Happy New Year! We hope your 2017 is off to a good start. We’ve been staying local so far, and getting ready for Baby Flyer’s first birthday. Well, not getting ready so much as preparing ourselves, and marveling at how quickly the year has gone.
After a year of writing about family travel, we’ve had many flights and learned plenty of lessons. For the most part, we’ve been pleasantly surprised at how enjoyable and rewarding it has been However, as with anything about being new parents, there’s the exception to the rule. We knew it had to happen at some point- A flight where Baby Flyer just wasn’t feeling her happy traveler self.
Of course it happened during our last transcontinental flight of 2016, our 26th of the year, when we were on a nonstop flight from Massachusetts to California with a long flight time (just over 6 hours) for that flight path. Even more telling, before take off we had an additional hour ground delay due to the number of passengers on the plane not aligning with the number the gate agents had. This made it 7 hours of being in that seat on that plane, but we survived. Fortunately, I had an extra set of hands with me to help hold, settle, and entertain a fussy Baby Flyer.
We had an early morning flight out of Hartford, CT. It was cold (0 degrees) and still dark when we drove to the airport. Our flight was on a Thursday, and earlier that week Baby Flyer had started to get sick. We took her to the doctor before flying, convinced she had an ear infection, but luckily she didn’t. It was a virus that was taking its time to run its course. I’ve been known to be a worrier, so wanted to get the ‘A-OK’ from a doctor before flying.
Even after being cleared to fly, her symptoms seemed to be worse the night before out flight. She was clingy and you could tell she wasn’t feeling well. I had CET calling the AA Executive Platinum desk (a phone line for high mileage flyers- to learn more about elite benefits you can read our post here) seeing what our options would be if we changed our flights. There weren’t many, and the options that were available would have been $1,000 to change. Of course, Baby Flyer would have been worth it, but we decided to see how the night went and decide in the morning. Fortunately, even though it was a short night, Baby Flyer slept well and woke up much better than she was the night before.
During this flight, the early morning flight worked to our advantage and she was exhausted and slept on me for the first 4.5 hours (including the 1 hour ground delay). She woke up and cried a couple of times but I was able to quickly nurse or rock her back to sleep. However, this couldn’t last the full flight at this age, and once she was awake she went through the toys and books I packed pretty quickly. We moved on to the plastic cups and exploring the seat belt, looking out the window, basically anything we could think of to keep her entertained. Then we would periodically briefly go back to her toys or books. She didn’t want to nurse anymore and was happiest when being held while one of us stood in the front of the plane.
Fortunately, we had very friendly flight attendants and a smooth flight, so the seat belt sign was off for most of it. We would try to sit with Baby Flyer and she made it clear that she wanted to be held standing again. This behavior is atypical for Baby Flyer but we understood since she wasn’t feeling great. We were glad when we landed. But we all survived and a couple of days and another doctor’s visit later, Baby Flyer was feeling better. We learned she had a common virus and besides Tylenol and comforting her, there was little we could do but wait it out.
Flying’s never easy when your little one isn’t feeling themselves, whether it’s being sick, or just not having the best day. Feeding often, encouraging naps, standing to rock, or walking down the aisle (as long as you’re not impeding the flight attendants), and trying distraction techniques can all help. In any case, remember that most flights are (relatively) short, and you’ll get there! It happens to all of us at one time or another.