Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Fear of Flying, Vanquished

We went to visit Gramma and Grandpa. I would normally call them "Mom and Dad," except that I no longer exist for my parents. My function is strictly to accompany The First Grandchild to their home, and then allow them to snuggle him and pinch his fat little cheeks.

If you think this bothers me, you did not see the speed at which the mate and I raced for the door and out to a restaurant sans offspring.

Unfortunately, Gramma and Grandpa live a four hour plane ride from here. The prospect of flying with a baby horrified me when we first contemplated the matter. I am told I screamed bloody murder from Bangkok to LA as a six month old, and I was pretty sure karma was going to kick my ass and use my eight month old as the foot.

But it went pretty well, as it happens. It helps that the flight home was absolutely packed with infants and toddlers - count 'em SEVEN rugrats under the age of two within five rows of each other - so when our little miracle decided to see if the Shriek button went to eleven, no one even noticed.

Here's what we did:

- We did not buy him a ticket. Instead, we took his birth certificate to the airport and got a "non ticketed passenger document." That's the airport term for "lap baby." In hindsight... we should have shelled out the dough for a seat. He finally started sitting unassisted a few weeks ago, and as you know, any time they learn something new, that's all they want to do. Sitting on laps is for babies. We spent some time standing in the aisle so he could have the seat.

- I wore him in the Ergo from the minute we got out of the car until the final, preboarding diaper change. That got him all warm and relaxed, instead of amped up and ready to party.

- I skipped a feeding on the ground to make him hungry in the air. Wearing him and walking around distracts him. It doesn't work for long, but it worked long enough that when I offered him milk as the plane was taking off, he hit it like a starving trout on a handtied fly. Between the Ergo and the milk overload, he was out for ninety minutes. And if he noticed his ears popping on the way up, he didn't say anything about it.

(Bonus tip: Wear nursing pads. The pressure changes cause even my non-leaky breasts to squirt.)

- I told our seatmate not to worry about noise, because I was going to be nursing the baby. I asked the person in front of us to please tell us if his seat got kicked, because we were teaching our son not to kick seats. This was to establish a friendly connection, lay out our plans, and let them know that we were doing our best. It certainly pre-empted any angst.

- Restaurant toys were in the seat pocket. We have three little toys that only come out at restaurants, so they're always super awesome fun. The mate fastened his wallet leash onto one of them for bonus fun.

- Everything is in fact a toy. Crinkly peanut packets are swell toys. So is a partially flattened water bottle with a few peanuts inside and the cap screwed back on. I'm not ashamed to admit that the flattened, rattling bottle was my dog's teething toy of choice. That's how I knew it would work for my son.

- Trips to the galley are great fun. Also, gleeful shrieking and gabble are cute in the galley in a way that they are So Not Cute in your little narrow coach seat across from another baby who has finally fallen asleep.

- As soon as the pilot said he was descending, I started nursing. Again, if he noticed his ears popping, he didn't mention it.

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