We landed safe and sound and in one piece.
If you asked me on Sunday how was to travel with a baby, I would say that it was one of the worst experiences of my life. But after cooling down a bit, I can now say: it was awful, I hope I don’t have to do this ever again (although there’s the return), but maybe it was because it’s her first time on a plane and mine with a baby.
I was planning to write a decent post with all the details – I even started writing bits and pieces on the plane, but like with her birth, I can’t really think straight about this eventful day. Plus, it would be a novel, not a post. So let me see if I can summarise the operation in topics.
Pram or baby carrier?
Mr. C and I decided that the baby carrier would be the best option, because it would free my hands. My mum borrowed a pram, so I wouldn’t need one here.
Pros: I didn’t have to fold and unfold the pram myself (which would have been a pain holding Laura in one arm, handbag in another, etc), the pram is quite bulky and as far as I could tell, the loos at Terminal 5 aren’t huge, so I would have had to go to the disabled one. Laura enjoys looking at everything, so she was quite happy to be upright looking the view in the carrier. I did have my hands free to hold my hand luggage, buy water, check a magazine at WH Smith. People can look at your baby and sympathise even more with you.
Cons: It’s quite hard to pick up things on the floor when you have a (not so firm) baby hanging on your stomach. It’s harder to breastfeed, as you have to take the whole thing out (some people can actually breastfeed with it on, I can’t) and then put it back, and being one your own and having nowhere to put your baby on while you are doing that, it’s a pain (*). After a while you get tired. I couldn’t sit properly with that thing on. Big chances that you might forget it on the plane if you place it separately from your other luggage.
Conclusion: Next trip, with Mr. C, it will be better to take both pram and carrier. Next trip on my own… well, it will never happen.
(*) I learned my lesson, so I fed her in the changing room. I could leave her on the changing mat while putting the carrier back on. Terminal 5 doesn’t have great changing rooms: there are no loos in them for the poor mums, it’s only one changing room per area – I spent at least 30 mins in there, glad there wasn’t a queue; and in the one near the gate there was no chair for breastfeeding.
Cot on flight?
First of all, that’s a carry cot – almost a moses basket if you like. Laura could barely fit in it – I wonder if she will in our next trip. It was “useful” at some points, but I have complaints about the cot in BA flights. I saw pictures of my friend Ana and her son Ben on their flight to the Maldives and as far as I recall, the cot was bigger and on the floor, so mum and baby could see each other. In this flight, the cot is placed quite high, so the baby only see the ceiling and mum (especially one as short as I am) can only see the baby’s foot/feet when she is moving. I think Laura would have been less stressed if she could see me and the other people around (babies are curious, remember?) – I stood up when she was in the cot awake, and she was quite happy to see me. The “table” where the cot is placed is in front of two seats – the guy next to me was using his computer and had extremely long legs, which meant that I couldn’t leave my seat from his side – I had to jump the couple on my right hand side. They were really nice and didn’t mind at all, but once they were sleeping with their feet on the wall, so I had to literally jump them (and to wake them up on the way back). There were 4 places for cots in the premium economy cabin, but if you are travelling on your own, BA will put you on the middle seats, not aisle, which is understandable, but annoying.
Take off and landing?
Laura didn’t complain about the pressure and ear, etc. I heard it helps if you breastfeed the baby or give her/him a dummy.
I went premium economy because of the extra space promised. I couldn’t feed Laura as she “likes” to be fed because my elbows would go into my neighbour’s ribs. Yes, there’s more space, but not enough to breastfeed a 4 months old baby. I had to sit at the edge of my seat so Laura could stretch herself. Oh, and because she likes to eat lying down, I also fed her in the loo, putting her on the changing table. Yeah, yeah, sad. By the way, until I get the right moves to change her, it was a bit complicated to administrate all the things I had and change her. By the 3rd nappy, I gave up putting her on the changing mat I had, so she went straight on the changing table.
Packing for the flight?
I packed a lot of stuff. I had a granny luggage (small, with wheels) and my handbag. I wish I had just one medium handbag with all my stuuf, that I could leave next to my feet all the time. I took about 20 nappies but used about 7 in total (2 at the airport and 5 in the flight). I took 3 spare sets of clothes, including 2 jackets. I had to change her clothes once because her poo leaked. The flight was quite warm during the 1st half, so I had to undress her a bit. Then the air con was at full power for the 2nd half. I had a couple of blankets with me, but used the one they gave on the plane. I took a spare shirt for me, in case she would throw up on me (she didn’t). I also took some toys for her. Life savers: water and chocolate bar. Should have had: snacks.
Premium economy or normal one?
Honestly, I didn’t enjoy the extra space they say you have. Maybe I would have noticed the difference if I was on my own. I’ve checked the economy cabin and the space they have (row 26, next to an emmergency exit) was much better as you could actually walk there. I was in the border with the executive cabin, so there was no space to walk and no loos nearby (premium economy passengers still need to use economy loos – although several people from my cabin went to the loo in the executive area, and they also got water bottles from the executive guys – and I did it once and got told off on a nasty way by the stupid lady there). So, I guess next time, I would fly normal class (and save lots of money).
Special attention from crew?
Special? BA? Ha-ha. I have to say I was extremely sensitive in that flight. Laura was being herself – a baby that gets bored really quickly, that likes you to walk her around and take her to see different things, and a baby that might be teething, and a baby that doesn’t sleep much but gets sleepy and cries a lot, a baby that likes you to put her to sleep walking around for a long time and in different directions, a baby that is ok with lots of people, but gets tired of the amount of information. So, Laura screamed here, I cried there. I could really use a friendly shoulder, a helping hand, a honest smile. Instead, I barely got water to drink! I pressed that stupid button several times and no one would come – the guy next to me pressed a couple of times and he would get all the attention – and gin and tonic – he wanted. Problem is: if I complained I would have burst into tears (as I did when the bitch told me off) or assault them and go to jail. I had the most bizarre headache on earth, I was exhausted, Laura was screaming, and I only had strength to go to the back of the plane to get water once. Yes, I had to cross the whole plane to go to the “kitchen” of economy (while the executive was a spit away). Don’t get me wrong, nobody was rude to me, but there was no extra sympathy towards me. I guess I was unlucky – and awfully tired to fight for my right of drinking water.
Laura, why do you cry so much?
She slept about 4 hours out of the almost 12 hours flight. She cried a lot – at least I thought she did. Later my cousin said that mums always think their babies cry are too loud. She wouldn’t stay still, I had to rock her all the time, tried to walk around but with turbulance and narrow aisles I couldn’t do much. Best times were when I had to change her nappy. I was really stressed out. I couldn’t care less about the others – and they were all with their headphones on – but I was about to have a nerves breakdown. I actually did and cried several times during the first 3/4 of the trip. I had to repeat to myself that she was just a tiny baby, she was taken from her comfy home, she didn’t ask to be in that plane for so many hours, with those noisy engines and weird air. I had to repeat even harder that Mr. C wasn’t there with me because he was saving holidays for a better trip.
It was quite hard for her to sleep and even worse because people decided to read with their head lights on and my neighbours’ lights would go straight into her eyes. Can you ask 6 people to turn their lights off for a baby to sleep? Can you ask the lady in business class to laugh quietly so your baby doesn’t wake up scared? Can you ask the pilot to stop coz you wanna get down?
After I got my luggage – all by myself – I met my neighbour at the exit and he congratulated me by how I handled the baby. He said she was a great baby and I was a brilliant mother, because he travelled with kids and babies before and Laura was by far one of the quietest. There, the tap in the back I was looking for. A little too late though.
(to be continued)