Thursday, January 15, 2015

How Traveling First Class Turned into the Worst Night Ever

...and other adventures in parenting.

Doesn't this look peaceful?

The funniest thing happened the other day. And by funny I mean horrifying.

It was the end of a wonderful Christmas vacation back east, and we were headed to White Plains to catch a flight to Atlanta, to then catch a flight to San Francisco. We made it through check-in with our four jumbo, zippers extended suitcases, our car seat, our stroller, our diaper bag, and my newly acquired hat collection. (Yes, you read that correctly.) We made it through security where numerous tests, swabs, and investigations had to be done on my breast pump. We made it. And we were sitting peacefully awaiting the invitation to board early because we have a small baby when our name was called over the loud speaker. Nothing good can come of this, I thought. But, I was wrong...sort of.

It turns out our plane was over the weight limit and given that we likely had more cargo and poundage than all the other people on the flight combined, we were being asked to change to a different flight. This flight would leave out of JFK. The taxi ride would be comped by the airline, as would our newly appointed first class tickets (oh, and we would get $200 each for being so accommodating). As we were  celebrating our amazingly good luck in the car ride to JFK, J. and I had visions of free movies, reclining seats, and endless glasses of champagne. I suddenly felt more beautiful and sophisticated; I was so glad I was wearing my new hat so I could look the part of the elite traveler. And then, as she chucked a Cheerio at me, I remembered that we had a baby.

Flash forward to boarding our flight. N. is sleeping peacefully in my arms. Around comes the lovely flight attendant with the bubbly. I look around and two people near me have dogs. I whisper to Jeff, "Who brings a dog into first class?"

Twenty minutes later, my decent into the seventh circle of hell commenced...

N. is not a fussy baby. She is generally quite chipper and easy going. The flight to CT had been relatively uneventful even though I had traveled alone with her (granted she did have her own seat on that one, and I had her strapped in her carseat). Instead of my beautiful, sweet daughter, I found myself holding a psychopathic terrorist bent on testing the mental and physical fortitude of all people within a twenty mile radius. She screamed like I've never heard her scream for a good four hours. And of course, we were in FIRST CLASS, so you know that everyone was now wishing me and my sweet baby dead.

Somewhere during that time, I decided that the flight was like labor itself.

Initially, I was cocky, believing I had everything under control. (In the early stages of labor, I felt totally empowered. In fact, I was so chill I was watching the newly released episodes of House of Cards.) All those other people who couldn't handle this? Sissies. As N. began to shriek, I just cuddled and kissed her. I am such a good mom, I thought. Anyone watching would surely be impressed by my composure and patience.

And then the "contractions" got worse...and I didn't have it anymore. I was weak. A sissy myself, believing completely that I would certainly die. I think I metaphorically entered this phase when N. and I found ourselves soaked with sweat from the strenuous tussle in which we were engaged, and I had actually tried to put her under the seat in an attempt to distract her. (It's first class and there is loads of room, so this is not child abuse, in case you were wondering.) 

And when you don't think it can get any worse, it does. Suddenly, you realize that you must take control. You must regain composure. I stared at the pattern on the wall in front of me breathing deeply, thinking about prana, or the life force,  or whatever the hell that cleansing energy is called, allowing the screaming and clawing to simply wash over me. This lasted about 3 to 5 second.

And then there is the crowning. At this point, you will do anything to make it stop. This essentially involved me stripping to the waist in plain view of all the other passengers and power nursing. Hey, a gal's gotta do what a gal's gotta do.

And then comes the epidural...this occurs when your husband intervenes and takes the baby into the bathroom where no one can hear the screams...from either one of them.

At this point, I also noticed that neither dog had barked...not even once. 

Suffice it to say that she fell asleep, eventually, in the last hour of the flight. We were all spent, emotionally and physically. In that last hour, I tried to drink a glass a wine and watch a movie. I never got to eat the gelatto because the flight attendant was staging a silent protest against me and never brought me any. J. declared the evening "one of the most disappointing" of his life, and he it not a man prone to hyperbole. (In fact, in one dire moment, a woman came up to me offering to medicate my child. This is when you know you have reached a low point.)

Parenting is an adventure each and every day. Some days require more fortitude than others. But, like labor, and horrible plane flights, and epic screaming fits, moments and phases are generally transient. At least this time, I didn't get shit on...It's the little things.

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