I’m going to tell you how amazing and better-than-expected flying with my kids was.
I need to describe the one flight on which it all fell apart. The flight on which I was that passenger. The flight on which everyone saw my breasts.
You read that correctly.
It was the one flight I wasn’t concerned about. We were leaving Cambodia at midnight on a five hour flight to Korea. I felt confident the children would sleep. They were already drifting off during the tuk tuk ride to the airport.
The seats were three on each side with one aisle down the middle. Norah was at the window, I had the aisle seat, and Cedar was between us. Scott had already returned to the US. My parents were on the flight but seated in a different section.
Take-off was fine. The girls drifted to sleep as expected. I watched “The Help” and had a glass of wine. A few hours before we were scheduled to land, the lovely folks at Korean Air thought we needed meals. The girls were curled up in their seats. Never one to waste food and wanting to be prepared in case the girls woke, I took the food. It was a bad move.
Picture it: three trays down. loaded with food and beverage. no wiggle room.
is startled awake suddenly screams like her arms are being ripped off.
Good morning, everyone. Let me introduce myself and my precious toddler.
Cedar is screaming and thrashing and twisting. She’s slippery when she arches her back and straightens her arms. Now, I have a emergency preparedness plan for just such an event. I read it on a travel blog. Take the child to the bathroom and lock yourself in until the child calms.
Ok, step one. Somehow get out from under the food trays. I stack my tray on top of Norah’s (who is mercifully still sleeping). I grab Cedar and stand up on my seat. This perch reassures the other passengers that the child is not being tortured. I want to make sure everyone can see us clearly. We stumble into the aisle only to realize we are blocked by the first class curtain on one end and the food cart on the other. A nervous flight attendant runs to me and asks me to “just wait, miss, until the aisle is open.” Um, ok.
We wait. And Cedar continues to scream. It doesn’t let up. At all. I try everything. Yes, even the rescue remedy. So I do the one thing I said I wouldn’t do: I whipped out the boob. No modesty. Whipped out. A phrase I hate and claim breastfeeding moms don’t really do. I did that. And you know what? Even that didn’t work.
Finally, the aisle cleared and I carried/lugged/dragged my thrashing child (trying to keep passengers from getting kicked in the head) to the bathrooms. Which, don’t you know it, were all occupied. While we waited, sweet flight attendants showered Cedar with chocolate and candy. Under normal circumstances, she would have been in heaven. In her screaming banshee state, it made the crying worse.
Once in the bathroom, eventual calm descended. She nursed for a little while with those awful hiccup noises. I began to pep talk her for the walk back to our seat. She seemed ready. I let her open the door. And we made it three steps before the crying began and we bee-lined back to the bathroom.
This time, I decided to carry my 29 month old child while breastfeeding down the narrow aisle crowded with recently fed passengers waiting for the bathroom.
“Why hello there! Have you seen my breast yet?” “Did you get a good look at my crying toddler?” “Yep, that’s my boob there.” “If I can just squeeze by you?” “Oops, sorry, didn’t mean to knock you in the head with that.”
We crawled over and into our seats (the food was still there). I was terrified to stop nursing the child. Finally, the uneaten food was removed and we began our descent. And guess what?
Norah woke up screaming. Her ears hurt. And that made Cedar start crying again. BOTH. OF. THEM. CRYING.
I was prepared for ears. But on the previous three (!) flights, there had been no ear complaints so I had to dig for the homeopathic ear tablets and gum. Norah loves medicine and responds well to placebo. I told her it was powerful medicine and would work immediately. She went to sleep within 10 minutes.
And then Cedar went to sleep.
And because we were flying blessed Korean Air, they did not make me (1) buckle my sleeping children for landing or, (2) cover my boob. The flight attendant even brought me a hot tea.
In Korea, we headed straight to a playground where (still shaking) I prepared myself mentally to board a 14 hour flight. I seriously considered calling my friend, Kimmie, who lives in Korea to ask if we could move in with her.
Next up: how awesome flying with children is!