I used to spend a day packing for myself before a trip. Getting all the clothes out on the and undergoing a narrowing-down process always seemed better than choosing outright. It also gave the opportunity to drag out old favourites that I'd never wear at home, but somehow would pass for holiday wear. Kinda crazy, yes, but mostly really time-consuming.
Then I'd hop on a train to the airport, pausing for a cappuccino at Liverpool Street, before heading to the tube and eventually the terminal. Check-in, dump bags, browse duty-free perfumes before settling on a giant Toblerone, drink a glass of bubbly and sleep the whole way after take-off.
I was a good traveller. But baby-on-board is a whole 'nother world. The airport is no longer just a high-security shopping mall, but an obstacle course of temptations, unpleasant changing facilities and people for me to avoid with my huge pack of baby-supplies. Even with my new improved packing technique, which is basically forgetting to pack my stuff and employing the narrow-down strategy to Ethan's clothes, we had tons to carry. Milk, bottles, diapers wipes, toys, snacks, blanket, change of clothes, extra change of clothes - well that was the small bag, anyways. We packed whatever we imagined would save us from a horrid transatlantic adventure
'This toy?' 'Yes, one time it kept him occupied for 5 whole minutes.'
'How many wipes?' 'A pack?' 'We'll bring 2!
And don't other baby-carriers know it! We would get anything from the sympathetic half smile to the full-out 'save-me!' grimace from other parents. Babies are instant conversation starters, as always. So we could even exchange survival techniques with out fellow baby-trekkers in the passport control queue. Some unpleasantness out there, like giving the baby a dose of anti-histamine before hand. But also some nice tips, like get them to eat something during take-off to combat the pain of popping ears.
And then the flight itself. The poor little fella was so tired with getting up early to get to the airport and disrupted nap schedule but he was such a sweetie. Smiling at other babies and the flight attendant. He managed to sleep briefly, after some crying that I'm sure was more than the other travellers wanted to hear. I had worried that his crying would be hard on my cabin-fellows. Those lucky travellers who have had their duty-free and their bubbly and their Toblerone. I had visions of a kind of airplane disaster film, a kind of Snakes on a Plane, but with babies. Screaming. Puking. Unhappy and just generally causing an international incident. But it was ok because I - and everyone else in the plane - just cared less than I thought. No dirty looks over the seat. So, all in all, tiring but do-able.
Ethan liked the cartoons. We made it safe. Had a great time away. And although I missed my bubbly, we did manage a celebratory in-flight wine on the way home.