11 February 2012

Baby (and not such a baby) on board

We flew from Brussels to Barcelona on Thursday evening, and the flight was simultaneously wonderful and horrible. Horrible, because the heat was cranked up and I was sweltering the entire time, even more because of my built-in incubator, I'm sure. M. put his hand on my belly at one point to feel the baby move and I couldn't even stand that iota of extra warmth. Gabriel was sitting mostly on his lap, but also stretched out onto mine, and my feet swelled up to the point where I laboriously took off my boots and wasn't sure whether I would ever get them back on. The seats seemed impossibly close together, my kneecaps smashed against the row in front of us, and I couldn't manage to reach anything on the floor (and of course Gabriel regularly dropped his crayons). I got a violently painful knot in my shoulder that I couldn't shake out, and I had to pee but couldn't fathom getting out of my seat, unbuckling the kid (who would refuse to be buckled again), and crawling back over the seemingly insurmountable distance of three airplane seats with no leg room.

The flight was only two hours but it felt like ten.

However! There is the wonderful part I mentioned. The schedule was changed from an afternoon flight to an 8:30pm flight, which meant checking in at around Gabriel's bedtime, landing at 10:30, and arriving at my in-laws' house at nearly midnight. But Gabriel surpassed all expectations, sitting quietly during the whole flight and coloring or reading. For the first time ever, we didn't bring a diaper bag, just a little backpack for him to carry himself, and he wore it onto the plane and off like a little champ. (In fact, the only time he did cry was when we made him take the backpack off after boarding.) When we got off the plane, we had to climb down the stairs to a waiting bus, and since the Mister had the suitcases, I was in charge of Gabriel. Instead of trying to carry him, I had him walk down himself, holding my hand, and even with the loud roar of the plane engines, the cold and semi-dark and rushing wind, he bravely marched down those stairs. I could tell he was a little scared, but he didn't stop or beg to be carried, and I was SO proud of him. We hopped onto the bus and he sat there, pleased as punch, and walked all the way through the airport with his little backpack, giddily running into the arms of his grandfather like something out of a movie. He didn't even fall asleep during the car ride home, and stayed awake to greet his grandmother with equal joy, then playing delightedly with the toys that are here.

In sum, Gabriel made the trip twenty times more tolerable. (Not sure where that puts the math...)

(It makes me wonder, as does much of his great behavior lately--solidly sleeping through the night without bedtime protest, eating well, understanding our explanations and responding to them, and so forth--how crazy we are to introduce infant chaos back into our lives just when things are getting so good!)

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