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The Longest Day

So far, we’ve had two travel days; one to start our vacation and another to get from borrowed vacation house to business trip.  Both days involved two  flights and long car drives; flying time totaled somewhere between 5 and 7 hours each day.  We’ve got one more travel day ahead of us and rather than spend another 7 hours of flying and changing planes (thanks to our frequent flyer be-grateful-you’re-getting-there-in-one-day program), we’ve splurged and bought cheap one-way fares to get us home in one 2.5-hour trip.  Frankly, the thought of not slogging through a connecting airport with a stroller and carseat and, oh yes, a baby, is a dazzling prospect I dare not dwell too long on lest it turn out to be a mirage and vanish before my eyes.

So what was the travel really like?  Did it live up to my nightmares?  Did Madeleine melt down frequently, and at great volume?

For the most part, no.  I have to admit that the commuting part of the vacation was less dramatic than I had anticipated, though it was certainly grueling.

And my baby girl?

She’s a trooper.

We called a car to drive us to the airport as we started out, and loading the car up was the first indication that EVERYTHING about this trip was going to take longer.  My husband and the driver grunted and sweated everything into the trunk, empty seats, and floorboards.  Add the car seat installation, and hopping into a cab took a good 20 minutes longer than it used to.

Flight #1 on our first day went pretty uneventfully, thanks to some advance tips from girlfriends.  We had Maddie hungry and thirsty, which caused me some remorse as she kept looking plaintively at me and making the sign for “milk”, but I reminded myself it was for her own good.  As the plane took off, Maddie guzzled her bottle and her ears equalized with no crying.  I’d packed a grilled cheese for her, and she snacked happily before settling into some good seat kicking – sorry, guy in the seat in front of her.

Getting Maddie into her nap was the first big hurdle of the day; her afternoon weaning had been done with the express purpose of making this easier.  I’d booked a flight that coincided perfectly with lunch-and-nap- time.  I brought her silky, nap books, and a stuffed animal on the plane.  The mood was set, the time was ripe.

Someone forgot to tell Maddie.

She chatted; she snacked; she read books.  The one thing she did not want to do was sleep.  I ended up singing quiet lullabies for 20 minutes while she happily nestled with silky.  Towards the end she became fretful, whining and tossing about; she clearly wanted to sleep but didn’t know how, until she suddenly collapsed, arms and legs akimbo, mouth hanging open, head lolling to the side, eyes closed.  I honestly thought she’d had a sort of limp seizure until I realized she’d dropped  without any preamble into a nap.

Which was good, because my pipes were tired.

Baby girl woke much refreshed right was we began descending, and snacked happily on veggie booty to equalize the ears.  We deplaned and ran to catch the Sky Link, which gave Maddie one of the highlights of her day – riding the escalator.  Poor kiddo didn’t realize we had a timetable, and was crushed (read- sobbing) when we had to move on.

And this is where our day went sour.

After waiting at the gate for our second flight for an extra half hour, we finally boarded the plane.  Maddie was hungry for her snack and afternoon milk and we were ready to go.  Unfortunately, the plane was, well, broken.

We sat at the gate, strapped in, for 45 minutes while Maddie melted down, unable to realize why 1) we were forcing her to stay in her chair, and 2) we weren’t letting her have her $#@$% drink.  Almost an hour later, we got moving.

Off the plane.

The flight was eventually cancelled, but thanks to some shameless pleading on my part, we were put on the last flight of the day.   With two hours to kill, Maddie finally got her shot at dinner – Pizza Hut.

My poor girlie.  Her entire life (ok, the 6 months she’s been eating solid foods) she’s known nothing but authentic New York pizza.  I swear, it killed me a little bit.  Especially because she chowed down on it.

We finally got to our destination, of course, though not without another mini-meltdown as she learned she had to go back into the “bad, bad seat”.  As she passed out for a half-hour nap, I was too grateful to care  that it was almost her bedtime and this may well keep her up all night.

Refreshed by her little nap, Maddie cheerfully played around the empty baggage claim as we tracked down our lost luggage.  Yes, lost luggage.

By the time we got our rental car and checked in to the hotel with the miraculously-discovered-in-the-“back-room” luggage, baby girl was dragging but game.  We threw up the pack-n-play, and put her down, three hours past her normal bedtime.

Some glitches, yes, but  all in all a fair day.  Mostly, I’d like to add, not because of the spectacular airlines, but  because of my daughter and her  willingness to roll with the punches.  So I can’t say that I’m really dreading our next travel day because of her behavior; more, because it’s the end of the vacation and back to the daily grind.

Though on the plus side, we’ll be back in the land of good pizza.


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