Tuesday, August 31, 2010

I flew with a baby.

and dominated.

I was so nervous in the months weeks leading up to us leaving. Soo nervous.

In the last weekend before we left, I had lists all over our kitchen counters. I had everything I could pack packed. I seriously considered buying double of everything I needed so I could just be packed, while being able to use the stuff I still needed around here. I had laundry done. The house was cleaned. My fabulous friend, Kristen, was helping me out with a few things around the house while we were away. The diaper bag had disposables, snacks, and Jake's favorite books/toys.

My game face was on.

On the day of said departure, I set my alarm for 6am, so I could be showered and ready by the time Jake got up. I showered, he got up, I fed him, got dressed, packed up the Journey with luggage and dogs. We even got out of the house a half hour ahead of time.

I was a well-oiled machine!

But, as we finally got on the road, I realized I wasn't so nervous anymore. I dropped off the dogs, at the boarding place, on the way, picked up a breakfast sandwich and soda, and we were on our way!

We parked in economy. I had Jake in the mei-tai, the diaper bag as my carry-on, and our suitcase ready to be checked.

I was pretty much unstoppable.

We found a spot in the parking lot relatively easily, the economy shuttle came quickly, we got through security more easily than I ever got through when it was just me, and I was even able to breastfeed at a secluded spot of the airport before we took off. I can't lie and say I didn't pat myself on the back a time or two. Hey, if I don't, who's gonna?? Riddle me that.

The one thing that I wasn't super thrilled about was that the flight was not only completely booked, but overbooked. The counter lady must have temporarily lost her marbles because she actually called me up, the mama flying solo with her tater tot, to ask if we'd switch flights. Umm, I thought about this flight 117,000 ways from Sunday, to make it as smooth as possible and, all of a sudden, I'm supposed to change. Sure, I can do that. If you want to see me implode.

So, I said hell to the no as politely as possible, and got ready to board.

On the plane, you could tell everyone wanted to avoid sitting with "the baby" (dun dun dun), but we were in good spirits nonetheless. We got a window seat, per one of the tips I received (thank you!), and sat next to a man and woman, who appeared to be business people. When they sat down I could see the Ahh-crap-I'm-stuck-next-to-the-baby looks on their faces. I did appreciate that they tried to mask it, but they weren't super excited.

As we took off, Jake was soo excited! He was munching on Gerber graduate puffs, and the organic Gerber drink, while staring out the window. You couldn't even tell he was on a plane! I guess I'll spare you every single detail, but my favorite was when we were landing in Chicago. As we were hovering above the runway, our business-people-neighbors simultaneously stared at Jake, waiting for the shrieks of landing, ear-popping, etc.

Jake laughed.

We were landing, roughly, and my kid was laughing.

The businessman looked at me and said "If I had an award to give you I would. That is the best behaved baby I've ever seen on a flight, and I fly a lot. You have a blessing in your lap right there". Then he teased me about my Boston hat, since he's a Yankee fan. There's no accounting for taste, but I was still very touched at his nice words ;-)

When we got off in LA, which was our final stop, everyone was saying "He did so well!!" Then, he showed off that smile, totally working the crowd, and solidified his reputation as awesomesauce.

My mom and one of my brothers picked us up and asked how the flight went, after the we-see-Jake shrieks!, passersby on our flight answered for us. "There's the perfect baby! He did so well!"

My mama pride was overflowing.

We had 2 flights on the way back also. The first one had 43 people on it! So, we had no problem getting the seats we wanted. The second flight, taking us into Nashville, was P-A-C-K-E-D. The lady next to me was, quite literally, sitting on my lap. I was squished. Then, Jake, accidentally, hit the chair of the guy in front me a few times, and he looked back at me like I was scum of the earth. I apologized saying I was doing the best I could, but man, people rallied for us. Everyone started hating on him, and giving me that you're ok smile. The guy even had his seat all the way reclined. Umm, is your logic out to lunch?? But, I had 2 ladies, with serious attitude, next to us who were totally backing us, along with everyone else around us. It was very West Side Story ;-)

:::snap snap snap:::

Jake did have some trouble on the last flight. He fought sleep as hard as he could. I had to bite the bullet and hold him close, so that he'd finally give in. He did. He slept all but about 45 minutes of the last flight.

So, I've compiled some tips and tricks for air travel with a wee one:

*Sit in the back of the plane. Someone commented and told me to do this for the noise level, which is great!, but I was more concerned with Jake being the stereotypical baby on a plane and disturbing everyone. I wanted to be able to move around, if need be, without it having some sort of impact on the masses. Plus, it's close to the john.

*Use the pocket on the back of the seat in front of you. Get on the plane as early as possible, so you can have a chance to set up. Take out your most important toys/books, put juice in your sippy cup, take out your snacks and put them all in that pocket for easy access. I went into that pocket about 145 times.

*Don't worry about others. I try so hard to not be rude/disrespectful to others, but what I mean is, don't spazz out if your kid's not having it. When Jake fought sleep for an itty bit, people weren't freaking out and giving dirty looks. It's true that people are, generally, understanding if you're trying. I wasn't just sitting there letting him go buck wild (even though he wasn't screaming, just being fussy). I was giving him juice, snacks, playing with his book. At the end of the day, he was just tired. People were so understanding, though. It'll be ok!

*Get a flight with layovers. OK, I get antsy during flights. I could not imagine trying to coop Jake up for a 4.5 hour flight. During layovers, I'd breastfeed, change his diaper, stretch my legs, check out all the goings-on of the airport. It's all a welcome distraction. By the time you're on your next flight, bebeh has forgotten they're getting back on a plane!

*Don't be afraid to ask for help. On the way out there, from Chicago to LA, I HAD to breastfeed him. It was a whole time crunch issue, but the flight attendant held her coat up to block my booby as long as I needed her to. I must have thanked her a million times. But, just don't think you have to go it completely alone.

*I didn't know this until the day before we left, but, if you're flying with a your little nugget and not buying a ticket for him/her, TAKE A COPY OF THE BIRTH CERTIFICATE. They need to verify baby's under 2, otherwise they'll charge for them. Also, when I bought the ticket, I didn't (since I didn't know how!) note that I was traveling with our babe because I wasn't buying him a seat, so I figured it didn't matter. It does.

*I could not have imagined pushing a stroller. I had Jake in the mei-tai (on my front, for those wondering), the diaper bag on my shoulder, and pulling the suitcase. As much as I wanted to take the jogging stroller, I have no clue how I would have been able to get on the parking lot shuttle, or just walk in general, pulling a suitcase AND pushing a stroller. I strongly suggest strapping that kid to you somehow. Or enlighten me as to how to work the stroller-suitcase combo!

*One of my favorite parts was going back to disposables for the length of the trip. That way I didn't have another 22 diapers to take with me, along with the cloth wipes, keep track of them while in California, then wash them again when we got back. It was nice to breathe a sigh of relief seeing the diapers and wipes all stacked clean and purty in Jake's changing table.

Ok, this post is long enough, but I think those are my most important pearls of wisdom (you know I have so many! :D).



Daily Dose of Dahl said...

Glad it went well!

Erin said...

So glad it went smoothly!