On the Terribleness Of Plane Travel


Traveling by plane with a baby is a total bitch. Yeah, I know, what an insightful revelation. But just hear me out. It’s not so much the traveling part - sure it’s annoying to sit with a squirming infant in your lap for 13 hours, getting up only to change diapers in a tiny, germ-infested space, then going to the bathroom yourself with someone sitting on you lap, after which you attempt to wash your hands one handed. And it's annoying not to be able to sleep on the plane. Or watch the fabulous inflight entertainment system. Or even read a magazine. Or eat your dinner. (As an aside, I now have a new appreciation for solo plane travel. My total wet dream is to be crammed into an economy seat for 13 hours straight with nothing to do but commune with my iPad. I’ll even take a middle row seat! Between a guy who smells like cabbage and a middle-aged woman who, slightly drunk and over-sharey, falls asleep on my shoulder!) Nor is it the waiting in airports, rushing to the gate with mountains of carry-on luggage bouncing along precariously behind you, missing connections, dealing with delays, and randomly pacing the terminals with tired swollen feet, an aching back and a baby in a sling, positioned exactly at ear level protesting loudly about the injustice of having to be carried around. These are minor complaints. The real reason that travel by plane is a torturous hell is because of the whole flying-across-multiple-timezones-thing.

Internet, prepare for many many many words wherein I complain about baby jet leg.

Normal human jet leg sucks a lot. I know. But there are remedies for that - like melatonin, Ambien, or even a glass of good ol’-fashioned red wine. Yeah you’re tired for a few days. Sure, you’re waking up at 4 in the morning. But you can self medicate. Or, if you’re of the more flowery, granola persuasion, read a book to pass the pre-dawn hours. But when you have a jet legged baby, there is no reading of books. There is no drugging yourself into a dozy stupor. There is no moping in bed, restlessly tossing your body around, attempting to demonstrate to your partner how bravely you endure your trials, while at the same time being annoyed at how he doesn't recognize your suffering. There is, however, lots and lots of crying. And pacing the floors at two in the morning. In a cold cold house. Too bone tired to think about turning on the heat.

And then there is the daytime aftermath where everything turns to shit. The baby is too exhausted to be entertained. Too tired to sleep. Here,lets go outside and get some sun to reset our circadian rhythm and counteract the effects of jet lag. WAHHHHHH! THAT IS THE WORST IDEA I’VE EVER HEARD! IT INVOLVES A COAT! I DO NOT WANT! YOU CANNOT MAKE ME FOR I WILL SCREAM! YOU ARE A TERRIBLE TERRIBLE PERSON! WAHHHHHHHHHH! Okay, well, how about staying inside and going in the baby carrier while I vacuum the floor. The vacuum always calms you down. WAHHHHHHHH! THIS IS AWEFUL! WORST THING IN THE WORLD! HATE! SCREAM! HHHHHHAAAAATTTTTE! Okay. Maybe a story? WAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH! I WANT TO EAT THE BOOK. Nom nom WAHHHHHHHHHH! I CANNOT EAT THIS BOOK AND THEREFORE I HATE IT! Alright, the miracle cure-all. Have some milk! WAHHHHHHHHH! TERRIBLE! DO NOT GIVE ME MILK! TORTURE! HATE HATE HATE HAAAAAAAATTTTTTEEEEZZZZZ ZZ Z ZZZZzzzzzz...gingerly put baby on bed...hold breath...exhale...WAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH! WHAT ARE YOU DOING TO ME?! HHHHHHAAAAATTTTTE!!!!!!!!!!!!

We spent about a week like that.

Now 13 days post-travel, we are sleeping better at night, where better is defined as fewer than five night-time wakings. However, Stella is not napping. She is exhibiting all the regular tired-baby signs: rubbing of eyes, staring off into space, whining, yawning, the whole deal. But try to put her in bed for a nap? This results in an hour-long screaming fit. And then 20 minuets of sleep. Believe me, the ROI is totally not with it.

So we now have a new approach to daytime sleep. It’s called Whatever Parenting. Sleepy? Try sleeping. No, don’t want to? No problem. We’ll go play. Or read a book. Or do the dishes. Or more likely, watch the Kardashians. I’m letting the baby call the shots - if she’s tired she’ll sleep. If she’s hungry she’ll eat. I’ve decided that the battles are just not worth it. Be damned parenting books! I’m doing whatever works! Whatever Parenting. Join the movement!