The suitcases were expertly packed and waiting by the door. The stroller was waiting in the car ready to aide me with my jaunt through the airport by myself with two kids. The diaper bag was stuffed full of treats, books and other fun surprises to bribe my 2-year-old to behave on the airplane. With just over an hour before my flight was to take off, I should have been at the airport with my bags being loaded onto the airplane while I sat at the gate wrangling children.
Instead, I was speeding nervously to our local pharmacy to pick up a strong dose of infant antibiotics and pain relieving eardrops. Indeed, I was living every mother's worst nightmare.
About a week after returning from New York City, ToddlerTravels came down with a terrible cold (re: subway pole licking experience). She got over it pretty quickly thanks to orange juice and lots of rest. BabyTravels didn't fare as well, unfortunately. She struggled for days and I would pace nervously wondering if I should bring her in. She'll be better tomorrow, I assured myself.
Wednesday, the day of the flight, came around and after a rough night she laid on my bed moaning and fussing. I could feel it in my gut that something wasn't right. I called my pediatrician and by some miracle they had a morning appointment and fit her in.
I sent her with Reid so I could make final preparations for our journey. Everything was put together and I was just about to sit down and relax when I realized it had been taking longer than normal at the doctor's office. That's when I received the call that my baby not only had a double ear infection but also RSV. RSV! All this when we needed to be leaving for the airport in 20 minutes, all this when I was flying by myself with two kids for the first time ever.
I sat down and allowed myself two minutes to break down, to let the emotion flow out of my body. That's when I remembered that I needed to get to the pharmacy and pick up the prescription and meet Reid at home so he could drop us all off at the airport. The doctor said it was a mild case of RSV and had cleared her to fly. I tossed ToddlerTravels in the car and we sped off to the pharmacy, getting home the same time as the others.
Aside from our rough start in the morning, check-in and security went fairly smooth. I skycapped my bags because there was no way I could drag a suitcase, car seat, stroller, baby bag and baby through the airport. I headed straight to security where there was virtually no line and breezed through without any problem. I had ToddlerTravels in an umbrella stroller and opted to wear BabyTravels in a carrier so I could have hands free and walk through security wearing her.
It wasn't until we got to our gate that we had our first meltdown. ToddlerTravels was so excited that she wanted to go on the airplane right that moment and didn't understand why we needed to wait. And as I was trying to give BabyTravels myriad medicines and ear drops, ToddlerTravels was stomping her feet on the floor and pointing daggers at the airplane yelling: "I want to go on airplane!" over and over, not listening to my explanation that we needed to wait until we were called.
At that point I wanted to curl up under the black airport seats and hide from the sideway glances that we were receiving from fellow passengers.
The plane ride itself couldn't have gone any smoother. We found our seats quickly and I was able to get ToddlerTravels occupied with her lunch and turned my attention to BabyTravels, who promptly fell asleep and stayed asleep even as we departed the plane. ToddlerTravels, who enjoyed her apple juice, peanuts and princess movie, was practically dancing as we left the airplane, charming all the flight attendants and doting passengers.
All I could do was sigh in relief that this challenge was over and hope that it wouldn't need to be repeated anytime soon.
Some tips for flying by yourself with two kids:
The biggest challenge you will face is that you are outnumbered. Have a plan in place on how you are going to navigate the airport and then occupy the children on the plane so everyone will stay happy and well taken care of.
Use a skycap. Skycaps work off of tips and can check you in, print boarding passes and check your bags. When you don't have an extra hand for helping, they will be your best friend and help streamline the airport process.
Opt to wear the baby in a carrier or a sling to free your hands for security. You will not need to remove them to go through, but they will check your hands on the other side to make sure you haven't been handling any hazardous materials.
Sometimes it's better to be safe than sorry. Check with your pediatrician before taking children who have been recently sick onboard a flight. You want to make sure it doesn't pose any health hazards for them or fellow passengers and there may be some risks you weren't aware of.
Hilarye Fuller lives in Salt Lake City, Utah where she stays at home with her two young daughters and pens the travel blog DottingTheMap. For more information on 12 in 2012 Challenge, and for tips and reviews visit http://www.dottingthemap.com