November 20, 2006

How Much Can You Take?

Ah, the holidays. A time when rest and relaxation never seemed so far away. My one year old and I were flying by ourselves trip to the grandparents' house over Thanksgiving. My daughter Pixie had been sick all the previous night and neither of us had gotten much rest. At 6 a.m. the next morning we groaned out of bed and headed to the airport. Being Thanksgiving weekend, it was a full flight and Pixie was my moronically designated “lap-child.” When you are five months pregnant like I am, “lap children” are a laughable fantasy. In preparation for the long flight with my lap-monkey, I didn't drink anything during the 12 hours before the flight so that at least my bladder would be comfortable. Additionally, in remembrance of past airplane traumas, I purchased children's Benadryl for Pixie to take on the airplane at the first signs of insanity.

We got on the plane. I was stuck with a cramped window seat and after only ten minutes of play Pixie got feisty. But I was prepared, right? I smugly pulled out the Benadryl and offered her the suggested dose. I was surprised when she refused to comply with my medicating attempts but I wouldn't take no for an answer. I held back her head and pried her mouth open to sneak a dose down her throat. She went nuts. From the sound of her screams, you'd think I was decapitating all of her stuffed animals in front of her eyes. I'm not sure how much, if any of the medicine made it down her throat, but after some worried looks from my fellow passengers, I sullenly surrendered the battle. Hopefully it was only a matter of time now before the medicine kicked in and she fell asleep. I waited. I waited. I waited. Pixie was still indignant and flung herself wildly about grabbing the hair of the man in front of us and ripping the in-flight magazine. This was not the plan and my face turned dark. Although Pixie seemed to be getting tired after 15 minutes of spasms, she was resisting sleep with every screaming cell in her body. Same old airplane scene. Why did I think this time would be any different than the last?

But I can handle this. I have traveled with Pixie almost every month since she was born and have learned to just shut up and take it until the plane touches down. But I wasn't prepared for what happened next.

A stewardess called over to me to get my attention. I turned to her with the hollow-eyed look of the condemned and raised my eyebrows to acknowledge her. "Ma'am, would you like me to take her for a little walk? Do you think she'd like that?"

"If you want her..." I grumbled. But I didn't move, thinking she had just asked to be nice and couldn't possibly want to handle my screaming baby. I waited for her to pass on but instead she waited expectantly so I shrugged and handed Pixie over the row of passengers to her outstretched arms.

With Pixie suddenly gone, I found the space in the window seat to be overwhelmingly luxurious. I didn't know what to do with all my new-found options. This sweet little flight attendant had just given me the unheard of opportunity to sit quietly on an airplane and breath evenly. This was all so unexpected - the kindness of a stranger had untied the knot on my tightly wound emotional state. A 30 pound psycho jumping on my bladder for three hours is a cake-walk, but unsolicited kindness was WAY out of my league. Not knowing what else to do, I burst into tears.

These were not cute little drips down my cheeks. No, this was an unrestrained release of all the tension I'd accumulated since waking up and every other miserable airplane ride with my wild lap-child. I'm talking moaning, cathartic sobs. Despite my unexpected reaction, I was able to pull myself together after a few minutes and took some deep breaths. I would enjoy this time to myself. I was just pulling out a magazine when the stewardess passed by again holding Pixie who was happily eating a chocolate chip muffin from first class. I lost it again. The next 45 minutes I spent trying to hold back the floods of weepy gratitude but went ballistic whenever I saw that dear sweet stewardess wandering past with my baby. After a while, people began turning to stare as my sobs were impossible to hide. Sympathetic women began offering their condolences, and tissues were springing from every corner. This was the last thing I needed and I felt sure that the tears that had now surfaced would spring forth eternal in the face of such overwhelming kindness from my fellow passengers. Each offer of charity was met with fresh waves of sobs.

Mercifully, 45 minutes later the flight attendant handed me back my baby who was bright eyed, bushy tailed and had a neat little sticker on her shirt from the captain. It was all I could do to mouth "thank you" to her. At last my tears were exhausted. With Pixie back in my arms, it was easy to pull together my game face and settle into my cramped corner with my mommy-resolve for the rest of the flight. My sleeves were covered with mascara, my nose totally stuffed up and my eyes were burning from the tears, but I felt better than I ever felt possible on a full flight. I just never saw it coming.

15 comments:

Anonymous said...

That was YOU?

Anonymous said...

Yay, you're in Dallas! Isn't it nice to have some "cold" weather for once? If Scrooge is at Northpark already, you should take Penny.

I head to San Diego tomorrow night, and due to your story, I'm going to take some benadryl-- for ME.

amanda said...

it is amazing what pregnancy and sleep deprivation can do to us. it is a lethal combination. too bad the benadryl didn't work.

Suzie Petunia said...

That is just about the sweetest thing I have ever heard. I can't think of a kinder thing to do for a mom on an airplane. You should let someone at the airline know how wonderful that stewardess (or is it female flight attendant?) was. She deserves a raise! At least some good recognition.

compulsive writer said...

That is so sweet. I am happy for you that you were the recipient of someone's extraordinary kindness.

Happy Thanksgiving!

patrick said...

Sorry about the flight. That stinks. I hope the time with your family makes up for it.

Oh, and I chatted with Adam the other day... I think its funny that you guys sometimes communicate through your blog. "I'm sorry, honey, I don't feel like listening tonight. Can't you just post it and I'll leave a comment later?" You guys Rock.

Good luck on the flight home. You may want to check Penny in as opposed to having her as carry-on. Just a thought.

Happy Holiday.

Anonymous said...

Gosh Sarah, be glad you don't live in Norway! Thats a commute! Eat some turkey for me... hugs Kibler

Lisa M. said...

ah, I LOVE YA!

Anonymous said...

Geez, you're trying to make me cry, aren't you? That made MY day. Big hugs. Hang in there! BTW, you have every right to be a pregnant hermit and act like a lunatic. Enjoy it while you can--the world seems to excuse it for just those 9 months. Man, I miss that.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, Sarah I agree that you should call the airline with the flight number and date and so forth. That lady needs a raise! And you're cute for being such a bawl baby about it. What a good story...

kaff said...

I'm glad there are some good flight attendants out there. I would have told you to please quiet that baby down :) I agree with anonymous about calling the airline. There are so many complaints, it would be nice to hear a compliment. You should have made plans to meet up with her on the flight back to LA!!

Jenny Fosdick said...

I can't possibly think you are crazy because I started crying while reading your story! I must have the same kind of mother-attachment and crazy hormones (although to my knowledge I am not pregnant). Congrats on the pregnancy!

Jenny

Anonymous said...

Let me get this straight, your blogging about a situation you cant control. Hows that any different from peoples normal everyday life! Better yet your calling your baby physco? What are you thinking? Its all part of life you buffoan!!!

Sarah said...

Wow - I've never been called a "buffoan" before. I'm flattered :)

Anonymous said...

I smell blood...