A letter to my daughter about flying with a child;
You were 7 months old when we packed up all your favorite things for a month away from the land you were born in. Your father and I hovered over the piles of soft cloth, sweet smelling stuffed animals, and every "necessary" baby item we owned.
We had never traveled with a baby before. This was by far the most complicated, and fragile piece of carry-on luggage we had ever considered adventuring with, and frankly we were incredibly nervous.
Our flight was to depart at 9 pm from the east coast to cross the pond and have us into Switzerland by mid day. We paced anxiously in front of the gate, bouncing you back and forth. Four other couples with newborn to 12 month old babies were practicing the same monotonous jig. One partner with a baby attached, the other hovering close with a bursting diaper bag full of tricks, burp clothes, bottles and blankets.
When another child would rear their head from their cozy pouch, let out an anxious cry of demands and protest, and you, our angel child would stay quiet and sleeping in our arms. Our faces would fill with pride as we gazed adoringly at one another and you, our sweet quite baby. Of course, at one point you did make your opinions heard, but we survived the journey feeling relaxed and victorious.
Now, on the second trans-atlantic flight of your life, you were a bit older. Your arms, legs and opinions have all stretched out in your 23 months of life. We knew we had to up our game this time around. We planned every diaper change in the airport accordingly. Ran you up and down the escalator to burn energy, and generally kept you moving until the bitter end when it was time to board. Two diaper bags were packed and organized with all your essentials for instant happiness. Tiny toys, magic markers, the $50 Woody doll I ran out to buy last minute, the bloody tablet I swore I'd NEVER buy, a felt folder full of surprises, and those freeze-dried strawberries that get you out of any carseat rage. We felt powerful and prepared.
An hour into our flight and surprises were being pulled out like stuffing from a gift bag. Joy turned to contentment, then to boredom and frustration in what felt like 5 short minutes with each new treasure given to you. That was until, the breaking point. The point of what felt like an eternity. The struggle that topped all past struggles before. No amount of rescue remedy or lavender oil could pull you out of this one.
You were done. Just plain DONE.
"All done. Auto. Nana's house" was on repeat and there was nothing we could do to console you. Your body twisted out of our arms like a contortionist, your screams grew louder and your protest more intense by the moment. Slowly the patrons around us on the plane found new seats to occupy, But distance could not hide them completely from the disturbance. You were every where.
2 straight hours of rage and you tired out. I never sat down once in nearly 3 hours of juggling your moving, screaming body in my arms, or keeping you quiet once asleep.
After 10 hours, many apologies, little sleep, too much Toy Story, and ZERO friends made, we arrived to Zurich from LA. It was the worst flight of our lives. I am now only willing to board a long distance flight with potent baby tranquilizers. I am also actively researching deals on a trans-Atlantic cruise ship. And I hate cruise ships.
On the flip side of things, the crew members on Swiss airlines were incredibly kind and helpful, plus they kept a constant flow of beer and chocolate for us in-between meltdowns. The only saving grace.
I still love you,