On Sunday, Bella and I made a last minute trip to New York City to visit her great grandpa. We booked the flight less than a week in advance, and given the price of the last minute flight and Lance’s need to study for his upcoming board exam, Bella’s first flight was a solo mom experience.
I tried my hardest to book flights where the timing was such that she’d sleep or be in a good mood. The flight departed around 7 am, which is her normal wake up time. I had to get her up, grab our already packed bag (just a backpack) and head to the airport. My concern over traveling alone was unfounded. Other than having to figure out how to use the bathroom in an airport without someone to hold the baby, everything worked out fine. She happily played (with the ergo…had to save those toys up for later!) on the floor at the gate, and then nursed or played for the entire hour and 20 minute flight.
My mom and Larrie picked us up at the airport and took us to see my grandpa.
We made this a day trip, so we had about 7 hours to hang out with grandpa at his apartment. Bella played with her toys, went for a few walks (naps), and enjoyed spending time with her extended family.
Our only issue was her refusal to nap in the apartment. So we used the tried and true stroller method and headed out onto the Manhattan streets. We took two long walks, and on each one she slept about 45 minutes.
After the wonderful family time, we packed up the bag and the baby and headed back to JFK for the flight home. This flight was past bedtime at 7:40, so thankfully Bella either nursed or slept the whole way home. It was the first time she has fallen asleep on me in months. I’d missed it!
The trip was a success, both because we got to see family, and because our flying adventures went smoothly. We kept things as simple as possible since this was the first go around and I was traveling alone. A few things we did for those of you who may be traveling with a baby sometime soon:
- Ditched the diaper bag and brought a backpack. I took all of the necessary contents (changing pad, nursing cover, toys, diapers, wipes, baby food) and kept them in the backpack since I thought a shoulder bag might be awkward while wearing her on the ergo.
- Left the stroller and carseat at home. I decided to just carry her on my lap, and not hope that there would be an empty seat for her carseat. The first flight appeared to be totally booked (and it was), so I knew this was likely a losing proposition. While I was prepared to just take the train to the city, my mom insisted on borrowing a friend’s carseat and picking us up. She also bought a stroller from a local consignment store so that we could go for walks around the city. We’ll likely have a different strategy next time, but this worked for this trip.
- Used disposable diapers for a full day for the first time since she was less than a month old. I just didn’t have the space in the backpack to try and carry 8 cloth dipes. So we went with disposables for the day and it worked out just fine. Thankfully she still fits in the size ones that are left over from my baby shower diaper cake!!
- When all else fails, feed the baby. I’m thankful that I am still nursing at this time. She probably nursed for half of the first flight and the second flight was a combination of nursing, falling asleep while nursing, re-latching herself while 80% asleep, and repeating the process. With about 20 minutes to go I finally was able to get her to sleep off of my chest. I had brought the container of puffs and was planning on letting her feed herself those for entertainment if there were any problem times, but luckily I was able to save them for later.
- I fly enough for work that I am pretty quick and efficient going through airport security lines, but this was a new test. I wore her in the ergo carrier, so they pointed me through the metal detector instead of the body scanner, and then just pulled me aside to quickly swab by palms. I was just thankful I didn’t have to take her out of the ergo. I wasn’t carrying milk but I’ve actually done that enough when flying without her on business, so I know that isn’t much of a hassle either.
Bella’s second flight will be in October when we travel to San Francisco. That flight is a wee bit longer, but at least we’ll have four hands for that one.