Part one: flying, arriving, adjusting & finally sleeping
Routine babies can be flexible, routine babies can be flexible, routine babies can be flexible. That was what I chanted to myself while my husband planned our trip to the United States with our 14 month old son, each day he would come to me with new plans for 5 hour car trips and 6 different time zones, and a few national flights, not to mention the initial 12 hour journey to California. We ummed and ahhhhed over whether to book flights for sleep times or for awake times… turned out it didn’t matter.
As a sleep consultant I felt like there was a lot of pressure for my son to sleep well on holiday and for me to solve any problems that would arise… I was armed with phenogen, cuddlies, sleeping bags, boobs and bottles, I was going to win this battle. While we lined up for our boarding room in Auckland airport at 9pm at night with Beau on my back screaming in defiance about being awake 2 hours after his bed time, we were going to be “those people” on the plane – my worst nightmare! I started chanting in my head again, he can be flexible, while breathing frantically in and out of a brown paper bag. It was this fateful moment that we noticed the way people looked at us had changed, Beau, with his blonde curls is normally a favourite with old ladies in the super market and young ladies out and about – he’s a flirt, people look at him with doe eyes and ask how old he is. While your lining up for a plane, that look changes, people look at you like you are carrying a time bomb, with nothing but scepticism in their eyes.
At check in we were blessed to have a really helpful lady on the desk. As we boarded we realised she hadn’t given us 4 seats together or a bassinette, or even a seat with a little extra room, she did give us however, the row right by the toilets to ensure a constant stream of people walking past, a regular and annoying flushing noise and a slamming door, not to mention the lights that flooded us from inside the toilet with each arrival. Later in the holiday I learnt the art of waving my grumpy baby in people’s faces, making them think about the fact that he could cry the whole flight and then suggesting they move seats so that I could sit next to my husband. Works a charm.
16 hours later after a plan, a bus and a rental car we arrived at our apartment in sunny California, it was 2 in the afternoon (time zone change one) and Beau had had 2 hours of sleep in the last 18 hours. All my plans went out the window and I spent 2 days co sleeping with my son who had been self settling in a cot in his own room for the last 11 months of his life. He woke repeatedly at night and screamed for hours, one night at 4am I demanded that my husband get online and book me a flight home because it wasn’t worth it! I was the sleep deprived mother that we usually help, in my deranged and panicked state I text Emma begging for help and telling her never to travel internationally with a baby. I truly believed he would never sleep again and I had undone 14 months of creating healthy sleep habits. 2-3 days after landing he had his 2 day sleeps and went back to his 12.5 hours at night in his own cot. Routine babies can be flexible. Routine mum’s… maybe we struggle a little.