On Flying with an Infant

18 Dec

Monday morning was Joel’s last law school exam.  Torts.  And no, it’s not nearly as fun as the cake kind.

We had tickets to fly out that afternoon, but were a little anxious about the weather, since we were going through Detroit and there was a blizzard there on the weekend.  We thought maybe we’d be able to switch to a flight on Tuesday morning, but that didn’t work out, so as soon as Joel got home, we busted our tails getting our stuff together and packed and walked out the door less than an hour after he got home.

This was a feat in itself.

Flying with an infant scared me.  We’ve all been there.  You’re sitting at the gate and then THAT family walks up.  The one with a new baby or 15 kids.  The family that you look at and think, “Oh please don’t let them be on my flight.”

We are now that family.

I didn’t want to be the one with the baby who cried the whole flight, who got dirty looks as we entered or exited the plane from the passengers who just couldn’t take any more screaming.  So I brought as much food as my purse could hold, along with everything else required by a baby, hoping that if she was well-fed and could keep her ears from hurting on take off and landing, she’d be ok.

I should probably preface this story with the fact that Joel hates flying.  Hates it.  If there is even the slightest bump, he white-knuckles the armrest for the remainder of the flight.  I think it’s a control thing – he can’t control the flight, the winds, the take off or the landing, and that makes him a little crazy.  He really turns into a different person when we fly, and the real Joel doesn’t return until we have landed for the last time at our final destination.  We’ve traveled together a lot, so I knew this was coming, but it did nothing to ease my mind about flying with a baby.  Because when we entered this situation, I basically had 2 kids instead of just 1.

So off we went to the airport.  We boarded our flight to Detroit right on time.  Joel always sits in the aisle seat (so he can get up and run if something happens?), so I was stuck in the middle seat with Clara.  In the window seat was a Spanish college student.  Let me tell you, trying to hold an infant in the middle seat is not the most fun thing in the world.

We taxied out to the runway, and then we heard the engines power down. Great.  And then, the dreaded announcement: “Ladies and gentlemen, from the flight deck, uhh we’re going to be sitting here for just a few minutes.  We’re on a ground hold due to some weather in Detroit.  They are having a bit of a snowstorm.  We’ll be sitting out here for at least 30 minutes.  So, uhh, if you need to make a phone call or use the lavatory, that’d be ok.  Thanks for your patience.”

Hahaha.  That’s a funny joke, flight deck.  Now let’s get going.  But no, they weren’t kidding.

While we were sitting there, Clara decided that it was time for a full diaper, and I told Joel that since he was in the aisle seat, he had to go change her.  Heehee.  He wanted me to go with him to help, but have you ever seen those airplane bathrooms???  So off he went, and while he was in the bathroom with her, the pilot came over the intercom again, “Alright everyone, from the flight deck again, Detroit has given us a hard-time for takeoff, so we’re going to need to make sure everyone is in their seats with everything stowed so we can go in just a couple minutes.”

I look back toward the bathroom and see Joel coming out with our daughter, halfway dressed, wrapped up in the changing pad, panicked look on his face.  I found out later that he left the full, dirty, stinky diaper on the counter of the bathroom in his panic to get back to his seat.  Sorry other passengers.

So I finished getting Clara dressed and then we did actually take off.

On a side note, do the pilots think that “from the flight deck” sounds really cool or something?  Maybe I could understand if the cockpit was on a different level from the passenger cabin, then “flight deck” might make sense, but they do realize that it’s only separated by a door, right?

Our flight had free wi-fi, which the geek in me really wanted to take advantage of, but my hands were kinda full.  Our friend in the window seat was skyping wit her parents in Spain and chatting with friends on Facebook.  Clara has decided that when there is a lot going on, she really needs to be able to see it all.  So she wanted to stand on my lap or sit facing outwards rather than falling asleep or even facing me.  So she was squirmy, but thankfully very quiet.

She was such a champ that on the walk from the A terminal over to terminal C, several of the passengers mentioned how good she was.  One man even told me that he cringed a bit when he saw us walk on the plane, but couldn’t believe how good and quiet she was.  Thank you, thank you very much.  Even though I had nothing to do with it.

So we got to our next gate and we all needed to eat.  Joel went off to find us some food.  And then they changed our gate.  So we moved to the new one, and then oh yeah, they changed it again.  Awesome.

Detroit’s temperature was something like 11 degrees.  Detroit Airport’s temperature was something like 35 degrees.  Indoors.  And since my daughter always manages to kick off her socks, I brought a blanket.  But not a thick enough blanket for 35 degrees.  Clara was not happy about this.  I had her bundled up as much as I could, but she was still mad.

And then an angel appeared.  Yes, this man appeared and asked if we wanted another blanket for her.  He said he had been stuck in the airport the night before (because of that blizzard), and that the airline had given him a blanket.  I took it, said thank you more times than I can count, and wrapped Clara up in it.

And that thin airline blanket from my airport angel did the trick.  Once she was warm again, Clara fell asleep.

Thank you, Jesus.

We boarded the plane, and then we waited.  And waited.  And waited.  Finally, here it came, one more time….

“Ladies and gentlemen, from the flight deck, uhh we’re sorry for the delay.  We’re just waiting for the ground crew to bring over a tug to push us back from the gate.  As soon as we get one, we’ll be right on our way.”

30 minutes pass.

“Ladies and gentlemen, once again from the flight deck, uhh, we’ve been in contact with the gate agent working this flight.  They’ve been working on finding us a tug, but it seems that they can’t locate one.”

I’m sorry… they can’t FIND one?  Isn’t this an airport?  Don’t all planes require a tug to push them back from the gate?

We see a tug pull around to the front of the plane, feel it hook up, and then nothing.  20 more minutes pass.

“From the flight deck once again, uh, well, our gate agent is running around really trying to get us out of here.  They found a tug, and hooked it up and then the winch broke, so they had to get that off and now they’re looking for another one.  It seems that they are all either broken or the batteries are dead.  We understand your frustration, it’s frustrating for us up here as well.  We’re working to get us up in the air as soon as we can.”

And this brings us to a segment we like to call “Really?!?!? with Seth and Amy”

Delta, really?  All the people that fly in and out of Detroit and you can’t manage to maintain your equipment?  Really?

So eventually and finally we pushed back from the gate and got up in the air.  I will say, these two flights were some of the smoothest I’ve been on in quite a while.  But the delays and the malfunctioning equipment, along with it being the first time flying with Clara made it quite the stressful experience.

She did wonderfully though.  She really was an angel – no screaming, no crying.  Just the occasional coo.

We made it to Des Moines safe and sound, albeit a few hours late, and headed off to Ames with Joel’s parents.

It’s been a fun week.  We finished our Christmas shopping on Tuesday and I wrapped everything last night so we’re all ready for the Schlieman family Christmas celebration here tomorrow night.

One of my favorite parts of Christmas is wrapping all the gifts in pretty paper and ribbons and bows.  I love the way they look piled under the tree.  And I love even more the looks on the faces of the little kiddos when they see the pile under the tree and rip all that pretty paper off the boxes and see what’s inside.  It’ll be even more fun when Clara can do that.  I have a feeling that having kids will make Christmas all that much more fun…


One Response to “On Flying with an Infant”

  1. Judy@Just Enough Light December 19, 2010 at 9:31 pm #

    When the airlines start with those kinds of announcements that lead from one delay to another….that’s what Pete calls “Incremental Lying”. Joy.

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