Bringing My Baby On Board

I had a lot of apprehension about flying with my infant daughter for the first time. I had boarded many planes in my life, but never with a baby in tow. As the day of that first flight approached, I imagined all of the worst case scenarios that could happen: What if my baby started screaming and wriggling because she needed to be fed while I waited in the security line? What if my baby exploded poop all over her car seat (it had happened before) just as we arrived at the airport, leaving me with a huge mess to clean? What if as we took off my baby puked on another passenger? Apparently, I had done that one to my own parents. 

 

The night before that dreaded trip I could hardly sleep. I kept having nightmares stemming from all of the possible negative events I had visualized in the previous days. In one particular dream I arrived late at the airport, and in my scramble to get to the plane, I realized I left my daughter behind somewhere. Needless to say, I awoke in a panic.

 

My flight was scheduled for 7 a.m., an awful time for a tired mom with no experience going through security with an infant and a stroller to have to catch a plane. I arrived at the airport an hour and a half before my flight. I had wanted to be there two hours before, but my husband convinced me an hour and a half would be enough time. A long line awaited me at the baggage check. Then another long line awaited me at security. 

 

Thankfully, I had packed my belongings and prepared myself enough to be able to get through security as efficiently as possible. I wore slip on shoes. My daughter wore only socks. I had my bags sitting loosely on my shoulder, ready for the conveyor belt and x-ray machine. I bounced my daughter on my hip, while I pulled her already collapsed stroller behind me. All I had to do was throw my bags on the belt, the stroller, then my shoes, then I could get through without, hopefully, any other hassle. Within minutes we were through security, and as I threw everything back together and raced to my gate, I found I got through with no time to spare. 

 

As I arrived at the gate out of breath, the last call was being made for my flight. I was the last person to get onto the plane, and I suspect the person sitting next to me was a bit disappointed to learn that not only did he not have an empty seat to stretch out into, but the seat was being taken up by a woman with an infant in her lap. 

 

I was just glad to have caught my flight. My experience was a little too close to my dream, except for the part about leaving my daughter behind. 

 

As I caught my breath and settled into my seat with my baby, a new wave of panic came over me. I wondered how my daughter would do on the flight. I had heard terrible stories of infants screaming the entire time, fighting to get free, and the other passengers glaring angrily because of being stuck on a terrible flight. 

 

All I could do was cross my fingers, and as the plane lifted from the ground, I held my daughter tight and fed her. The warm milk made her sleepy, sucking from the bottle helped pop her ears, and without so much as a whimper, she settled into a deep sleep in my arms before we had even reached full altitude. 

 

As I sat back in my seat and cradled my daughter in my arms, I felt quite content and proud of my first experience flying with a baby. She awoke just in time to be fed again as the plane landed. I don’t even know if she realized she had just traveled over a thousand miles and was in a completely new place. After the flight was over, I felt a little sheepish for being so worried. After all, it really was not that bad. 

 

 

Nicole Heaton is a stay-at-home mother, photographer, and aspiring freelance writer.

Categories: Airports, Airplanes

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