“I can’t wait to travel internationally with a baby, by myself,” said no one ever. Like, ever.
And let me tell you why: It will be the longest 9 hours and 41 minutes of your life. And that doesn’t even count airport time.
And then you’ll have to deal with a seriously jet lagged infant.
Let’s rewind. About a week and a half ago, I packed (and packed and packed) Elisabeth and me up for an extended trip to the States. With Damon on deployment, it made sense to go stay to my parents’ house in CA
where I won’t have to do laundry or cook or get up with the baby in the middle of the night to pass some of the deployment with family and friends. If you’re a regular reader of my blog, you know that traveling with the little one is nothing new for me. Elisabeth went on her first flight at two months old and just hasn’t stopped flying since. Heck, this past trip from Tokyo to Los Angeles was her fourth international flight. Sixth if you include Hong Kong, which practically doesn’t count since flight time was under four hours. But anyway, this kid has earned her wings.
As for me, even though I’d always had adult travel companions on those past international trips, I’d also flown with the baby enough times by myself to feel mildly confident that this trip would be just fine.
Isn’t it funny how when you have even the slightest amount of confidence the world decides to throw it back in your face by keeping your baby awake the majority of a 10-hour red-eye flight? And then that baby – who had been successfully Ferberized without much drama and had been peacefully sleeping through the nights and taking real hour-long naps for weeks now – begins waking up every few hours throughout the night and once again refuses naps. Yeah, that happened.
In fact, I’m writing this blog on the floor of Elisabeth’s temporary bedroom in California while she whimpers and cries and pulls herself up in her crib and presses her face against the slats and – oh wait – is that a laugh and a wave? Look, Mom! I’m waving! You love this trick! Aren’t I so cute? Now will you please pick me up?
I’m not buying it. Because this child has been awake since 6:30 AM and took a measly 30-minute nap in the car and it’s freaking 8 PM and she’s exhausted yet SHE WILL YIELD TO SLEEP FOR NOTHING. Not nursing, not rocking, not cuddling up with me in bed – nothing. So I’m reduced to sitting on her floor humming The Rainbow Connection on repeat until she peters out. I’m hoping that my presence will be comfort enough without picking her up (for the thousandth time) so that she doesn’t feel totally abandoned by me.
Really, as much as I hate hearing her cry, I’d Ferberize her again if I wasn’t hopping on a plane tomorrow to fly to the East Coast.
Yes, you read right. I’m getting on another plane ride transporting us to another time zone.
Yes, I realize I am insane.
While my parents are on the West Coast, Damon’s family is on the East Coast. And Baby Girl needs to visit her Grandma Alice and Aunt Meg and all her other East Coast family. At this point, what’s one more (round trip) flight? It’s family!
Maybe I’m getting too cocky, but our flight tomorrow can’t be as bad as the last one. It just can’t. For one thing, I’m flying Southwest. I flew United from Japan and – though the flight attendants were lovely and we had a bassinet in the bulkhead (which of course Elisabeth refused to sleep in, but it was still nice to have) – United recently changed their family boarding policy. As in, there is no family boarding policy. Yup, United – I’m calling you out! Give us back family boarding!
Now, look. I’m not one of those people who thinks because I’m traveling with some snotty, loud kid I deserve special treatment and blah blah blah. Pre-boarding families is actually a service to those of you childless travelers. It takes us moms (in this case, single mom) carting a diaper bag and carry-on suitcase and – oh, yeah – WEARING A BABY ON OUR CHESTS around three times as long as a non-baby wearing person to get situated on the plane. Do you want to be stuck behind us as we struggle to get settled into our seats? No, you don’t. So just let us board first and get over it. (Yes, I have redirected my rant from United to those of you who complain about having to travel on planes with children because I’m pretty sure it’s those types of complaints that had at least something to do with the change in policy. If not, well stop complaining anyway. It’s not like we enjoy traveling with our snotty, loud kids either!)
I see I’ve gotten a little off track. Point is, I’m flying Southwest and they do allow families with small children to board between boarding groups A and B. Go Southwest! Thanks for the help. I appreciate it. By letting us board semi-early, you are setting a positive tone to the trip, which will be sure to relax and calm my baby so that she’ll sleep soundly for the duration of the flight. Right.
And not only am I flying an airline that throws a bone to us moms, but I’m NOT flying from Japan to California. That right there is a big win. I mean, what’s a five-hour flight after a 10-hour flight? Nothing. Nothing! 5 hours? Pshaw. Five hours flights are for amateurs.
And I’m flying in the afternoon. So if Elisabeth decides she doesn’t want to sleep, who cares? The only people who will be asleep will be the ones who have knocked back a few in-flight cocktails. And she won’t be able to wake them up anyway!
AND it’s only a three-hour time change rather than a 16 hour time change. I’m going to count that as another big win. I can just keep Elisabeth on her West Coast time schedule for a few days and she’ll be fiiiiiine. (I say that as if she’s on any sort of schedule right now)
Have I convinced anyone that I’m not totally terrified of getting on that plane tomorrow and having it be another miserable experience? Because I’ve hardly convinced myself. That’s how bad the last flight was. I actually missed the cheerleaders.
OK, maybe Tokyo to Los Angeles wasn’t the worst thing in the world, but I’m not exactly looking forward to the return trip. Or the flight tomorrow. Dealing with a baby by yourself on a plane – be it for a two-hour flight or a 10-hour flight – is no picnic. Have you ever tried to pee in one of those tiny airplane bathrooms while holding a baby? Those are the times when you really need an extra pair of hands. In the meantime, hopefully there’s no turbulence! And on those occasions where your baby chooses not to sleep on a 10-hour red-eye flight EVEN THOUGH YOU BOOKED IT FOR HER BEDTIME it would be so, so nice to have someone else deal with her squirming so at least you can sleep even if baby won’t. -Sigh- I miss my perfect travel baby. Send good thoughts that she returns to me tomorrow.