Friday, November 4, 2011

Domestic and International Enemies of the Traveling Mama

Those that regularly read my blog know I am big fan of the Blog Rants from Mommyland.  So as a true fan I decided to send them my own list after my first travel experience with Reagan.  See the message below that I sent to my beloved Lydia and Kate.

Hello Ladies!
Long time reader, first time email!  I adore your column and as a working first time mommy (in fact, today is my first day back to work after maternity leave) I have learned a ton from your blog and laughed even more.  It is both awesome and educational for me, you rock!
But I thought you might find my perspective on a new topic interesting.  Traveling with kiddos and how terribly hard it can be.  In 2006 I moved to Oklahoma to complete my Masters Degree at Oklahoma State University and had the (mis)fortune of meeting my husband here.  He promptly nailed my feet to the ground and I have been living here even since.  It’s great, except my family is all in Pennsylvania.  As in 1,350 miles apart, 22 hour car drive or several plane rides apart.  At first this was fine, but now that I have a new born I am so homesick for friends and family that live far away.  And this is also the first grandchild for my mother so the distance is also heart breaking for her. 
So due to a serious case of homesickness, and a few remaining precious days of maternity leave I flew across many states with my 7 week old infant.  But wait, there’s more.  I flew STANDBY.  Insanely risky, moderately dangerous, and completely free!  Thanks to a buddy pass from my brother in law who works for an airline I got a free ticket to fly standby.  Since this was the ONLY ticket I could afford I took the chance and flew home.   The visit was amazing, the time I spent traveling was NOT. 

Please enjoy my list of the domestic (and international) enemies of the traveling Mama.  

           Hello there complete stranger, please don’t touch my baby.  Lots of people are at the airport, and it just so happens they are also carrying lots of germs with them on their travels.  So while I appreciate your comments of how adorable she is, and how brave (read: crazy) I am to fly with her, there is no reason for you to touch her.  And no, you may not hold her.  Or put your finger in her mouth.  Especially you, crazy old man with cigarette fingers.  I don’t care if you are a grandpa, step back. 
I was accosted by so many people at the airport it wasn’t funny.  I should mention I was blessed with a beautiful baby, it literally stopped people in their tracks and I heard a million squeals from women of all ages.  I made friends everywhere I went, even one older lady who got a full moon in the bathroom as I was changing the baby and exclaimed “Ohh, what a cute hinny!”  I can’t even tell you how often people offered to hold her for me “if you get tired”.  I just envisioned them running off with her and me telling the police “Well they offered to hold her so I just handed her over…”.  

      Nursing covers are in fact intended to cover.  So when I am using it and you see little feet peeking out from under it this should be a good clue I am intending to COVER myself.  In no way does that mean you should lift the corner for a look.  If I wasn’t using both hands I would smack you right now.  And to all the funny looks from the men on the plane and airport, what are you looking at?  I am being discrete, I am not flashing my boob, so what’s with “the look”?  I would love to be nursing in the privacy of my own home but I am here traveling so get over it.  My child was hungry, so I am feeding her despite our close proximity to you. 

No, my seven week old child does not have a passport you asshat.  It takes longer to order a passport than she has been alive!   Yes, this is an international airport but I happen to just be flying to my connection in St. Louis.  

Oh, the plane restroom, you are a real enemy.  For one the changing table is so small I can barely fit the baby girl on there to wipe her butt.  Yes, I would prefer to use the airport bathroom with all its glorious elbow room but sadly baby girl did not follow the “No pooping on the plane” rule.  Even worse, it seems huggies is also an enemy on this trip because it was a leaky mess.    And let’s not forget about what happens when Mommy really has to pee on the plane.  I am traveling by myself and I can’t hold the baby and pee so that leaves me at the mercy of the flight attendant.  Let’s just hope the complete stranger I had to hand my child too while I peed was careful and had a good hold on her when we hit that turbulence.

Checking the stroller and car seat gate side was convenient, that is until I saw its condition when it was returned to me.  Anyone who has held a baby knows it’s only a matter of minutes before even the tiniest of tots gets heavy so it was a godsend to have the stroller with me at the air port to lug around the baby.  Especially during the 4 hour rain delay in Chicago.  But that also means I left the stroller at the end of 5 different tarmacs to get on the 5 different flights it took to get there and back.  My poor stroller was promptly tossed around, banged, bumped, and then hefted back to me at the end of each flight.  My brand new $300 stroller looks like hell.  Golly gee, thanks for handling it with care. 
      Let's not forget the battle for the arm rest when on the plane.  I think I deserve it due to the fact I am trying to breast feed but the passenger next to me felt differently.  This meant I had to lean out into the isle, dodge other passengers as they got on the plane and in two separate instances block a piece of luggage from whacking her in the head.  It’s great I didn’t have to pay for an extra seat and could travel with an “infant on lap” ticket but come on people.  Watch out!  Be courteous!   It’s bad enough I can’t nap while I we fly since I have to hold her the whole time, but now I have to be on the constant look out as well.   I got up at 3 am to try and make the 7 am flight so I am tired and being super alert is pretty darn hard right now.

       And lastly here’s to the complete lack of confidence strangers had in me, and they told me all about their concerns.  I am a 29 year of grown up (mostly) with a masters degree.  But that is thrown right out the window when someone sees you are traveling alone with a little baby.  Below are a few of the callous comments I received during my very long day at the air port. 
“You’re traveling alone?  Just you and the baby?  Really?”
“Bless your heart (Southern for “boy, you are one dumb Mom)”
“Boy aren’t you brave!  And alone…. Oh but you have a wedding ring.  Where is your husband dear?”
“Is this really a good idea for the baby?” 
“I never would have been able to do that alone with a little one her age.  You’re just so…. Well are you ok?”

p.s. Enjoy the attached photo of baby girl at the airport.  With the baggage tags on her car seat it kind of sent the wrong message, no I did not check the baby.  Although that definitely would have been easier…

p.p.s  thank goodness for the family bathroom.  Those were a brilliant idea.  No doubt a traveling Mama came up with that design. 

My Resume says Mommy

I am sure you have all been wondering where I went.  I had a steady number of posts going along and then I apparently fell off the side of the earth, er... had a baby.. whatever.
The thing is, having Reagan has really thrown a kink in my schedule.  You'd think the kid would allow me some precious blogging time, but no it seems she has her own set of priorities (selfish....).  Anywho, since I know you all learned oh so very much from me during my very hormonal and hot pregnancy lets just keep the wisdom flowing now that I am living in mommy land.
First let me start by saying, Mommyland is great.  I love it.  I love it more than I even imagined I would.  Sometimes I just want to go all Lenny on baby girl and squeeze her up!  My sister thinks I neener the baby too much, but I can't help it.  She is just oh so very lovable (Kissable, hugable, unbelievable...)  And those that have met her will in fact agree.  I have been blessed with a beautiful baby, who is very happy and even is a great sleeper!  This I truly believe is my reward for suffering through my pregnancy during the hottest summer in Oklahoma history (yes, it seriously was.  It's on the record books folks!) and then having pretty much everything go crazy on labor day.  The saying about God laughs at your plans, well in my case it was God read my blog post about planning for labor.  It wasn't a pretty day, and despite all the drama, pain and last minute c-section, out came this perfect baby.  Biased?  Who me?  Umm, have you seen her angel face?
But on to the things I have learned now that I can add Mom to my resume.

My brain is permanently fried.  I remember experiencing my first episodes of "pregnancy brain" this summer.  Pre baby I definitely would have described myself and a detail oriented person.  In fact it was my strength!  Now my mind has turned to mush.  I constantly open a web page or walk into a room and then go completely blank about what I was planning to do.  I forget stuff everywhere, and I feel like my mind is so full of thoughts about baby that it doesn't leave much room for other stuff.  Like grocery lists, or schedules or things I really should have gotten done yesterday.

My house is really starting to get dirty, and I am really starting to care less and less.  Whats most funny about this statement is that I was a messy kid growing up.  My room was a disaster.  But college broke me of my messy ways because those residence hall rooms are small and the mess in the tiny space drove me nuts.  So I morphed into a very clean person, to almost OCD levels and I stayed that way even with our large house.  I really enjoyed cleaning and organizing.  If I noticed something was dirty, I would clean it immediately and then since I was already was scrubbing I would just keep going.  My house was very clean everyday!  Laundry was folded, boxes were labeled, things were stored properly.  This week I noticed my coffee table had some major dust on it, so I wrote my name in it and went back to playing with the baby.

I would love to get rid of the last 12 LBS of baby weight but exercise needs energy and I am still adjusting to returning to work and that schedule alone is exhausting.  Even though Reagan sleeps pretty well I am still getting up at least once to nurse and getting up early for work.  So my exercise plan is taking the stairs 4 times a day to the 4th floor of my building to use the mommy room.  Yep, thats about it.  Go me.

And apparently the hormones don't dissipate much after the baby comes.  I held it together the first week I was at work but come the following Monday morning and I was a mess.  I had the hardest time leaving Reagan with the sitter even though I know she is fine.  The thing is, I just didn't want to be without her.  She makes me so deliriously happy and I am certain in my brain that no one can take care of her as well as I can.

And those things perfectly define a new mom.  I am a scattered brained, messy, sleepy, still somewhat chubby Mom who just doesn't want to leave the baby.  And life is so good.  Yesterday when I woke Reagan to get her ready for the day she opened her eyes, stretched her hands way up and then gave me the biggest grin.  She was as happy to see me as I was to see her!  And no matter what the rest of the day entailed, that moment made it awesome.