We’re almost a week into our big vacation, and I haven’t written about it at all yet. I’ll try to catch up over the next day or two, when we might be a little bit less busy. We left Austin last Sunday afternoon on a flight to Salt Lake City. Because this is our first long trip with a baby, we have already learned a lot about traveling with her. We’ll try to make different choices in the future, starting with our flight times.
Our first flight was a short hop to Dallas, and Elena had a hard time with the change in pressure. She has never been sick or experienced much pain other than when she got immunization shots, so it was hard to see her crying and clawing at her ears. We tried several different things, and eventually soothed her. The descent didn’t seem to cause as much of a problem, but she did get restless while the coasted around the gigantic Dallas airport to the gate.
After that, things became more complicated. We had a three hour layover at the Dallas airport, so we found a quiet, mostly empty area near our departure gate, then ate our own dinner and fed Elena. Our flight didn’t leave until 9:30, and Elena usually falls asleep at about 8:30. We kept her awake until boarding time. Surprisingly, we didn’t get to preboard on either flight; the practice does not seem to be as ubiquitous as we thought. This time around, she fell asleep before the plane took off and didn’t have any problems with her ears on the way up.
However, the three hour flight presented different challenges than the forty-five minute one, especially with a sleeping baby sprawled across our laps. With all the noise and activity inherent to a flight, she slept less soundly than usual and any small thing was likely to wake her up. Especially if we were the source of the sound or movement. At one point, Jenny wanted to make some tiny adjustment, and looked over at me to see if I thought it would be okay for Elena. I wasn’t so sure, but I could see that she really needed to make the shift.
When Jenny did move, Elena started to cry. To calm her I walked up and down the plane’s single narrow aisle. All the passengers seemed to have their eyes fixed on me. Some of them looked sympathetic, but others looked more like me in younger days, when I was annoyed by parents with crying babies on planes. Eventually, Elena settled back down. In retrospect, I think she fussed because she was only half-awake; if we had thought to wake her all the way up, she might have done better.
In fact, when we landed in Salt Lake City, Elena did wake up more fully and had at least a few smiles for my sister Heidi, who came to pick us up and with whom we were staying while there. Elena didn’t want to get into her car seat, but once she did it was a short ride to Heidi’s house. Elena was so awake that she didn’t want to go to sleep again. At two in the morning, not long after I had closed my eyes, she started crying again. We decided to try feeding her one more time, which worked. I slept for just a few minutes while Jenny fed her, but afterwards Elena was wide awake. Somehow I managed to rouse myself and play with her for half an hour while Jenny started her night’s sleep.
Elena woke up altogether too soon on Monday morning, but in the course of that day and the next she napped well and got back on schedule, allowing us to have lots of adventures and fun times. I’ll report on those soon.