My Baby Dragon

my-baby-dragonTen years ago, when my oldest son was only 7 months old, I decided to fly to England with him. I had found a dirt cheap plane ticket. (I think it was only $400 round trip, because it was February, and all the planes were empty. Plus, I stayed with a friend, so lodging was free. She even came to pick me up from the airport.) The baby flew for free, since he was considered a “lap baby.” My husband had to work, and he wanted to hold up his end of the bargain. You see, before we got married, I told him I wanted to live the rest of my life in England. He said, “Choose a state, any state, as long as it’s the United States of America.” I initially chose Texas because my best friend lived there, but after I put him through college, I wanted to find a state that looked more like England. That’s why we live in Washington. But one of my requests before we got married was for him to let me go back to England every once in a while.

I weaned the baby to prepare for the trip; otherwise I would be in pain, since the time difference is so huge. Plus, I didn’t want to nurse the baby in public, and I would be on the plane for 12 hours, making it impossible not to feed the baby while on the plane. The only place for privacy in the airplane is the bathroom, and it’s so tiny and unsanitary (because turbulence causes spills; you can be sure of that!)

my-baby-dragon-2I was going to be gone for 7 days, and I bought baby food jars for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. I spread them out on the floor and separated them by days, making sure that the meals were well-balanced. I saw that fruit was represented each day, as well as vegetables, and that the dinner one had enough carbohydrates to enable his stomach to make it to morning time. I wrapped each jar in brown paper, labeling each one with a black Sharpie marker. “Day one: Breakfast: Oatmeal with blueberries.” And so on.

In the airplane, I opened the first jar. A man behind me looked at me in an amused fashion, asking me if he could please show his wife one of my neatly labeled baby food jars. I handed one to him, and the couple had a good laugh. They were obviously not first-time parents like I was. Now, looking back, I could have easily made food in England. Like I could have mashed a banana or whatever. But since I only had one week there, I didn’t want to waste time going to the grocery store.

The baby was sleeping soundly on the airplane, in his carrier by my feet. I was located at the front of the economy section, where there is more leg room. I was so happy because if the baby slept during the entire flight, his body clock would be perfect when we landed. But no… The stewardess forced me to wake up the baby, unstrap him from his carrier, and hold him on my lap. The turbulence was so tiny, I could barely feel it. I begged her to please let my baby sleep, but she didn’t care. As a result, my baby was “off” for days while we were in England, wide awake in the middle of the night. It was a nightmare because of the decision of that stewardess.

I took a backpack carrier and put by baby in there as we walked around London, visiting old haunts. Just seeing England again gave me such a feeling of elation. I feel different when I’m in England, almost like I’m in a fairy tale with castles and thatched cottages in the countryside. It was wonderful, even in my cloudy state of exhaustion due to the baby not sleeping properly.

We went to a castle, and I dressed my son up in the little dragon costume I had brought. I had a picture taken of me in front of the castle, holding my baby dragon.

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2 Responses to “My Baby Dragon”

  1. Miriam says:

    I love this reflection on a time when your first baby was your only baby, when picking up and going somewhat on a whim was possible, when that baby was a dragon in a castle… it’s all very fairy tale-esque.

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