Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Flying High

Cricket is headed for his first plane trip on Saturday. I have so many fears about this I have actually kept myself awake at night thinking about them. Them. The fears.

1. Although everyone says he'll be fine if he nurses at take off and landing, I'm terrified his little ears will hurt so much he won't nurse and then will scream for the two and half hour flight. And landing takes so damn long. Sometimes you start to descend and the pilot hasn't even said it's happening. What do I do if this happens?

2. If he falls asleep before take off or in the air, do I wake him to nurse? Or hope that everything will be okay?

3. Those damn seats are small. How am I going to manage nursing in them? I should be practicing nursing in a cradle hold, but we so like the football hold over here.

4. I know it's safer to have him in his own seat. Gah. This is the one that makes me feel sick. Sick, I tell you. Literally I feel like throwing up right now. But we do not have a seat for him. We used our miles to take this trip otherwise it wouldn't be happening, you know, with our house on the market and bad real estate economy, etc. Clearly on the take off and landing, I'll be nursing (hopefully) and then plan to sling him. Still... I know about the safety stats now.

5. I'm a nervous flyer. I did not used to be a nervous flyer. Going to the airport and getting on a plane was one of my favorite things to do. When I got old enough (and the credit card that allowed me entrance) I'd even get there early to enjoy a drink at the NWA lounge. Flying represented impending adventure.

Then a couple years ago we were on the worst flight ever to New Orleans. The plane was rocking back and forth. We were doing those drop hundreds of feet at once turbulence deals. You could hear the wind hitting the plane. At one, we were nose diving and Partner looked at me and said, "Are we going down?" The pilot couldn't climb over the storm, so he was trying to go under it. After about forty-five minutes of this, the pilot came on and apologized. He said if he had known it would have been that bad, he would never have left Detroit. The plane was okay, he emphasized, but he knew it was rough going.

I've never been the same since. Last summer when returning from South Carolina, I was a wreck on the planes. I should have taken something, but was pregnant. Now I'm nursing and really can't take anything again, but a Valium wouldn't be amiss.

Partner's concern is mainly with this last point. She's worried that Cricket is going to pick up on my anxiety. I've been talking myself into being calm all week, but as the day gets closer, my fears are picking up intensity. I'm so fucking good at worrying, this shouldn't be surprising, but I've got to get a check on it. I like to travel far too much for this to become an issue.

Help?

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13 Comments:

Blogger Suz said...

You've hit on one thing I know something about:

1) Have something for C. to suck on for ascents and descents. This can be a binkie, if he's take it, a bottle, or your boob. My experience with Henry at 3 mos, though, was that ascents and descents didn't seem to bother him that much, but sitting in the terminal, did. Go figure.

2) Let the baby sleep. He'll be fine. Really, the engine noise always seems to lull my twins.

3) No idea!

4) This never bothered me. I figured that if something happened to the plane that things like seats wouldn't really matter. I'm usually happy to hold the boyz and they seem more comfortable being held.

7:56 PM  
Anonymous cristin said...

Hi. I'm a lurker, delurking. I don't know if there is a difference between a two and four year old (my kids ages) and an infant, but, my kids went on their first plane ride in february and I was all freaked out and nervous and seriously they were fine. We got into our seats and I had the gummies and the sippy cups ready for them, and they freakin' fell asleep before the plane took off and stayed asleep. And when the plane was landing, my two year old was annoyed to sit back in his own seat, but there didn't seem to be any pain involved. My very verbal four year old didn't complain once about ear pain. But like I said, I'm not sure if there's a huge difference in those ages. Just thought I'd share my experience.

8:42 PM  
Anonymous Liza said...

I've flown with three small babies, and in my experience its not as huge a deal as people make it out to be. Nursing him during takeoff and landing is a good idea if he'll go for it. In my experience, a sleeping baby will remain sleeping through a takeoff OR landing, and forgodsake if he's asleep for either don't wake him. Pack an extra outfit for him and one for yourself JUST IN CASE (I've only had to use it once in about six round trips with little babies, but that one time I was SOOOO grateful to myself for bringing it). Pick up some of those disposable diaper changing pads to use in the loo if there is a changing table (if there is not, it will cover Partner's lap nicely), because the baby is pretty much guaranteed to poo in the air. Bring the infant seat with you and plan to gate-check it--if there is an empty seat available they will usually give it to you; this has happened to me several times when I did not buy the extra seat and it's nice if it does. I don't know if this will be comforting to you or not, but if there IS a plane crash, I don't think the safest infant seat in the world would do much good. It'll be FINE. And if you're totally freaking out, take some Benadryl (unless it hypes you up). It's safe for breastfeeding. If you do start freaking out, though, let Partner hold the Cricket while you do some deep breathing. Good luck!

9:57 PM  
Blogger Erika said...

My Max flew round trip 4 times in his first year because of my work. He did so well on the plane. I think the engine noise itself on the tarmac lulls them to sleep. He was never even awake for the ascent and usually awake and nursing for descent. He was fussy on one flight and the lady beside me heard me humming Amazing Grace and sang to him until he calmed. People really don't mind.

My motto is NEVER wake a sleeping baby. If he is hurting, he will wake up.

I don't get the thing about buying the baby his own seat. I don't know to what safety stats you are referring. I have never understood what this would prevent. Not to make you more nervous, but in the event of a crash, the car seat just isn't going to help. I doubt he would be safer in turbulence either than being comforted by you. Air travel is safer than car travel.

I am sorry you have had bad flight experience. I wish you a safe and smooth journey. If you remind me which saint that is, I will ask for him to watch over you. :)

10:04 PM  
Blogger Heather said...

You are not the world's worst flyer ~ because I am. Surprisingly, I do better when I fly with the children because I don't want them to pick up on it, so I am very rainbows, sleigh bells and rain drops on roses when I fly with them.
I nursed on take off/landing if the baby was awake/interested. Otherwise, I just let them be .. and sometimes they cried (helps clear their ears!) and sometimes they didn't.
I worried about them making noise until the time I left the US en route to Dublin and the man in the seat behind me snored the whole fucking way. After that I swore I'd never worry about what they did on a plane again, as long as they weren't being bold.
I am a firm believer in a G&T after take off, but then we Irish think that all nursing mothers should have a beer. Ahem.
We (me, dh-less and 3 kids) do an 11 hour flight every summer, followed by a 1 hour flight (from Heathrow to Dublin). It's really not that bad ... honestly!

1:10 AM  
Blogger Jen said...

Katie, there are meds you can take while nursing and it sounds like your anxiety is profound enough that all three of you would be better off if you did take something for the flight.

I think what I recall about safety stats is that flying is that you are far less likely to have a problem flying than you are driving/riding in a car. Now don't take that and get all panicked about driving, ok? :)

Ditto what everyone else said re: nursing for takeoff and landing, NOT waking him if he sleeps.

Hang in there and have a good time at your destination even if the flying part is hard.

6:57 AM  
Blogger Estelle said...

Saturday is a slow flight day. TAKE HIS SEAT. If there is an empty seat available (and there very likely will be) you can use that. But take his seat. If you can't use it, you can gate check it or even stow it with your luggage (it fits).
Crashing is not the issue. Though, yes, they can save the kid in the event of a crash (like the Sioux City crash... the kids in car seats lived, the others didn't). But really, crashing is not the issue. It's those 100 foot drops you just described. You can't hold on to him during that. And in the event of turbulence or an emergency situation, you will be instructed to wrap him in a blanket and place him at your feet. It sounds crazy, but it's much safer than holding him in your lap.

So there, now that I've terrified you and I know you won't fly without a seat again, my job is done. But really, take his seat. On a Saturday morning flight you are extremely likely to have an open seat. We didn't buy a seat for Charlie on the trip to NYC in November because I knew there would be open ones. I called daily and if they had ever gotten low, I would have booked one immediately. They never did. However, on the return flight (Tuesday night), I knew there wouldn't be anything, so I bought him one. And there were probably two empty seats on the whole plane (versus the trip up, where there were dozens).
He handled flying fine, just a bottle at takeoff and landing. But much easier for him to be in his seat than on our laps, I would never want to tackle that!
Have fun! Take the seat! You may very well get to use it.

8:56 AM  
Anonymous Trista said...

Everyone else gave great advice. We have taken Julia on 14 flights in her 20 months of life... ones we took her on before she turned one were the BEST. She was so calm and she slept easily for us. She took her bottle when we wanted her to and she was content sitting on our laps and looking through the window and waving at people... it's after she turned one that the flights started getting harder for her.

And, we've never gotten a seat for her. The few times that the plane has been empty enough that we did get a seat for her, she spent the whole time on our laps anyway.

About your own anxiety, I wish I had something for you... can you do a breath meditation? Doesn't nursing release endorphins or something to calm and mellow the nursing mother? Maybe nurse him for the benefit of both of you.

11:42 AM  
Anonymous Jeannie said...

It sounds like you've got some great advice already, but here's my two cents, having flown recently with out 10 month old.

1. Ask the check in to put an empty seat next to you. There almost always seems to be one on a flight, and if they know you are travelling with an infant, they will try and leave it for you. I found it wasn't so much for his seat (which we brought, but didn't really use) as the extra space.

2. My wee one was soothed by the 'white noise' of the engines and the rocking of the plane, and he slept a fair portion of the flight. Add in mom's breast at close and easy access and he was a great traveller.

3. It will be easier than you think. I promise. There are two of you, there's only one of him, and people are very understanding and love babies.

Good luck!

12:18 PM  
Blogger Erin said...

I don't know that I've got anything to say other than what everyone else has already said! P flew on 14 trips before he was 2 and never had his own seat because I figured that the times he most needed it for safety were takeoff and landing, and I'd be holding him to nurse during that time. Maybe practice nursing while slinging--then he's never out of it. If he falls asleep, let him sleep. If it hurts, he'll wake up and then you can nurse him.

Good luck!

12:55 PM  
Blogger Michko said...

My No. 1 and No. 3 each flew for the first time when they were about six months old. I distinctly remember No. 1 sleeping soundly through landing, although I was prepared for him to wake screaming and yelping. Since we haven't flown much with the kids, I have few words of advice. Since he seems to be used to sleeping on you and you've said you'll have him in the sling, it's likely that he'll be OK during the trip since he'll be so close to Mommy.

4:33 PM  
Blogger Kristin said...

Katie,

Anything that will make him swallow (just as you pop your ears by swallowing, yawning or chewing gum - the jaw movement makes your ears pop), will help him IF he needs it.

The other remedy I used with my older daughter (Presleigh slept most of the way there and back and during only our return landing did she fuss - and crying helps them clear their ears anyways), is warm cloths - take a couple of face cloths and a ziploc (for the wet cloths after you're done) and get the flight attendant to warm them with hot water PRIOR to pushback from the terminal - by the time you reach cruising altitude, they won't be 'oh my freakin god' hot - place them on either side of his head, just where his ear lobe joins his head - the heat will relieve any pressure that he feels.

But I agree with everyone else - don't wake him, if he's unhappy, he'll let you know.

Have a good trip!

12:29 AM  
Blogger Mandy said...

Great advice from everyone, so far. I flew into DTW with my baby the end of January (by myself) and it went so much better than I had anticipated. If Partner is going with you, it will be easier for you than traveling w/ Cricket by yourself.

Couple of tips from me...

1. Totally second the "bring extra clothes". I just brought a t-shirt for me but a couple of onesies and a pair of pants for Katie. She pooped while we were waiting on the tarmac for takeoff. So by the time I could get up to change her, she had leaked out the diaper.

2. I bought some of those scented bags for diaper disposal. (They're in by the diaper genies, etc. in Target.) This was to be nice to everyone else on the plane. I'd throw dirty dipes in them and then toss the bag. Helped keep odor to a minimum in those tiny airplane bathrooms.

3. I nursed in the terminal just before getting on the plane so I had more room. Then just gave her a paci during takeoff. She had no problems w/ her ears at all.

4. Take some ziploc bags to contain dirty clothes if needed.

5. I used a backpack instead of a regular diaper bag. So much easier to deal with. I also put all diaper changing supples in a gallon sized ziploc (minus the changing pad) so I could easily grab the bag instead of dealing w/ the whole diaper bag/backpack in the bathroom.

Goodluck! And enjoy your trip.

12:18 PM  

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