Eleven Days, Part 1

At the end of June, we ventured abroad for the first time with Emily for what would be her first visit to the "Homeland", Malta. Everyone was excited to meet her, expectations were high. I was just glad the flight was a short 3-hour one, and not any longer. My expectations didn't really exist past that flight. I just wanted to get through it sane and preferably not hated by every other passenger on the plane. Having been those people who begged God and anyone else who'd bother to listen to ensure we were not seated next to a baby on a flight, we were about to be The Parents of Infant on Flight... the same people the old us shot poisonous thoughts at. (I might be exaggerating a little.)

In the end, it wasn't so bad. And it turns out many people are far more patient than I expected them to be.

Getting There

We chose to drive to Heathrow to be able to use our own carseat for Emily. The baby equipment used on this trip was planned with military precision. David's parents managed to get their hands on not one, but TWO, carseats Malta-side for Emily so we only needed to take our own pushchair (and had we wanted, we had one of those in Malta too, we just chose to take our own for comfort's sake).

Now let me make one thing clear. Travel Systems are the very antithesis of travel systems. They make travel harder and do not, in the slightest way, deserve the name. We've come back from Malta researching strollers, but that's another story.

Our flights completely clashed with Emily's usual bedtime. We did as much as we could to keep to her routine and left the rest to chance. Come 7pm, of course, she wouldn't sleep. There was far too much going on in the exciting, lit-up ceilinged airport to want to sleep. So we got onto the flight at 9.15pm with a wide-eyed, grinning baby being cooed at by everyone who passed.

Then she realised she was overtired and disaster struck. All the cooers ate their words and turned to the heavens for divine intervention for a quiet flight. The stupid air hostess came over to me and asked me if she could do something to help with the baby. I passed a snarky comment which she completely didn't get. What did she expect to do? Knock Emily over the head with a lifejacket to make her sleep?

She did sleep eventually, about 10 minutes which felt like a lifetime later, as soon as the engines turned on (yes, that's right - we hadn't actually left yet!). And then she slept for the entire flight on David's deader-by-the-minute arm.

She slept through the idiots idiotic applauding when the pilot DID HIS JOB by landing the plane safely. She slept through the loud Mediterranean journey off the plane. Through passport control near the Italian desperately looking for his lost sunglasses (how could an Italian survive without sunglasses?!). Through the conveyor belt's loud beeping to let us know our suitcases were on the way. Through the two moustached security guards' calling Gary Neville (he was on our flight) across the terminal to ask if they could get a (very early mobile phone camera) picture with him. Through the family welcome and obligatory terminal catch-up at 1am. Through the battle with the carseat (we are somewhat spoiled with our Isofix here in the UK and had no idea how to secure the seat using just a seatbelt... yeah).

She eventually stirred when we got to the flat in Sliema and I transferred her to David, who gave her a quick bottle while I set up the travel cot, we laid her down and that was that. She got up at 7am the next morning.

All in all, I'd say it was a very good first experience!

Notes: I was very confused about how to take her feeds onto the plane, and was hugely reluctant to waste anything. I decided against taking cartons of ready made milk, instead taking a flask of boiled, cooled water, and powder in a dispenser. I'd heard so many "horror" stories about getting feeds past security, and official advice seems to change by the week. I only needed to take a small sip out of the flask and we were through.

However, should push come to shove, and you need to use shop-bought mineral water air-side, just try and ensure that the sodium (Na) level is less than 200 milligrams (mg) per litre, and the sulphate (SO or SO4) content is not higher than 250mg per litre. (more here)

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