Last year, before my first BlogHer in San Diego, I scoured the internet looking for posts on what to expect. And then I got there and I was all ZOMGBLOGHER and promptly forgot most of it. Especially once I walked past Moosh in Indy pushing a tiny Vivi in a stroller and thought “Wow. She has a baby. She has a baby at BlogHer. And that’s Vivi and I know that because of her hair!”
So when I decided to go, I knew I could (and would) take Emma. But what the internet seemed to be lacking was advice on how best to bring a baby to a blogging conference. So, I wrote this monster long post for future generations of conference attendees planning to bring a baby. You’re welcome. (Sorry for everyone who isn’t interested in this. There are pictures to make it worth your time.)
BlogHer. With a baby.
First, it’s cool to me that babies are welcome at BlogHer. It’s something that very few attendees seem to frown upon and with that many people, the number of women (and men) who will run screaming from your child are greatly outnumbered by those who are all “OMG CUTE BABY!” I didn’t encounter a single person who seemed put off by the fact that Emma was there. (Except for an entire PR firm, but that’s another story for another day.)
But simply bringing your baby to BlogHer isn’t the hardest part of bringing your baby to BlogHer. There are some things you should know in order to ensure your conference experience is a good one.
1. Sessions and the Expo Hall
Any session during the day is do-able provided you can actually get in the door for the session. Stay near the exit so that if you need to leave because your baby is fussy you can do so easily. If your baby is mobile, or an independent sitter, you could even opt to sit in the floor near the wall so that your baby can have some space to move around/sit. (I can honestly say I wouldn’t have gone if Emma were mobile, but I know some moms did.)
Remember, all sessions are transcribed and put up on the BlogHer website after the conference, so if you miss anything, it’s all there.
The Expo Hall is also totally walk-able with a baby, but be prepared to a) say “vagina” to quasi-celebrities, or b) have brand reps get distracted by how cute your kid is, or c) both. It’s never a bad idea to make a plan of which booths are your Must Visit booths and try to hit those when your baby is sleeping so you can talk to the reps at the booth.
BlogHer contracted with Kiddie Corps to provide childcare (for a fee of $50/day) for infants and children attending the conference. For infants, there’s a 1:1 ratio. Basically, you’re hiring a sitter for only your child for the day. I missed the sign-ups for this by a few hours and then decided that with breastfeeding, it wouldn’t have been very convenient for me anyway. But know that it may be an option.
2. Hauling Your Baby Around
Emma doesn’t mind being worn, so I wore her just about everywhere in one of my ring slings from Anna Carrie Baby. There were times during the day when she needed a break, but it was never a problem to find a place to sit and unsling her so she could stretch her legs and/or nurse. The sling also allowed me to nurse her while eating lunch and listening to Martha Stewart’s keynote and riding the train and sitting in the airport. I recommend babywearing not just because I’m a fan of wearing my kid but also because it tends to take up less room than a stroller and is easier to maneuver.
If your baby likes to stroll, (or if you’re a Swaggy McSwaggerson) (please don’t be that person) bring your stroller. The only time I wished I had a stroller was in our hotel room when I needed to fix my hair or pack my suitcase, so for that reason alone, it would be a good idea to have somewhere for your baby to sit in the hotel room if your baby is the type to get tired of laying around.
3. Know your baby’s limits.
Last year, there were babies at some of the parties. At first I gave that the side-eye until I realized that this was an international conference and babies are on different schedules and every family is different. So I had no issues with the idea of taking Emma to parties. I figured I’d take her, stay for a bit and then leave. I knew there would be no PARTY-partying happening for me. Because, you know, responsible adult and all.
Thursday was a busy day. After a day of sight-seeing and an afternoon of addresses and events, the plan was to stop by the hotel and then head over to the People’s Party to hang out with…uh…people. Except Emma fell asleep when I laid her down on the bed.
So there I was, in New York City, alone in my hotel room with my baby while my friends were across the street at the Hilton. I was sad? Disappointed? Unhappy? I was something that wasn’t happy but I’m not sure what. But I laid there next to my sleeping baby and knew that this was her limit. There would be no parties for me that night.
At first it totally sucked. I was actually frustrated that she’d fallen asleep. (See also: I’m slightly crazy.) But I knew that she was out and my night was done, so even if it sucked for me, it was what she needed.
I snuggled in next to her and got some rest which was actually one of the best things I could’ve done because anyone BlogHer will completely wipe you out. I knew then that this would be a drastically different experience for me from the previous year and I decided I was okay with that.
The next night was the same, so I missed Sparklecorn. Again. But this time for a much better reason. There’s always next year for me to take part in the destruction of a confectionery unicorn.
There And Back Again
Honestly, I didn’t miss the stroller at either airport. It would’ve been a giant pain in the ass to push a stroller while trying to pull a suitcase and I’m quite certain I would’ve just lost it. (I also didn’t travel with a car seat because the thought of lugging that giant thing through the airport was sending my panic into Zone Orange.) My plan to wear her everywhere mostly worked.
I was not able to wear her through security because the rings on my sling set off the metal detectors. That was a bummer. They made me send the sling through the X-Ray machine on its own and carry Emma through the metal detectors at both airports. At LaGuardia, they pulled me over for a pat down and kept asking if I was traveling with anyone. (“No. Just the baby.” “Oh, you’re sure there’s no one with you?” “Yes. I’m sure. Just her.” <—real conversation. I muttered my part through tears.) I held her in one arm while they patted down the opposite side and then switched. And I cried a lot. But it was all over with in no time.
Flying with an infant just is what it is. There are parts that suck, like sitting in Coach with two men who are over 6’2″ and less than thrilled to be sharing airspace with an infant, and parts that aren’t so bad, like snuggling her while she sleeps. Going there, she was fantastic, even through two delays. I tried to nurse her on take-off and landing for both flights, but when/if she wouldn’t nurse, I used her paci to get her to suck so her ears would pop. She took a good nap on the flight up and was pleasant when she was awake. Once the plane took off, Emma slept almost the whole return flight. The hour we spent parked in the queue? Not my happiest memory and I’d like to burn them from my brain. But I lived.
And that’s that. This post has been a two-day long labor of love, y’all! If you have more specific questions, please leave them in the comments!