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I found the hardest part of flying alone with the baby was trying to go to the bathroom. The handicapped bathrooms in the airport are barely big enough to squeeze my (very small) stroller into and still be able to go. And on the plane? Are you kidding? I had to hand her off to a friendly flight attendant so I could attend to Nature’s call.
The worst moment for me was in Norfolk (ORF–I hope you find this and reprimand your security people). They make you put the stroller and carseat through the conveyor belt along with everything else except the baby. I tried and tried to disconnect my carseat from the stroller, then get the stroller collapsed, while approximately 10 security people stood and looked at me. I was the ONLY person going through the line. I had to PUT THE BABY ON THE FLOOR, y’all, to get it closed. And they let me. (In Nashville, several kind men did it all for me. I love the South.) When my mom called minutes later, I just burst into tears.
To board the plane, I’d put Libbie in the sling, close the stroller, and then lug the stroller, carseat, diaper bag, and my bag to the entrance–while trying not to drop the baby out of the sling. People were kind enough to help me most of the time, but it was still a struggle. My first flight, where I was allowed to bring on the carseat since it wasn’t full, I ended up playing musical chairs because I didn’t know the carseat had to go by the window, then they had to check it to make sure it was airplane-safe.
I’d read often that nursing at take-off and descent would help the baby from having her ears hurt. Well, those parts didn’t bother her in the least. It was the part in the middle she didn’t like. And when I tried to nurse her, I was so uncomfortable and she was so mad she absolutely refused.
It was one heck of a trip.
Here’s what I’ve learned for the next time I fly with her (which, ack, is in less than two weeks!):
1. I will keep her in the sling to go through security instead of wrestling her in and out of the stroller. I’m tempted to not take the stroller at all, but I know my parents want to do some outdoors things with her when we’re in PA.
2. I will bring bottles of pumped milk to give her on the plane if she gets upset. I am too uncomfortable nursing in public. I am so afraid I am going to flash someone completely (I’m really not worried about being embarrassed, but I don’t want to make other people way uncomfortable), and Libbie tends to throw off any cover I put on her. Plus she latches on and off constantly, making it even more difficult. (Note: you can bring a “reasonable amount” of breast milk or formula through security onto the plane, as long as you tell them and put it in a separate bucket to go through the scanner.)
3. I will wish I had a portable DVD player to occupy her, but I won’t buy one, because I am cheap.
4. I will stick with the same amount of bags–anything more than her diaper bag and my purse would have put me over the edge.
Southwest, by the way, was great. They checked on me a ton, helped me if I needed it, and said flight attendant even lovingly attended to the baby while I peed (and it was a man). I will never fly anyone else if I can help it. I love them.