When's the last time you did something for the first time? This weekend, for the first time, I took a long haul flight alone with 10-month old Adrian. Given my propensity for drama, in the weeks before the trip I fretted, stressed, and imagined exhausting scenarios. When the day finally arrived, I was a bundle of nerves. How would I eat? Pee? Sleep? What if my seatmate was radically opposed to breastfeeding? What if Adrian complained the whole time, and I had to walk him around the plane for hours? What if the seatbelt sign never turned off, and I couldn’t walk him around the plane for hours?
I booked the flight through KLM and it was operated by Delta, and they both promised me a seat with a bassinet. Of course that didn’t happen, and I found myself in an isle seat surrounded by unhappy looking men. I tried to joke with the guy next to me (“It’s your lucky day!”). It turned out that it was: though the flight was oversold the seat next to him remained empty, and he gratefully slid over leaving me with a little more space.
Adrian had a brief hyper period fueled by a fast and furious friendship with the woman seated behind us. He’s going through a “happy screaming” phase which is adorable except in quiet restaurants and airplanes. He settled down with the beverage service, ate veggie puffs out of his snack catcher and giggled when I pretended to look for the ones that fell.
Then the wish of all parents traveling with babies came true: He fell asleep two hours into the flight and was only up again for an hour until we landed. At the gate in Amsterdam, he flashed sleepy smiles to a receptive audience. Maybe it was the jetlag, but all of our neighbors seemed much friendlier than when we first boarded.
I’m so proud and relieved that I feel like I should accept an award, or accept one on behalf of Adrian. In my acceptance speech I would give credit to a number of strategies: We flew overnight. I wore him the entire flight (the wrap only came off for his diaper change). And I nursed him every time he squawked. Dr. Sears should add a chapter to his famous book on the benefits of attachment parenting for travel.
The icing on the cake came in the form of a surfer dude who approached me right after disembarking. He pointed to Adrian with a serious expression on his face. "Hey,” he said, “That was seriously the best behaved baby EVER on a plane. Seriously." And that, my friends, is the highest compliment to bestow on a proud mama.