Here are the final two of my top five mommy fails while traveling with kids. As my upcoming vacation approaches, I’m not sure if these memories terrify me or give me hope that it can’t be that bad (and even if it IS that bad, it will give me material for future Travel Failure posts). If you missed the first part, you can catch up here. Enjoy.
2. Mile High Club (sort of)
When my youngest son was six weeks old, I took both boys by myself across the country for a friend’s wedding. I blame some sort of postpartum dementia for this decision. In my sleep deprived haze I decided that five hours on a plane wasn’t so bad. I could nurse the baby the whole time and Sebastian could watch movies and play on my ipad. Easy, right? Well, what I neglected to consider was the fact that the nearest airport was 3 hours away and our flight was at 7:00AM. Anybody who knows me knows I am NOT a morning person even when I’m not traveling alone with two boys who are also NOT morning people. Drive up the night before, I thought. Still, no big deal. I could handle it. So I booked a hotel room near the airport, loaded the car up (and I mean LOADED), and headed out the afternoon before our flight.
After getting lost several times in some not so pleasant areas of South Chicago, we arrived at the hotel around 8pm. I managed to get both kids out of the car and into the lobby, but realized there was no way I could get the luggage out of the car without help since it was probably not ok to leave a 2 year old and a 6 week old in the lobby of a hotel by themselves. But, since it was me, there was no bellhop on duty and only one person working at reception that evening so she couldn’t leave the desk either. We had to call security and have them send over a security guard to help me unload the car. I felt pretty useless, but (luckily?) the baby started screaming right before he arrived and Sebastian was busy jumping on the lobby sofas. I think he took pity on me.
We loaded all the luggage onto a trolley and wheeled it to the room where I left it fully packed so I could wheel it back down to catch the shuttle at 5:00AM the next morning. At this point I was starting to realize I’d bitten off a bit more than I could chew. But I was relying on the kindness of a few key strangers the next day to get me through it. It was all very Blanche DuBois. And what do you know, the universe smiled down on me (after charging me $85 for an oversized bag!) and we made it on to the plane! I could finally breathe. Until…
I needed to pee.
In case you haven’t noticed, this post should be called Really Important Crap I Forgot. Now I was faced with a problem I couldn’t bat my eyelashes at some strapping young man to fix. What choice did I have? I grabbed the baby, the changing bag, and Sebastian’s hand and we all took a family trip to the bathroom. I’ve always wondered whether people who claimed to have had sex in an airplane bathroom were telling the truth or just being sensationalist, but after squeezing 1 3/4 people into what was the larger of the two bathrooms on the plane, I have to call bull shit on them. Sorry. But I digress.
So there I am, standing in the only space large enough for me in the room, Sebastian standing on the toilet and the baby perched awkwardly on his changing mat in the sink. Of course, the baby pooped. So I have to get out the wipes while holding on to the baby the whole time (I learned my lesson from #5) all the while Sebastian is pulling toilet paper and paper towels out of the dispenser and dropping them on my head. I finally get the baby clean and decide its not worth dressing him in the sink so I gather him up, naked, pull Sebastian from the toilet, and head back to the seat. I was just going to have to hold it the rest of the flight. That was a hit I was willing to take.
Five minutes after we get back to our seat, Sebastian turns to me and says “Mommy, I pooped.”
Of course you did.
1. Desperately Seeking Onesie
The first flight we ever took with Sebastian was an ambitious international flight from Manchester to Portland, OR. I was understandably nervous, and when I get nervous I meticulously plan the way some people comfort eat. I’m a comfort packer. By the time we arrived at the airport I had stuffed duplicates of every item a baby could possibly need in any possible eventuality (or so I thought!). We had so many carry on bags that we had to hang them from the stroller just to walk through the terminal. Clever use of stroller or ticking time bomb? Well, that all depends on whether I held on to the stroller handles the entire time. As it turns out, I didn’t. When I let go of the handles while talking to the flight attendants at the ticket counter, the bags pulled the whole stroller over backwards with my (previously) sleeping 6 month old in tow. A small price to pay to be prepared, I thought. Sebastian was not convinced.
Eventually, we made it onto the plane (somehow) with all our stuff and started to settle in for the long flight. I had books, toys, squeezy pouches of fruit, and my boobs. What more could a baby need? I was ready. So imagine my dismay when after nursing quietly and constantly for the first half of the flight, Sebastian started to fuss. Nothing I could think of would calm him down. He didn’t want food. He wasn’t tired. He wasn’t bored. He was, however, turning bright red. He was hot, and the more he fussed, the hotter and redder he became. He’d sweated right through his jammies and was now soaking wet.
Ordinarily, this would have been an easy fix. Except that in all my planning, it never occurred to me that he would need lighter clothing for the flight. I am always cold on planes. So after forcing my poor husband to carry all my overpacking through the airport like a pack mule, I had failed. A fact which he pointed out to me very quickly over the shrieks of my now purple child. People were starting to stare…daggers. So I stripped him and within 5 minutes he’d settled down and fallen happily asleep. Crisis averted, for now. But he couldn’t spend the rest of the day naked. We still had another flight that day, but we figured surely we’d be able to buy some kind novelty onesie in an airport. Airports are the birthplace of tacky keepsakes, right? Turns out, only impractical, tacky keepsakes.
We checked every shop in the terminal for anything we could fit a 6 month old baby into. All the while, Sebastian was strapped happily in the stroller wearing nothing but his diaper. There we were with what looked like all our earthly belongings strapped to our backs like bag people and our naked child cooing at everyone in the airport. Needless to say we drew a few glances. Finally, with on a few minutes to spare before our next flight we found a kiosk which had a very small section of infant clothing. Hallelujah! For the small price of $25 we became the proud owners of a rather unattractive orange onesie with an elephant on the front and the words “Life is Good”. No time to debate, we paid the extortionate price for the onesie, rolled our eyes at the salesman when he asked if we needed a bag, threw it on Sebastian and took off running for our gate.
We made it just in time, and all the running and jostling had actually put Sebastian to sleep. Bonus. But as we stepped onto the plane we were hit by an icy blast. It was absolutely freezing. The pilot came on the speaker, apologized for the cold and explained that the air conditioning was stuck on, but not to worry, he was going to take off anyway. Yeah, that’s what I was worried about. Now, with nothing to wear but a short-sleeved, orange, elephant onesie, and wet pajamas, Sebastian spent the rest of the flight wrapped in my sweater to keep from freezing. Life was definitely NOT good that day.