Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Planning Baby's Trip To Nigeria

Planning my trip to Nigeria was not the easiest thing ever especially since I was going to be traveling alone with an infant.  I bought my ticket first without thinking it through and then got so stressed out I thought my head was going to fall out of my neck.

I had to get her a US passport OMG!!! (In this process I learned the importance of having 2 birth certificates). Then we had to  drive 5 hours to Atlanta (Nigeria Consulate) to obtain her Nigerian passport (that alone is another blog title).  Both of these had to be done with papa present so we waited for papa to return from his short detachment with barely 3 weeks left and mummy in panic mode we got both passports just in time for the trip :) It also meant to me that God had blessed us to go on the trip.  Except no one else could see that so I had our priest bless us and we were ready for the trip.

First, medically she was as squared away as she could be, she was caught up with all of her immunizations but neither I nor her could have malaria prophylaxis.  She was too young and I am still lactating.  In order to reduce all water contamination I decided to only nurse her (Baby had started eating solids).  I also packed lots of hand sanitizers and everything I needed for Baby- clothes, diapers, wipes, wash cloths, first aid kit, holy water, blessed oil, you name it I packed it, my stethoscope, tylenol, teething gel ... I didn't even have enough room to pack my own things.  I packed all long sleeves for her to prevent mosquito bites.  I ended up not doing the long sleeve it was so hot my kid started developing heat rash; I got lucky she wasn't biting by any mosqitoes since we were on the topmost floor especially since we were indoors by night time.

Anyways after I was done packing, I ended up with 2 bags weighing 50 pounds each and one 20-pound-bag, a bag pack as a carry on and a hand bag.  By the way, I was not charged for extra luggage since it was an international flight.  Anyways, then I realized how crazy it was that I didn't pay for a sit for baby (what was I thinking? 12 hours of active baby on my lap? how was I going to eat, sleep, what if I wanted to use the bathroom?).  So I did the normal thing; i.e. to switch to panic mode and called the airline and they told me that the plane is not full and I just need to bring a FAA approved car seat.  I asked them if they had a list of car seats- of course not! so I went on google search and found nothing.  I came across this site hough and then came across this Car seat n stroller combo
(I am not paid to advertise this) but anyways I bought it from amazon and it came just in time. A bit pricey but well worth it especially since it came from baby's electronic piggy bank (she will thank me later).

So here's what I did- I used it as a car seat to get to the airport; packed in a close by packing lot and carried baby girl in a baby carrier and dragged the first two bags (by the wheel of course) and checked in.  Then I begged the lady explaining my situation and telling her I had one more bag.  She felt sorry for me and told me she would wait since I was very early to check in.  So I got the last bag and so was down to carry-ons. I then strapped Mmeso back to the car seat and drove to the further-away-daily packing lot, turned the car seat into a stroller with baby in it, carried my bag pack and my hand bag and got on the shuttle that goes from the lot to the airport.  At this point I was really feeling like super mom- I was so excited that everything worked out.  I got to the airport and got through the security check point with my child in one piece.

Two of my siblings met with me in my connection flight and it was so nice especially when I had to run to the bathroom.  Delta was so good to me, they sectioned a window corner for me and baby girl.  However, when I was coming back the people in Nigeria refused to give me a sit for baby saying that I should carry her and use a bassinet.  I gave up arguing but as soon as I got on the flight baby started jumping all over the place and one of the flight attendants asked me what I was doing in the bassinet section when I explained what happened she told me that baby girl was too big for the bassinet and she will get me a sit since the flight was not full.  She ran out to grab the car seat and we had a safe return home.

It was a very stressful experience especially with little things like to bath baby girl without the water going into her mouth.  She hated bath time throughout our trip while it is something she looked forward to here in the states; she also wanted to eat everything and so I gave in the last 2 days and she came down with some diarrhea  but we were coming home and it didn't seem to bother her so I did my job by keeping her hydrated with lots and lots of breast milk.

It was well worth all the stress but we wished we didn't listen to people because I almost didn't go and my husband changed his mind at first about emotionally supporting the trip. But I switched from wife and mummy mode to doctor mode and gave him all the true facts and he was back on.  Those negative people got to hubby and they still have things to say telling me "I'm so lucky that nothing happened to her and if they had known they would have told me not to go, it is unsafe for the baby..."  It didn't matter that I was a doctor they really felt like they were given me the facts.  They were telling me all kinds of diseases she could have had some they couldn't even pronounce correctly lol

Why did I insist on taking her? I wanted her to meet her daddy's side, I wanted her to go home, I wanted to attend my sister's wedding and I couldn't leave my kid behind plus she was still nursing; I also wondered about those people who are overseas on mission with their children, or those who are born here and go back home. Or what about baby girls parents (us) who were born and raised in Nigeria or even the same people who were talking- some of them just left Nigeria.  I did think about her safety and sat with her doctor to make sure I was not missing anything (the only thing he reiterated was wear long sleeves as planned, limit exposure to her, and avoid water contamination if possible boil the bottled water).  But just like my husband and I think about our safety before going home, we thought about her safety except with her we had to be extra cautious but extra cautious does not mean you have to wait till they are teenagers.  It was definitely worth it all.


Anonymous said...

lol.....dont mind all those over zealous Nigerians that act like they didnt just leave the country. It was nice you took ur baby home. There is no disease she can catch as long as ur house has mosquito nets. And you could have given her solids just use bottled water to prepare her food. like ragolis, swan, nestle (just a few of the brands solid in Nigeria.
Next time skip the long sleeve clothes as its just too hot for that.
People have babies everyday in Nigeria and they dont die, so i just laugh at some of those who think children born abroad will contact all manner of diseases once they land in Nigeria. Makes me wonder where they live.

Nenyenwa said...

@ Kiky Thanks for the comment- yes definitely next time I will only bring a few for whenever we are out at night.
You are right I used boiled eva water the last day to make her some golden morn.
Don't mind those people some of them are looking for excuses not to go home but as long as you have the facts you are fine. I have a lot of caucasian friends spread across Africa with their wives and children and they are all still living.

Ayabaodusote said...

It was a good trip and forget the negatives, those of us in Nigeria have children too and they are in good health. My sons got chicken pox on their 1st trip to the UK and were exposed to it there and not from home.
Just always take the best precautions and you will be fine.

Okeoghene said...

I can imagine the stress you went through travelling with your baby and I am glad you feel it was worth it.I had to travel with my children too when the youngest was just 7 weeks. I was scared and I got all sorts of advice but I felt I would feel better having my child with me. It is very important to be careful like you were * making sure you guys were covered shot-wise* but it is also good for children to know their roots and visit home.

Nenyenwa said...

@ okeoghene and most definitely

Rhapsody B. said...

Blessings and safe journey.
have a fabulous weekend.


Alicia@ Mommy Delicious said...

And I thought taking my son to Hawaii was a big deal! Girl... Nigeria!!! You go! I hope to take a trip to Africa soon. South Africa, maybe? I have a few close friends who were born and raised in Nigeria so that would also be nice.

It sounds like stress on top of stress on top of stress. But it also sounds like it was worth it. Would you do it again?

Myne Whitman said...

Some cool tips to keep in mind. I think it's good you didn't listen to overly negative people and had a good experience too.

Igbophilia said...

I'm going with Tot soon. I cannot tell you how apprehensive I am. My hubby's father's place is on the ground floor with a huge gutter in front and now I am thinking that I might just escape after two days so that he doesn't get bitten. I am also taking a travel cot and getting an insecticide treated net.
I wish I could take a car seat as well! I don't intend to have him in arms as we drive in Nigeria abeg, ka akuko ghara idi ya.

@Kiky: The reason that children born abroad CAN contact diseases is because of lack of immunity. We don't have a lot of the diseases we have back home so you have to be properly jabbed - not just babies but adults too. I'm AA so I'm already quite susceptible to malaria and the risk increases the longer you've not had a bout (for me about 2004).

But, am I excited? HELL YEAH!!! He gets to see where he is from!

Nenyenwa said...

thanks all
@Alicia yes I sure will do it again- she had a wonderful time :)
lol @ Igbophilia biko kanyi da nuna akuko

Ivie9ja said...

I'm pregant now and I'm getting the same negative reactions. I plan on taking my child to Nigeria during my 1 year maternity leave because thats the only time I will be able to have a long enough period of time available to travel without the stress of rushing back to work. My mom took my youngest sister to nigeria when she was 6 months old my sister never got sick and I'm pretty sure I even caught her eating off of the floor while we were living there lol so whats the big deal??? Babies are born here and taken to Nigeria all the time as well as all the living children I know of that currently reside in Nigeria and I have yet to hear any confirmed horror stories of taking an infant to Nigeria. I dont know I'm going to print this post and anytime anyone starts yapping about my plans I'll hand out copies of it lol. Better yet wont tell anyone about my trip. They'll find out once I post my pictures on facebook. I'll go to my pediatrician for advice if I need it lol. So the only thing I'm going to worry about for my baby is a little cabin pressure upon decension. I'm glad I found this post... Thanks :-)

Nenyenwa said...

yes please don't pay any mind to those who want to tell you of such things, take them home and just be safe, and get them immunized, congrats on ur pregnancy