Seven straight hours of crying, New York to San Francisco. I will never, ever forget how close I was to losing my mind. I wanted to slam my head against the fuselage out of frustration and exhaustion.
By age eight months Bpoo had flown on three trans-Atlantic flights, as well as several short trips within California, without any problems. She was especially cheerful on her very first flight, a non-stop from London to San Francisco. Mummy and I diligently followed nearly every single piece of advice out there regarding airplane travel with babies. We scheduled our flights coinciding with her nap time. We had pre-measured baby formula, plenty of snacks, fully-charged iPhones, her favorite books and a few stuffed animals in our carry-on luggage. We were an efficient tag team through security checks. We would bottle-feed Bethypoo at takeoff, and alternate turns rocking her up and down the aisle while at cruising altitude when necessary. We requested the in-flight sleeping cot, had plenty of disinfectant wipes, extra diapers and baby clothes…we were ready.
Maybe flying with a baby isn’t so bad after all!
Before flying to San Francisco International from New York’s JFK, we stayed in Manhattan for a few days to tour the city. Initially concerned that Bpoo might be cranky during the sightseeing, luckily the jet lag, large crowds and new surroundings did not seem to bother her at all. We had a great time, and we were looking forward to arriving in the Bay Area.
On this particular seven-hour domestic flight, scheduled for a 7:30 PM takeoff, we opted to lap Bethypoo rather than pay for another seat. Maybe the exhaustion finally caught up to her, or maybe she had an ailment we didn’t recognize, but for whatever reason, the crying started immediately after we boarded. She wouldn’t take her bottle, the books weren’t helping, and she turned away at the sight of her toys. My forehead beaded with perspiration, with the thought of “being those dumb travelers with a baby” going through my mind, over and over again.
And so, for the rest of the coast-to-coast flight, we tried our best to soothe Bethypoo with either formula, our smart phones, a few magazines, or our pacing-rocking up and down the aisle. I undressed her in the lavatory to check for any unnoticed injuries or bug bites she might’ve suffered. Except for a few short moments, the wailing never stopped. I spent the last few hours of the flight in the rear of the plane with Bpoo in my baby carrier, patting her back, whispering “shhhhh” quietly in her ear over and over again. I wondered how many passengers out there were wishing they could throw me out through the escape hatch.
Bethypoo was still crying upon landing around 11:30 PM San Francisco time, and after apologizing to the people around us, we deplaned, retrieved our stroller and placed Bethypoo in it. My body ached, and I felt so groggy. Poor Mummy was in terrible shape as well. We were completely, utterly exhausted.
But…there was Bethypoo, giggling in her stroller. A few minutes later, when we reached baggage claim, she was asleep, as if nothing ever happened. Mummy and I laughed, confused but grateful for the peace and quiet.