Living explosively

We’re back from our trip and all alive, though just barely. We went to Tofino, British Columbia. You’ve never heard of Tofino? That’s because it’s a tiny town on the western side of Vancouver Island that is very difficult to get to. If you don’t mind a lot of flying and ferrying and driving, I highly recommended a visit. Do not under any circumstances take a 6-month-old.

I’m not blaming Eleanor for the many pains on this trip. I accept all responsibility because I broke her routine. And in the baby world, that is the worst possible thing that can happen. I will spare you the details of the shrieking and pooping and spitting up during our time in Tofino. Suffice it to say a good portion of our trip was spent doing laundry.

Our trip home yesterday nicely summarizes the whole experience. We had two flights — from Seattle to Denver and then from Denver to Austin. I mistakenly thought that our first flight was with Alaska Airlines and our second with Frontier. We waited at the Alaska counter for a good 20 minutes — Eleanor shrieking for 19 of those minutes — to inquire about checked baggage and bringing her car seat aboard. We finally got to the counter and I spilled all our reservations and receipts on the floor. I’m almost certain I heard the people in the long line behind us groaning. And guess what? Both our flights were with Frontier. So we trekked down to that counter with our 60 pounds of luggage and began again.

Our flight to Denver was full, not a single open seat on the plane for Eleanor’s car seat, which meant it was highly unlikely she would sleep. She didn’t. She just shrieked and spit up over and over, and all of a sudden we were THOSE PEOPLE. You know the ones. Why don’t they make that baby be quiet? Ugh! I am never having kids!

The volume of the shrieking, wow. When you were a teenager, your parents probably told you that they were going deaf because they listened to too much loud music when they were young (and you had better take ear plugs to that concert). Not true. They’re deaf because you shrieked in their ears as a baby. If there had been any other reasonable way to get Eleanor home, we would have used it. Perhaps we will try taking that boat through the Panama Canal next time.

We arrived in Denver and had a mere 35 minutes between flights. We were sure we would miss our flight, and I almost wanted to miss it just so we could put off the second flight until the next day. But we caught it, and there were many empty seats, and we were surrounded by sympathetic women who turned around to coo at Eleanor. Finally, an easy flight.

But I was responsible for hefting our biggest carry-on bag (which was much too big to be a carry-on bag) into the overhead bin, and I lost control of it. As it crashed down, it nearly took out Greg and Eleanor, who were seated below. In the mayhem of trying to repack our four bags that morning, Greg had forgotten to put a bib for Eleanor in our carry-on luggage. So she ate her dinner of sweet potatoes with Greg using his fingers to catch the drips. And then she had a dirty diaper. Greg graciously offered to change it in the locker-sized bathroom. But when he and Eleanor came out of the bathroom, she was wearing only a T-shirt and a blanket wrapped around her waste like a sarong. Her pants had been compromised, and we didn’t have a change of clothes in the diaper bag, so again I had to take down the huge carry-on, nearly clobbering the woman in front of us.

After much nursing and cuddling and crying, Eleanor finally fell asleep. The women sitting nearby kept up a friendly chatter about the travails of parenting.

When we arrived at the gate in Austin, the lights came on and people stood up. Eleanor awoke and smiled back at the women who had turned around to see her. And then she turned toward Greg and erupted. Like a volcano. Vomit on her pants and Greg’s shirt and Greg’s jeans (and all the way through to Greg’s undies) and my purse and my seat.

I couldn’t have written a more fitting grand finale. Bravo, Eleanor!

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