Sunday, September 9, 2007

Hawaii: Day One

Have you ever been on a plane with a screaming baby and wondered why in the world the kid’s parents don’t just make the kid shut up? What kind of crappy parents are they anyway with a baby screaming like that?

If only…

For me, the dread of getting on an airplane with my baby started months ago. By the time Caleb was about three months old and no longer sleeping whenever I wanted him to, I realized that an airplane ride of any length, let alone a five hour flight to Hawaii, would not go over well.

We didn’t just have the five hour flight to Hawaii. We also had an extra two hours from Salt Lake to San Francisco. Which means two take-offs, two landings, plus an extra hour and a half in between flights just hanging out in the airport.

Days before we left, I started telling Caleb all about our upcoming travels. Not that he understands anything I say. I wanted to buy him a new toy for the airplane. Something he’d never seen before so he’d be super excited to play with it and the newness of it would entertain him for the endless hours we’d be on the plane. As indecisive as ever, we ended up with two new toys instead of one. I contemplated saving one for the flight home, resulting in two perfect days of travel, but then just tossed them both into the diaper bag.

We’d been trying all week to move Caleb’s bedtime back so that the time change wouldn’t kill him. I don’t know if it’s possible to prepare a baby for such a long journey. But if it is possible, I definitely tried everything I could think to do to prepare.

Then comes the dreaded travel day. Six minutes after I wanted to leave our house, the baby is still in his crib napping and I haven’t packed anything. I’m dreading the airplane ride so much that it isn’t till this very moment, when there’s no more time to waste, that I finally decide we really are going to Hawaii.

Brandon goes into the baby’s room to wake him up. He’s sleeping so cute; Brandon calls me in to see. With both of us standing over the crib gazing adoringly at our little boy, Caleb wakes up. He smiles, though still mostly asleep.

While I feed the baby, Brandon speed packs all my stuff. Every now and again, I call out items for him to pack. I have no idea what ends up in the bag, but hopefully we have everything we need. At least I packed the baby’s bag the night before, so he has more than he could possibly need in a week.

With all the stuff packed in the car, Brandon speed drives to the airport so we’ll make it on time, while I desperately try to keep the baby awake. The theory being that if we kept him awake now, he’ll sleep on the plane.

At the self-check counter, I swipe our credit card. There’s no record of us flying. I try our Delta confirmation number. No luck. The flight number. Are we going to Grand Rapids? No, I don’t think so.

So it’s out of that line and into the regular one where someone smarter than our computer can find our flight for us. Once she does, it turns out our departure time is half an hour later than Orbitz said it was. Oh well. At least now we can stop worrying about leaving our house so late.

As we sit waiting to board our plane, Caleb decides to let out a massive poop, but not in his diaper. At all. Somehow, in the process of Brandon changing his still mostly clean diaper and wiping the rest off his back, Caleb manages to spread the poop everywhere. On his front side. His arms. His face. A little white baby covered in green. Beyond disgusting.

At last comes the dreaded airplane ride. We’re sitting in the last row, right in front of the lavatory. By now, Caleb’s more than ready to go down for a nap. But before naptime comes cry time and the people around us are already staring as we try in vain to get the baby to sleep. We abandon that idea for nursing the baby during take-off. Only the pilot comes on over the intercom and announces that San Francisco has our wheels up time twenty-two minutes after we were scheduled to leave, so we’re just gonna sit for a bit before we take off.

Caleb does finally fall asleep nursing. And eventually, we do take off for California. But once we are up in the air and I take the baby off of his favorite spot to be, he wakes up. At least, he’s happy for a bit now. Brandon plays with him as much as the tiny space allows. Caleb thinks the old man sitting across from him is fascinating and spends some time staring at him. I save the new toys for later. The baby’s doing great.

Only, it doesn’t last. Halfway through the flight (did I mention yet it was only a two hour trip?) Caleb thinks he’s had enough. He’s overtired and the plane sucks. He can’t do anything except sit on Dad’s lap and stare at an old man. And when I try to give him his fancy new toys, he thinks they are lame. Nothing will make this baby happy now. The crying begins again.

Brandon and I take turns trying to rock/bounce the baby to sleep. I even threw in a nursing attempt in the vain hope that he’d fall asleep for that. Yeah, I don’t know what we were thinking even getting on this plane in the first place. By now, I’ve concluded that we should always fly Jet Blue or some other airline that gives out free headphones so that people can halfway tune out our child. Without fail, just when we’re about to achieve success in the sleeping department, the pilot gets on the intercom again. What was the point in even trying?

But then suddenly, he’s happy again. No more crying. Quite the delight. We found the magic button. Only, we didn’t do anything. In fact, everything we tried has failed. Meanwhile, we’re both totally stressed out at having tried to get the baby to sleep. Caleb is delighted by his triumph and proceeds to shout about it to the rest of the plane. I don’t think I’ve ever heard him be so loud. At least he’s not crying this time.

Then comes time to land the plane. It’s the whole crying routine all over again. Except that this time, the sinus cold that I’ve had all week transforms into an ice pick that splits my skull open and I double over in excruciating pain. But the baby needs help too because he’s too little to figure out how to get his ears to pop on his own. I try nursing him again. Brandon has to hold me up so I can do it.

Finally, we land. We’re in San Francisco. A short break and we get to do it all over again. Only this time, we’re flying United and they’ve given everyone headphones. The universe is listening after all.


Ethan's Mom said...

Try a little Benadryl next time. Puts them right to sleep. And totally fly Jetblue. Even the flight attendants are more kid friendly.

Patti said...

your stories keep getting better and better. I should print them all out and start making a book. I'll surprise Caleb with it when he's 21. He'll love it. Have fun in Hawaii!
Love you, Mama