Thursday, June 12

San Francisco or bust

We arrive home from Vegas at 2am on Friday morning and we are off again, headed to the airport, by 9am on Saturday.

We stop in Dayton to say our goodbyes to Penny before heading to Columbus for our flights to San Francisco.

We board our flight and things seem okay. We push back from the gate, taxi into takeoff position and Natalie starts getting anxious. We take off and she's off - fussy and carrying on. She's an anxious flier to the point that she and I both need to be sedated to fly.

She seems to be okay if I let her tear the pages out of the "Skymall" magazine one at a time. As we are starting our decent into Atlanta, so is Natalie. The magazine is in shredded pieces on the floor and she's starting to get fussy again. Luckily we land and have a short taxi to the gate. We've survived another flight with Natalie.

We have a 2 1/2 hour lay over in Atlanta before our flight to San Francisco. We push the kids and all our "gear" to the last gate at the end of the hall. There is tons of room for Noah run loose without getting in anyone's way. Natalie is teething 3 teeth so we give her Tylenol and Oragel hoping she'll fall asleep. We have plenty of room to spread out after flying with her and we hoping to get a second burst of energy before our 5 hour flight the San Francisco. Little did we know how important the second burst would be.

We are now at our departure gate area and we've been told it's an absolutely oversold flight. They aren't even going to get everyone on the plane. Oh well - a 767 from Atlanta to San Francisco seems unlikely to be that full but we knew it was gamble getting a seat for her. You'd think after our losing gambling streak in the Vegas a few days earlier that we would have stopped gambling but sometimes people just don't learn.

Natalie is getting anxious sitting in the gate area. Noah isn't listening to anything we are saying and I'm getting stressed. Really 5 hours of this without a seat for her? Dave calls the 800 reservation number just to see if they can tell us anything different. Nope - oversold flight! CRAP!!!! Oh the stress that is enveloping this family - God help us and everyone else on this flight.

We board and check Natalie's car seat at the bottom of the jet way as instructed. Dave goes ahead of me and the kids so he can get Noah's car seat strapped in before we get there. This is normal for us. It's part of our "travel routine".

We find our seats and sit. Natalie is beyond fussing and is uncontrollably crying - sobbing! I'm beyond stressed. My hair is falling by the fistful and I'm not even pulling on it. It's falling out around me in big chunks. I'm now bald! People are taking samples to share my story and have proof of the crazy lady they flew to San Francisco with. Noah's having a blast - he loves to fly about as much as Natalie hates to fly.

The flight attendants make their announcement indicating that all passengers are on board and we can't leave until everyone is seated. ARE YOU KIDDING ME!!!???? OVERSOLD MY ASS!!! We are in 36 C D E. There is one gentleman in 36 B leaving 36A open. There is a gentleman in 35 B leaving 35 A open. There isn't anyone sitting in 34 A or B. That's just what I can see from my middle seat in 36 D and a screaming baby clawing my eyes out.

Dave can sense my madness and decides to take Natalie to 34 A/B. Maybe if she looks out the window all will be well. Nope!! After hassling with her for a few minutes, we swap and I take her. This goes on - back and forth with "pass Natalie" - for about 20 minutes. We are still sitting at the gate 20 passed our original departure time. Dave hands Natalie off to me and I resume the position in 34 A/B. I am getting the looks from passengers around me - you know the look... "Oh great! This flight is going to suck and it's all your child's fault!" I'm sympathetic to them and am sorry. But I'm not sorry to the lady and her travel companion in 32 C and D. They turn and look at me like, "Why can't you control your child? Be a better mom!" I lose it... It's one thing to have a crappy flight because of my 12 month old; it's another make me feel like I'm a bad mom because my 12 month old can't reason with the situation. It's not like she's Noah's age and won't sit still in her seat. She's clearly an infant who doesn't understand. They were the idiots who boarded a full 767 for a 5 hour flight without ear plugs - DUH!!

So, in receiving this look, I respond - quite loudly as to be sure the two ladies heard me, "I'm doing the best I can!!! Stop staring!!!" Dave pulls a Kramer and suddenly slides up the aisle appearing beside me in the same way Kramer came sliding into Jerry Seinfeld's apartment. He leans in and says, "I'll take her!" I respond, "No, it's fine. She's fine. I have her. (and say loudly again so 32 C/D hear me) I want the ladies up there to quit looking at me like I'm a bad mom. She's 12 months old. What do they expect?!" He insists, "No! I'll take her." Fine - whatever!! I go back to 36 C/D/E and sit with Noah.

Noah is definitely sensing the tension on the plane so I distract him and myself by playing with the TV screens on the seat backs in front of us and we have a good time.

Exactly 1 hour from our original departure time, we take off. We never received an announcement as to why we took off late. We never heard why we sat at the gate for 45 minutes after our original departure time. That's Delta for you... Financial trouble and bad customer service. Do you think the two are linked? Anyway...

Natalie finally cries herself to sleep until the flight attendants become announcement happy. "We're serving drinks." "We're serving snacks." "Sign up for a Skymiles credit card." "Here's how you work your TV." And now, Natalie's awake and crying - again!!

Now that we are in the air and things seems to be a little less tense thanks to her 60 second nap, Dave and I trade off again. He sits with Noah and I take Natalie who is still uncontrollable. The only thing that seems to calm her is standing in the aisle. It's a cramped space so I take her to the rear galley where the flight attendants store their service items. Since they woke her up, they can listen to her. My plan backfires - they are already in the aisles doing their service so they don't have to listen to her.

I bounce with her in the galley area and she seems content watching everything going on in the aisles - people coming and going to the bathrooms near where were are standing, flight attendants serving food and drinks, people turning to see if we've moved farther from them so they don't have to listen to her, etc. She's not crying anymore but she's still making fussing noises. I think to myself as if I'm talking to her, "Please, get control of yourself! It's just an airplane. It's in your blood - your dad's a pilot, your mom's a flight attendant, your brother loves to fly... please get it together for all of our sakes and sanity!" This goes on for the first hour and a half of the flight. Keep in mind we took off an hour late so we've been dealing with this for a little over 2 hours.

Just as soon and as suddenly as the storm started it stopped. She was talking, smiling and laughing!!! What the hell?!?!?!?!?!

While waiting to be sure this isn't just the calm before a second storm, there are people milling about the galley - stretching their legs, waiting for the bathroom, etc. A few actually stopped to say they are proud of me for standing up for myself with the way some people were looking at me. Thank you... See, I'm not that crazy!

I cautiously return to 34 A/B to be sure she doesn't start up again. All seems well! She's fine - as long as I'm holding her. If I have to go to the bathroom and pass her off to Dave for a few seconds, she's fussy. If I have to pass her off to Dave to change Noah's diaper - nope, she's fussy! I am her saving grace and yet - I'm the one that nearly got us thrown off the plane for yelling at the other passengers to stop staring. Maybe that's why it's all about me - I tried to save her the embarrassment of the glaring that was coming our way. Whatever it takes to keep her quiet - so be it!!

She's torn up the magazine, thrown all the stuff out of our carry on, is moving the shade up and down just to see it work, has chewed on the airplane seatbelt, is trying to figure out how to work the arm rest, and has eaten all the food I brought for us. She won't drink a darn thing but whatever it takes to keep her quiet - so be it!!! God only knows how many germs she picked up from the seatbelt alone but she was quiet and that's what matters. :)

All is well the remaining 3 1/2 hours of the flight. Just as the wheels are about to touch down in San Francisco she falls asleep... Really, now?! But wait - there's an announcement from the flight attendants "Welcome to San Francisco..." Oh well - there goes another 60 second nap.

As people are leaving, some stop to let me out of my seat. I tell them to go ahead because I'm waiting for my husband and my son. They say, "Are you sure? You've had a rough flight!" Different people - same comment.

You win some - you lose some! Some were happy I stood up for myself - same wanted to push us out the nearest exit.

We head to get the bags, get the rental car, get the kids strapped in, and then she starts up again. We stop at a drive thru for milk for her and she wants to drink it but it's cold. We survive the drive to Cupertino and I vow to never fly with her again. (Of course that can't really happen - I have to get home from San Francisco but it's a nice fantasy! :) )

I overhear Dave telling the "adventures of flying with Natalie" story to Dick. I tell him that I was complemented for speaking up and about how "Kramer like" he was in appearing next to me after I yelled. He said he was worried I was going to be escorted off the plane in handcuffs. Well, I wouldn't have had to listen to her if I was in jail. Thanks for screwing that up for me :) :) It was still too early to laugh about the incident and I think it still is - a week and a half later :) Dick's response, "Well, at least you have good material for your blog." :) True!!

I tell Dave later that I can't fly with her anymore. I have so much anxiety thinking about and leading up to flying with her that I need a sedative myself. I'm going to ask the dr. if he can prescribe something stronger than Tylenol or Benadryl for her when we fly. Tylenol and Benadryl make her tired and she usually sleeps once they "kick in" but when it comes to flying she'll fight through the sleepiness. He tells me that the dr. probably won't be on board with use giving our 1 year old a sedative. If the dr. can't prescribe her a sedative, maybe he'll prescribe me some anti-anxiety medicine. This child's fear of flying is going to give me a one way ticket to crazy town. :)

We get through our visit without incident.

Our flight home leaves San Francisco at 7am so we have to be out the door no later than 5am. Surely it'll be so early that the kids will sleep. Noah can sleep like a champ on an airplane - usually. Not today...

Natalie isn't as anxious but she isn't going without a fight. Luckily the flight is only half full so we get a seat for her. In fact, on boarding we see that we get a whole row - 6 seat for the 4 of us. God is finally smiling on us!!

We survive the flight home with minor fussing fits from Natalie and no sleeping from either child. We are scheduled to land in Cincinnati and have a long layover before our connection to Columbus. The kids and I get off the plane and Ben picks us up. Dave waits for the flight back to Columbus to pick up our checked bags and the car. Wouldn't you know it - 10 minutes into the car ride both kids pass out. I'm too stressed out to sleep and I'm realizing on the drive that the cicadas have emerged and I'm absolutely terrified of them. I've jumped out of a moving car to get away from one before. This is not going well. They are supposed to be here for another 3 weeks! Why, God, Why??? Like I haven't been through enough?!?!?

Ben drops us off at home and heads to Stephanie's. Noah won't fall back to sleep but Natalie sleeps and sleeps and sleeps some more. Poor thing is exhausted! Maybe that'll teach her to sleep on the flight - not likely but there's always hoping.

The rest of the day drags on and we eventually head to bed for the night. I toss and turn and finally fall asleep a little after 2. Why - like I haven't been through enough and now, I'm not only jet lagged, I can't sleep.