I tend to have anxiety. I also tend to overthink the things Im having anxiety about.
So it was no wonder that when I had a trip scheduled to fly with my 6-month-old daughter, I was both anxiety-ridden and obsessively researching all the things one needs to know when travelling with baby.
Its not hard to guess why I was so anxious.
For starters, it was not so many months ago when I was strolling through REI, phone in hand, transfixed by bizarre video of an Asian doctor being violently and forcibly removed from a plane.
Then there was the second viral video of a flight attendant who lost his marbles on a young mommy with a newborn over a stroller she was trying to carry on the plane.
Last, but not least, was my own experience seven years ago flying with an infant. I sat squished in the window seat next to a dame “whos been”( I-kid-you-not) gasps made from zippers. Ive ever seen anything like it before or since. Naturally, my almost-one-year old wanted nothing to do with thetoys I brought, and merely wanted to play with the unamused ladys zippers. When my newborn wasnt fighting to get her hands on those delightful gasps, she was biting the heck out of me every time we nursed with her newly budded teeth. Once we arrived, me scarcely intact, the stroller I had borrowed for the flight rejects to lock, and so it maintained folding up on my precious bundle as we strayed around the Denver airportridiculously lost.
The way home wasnt much better. The airline broke the stroller I had borrowed from a family member, and no compensation was received. And my newborn bit the whole way back. Because why not? I think I vowed never to fly with a baby again.
Combine all of the above and I knew I needed to be prepared for All.The.Things. this go around . . .
Book an aisle seat on all flights Check.
Bring a stroller I could trust and be able to handle easily in security, but make sure its not too expensive in case it gets damaged by the airline Check.
Wear baby using a comfortable carrier with dolls attached Check.
Carry on enough clothes and diapers for newborn andme for two days in case of a delay Check.
Ask for physicians note for newborn liquid medicine just in case Check.
Only a few times in my life has my obsessive research actually benefitted me, and I would rank our flights to our destination as one of those hours. I had neither too much , nor not enough stuff. Even when the pilot realized something was amiss on our flight at take off, and re-routed us back to the gate for an hour and a half postpone, my newborn did beautifully. She fussed for only about 5 minutes for the duration of our travelling from Seattle to Georgia. And all the people around me oohed and aahed over how well behaved my baby was.
Of course, all this combined attained me an EXPERT on flying with newborn.( I give you permission to chuckle out loud, roll your eyes, or generally scoff whatevers your thing .)
So asI packed for the journey home, I mentally put together a blog post about how to travel with an infant.
I had the perfect attire planned for nurse moms.
I had the perfect carry-on bags.
I had great hackers, like bringing your own empty bottle on for the in-flight drinking cause aint no way mamas gonna be able to drink safely from a cup with an in-lap baby.
In fact, I was so assimilated in how to tell you all to fly that I lost track of how much day I was taking to get ready. Before I knew it, the hours I had to pack dwindled to a singular one.
No worries, I thought. I dont have any decisions to stimulate. I merely need to put everything in their bags.
My daughter though, had her own decide of plans. Which included at least 30 minutes of what I call nurse-sleeping( sleeping very attached to the boob .) My sister, Sarah, began packing for me until I could transfer the sleeping newborn to her arms and take over myself. Before I know it, Sarah seems up and says, We were supposed to leave 10 minutes ago. 10 minutes after that, Im eventually ready. As I set my daughter in her auto seat, I realise there is yellow-green on her back where there should not be any yellow-green. I have always been a Pampers girl. Through all my newborns, foster, adopted, bio or babysat Pampers have been my go-to. Except this time, Pampers wasnt cutting it.
No time to change her, Sarah says. I rush back into the house once more to determine my favorite red and pink strawberry muslin that is to die for, and then were off. I look up at the clock in the car console as she begins backing out of her driveway. Oh crap , I sigh. We have 45 minutes until my flight departs .
The short trip to the airport is induced shorter by my sisters speeding, and once we get to parking, we dont have things perfectly schemed. My daughter and one of my nephews is now asleep in the car. We urgently require another adult. Quick, Sarah says. Grab your big suitcase, and whatever else you can take speedily, and get at ticketing so you can check your suitcase. Ill park and get the children and bring newborn to you.
And so I grab all my hands can, and rush to Deltas tiny ticket counter at Augusta Regional Airport to check in at 4:29 for my 4:59 flight.( I know. Im a rockstar at flying with kids, right ?!?)
The courteous agent with dark skin and glowing white teeth greets me with a friendly smile. I need to check in quickly, I gush, largely out of breath.
Please do not tell me you are here for the 4:59 flight? she questions.
Yep thats the one! I say.
We have a minute , no seconds, to get your container on the flight! And with that she starts attacking her keyboard with lighting-fast thumbs, as I quickly pass her my drivers license then lift my 50 -lb case onto the scale. She slaps stickers on my suitcase and urges me, Get this bag to that agent right there , now! I rush it off, then rush back to get my boarding pass. Sarah and the sleepy children come in, and where the representative tells me it is now too late to check my car seat. We just barely had enough time to get your pouch on! she puffs, mostly from being out of breath I think than from frustration. Everyone in the South always seems nice, so its hard to tell. I quickly kiss my sister and nephew good-bye, and take my poopy newborn and boarding pass and a ridiculous quantity of stuff off to security.
I never know whether to hold onto my boarding pass, or to set it in my pouch through security, so I took a risk and jostle them into my Ergo which I loaded with all my other baby gear onto the conveyor belt: baby auto seat, stroller, back pack, tote bag, ergo, shoes, electronics, liquids, etc. Oh yes, I say when asked, I did leave the babys medication in a cooler in the very bottom of my container. The TSA guards have a bit of compassion and dont make me rummage through to get it. A jaunt through the lets-all-pretend-Im-naked-device and I scoop up my blowout newborn back into my Ergo, toss my husbands backpack on my back, put my tote in the stroller, with the upside-down car seat draped over the top, and slip on my shoes as I trek to the gate.
I arrive to the gate as boarding is well underway. I try to steer to the right of the line to get to the ticket counter to gate check my items, but sadly the seats have barricaded me out. Straight through the line I must go.
Excuse me, pardon me , so sorry, I say clearly and loudly far from my normal apologetic mumble. I hate creating a stir, yet here I am, parting the Red Sea of passengers. I am now totally sweaty, as my perfect attire I wore did not account for the 90 -degree heat outside nor frantic race inside carrying all things newborn. Thankfully, the ticket agents were nice, and is again, I was thankful I was visiting the pleasant South where strangers generally are a bit more courteous than I am are applied to. With everything now officially taken care of, I portion the sea yet again to make my route to the back of the line, then on to the back of the plane.
As soon as I get seated, I must make room for a svelte young man with blond hair and easy smile. I mentally intersected my thumbs and hope he is as nice as everyone else Ive encountered. As I fidget with my pouch, loading playthings and snacks for me in the pouch in the seat in front, feeling significantly less confident that I should write a blog about how to travel with an newborn, a darling middle-aged flight attendant stands hesitatingly in the aisle next to me.
Excuse me maam? She taps on my shoulder.
And with that, my mind races. What have I forgotten? What did we do wrong? Am I losing my seat? Is someone complaining already? . . . My mind immediately throttles to hyper-drive. I dont present it. I return her smile. She continues . . .
Theres this guy in the front of the plane. He said he wanted to switch seats with the lady with the newborn. And I think youre the lady with the newborn. Would you like to sit in first class?
As I sat there a little bit stunned, my fellow passengers began their own cheering conference for me: Yes, daughter, you get that seat! Way to go! YES! Enjoy that first-class seat!
As I follow the flight attendant to the front of the plane, I pass a trim older gentleman with a big smile and kind eyes. What seat am I in? he asks. 21 D, I respond( believing to myself, at the very back of the plane! Im so sorry !) After as many thanks as I can squeeze in, I sit down to a cushy wide seat, with enough room in front for both my purse and my legs. I somewhat sheepishly look around, hoping that no one is upset that they are now travelling with a newborn in first class, where they presumably paid extra to get away from it all. Suddenly, another middle age man sitting directly in front of me sways around . .
Isnt Pat the nicest? We work together at Huggies. Hes the leading decorator on the diapers. At Huggies . . . we just LOVE babies. Hey . . . have you ever tried those teething tablets? We use those with my children . . .
And right then and there, I knew I was now a Huggies mom. Not because the diapers are better.( Im sure theyre great .) But because a company who professes to love babies ACTUALLY hires people who LOVE newborns. So much so that theyll run sit on the back of the plane, where no drinks were served, so I could travel more comfortably with my poopy little squish in THEIR first-class seat.
So Pat, the lead decorator at Huggies, from Delta flight 725 from Augusta to Atlanta, if you ever get a chance to read this story I want you to thank you again in a manner that is I couldnt on our short little pass in the aisle.
Thank you for restoring some of my religion in humanity.
Thank you for being an example of kindness I can share with my daughter growing up.
Thank you for living what you preach.
Thank you for being inconvenienced with a smile on your face.
Thank you for recognise the value of all little people in a world which so often discredits their worth.
Thank you for putting a smile on both our faces during what could have been a so difficult trip.
And for all the Delta employees who treated me and my newborn with kindness and politenes, you all did the best I could have asked for. Thanks so much for inducing flying fun again.
As for the poopy blow-out diaper. Well, it turns out the flight was so short that as soon as we got high enough to turn off the fasten seatbelt sign, it was time to turn it on to start the descent. So it, and we, had to wait until we were in the Atlanta airport before I could change her. Still, baby fared great with a smile on her face. And nothing could wipe the smile off my face. Not even a stinky blowout diaper.
Oh so rarely will I ever ask you to share my blog. But in this one case, I would love for Pat to hear the whole story of how his one act of kindness touched our household. If youd like to help Pat hear about this, please click share on the upper part of the post. I would love for Pat, Huggies, and the Delta family to know their kindness matters .
Disclaimer: Besides the first-class seat, I received nothing in return for this post. Except maybe a strong desire to ALWAYS fly first class. Im just saying it was pretty amazing.