*warning, this is long*
Well, we made it. Barely.
I'm pretty sure this was THE most horrific, longest, most miserable, and absolutely tiring nights of my life. I'm thankful that I will never have to make that flight, with two childre, by myself!, for the rest of my life!!! EVER! I say this because I'm fairly certain I will not be returning to Hawaii, therefore not taking an overnight flight back to the Mainland, until long after my children are grown and have left the house. :-) It will strictly be a vacation with Matt, and most likely to Maui!
At any rate, we made it, and I have lived to tell you all about it.
We left for the airport a few hours early. I had four suitcases, a double stroller, two carseats, and three bodies to get there and checked in. We parked the car and Matt helped me get it all out onto the sidewalk area. Then there was nobody there for NWA to even help me. Matt had to go all the way into the airport and talked to about four people before finally getting somebody with a flatbed cart to help. You get tips, people, so I would be on the ball and help as many people as I could! Anyways, this guy finally came and took my bags to get cleared/screened and brought them to the counter to wait for me to get through the line.
I got checked in and went to stand in line for the security checkpoint. That was sure fun!! Christian was wearing his backpack with the leash but he wanted to play with those divider things and run away from me. Sarah is strapped to my front, my backpack on my back, holding the stroller with two huge carseats piled on top and trying to keep Christian from running off. Nobody was helpful. Finally an agent that watches you step through the metal detector came through to help me at least get the carseats onto the conveyor belt. The stroller wouldn't fit so they checked that elsewhere. Then they just piled it all at the end and didn't take another look at me. I had to get our stuff out of buckets, our shoes back on, the stroller packed back up and then find our gate. Sarah probably was cursing at me. Poor girl was getting jostled around so much in the front carrier. It's a wonder her head is still attached!!!!
We found our gate and I waited in line to see about MAYBE getting the bulkhead seats. I didn't even get my question out and the lady cut me off and said a sharp 'No'. Then I asked if it was possible if she could ask whoever was in the bulkhead if they wouldn't mind switching. She said she couldn't give me the names of the people sitting there. I said that is fine but was wondering if it was even possible. She goes off on a tirade about how the plane is completely full and that there is no room to move people around. I wanted to tell her that she was being quite rude about it all but I bit my tongue.
I went and found a seat and Christian wanted nothing to do with it. So we went and got a bottled water and then came back to our seats filled with other people. We found a spot on the floor, drank some water, had a snack, pointed at some couple as Christian proclaimed loudly that the man was a Daddy (as he does with most people he sees, calling them each a Mommy and a Daddy), and pointed at another man's sandals that had shapes on the bottom; one was a plane. Finally we got in line to preboard. Christian said Bye to anybody he could but I had to keep telling him that EVERYBODY in there was coming with us! haha He still wanted to wave at them. In line I asked if I would be getting any help getting the carseats onto the plane. She said she would go ask and make sure. I saw her walking to the rude lady I spoke to earlier and thought 'Great, she is going to tell her to tell me that they are fresh out of helpful flight attendants and I'll have to do it by myself', but she came back and asked me if I even had seats for the kids. I said 'Yes, I have purchased three seats'. Should have seen the smile that she slapped across her face.
This is where things changed. Now all of a sudden I'm getting a red carpet treatment! Three flight attendants, possibly four, were helping me get the kids and both carseats onto the plane. They even helped buckle them into the seats. then the two main flight attendants for our section of the plane said to let them know if I needed help with the kids. Hooray, some service! We all made it into the seats and I breathed a sigh of relief thinking it was going to be easy-peasy from here. Boy was I wrong....
Let's just say that Sarah maybe used her carseat for no more than an hour. If Christian wasn't in his he was on the floor or in my seat while I hovered a buttcheek over the edge. Sarah was either on my lap, nursing, or sitting in Christian's carseat if I was in the bathroom changing diapers. THANK GOD for the in-the-headrest tv screens and cartoons. THANK GOD for the snacks I brought. Without those two things the flight would have been even worse. I brought one of Christian's binkies that he hasn't used for months in hopes that it would help him sleep. Nope. He chewed on it for about 20 minutes then randomly chucked it three rows up and it was lost forever. I was hoping the cabin lights would just turn off and they would pass out but the flight attendants had to do drinks, which is always a million step process - give drinks, come back for garbage, come back for refills. Then it was the dinner trays; same thing - hand them out, garbage, refills of drinks. I didn't think I would ever be able to get the kids to sleep!!
But in a way, it was a blessing. It made the first few hours go by a bit quicker.
Once all that commotion was done I thought I might have a chance to get them sleeping. No go. Sarah woke up as soon as I got he sleeping. There was a man in front of us with his two kids but he was talking SO loud that it was just annoying. Chrisitan didn't want to sleep sitting up. He would thrash in the seat, want out, kick the chair in front of him (thankfully occupied by the son of the man in front of us), scream, cry, whip his blanket around. I resorted to letting Sarah fuss in his seat a bit while I held him. That didn't go well because he couldn't sit still. He wanted to push all the buttons, play with the tilt of the tv screen, want to walk around.
When I was able to get Christian in his chair for a bit I had to deal with Sarah. She was fussy and didn't want to sleep. She made herself known with some loud conversation. I brought some food on the plane to feed her but I never got a chance so she just nursed a lot.
It was a lot of in and out, up and down, back and forth with both kids. I didn't get my dinner tray because I never had a free minute, or hand, to even feed myself. I resorted to taking some of Christian's teddy grahams and water. They had a breakfast snack tray with a muffin and yogurt about two hours before the flight was to land. That was nice because it helped to break up another hour of the flight. This was at 3am local Minneaoplis time and about 5+ hours into the flight. Still no sleep from the children. Christian was in my seat eating part of the muffin and pushing me out of the way so he could see my tv screen. Sarah was in his seat munching on my yogurt spoon. I managed to get a bite of the muffin that Christian didn't want and to steal the spoon from Sarah to get a bite of yogurt. We passed it back and forth until they came to pick up the garbage.
I tried to get them to sleep again but it didn't work. I finally had enough and told Christian to get on the floor. This is not allowed as you are supposed to wear the seatblet at all times. When the flight attendants came around to check on people they asked where he was. I said 'On the floor' and I think they felt bad and didn't tell me to put him back into his seat. It had been a really smooth flight with absolutely no turbulance so they cut me some slack. It was about 5am and the pilot and flight attendant came over the speakers to inform us all that we would be landing in about 30 minutes. I put each of the kids into their seats and start packing up all our stuff. I give Christian his backpack with puppy, give Sarah her blanket and butterfly and pick up my bag. AND GUESS WHAT HAPPENS???
They both fell alseep in a matter of minutes. To be quite honest, I was a little ticked! I tried for the entire flight to get them to rest and they thought nothing of it. :( So now I know it's going to be a chore getting Christian to wake up and get off the plane.
As they were sleeping and I actually had a moment of peace with no child in my arms I had a chance to talk to the attendant for my half of the plane. He was an older man and he said that I handled myself very well. He said I didn't seem flustered or like I was going to break down. He even said that he has seen a parent flying solo with only one kid break down and cry. So he said that he was very impressed with how I handled the flight. He even gave me back the $2 I paid for the headphones I bought! I didn't even get to open the plastic they were in. He said I won't be flying for a very long time and I said 'You are precisely right!!' He also gave me two mini bottles of water so I didn't have to go buy more if I needed it. When it was time to land and get off the plane he said he and another attendant would get the carseats off the plane for me. :-) Wish I could have hugged this man. I should really send a thank you card to that NWA flight!
Well, the time had come to wake up the sleeping beast, er, I mean boy. He was NOT happy about it. When I managed to get him up and in the aisle he bawled. Matter of fact, he bawled from the deboarding of that plane to the boarding of the other! Well, I take that back. We got to ride on the golf cart things and he enjoyed holding on and having the wind in our faces. I even got him to say 'weeeee'. :-) We got to the gate of the conecting flight and there happen to be escalators RIGHT there. Matt and Christian take the escalators whenever they can so he wanted very badly to get on it. I wasn't allowed to just leave the carseats and stroller so I had to resort to making him walk on the shapes in the carpet. He didn't like that so he screamed and bawled. I'm sure the folks waiting to get on my plane were excited!!
But once we were on and seated he was fine. I checked the carseats and let him sit by the window and look out. (I have a picture of this as well as when they passed out on the other plane that I have to get uploaded). It was a 45-minute flight and we were HOME! A nice man and woman helped me get the carseats and stroller up a flight of stairs (we were in a Saab and had to go down their fold-out steps to outside rather than the walkway they put to the door) and to the awaiting Grandpa! He was lucky enough (aka has some perks that come along with being a police officer!) to get through security to come down and help. We walk to the awaiting family members and I am finally able to announce.
I'm sorry this was so long! I'll have pictures and some more blogs to add about our first night and day back in Sioux Falls. :-) I'm super glad we are here but I'm missing Matt. He misses us. But we'll webcam and Christian will get to see Daddy. :)
Until next time, America.