So there I was, Shanti with a full diaper and giving me the hunger cues. Like most airport bathrooms, the line was out the door with a stretch of women holding an impatient fake smile. I squeezed by everyone with hope in finding a spotless changing table with our names on it. Let me prep this with informing you that it would be my first changing-table experience. Doesn’t sound like a big deal, but it’s obvious when seasoned moms are on their hundredth changing-table routine, one hand here, sanitary wipe there, here a diaper, there a leg, all while balancing the edge of a broken hinge with a knee. I was up for the challenge until I rounded the corner and saw what I was working with. A dirty table with a woman already gagging her way through it with her little one. I could have stepped up and done the same but I’ll have to be honest with you, I wasn’t in the mood to battle it especially with a dozen women standing there watching. Chicken. So at this point, I have no choice but to join the herd in line and comfort Shanti to the best of my ability.
We finally got to the front and I see the size of the claustrophobic mini stalls in which I doubt we’d both fit in with her car seat in hand. I wave the others on as I patiently wait for the only large stall offered. Finally! It opens.
I got to the end and closed the door. I laid out my makeshift sanitation station on the ground and don’t have the guts to lay her there, so on my lap it is. I semi successfully get her clean and in a new diaper when she starts back in with the hunger signs, an excited whimper, not yet a cry and the side mouth reach. Trying to prevent her full on hungry holler, I get out my boob and she latches quickly as if she’d gone days without food. Typical.
Less than a minute into it, I hear a conversation outside the stall. A young woman says, “M’am are you waiting for this one?”, the answer comes from a fragile petite voice directly outside my stall that says, “No, I’m waiting for the large one. I can’t use the toilet without a handrail”. I hopelessly gaze at the handrail I was resting my knee on as Shanti gulps away.
“Are you waiting for my stall M’am?” I ask, selfishly hoping there was another one I wasn’t aware of. “Yes, yes I am”.
So with Shanti still devouring her lunch, I packed up my mess on the floor with one hand and proceeded to shove it under the door with one foot while attempting to cover her head with my free hand (just in case there’d be someone offended by my half breast). I open the door and hip bump it open and smile at the ancient woman waiting for us. She smiled back with the sincerity of someone who had been there, done that and truly appreciated my effort.
Then she said the one line that all southerners have said or heard at least one time in their life, “Well bless your heart”.
She went about her business and there I was, my back physically against the back wall with my diaper bag at my feet (half packed and spilling over), her car seat at my other side and her in my arms with no clue of the episode.
I looked up to find every single eye in the room locked in on the free entertainment I had been providing. I’d like to think I gave a confident stunning smile back at the crowd but in reality it must of been a squished eyebrow of wishing I could just disappear. I put my focus back down on Shanti and as I was wrapping up, a kind voice walks by me, leans in and says, “You’re doing a great job momma”. This small sentence gave me the encouragement I needed to gather my things, snap my shirt and waddle to the sinks with baby in arm, diaper bag over the shoulder and the car seat swaying from my lose grip.
Note to all humans: Take time to be kind, you never know how a few words can change an entire day for someone.
Fast forward to the end of the trip. 2 flights, no fits and a journey that’d I claim as a success for a solo parent and a 2 1/2 month old. I fed her on the final landing to help her ears pop and gave myself an imaginary pat on the back knowing she was never in discomfort nor did anyone on the flight know there was even a baby on board.
As I’m leaving the flight we got all kinds of kind comments on her cuteness, my bravery (as if millions of others had never done this) and “such a good baby”! As we walked through the terminal I continued to get smiles, except now they were a little awkward. I was so high on mom mode that I didn’t think into people’s expressions as my final goal was to collect our things and find daddy outside waiting for us. It wasn’t until I sat down to strap her into the car seat that I glanced below and realized what everyone had been smiling at while trying to avoid staring at. Call me genius over here, but I never zipped up the breastfeeding flap on my hoodie! Luckily I had a bra that matched, but hello… it’s still open and goods were hanging out.
To give you a visual, below is the exact sweatshirt I wore on the flight with the same zipper flap open. I’d like to think every mom has a photo like the one below! (Thanks to my mother for snapping this nap time pic).
You can imagine the exhaustion driven laughter I tried to hold back as I zipped up my shirt, tucked her in and moved along. What a day.
Here’s a quick video I shot right before we left the terminal. Our happy little (75 day old) girl after a thousand mile road trip and an entire day of flying. What a champ!