My Epic Adventures in Traveling with Lucia
I'd been wanting to drive L down to LA to meet her great grandmother, but seeing as her car seat turns her into a screaming maniac, Joe and I decided to postpone that plan indefinitely. So, I got the brilliant idea to fly down with her BY MYSELF. To add insult to injury, I figured it would be best if we flew down in the morning and flew back that afternoon because we're still having some serious bedtime issues and I'm not ready t0 deal with that somewhere other than home (I'm somewhat in denial of our trip to Hawaii in a couple weeks). I have a tendency to assume that things will be much easier than they actually are and will take about half the time than they actually do. I've learned that when you throw a child into the mix, you should actually do the complete opposite.
Our flights were on a Thursday. On Wednesday night, I packed her diaper bag with a day's worth of necessities, including overnight diapers (L is EXTREMELY sensitive when it comes to an even slightly wet diaper and I wanted to avoid a diaper change on the flights, if at all possible), and a couple toys and books to keep her entertained. I struggled to hook the clasp on the bag, but it was completely impossible; the bag was too full. I sorted through everything to see if there was anything we could go without for a day. I pulled out her extra change of clothes that I always carry because she NEVER needs it. The bag closed snuggly, but at least it fastened. Also, since I was not the one who installed our car seat, Joe went over the manual with me and explained how to take it out of our car and then reinstall it in into my mom's car. Unfortunately, my attention span has practically withered to nothing since I had the baby and all I really ended up remembering on our day of travel was something about a couple of latches.
The next morning, I was up at 6:30 to have some breakfast and for any last minute preparations. Our flight left at 9:30 and I wanted to leave our house at 7:30 to ensure that we had plenty of time to get to the airport without any car seat-induced panic attacks. L was typically waking up at around 6:30 as well, so this was not at all going to be a problem. BUT of course, this HAD to be the day she decided to switch up her schedule and start waking up about an hour later. I'm not complaining here because it's been great ever since, but I had to wake her up that morning and I HATE waking her more than pretty much anything. I got her dressed, had her give Joe a kiss goodbye, and quickly rushed out the door and down the two flights of stairs to our garage. I very slowly buckled her into her seat. I somehow seem to think the slower I go, the less likely she is to notice what's happening; don't even ask where I got that idea. I scurried to the driver's side and got in when I realized that I had left the car seat bag and my cell phone upstairs. I looked at the clock, I was already 10 minutes behind schedule. F*ck! I couldn't help but feel inconvenienced by the fact that leaving your baby in the car is a big no-no. So I got out of the car, pulled L out of her car seat, ran up the two flights of stairs, grabbed the bag and my cell phone, and ran back down to do the whole first part of my routine all over again. Whatever, it was 7:45 and we were off.
Surprisingly, L didn't start crying until we reached the exit for the airport so we were lucky that it never got a chance to escalate to the screaming level. I pulled into economy parking and parked my car as far away as possible to allow for plenty of room to pull out her [ugly] stroller and get her car seat into its bag. I pulled her out of her car seat and fed her to calm her down from the trauma that is a 20 minute car ride. She was all smiles. I strapped her into her stroller and set out to figure out how to get the car seat out of my car. I pulled its cover up and saw the two latches that secure the seatbelt that Joe told me about. They were bright blue and had the word "PUSH" embossed on them, so I pushed. I pushed and I pushed and I PUSHED. Nothing. I tried unbuckling the seatbelt first, I tried shaking the carseat, I tried pounding on it, I even tried crying... that one seemed to work the least. I looked at the clock and it was 8:25. I still had to get the car seat packed up (something I'd never done before), walk (or run) L to the terminal to get our boarding passes and check the stupid car seat, go through security, and HAUL SOME SERIOUS ASS to our gate. I came this close to throwing in the towel and calling my mom to tell her there was no possible way we'd make it. I pulled myself together and miraculously, my brain started to work properly. "PUSH" could be instructions for closing the latches, right? I PULLED and holy shit, the stupid car seat that I now *hate* was free. Now to get it into the bag.
I ordered a car seat bag to make this whole process easier. This is it. I don't even want to tell you what a ridiculous hobbit I looked like (because the bag and seat are easily HALF my size) toting the thing around, not to mention how incredibly heavy it was, but I was finally gaining control of the situation so none of that even mattered. Check-in went smoothly and we were off to security. I got her diaper bag into one of those plastic bins and started pushing her through the sensor. I was quickly reprimanded by one of the guards for not putting her stroller on the belt for the x-ray machine. I am a NEW MOM with a little baby; you'd think at least one of those TSA people would have the common courtesy to tell me how the whole procedure works without making me feel like a total idiot. I picked her up and felt flustered by how I was going to fold the stroller and place it on the belt with one hand. I gave the guard that "you better help me" look, and he did. We got to the gate at 9:15, barely in time for family boarding.
L started t0 get fussy and it was clear she was desperate for a nap. If I could keep her awake and not too miserable, she could nap once we got on the plane. I shook her favorite rattle for her and made silly faces, which seemed to satisfy her. A woman about my mom's age walks up to us...
Woman: What an adorable child.
Me: (Shaking rattle) Oh, thank you.
Woman: Are you of Spanish descent?
Me: Yes, I am.
Woman: My husband is Spanish too. You know the Spanish are Jews, right?
INSERT LONG AND AWKWARD PAUSE
Me: No, I had no idea.
Woman: It's true, they are. And Jesus was a Jew too and he's coming back... this September.
INSERT SECOND LONG AND AWKWARD PAUSE
Me: (Shaking rattle, feeling agitated) Wow, that sounds serious.
Woman: Haven't you noticed how strange the world has been lately?
AND just as I was about to tell that woman to step the eff away from me and my baby, and that I'd make sure to mark my calendar for the second/first/who knows what coming of Christ, we were called to board. I'm not going to lie... I was practically pissing my pants when I stepped onto the plane with a BABY. I understood what was happening; I knew that the possibility of turning into the lady with a psychotic baby on a plane was very probable. I suddenly felt the urge to apologize in advance to every other passenger. I quickly stopped myself because I didn't exactly want to add "weird" to my title. We took our seat, I fed her, and by the time we were in the air, she was passed out. I cannot even begin to tell you what an immense joy my child is on airplanes. She slept for most of the time and barely made a peep while she was awake on BOTH flights. As soon as we landed I let out the biggest sigh of relief. The woman sitting next to us laughed.
To be continued...
Photo, in twosome twiminds