Boy did we learn a lesson in traveling with an infant the hard way. I guess most parents have lived this story and some would say it’s a rite of passage – all I can say is that I would not wish this form of torture on my worst enemy….
I should start by saying that we had an easy 3 flights (in retrospect) from Montana to Vermont and a wonderful Christmas vacation with my mom lounging around while she woke up every night and every morning with Josie, who slept in her closet.
After a week in VT, we were scheduled to fly home on Friday the 28th, then super storm Euclid hit (does anyone else think it’s stupid to name winter storms?). This storm buried us under 15+ inches of snow and seemed so lovely at the time. Then our flight was canceled and the earliest United could get us out of Burlington was Jan. 2nd. I had to be back at work on the 31st, and had the bright idea of booking a flight on Sunday out of Manchester, NH – it’s only a 3 hour drive, what could possible go wrong?
Winter storm Fryer blew in on Saturday and the thought of driving 20mph on crappy roads down to Manchester with a baby on board was enough to get our butts in gear.
We woke up at 3:30am on Sunday, packed up baby and grandma and headed to the Burlington airport to play stand-by roulette. Little did we know that other stressed-out travelers had been stuck in VT since the previous Wednesday playing stand-by roulette every day and losing. I started the day off by TSA giving me the options of either opening all of our baby food packets to test for bomb jelly, or getting a full body search, I opted for the search. Nothing like getting felt up by a grumpy old TSA lady in rubber gloves at 5am in front of hundreds of other travelers.
We tried to get on 3 different flights and realized quickly that we were so far down the stand-by list that even Josie’s cuteness could not get us out of Burlington. We headed back to grandma’s house defeated, slept for an hour and got back in the car to hit the snow covered roads to Manchester.
Josie was not thrilled with the car ride, but did manage to sleep for 1 hour out of the 3. My mom tearfully (more like sobbing) said goodbye for the 3rd time at the Manchester airport and we were on our way.
The flight from Manchester to Newark was relatively uneventful. We mostly wrestled Josie as she tried to do flips on us the whole way….all the while babbling, laughing, yelling, flirting, and practicing her wave. Newark, for those of you who don’t know, is the worst hell on earth airport in the country. We had to take a shuttle bus and run to make our connection and were the last ones to board the dreaded 5 hour flight from Newark to Denver.
This is where it gets interesting. The woman in the window seat of our row took one look at Josie and nicely told us that she had taken an 8 hour bus from Bulgaria to Istanbul; 12 hour flight from Istanbul to Newark; was heading for Denver; and could she be re-seated. We were happy to get her out of our row so that Josie could spin, flip, dive and scream in the discomfort of our laps. The monkey-on-crack gymnastics got so crazy that at one point Matt was trying to restrain her with his arms as a strait jacket and she jammed her finger so far up his nose that it gave him a bloody nose. We then were stuck in an airplane traffic jam for an hour on the runway before take-off, make that 6 hours in the plane thank you very much.
Josie finally went to sleep after Matt violently rocked her for 30 minutes. She would wake up every time the flight attendant or captain would come on. All I could think was SHUT UP! Is it really worth telling us that you are about to illuminate the seat-belt light in exchange for a screaming infant!? Matt and I ordered booze, a box of crackers and direct TV football to try to calm our nerves in between the bouts of screaming.
We were an hour late getting into Denver and had to run a couple miles to make our flight – last ones to board again! Josie was loony at this point so she was flirting with everyone on the plane, waving and saying “HI!” Most of the people around us thought it was cute at first, but it was not cute when they got tired of the game and she still wanted to play and would yell at them if they did not wave back.
The two hours from Denver to Missoula was maybe the most tense I have ever been. Josie screamed, bounced, clawed our faces, kicked and howled because she was tired but could not sleep. She was over the day as much as we were. Matt finally took her up front to violently rock her (Josie was not the only one crying at this point) and got her to calm down for the last 15 minutes of the flight. A mom with 2 kids who was flirting with Josie on the plane came up to us in baggage claim and said, “Your baby has the loveliest voice! I really enjoyed listening to her for that whole flight.” And she was serious, and maybe deaf!
You would think that getting to Missoula at midnight would have been a huge relief; it was for a few minutes until we remembered that we had basically rolled into the airport lot without any gas. We drove the mile to the gas station with the miles-until-empty gauge at 0 and the fumes got us there!
What lessons about traveling with an infant did we learn in all of this?
- Do not under any circumstance travel for 22 hours straight with a 10 month old.
- Don’t over feed your baby to get them to shut up or they will fart, pee and poop non-stop…usually during take-off or landing.
- Changing your baby on your lap is easier than changing them on the airplane toilet seat, number 1 or 2. Those airplane puke bags are also great for dirty diapers.
- Don’t try to use your baby’s good looks to advance your travel agenda. Other travelers and airport workers see babies as dirty, smelly, loud, nuisances. We came to find out that they are right.
- Other people around you are not as sensitive to your baby crying as you are. I could not believe that people were sleeping through Josie’s (and my) crying!
- Try to sit near other families with kids, they will feel sorry for you and try to help you because they have been there. And maybe the other passengers will think it’s their kids that are crying.
- Try to breathe deeply, smile at your partner and baby even when you want to kill them, and remember that even the worst travel day will be something to look back on and laugh about (eventually).