As we get ready to take Hazel on the short flight to see her grandparents for her first Christmas, my neurosis is setting in. What if we’re stuck on the tarmac for 10 hours and my breast milk stops flowing from stress? What if the plane has to make an emergency landing in the Hudson? And worst of all: What if we get stuck sitting next to someone who was like I was when I was younger?
Before my nephew was born six years ago, I had no patience for a crying baby. I wasn’t a jerk about it; I wouldn’t actually say anything mean to the parents. But if I sat on a plane and saw a baby in the seat next to me, instead of thinking “Oh, how adorable,” I thought, “My life is ruined.” I would look at the parents and secretly stew, “What were they thinking bringing a baby on an airplane?” as if they should have just left their little one in a kennel while they took a vacation.
Then my sister had her awesome son, and my attitude while flying quickly changed—to pity. “Poor mothers! How embarrassing to have to be the one with the drag of a baby! It must be horrible to have an entire plane hate you!”
Now that I am a mom, however, I am less disturbed by the thought of interrupting my fellow travelers’ seat-back Seinfeld marathons than I am by the realization that Hazel might cry because she is in pain. I have mentioned before that Hazel is not a big crier, so if my five month old suddenly can’t stop screaming on an airplane because her ears hurt from the pressure changes, I might actually start crying myself. (I’m usually not a big crier either, but the rules seem to have suddenly shifted.)
Actually, maybe that’s the perfect solution: If I’m the one sobbing, the passengers might forget their irritation and instead look at Hazel and think, “That poor baby—her mother is nuts!”
So give me some tips: What worked for you to soothe your baby on a flight? Did you demand a bulkhead bassinet? What happened when you landed in the Hudson? I want to know!
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