Please forgive my lack luster writing today. I can barely spit out a coherent sentence after the exhausting debacle that is traveling from Portland, OR to Manila, Philippines, alone, with my children. I've done this travel many times before so I am impeccably prepared. I get myself mentally psyched up for the trip and push through the hours one by one with any means I have available; sometimes I rely on the good ole' power of prayer. This trip was the worst one yet. I might even go as far as to say that it was worse than the trip back to Manila alone with Addie and Bella the newborn after my trip to the States for her birth. That trip I was carting much more stuff, using my breast pump every few hours on and off the plane, and still healing from birth. That trip was my benchmark for toughness. Everything gets compared to THAT flight. I thought everything after that extreme travel was going to be a piece of cake. This trip was difficult or plenty of reasons a few being:
*The trip started off with the Delta check in guy asking for my foreign residence card after he learned that we live in the Philippines. "I'm a diplomat was my response" he then informed me that they need some kind of verification since it's the Philippines. Since when? Ch**st it was going to be a long day.
*As I was getting a tag for my gate checked stroller the Delta woman at the gate asked if my car seat was airline approved for flight. I told her I didn't know but that I had been using it for flying for the past three years. She informed me that wasn't good enough reason for her to allow me to use the car seat on this flight. That's when I got a tad crazy and she went off to contemplate how likely it was that I was going to fly off the handle. I guess she decided she didn't want to hear a crazy Mom causing a scene and shuffled me and my car seat to the quick-board line.
*Bella hates sitting in her car seat and really despises it when her sister isn't in one but instead gets to move around in her big seat.
*With it being our first trip flying coach instead of business class, we had to rely on our portable DVD player for some video entertainment (distraction). It was useless since the batteries died two hours into the first 10 hour flight we had.
*Addie used all her magical powers to defy sleeping the first flight (10 hours), she finally nodded off when the captain turned off the seat belt sign when we landed in Japan and all the passengers started to exit. Not kidding.
*Bella cried/screamed for at least two thirds of the first flight for one of the following reasons: she didn't want to be sitting, or holding my hand walking down the isle, she was mad I picked her up over and over when she'd try to sit in the isle, I wouldn't let her walk where ever she wanted to go, she had fallen asleep and woke suddenly from a strange noise or I'd try to relieve my cramped arm that as holding her. Overall she cried a lot.
*I couldn't give in to Arabella's whims to roam around because Addie wanted to tag along and wouldn't sit in the seat alone.
*One gentleman flight attendant gave me loads and loads of crap about wearing our seat belts at all times "for safety". Yeah I know the drill sir. Thank you. When he suggested I chew up a cookie and give it to Bella to stop her crying I knew I had a real helpful winner of a guy trying to give me a hard time.
*I was the Mom with the screaming kids on both flights because after Adelaide's great no-sleeping feat for the first flight, she passed out during the second flight (4 hours from Japan to Manila). During the four hours she started herself awake twice with a night terror both lasting around 30 minutes each. She screamed, kicked, jumped, pushed, and wailed with no waking. She just kept screaming "Mama" over and over again. I did all I could to calm her and tell her Mama as right here holding her in fact. When that effort was proven futile I tried to wake her (not the suggested method for night terrors-she gets them often when she is overtired). After that was worthless I just tried to contain her. It was awful, embarrassing, exhausting, and exasperating. Both times it happened she woke up her sleeping sister who would just wail right along with her. People were staring because it sounded like they had both just broken a bone. A big painful broken bone. And there I was in between them looking and feeling completely helpless.
*Someone on the first flight actually started making really loud comments so that I could hear about how he was annoyed but never actually said something directly to me. I wanted to cry. I teared up a few times but then channeled that energy into keeping my eye lids open.
*I had to battle carrying all our gear, gate checking the stroller, lugging the car seat, plugging it in, and then having the flight attendant come and ask me to move the car seat to the inside seat just as I had plopped my butt down.
*The airline broad casted the new Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland at 7PM (right about when Addie started yawning). I spent the next hour and a half telling her not to look at the TV because she was scared but just couldn't look away. That's one freaky movie.
*I always sit and wait for all the other passengers to exit the plane before I try to gear up the kiddos, gather our bags and unhook the car seat. This trip I had to lower my eyes as everyone walked by and gave me pitying looks. One man actually said he felt sorry for me.
When we arrived in Manila all the Filipinos working at the airport gawked at the girls and I as we made the tedious trek from the plane to where Justin was waiting for us. I was dragging the car seat and pushing the stroller with one hand while holding three bags; not one of them offered to help until my husband flagged a guy down and asked him to go help me since Justin was standing there watching me struggle but they wouldn't let him come in to carry anything.
After no sleep and a tedious day I was frazzled. My verdict about flying business v. coach is that it makes no difference if you are flying alone with small children. The experience was no different for me in coach only that we had less space and less buttons for the girls to push. The only perk I can think of in business class I missed this trip was the free alcohol that can take a little of the edge off. Trying to restrain and calm Addie during her night terrors might have been less stressful if I were a little buzzed.
So we made it, just barely, but we are home. We are tired and jittery with that fierce hunger that accompanies serious exhaustion. The girls are in love with Daddy. He's their knight in shining armor after the horror of international travel. Lucy greeted Arabella by squeaking and then rolling on her back and peeing on the floor. That's how you know you've been missed.