Judah’s First Flight

Two weeks ago, Judah and I embarked on a trip to Massachusetts for my sister’s baby shower. This was Judah’s first flight, and despite my best intentions, I had limited pictures taken of our great adventure. I’m kicking myself now for not getting at least one shot of him on the plane, but at the time, it was just not a priority. I was happy to have made it to Massachusetts and back in one piece. And hopefully, with this account of our travels, you’ll understand why I was unable to whip my phone out and snag a shot.

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My close friends and family know that I’m a bit of a spaz, especially in stressful situations. The more nervous I get, the more airheaded and flighty I become. My good friend Kaylan has witnessed this one too many times when I’ve been driving in traffic of any kind. It’s a wonder to me how I have never been in an accident considering the number of times I’ve freaked out and changed lanes without glancing in any of my mirrors or over my shoulder for oncoming cars. I’m also convinced that some day, when I’m picking Judah up from school and we are hurrying to get somewhere, I will undoubtedly pack his lunch box, backpack, and homework into the car and pull away with him still standing at the curb. My mind just skips a few steps when I’m flustered.

Taking in these fun facts about me, imagine me, nervous and stressed, getting ready to board a plane by myself with two overly stuffed bags and a baby strapped to my chest.

As mentioned in my previous post one of the things I was most nervous about in flying alone with Judah was getting all of our crap through security. Obviously, it takes a while on your own to take off all your outer layers of clothing, remove any liquids and electronics, empty your pockets, and hope that your not one of the randomly selected tickets to be felt up by a security guard. Now, I had to do all of these things with a 17-pound baby attached to me. Oddly enough, this step of the flying process went very smoothly. Judah was distracted by all the people around us, and wasn’t bored yet of being cooped up in the front carrier. I was able to use my newly developed mommy muscles to easily lift our bags onto the conveyer belt and was pleased with how quickly we were able to get everything necessary out and presented to security.

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At this point, I was able to locate our gate, which, bonus was right in front of the security checkpoint. We had arrived at the airport with about 15 minutes to spare before our flight began boarding, so I was happy that as soon as we got through security, we could just get right on the plane and Judah wouldn’t have to wait around in the airport for too long. I noticed, however, that people were just getting off the plane that we were taking, so I knew we still had a bit until we could board. I walked a little with Judah to keep him occupied, but quickly realized that I couldn’t do this for very long. My shoulders were killing me, and dragging bags around plus the weight on my front comparable to when I was in my final days of pregnancy was not very fun. We went back to our gate and I decided to gate check one of our bags to shake some pounds. Here comes the spaz…

I got up to the counter and offered to gate check my bag. The attendant gave me a tag for my bag and told me to attach it to my luggage. At this point, all of the chairs in the gate area were full, so I found a space against a wall and out of the walking areas to get our bag ready. I crouched down to attach the ticket. Immediately Judah began to whine because his legs were crammed into mine and his mommy’s face was now a little too close for comfort. I attached the tag as quickly as I could and started to stand up. Well, the amount of weight from Judah hanging on my front and the added bonus of the diaper bag on my shoulder caused me to tip backwards. Awesome. So, there I was, flat on my butt with a baby who was now full out crying. My leg muscles were burning and I had no idea how I was going to get up. I grabbed onto the heat vent above my head along the wall and pulled myself up, and in the process started to sweat. I had my coat on and just left it on because I didn’t have room to carry it with everything else in my hands. This was probably not the smartest decision. I got my spastic self under control and tried to ignore the stares.

Finally we were able to board the plane. I’m sure that I hit so many passengers in the arms and head with my diaper bag while walking through the narrow plane isle, but that was the least of my worries. At this point, it was well past Judah’s bedtime and he was tiredly rubbing his eyes like crazy. All I wanted to do was sit down and get him unhooked and more comfortable and get to Boston as fast as possible. Thankfully, I sat next to a man who informed me he had a four month old at home and understood the unpredictability of traveling with an infant. Also, the man who sat behind us entertained Judah whenever he would look in that direction. God was definitely looking out for me by surrounding Judah and I with very patient individuals on both our flights there and back.

As soon as the captain announced our take off, I got Judah’s bottle out. He was exhausted and I just hoped that this bottle be exactly what he needed to drift off to sleep. Oh no, that was not the case at all. Another thing I was nervous about was Judah’s ears hurting and him crying the entire flight. His ears were fine, and he hardly cried at all, minus about 15 minutes right before he eventually fell asleep. However, we had other problems. With the need in our society for constant and continual entertainment, there are now individual screens on the back of every chair on the plane so that passengers have the opportunity to pay $100 to watch reruns of their favorite TV shows. Judah has always been fascinated with the blue florescent light coming from the TV when it’s dimly lit in a room. He will NOT go to sleep if there is any light present. I thought, “oh great, what am I going to do now?” Luckily I was able to figure out how to turn our TV screen off, but that didn’t really do much considering everyone else’s was glowing throughout the flight.

Between the flashing of the TV screens and the stimulation of all the people around and the new sounds, there was little hope of Judah sleeping. Instead, he did what he does best when he’s overly tired and trying to stay awake. He moves…constantly. This is a trait, along with many others, that he gets entirely from his father. My son does not like to be held still for long periods of time in general, let alone the fact that he has just reached the mobility phase in life, increasing his desire to be rolling around independently all the more.  This, combined with trying to stay awake, meant that I was stuck trying to contain this little ball of sleepy energy that was twisting and turning and spinning in every direction like a torpedo for almost two hours.

My son is also very curious and observant. He will notice even the minutest detail and of course, being a baby, he wants to touch it and put it in his mouth. So, lets recap the scenario. We have a nervous mom, who has a spinning baby, a blanket, a small coat, a bottle, and a toy on her lap while crammed in those ever-spacious economy plane seats, while wearing a winter jacket. AKA, mom was sweating profusely at this point. Judah is rolling and twisting, flailing, and picking out all the magazines in the front pocket. I’m trying not to drop him, and appease his need to move, all the while trying to keep him from pelting the man sitting next to us in the face with the latest copy of SkyMall. I’m sure we were quite a sight. But, Judah did not cry, so for that, I am so thankful and very proud of him.

Finally, with about a half hour left to go in our flight, Judah gave in and drifted off to sleep. I was relieved and also stiff as a board so as not to wake him. It was nice to revel in my little man asleep in my arms, as he hasn’t done that in months. The sounds of the captain stating we were ready to land were some of the best I had heard all week. I was exhausted, very hot, and so ready to be off the plane and reunited with family that could help ease the load of bags and baby.

Judah woke up as soon as we landed. I was able to console his sleepy whines with some rocking and the ever-trusty paci. I was able to get him strapped back into the front carrier and the man seated behind me had graciously let me know he would assist me in getting the diaper bag off the plane for me. Judah was back in a sleepy stupor and I thought it was smooth sailing from here on out.

Then, spastic me reared it’s ugly head. I stood up when the isle was clear for us to exit our seats, only to be immediately stunted and slammed back down into the seat. Judah started to scream immediately. I had trapped half of the seatbelt into the front carrier under Judah’s butt. There was no way to get it out except to undo the carrier completely and lift Judah back out. We were seated in the middle of the plane, so half of the passengers were still waiting to exit. I was apparently the only one who understood what was going on. The man behind us who was waiting to help with our bags blocked the isle to make sure Judah and I could still exit. I looked back at him and said that we were going to be a while, however he couldn’t hear me over Judah’s crying. I repeated myself again, telling him that he could just go ahead and let everyone else out. It took him and the gentleman sitting beside me a moment to notice what I was doing and why, while everyone behind us was growing a little impatient. Finally the man next to us saw the buckle trapped under Judah and relayed the message to the man in the isle.  I swear everyone gave me the stink eye as they left the plane.

I apologized for holding up the two travelers beside me, as we were the last ones to exit. They were so wonderful and understanding with everything and told me to take my time. Finally, we were able to leave, sans seat buckle. I dug around in the diaper bag to find my phone and call my parents who were waiting to pick us up.

Judah fussed off and on the rest of the way to the baggage claim area, he was as tired of this airport thing and as ready for a bed and good night’s sleep as I was. We finally met up with my mom and dad and were able to get loaded into the car. They asked me how it went, and I began to recount our story, all the while laughing. We must have looked ridiculous, entirely because of my spastic nature.

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We made it nonetheless, and Judah did fantastically. He loved the excitement we met in Massachusetts and hardly slept the entire weekend. Our flight home was a breeze and I was so proud of my son.

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Thanks to everyone for your thoughts, prayers, and well wishes for this nervous mama and her energetic son. Each and every one was felt. Flying conquered.