Liam goes on a plane.

June 03, 2013

I survived my first plane trip with an eight-week-old. 
In the early part of May, Liam and I went to my home state of Texas to visit. Secretly, I had been dreading the trip since before he was born, knowing it was coming. My brother was graduating from college, the last of the brood, and I knew I would be attending his graduation with a baby in tow. Once Liam was born, I booked a flight to travel home with him solo.

I begged Chris to go, knowing he couldn't due to work. The truth is, I just wanted company for the plane ride. I didn't want to do the plane ride alone. I wasn't scared of my abilities or being able to handle Liam; I was scared of other people's reaction to a potentially screaming baby. 

I called Southwest Airlines on the Sunday before to verify everything. 

"I can check the stroller at the gate?"


"And the car seat?"


"And my husband can escort me through security?"


"Okay, great."

"Do you have any other questions, ma'am?"

"No," I lied. 

"Thank you for flying Southwest."

First of all, packing for a trip with a baby is a little complicated solely due to the fact that they use and dirty everything up until the minute you're walking out the door. We woke Liam up half an hour before we had to leave so that he would ruin as little as possible. He still managed to pee on the changing pad, dirty an outfit and soil two burp cloths. In the meantime, Mia peed by the back door thanks in part to medication she was on and the fact that we were upstairs too preoccupied to remember we had to deal with the dog, too. 

"Is that water or pee?" Chris asked. I didn't want to think the worst so I willed it to be water as if the ceiling had all of a sudden sprung a leak. 

But it was pee. We were trying to get out of the house on time so of course it would be pee. One cleaned-up accident and fed baby later, we made it to the airport in time. 

The plane was just over half full, so they let me bring his car seat on board and we had our own row. A young couple, presumably still in college, passed us by as they were boarding. 

"Lets sit right here," the girl said, motioning to the row behind us. 

"You don't want to go in the back?" the guy said, after eying my baby. 

"Oh, if you're worried about the baby, he'll be fine. He'll be asleep in no time!" I convinced them as Liam began to doze off in his car seat. They smiled and took the seat behind us. Nothing like an empty promise to make me really feel pressure to keep the baby from crying. I'm pretty sure the guy obliged out of pressure, too.

Liam was great for the first hour of the two-hour flight. He slept, ate and was mostly content. About halfway through, he got fussy. And let me tell you something. When you're on a plane with a tiny baby who starts crying, ten seconds feels like three hours and the tiniest noise feels likes its echoing through the entire aircraft. No one was even looking at us but it felt like everyone was looking at us. And all I could think of was that I promised the people behind us he wouldn't cry. Don't make me break a promise, Liam. 

I decided to change him and took him back to the lavatory. Only one was open, so I went in to the extremely small room. I put the toilet lid down, sat on it and laid Liam on my lap. As I changed him, he started screaming and I wondered just how much everyone else could hear. A screaming baby in a tiny, closed lavatory is loud. When we were done, I quickly got back to my seat only to realize I left his shorts in the bathroom.

As a flight attendant passed by, I asked her if she wouldn't mind checking the bathroom for his shorts. She came back with the tiny shorts and said, "I think you may have gone into the bathroom without the changing table. The one across from that one has a changing table."

Of course. 

"Oh, okay!" I said. "I'll make note of that for next time." 

We made it off the plane without any major meltdowns, spent six days in Texas, and flew back the following Monday evening. Apparently airports all have different rules about "escorts" because I ended up having to go through security on my own with a stroller, car seat, baby, diaper bag, and purse in tow. And then he decided to have a dirty diaper five minutes before boarding. And the plane was overbooked so we were shoved in a back corner.

But thanks to an evening flight, he slept the whole way home

I'm not afraid of flying with a baby anymore. But I am already fearing flying with a future toddler.

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1 comment:

  1. The first time we flew with Dylan he was 18 months old. I had given him juice for take off so his ears wouldn't pop. About the time of drink service he decided to vomit EVERYWHERE! It was awful. I only had a change of shirt with us, as he never needed pants, and he was in his convertible car seat! It was a nightmare. Needless to say, if I were on a plane without a kid I'd rather hear one whimper or cry than have to smell their puke;)


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