I have had heard about many people travelling with babies overseas. My own nephew travelled at the tender age of 2 months to India. I have got annoyed at toddlers crying and creating tantrums especially on long haul flights. I don’t like long distance travel and anything can irritate me. So even the cutest of babies cry, I would think why on Earth the baby needs to travel!
Well, like everything the universe has a unique way of answering my question. I needed to travel with my 9 month old in a flight alone (not overseas) and I had all the reasons in the world to justify her travel.
Sigh! I wanted to take back all my irritations I ever showed towards a baby on a flight. But again I knew the only way for repentance would be at the receiving end of the stares. Be prepared, I told myself.
But I then started researching about traveling with a baby and what would make the journey smooth.
I got the following tips:
- Choose a naptime and schedule the flight around it.
- Feed the baby during landing and take-off.
- Get a new toy/book to entertain the baby if awake.
- Bring along snacks and food as per the timings.
- Wipes and diapers plenty.
So I over-prepared myself. I went and bought tickets matching her naptime, precisely. So we would take off and her nap time will start. How convenient!
She was still on the bottle then. So I prepared for two bottles of formula and exact amount of formula in dispensers.
I went and bought 2 new toys and a book and even got them wrapped.
I prepared her favourite meal which is a cheese paratha and wrapped them in plenty.
I was prepared with my diaper bag full of diapers and new pack of wipes and lotion.
Yes! Bring it on. I was ready for ShowTime.
But then the universe and the baby have their own special planning and research going on which I didn’t seem to notice.
On the night before the journey, she couldn’t sleep properly. She woke up every 2 hours. Now this was a girl who slept like a log from the age of 6 months. So she overslept in the morning as she was up many times in the night. Perfect. We could have our breakfast in peace and pack the last-minute packing to perfection.
But when I reached the airport, I realised two things.
- Her schedule now stands rescheduled. So the perfectly planned naptime flight was not so perfect after all.
- She didn’t go potty still. [Gross!]
But I still had the new gifts and snacks! There was some hope for me. The snacks got eaten into before we boarded. Well, it is a 40 minute wait before boarding. I didn’t count that time. One of the toys also got opened during the waiting time. But there was no pooping in sight. Inflight adventure, will it or wont it?
So they announce boarding and call on the passengers with infants first. I was happy at least I could skip the unruly crowd. (Yes! Our typical Indian mentality of getting everywhere first, doesn’t leave us anywhere.)
But as soon as I stood up, I saw a very familiar expression on her face and heard a grunt and smelled my predicament. Oh! So there wouldn’t be any in flight dingy toilet adventure after all. So we rushed to the nearest baby care and got to work to get rid of the toxic diaper.
By the time we were back, we lost all the advantages and had to stand in a long queue and avoid being hit by oversize cabin baggage being squeezed by determined co-passengers. Sigh!
We got our window seat and next to us were a newly married couple who gushed and blushed on seeing the baby. Yeah! There was only the baby-making process in their minds. Wait! You just wait till the after part, I sadistically thought out to them.
So at take-off the baby first refused to take the bottle. I was adamant because otherwise she would get airsick. So she relented. But at 36000 feet, she projectiles all the forced in milk out, all over, everywhere. Oh! The new-wed couple might have decided never have kids, after all. I had no idea where to start to clean or what to do. One thing or the only thing that came naturally, were the tears that were threatening to come out in bouts.
The airhostess took the now very happy baby from me and asked us to clean up (me and the couple). The flight wasn’t really full. So they gave us the empty seats and covered the puked seats with trashcan liners.
I forgot all about the gifts and snacks I bought for her. For the rest of the flight, the baby mercifully slept peacefully. But none of it was really her fault. I know.
Never ever fly alone till she is at least 3, is what I promised myself that day. But nope I again travelled with her aged 1.5 years and that’s a story for my next parentous article.
All I wanted to say here is that we might prepare, research and plan, but when it comes to these little babies, anything can happen anytime. You are left with good stories to tell, though!
An erstwhile Quality Analyst, Sirisha Achanta, is now a full-time mommy to an adorable 2-year-old girl and a part-time writer. She loves to dance, dream and read a lot!