Due to our last-minute planning, it had to be a quick trip. Daddy stayed home while the Muffinhead and Grandma Margee and I made the journey together. My sister Wendy met us at the Albuquerque airport as she on flew a different airline.
Preparing to board the plane with my mother, my son and all of his apparatus made me feel like the leader of a military brigade. My mom was highly experienced and ready to assist. Nevertheless, I insisted on reviewing the plan with her several times: "OK, you're going to carry these things, I am going to carry those things, we are going to gate check that thing, and the baby is going to be here when we are there" and so on and so on. When the Southwest Airlines attendants called for preboarding, we left the gate at a sprint.
As anyone who's travelled with me can attest, I'm not the world's most relaxed flier. My previous job at Sportworks required me to fly a reasonable amount, so I was eventually able to find a rhythm and ritual that seemed to work for me . . . as long as turbulence wasn't involved.
Once aboard it took seconds to realize that all of my tricks to soothe myself were no longer applicable. I was 100% focused on keeping Miles safe and--most importantly--quiet. Now I was the person who received "the look" from boarding passengers. Talk about loss of control... this was the ultimate lesson.
I knew that as long as I nursed Miles on take off and landing he would be reasonably OK, as I had been told by countless professionals and experienced travelers. We even purchased Miles his own seat, so he could sleep in safety and style and give me and Grandma a break.
Easy, we got our seats, the car seat was installed and my baby was in interested-but-cute mode. Fine.
Then, prior to leaving the gate, Miles progressed into I'm-hungry-feed-me-now mode. This really put me into a cold sweat. I needed to feed him on takeoff, not before we left the gate. I quickly realized that I had no choice--lunch was NOW. So I fed him. Luckily, he nursed again on takeoff. He even relaxed enough to be put in his car seat for about 15 minutes. Shortly thereafter, he began to get upset. Unfortunately, the seatbelt sign was still on.
I broke my cardinal rule of never getting up before the seatbelt sign is off and inserted Miles into my miracle Moby Wrap. I bounced him while standing and held on for dear life. In my brain, I reviewed all of the "clear air turbulence" happenings between Seattle and Albuquerque and recalled none - thankfully. After some time, Miles nodded off and I was able to slide down into a seat. O ur descent was perfect, he nursed as hoped and we de-planed as Experienced Fliers.
The weekend was a desert whirlwind. It began with a lovely BBQ dinner at my Aunt Ruth and Uncle Dave's and Miles' first meeting with his Great Grandfather. For years, my Grandpa has enjoyed one cocktail every night. Unfortunately, Miles inadvertently inserted his little hand into Grandpa's drink as soon as they met. Grandpa seemed mildly affected by this form of greeting and chose to forfeit his cocktail for the night.
Our sleeping quarters were just what the doctor ordered. My mother, my sister, Miles and I shared a nice hotel room suite. We had a bedroom and living room, so once Miles was sawing Zs on his wedge (which I brought with me), Mom, Wendy and I could share a nightcap and enjoy some long overdue Mom-daughter-sister time. It was great!
Saturday was lovely. I knew we had made the right decision to come. We began the day with a visit to my Grandfather's apartment. When we walked in Grandpa immediately held his arms out to hold Miles. I was touched. Miles was very interested in studying his Great Grandfather's face and taking it all in. Our visit was highlighted with the reading of a few letters from the 1920's chronicling the birth of my Grandfather's career as an ornithologist.
Our next Saturday event was a requirement when visiting the Southwest - a great Mexican lunch. My mom, my sister, Miles, my Aunt Anne, my Uncle J.G. and my Uncle Fred and I all traipsed to a great restaurant for some good Southwest food - even Miles cooperated!
Saturday evening brought my Grandfather's birthday party at my Aunt Anne and Uncle J.G.'s house. It was a lovely affair. People arrived from all over the country and Miles had the opportunity to meet numerous relatives for the first time -- many of whom were new to me, too! The evening was capped with my Uncle Dave playing guitar and all of the guests, including Grandpa, singing The Red River Valley.
Whew. So far so good. Next stop for Air Miles: Paris!