River and I are safely ensconced at Thom's parents' house in Las Vegas after taking a cross country flight last night. This weekend Crystal and I will be celebrating our ten year high school reunion, and we've taken the opportunity to spend a good chunk of time showing River off to friends and family. Our men couldn't take a week plus off from work, so they'll fly together this weekend. In the mean time they're at home doing whatever it is men do when there's no one around to nag them to take out the garbage, wear matching socks, and eat balanced meals (drinking like fish, playing Wii, and working too hard, I assume).
I was cautiously optimistic as we got on the plane last night. Crystal, River, and I had spent the hour before boarding calming my nerves (with the help of a g & t) in the airport Wolfgang Puck's. Somehow, we just happened to sit next to a couple and their veteran traveler newborn. At five months old, little Sophia had already taken eight trips in planes, so I broke my typical stranger silence and picked her parents' brains. They could tell River had a great disposition and predicted he would do well traveling. They advised I feed him at take off and landing to relieve the air pressure, and figured otherwise he should sleep through the flight.
I was heartened by their faith in my little munchkin as I strode to our seats in the back of the plane; still, I avoided the eyes of the other passengers as I passed, not wanting to see trepidation or outright hostility in their faces. I could just hear them thinking, Great, he'll be screaming the whole way. Who the hell flies to Vegas with a baby?!
Crystal and I had reserved seats in the rear cabin, an aisle and window, in hopes of minimizing our chances of having a third passenger in our row. The plan worked brilliantly (though Crystal suspects one guy might have been assigned to our row but just kept walking when he saw River). The first thing I did when I sat down was pull out my Clorox wipes and hit every surface River might touch or put his mouth on. I knew there was no way to keep him from exploring--I just wanted to minimize germ exposure.
As soon as Crystal passed him over to me, he attacked the armrest with his mouth, then moved to the window, then found the TV monitor, and on and on. There were all kinds of new sights, sounds, smells, and people to check out, and he was having a blast. By the time we pulled away from the gate half an hour later he had had his fill, and was ready to nurse (thank goodness for that empty seat!). He ate a bit and promptly fell asleep with nary a whimper as we took off.
He stayed that way, asleep in my arms, for about two hours, until I just could not hold my bladder any longer. When I passed him over to Crystal, he was still mostly asleep, but by the time I had washed my hands and opened the lavatory door, I could hear that distinctive River cry.
Oh, no, I thought, here comes the meltdown. I could have had a quiet, happy baby, but I just had to pee! Stupid, wimpy bladder! I rushed down the aisle to retrieve my screaming child, and by the time I was seated with the pooker in my arms, all was silent. I couldn't believe it. All he needed was to know I was there. I have never been so thankful for my magic mommy powers.
The kid slept through the rest of the flight--through squawking announcements, bouncing turbulence, and glaring overhead lights. He was just beautiful. As we waited for the folks ahead to file out, a few passengers commented on how good he had been and how cute he was. As I nodded my agreement, I had no trouble looking them in the eyes.
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