Eight months and one week. That's how long it took my daughter, Sarla, to get her first tooth. And the teething started the day we took a seven-hour flight across the pond to Europe.
A first for her, a first for me, just one of several new firsts for my family of three, which inevitably made for a memorable trip.
In June, my husband and I took our daughter to Denmark, home of Hans Christian Andersen and his famous fairy tales, amusement parks, hot dog buns with holes in them and cold Carlsberg beer and bicycles wherever you go. We knew early on in parenthood that we'd be those brave parents that would board planes, ride trains, go on long car rides, refusing to stay in the confinements of our home.
Denmark's draw for us was its family-friendly vibe and the ability to take our baby almost everywhere. It also helped to have amazing friends already living there to sell us on the idea of visiting. Family lounges in airports, play areas in hotels, amazing recreational centers in towns, to just name a few highlights. You could almost go anywhere with your baby with the exception of some bars where the smoking ban is variably enforced. It's literally the kind of place where Danish moms leave their babies in prams outside a store or cafe to run a quick errand.
So to Denmark we went, with a teething baby on a night flight. A flight filled with comfort nursing, a little infant Tylenol, not enough sleep, a milk blister I could have done without and one trip for Sarla to the cockpit to meet the pilots.
Absent was the just-in-case baby oral-gel that we later learned mistakenly went into a care bag for our other baby, a 5-year-old English setter mix named CJ, who we dropped off at the kennel on the way to the airport. By the time we got into Copenhagen, it was a mad scramble between terminals - with a baby in a kid-friendly luggage cart amused by the dashing in and around flyers, to meet a connecting flight to Billund, the first stop on our week-long trip.
(Side note: A good rule of thumb is always get your baby on a schedule once you've reached your destination. It makes planning your next several days easier.)
For anyone going to Billund, the thing to do is visit Legoland. We came and saw Legos alright. From a Lego-ified Mount Rushmore and scenes from a galaxy far, far away to safari zoo creatures and pirates.
But we didn't stop there.
Armed with a rental car and a baby car seat, we drove through central Jutland. We saw giant white windmills that littered the country. In Vejle, we found ourselves in the middle of last-day-school celebrations in between kids dressed up as priests and Vikings and comic heroes that would rival any Halloween or cosplay convention stateside. We ate homemade Danish fare at meals, lunched on a farm and enjoyed the tunes of friends playing rockabilly to the beat of Robert Gordon and Tex Rubinowitz.
On the west coast, we saw circuit runs for wake boarders and huge sand dunes in front of a backdrop of the North Sea. We felt the white pebbly sands of the beaches in Hvide Sande between our toes. It is also here where Sarla crawled for the first time in the living room of new friends on a night filled with hot dogs and jovial conversation.
In Copenhagen, on the last day of our trip, we went on the ride of our lives. Literally, my husband peddled. He peddled a Christiania bike, a bike with a cart in the front, that fit both me and the baby (I secretly really want one now). We rode uphill and downhill and next to modern and classical buildings. We went past the famed Tivoli Gardens and canals and through shopping centers with eccentric street performers. Later on at the Louisiana Museum, we saw art and drank strawberry lemonade and beer with scones as we sat and took in sights of Sweden from across the water.
Oh, how we would have loved to see more, maybe a castle or two and the changing of the guard but that's for another trip.
Our time there was capped with a picturesque stroll along the canal and restaurants that line Nyhavn, enjoying one last beer and ice cream cone at sunset. Two swans were even present, if you can imagine that.
Thus, our Scandinavian adventure was a trip of firsts: A first tooth, first time crawling, first international flight, first time in a cockpit, first rockabilly show she attended. And so we come away with a special fondness for Denmark in our hearts.
Regardless of everything you just read, if there's one piece of advice that you can take away from this, it is: Being a parent doesn't mean giving up a sense of adventure and travel. It just means you have a new travel companion along for the ride.
Stokely Baksh is a freelance writer based in Baltimore. She recently traded in her daily newspaper job at The Baltimore Sun to take a stay-at-home position. She spends her days fulfilling the needs of the most demanding boss she's ever had: a baby. When she's not sneaking away to write, she's creating sheet forts, making 5-star gourmet baby food and perfecting the craft of peek-a-boo. You can find her on Twitter at @StokelyBaksh.