Monday, November 24, 2008

flying with babies?...never again!


I've never been big on traveling long distances in a car. I don't like road trips. I get carsick. I get bored. I get restless, and uncomfortable. Air travel has always been my preferred means of getting from point a to b...until I tried doing it for two full days (thankfully not back to back), with a baby, and...well...just a bigger baby. Ruby has definitely not yet reached the age where she can be of assistance and help lighten the load. In fact, in my opinion, flying with a 2 year old is harder than flying with a 2 month old. And flying with both of them at once - even with an acutely helpful husband - is not something I plan on doing again for a really, really long time.
Actually, the flights to Boston, were not at all bad. We flew from Phoenix to Denver - which was a couple of hours; had a 2 1/2 hour layover; and then traveled about 4 hours from Denver to Boston. We arrived at the Phoenix airport in plenty of time to check in our baggage (which after just some minor adjusting, all weighed in under 50 pounds), breeze through security, get something to eat, arrive to our assigned gate, tag the stroller and car seats, and relax somewhat before boarding. Once aboard the aircraft, both kids fell asleep, and pretty much remained sleeping for the duration of the flight. Our connecting flight was the same way...except for when Ruby woke up - disoriented and out of sorts - and in a panic, began kicking the woman's seat in front of her...repeatedly.
So, apart from a few irrelevant hiccups, our trip there was a breeze. It's actually the traveling home, that makes me want to shun the "plane and small children combo" for the rest of my life.
So...let's see...what was it that made me suddenly and vehemently despise air travel?

Could it have been walking through one of the airport crosswalks in front of a giant bus, who's driver had kindly stopped to let me cross? There I was, confidently pushing the double stroller with one hand, and pulling the 60 pound suitcase with the other, when suddenly, I was struck by a huge gust of wind, that didn't succeed in knocking me over, but did manage to force me into doing a 90 degree directional change, in front of a the giant bus full of ardent passengers. As I was standing in the middle of the crosswalk - stuck in the mini tornado, unable to move forward or back - I looked through the giant windshield, and inside I saw a crowd of people peering back at me...laughing hysterically and pointing mercilessly. I'm thankful for the bystander who came to my rescue, grabbed the suitcase out of my hand, and escorted me to the ticket counter. (In case you were wondering where John was this whole time?...he was involved in his own struggle with three large suitcases, and a carry-on bag. I still don't know how he did it so gracefully.)

How about when we finally made it to the ticket counter, only to discover that two of our suitcases were way too heavy? We depleted the next 10 or 15 minutes transferring items to and from our 4 bags. It was more than embarrassing having to shift around our personal belongings, in front of an audience of passengers and ticket agents.

What about going through security? I just hate that they make you remove your babies from their car seats...and take their blankets, and jackets, and shoes off, too. Both Ruby and Asher had fallen asleep at this point, so besides having to wake them and strip them down, we had to remove our own shoes and jackets, unpack the laptop, etc, etc, etc; and send our 15 plastic bins through the x-ray machine. John was holding Ruby - who happened to sleep through the entire process, and I had Asher...but just as I was about to take him through the metal detector, he threw up everywhere! And I'm not just talking about a wimpy baby spit-up either...this was some serious chunkage. Two piles on the floor, and a stream running from my shoulder, through my hair, and down my pant leg to my toes. It was awfully humiliating.

And then boarding the plane...I still can't think about this undertaking without becoming disgusted in humanity. We had gotten some food, but didn't have time to eat it before they started boarding the plane. So besides having to close the stroller at the bottom of the jetway, and remove Asher from his car seat, I had to figure out how I was also going to carry on the diaper bag, the camera bag, the free popcorn bowls we got from Dale and our two take-out styrofoam lunch containers. And the whole time, there was a line of people just staring at us like we were the traveling circus. After almost losing my grip on Asher because the diaper bag slipped off my shoulder, and knocked our lunches to the ground, I just wanted to scream at everyone..."Thanks for being being so helpful, you good-for-nothing, inhumane, imbeciles!" Good thing I bit my tongue...I would have regretted that later. But by the time me were seated, John and I felt like joining in with Ruby and Asher...who were both crying profusely.

What about trying to catch our connecting flight in Washington DC? I mean really, who needs gold's gym when you can get your workout in at the local airport? Our family was the last to disembark the plane, and unlike our first day, where we had a 2 1/2 hour layover, this time we only had an hour in between flights, which might seem like adequate time, but, it's totally not when the gate to your connecting flight is about two miles away. Honestly, I didn't know I could walk that fast without actually running. Asher was screaming in his stroller, but I just had to keep on pushing...which precipitated graceless stares from the masses we were weaving through. I got the most disgusted look from two employees who were camped out at a bank of payphones. I have never been so tempted to use my middle finger. Once again, I'm glad I maintained my dignity...I totally would've regretted that one down the road. The kids and I made it to the gate with 5 minutes to spare...but where was John? I turned around to see that he was about 30 feet behind me and still cutting through the frenzied crowds. I wasn't sure if that was part of his strategy to avoid being seen with the crazy olympic speed walker and her two babies...or if he really just couldn't keep up. He said he couldn't keep up, and I believed him because giant beads of sweat were exuding from every pore of his face. Thankfully, we had a few moments to catch our breath, and attempt to calm our upset kids, before boarding the plane...for the 4th and final time.

How about the 5 hour flight home? Ruby had to use the bathroom so bad, but was terrified of using the in flight lavatories. I can't count the number of times we walked from our seats to the bathroom,and back again. She finally relented, only out of utter desperation, but then wanted to go back again and again. Those mini bathrooms, with all those fun little buttons, became irresistible for our once terrified Ruby. She was so restless on this flight, that at one point, she leaned forward and grabbed the woman's hair in the seat in front of us. She gave it a little tug, but luckily the woman didn't protest. She must've realized how hard it would be for a two year old to be perfectly behaved on a flight like that. (I'm thankful for patient, understanding people.) When we finally landed, and the fasten seat belt lights went off with a "ding", Ruby exclaimed "yay...we did it!", which gave everyone around us a good laugh. She said exactly what I had been feeling at the moment...which was essentially, "hallelujah...we made it!"

Next time I complain to John about having to drive to Utah, I will remember (but wish I could forget) this adventure in flying with two babies. I will be grateful that I don't have to have my suitcase weighed, meaning I can pack what I want (also meaning I can pack more than three pairs of shoes). I won't have to worry about having perfectly behaved children (although it would make my trip nice). I can have all the leg room I want, and will be able to recline my chair more than a measly inch or two. We can stop when we need to, and take as much time as we'd like. And even though it may be a bit cramped, at least it won't be me, my husband, two kids, and 5 carry-on's, crammed in one teeny, tiny 2x4 ft row...and boy am I thankful for that...

Photobucket Photobucket Photobucket
I really can't imagine why we got so many crazy stares...can you?

Photobucket Photobucket


ahe said...

I am seriously impressed by your sit and stand balancing act and am not at all surprised that you had the problems you described on your trek across the crosswalk. I am glad you found something to help you appreciate your drives to Utah. You were the one who talked me into driving to AZ after all :)

Layn & Celeste said...

I don't think I'll ever do a 5 hour flight with young kids. You guys are brave. The longest I've ever done is 2 hours to Oklahoma by myself with Ty. That was hard enough.

I'm super impressed you guys survived it all!

disillusioned said...

Last year I took my sister and her 2 (now 3--but one of them wasn't as obviously on the trip, if you know what I mean) to Disney World. Her husband had to come on later flights. Then we also traveled to UT for Christmas on I-70. I must admit, after traveling through a complete white out in (I think it was) Green Canyon--I will never ever take I-70 again, if I can possibly help it. It was remarkable frightening to have the lives of my sister, her unborn child, and the 2 sleeping children in the back seat in my hands through this huge slick, blinding snow--with just a coal semi truck to follow. So, after having that experience, I'm afraid it put the plane ride in perspective---and honestly---I'd rather fly. BUT---I certainly can agree with how frustrating it is--and how no one who has not traveled with little kids "gets" it. I mean, just the crap one has to carry alone (and getting through security!!! Ugh!! Nothing like watching an 18 month old having to walk through a security gate---ya--cause we booby-trapped him or something!) I remember at one point, after my brother in law got to Disney world, and finally found us--a little complaining about a flight delay for him began. Ya--needless to say I had so had it by that point that I looked at him and didn't bite my tongue (even though, like you, I probably should have)--I just basically said--try traveling with 2 kids/babies--then complain about a delay). I'm sorry your flight experiences were so not positive. And, I love what Ruby said at the end!!! Yea! We made it!!! So true!

Mary P.

Kim said...

That is so funny. I love it. Asher seriously looks like a doll in those pix. I'm so excited to see you guys soon. Love ya

natalie eve said...

oohhh... i am the same way with traveling. i HATE driving, but i too have had a nasty experience flying (luckily emmi was still in my tummy and coulndn't act up publicly, haha) and i can't get myself to want to fly again. my parents just got back from israel, i've always wanted to go to europe, but i think i will live vicariously through other people's travels till i have my own private jet or something. (so basically i will live through other peoples travels). your trip to boston looked like fun. it looks beautiful there. i can cross that one off my list, since i don't think i will ever make it there. have a happy thanksgiving!!

sarahtuckett said...

i am laughing so hard i am about to pee my pants, and i already heard the story first hand from you personally. I know it is not funny.... but i have been there... and totally can relate. I am glad you had such a good time and made it all worth the effort!

Lindsey said...

Hey John and Nicole! I don't know if you'll remember me but I was in SAA with you two awhile back. I got bored at work and found your blog. You are SO pretty and have the cutest family!! I do have a random question/request... would you mind sharing how you made the blog layout of your blog so cute?! I am obsessed with it and would love to know how to do it!! I send my best well wishes to you both!!
Lindsey (Jacobs) Forrest

Rachel said...

Oh, I hope you'll be able to laugh about that soon! It really is such a challenge flying with kids. I look forward to the days when my kids are old enough to get excited to fly somewhere and just sit still and read a book.(: Think that will ever happen??? I can dream.....

Julie G. said...

I love your packed down stroller. It looks almost exactly like ours. Ben's whole family lives on the east coast so we get to travel fairly often. Two is much harder than one. I second the two year old being harder than the baby too! Glad you survived :)