Friday, August 19, 2022 @ 9:03 PM in 2022 Germany and France
Who knew that getting a passport for a five week old baby would be so tough! The process seems pretty straightforward, and it should have been, if not for the hospital putting the wrong date on the birth certificate notification they sent to the state of New Mexico.
First off, what's actually needed and how do you get a rush passport? Well, you just need to have proof of international travel, have the physical and copies of mom and dad's passports and drivers licenses, fill out a DS-11 form, and have a physical and printed copy of the birth certificate. When you have all that, you can make an appointment for an Urgent Travel passport at one of the many passport facilities around the country. We chose El Paso because it was the closest and they had availability. They only allow you to make the appointment within 14 days of your international travel (hint: not that you can schedule it a few months out for within 14 days of travel, you can't actually make the call and schedule the appointment until two weeks before your travel). Our international flight is scheduled for August 24th and our appointment was for August 19th. The urgent travel passport cost us $195 to the government, plus travel and hotel costs. We got the passport 3 hours after showing up.
Let me get back to the mess though... When Dakotah was born, the hospital didn't immediately file his paperwork and had the date and time incorrect on the file they sent to the New Mexico Department of Health (the department that handles birth certificates). The DoH sent us a form with all of the information they received and said to make a note if anything was incorrect. I did so and we got the form notarized and sent back off to the State.
That paperwork was sent back to the state before Dakotah was two weeks old. I figured they'd make their changes and get his birth certificate processed and on its way to us. Well, we waited and waited (and saw our check was cashed which paid for the certificate) but nothing arrived. Getting desperate, we found out we could go to the Office of Vital Records here in Santa Fe and have them print one for us right then and there. We did this on Monday the 15th. Great! Well, not really. Unfortunately since we had made a correction to the data the State had, they couldn't print us a certificate until they got confirmation of the changes from the hospital.
Since we wouldn't be able to get Dakotah his passport without having his birth certificate (otherwise, there aren't any legal documents proving Sam and I are the parents), we were really starting to get nervous. We didn't hear anything on the 16th so we started calling consistently on the 17th until Sam finally got a hold of someone near the end of the day who said they would try to escalate the issue to their supervisor. We tried stressing the importance of getting this on the 18th since we had to head to El Paso for our 9am appointment on the 19th.
On the 18th, we called almost every hour to the various phone numbers we had been calling and new ones we hoped might get us somewhere. By noon we still hadn't talked to anyone and it was getting to be time we needed to head to El Paso for our appointment. We thought we'd try one last ditch effort and go to the actual vital records office again and see if they had heard anything. Unfortunately they weren't able to do anything because their system still showed the case was pending confirmation from the hospital.
Not knowing what else to do, we set off towards El Paso. We had printed off all of Dakotah's post natal documents, Sam's hospital record from the birth and an additional form, DS-10, hoping that maybe all of this stuff would help prove we're Dakotah's parents. I was giving us only a 5% chance of all that working but we didn't have any other option but to head south.
We got stuck in quite a bit of traffic due to construction leaving Santa Fe. Sitting in stop and go traffic only added to my stress level. Sam tried making a few more phone calls and about an hour later, right before hitting Albuquerque, I got a call saying the birth certificates were ready! Great! Except we had to go back to Santa Fe to pick them up. UGH. We'd already been in the car for an hour and needed to turn around, sit in the worse side of the construction traffic and head back to Santa Fe to pick up the certificate.
While sitting in construction traffic, a FedEx truck in front of us let off the brake and was slowly creeping backwards and ended up hitting our bumper. Fortunately they didn't keep going and the damage was superficial. It was still one more added piece of unnecessary stress. Since we were in stop and go traffic, we couldn't jump out and go try to flag the guy down or anything.
After another 30 minutes sitting in stop and go traffic, we finally made it back to the vital records office, got the birth certificate and then started the journey back down to El Paso that we initially began 3 hours prior. By now it was about 3:30 in the afternoon, we've already been in the car for about 3 hours, we still had a 5+ hour drive with an infant and a dog and there was still a 30 minute backup in that same construction zone we had to contend with.
The construction zone had even more traffic than the first time we went through, probably due to end of day commuters going back to Albuquerque from Santa Fe. To add to the time issues, we also hit rain and rush hour in Albuquerque. On the bright side, the traffic cleared and the roads were almost empty from Los Lunas all the way through Las Cruces. We did a quick pit-stop in Socorro for dinner (got some Blakes Lotaburger).
Dakotah had been a trooper but just outside of Las Cruces (and about 8 hours in the car), he finally started having a pretty epic meltdown. We actually pulled over and had to bounce him around for a little while. Since we were stopped, we found a hotel in El Paso that was dog friendly, cheap and pretty close to downtown so we went ahead and booked it. There was still about an hour of driving to get there so we buckled up and set off again.
Getting to the hotel was pretty uneventful aside from some more construction in El Paso. We checked in some time around 9pm, well past when we wanted to get in (we were hoping for 5:00pm or so). One nice thing to happen on an otherwise crazy day was the woman who checked us into the hotel was a dog lover and waived the $50 pet fee.
We got situated in the room, set Dakotah's travel bassinet on the bed and tried to wind him down to sleep. It actually wasn't horrible having him next to us in the bassinet all night (which we were relieved about since we're about to spend 3 weeks in Europe doing just that). Max actually tolerated the whole situation pretty well too. He didn't try to jump into the bassinet and didn't freak out when Dakotah started getting hungry.
We ended up waking up around 6am and decided not to bother sleeping in until 7 like I had set my alarm for. We figured having a little extra time would be good in the morning. I'd estimate Sam and I probably got about 5-6 hours of sleep, which wasn't horrible. The same couldn't be said for the hotel's breakfast offering though. The coffee was on the cold side of lukewarm and watered down to the point you could almost see to the bottom of the coffee cup. They had some eggs and potatoes as the hot offering, of which the eggs were fine but the potatoes were pretty undercooked. Fortunately a quick zap in the microwave fixed that.
By now it was around 7:30 and we had the car loaded up and set off to find some real coffee and get to the passport office. We actually found a bakery/cafe pretty close to the hotel that had some great coffee and muffins. The drive from there to downtown El Paso was actually a breeze and we arrived at the parking garage around 8:15. Having some time to kill and seeing a nice park across the street from the parking garage, we took Max out to stretch his legs.
Fortunately between the overcast/rainy skies, early time of day and being in a parking garage, we didn't feel bad having Max in the car while we went into the appointment. The process at the passport office was super smooth (thank goodness for having the birth certificate!). We overheard several other people trying to explain how they didn't have this piece of info or that specific document and I could only imagine us in that situation trying to beg and plead that our random docs were enough.
After the application process, they told us it shouldn't take more than 4 hours for the passport to be ready. Rather than leave max in the parking garage, we got back in the car and set off for a big outlet mall we had passed by earlier. Sam was looking to get some specific clothes she's been having trouble finding in Santa Fe so we figured it would be a good way to waste some time.
We walked around the outlets and Sam did find some stuff which was great. I got a call on my phone around 11:30 saying the passport was ready and we could come pick it up. That was super fast! We finished up and ate lunch at a place called TacoTote which was really good. Sam got a couple tacos and I got a "street plate" which was a huge pile of carnitas with some corn tortillas and a roasted onion. They have a huge salsa bar with tons of other veggies to add to your tacos.
When we were sufficiently stuffed, we got back in the car and headed back to the passport office where I ran in and got Dakotah's passport. By now it was around 1:30 so we started our trip back to Santa Fe. While on the road, we decided to stop at Elephant Butte, a big lake near Truth or Consequences, and let Max run around and to give us a break from the car.
The rest of the trip back was pretty uneventful. Sam got a few naps and we stopped for some subpar Chinese takeaway in Albuquerque. Fortunately it was late enough in the day so there wasn't any slowdown in that construction zone that had screwed things up so much yesterday.
Now that we all have passports, this trip just became extremely real. We have four days to pack and get any other miscellaneous things we need for the trip. Check back for another post with our itinerary as well as daily posts while we're on the trip!
Posted from: United States