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)

7 comments:

  1. Well done on handling the travelling with a baby bit so well. Glad you eventually got Emily to sleep and hope you had a wonderful holiday :)

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  2. Sounds like a great first flight for Emily!you were lucky...my friends came from uk 3 weeks ago and they had to take sips out of all the packed breastmilk feeds they had!

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  3. This post will come in very handy for me come August, thanks C!

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  4. I always love your blog.
    It's so sweet, interesting and down to earth. Most of the time you talk about things that I am living myself so I feel this close relationship with you and your stories.

    However, I find it a bit out of character for you to say that the stupid flight attendant came to provide help and you gave a snarky comment.
    Is it possible that you were over-sensitive or/and stressed that your baby was crying?

    I don't like people that applaud at pilots landing either - but again, why are they idiots? Is it because your baby was sleeping and you were worried they would wake her up?
    No need to call anyone an idiot, dont you think?

    Please dont become one of those mothers that look down at other people without kids, as you had the biggest challenge in the world.
    You are way sweeter than that - I know it, I've been reading your blog for years.

    You were clearly stressed about it - don't put it on other people though.
    I'll remain anonymous because I appreciate you already (without knowing you) and I don't want this to affect anything, but I thought I should be honest... I did raise my eyebrows a few times reading this post.
    Just relax, it's a phase - you should be thankful for enjoying a trip home, with your husband next to you helping you, a lovely baby, people that clap at the pilot landing instead of getting drunk and yelling in the plane, and italians wearing sunglasses (but they dont hurt anyone, do they?).

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  5. Dear Anonymous,

    Thank you for your comment and your compliments. I am glad that my blog is enjoyed by so many people and I always love getting feedback. Please do not take what I am about to say in a negative tone, as it is not in any way meant that way!

    The Flight Attendant
    It was a much longer story than I actually detailed. I won't deny that I was stressed - that amount of screaming will do anyone's head in. But when you're trying to calm a screaming baby, the last thing you need is someone butting in asking questions. I joked to her that she could help by keeping everyone else quiet and she totally didn't get it and went on to explain to me about how she can't do that. Did she seriously think I expected her to keep a planeful of people quiet?

    Applauding
    Sleeping baby or not, I have never understood the applauding when a plane lands. I have travelled alone and thought it ridiculous - yes, idiotic, even. My comment there had nothing to do with stress. It is downright daft and I have yet to find a semi-acceptable explanation for it!

    Sunglasses
    I have nothing against Italians or sunglasses, or the combination of the two :) It was just a somewhat stereotypical joke and was in no way meant to insult said Italian! Had I lost my sunglasses, I'd have been pretty upset too!

    I certainly hope I don't become one of those people who looks down on others who have no children. (I refer you to my first paragraph of this post!) There was no point on that plane during which I thought that things should be done differently because there was a baby on board. Isn't there always a baby (or 3) on board? It's never stopped me from having a conversation, even a laugh, with another passenger - it didn't stop me this time.

    I am not one of those people who expect things to change because I now have a baby. Some things do change and it's inevitable but I don't expect the world to bend around me because of that. People have been having babies for millions of years, they just fit into it all. It's one reason I'm so proud of my baby for being able to sleep through lots of noise, for being so adaptable.

    I fear that the two negative adjectives in this post gave you the impression of a negative tone throughout this post - it's not the case. Yes, perhaps my humour was slightly dry - it was just the mood I was in when I wrote this. But at the end of the day my point still remains that it was a very positive experience, one that has certainly not put me off flying with a baby (as I feared it might).

    So thank you for writing your comment. The feedback was appreciated, as was the opportunity to clear up exactly what I meant by it all!

    xx

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  6. Thanks, Clare.
    Totally fair and understood, and thanks for taking the time to provide more detail :)

    You even take on feedback in a fabulous way.
    Gorgeous!

    (Anonymous again)

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Penny for your thoughts, my dear...

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