Let me begin with a confession. I am going to come right out and confess that I took Alaina on her first airplane trip and I have not one picture to prove it. I didn't even save her boarding pass from the outbound leg, only the return! I know, I am a terrible mom and that's part of why I have taken so long to write this. I was embarrassed that I failed to memorialize such an important event in my child's life.
I feel better now that I got that off my chest.
Now, from the beginning...
I started planning how I would travel with three kids while I was still pregnant with Alaina. I considered the supplies I would need and how I would transport them all. It was rather daunting I have to say. Fortunately, my mother was also planning and she was prepared to delay my first solo trip by offering to accompany me. That was a relief. We talked over the phone about how this all would work, considering she would be starting her journey in another state and then coming to join me before traveling to a completely different state. Specifically, Washington. Our plan was her traveling from Wisconsin, through Chicago to Houston, meeting me and then all of us going to Seattle. Unfortunately, the most difficult part about the way we travel (stand by) is the changing nature of flight availability. And of course, things changed and we quickly moved on to plan B: Me traveling alone on a four hour flight with three children.
I honestly wasn't worried. Not about the children anyway. I was more concerned with my stamina. Picture this (since I don't have a real picture): I carried Alaina in the front pack; I had a backpack on my back weighing easily more than Alaina; and I pushed Justin's car seat on a handtruck with Alaina's infant carrier hanging off the back and Justin's CPAP slung off the side. I think I carried more weight than a Marine going into combat! It was crazy but we made it. (I also checked Travis' car seat and one very large suitcase with all the clothes for 4 of us for 4 days.) We got our seat assignments and the agent was quite taken aback with my declaration that I was the lone adult for the three kids. It's difficult to find seats together at the very end of boarding. I felt for her; she did great! We started down the jetway and Justin started getting nervous. I debated long and hard about whether to put Justin in a diaper for the trip. I decided to go with underwear and I brought one spare outfit. Only one. He started crying going onto the airplane and when he cries and gets upset, he pees. I implored him to hold it and when we got to our seats I dropped our stuff and raced for the bathrooms. We made it! Then it was back to our seats for take off. Justin cried the whole time so I couldn't even get Alaina's car seat strapped in. (I always get my babies seats because the extra space helps so much and then I don't have to hold them when they fall asleep.) Justin and I did a lot of talking about how God was with us even on the airplane and how much fun we were going to have with his cousin and he finally calmed down. Then I could get Alaina's car seat set up so she could take a nap. Whew, good timing!
I had planned to let the boys watch Direct TV on the airplane, but our change of plans also brought a change of airplane, and no Direct TV. Since I cannot guarantee we will sit together, one DVD player/computer is not enough. And I simply could not carry 2 entertainment devices. The ipad is my weight limit. I downloaded movies and they switched off watching them. That worked really well. Why does my family have to live at the limits of our country's boarders from where we live? Four and a half hours is a long time to fill! But we were trucking right along: Alaina slept, we ate some lunch, we watched movies, and then Justin said he had to go to the bathroom. I looked down to pick him up to take him and I noticed the lake in between his legs. Fortunately we were sitting on leather seats so it didn't soak through and the flight attendants were SO nice about the clean up, but there went my back up outfit. And we still had an hour to go. Fortunately we were incident-free the last hour and we landed in Seattle dry and happy.
Then we had to get our luggage. With all I was carrying I then had to add the suitcase and another car seat. I did a little switcheroo and put Alaina's car seat on the suitcase and the CPAP on top of Justin's car seat and I pulled them both through the terminal. Some sweet women offered to help and they took Alaina's car seat off the suitcase and the CPAP off the car seat and left me to pull the rest. Not much help, but the thought was there! By the time I got outside I realized that I had forgotten Travis' car seat and the fact that everyone needed to potty before the hour and a half trip back to where we were staying. So we trekked back inside and I got to the bathroom and stared at the door wondering how I was going to get through it with all my stuff when a wonderful woman offered to watch our luggage while I went inside with the kids. She was my hero! I breathed a huge sigh and we did our business before heading back out to the curb for our ride. Taking Alaina out of the front pack was the biggest relief. I was so sweaty! It wasn't even all that warm but I was ready for a icy bath after all my hauling. I could have settled in for a long nap on the way home but alas, it was not meant to be.
All in all, it was an awesome first trip with all three by myself. I know lots of people were praying, including my mom who felt bad she couldn't be with us. She ended up flying in a few minutes after we arrived so we could all go home together. I had everything I needed and the kids behaved so well. I really want to brag on how great they did. Travis was such a big help and he didn't complain a bit about having to sit across the row and back from us. Once Justin settled down he was a doll. And Alaina didn't cry one bit. She took her nap and woke up happy. She ate and played and giggled. (And it turns out she even cut another tooth that day!) The person who sat directly across from us was watching us the whole time and she even talked with Justin a little bit and helped pick up things he dropped. When we were deplaning she even stopped to say, "You are a really great mom." I thought I was going to cry! God really was with us on that plane and he was helping me say the right words to calm Justin. Flying with any number of kids is work, no doubt, but those words were straight from God. Words every mom needs to hear every day, but I especially did that day. We made it through the first trip, and I think we might even do it again. :)