“Ohhhh no,” Bryce said to me as we were mid-flight.
“What?” I looked over at him and baby.
I see him sniff through his N95 and even behind a mask, I could tell he was making a face — an unpleasant face.
She definitely had a poopy diaper.
And, of course it was during the in-flight service so we had to wait until we were no longer “trapped” by carts and flight attendants so we could make our way to the lavatory. (Is it just me, or does it feel weird to call it a “bathroom” when you’re referring to the toilet and sink of an airplane?)
Once there was space for us to move about the cabin, I kindly asked the woman next to me to get out of her seat to make way for me and baby.
I carried baby to the back and as soon as we enter the closest lavatory and close the door, she begins crying. Like shrieking. (Yeah, I’m scared of this small, dark, confined space as an adult, so I totally get it!) This lavatory luckily had a changing table that you can pull down from above the toilet seat. But when I pulled it down, I quickly discovered it had not been cleaned. There was visible urine all over it.
Frustrated, I close it up. Baby and I stumble out of the lavatory. I don’t have time to clean it before using it and I’m not about to get our changing mat dirty with another baby’s pee! And, yes, she is still crying very loudly, obviously.
We go into a second lavatory. Same problem. A very dirty changing table. A very upset baby. Not to mention the struggle of going in and out with a one-year-old and diaper backpack.
The flight attendants in the back galley who are no more than 4 feet away from me don’t even look up. I mean, there wasn’t a whole lot they could have done but if they had asked, I would have told them to clean the changing tables. (I later learned it is “their job” to clean the lavatories if they become dirty mid-flight.)
A fellow passenger who was seated near the lavatories got up and asked me if I needed help. I motioned that I was going to try a third stall. He kindly opens the door for me and baby and I struggle our way in for a third time. Oh, I forgot to mention that at this point I motioned to Bryce that I needed his help.
Third time was the charm. I set up the changing table and laid down our changing mat and a new diaper and wipes while Bryce held baby. He was the one who actually ended up changing her because she is in one of those “seasons” where she prefers dad over mom. When they were done, I went back in and packed up our mat and cleaned the area (not that we left any visible urine.)
This was the most “excitement” of the entire flight from Seattle to Anchorage. We assumed that baby would fall asleep at some point since the 3.5 hour-flight coincided with her bed time. Nope.
She was overly stimulated. Everything was new and exciting. She “read” the airplane safety manual multiple times. She looked at the passengers behind her. She looked out the window. She played with the various (new-to-her) toys I packed for her. She read a few books. She ate snacks. She did not sleep a wink.
I really thought the worst was going to be take-off with the change in pressure and her little ears hurting. But, no, she was wide-eyed as we took off and drank her fruit pouch — something we reserve only for travel.
I was really expecting flying with a baby to be rough. I packed multiple changes of outfits for all three of us, but thankfully none of them were used. We didn’t even get into all the books I brought for her. I know it also helped that Bryce and I were together with baby. I can’t imagine flying alone with her at this point in time. (Kudos to all the parents out there who do it!)
But, of course, I filled out that post-flight survey from the airline detailing my experience. Urine-covered changing tables should not be a thing when no one else has used them during your flight! (No other baby went in before us!)
All in all though, I would call baby’s first flight a success. A whole new world of adventure has opened up for her.