• Jenny

Flying with a Baby: Willow's First Flight

This post originally appeared on our old site Born to be a Bride.


Last week, my dearest friend turned 29 again. As part of a series of surprises for her, Wills and I traveled up by plane on Friday to spend an overnight and day of girl time with her before a big bash that would be thrown in her honor. In the week leading up, I meticulously planned for every minute, wardrobe change, possible ailment, and so on.


I purchased a comfy chambray dress I could easily breastfeed in without needing a massive cover. I sterilized every infant medicine dropper we own. I procured a new baby-wearing option that had neither the complication of a wrap (I’m just too tired to learn), nor the bulk of our Stokke one (which is great until you want to sit down). I purchased five additional white onesies in size 0-3 even though she’s technically still wearing newborn ones. YOU NEVER KNOW.

We arrived at the airport three hours before departure and I was so nervous in the car, I thought I might puke. My entire adult life, I’ve been one of those people who cringes when she sees a baby on a plane, shooting death glares at the parents each time they cry. It seems the universe was waiting to get back at me for my awful behavior pre-child. Wills was in a particularly lovely (NOT) mood on Friday morning, and now that we’ve moved from nursing on a schedule to on demand (that’s a whole other post), it’s kind of hard for me to figure out much of a plan. Ever.


I checked us in at the kiosk and discovered we’d been selected for an upgrade to first class. Mommy: one. But Willow’s boarding pass didn’t print. Universe: one. After answering nine million questions about why I have a different last name from my child, and finally losing the “PR spin” to just say it straight — “I’m too tired to make it to the Social Security Office,” we were sent on our way. Slight odor in the air. Hmm.

Willow’s poops don’t tend to smell that bad yet, and I can rarely ever detect one brewing through clothes (and a baby sling!). But as soon as I stripped her down on the changing table, there was the most massive dump she’s taken in her ten weeks. Adorable outfit soaked and stained, red tights now brown. Wipes put to use for an impromptu sponge bath. Clearly thrilled, she proceeded to scream her head off. Universe: two.


It was in this moment that I realized, digging through for a change of clothes, that while I had packed every single thing that Willow could possibly need for Friday night and Saturday, I did not have one single item for myself. No, not even underwear. Universe: three. I cleaned her up, threw on a new (not as cute) outfit, popped her back in the sling, and headed confidently toward my gate.


{Lost and found my cell phone twice in fifteen minutes or less — but that’s something I’ve been doing for years, so whether that was a Universe score or not remains unclear}

I purchased a gluten-free sandwich (Mommy: two), ate it standing up (that’s a tie — at least I was eating), and then glanced at the boarding screen long enough to see the word, “BOSTON.” A quick consult to the “Departures” screen confirmed that I was not only at the wrong gate, but the wrong end of the airport. Off to the shuttle we headed!


{Shuttle type: outdoor bus. Number of strangers who scolded me about my daughter’s apparel: three. Universe: four.}


We arrived at our proper gate and Willow awoke from a brief snooze with a thundering cry. I only received two death glares, both of them from businessmen, but I also got a knowing look from another mommy and a sheepish “I’d-better-remember-to-use-condoms” look from a college kid in sweats as he surreptitiously popped his earbuds back in.

I fought with the baby carrier a few minutes before getting her out, at which point all cares about modesty flew out the terminal windows as I reached under the dress, pulled out the boob, and let her have it. (Tip for all new mommies: FDA regulations do allow liquid formula, water for powdered formula, or pumped breast milk in bottles for your air travel. This mama didn’t get her act together to transport it all, but that moment would have been much better if a bottle had been involved!)


It bears mentioning that I am one of those weirdos who doesn’t even like being naked at home, so we’ll go ahead and call the fact that nine innocent people had to see my nipple a score for the universe. That’s five. Polite strangers averted their glance as my kid noshed, but once I got over the initial mortification of the nip slip, and she was full and snoozy, it was all good. I even opened the book I had packed — just in case. I totally read five pages before she woke up crying and it was time to dance. Mommy: three.


As we lined up to board, my peanut fast asleep on my chest, I took a selfie for the hubbs. The kind man in front of me totally called me out:

“Did you just take a selfie of the baby sleeping?”

“Yes!”

“For your husband, no doubt?”

(Nervous laugh). “Yes.”

(Eyes smiling). “Rookie mistake… she’ll wake up in less than minute.”


As we chatted about the first time he traveled home to Australia with his plane-phobic wife and their then-infant and -toddler daughters, we heard it. The first little angry peeps emitted from my baby carrier. I glanced down to see two tear-filled eyes looking up at me. (Yes, my babe got real, wet tears in when she was less than a week old, and it’s the saddest thing ever).


We both laughed, I more nervously than he, as her little wails picked up. Universe: six. But as soon as we boarded and I fed her again throughout takeoff, the little lamb slept in my arms like, well, a baby. I even reached page 33 in my book, an accomplishment I haven’t seen since I was about 20 weeks pregnant.


We landed in Hartford and taxied, Wills waking up silently and staring at me. I fixed the carrier, slipped her in, and even got a sweep of lip gloss on before we deplaned. As I made a beeline to be among the first off the aircraft before she could throw that eventual fit, I heard someone a few rows back say, “Wow, I had no idea there was a baby on the plane.” Mommy: wins.

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