As a couple, my husband and I both love to travel (I know I have told you this a zillion times already!) and when baby S entered our lives, we never realised it would make a difference till we actually travelled. From one suitcase, our luggage grew to three out of which two only contained her paraphernalia. The hatchback that was sufficient for us suddenly seemed cramped up and after trying to stuff in all the luggage and the baby bag and the bottle steriliser and the pram, we finally bought a sedan with the biggest boot space in its category. For a couple of months thereafter, we basked in the glory of being able to solve the problem so easily. Baby S slept on most of the journeys, everything was just as should have been!
The first air travel for Baby S came when she was around 7 months of age and we had to travel from Delhi to Kolkata. I am not a fan of train-travel and was definitely not eager to experiment it with a lap baby, therefore, the choice of flying was obvious. As the day came closer, I became wary of ear pain that is common in infants during take-offs and landings, so I read quite a lot on the topic, consulted my Pediatrician colleagues and armed myself with pacifiers, bottles of formula feed and saline nasal spray. Swallowing opens up a baby’s eustachian tubes(ear canals) and equalises the pressure in her ears. It pays to be a doctor mom, you see, though on a downside, it does make you a very paranoid mom!
Baby S seemed fascinated with the plane as we stepped on the stairs. She gurgled, smiled and enchanted everyone. While she was happily smiling away, I was fraught with worry about the take-off. As soon as the announcements were made, I strapped her in and tried to offer her a pacifier. She had never seen a pacifier before so the sight of it made her curious and she refused to put it in her mouth, wanting to survey and examine it from every angle. The plane gained speed and I frantically filled up a bottle with formula and offered it to her. She pushed it away to play with the pacifier again. No amount of coaxing and cajoling worked. My husband touched my shoulder and pointed it out to me that the plane was already in the air and I was fretting over nothing. We had a good laugh over it and concluded that Baby S was a born traveller, like us. The flight went smoothly and our little baby had fun playing throughout. When it was time for the plane to land, I again tried to offer her the bottle which she happily took. As the plane began its descent, she pushed the bottle out and started playing again. I did not force the bottle this time for I myself sat holding my head, my ears hurting a lot. I turned to my husband who was trying to do the Valsalva maneuver to tackle his ear pain. As we both fought with ear ache, Baby S made a plane of her pacifier and was waving it in the air, giggling at us!
Five months down the line, we were set to travel by air again, this time from Delhi to Pune and I was not worried at all. Baby S was older and I knew from past experience that she was going to ace it like a pro. We boarded the flight and the very caring air hostess asked me if I needed any help since I had a small child with me. I assured her that we were just fine. Just as the plane began its run, I pointed out my window, ‘Look outside, there are so many planes. We are going to leave all of them behind.’ She looked out and saw planes of all sizes and colours, waiting to take-off. Suddenly she started shouting, ”I want red one. Red, not blue!” We were travelling in an airline with a blue logo and tailfins while she had just seen her favourite colour on another plane. I tried to convince her that it was just the colour of the font and the planes were similar but it is impossible to convince a year-old of anything. The faster the plane moved, the louder her howling became. Almost everyone in the plane was looking in our direction and shaking their heads in sympathy. The drama continued for an unbelievable hour and a half and had me at my wit’s end by the time Baby S finally tired herself to sleep. When the plane landed, fellow co-passengers came to console me.
‘Must be travelling by air for the first time!’
‘It’s okay. Next time, carry something to soothe her.’
‘Poor baby! Must be scared.’ and so on and so forth. I just nodded my head and thanked everyone for their concern. How could I explain that she was crying over the colour of the plane.
I learnt a couple of parenting lessons that day:
Never take anything for granted with your baby; her mood rules!
Be prepared to be shocked and find yourself ill-equipped to deal with the whims and fancies of a young child.
It may be a roller-coaster ride travelling with your kid but travel nonetheless! There are lots of reasons to travel with your kids…Funny or enjoyable, the trips make for lifetime of memories and some interesting blogposts too! 😉