We made it! The flight went better than I hoped. He was very charming on the plane, and we lucked out with the ideal seat-mate; a woman old enough to be his grandmother with two children of her own. She was very kind to us, and even cheerfully told me at one point when he was starting to get very tired and unhappy, “You know, sometimes they just need to blow off a little steam and cry. It’s ok, don’t worry about it, he’s little and he can do what he wants.” There were 4 or 5 other babies on the flight as well, but he was the cutest and best behaved (in my entirely unbiased opinion).
I’ve probably flown between Michigan and California about 40 times, and this was the only time I was never at all bored. Tired, yes, but not bored. In fact, it didn’t even seem that long to me because I was always doing something.
Even though everything went well, traveling with an infant is a bit like an extreme sport. Like World’s Strongest Man, a wide range of abilities are tested and there’s little time for rest between events. Perhaps the Outdoor Living Network is looking for a new show to appeal to women? We could call it World’s Calmest Mama. There could be different classes for younger babies, older babies, multiples, etc., and if the mama breaks down in tears at any point during the competition, she’s out. I have some ideas for events, too.
You’re in a crowded airport terminal, there’s no changing table in the women’s room and you can’t find a staff person to open the family restroom. You must find an out-of-the-way spot to change your baby’s diaper without bothering other passengers, and you must complete the diaper change in time to make the pre-boarding for your flight. Points are lost if your baby rolls off the changing pad and eats an unidentifiable something off the carpet.
You are wedged in an airplane seat between your baby’s carseat and a stranger. You must wrangle your squirmy, tired, crying baby into nursing position and convince him to eat during takeoff, without exposing yourself to the rest of the passengers, invading your seatmate’s personal space, or banging your baby’s head into the carseat. Points are lost if, in a moment of inattention, your baby latches onto a point about an inch and a half to the side of your nipple (ouch!).
You must hold your squirming baby and stand next to the lavatories for 45 minutes or so. Slings are allowed, but setting the baby down is not. The challenge is to keep the baby distracted and happy while dodging grumpy stewardesses and passengers on their way to the bathroom.
You must exit the plane carrying your baby (on your front), the diaper bag (on your back), and the carseat (in your arms). Then walk for half a mile through the airport to the baggage claim. (Ok, I didn’t fully complete this one because I gate-checked his stroller which mean I was carrying only him while pushing the stroller and the bag, but I think for a reality show it should be more extreme.)
Call me, reality show producers!