It Gets Better: Flying With Children Edition
The first flight I took as a new mother was absolute hell. It was just 3 months after my daughter was born and we were only going from Washington to Orlando. A direct flight. And it was horrible. Just stressful beyond belief. I was still getting used to everything from diaper changes in public to breastfeeding in public. Getting through security was tough. Figuring out when to nurse on take-off and landing was tough. By the time we landed and were picked up by the in-laws, I was a nervous wreck.
Little did I know that it would get worse. I flew a lot with my first-born that first year and around month eight, she began disliking airplanes. A flight attendant told me that the worst months are between nine and 18 months. Sounds about right. When my daughter was about 15 months, and I was pregnant with the second one, we flew to Hawaii. It actually went all right, considering how long of a flight that is from Washington, D.C. We got bumped up to business class and we had two extra seats next to us. It was easy as pie. I mistakenly thought this meant the return flight would be similar. It wasn’t. That time we were smooshed in the middle of one of those five-seat sections of the plane. Our oldest was a lap baby. The moment she got on the plane she began screaming. The woman next to me was so mean from the get-go that I stressed out. It was a red-eye flight and everyone wanted to sleep while my daughter wanted to scream. I drugged her, I played with her, I fed her, I tried everything I could but for four hours (yes, four hours) she wailed. Finally she slept. I remember arriving in Chicago for our connection and meeting a lovely couple with a similarly aged child. And their flight nanny. And the parents were acting all exasperated and overwhelmed. I wanted to punch them.
At least I will never have as bad a flight as that, I thought. That was before an infamous flight to Denver when I was traveling with a 1-year-old lap baby and my 2-year-old. The 2-year-old inexplicably soiled her car seat (inexplicable because she was diapered at the time) within minutes of take-off. It was an early morning flight and I was sleep-deprived. There was no room to remove the car seat so I had to balance both kids on my lap. I was literally sobbing as I tried to keep them from crying. A random flight attendant from a different airline saw my distress and offered to take the baby (I didn’t actually throw the baby at her, but close). I was so grateful. The 2-year-old fell asleep and I somehow arrived in Denver.