This cozy Sunday afternoon found me catching up on Pam’s witty blog about air travel with a toddler over here. I beckoned Tall Mountain to come over and read her hysterical post, perfectly capturing the fidgety “lap child” concept when in fact, the miniature travel companion wants nothing to do with the aforementioned lap. You know, when they all of a sudden outgrow the darling swaddle and become unpredictable part human / part animal beings with zero social etiquette, tickling fellow passengers, grabbing your neighbor’s wine or shaming them with loud “uh ohhhs” as they drop a napkin. I shudder at the thought that I write from experience.
Our 4.5hr flight to NYC was our hardest yet. In fact, flight #24 with Ayo was wilder than any of our previous international flights. We hadn’t even settled into our seats as I noticed our 19 month-old tickling an elderly man’s balding hair and then pointing “uh oh, uh ohhhhh!” as a larger male passenger stretched, causing his seat to creek. By this age, even his soft leather slippers designed for a cute caterpillar crawl have morphed into little lace-up weapons with black rubber soles ready to bruise nearby flesh. Thankfully, TM and I were able to tag-team, providing Ayo an extra lap to climb on and an extra pair of hands to walk up and down the narrow aisle with. Of course, this was one of the few aircrafts that was designed pre-babies! Can you believe that some airplanes still do not have any changing tables on board? Thankfully, à deux, we were able to tackle the unhappy tot and wing a decent lap change. Or so we thought. As we were landing and the restless cub was reigned in thanks to a dripping snack, I could have sworn my water broke. Looking down, there was no mistake, it was Ayo leaking approximately 10oz / 300ml of warm liquid out the side of a diaper leg. Wow. As usual, he fell asleep peacefully as soon as we spotted our rental car.
I returned from New York alone. Major correction, I traveled without TM, but with Ayo and a 30 week baby bump..and a heavy roller carry on, Ayo wheeled in a carseat and a spilling out diaper bag…oh, and an ergo carrier hanging off my waist. As he dropped me off at JFK, my sweet hubs gave me a pep talk: “Babe, I am really worried about you. You’re exhausted, have a lot of luggage as well as Ayo. I want you to go straight to the check-in and tell them that you have a window seat on a fully booked flight. Tell them that you are very pregnant and have an active toddler and are flying at bedtime and that if you can’t change seats, it could be a total disaster for the whole plane.” I began visualizing the worst case scenario, after a week of limited rest, as I sensed tears flood my eyes. Still, I didn’t want to make TM worry we wouldn’t be okay. After all, you can survive most anything for a half a day, right? I plucked up all the courage left in my weary body to wave goodbye with a smile as he whispered: “hun, you ask your Father what you need, each step of the way”. I needed to hear that. From then on, I was able to release my fear of what might happen on flight #25 and trust in the countless ways I have seen God provide for us over the years. Why would today be any different?
The Sri Lankan check-in assistant, who could have been my dad’s age, asked me if I had any luggage to check. I was clearly at the limit of what any one able-bodied human should carry aboard. Knowing that a checked suitcase costs $25 on these domestic flights, I declined. To my surprise, he told me not to worry about the cost. And if anyone had a problem with that, that they should come to him. I smiled as a tear slid down my cheek and then proceeded to hand him my heavy bag. At security, the TSA agent took one look at us as he saw two filled water bottles and 10oz of milk go through the x-ray and whisked us through. With all the extra time on our hands, we ran up and down the terminal for almost three hours, burning off energy. Perhaps the gate agent who saw us and had compassion on us. Again, a man about the age of my own dad quietly handed me an aisle seat with extra legroom and told me not to tell anyone about it since the upgrade should cost $50. I felt so cared for. I chuckled as we three took a seat next to two marketing colleagues, to their initial dismay. We of course took off 30 minutes late. That meant that Ayo had eaten all of the gazillion snacks I had brought before we even took off, but I wasn’t going to worry about it. The business lady next to me from a branding agency in NYC, raised an eyebrow and said: “wow, and you’re having another one?”, clearly nervous at our diminishing snack pile. Finally, 2 hours and 20 minutes in the air, Ayo passed out, his legs straddled around my cramped pregnant belly. I breathed a sigh of relief, ran my fingers through his fine angel hair and smiled at the gift of his life (and a sleeping baby!). In the remaining flight time, I managed to go to the [minuscule] bathroom without him waking up (imagine the logistics of this for one minute), I reached with my toes for the now cold lamb sandwich in a bag that I had been dying to eat for about three hours and dove into a conversation with my curious neighbor about branding, China, NYC all in shifting the heavy sleeping toddler away from his squashed, kicking sibling. At 2am East Coast time, Ayo and I were at long last in our own beds, sleeping peacefully and feeling fully provided for by a Father who desires to care for us if we simply ask Him.