When the boys were 11 months old, I took my first post-babies international business trip. I had been putting off travel for months and IT WAS TIME. The team had been so patient and accommodating throughout my high-risk pregnancy and first months back to work, but I knew a trip to the Pacific was in order. And since I had finished my run at exclusively pumping, there really were no excuses.
I had left the boys overnight on a few of occasions prior to this, but the duration and distance was just so long, so far.
Business trip or vacation?
My husband would refer to the upcoming trip as a vacation. I thought of it more like a 6-day bender followed by the most horrific hangover of my life. Except that instead of looking forward to the party beforehand I was dreading it more than a root canal.
I mean SERIOUSLY stressing out. A one or two-night trip, same time zone with eight hours of uninterrupted sleep; that kind of business trip does feel like a vacation when you have two infants at home. But not THIS trip, this trip was different.
So, which was it? Like most things, the truth lies somewhere in the middle.
Did I snap this amazing shot of a surfer at Bondi beach while enjoying an early morning breakfast and amazing cup of coffee at Speedo café? Yes.
Does this image scream vacation? Yes.
Before I took said picture and enjoyed said breakfast, did I wake up at 2:30 AM, participate in a conference call, work out, work for another hour and THEN go to breakfast, only to be followed by a full day of meetings at the office? Yes.
Did my husband have to pick up the pace at home with late night and early morning feedings and extra bottle prep? Yes.
Did my husband have lots of help and an evening off while I was gone that was actually with friends and not work related? Yes.
You be the judge.
It was a solo-trip so there were lunches and a couple of dinners but there wasn’t a packed evening schedule. Exploring the city and a little alone time for R&R was nice, but I missed my babies.
I brought a framed picture for the hotel room nightstand, which was a homey touch but a poor substitute for the real thing. I also tried facetiming, but that got the boys so riled up – they didn’t understand that I wasn’t really there. So, I was 10,000 miles from home, banned from facetiming, ugh!
The actual business of the trip
It was fabulous to meet with team members and business partners in person, hashing out details and holding brainstorming sessions in a more effective setting than email and Skype. I also enjoyed the personal connections and comradery that I don’t always get in the remote setting.
And the team appreciated the trip too. The feedback afterwards was good and we all moved forward, propelled by the momentum from the group sessions.
But after the trip at home it was a little harder to jump right back in.
Adjusting to the opposite time zone for a short trip is difficult for me and doesn’t make that much sense, hence the working at all hours and early morning breakfasts. This was amplified by the fact that I booked the trip with a go straight to the office flight schedule to minimize the number of nights I was away from home.
This is where the post 6-day bender, hangover feeling comes in. After 24 hours of continuous travel, a sleep deprived mommy arrived home at 10:30 AM to two babies who both wanted to be held and showered with attention. All I wanted was to cuddle up with the boys in a comfortable, preferably reclining, position and then sleep in my own bed for 16 hours in a row – hey, a girl can dream!
Walking around the house carrying 40 lbs. of babies for hours followed by my turn at catching up on baby chores and post-trip laundry wasn’t exactly how I had envisioned it. My body didn’t know if it was day or night. It took us, the whole family, a good 2-3 weeks to readjust and get back on our schedules after I returned.
Would I do it again?
Yes, I would take the trip again. Even though the trip was longer than I would have liked and farther away that I would have chosen, it was the right thing to do at work and I enjoy my job and enjoy doing it well. My family’s needs were met and my boys received plenty of lovin’ while I was away. And, a taste of freedom from everyday responsibilities in a beautiful city was nice too!
Would I do anything differently? Yes. I would have saved some of the pre-trip drama and worrying and just looked forward to the pleasant parts of the trip.
Would I remain in a role that required me to take trips like this frequently? Not right now. International business travel with little ones at home isn’t easy, but we made it work.