On June 28th, Xander took his first airplane ride and it was a successful adventure. I prepared for weeks, developing a list for a carry-on goody bag, deciding how to schedule his feedings, and figuring out the best way to handle the security frisking. If you can’t tell, I like to plan. During this planning stage, I stressed. What if Xander is cranky? What if the air pressure hurts his ears? What if he cries and we can’t console him? What if? What if? What if?
On the day of the flight, Xander woke up in a terrific mood. He and I had a lot of errands to run in the morning, so the first two naps of the day were spent in his carseat. I was concerned he would not get sufficent sleep, thus resulting in a cranky baby for our afternoon 2.5 hour flight to Florida. When we arrived at the airport, Nick dropped Xander and I off at the main terminal. Besides toting a baby with his travel system stroller, we also had 2 large suitcases, 1 small suitcase, and 1 pack n play. Nick quickly carried all the bags inside the doors of the terminal next to a small sitting area where I sat with Xander. Nick waved off the angry shouts from an airport security guard, drove to the extended stay parking lot, and caught a shuttle back to the terminal where Xander and I waited. I’ve never seen the Saint Louis airport so packed! The lines for airport checkin were long, but within 20 minutes we were checked in, luggage tagged, and on our way through security.
Xander had napped in the car on the way to the airport and our plan was to stretch his next feeding as long as we could. Our goal was I’d nurse him at take off to help with his ears and the air pressure. We had arrived at the airport an hour and a half before take off so we had a lot of time to kill. We decided to get the security fiasco over with. We were ushered to the front of the line through the handicapped entrance which was nice. While we waited, I removed my shoes, my belt, and my thick bracelets. Nick did the same (though he didn’t have any bracelets). As we edged closer, Nick took care of his laptop while I removed Xander from his carseat. I walked through the metal detector with no problem. The TSA agent was very friendly and asked me lots of questions about Xander in between giving instructions to Nick (“remove the carseat from the stroller. Ahhh, he looks like he’s about 3 months. Now sir, collpase the stroller. I have 8 grandchildren. Put the stroller wheels-up on the conveyer belt. Is this your first flight with the baby?” etc) After getting through security and redressing ourselves, we headed to the gate. We discovered the flight was delayed an hour, so we grabbed some lunch while entertaining Xander. He enjoyed walking the halls of the terminal with me. We kept him out of the stroller as much as possible and he was content people watching. When he got fussy, he tucked him into his carseat and used a pacifer to put him to sleep (something I never do). It worked and he slept for 30 minutes. When he woke up, he was hungry and had not eaten for 4 hours so our plan to feed him at take off was thwarted due to American Airlines lack of punctuailty. It was my first experience with nursing in public, but I didn’t feel awkward since I had brought my trusted Boppy pillow, nursing shirt, and Hooter Hidder apron.
FINALLY, the flight began the boarding process. We were surprised that American didn’t offer preboarding for families like Southwest does. We were in row 8 so our ‘group’ was the last to board. Nick & I had a row of 2 seats to ourselves. I sat by the window with Xander and the Boppy. We had to put the armrest up since the Boppy reached into Nick’s space. We took out our anti-bacterial wipes and wiped down the armrests, the window, the tray tables and the seat pocket which had a mystery substance on it. During take off, I stuck a pacifier in Xander’s mouth and he sucked that thing like mad much to my surprise. Once the pilot reached the cruising altitude, we removed the pacifier and attempted to entertain Xander for awhile. We brought his favorite soft cover book, his mirror, and a variety of small toys. In the end, we only need the book. Xander was very content sitting up on the boppy or playing superman with Dad. When Xander started showing signs of fussiness, we stretched him out on the Boppy, covered with a blanket. He quickly stuck his thumb in his mouth and passed out. He slept for approximately 30 minutes. I nursed him again when he woke up and shortly afterward Xander had the largest, stinkiest poopy diaper. The airplane had begun its initial decent which meant 2 tray tables would be Xander’s changing table. I had packed an empty Target bag, which came in handy for the yucky diaper. Nick apologized to the passengers around us for the smell. 🙂 During landing, we stuck the paci back in Xander’s mouth. He never cried out of fear or because of the air pressure (thank god!). By preparing myself for the worst, I was pleasantly surprised when he was good.
Overall our first airplane/airport experience was a very positive one. Xander was in a great mood nearly the entire day! The biggest compliment we received was from a fellow passenger. As we waited, post-flight, for our stroller at the gate, a passenger walked by and said, “you guys have such a good baby.” Let’s just hope the flight home is JUST as successful!