So the new year started. And I had not written a thing. Yet so many things have happened in my life and all around me. First, Baby ASW is now eating. Pureed food BUT it is still NOT breastmilk. Second, I am in Kenya.
Here is how the last few months since I last laid pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard) have gone:
A. After a hellish experience trying to obtain a passport for my little one, with Baba Austin having to visit the American Embassy TWICE to sign off on permission slips for Aus to get his PP then I had to deal with sending every document in my arsenal with my full African names to prove that I was who I said I was…we received his passport and I booked tickets to Kenya.
B. We survived the trek from Los Angeles, sleep-over in Dubai, to Nairobi. With 8 suitcases in tow, and a car seat and travel frame AND a rolling carry-on bag and a box full of baby’s carry-on equipment (diapers, wipes, and other bits). Aus slept 12 of the 15 hours from LA to Dubai. He did so well. No crying. He was 4 days shy of 4 months old.
I have to big up the Emirates cabin crew. The Purser moved us from a middle front seat (bassinet access) to a row of 4 seats by a window. Just us. Some guy had muscled his way into those seats and the Purser firmly but politely asked him to move, noting that Mothers get priority when there are empty seats. The guy tried to say that I should move to 2 seats ‘over there’ but the Purser had it HANDLED. He simply said, nope. This lady is sitting here. I will move you elsewhere. Then the guy moved. I was thrilled. Austin got to stretch out and I managed to lie down next to him and we slept. We actually knocked out. I woke up at some point to a cabin crew member placing a blanket over me. She smiled and waved at me. I felt taken care of.
C. We landed in Dubai and we had a difficult time trying to get the staff to understand the whole reason that I gate checked the stroller and car seat. Austin was clocking 8 pounds at that age and with all my hand luggage, I could not manage the trek from that terminal to the baggage claim through to visa collection and the shuttle trip to our overnight hotel. Emirates ground staff sucked. The airplane cabin crew members were awesome BUT ground crew…they just yelled at each other in Hindi and ignored me as I stood there waiting for someone to tell me why my car seat and stroller were sent to baggage claim instead of being ready for me at the gate. One guy said, ‘Oh, we have strollers for you…’ Of note, they were umbrella strollers and my little 4 month old was NOT going to be squeezed hapharzardly into something that did not support his back. The guy said he had seen newborns being strolled about in those strollers. I retorted, ‘…Not my newborn!’. Thankfully, a nice lady from Zimbabwe helped me with my hand luggage and I carried my little human to baggage claim. This Kenyan guy who worked at baggage claim helped me find my car seat and stroller, and I was happier. We went off to the hotel. Ate. Had a bath (in the sink for Austin) and we knocked out till 7am the next day. Our flight was at 11am, so we had breakfast (included) and we were ready for the shuttle back to the airport.
D. Dubai to Nairobi – 4 hours flight time. We had survived a 15 hour haul so I knew this 4 hour flight would be a breeze. Aus fell asleep at the gate, and I boarded with him in my arms. He managed to stay asleep during the whole time I was removing him from his buckled car seat. They had me in an aisle seat and I sat there as people flocked past and one guy rammed into Austin’s feet and he startled awake. Tiny seat, long legged baby…he cried. For about 10 minutes, during take-off and I was starting to think that he would cry the entire way. I sang to him his lullaby – My Only Sunshine – and he calmed down. Then he fell asleep. And stayed asleep. The steward brought me water galore as I told him I was breastfeeding and needed to hydrate. They didn’t pass out bottled water so he had to keep coming back with little tumblers of water but I was grateful. Aus stayed asleep through the meal service. I moved seats, exchanging my narrow aisle seat to move into a row of 3 seats. Austin stretched out but there was a lady at the end, holding the 4th seat and she was balancing her butt between seat 1 and seat 2…not sure why…I mean, you see a lady with a baby….perhaps commit to seat 1 so we can have seat 2, 3 and 4? Anyway, my guy stayed asleep. We landed. I handed him over to the nice young steward who immediately started hyperventilating and saying, with his German accent, that he had never held a baby. I told him, oh you’ll be fine…and went to the loo. As I handed him the baby, the female stewardess from across the way was waving her arms in the air in some sort of protest, saying that I should give her the baby…she would know how to hold him since she was a woman…ha ha ha, I left them fighting over who was to hold the sleeping baby and I went to the loo. I popped out and Aus was still asleep.
Austin stayed asleep and woke up when I was boarding the bus to take us to the Nairobi Airport baggage claim. We were home.
TO BE CONTINUED…