First, the ticket agent was having a hard time adding "infant in arms" to my boarding pass when we arrived at the airport. I'd attempted to add it online when I checked in but the system wouldn't allow me to add it either. It took about 10 minutes for the worker to fix the glitch before we were able to say good-bye to my parents and head through security at the Lincoln airport.
Once Tory and I got to the gate, I quickly changed her pants and situated our belongings for boarding. As I pre-boarded the plane, I realized I hadn't requested to be by an empty seat if the plane wasn't full to give us some extra space. So, I wasn't surprised when a good-looking man (sorry husband, he was!) plunked down next to me a few minutes later. Great, I thought. Things are about to get real when I whip my boob out to nurse the baby during take-off. And sure enough as soon as I did, the guy nearly had an aneurysm (despite my best efforts to conceal myself - Tory did not appreciate a blanket draped over her head). OMG. This was literally the first and only time I've ever been embarrassed to feed my baby in public. I really missed my boob blocker (aka: Andi) on this flight home.
I have no idea what was the matter with Tory (well actually, I do, more on that later) but she did not want to nurse. She kept pulling away from me and smacking her lips against my skin (read: making an even bigger scene than we were already). I finally stopped nursing her and prayed her ears wouldn't pop on the ride up into the air. Tory started to fuss and throw herself back on my lap. Sitting quietly and playing with toys obviously wasn't in the cards on this trip. Thankfully, a man in the seat across the aisle started to make googly eyes and wave at Tory and she seemed amused by him. He was able to entertain her when all of my distractions failed. I quickly apologized for Tory's wiggle-worm antics to the man sitting next to me but he still wouldn't look me in the eyes. The shock of my boob must have still been lingering.
The flight attendant came through the cabin, offering everyone a drink and a packet of cookies. "What will you have?" she asked me. "Nothing, thank you," I said. "You don't want anything to drink?" she asked again. No lady, because how the heck would I manage an open-topped glass and cookie while holding onto my baby? Another downside of traveling solo with a little one.
About half way through the one-hour flight, Tory pooped her pants. Ah yes, that's why she was so fussy before. We were about to make our decent into Minneapolis, so I opted not to ask the man next to me to get up and move so I could take Tory to the bathroom. We can wait it out until we land, I decided. But the longer Tory sat on my lap, the more I envisioned poop spreading all through her diaper and up her back (this is a real problem with Tory's poops these days). I nursed Tory again on the decent (by this point I didn't really care if the man could see my boob or not, the mystery had been revealed I decided). Of course, she ate and started to fall asleep in my arms. Great timing, kiddo.
We debarked the plane and bee-lined to the nearest women's restroom. The changing table was right next to the bathroom door and I uneasily juggled Tory, three baby blankets, the Baby Bjorn and the diaper bag while trying to pull out the changing pad. This is the single biggest pain the ass when traveling alone with a baby: I only have two hands. I couldn't set anything down because ew, germy gross airport and I can't very well ask someone to hold Tory! "Cute baby," several ladies exclaimed as they entered the bathroom door. Holy crap, I was sweating to death. I finally got the changing pad out, laid Tory down and began to change her pants. My suspicions were confirmed: poop everywhere. I striped off her clothes, wiped her down and dressed her in some pajamas ... all while holding three baby blankets, the Baby Bjorn, diaper bag and Tory on the changing table. Phew!
I tried to call Andi, who was picking us up at the airport, to let him know we were running a few minutes behind. Unfortunately, my crappy-ass Blackberry's battery was already dead (even though I purposely charged it before I left my parent's house to prevent this from happening). We made our way to baggage claim, I grabbed my suitcase and headed to the pick-up area. Except ... shit. I can't stand outside on the sidewalk with Tory and wait for Andi to drive by. It's nighttime in Minnesota - far too cold to stand outside with a baby (I only had the Baby Bjorn; Andi was bringing the car seat). And because my cell phone was dead, I couldn't call Andi to see which door number he'd be waiting by. Finally, after standing inside the doorway for a few minutes, I wrapped three baby blankets around Tory and walked outside. We waited a few minutes, scanning through tons of cars for the sight of ours, before someone shouted "Heather!" down the sidewalk. It was Becca, a friend of Andi's who happened to be at the airport picking someone up. "Are you looking for Andi?" she asked. "I saw you standing there so I texted him. He's down at door 6," she said. Thank the Lord for Becca. We hurried down to door 6 and met Andi.
Moral of the story: traveling solo with a baby is completely doable but holy crap, it's tiring too. Finally at home, I walked through the door and practically threw Tory at Andi as I made a mad-dash to the bathroom. How the heck was I suppose to use the restroom myself with a baby and her belongings at the airport? I couldn't figure that one out so I'd been holding it for the last four hours.
Would I fly alone with Tory again? Absolutely. Overall, she was a great little traveler. But I also learned these things:
- Bring extra blankets ... because the ones you carry through the airport will undoubtedly touch something (or fall on the floor once or twice) and will need to be washed again before use.
- While you're at it, bring a second set of toys too ... because a rattle or two is bound to drop on the floor. I wasn't fast enough to catch every one Tory dropped.
- Always request an empty seat next to you if the flight's not completely full. Or pray you'll be seated next to a woman who probably won't be so surprised to see your nipple.
- Carry an extra outfit in case of diaper blow-outs. So glad I had one stashed in my diaper bag.
- Don't own a Blackberry with a crappy battery.
- Bring a bottle of water.
- But don't drink it. You won't be able to use the bathroom! (on second thought, skip the beverages all together).