2 weeks before our departure, I got a major case of anxiety. I lay in bed with Billy and Desmond crying and hyperventilating, telling Billy that I didn't think that Desmond and I should go. I was worried sick about Desmond screaming his guts out during the whole flight. The thought of that happening made my neck hairs prickle up and my armpits start to sweat. I didn't think I could handle it. I can barely handle Desmond crying in his car seat. Billy reassured me that things were going to be OK and I told him that he was wrong. Obviously Desmond was going to cry because who has been on a flight with an infant that hasn't? Not me. Pre-pregnancy, I was one of those passengers that would roll their eyes and glare at the poor parents with the infant walking down the aisle. I would comment on how my luck sucked and prayed to whomever would listen that they wouldn't sit next to or near me. Knowing firsthand the kind of feelings passengers feel when they see an infant on the plane made me realize that I would be the recipient of several evil-eye curses. And I did NOT want that kind of bad juju following me on an airplane.
I started reading people's accounts of their experiences flying with infants. This assuaged my fears and anxiety a little tiny bit. I had flown once before with Christy and her 1-year-old son Quinn and she made it seem like a piece of cake. However, I'm not as adept or as confident as Christy and was unsure of my capabilities to pull off a seamless flight. I started planning like crazy and decided that if the passengers could see that I cared for their flight experience and could see that I was genuinely trying to console my crying baby, they'd have some sort of good feeling about the whole ordeal.
So, here's how I prepared. I bought a bottle of saline nose spray to keep Desmond's nose nice and moist in the very dry environment of the plane. I also made sure to pack some Dimethicone drops (for his gas) and his Vitamin A, D and C drops. I was planning to take them anyway, but there's an added benefit: Desmond seems to really like the taste of them, so that keeps him quiet for a little bit. I also brought 2 pacifiers: one attached to him and another backup one in the diaper bag. I generally don't like giving Des the pacifier, but it really does seem to calm him down when he's fussing, so we like to keep it handy when we're out of the house and in public. I also brought his softest blanket to cuddle him in and to serve as a nursing cover. I wore some comfortable jeans, a tank top, and a regular top over it. The tank top/regular top combo allowed me to pull up the outer top (the tank top made it so that my floppy belly wasn't exposed...Not that I care what anybody other than Billy thinks about my belly, but I don't like the feeling of my gut hanging over the band of my pants. ) and then I could pull the tank top down, so that all that's exposed is a swath of breast skin about 3 inches long. I, of course, brought along my sling (one word of advice, if you're alone, try to wear your baby in a carrier that's made out of fabric and plastic. I wore my ring sling and it set the stupid scanning machine thing off. I had to take the sling off, put it through the x-ray machine, and walk through holding Desmond. Not too difficult, I know, but try to pick up all of your belongings off of the belt while a line forms behind you full of people impatient to get through and to their gates...No fun.) Finally, I bought lots of ear plugs (small and big ones for women and men, respectively) and put them in a plastic ziploc bag.
As soon as I walked into first class (Yes, I got upgraded to first class on the way to and on my way back from Chicago), I set my stuff down on my seat and before people could start giving me the evil eye, I walked down the aisle stopping at each row to ask the passengers if they would like a set of earplugs just in case my baby turned out to be the terror of the friendly skies and ruined their whole flight. I would have to say that everyone looked surprised. Only one couple took my offer and smiled at me, the rest smiled, thanked me, and declined my offer. I looked at them like they were crazy, but went on my way. I returned to my seat hoping that I had gained some brownie points with them. I took Des out of the sling (you can't keep him in the sling during takeoff) and buckled myself in.
As soon as we started going, I started breastfeeding Desmond. The primary cause of crying for babies occurs because of the change in pressure during takeoff and landing, therefore, they recommend that babies should suck on something (nipple, pacifier, bottle, your finger, etc) to help alleviate the buildup of pressure in their ears. We started taxiing down the runway...and kept on going and going and going. Seems like we were 6th in line for takeoff. Shit! I was wasting all of my breastmilk on just the taxiing instead of the liftoff part. I pulled away from Desmond and before he could utter in protest, I put the binkie in his mouth to tide him over for a few minutes. Finally, I heard the engines rev up and we started going faster and faster. I started breastfeeding again and said a tiny prayer to St. Jude (the patron saint of lost causes) to help me and Desmond get through this part without any screaming. And guess who was listening? (I owe ya' one, Jude)
Desmond slept the ENTIRE flight. Everyone commented about how good of a baby he was and I beamed with pride. I ate it up. And he was just as good on the way back. I tell you what, this baby was BORN to travel. He did so well that we just booked a trip to Seattle and I didn't even bat an eyelash. I'm actually excited to go!
Seat 1A, baby! Photo courtesy of the couple in 1B and 1C.