Baby got back
A quick post-vacation roundup:
Things we like: travel edition
Powdered formula container. Easy bottle-feeding on the go. Before your trip, measure the desired amount of powdered formula into each of this container's three chambers. When ravenous yodeling commences, ask a flight attendant for warm water. Dump, shake, and feed. Dishwasher safe, holds up to 4 scoops of powder, and did not come open inside my carry-on bag as I desperately rummaged through it in search of Charlie's spare outfit. (More on that in a bit.)
Bib clips. This useful item coupled with a succession of paper towels, dishcloths, and pages torn hastily from a complimentary copy of USA Today saw us neatly through twelve days of the smeariest solids. Absolutely a must for any trip on which you don't intend to take a separate suitcase full of cloth bibs. (Thank you, Kirsten and Sheri!)
Cosco Regal Ride car seat. We noticed before the trip that Charlie had outgrown his infant seat. Since he still needs a rear-facing seat until his first birthday, we decided on a lightweight convertible, one that we'll still be able to use for travel once he's eligible for a front-facing seat. At 9 pounds, it's not impossible to maneuver through an airport or down the aisle of a plane, especially when sheathed in a bag. (I cannot heartily recommend this bag in particular, as it is now in tatters and won't make another trip, but it was useful while it lasted.) But most importantly, the car seat cradled Charlie safely when our car was rear-ended at a red light neither he nor anyone else was hurt, and, as I was sitting next to him at the time, I saw that it held him securely in place during the collision. I have already ordered another to replace it.
I miss Southern women.
As I waited to disembark from the plane in New Orleans, an older woman, petite and clad in hot pink from head to toe, stopped in the aisle by our seat, looked at Charlie, and crooned, "He looks like he drinks a lotta milk."
And at the Waffle House in Port Allen, Louisiana, a waitress eyed Charlie approvingly, then said in a conspiratorial tone, "He doesn't miss too many meals, does he?"
And in the New Orleans airport, a well-groomed woman in her sixties smiled indulgently as I played actively with Charlie, hoping to tire him out before boarding. When I allowed him to latch onto my chin like a corpulent remora, she asked me, "Is he your first?"
I said he was, and she chuckled knowingly. "Am I in for it?" I asked her, assuming she was laughing for a reason.
"Oh, I don't know, honey," she told me, shaking her head. "I was never blessed. We tried for a long time, but..."
I thought about telling her how hard it had been for us, wanting her to know I understood. But then I decided I probably don't understand, not exactly. I did have access to treatment that wasn't available to her when it might have helped. And I do, after all, have Charlie.
"I'm so sorry," I said, keeping it simple. "How painful."
And you know what she did? She patted my hand. An infertile woman who was never able to conceive comforted me as I ostentatiously enjoyed my beautiful laughing boy.
That, my friends, is grace.
Remember that gastrocolic reflex I was telling you about? Shortly after takeoff on one of our flights, I was feeding Charlie a bottle to relieve the pressure in his ears. Apparently it relieved the pressure in his bowels as well, because he almost immediately began that workmanlike grunting that heralds a giant dump in progress. He presses his lips together, furrows his brow, stares meaningfully into my eyes, and growls, "UUUUUNNNNGH." It is unmistakable, impressive, and exactly what you don't want to hear before the captain has turned off the "fasten seat belts" sign.
I bided my time, then, until it was safe to move about the cabin. From the diaper bag I retrieved our folding changing pad, whose pouches are kept stocked with fresh diapers and wipes. I politely ousted my rowmate from his aisle seat and carried a squirming Charlie down the entire length of the plane to the rear lavatory. And I set to on the plane's fold-down changing table.
All went well at the beginning. Charlie's dapper plaid shirt was rucked up under his chin; his miniature jeans were scrunched down as far as they would go without passing the clodhoppery barrier of his big-boy sneakers. This isn't so bad, I thought, daubing at the muck with one hand as I held Charlie steady with the other. And then...and then...the captain turned on the seat belt sign and the flight attendant asked everyone to return to their seats as the plane hit a pocket of turbulence.
But, you know, when you're halfway through changing a filthy diaper, that's not as simple as it sounds.
I will not describe the carnage in detail. It is probably enough to say that I ended up sitting on the floor of an airplane bathroom (which I am certain was immaculate, and do not tell me otherwise) with my undiapered, shit-smeared son alternately clutched against me as the plane bucked and rocked, and then held as far away from me as my trembling arms could manage as I tried to keep myself from getting pasted any further with curdy yellow feces.
Happily, I did have an extra outfit for Charlie and an extra shirt for myself. Unhappily, they were back at my seat in my carry-on, which I had elected not to carry down the aisle to the bathroom. When the plane was finally steady again, I took up my half-clad son, trudged back up the aisle, reeking of poo and appalling the entire complement of passengers, retrieved my bag, and closeted myself in the bathroom once again to clean up the baby, myself, and the lavatory as well as I could with a precious few wet wipes, more airplane paper towels, and one fuck of a lot of swearing.
My fervent thanks to those of you who suggested I carry a wad of large Ziplocs on my travels. My sincere apologies to everyone on Northwest Airlines flight 1476. And my nearly hysterical gratitude to the unknown innovator of those airline-size bottles of vodka.