But I'm happy to say that it went better than I could have ever expected. And while I'd like to attribute that to my awesome planning and preparation, I think the reality is that I just have a cool kid. Dear future babies, please be as easy-going as your big brother.
I asked other mamas for tips and got some great feedback, which made me feel less overwhelmed by the whole thing. And I figured that if mine was the kid who screamed for the duration of the flight? Oh well. We'd all get over it and live to tell the tale.
Nonetheless, here are some things that made it easier on this mama:
1. An umbrella stroller. Most of the time, he was in the Ergo. It was just easier to get around the airport/through security that way. And I was planning on only bringing that, but strapped the stroller to my suitcase at the last minute. That ended up being a lifesaver - something set off an alarm when they swabbed my hands at security and I had to have all my bags searched + get the private pat down. I was able to put him down in the stroller for all of that, which made that whole ordeal a little easier. And it was especially handy when I needed to go to the bathroom. Hooray for not having to put your baby on the airport's bathroom floor!
2. The magic milk. Everyone told me to nurse on ascent and descent to keep his little ears from popping, but it also worked like a charm in putting him right to sleep. He slept about an hour each way and since he rarely stays asleep while being held, I enjoyed the snuggles. He was awake the rest of the time and the only hard part about that was trying to keep him from pulling the pen out of our sleeping neighbor's pocket.
3. The good toys. Someone told me that she hid away her son's favorite toys and books for a few weeks leading up to their flight and then brought them out one by one on the plane. GENIUS. He was mesmerized every time I pulled something out my bag.
4. A window seat. I prefer the window seats myself, but I thought the view might also offer a distraction for him. And it did. What is this magical place?! It also helped when nursing to have my own little wall to squish against - that way I didn't feel like I was all up in someone else's elbow room. He did manage to stick his little feet in that sleeping man's side, but he didn't seem to mind.
5. iPhone apps. Crazy, right? I found a couple of little apps that kept him occupied when he was getting antsy toward the end of the flight. One was called "Old McDonald's Farm" and it's just a tractor rolling across your screen until you tap it - then the tractor arrives at a farm with all kinds of animals. I say boring, but Jack says THIS IS THE BEST THING EVER.
And now I'll leave you with this, my favorite picture from the entire trip. It was right after he looked out the window for the first time when we were in the air. He looked up at me with such wonder in his eyes, looked back out the window and cracked a little smile.
He is just the sweetest.