"The look" I got from the two passengers sitting next to me on my flight home from San Diego last week said it all. They were about as excited to be squished next to the lady with the baby in the back row of coach, as I was to be flying all by myself with an infant! Not thrilled. But, by the end of the flight, I'm sure they were kicking themselves for not requesting a seat change. Oh well. I don't blame them…their disdain was just an added bonus to my overall humiliating experience flying for the first time with MJ. Most of my embarrassment was thanks to my newborn's bowels and largely to Delta airlines!
Side Note...I grappled over whether or not to write this post, but in the end decided that any embarrassment I felt was trumped by my desire to call out Delta, share what I've learned with other moms, and find out if anyone else has had a similar experience! (Please share in the comments below if you have).
So here's what happened...
I decided to go visit my parents in San Diego last week while my husband was out of town. I was super nervous about flying by myself with a new baby, but my parents hadn't seen MJ in a while, so I decided to take the plunge! As the weekend approached, I became more and more stressed out about flying alone with a baby. Every time MJ had a fussy period I pictured myself alone on an airplane with an unconsolable screaming baby. Nightmare! When it was finally time to go, I did everything I could to show up to the airport overly prepared (I'll share some tips I learned later) and the flight down actually went ok. Relieved, I started to feel a little more confident about the flight I would soon have to take back to Utah. Unfortunately, my new attitude would be short lived. My flight home was a totally different story and left me feeling embarrassed, inadequate, and too angry/ashamed to ever fly alone (especially on Delta) again!
It basically was all downhill from the beginning. First of all, I showed up to the airport once again all prepared (baby fed, changed, supplies ready, etc) only to discover my flight was delayed an hour and a half! Great. Hanging out at the airport by yourself with a baby strapped to your chest is awesome. When I finally get on the plane, I realize I'm seated in the very last row where the seats don't lay back…as if the space isn't already small enough for one person with a baby! I asked if there was any way I could change seats but the flight attendant said the plane was full. Bummer. Then as the flight starts to take off I see MJ make "the face" and a loud groan. Oh no! I know what's coming. And yep, I feel a little burst under my hand on his bum. Ok, at this point I'm in a little predicament I hadn't thought about when preparing for my flight. I'm in the window seat with hardly any space between me, MJ, and my big diaper bag stuffed full of gear on the floor. My infant now has a diaper full of poop that he either has to sit in for the next two hours, or I've got to change him. How do people change their babies on planes?! I've been on many flights and pictured the tiny bathrooms I've squeezed into when I just couldn't hold it. They don't have changing tables in there do they? There's no way I could imagine one fitting in that tiny space! Ok, so do I change him on the nasty toilette? Would I even fit in there with MJ and my diaper bag?? I looked over at the two already less than happy passengers sitting between me and the isle. They would literally both have to get up out of their seats and go into the isle for me to be able to fit through with MJ and our stuff. Then what if there's not even enough room to change him in the bathroom? I'll have to come back, make them both get up again, and get situated for the second time in my seat with a stinky baby. Not worth the risk, I decided.
Ok, option two. I sit there for the next two hours with a stinky baby. I won't have to bother the two people next to me, but my poor little guy will be sitting in poop for a while. Shoot, and he might get a diaper rash. Am I a horrible mom for caring more about what others think than my own baby? Plus, people might start to smell him and I'll annoy them anyways! Ok, that's out.
So people, I just went for it. Yep, I was that lady. I laid my baby down on my lap, unsnapped his little onesie, and opened that diaper up right there on my lap. To my surprise, it was just wet! "Oh good," I thought, and quickly put a dry diaper on. I slyly dropped the old diaper on the floor, and we were done. Glad that's over.
Unfortunately, things were just beginning. About two minutes later "the face", again. This time accompanied by an even louder grunting, and a definite poop explosion. Crap. (Literally). Ok, I guess we're doing this again. Last time wasn't so bad. Hopefully it's not too messy in there. I assume the position. MJ on my lap, onesie opened up, ready to go in. I see the woman next to me shoot me a glance like, "Seriously lady?! We've been on this 2 hour flight less than 15 minutes and you're changing your kid for the second time?! Right here on your lap? Nice". At least that's how I interpreted it. Probably about right. Anyways, this time MJ is a total mess. We've got a major situation going on inside this diaper. Gross. I finally awkwardly get him all cleaned up, and throw the second dirty diaper on the floor (what else was I supposed to do?). By this time I'm pretty sure not only the people on my row, but the surrounding rows as well would like a seat change. This is embarrassing. Then, to add insult to injury, when the flight attendants finally come by the isle with an open trash bag, I reach down, feel around for the diapers, grab them both with one hand, and reach across the two poor passengers next to me to drop the diapers in the trash. The male flight attendant holding the bag stops, looks at me, then keeps going as I hear the female flight attendant behind him say not so quietly "did she just hand you a diaper?!". He nods as they go around the corner. I can hear them whispering to each other since I'm in the very back row. "Yeah, she can't do that". A couple minutes later the male flight attendant comes back around the corner and loudly says, "Excuse me, ma'am?" so I can hear him from the window seat. This means everyone else can hear him too. "Was that a diaper you put in the trash bag I brought by?". Yes, idiot. Obviously! That's how I wish I would've responded. "Yeah," I said. "Well, just so you know, it's not sanitary to give us diapers to throw away. You should put them in the bathroom trash. We throw our trash away next to the food". WOW. As if I wasn't already embarrassed enough, now I was humiliated. "Oh sorry," I said, "this is my first time flying with a baby. I didn't know". "Ok, well now you know for next time". I wanted to cry.
Delta...was that really necessary?! I know I have issues and probably didn't' make the best decision changing my baby's dirty diaper on my lap, but I still don't know what I'm supposed to do when I need to change my baby on a flight! Thanks for making my already stressful situation 10 times worse by making me want to crawl into hole or suddenly take up sky diving during your flight. That was humiliating. A tip for next time…at least wait until the other passengers are off the plane before embarrassing a first time mom trying to care for her baby!
Some Tips for Other Moms
Now, although I had an overall horrible first time experience flying with a baby, I did learn a few things I'd like to share with any other baby mamas out there. Some of these things I learned from friends with kids who gave me advice before my trip, and some I figured out on my own from this experience. Anyways, I hope these tips can help any other first time moms have a better experience flying than I did!
1. Wear Flip Flops
As you can see in my first picture, I made the mistake of showing up to the airport in over the knee boots. Not ideal for getting through security! Next time I'll be sure to wear flip flops or other shoes that can easily be slipped on and off.
2. Invest in a Baby Carrier
A must when traveling by yourself! I don't know how I would've gotten everything checked in and made it through the airport without one. You don't even have to take it off when going through security which is great. I have the Ergobaby 360 carrier, which is awesome, but MJ is a little too small to sit in it facing front. I wanted to be able to switch him around if he got fussy at the airport, so I ended up getting this Infantino carrier from Target for the trip because it was super cheap (only $17.99!) and MJ could fit in the front or rear facing position. It's not nearly as comfortable as the Ergobaby 360 (which has great back support and makes baby feel super light), and it doesn't have the hip and back carry options, but for the price it worked great!
3. Give Baby a Bottle or Pacifier When Taking Off and Landing
A friend told me this one and I'm so glad she did! Sucking or swallowing helps pop baby's ears so they don't hurt from the pressure when taking off and landing. I did this with MJ on both flights and it worked like a charm! He was a happy (although stinky) baby :)
4. Bring Ready Made Formula
If you're supplementing with formula, don't mess around with powder formula and having to make a bottle on the airplane. Buy the similac ready-made bottles so all you have to do is shake and pour! They'll let you bring the 8 ounce ones through security.
5. Don't Show Up Hungry
I didn't have time to eat with all the stress of getting everything ready and getting to the airport on time for my flight to San Diego. I figured I'd just grab something at the airport, but didn't account for the fact that I'd have a baby strapped to my chest the whole time. I got a sandwich on the way to my gate, but ended up only getting a few bites in because the tray table wouldn't go down all the way and it was hard to maneuver it eating over MJ. Moral or the story…don't show up hungry to the airport. Eat at home while you can still set down your baby!
I hope this helps any other new moms out there who might have to fly alone with their baby! I'd love to hear any other tips from seasoned veteran moms as well :) If you have a similar story, or any advice for what I should do next time I need to change my baby on plane, please share! I obviously need all the help I can get.