Recycled Air. The whole time we were flying home, I had this song stuck in my head. Specifically the lines:
Knuckles clenched to white as the landing gear detracts for flight
My head’s a balloon inflating with the altitude
I felt like it was my theme song for the day. I am terrified of flying. My knuckles were definitely clenched to white. I was breathing in a steady stream of recycled air. All. Day. Long. But it would have been a bit more accurate if there had been a line or two about toddler tantrums, or being covered in toddler vomit on top of everything else. I guess Ben Gibbard wasn’t really writing about flying with toddlers though, was he?
Sigh. Flying with toddlers. That was an experience. Pretty much the opposite of everything I thought it would be. I had expected my daughter to be calm and collected during the flight. I had expected my son to freak the freak out because he is afraid of heights. Out of the two of them, I expected Harper to cry. I expected the strangers surrounding us to be mean and impatient when he did cry.
None of these things happened, however. Emrist
cried screamed the entire duration of our first flight. And I do mean screamed. She also flailed and kicked the guy’s seat in front of her while I was trying to restrain her. Harper *was* terrified, but he didn’t panic or cry like I thought he would. He only asked to hold my hand during take off and landing. And the strangers. Well I experienced nothing but kindness and grace from the people on the plane. Honestly, I had boarded the plane prepared to give the bird to anyone who so much as looked our way, but Mr. Middle Finger stayed down. Instead, I was tempted to hug people I had never met before. It was horrible and beautiful all in one sitting. People tried to help me comfort my kids. They offered both of them food. They tried to make them laugh. One lady even gave Emrist her iPhone to play with! I never once felt like someone was annoyed with us. I was humbled by the experience to say the least.
That was the flight there.
The trip home, which I thought would be easier for some reason, was so so so SO much worse. From Houston to Atlanta, I succeeded in keeping Emrist happy. She threatened to cry a few times, but I always managed to settle her back down. It was a lot of work and I was on edge the whole time. Harper asked to hold my hand for the entire two hour flight. Juggling her while holding his hand was pretty interesting. Upon landing in Atlanta, I was emotionally spent. It’s difficult to meet the emotional needs of your children when you have your own anxiety and fear of flying to deal with. I would have much preferred to have been knocked out for that flight, but that wasn’t possible with two littles in my care. So I was just…spent. I was already on the verge of tears, and I was NOT WANTING TO GET ON THAT SECOND PLANE. But I did. I forced myself to board and settled down with my kids and just prayed that God would get me through it.
Everyone had boarded, but the cabin door was still open. A passenger nearby commented a couple of times on how cute Emrist was. I turned to talk to her and joked that I still hoped she thought so in a minute. It was like I was a prophet. Almost as soon as I said it, I felt warm liquid running down my arm. I turned toward Emrist, who was sitting in my lap facing me, and saw that she was puking. And it just kept coming, and coming, and coming – projectile style. We both looked at each other, me with a WTF expression and her with a do something expression. But what do you do when your daughter is recreating a scene from the exorcist on a plane? My brain finally caught up with what was happening and I began to rub her back in an attempt to comfort her. I also began to catch her puke. This is something no one tells you about motherhood. You will actually involuntarily hold your hands out to catch your child’s puke. It’s the weirdest thing ever. So yeah…that happened, and everyone was staring…just as unsure of what to do as I was. At one point, I said “I think we need to get off.” The lady who had said Emrist was cute offered to go get help. She got the flight attendant and she said we could deboard. Even though we were covered in vomit, the passengers around us all offered to help. The pilot stopped to check on Em because he was worried. Again…just absolute kindness from strangers. It was amazing.
So we got off, and then I fell apart. No seriously. For about 30 minutes, I wandered around the Atlanta airport (which by the way is the largest airport in the entire WORLD! Crazy, right?) puke-covered and crying. Yes…crying. Because I just didn’t know what to do. I had packed extra clothes for the children, but none for me, and it was going to take Benji three hours to get to us. And I know I should be ashamed that I took this picture, but I knew I would want to remember it after the craziness passed…so for your viewing pleasure…this is what I looked like:
Yeah, I know. Gross. GROSS. You probably want to puke yourself right now, don’t you? I just needed you to know.
So imagine seeing this person wandering around with two children…crying. I mean…I was getting some wide-eyed stares. I finally found a little store with some twelve dollar shirts and got changed. After that, my mood improved and I stopped having a pity party for myself. I realized that I could either laugh it off and enjoy my time with my children, or I could wallow around in it and feel sorry for myself. I chose option A and took them to a piano bar while we waited for Benji. We had fun. We laughed. And I’m sure we probably smelled great too 😉
Emrist threw up three more times that night, and was sick all day Saturday. It turns out that she had some sort of stomach bug. I thought that we had all escaped it, but Harper hasn’t been feeling well today and is also running a fever. Hoping that maybe it’s just a fluke.
Anyways, I just had to write about this experience before my memory was blocked out. It was CRAZY! And though I was blessed by the kindness of strangers and some good did come from it, I don’t think I’ll ever get on a plane with toddlers again. At least not if I can help it!
Making sure she met the carry on requirements 🙂
Looking at our plane.
We were able to sit with friends for our second flight ❤
Em fell asleep right when we landed. She was exhausted!
Successful transfer to the stroller
At the piano bar…eating, which was a mistake, in case you were wondering. Haha.
I found this note at the Atlanta airport LOL
And this is how Em spent all of Saturday. Poor baby was SO SO sick 😦
She finally perked up after some ibuprofen though. She has been mostly better since then, thank the Lord! 🙂