Bob and I decided we needed to check out neighborhoods in Seattle in preparation for our move up there in a few months. We planned a trip to look at housing prices and do neighborhood research to figure out what we could afford. (Note to all of you MONACLED BARONS buying super modest three-bedroom houses IN ALL CASH in Seattle: A) you are ruining our chances to buy a home like normal people and B) you are stupid. All cash during historically low interest rates? Stupid.) Anyway, we planned to do this before A turned two. Yes, we wanted her to be free. Yes, this meant two babies on two laps. Yes, we are crazy.
A’s birthday is July 1. We bought two nonrefundable tickets returning June 30 a couple weeks out, then found out house we wanted to see (a potential lease to own) was occupied, and apparently unavailable for viewing, until July 1. This made our crazy trip only half crazy because A would get her own ticket on the way back.
We packed this great travel crib for A and one of those little in-bed co-sleeper things for Junior. We got so far as folding up his Arm’s Reach Co-sleeper before we realized it was just too big to fit in our luggage. We also packed a little travel highchair and books A had not seen for a few weeks (I hide about 15 books, mostly paperbacks, in preparation for travel with her, to give them some fresh novelty). We only pack enough diapers for ~2 days, then buy the rest on the other end, since we have to go to a grocery store for milk, etc, pretty much immediately anyway.
In our carryons (for a two hour flight): two picture books, diapers for both kids, wipes, a nursing cover, a change of clothes for Junior, snacks for me & A, a coloring/sticker book with crayons and stamps, and a Kindle.
We always bring our super cheap (and slightly crappy) umbrella stroller from Target as our default travel stroller. We use it in the airport and then check it at the gate, not worrying at all if it’s damaged during the flight. To carry Junior, we brought our Boba Wrap, but once he’s big enough to hold up his head we will probably bring the ergobaby to avoid all of the fabric-dragging-on-the-floor origami required for the wrap.
Of course now that we had two kids we had to bring two car seats–such a pain in the ass. On our trip to Mexico City last year, we lost the sunshade part of A’s car seat in transit and we’ve never been fans of the disposable plastic bags the airports use (albeit unreliably) to keep them clean and prevent this sort of thing from happening. So this time we put each car seat in its own car seat bag, filling the seat with more crap like blankets and jackets, then zipping up the bag. You can check a car seat per child for free, so the little extra you can stuff in the bag is free luggage! (This is totally not my idea- I stole it from this post on travel by Emily at Daily Garnish.) We fit A’s MASSIVE toddler seat in a Britax bag and Junior’s infant seat in a JL Childress bag I got used on Craigslist. Since there’s going to be a year or so with both kids in toddler seats, we should’ve gotten two Britax bags since the JL Childress bag will not fit a toddler seat, but oh well.
the Britax bag: worth the steep $50
We arrived at the airport for bag check in only to discover that despite our booking, two lap ‘infants’ cannot sit in the same row, at least on the Alaska Airline flight we took. Why? Because there are apparently only four oxygen masks in every row of three seats. It would’ve been helpful to know this earlier! (Mistake #1: taking the airline online booking at face value.) My husband was given a new seat, to be shared with A, several rows away from mine. Great.
We politely asked the ticket agent if she could please sit me next to a woman because I would now be breastfeeding alone (and I’m SHY about my nipples, okay?) and she was downright hostile. She chuckled(!) and said it was impossible due to passenger confidentiality. WTH is confidential about gender? I don’t care what’s in their pants, I would just like someone that presents as female to be sitting near me in case I accidentally flash my neighbor while feeding my frigging baby. I guess I’m old-fashioned.
With no help from her, I was lucky to be seated next to a kind lady that wanted to tell me all about the ghosts in her house. Junior didn’t care about the ghosts, but was hungry immediately. This leads me to Mistake #2: not bringing a small nursing pillow or blanket to roll up under my arm. I gave away my Boppy Travel Pillow after A and I really got the hang of nursing, she got more head control, and I generally got cocky about nursing her on a plane. This was dumb of me, because a two month old doesn’t do any of the work for you, no matter how accomplished you are at latching a baby. (Don’t bring a full-sized nursing pillow if you’re traveling coach though; I once brought my full size Boppy Nursing Pillow on a flight alone with three month old A and was absolutely trapped in my seat when she had a blowout.) A coach airplane seat does not provide the comfort of my own couch or recliner, so I ended up holding Junior in my arms the whole time, absolutely killing my biceps. The airplane seat also doesn’t recline enough for the fun combo of my overactive letdown and Junior’s tendency towards gas and acid reflux. About fifteen minutes into the flight, he spat up at least five ounces, absolutely soaking his onesie, his pants, my shirt, my bra, and part of my pants. Mistake #3: bringing only one burp cloth and no change of shirt for me in my carry-on. Junior was changed easily in the tiny bathroom, whereas I had to sit in vomit for the rest of the flight. I sat in it so long it dried on me, you guys. Even if your kid is not prone to spitting up, all babies poop, and blow-outs only seem to happen at very inconvenient times. It happened to me with A! Bring a change of shirt for yourself.
We got off the plane in Seattle, Bob and A both refreshed from napping (our plan of flying at naptime having paid off!). Bob turned to me, covered in vomit, arms killing me, and said, “That wasn’t that bad at all! I thought it would be much harder.” Ugh.
On our way back, now with a full-fledged toddler with her own seat, it was a bit harder for him, a bit easier for me. Seattle-Tacoma Airport has an amazing, free(!) Kids’ Play Area for toddlers, with a Mother’s Room right next to it. There are all kinds of cozy cushions all around the immediate playroom so I just nursed there, but loved having the choice. I added it to my Mamava nursing/pumping locator app, I was so impressed.
At the gate, even though it caused zero problems on the way to Seattle, the Southwest Airlines guy gave me a really hard time for not checking in our infant, even though we had booked the tickets with him. Apparently you have to book them, then check in with them more than we already did at the ticket counter? I don’t know, still. Apparently I already had forgotten Mistake #1. I also got a lecture about bringing a copy of Junior’s birth certificate. We brought A’s passport but I didn’t bother making a copy of Junior’s birth certificate because there’s no way this kid looks under 12 days or over two years, but whatever. Avoid the hassle! Mistake #4: not bringing a copy of the baby’s birth certificate.
Seattle, winning us over
We didn’t fly at naptime so A demanded entertainment on the flight. We read her books, gave her some snacks and colored with her. Bob took her for a ‘walk’ down the airplane’s aisle. Then we got out the Kindle to play her favorite game, Sago Mini Ocean Swimmer, which is basically an animated lift-the-flap thingie. It’s not that interesting to me, but she loves it and doesn’t get to play it more than ~twice a month or so when I’m really desperate since we’re not thrilled about screen time for little kids. I got her all excited about it and pressed the on button. Whoops. Mistake #5: not checking that the kindle was fully charged. D’oh.
So I got out my iPhone and let her listen to Animal Sounds for a few minutes before playing the other toddler game I have, Busy Shapes, with her. That one is worth getting; it’s fun and challenging and inspired by Piaget’s developmental theories. That totally makes the mindless airplane screen time educational!
So, we survived, but I’m tired just thinking about it again. I hope we learned from our own dumb mistakes, because we’re headed back to Seattle for Bob’s family reunion next week. We’re experts now, right?