Thursday, December 30, 2010
First time flying!
I had been quite worried about taking Daniel—with all his sensory issues—on two planes and a layover by myself, but it actually turned out really well!
Going through security was a little nerve-wracking, mostly because I thought I was going to miss my plane, and then they asked me to wait in the special holding area to get patted down since I was wearing a skirt. The pat-down was very short and minimal (she only did the bottom half of me), and I didn't feel violated at all. (Of course, the Portland airport doesn't have the full-body scanners in place, so there's much less patting-down all around, I think.)
After that, I had to have my hands scanned for explosives. The security guard held up my (empty) stainless-steel water bottle as the reason I needed to be scanned. That part was only a little tricky because I was holding Daniel, but he let me take a second to put him back in the Ergo before swiping my hands to test them for...whatever.
Somehow, we made it to the plane before it left (even though I was still in security when the plane was supposed to leave) and I found a middle seat near the middle. As far as the flights went, Daniel didn't even seem to notice the take-off or landing, and I think all the loud engine sounds were actually quite soothing to him. He slept through one take-off and one landing, and cuddled with me in the Ergo while sucking on his pacifier the other two times. I didn't end up nursing him on take-off or landing to help with the ear pressure, because he just didn't seem to need it.
I had no trouble with any of the other passengers even making comments about me breastfeeding him on the planes or in the airport. Everyone (appropriately) acted like there was nothing unusual occurring, so that was perfect. We had nice, polite seat-mates both time, and that was such a blessing. I only wish I had filled my water bottle before that first flight, because after not drinking enough on that flight, I felt dehydrated for the rest of the day. Oh well!
Changing diapers on the plane was a bit challenging...but that's a whole post in itself. When I get home next week, I'll write about my experiences traveling with cloth diapers.
Daniel slept well in the carrier off and on throughout the day. He had fun smiling at strangers and playing with the toys I brought with us. Toward the end of the second (longer) flight, he got bored with his toys, so I gave him the safety instruction card to play with. That got us through until he was tired enough to nurse and fall asleep again for landing.
My only gripe about my experience flying is that the flight attendants required me to take him out of the Ergo for take-off and landing, which I think is pretty ridiculous. (Both of the flight attendants who told me that also called it a Snugli, which I thought was kind of funny. Did they have a meeting where someone told them that "Snugli" is a general term for "baby carrier"?) It seems to me that Daniel is more secure when he is hooked into the carrier with my arms around him than when he is just in my arms. I was also wearing my seat belt under the waist strap of the carrier, so that couldn't have constricted him in any way. I know it's a rule, so I don't fault the flight attendants at all for enforcing it, but I still don't understand the rationale behind it.
In any case, we landed safely and only a little late. However, our bags did not make it with us, which was not surprising since I "late-checked" them. We decided to go ahead and leave and come back later for the bags, but then there were some issues with the car seat that came with the rental car. (Namely, the big issue was that the right shoulder strap came totally out of the seat while we were driving.) So, we ended up staying a long time and then not getting the bags until today anyway.
Daniel had a couple of meltdowns in the car after that very long day of traveling, and he crashed after crying at one point. I wish the travel hadn't affected him so negatively, but I really don't blame him for needing to decompress after the constant stimulation all day long.
We're doing much better today, after getting some sleep and getting our luggage back. I think by tomorrow, we'll be all back to normal, and ready to fully enjoy our time here. He's already starting to get used to the new people here, and I'm very happy that he's not having a lot of crying time so far. It's really nice to see everyone here, and I'm so glad all these people I love are getting to meet my sweet baby!