This Thursday was a b.e.a.utiful day ... and we should have just left it at that! However, my friend Katie and I decided it would be a good idea to take our kids to the National Zoo in Washington DC (with the help of my mom) to enjoy the spring-like weather and the plethora of animals.
Honestly, our trip was all-out National Lampoons-esque ... so much so that you might not even believe this post is true ... but it is!
We left home at 8:30 am ... the whole crew of us ... me, Katie, Jackson (21 months), Ben (2 years old), Elizabeth (5 years old), and my mom ... complete with two strollers, two diaper bags, two coolers, and three carseats. That should have been our first clue ... but we were determined that this trip was still a really good idea.
We arrived at the Vienna Metro stop around 10:00 am ... and there was ZERO parking. This is the first time I have ever not been able to find parking at this metro stop ... but apparently lots of spaces have been eliminated due to construction. So, after driving around aimlessly for 15 minutes, I hop back onto the highway ... in the tail end of rush hour ... and head up a few stops. I decided to trek up to East Falls Church station to avoid the "overflow" from Vienna. At about 10:45am, we arrive at EFC Metro station. We proceed to unload the minivan ... and to change Jackson and Ben's diapers on a yoga mat ... in the parking lot. Then, we all have to go to the bathroom. Unfortunately, the toilet in the metro station was covered in feces ... so we had to use alternative means to relieve ourselves (no further explanation). Then, we made it to the train platform.
After waiting 20 minutes we hear an announcement that there has been a "switch malfunction" and to "expect delays." You think??? Also, there is another announcement that the orange line metro (ours) will be operating under a "single track" and to "please be patient." What choice do we have at this point, really??? As you can imagine, by the time we boarded the train ... both little boys had HAD it ... and, honestly, so had the adults. However, two juice cups ... 100s of goldfish crackers ... and one box of girl scout Tagalong cookies later ... we were at Metro Center where we needed to switch trains.
Initially, this seemed easy ... that is until we realized the down escalator was broken ... and the elevator was literally as far as it could possibly be away from us. When the Metro operator said to me "you can use the elevator-- just go back down the escalator you just came up, return to the orange/blue line platform, then take that elevator beneath the tracks and come up on the other side," I said "FORGET IT!!!" Instead, we unloaded both toddlers from their strollers and carried them down the escalator while mom made multiple trips up and down the broken escalator lugging the strollers and bags down behind her. Not once did ANYONE offer to assist us!
By the time we actually arrived at the National Zoo is was 12:30pm ... 4 hours after leaving home ... and past lunch time for the kids. Skipping every exhibit, we headed strait to the cafeteria for lunch. In a nut shell ... lunch went like this: we sat down, Ben slung applesauce across the table and started screaming, Elizabeth's hotdog bun split at the bottom and the hotdog (covered in ketchup) rolled down her leg and onto the floor, Jackson started pooping as soon as I finished cutting up his food and wanted out of his highchair because he was constipated, Ben got upset with Katie and grabbed her burger and threw it about 6 feet away from our table, and my mom didn't even sit down to eat until everyone else was finished. Katie was almost in tears when I looked at her and announced "I just want to go home!" "Me too!" she replied. But, with our vehicle over an hour away ... we decided to tough it out and stay at the Zoo.
The next 3 hours were nice ... we saw the tigers being fed, the orangutans swinging from ropes, and the elephants roaming the grounds.
Then ... it was time to leave.
Back we headed to the Metro ... during rush hour.
(but no other option)
I really cannot describe to you what it is like to attempt to board the DC Metro with three children (and two strollers) during rush hour ... it's more something you have to experience. I think it should be on everyone's "bucket list." Nevertheless, we managed unscathed ... well, other than the 50 year old man who I verbally punched when he shoved me and lifted Ben's stroller to get the vacant seat behind me.
"Ooooo yes!!! I'm sooooo glad the MAN got the only available seat instead of the pregnant woman with a toddler! By allllll means, go right ahead! What a gentleman you are!"
*yes, I actually yelled this ... and apparently it was very entertaining for most Metro riders who agreed with me and laughed aloud
Eventually, we made it back to the van ... and drove in rush hour to Fair Oaks Mall to eat dinner. Shortly after sitting down to dinner, I started having Braxton Hicks contractions. At first, these weren't alarming ... until they continued for 2 hours ... every 5 minutes. I telephoned my doctor who advised me to proceed to Labor and Delivery for "a couple hours of monitoring."
Me ... my mom ... my friend ... a kindergartener ... and two toddlers who haven't had a nap ... no sweat.
At this point, Katie telephoned her husband to see if he could pick them up from the hospital ... but, naturally, he was in the middle of one of the biggest contracts of his career.
Oh yeah, and Justin's car was in the shop ... so he had no transportation to the hospital either.
After much debate, we formatted a solution: my dad would drive to our house--wait there--and give Justin his car ... my mom would settle me into the hospital and drive the van and everyone else home ... I would wait alone in triage until Justin arrived ... and then we could go home together once I was released.
Thankfully ... I was just dehydrated and stressed ... causing my uterus to become "irritable" ... and I was released from the hospital 2 hours later ... no changes. Apparently, Baby Oliver just wanted to have a role in the day's "great adventures."
About 11:00 pm, Justin and I arrived at home ... my parents had put Jackson to bed and were patiently waiting for their vehicle to go home. What was on my agenda: BED!
You know, just another day ...