16 July 2010

The ABCs of travel with X through YhZ

travel was required for our close friends, amy and tony, NY wedding.

so, ive known amy since middle school but we didnt mega bond until high school spanish class (we still call each other by our spanish names: susana for me and eva for her). the friendship endured the distance of college (UM v Vanderbilt), the muddy time when you are really getting to know yourself and start shedding excess childhood baggage, and the distance of adulthood, when we started settling in to our careers, lives, and personality strengths (and weaknesses). i think we are stuck with each other now. :) anywho, long sappy story short, she is on the short list of people i would attempt traveling so far for with a 3 month old.

our family journey to ny started however far back you want to count: when i read the pregnancy strip, when X was born, when i ordered the bridesmaid dress, when we did the trip to fundy national park, when we decided flying would save our sanity, or the night before we left. luckily, it seemed like such a monumental task to complete that we ended up being well prepared. we discussed what we would need to pack when we booked the ticket and calmly went about organizing and purchasing things. and, thankfully, packing/prepping ended up being pretty stress-free and painless since we had mulled over the details for so long.

one smart move: we decided to buy a cheaper (and lighter) car seat than our current one, and take it with us in its box. the options from the rental car places werent confidence boosting so we absolutely wanted to make sure we had something clean, safe, and available when we arrived in NY. plus, checking a car seat was free from the airline we were taking.

beyond the car seat, we packed our bags for the trip after we put X down for the night, the night before our flight. we packed one large bag with everyones clothes, one backpack as Xs diaper bag, my large purse full of X toys/books/etc, and daves backpack to carry the computer/important docs/and other odds n ends that didnt fit anywhere else.

friday morning came and we executed things pretty seamlessly (if i do say so myself). we tried to give X as much time in bed as the clock would allow and then gently got her through the hoops that we needed to jump to get out the door. she wasnt happy in the car but we made it to the airport, where, at the check-in area, we hit our first speed bump.

since we had originally planned to drive to NY, we had only checked the land border rules, which say that it is fine to take a minor (under age 16) across canada/u.s. borders with only a birth certificate. not so for flights between the two countries. after a few phone calls (and a call to my friend ntina :)) the airline and customs people determined that we would be able to get on our flight (halifaxs airport passes you through customs on their end, before you get on the flight to the u.s.). phew!

after letting the female security people ogle X, we were able to pass through and spend the next 1.5 hours before take-off getting X to nap. this was pretty successful...and if we had boarded the plane on-time i would have been successful with coordinating feeding her with take-off. but, of course we were running behind schedule (thanks plane crew for dawdling in duty-free buying shit) so i had to feed her in the airport. then we boarded. the plane was small, as was the airport, so at least things can move fairly swiftly. but, not fast enough.

the plane door closed and locked and we backed away...and X started crying. she was grumpy and tired and couldnt calm down. great. after about 10 minutes of panic and trying to tune out the thoughts of how we were disturbing the whole plane, we were able to swaddle X and dave bounced her to sleep on his shoulder. when we took flight, she didnt wake up or seem disturbed by the pressure changes. thank goodness! and the rest of the flight was fine. i fed her when she woke up and we entertained her until we landed. we were amazed.

after a diaper change in newark i was able to help her doze in my wrap while we navigated baggage and rental car pick-up. it was also about a million degrees outside. ick. but, finally we had a snazzy car to ourselves that dave was easily able to install the car seat in. strapped X in and we were on our way from newark to nyack, ny. we got off track from our directions but still arrived in good time and without more than a few yelps from X. we kept praising her. we were SO impressed.

once at amys we were greeted by her very welcoming parents and began being social. it soon became clear that all X could handle was some quiet time and the chance to sleep. i helped her doze in the quiet of the basement, but she soon needed more. i said hello to the soon-to-be newlyweds when they got back from the jewelry store and went back to the basement for a longer nap. she got some good rest, but woke up from this nap in a rage to get more sleep. we quickly had her bed made up (she slept in a clean red wagon. thanks amy and amys mom :)) and put her to bed. poor thing.

in the end, since we had thought so much about the plane travel and Xs specific needs, had readied ourselves to be on constant baby entertainment mode, had thrown all our past airport expectations and behaviors out the window, and gave ourselves plenty of time, i think we were able to end up as successful as we were. getting her the sleep she needed...still a challenge. more so in places that arent home. but we were very impressed with this first experience.

note: from the blog entry title, "yhz" is the airport code for halifax.


Trav said...

yay! i am SO SO SO glad that you guys could make it! tony had to (semi-) physically restrain me from telling you that you should bail if you felt uncomfy with the trip... julie had to (semi-) emotionally restrain me as well. i didn't know you had airport security issues... i think i would have had a meltdown (bureaucracy is NOT my strong suit). for the public record, you guys are AMAZING at traveling with your cutie-pie. if you were wondering, from the perspective of an (semi-)objective observer, you guys looked relaxed, capable, and totally open to being available to other people. of course, you were also very generous with your baby: i told you everyone would want to spend time with her! everyone LOVES her!

Trav said...

also, your blog title ROCKS