Wednesday, November 30, 2011

The Kindness of Strangers

On December 25th of this year I will be almost 35 weeks pregnant... 

...which means I will be unable to travel to see family for Christmas due to my strong aversion to birthing small humans while airborne.

FUN FACT!  Did you know that it is 26 times more likely that someone will die on your plane than be born? I didn't either until I Googled the above link. Say what you want about this post but you'll walk away from it having learned something!

Because we'll be SoCal-bound for the remainder of the holiday season, for Thanksgiving I felt compelled to fit in a wild round of family visits in advance of my baby-mandated confinement.

First up, I flew to Texas (with children and Mother-in-Law in tow, but without husband, who had stayed behind to work -- a detail which will become important SOON). I spent some time with my husband's family and got in plenty of quality squeezing sessions with my ridiculously cute 4-month-old niece.

And it was great.

But as Thanksgiving day approached it was time for me to make my way to Florida for a turkey-fest with my own relatives. This meant that I somehow needed to transport myself AND two toddlers from San Antonio, TX to Ft. Myers, FL all by my lonesome whilst seven months pregnant.  The journey would involve two legs of a flight and a two-hour layover with two kids (one an 18-month-old 'lap child' despite the fact that I have virtually no lap to speak of at this point, and the other a three-year-old with a tendency to projectile vomit whenever airborne).

Did I mention that I was doing this all on the 2nd busiest travel day of the year?

As I packed up my bags I had visions of travel terrors dancing in my head. I was sure  I would lose at least one of the kids permanently in the cavernous DFW Airport. I was perplexed as to how I was going to balance my current need to pee every fifteen minutes with the requirements of supervising two mini-travelers. I was thinking a lot about the puking.

But I am happy to report that my fears were, for the most part, in vain. My kids were on their absolute best behavior, (and yes, they were also entirely barf-free) and my fellow travelers stepped up heroically to support me at every stage of our journey.

A special shout-out to:

  • The San Antonio TSA agent who coaxed Snoodie through the X-Ray machine and then engaged him in a series of ever-more complicated high-fives until I could gather my belongings and achieve full stroller-containment of his brother.
  • The serviceman traveling with his own family who missed his boarding group so that he could stay behind and help me fold up my 18-wheel-sized double stroller before getting on the plane.
  • The REI-clad woman who threw out a fresh cup of coffee so her hands would be free to carry Crinks on board and then told me with a smile, "I think you must be the bravest woman I've met all day!"
  • My full-figured seatmate on the 2nd leg of the flight. When I saw he was a single businessman I groaned inwardly thinking I'd be getting glares for three hours straight. Instead he helped me get my bags settled and even made cute faces at the kids as the plane took off. When I thanked him for being so nice he laughed and said, "Hey, a big guy like me is always happy to have a little guy riding shotgun! You guys made my day!"

And thus, my faith was briefly restored in the goodness of all mankind and the wonder of air travel.

Of course, on the flight home the plane had a flat tire. Snoodie vomited twice. We missed our connection. They wouldn't seat us together on the second leg. Then they lost our gate-checked stroller and car seat, only to return it to us two days later missing two of its wheels.

But all the joy and thankfulness? It was nice while it lasted.