Esme was about 5 weeks old. None of us had slept for more than 3 hours at a time since she was born. We could barely make it out of the bedroom, never mind the house by noon, and between nappy washes, clothes washes, feeding Esme and cooking meals, life felt like a constant washing, feeding cycle that we couldn't break free of for long enough to achieve anything. Oh, and we were trying to set up a photography business, so we needed to do something urgently to allow us to get out there and start taking photos again! And so, we jumped off the deep end and booked Iceland for 2 weeks, when she would be just under 4 months old.
We were so nervous of the idea of taking her on a flight - Would I have enough room to feed her? Where would we change her? Would her ears hurt? How would we carry her, all her stuff, and all our usual camera gear? Then there was the worry of how we would cope once we got there - would she be warm enough? Would it be worth our while going if we still couldn't get out of the house before noon? Would it be too much driving for her? Would she be unsettled by the unfamiliar surroundings? Were we mad altogether to even consider taking a new born to Iceland in winter??
We booked extra leg room seats at the front of the plane, a couple of cabins close to the areas we wanted to shoot, and a comfy old jeep to get around in. I would like to say, "and started planning for our trip" but truth be told, nothing changed - we were still stuck in the never ending cycle of nappies and feeds, and trying to get a business off the ground, and so there was probably even less planning than usual, but it was all booked now, so the departure date came round, and off we went, nerves and all.
Up until the night before we left, Esme still liked to party til 1-ish. We thought we were pretty lucky though, as once she went down, she usually slept through to 7, and after all the 3 hour chunks of sleep, 6 hours was a bit of a dream!
On our first night, we got to the cabin pretty late, so it was a quick dinner, and straight to bed for Esme. The cabin was tiny and open planned, so I put her down in the cot which was wedged between the dining table and the bed, while we relaxed on the sofa, about three paces away. This in itself was a pretty big deal - it was only 11pm after all, and she was a whole 3 foot away - unprecedented! I figured she was maybe just tired with the journey. But the next night, it worked again, this time after dinnner at 9pm, and the next night, and the next cabin, and the next one. Even when the cabins got bigger, and got walls.. At times she wasn't even asleep when I put her in her cot, and sometimes she needed picked up, and we tried again twenty minutes later, but for the most part, once we had our dinner, whatever time that happened to be, Esme was then happy to go to bed on her own, giving us an evening to ourselves - bliss!
We're not really routine people, life is too all-over-the-place with photography and travelling to have a strict bedtime, or even a bedtime routine for Esme - it's not like we can pack the baby bath and cart it over to Iceland! I had read so much about the options for getting your baby to go to sleep on their own, it seemed you either needed a strict routine, or a baby up partying with you all night. But it seemed like Esme took our dinner time as her bedtime routine - the only times I had to pick her up again was when I tried to put her down before we'd eaten. Once she's sat at the table for a while on Aaron's knee, shown what we're eating, and had a quick feed, she's out for the count for the night. We were very nervous that coming home and adding a set of stairs into the mix would ruin the joys of baby bedtime, and she'd be back to her old partying routine, but it seems the dinner routine is working at home too! This is in no way to launch yet another theory on how to get baby to sleep - there are quite enough of them, and what the hell would I know anyway - 4 months in with one baby, and every baby is clearly different, slotting into very different parents' lives. But I wouldn't have tried to put her down in the cot if we hadn't been in the cabin in Iceland, and so my point is - book a trip, no matter how nervous you are, and however chaotic life seems, if you're thinking about it - go for it, you never know what you'll discover when you and baby are out of your comfort zone!