into the living room to play.
2am. Baby has cooed and screeched daddy out of bed. Baby is having the time of her life. “Woo hoo! It’s 2am! I’m a jet-lagged baby and I’m ready to paaaaaarrrrtaaaaaay!” H is panicking and saying he has to get up in 4 hours for work. I’m taking pictures of him lying in the playpen, half sleeping and half supervising baby while I laugh giddily because there is nothing else left to do. “At least turn off the flash!” my husband pleads as I take another picture. This goes down on the books as a super tense moment of our marriage.
2am. I am up with disco dancing baby who has been going strong since… 11pm. This time I am almost passed out in the playpen. I no longer care about being a responsible mother. My head is balanced on a small Pooh-Bear ball for a pillow and I am desperately hoping to fall asleep while baby crashes plastic pots together. But I can’t. It’s something in my mama genes that will not allow me to sleep while my baby is awake. H has given up on sleeping.
And so it goes until the end of the week when baby is suddenly not awake at 2am and I’m checking to make sure baby is still breathing.
I said at the beginning that baby had morphed into a crazy being intent on living it up for extended periods with no mercy for the parental unit. But baby was simply being herself, albeit off by 15 hours. Baby’s intensely disoriented and sleep-deprived parents were barely hanging on.
Do I have any tips for surviving jet lag with a little baby? No. None. Zero. It’s one of those things that must be done, overcome, survived, tolerated.
Call on any powers you usually use in times of hardship and then promptly forget the entire experience in time to travel again!
What helps you get over jet lag, with or without babies?