Tuesday, July 13

Milo's First Flight

It was the best of times. It was the worst of times. This weekend I flew to Washington, D.C. for my dear friend Molly's bridal shower and bachelorette party. But I did not go by myself. My travel companion was a chubby-cheeked, thunder-thighed, blue-eyed, 13-pound bundle of joy. Because I am breastfeeding, Milo goes where I go. So we went to D.C. together. And—spoiler alert—we made it.

I was a nervous wreck beforehand. I had no idea what it would be like to travel with an infant. I read about traveling with a baby. I asked friends for advice. I called the airline. I overpacked. But I had no idea what to expect. And on Friday morning, I was so nervous I just kept crying. (I am a crier. Have I mentioned this before? It is how I react to about 75 percent of situations.) I was so worried that Milo would be miserable, or that he would get sick, or poop all over me. Not just on the plane. I was least worried about the flight itself. I was worried about getting both of us, plus stroller, diaper bag, cooler bag of frozen milk, and my giant camping backpack from the airport to the metro and then on to the hotel. I was worried about being on my own with Milo for three days. I'd be the only one for every diaper change, for every feeding, for every need he had. And that thought overwhelmed me.

I made it through airport security with no trouble. Shoes off, liquids bag in the tub. Milo out of stroller, fold up stroller, send diaper bag and stroller through X-ray. Declare 36 ounces of frozen breastmilk, send through X-ray. Walk through with baby in arms. Milo back in stroller, gather bags, put on shoes. As I waited in the boarding area, a woman approached me. She asked if I was traveling alone with the baby. She said she had a three-year-old and knew how tough traveling could be, and she offered to sit by me on the plane and help in any way she could. I began crying again. Embarrassed to be such a mess in front of this stranger, but so incredibly thankful for her offer, I said that would be great, and she and I began to talk. Her name was Amber, and she made all the difference in the world to me on my first flight with a baby.

Amber and I did manage to sit together—my original seatmate, a businessman, was happy to switch seats. I nursed Milo during take-off so his ears wouldn't hurt, and I was glad to have this woman (who breastfed her child for two years) sitting next to me. All seemed to be going really well, and my nerves were dissipating. Even though Milo was not sleeping as I had hoped he would be, he was fairly content and easy to entertain. Looked like it would be a good trip.

But then.

We hit some turbulence. Like, a lot of turbulence. The plane bounced around. Milo smiled at the sudden movements. I wanted air and tried not to think about feeling sick. The turbulence was so bad, a passenger fell to the floor as he walked back to his seat. I had a cup of water sitting on Amber's tray table, and not wanting it to spill or splash on her, I picked it up to finish it off. Before I could get a chance to take a drink, though, the plane dropped suddenly. Several people shrieked. My water flew up onto the ceiling, dripping down onto my head and soaking Milo's pjs. Everyone on board flew up as high as their seat belts would let them. Milo was not wearing a seat belt. And I was only supporting him with one arm. He was ripped out of my grasp, flying above my eye level. It happened so fast, seeing Milo in the air like that felt like it was happening in slow motion.

Thankfully, he came down safe and sound in the crook of my arm. But he was upset. And I was upset. I cried again, hugging that little boy so close. I couldn't stop thinking of the what-ifs. What if he had hit his head on the ceiling? What if I had been holding him less tightly and he banged his head on the wall? What if my seat belt had been looser and I hit my head and was unable to care for Milo? It was awful. No parenting moment so far has had me more shaken than this.

I've never experience turbulence like that before. One of the flight attendants was injured and upon landing had to be taken off the plane by medical personnel. As the passengers filed off the plane, you could see the stains of spilled coffee and soda all over their clothes and bags. Amber threw up, and I doubt she was the only one. But we made it. I'm not sure what I would have done without Amber there to distract me, help me, and encourage me. Even after we landed, she went with me to the baggage claim and carried the cooler bag for me. She watched Milo while I used the restroom. When her sister arrived to pick her up, they both walked me all the way to the metro entrance. Super nice. Amber, if you read this, thank you. You were a lifesaver for me and I will never forget your kindness.

Stories of the rest of the trip will have to wait. I'm still exhausted from the whirlwind trip, and it's time for me to go to bed.


Lindsay said...

DUDE! That's terrifying!!! Thank God you're okay, and Milo's okay...and that Amber was there for you. How awful and awesome at the same time. Glad you're back, friend!

The Mudds said...

I can't even imagine...

I am glad you made it there and back safely! I don't think I would ever attempt that trip on my own as a new mother. You rock!

Amber said...

I am glad to hear you made it home--I hope your return flight was better than mine--the FAA gentleman next to me told him it was the worst flight he had ever been on--it was rocky the entire flight. The flight crew was talking about our Friday flight--I overheard and asked about Cameron--he was not seriously injured but was not allowed to return to work for a week--pending medical clearance. I thought he was new--turns out he was new to this airline but has been with other airlines for many years.
You are very kind with your comments--I was thankful to have you and Milo in the seat next to me--it was my pleasure--I would fly with that little guy any time.