As soon as Wyatt was born, I started looking forward to all of the exciting things I'd get to do with him. I also realized there would be a lot of not-so-fun experiences in my new role as a mom. On the top of my list: flying with him alone.
That event finally happened this past Wednesday. I was terrified for weeks leading up to the flight. My top fears:
- He would scream the entire time in the airport.
- I wouldn't be able to collapse the stroller at the gate. I need two hands to fold down the BOB and I needed at least one of them to hold the baby.
- He wouldn't nurse at all. Wyatt has turned into Mr. suck-a-little, look-a-lot. Getting him to nurse in public is so hard now because of all the distractions.
- I'd feel awkward nursing next to someone on the plane. Wyatt won't nurse under a cover anymore. Also, Wyatt is longer than the width of a coach seat. I'd have to scrunch him up or else he'd kick the passenger next to me.
- He'd poop at takeoff and I'd have no where to change him. Our plane didn't have a changing table.
- He'd scream the entire flight and I'd be that mom.
I'm happy to report that our flight could not have gone better! Everyone told me to nurse him or give him a pacifier at takeoff and landing (to help his ears pop), and to book a flight during his regular naptime. Well, those tips didn't work for me. Wyatt won't just suck at the sight of a boob anymore, he hasn't taken a pacifier since he was 2 months old, and I don't know what naptime is. But these tips helped make our travels less stressful:
1. Buy a carseat bag. Babies require a lot of crap. Most airlines charge you to check bags. The solution? Invest in a carseat bag. Airlines are required to check carseats for free. If you use a carseat bag, you can protect your carseat and put other things in there too!. We bought this bag. It is huge. We fit a smaller bag with books, toys, and baby clothes in it along with the carseat.
2. Know where your baby is comfortable. After getting through security, we still had an hour to kill before boarding. Unfortunately, my son cannot spend an hour in his stroller without screaming. So we alternated between playing on the floor and taking a walk with the stroller. There were no meltdowns!
3. Talk to the representative at the gate. Originally, I had a window seat but someone was in the seat next to me. I spoke with the airline representative at the gate and told him I was a nursing mom who wanted privacy and asked if there was any way I could be moved to a location with an empty seat next to me. The representative was so understanding, and actually asked another passenger if he minded changing his seat to accommodate me (he didn't). Not only did I have an empty seat next to me, but the woman in the aisle seat in my row was on her return trip home from meeting her first grandchild. I could not have lucked out more. A huge thank you to US Airways for having such awesome employees!
4. Ask for (or accept) help. I had no idea how I was going to approach the folding the BOB situation as I was walking down the gateway. Then, the guy behind me told me he had the same stroller and offered to collapse it for me. When we landed, I asked the baggage handler to open the stroller for me and he had no problem doing so. Such relief!
5. Book a window seat. Wyatt loved looking out the window while we were on the ground and when we were in the air. The flight was only 1.5 hours. For a longer flight, I could see how an aisle seat would be better so you could get up and walk with baby more easily. Though the window was a nice distraction!
6. Disinfect everything. Yes, I'm a germophobe who goes overboard sometimes. But I am so glad I thoroughly wiped down the tray, window, and armrests. My wipes were black with dirt and germs. Ick! Since Wyatt was touching everything and then putting his hands in his mouth, this really gave me peace of mind.
7. Follow your baby's lead. We got Wyatt up at 4:30 for the 7:45 am flight. He didn't nap at all before boarding. I knew he needed to sleep on the flight, but I also knew he wanted to investigate everything for awhile. If I tried to nurse or bounce him to sleep upon boarding, he would have resisted and screamed. He loved looking out the window, smiling at the people boarding, and playing with his toys on my lap. As soon as we took off, he started yawning, went for my boob, and easily fell asleep nursing. He slept comfortably on me most of the flight.
8. Remember most people are parents. When Wyatt woke up, he was happy playing with his toys for about 15 minutes. Then, during our final descent, he started crying a bit. I thought his ears bothered him, but he wouldn't nurse or chew on my finger. I just comforted him as best as I could. When we landed, I apologized to everyone around me, but everyone commented on how great he was. One woman even told me I was lucky to have such an "easy going" baby. Hahaha. I'm sure the crying annoyed some people, but plenty of adults are parents and understand that you can't always soothe an upset baby.
9. Be prepared for everything. Thankfully, we had no delays, vomiting, blowouts, scream fests, or problems nursing. But I felt better being prepared for all of these events. I packed plenty of toys (including a new toy to hopefully pique his interest), diapers, changes of clothes (for both of us!), and a pumped bottle (in case he'd take the bottle over the boob for some weird reason). This all easily fit in my diaper bag and I kept it stowed under my seat.
Not the plane.
10. Have faith in your baby. In the past 6 months, there have been plenty of times where Wyatt has had a complete meltdown. This kind of makes me expect the worse in public. I completely underestimated how entranced he'd be by his new surroundings and I forgot how much he likes sleeping on me. Yes, we were incredibly lucky in terms of people helping us and the flight being on time. But my baby deserves a lot of the credit, too. I'm so proud of him for doing so well! <3