Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Baby Magee's first flying for free for my Birthday

Charlotte got her first taste of the flying for free magee lifestyle a few weekends ago when we went to Birmingham, Alabama for my birthday. I would have preferred an international location per my yearly birthday travel traditions but since my dad and brothers had not met the baby we decided to make the trip there. Should you be traveling with a six week old in the near future I have some advice for you – Don’t Do It!

Just don’t even think about it.

Ok you are ignoring me and are going to travel anyway I know. You are probably smarter than me for starters and wouldn’t dream of attempting to fly stand-by. However, I am a flight attendant and this is a “perk” of my job so stubborn me wanted to attempt the trip without buying confirmed plane tickets. Wisely my friend Jessica suggested we bring our stroller even though my mom had one in Birmingham. The stroller is only a pain in the ass when it comes to going through security. In fact, you just have to get over yourself and know that now you are THOSE people going through security. You know the ones holding up the line with tons of bags and cannot get through the line fast enough to the distain of those behind them. Chad and I use to breeze past those people. Literally I would cut in line ahead of them (bad habit from my job I know). I cannot have imagined doing it without Chad because it takes more hands than I own to pull off this feat. Not having traveled with an infant before I also realized that I had no clue where the elevators were located which are key for getting you to the lower levels with a stroller. TSA was surprisingly helpful however and we were able to make it on our way to the gate with time to spare.

Boarding the plane presented a new set of challenges. Charlotte had slept through most of the activity and it was my plan to feed her on the plane so her ears would pop. Chad and I weren’t sitting together of course so we had to ask people to switch which was a hassle because we were last on the plane. Not only that but the seats we switched to were at the front of the plane so we had to put all our bags in the bin above us which of course was full. I put Charlotte down in the seat to help Chad and she started to fuss to which the guy behind us says, “Oh great we haven’t even taken off yet and that baby is crying.”

Let me tell you when you fly, people are assholes on the plane to you when you have a baby. Another thing I had to get over. Oh sure, I was that person at one time, rolling my eyes and sighing loudly and making it a point to plug head phones in my ears. Karma has come back around though because now I am that undesirable person with the baby that everyone cringes when they see you heading down the aisle. Well get over yourself no one wants to sit next to you either.

Our trip to Birmingham was wonderful because we had so many hands to help hold and entertain Charlotte. No wonder people live close to their families after they have kids. My mom even babysat while Chad and I could go out for a nice dinner for my birthday. You take for granted having an uninterrupted dinner let me tell you – one where one of you doesn’t have to shove food in their mouth as fast as they can so they can calm the crying baby. We went to have beers at Avondale Brewery and then to the Veranda on the Highlands. I will say we ended up talking about Charlotte the majority of the time we were away from her…

Flying home from Birmingham was a whole different ball game. We couldn’t get on the flight out Sunday so my mom had to come pick us back up and take us home. Normally this wouldn’t be a huge cause for concern but when you pack everything up to head to the airport and go through the task of going through security etc with a baby only to have to leave again…well its pretty defeating. Since we had not planned on staying an extra day I had not brought a lot of extra outfits and Charlotte (and us) were running low. Make sure when traveling with a baby you not only pack plenty of diapers, wipes and clothing for the baby but for all the shirts they will ruin of yours as well.

After having an extra night in Birmingham we were ready to fly home the next day. I loved seeing my family for the extra time but our cat was locked in the house and someone was watching our dog so it was time to go. We said our goodbyes and went for round two at the airport only to watch another direct flight take off without us on it. Flying stand-by is bad enough, add a baby in to the mix and its extra stress. I looked up flights and saw we could hop on Southwest and so we went to the gate and got our boarding passes for the 5pm flight. What we didn’t realize was that this flight was not direct it actually had a stop over in New Orleans. From Birmingham to New Orleans the flight was wide open but once we landed in New Orleans the flight attendant made an announcement, “Magee party of two please bring your stuff to the front!”

Surely the gate agent in Birmingham wouldn’t have cleared us for the initial flight had she known we would be stuck in New Orleans. She saw we had a baby right? Right?!

The flight from New Orleans to Denver was oversold and now here we were dumped in another city and stranded for the night. I lost it when the gate agent told me they may not be able to bring my stroller up. I was bawling so hard I couldn’t contain myself from the stress of traveling with a baby and the feeling that we were never going to make it home. Needless to say, someone fetched my stroller. We had to get a hotel room for the night in New Orleans and proceed to buy plane tickets home because it was the only way we were going to get anywhere. Fortunately my best friend Casey lives in New Orleans so the next day prior to flying out was not a total loss.

Chad bought us tickets on Air Tran and we thought we were home free the next day. What we didn’t count on was a ground delay as we taxied out resulting in a 45 minute delay on the ground in New Orleans. When we landed in Atlanta we had to sprint from the D to C concourse in hopes that our plane, which we only had an hour connection for was still there. You haven’t lived until you have sprinted through the airport with a baby strapped to your chest following your husband who is carrying your luggage in both hands. Needless to say had Chad not been there I would not have even bothered because I couldn’t have made it. This is why it pays to be in shape after you have a baby should you choose to travel.

Upon arriving at the gate in Atlanta they told us that the flight was closed and they had given our seats away because we were not there. I think my look must have been one of utter defeat because the gate agent told the other guy working the flight to pull the volunteers off the plane for us. Here is where it paid to have a baby with us because I firmly believe they would not have put us on the flight had we not had a child. I must say Charlotte had done wonderful up until this point. She traveled better than we did all things considered. After a one hour flight and one hour delay and sprinting from gate to gate however, she desperately needed a diaper change. A diaper change that I could not accomplish because once we were in the air they promptly parked the cart by our row and moved slow as molasses serving drinks. Let me tell you, everything is ten times more annoying when you have a baby. When they start crying and you know what they need you want to give it to them instantly to make them happy…especially when you are in a pressurized tube full of onlookers. I have come to realize after our adventure that it was usually women who were the most helpful and looked at Charlotte (and us) with the most thoughtfulness. It was the men who were always first to make rude snippy comments such as, “Oh GREAT another baby” or roll their eyes at me when Charlotte would cry while I was waiting for the restroom. Men out there – get over yourselves. You were once a baby and I’m sure your mom had to leave the house with you from time to time so quit with the rude comments and looks when you see a woman with a crying baby. 99% of the time she’s doing the best she can.

Here was my biggest lesson from traveling with an infant – that children will do what they want and parents are just trying to do the best they can. If you think a baby is crying loudly believe me to those parents she is crying ten times louder. Traveling with children is a means to an end and something not many of us choose to do if we can help it. However there will come a day when you need to leave on vacation or to visit family or friends and these little extensions of you must come with. If you are a person who does not like small children around you then consider driving your own car or chartering your own mode of transportation.

I can hardly believe I myself have been on this earth 32 years. I really did not give much consideration to my birthday this year because I have been so focused on Charlotte. I guess part of being a parent is giving up being selfish. No longer is everything about me, it’s about her. I will say that these past two weekends of celebrations the greatest gifts have been being around friends and family and just having someone else to hold Charlotte to give me a break. I cherish my time with her but it is nice to see others hold and interact with her. I want her to be comfortable with others and outgoing and well adjusted and the time starts now. 

My next trip around the sun I have another traveling companion with me and I couldn’t be more excited for all our adventures together. While traveling with a child has its moments of frustration I wouldn’t trade the experience for the world nor have I ever found a better seat mate….

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Don't Wish their lives away

Sunday I celebrated my first Mother’s Day. Last year on Mother’s Day I was getting up to teach a spin class for a friend and I remember Chad saying to me, “If you were a mom you would get special treats today, but you’re not!” It was his teasing way of trying to get me to soften to the idea of having kids. If anyone would have told me last year that the next Mother’s Day I would have had a baby I would have called you crazy. What a difference a year can make.

I have always celebrated my mom and grandmother’s and aunts on Mother’s Day, but I never fully understood the meaning until I became a mom myself. Being pregnant is a process and giving birth itself is hard work and painful we should all appreciate the woman who went through this to bring us earthside. We all have a mother or we wouldn’t be here and no matter what ones relationship is with their mother later in life, to know that someone gave you life is the greatest most unselfish gift of all.

Chad made sure he did everything possible to give me a wonderful first Mother’s Day. There was breakfast in bed, we lunched, walked around the Highland’s and just spent the day together as a family which is what I wanted most. I received sweet texts and facebook messages from my friends wishing me a Happy Mother’s Day and this meant the world to me. For someone else to recognize your hard work and dedication in being a mother is refreshing. I spend most of my days like I’m sure most moms do beating myself up thinking I could be doing better. When I put Charlotte to bed at night part of me is sad knowing that is a day I can never get back. I curse myself for having negative thoughts when we have a bad day and nothing I do seems to make her happy. The loss of sleep will do crazy things to your mental health.

Being a mom is hard there is no doubt about that. However, I know this was my intended path for all that the universe has unfolded to me. My relationship with MY mom and sister is better for having Charlotte. I now know my own birth story from my moms point of view, something I never even cared to ask about before. My sister and I have someone in common now that is bigger than us and our egos. The other day she sent me a gift for Charlotte and included dry shampoo in there. Dry shampoo because she knows how hard it’s been for me just to get a daily hair washing in. That is love. My relationship with other women who are moms is better. I can now relate on a level that I never could before. The other day after bootcamp I was sitting in the park with Charlotte and two women stopped by to ask how old she was. One of the women was pregnant and two weeks from her due date. We ended up talking about midwives and primrose treatments and natural births. She was an athlete like me and in the end thanked me for sharing my positive birth experience. “All you hear is the negative,” she said. “And it doesn’t help. I’m just glad to know there are positive stories like yours out there.”

It’s true and I’m just as guilty as anyone – there is a lot of negative out there. Motherhood is not all sunshine and rainbows and unicorns. There are days when Charlotte has puked in my bra while nursing and blown out her diaper in the car seat. There are days when Charlotte is crying so hard her face turns red at the store and I’m sweating I’m so flustered and I just want to drop my items and run out screaming…especially when I hear a teenage boy mutter as he walks by, “Shut that fucking baby up.” There are days when all I want to do is sleep in and I hear her crying at 5am and I just wish I could turn it off.

Then Charlotte will smile.

Because in-between the horrible are moments of wonderful. Like when Charlotte looks at me with those big blue eyes while she is nursing like I’m the best thing in the world. The days when Charlotte is content to sleep on my chest and snuggle. The times when I walk around the house with her and she has her tiny fist tucked under her chin and just stares at everything. The afternoons when she comes with me to lunch with a friend, bootcamp and then my hair appointment and never makes more than a whimper in protest.

I look at Charlotte and know she is the best part of me. She is the pure parts, the wonderful, the innocent, the love I have inside, the selfless. Charlotte is my greatest achievement in life and my legacy. She will be the piece of me that lives on and carries my story after I die. She is the hardest and best part of my day every day.

I know I am only 6 weeks in to being a mom, which is not a lot of time to have passed but I am already so humbled and in awe of all the moms out there. I do not even feel qualified to have joined the ranks of all the wonderful women around me and before me. Every day I am learning and trying to do better and hoping it is enough. I have finally come to realize that being a mom is just about unselfish love and in life love is the only thing that matters because at the end of the day it’s all we have.

I was out with Charlotte the other day in a yoga store and was bestowed some great advice by the woman working in the store. She told me the best advice which had been told to her which was not to wish your children’s life away; to enjoy every day no matter how hard. This advice has changed how I approach my days. When I look at Charlotte now, no matter how rough the day has been I do not wish for it to end.

I am making a conscious effort now not to wish her life away.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

What you do today matters

When I was at the end of my pregnancy with Charlotte the most common question I received was, “Are you ready for the baby to be born?!” I guess towards the end of most women’s pregnancies they are miserable and ready to be done and have the baby out. I however, was different. I would always reply that I wasn’t ready for the baby to be born and was happy to have her where she was on the inside. I knew that once baby was born, life would become more complicated and I wouldn’t be able to be as free anymore and I don’t think there is anything that can prepare you for that change.

 Now that Charlotte is here, I love having her to hold in my arms every day. I find myself going against most book recommendations of letting her sleep in my bed because she sleeps better and I enjoy her cuddling with me. She prefers being held to being laid down so most of my day is spent holding her or having her in the baby sling because it truly is the only way I can accomplish anything. 
She is an instant conversation starter wherever we go as people go bananas over babies. There is innocence about them as well as a sense that they are hard to win over. People love holding a baby when it isn’t crying - it makes them feel like they are a good person and are doing something right. I don’t think there is a faster way to make someone feel like crap then having them hold a baby and it starts screaming.

While babies are sweet, innocent, loving and snuggle bugs they can also be a pain in the butt. There are ways Charlotte affects my day to day life that I had no idea she would until she was here. I am not talking about lack of sleep or the fact I can hardly feed myself because I’m feeding her all day, I am talking day to day simplicities I once took for granted. Since I have so many friends who are new moms or are about to become mom’s I thought I’d address the things that you can no longer do as easily now that you have a baby in tow. I’m skipping the obvious luxuries and giving you examples of things I miss on a daily basis:

Coffee runs. I once thought nothing about running in to 7 eleven for an iced coffee. After having Charlotte there is now a whole production with taking the car seat in and out of the car on any errand we go. I have to think, “is that iced coffee really worth it?” I don’t think it’s socially acceptable to leave a baby in the car while you run in somewhere although believe me I’ve thought about it. Then I remember how I’ve had concerned citizens surrounding my car when I leave my dog in there and think better about doing so. Places with drive thru’s are your new best friend.

Grocery shopping. Unfortunately not every place has a drive thru and you will be forced to leave your vehicle and go inside. If it is raining or snowing I avoid even trying to go to the store because it’s too much of a hassle. I have found it is preferable to park by where the grocery carts are returned so I can grab the car seat and put Charlotte in the cart easily and then wheel her in the store. These grocery store outings have to be carefully timed with a nap so I usually do my shopping on our way home from somewhere when she’s already asleep. Chad and I pushed our luck however a few weeks ago and attempted to go to Whole Foods after she had already been sleeping while we worked out at the gym for an hour. She woke up and had a meltdown in the store resulting in screaming and turning bright red so I took her out of the car seat to hold her while people stared at me with pity. Yes people will stare at you like you are the cause of your baby freaking out. I also have not mastered how to put Charlotte in the car and unload the groceries with the cart without having the cart roll away somewhere in-between. I went to the store the other day after Chad came home sans Charlotte and it was amazing how freeing it felt to run in and run out without the whole production.

Going out to eat. I have been fortunate enough to be able to meet my friends out for lunch dates with Charlotte. Chad and I have also been out to dinner several times with her and it was a breeze. What I did not realize though, about many of my favorite restaurants is they are not baby friendly. Some have high chairs for you to put the car seat in, others do not. Changing a diaper becomes an issue when you see the bathroom has no changing table so there you are trying your best to do it on the floor. I highly recommend a travel changing pad for these purposes. Having to travel with a car seat and stroller just presents a new set of logistical problems when it comes to maneuvering. I also have to be prepared now for Charlotte to want to eat when she wants to eat. I truly felt like a mom the other day when I was sitting on the patio furniture at Ikea breast feeding while Chad looked at shelving units.

Shopping for yourself. Prepare to become an online shopper because once the baby is born you will have a hard time shopping for yourself. Being pregnant semi prepares you for this because, well, you pretty much give up on shopping since you are in maternity wear. Now that Charlotte is here my body still isn’t back to where I want it to be so I haven’t bought any clothing. I started thinking about buying clothing the other day and became too overwhelmed with the thought of bringing Charlotte with me. My thought process went something like this:
“Will I bring the stroller in with me or leave it in the car? If I bring the stroller in how can I go in the fitting room? If I leave the stroller in the car then how can I carry the car seat and shop?”
The good news is I’m saving a lot of money which is fabulous because I don’t have money to spend right now. I know I could shop when Chad is at home but right now I’d rather use that time away to take a yoga class.

What I think I miss the most is being spontaneous. I cannot do the simple meaningless things that take up time in a day. I cannot run out for coffee or cupcakes, clothing, groceries or lunch on a whim. I must carefully consider Charlotte and her needs before I attend to my own throughout the day. Having Charlotte has made me much more choosey about how I spend my 24 hours. In teaching my yoga classes I have always encouraged my students to spend their time on their mat wisely because they are exchanging an hour of their life for it. Now I find myself living my own yoga advice. As a birthday present to myself I signed up for a bootcamp through my gym that is every Monday, Wednesday and Friday for an hour starting at 9:30am. While it is hard some days to get out of the house on time, this is an hour that I get to spend not only on my fitness and in the company of others I enjoy but Charlotte can come as well.

babies and box jumps
Instead of spending my days running around creating errands for myself to keep occupied, I am actually focused and centered on one task for the day. It is yet another trade off of being a new mom – I swapped a bunch of little things that I thought mattered for one big thing that actually does.

So I encourage my mom’s to be out there to enjoy the little things that make up your day- putting on make-up, drinking coffee, having lunch with a friend or taking yoga with your husband. Enjoy your trip to the post office, the bank, the dry cleaners or to the nail salon. Soon you will find just one of these things overwhelming enough to fit in an afternoon. In exchange find something even better that benefits your life, your mental health and your child. Whether this is a breast feeding support group you attend, baby and me yoga, a walk with your dog or gardening, find something you love and then commit to this at least three times a week on a daily basis. I think you will find, as I have, that once your incorporate your babies schedule into your own your day will be more structured but also more productive. You leave the ultimately meaningless behind and your focus shifts to what really matters most to you. Chose wisely.

Until then, enjoy running around with your baby bump…it gets a whole lot harder but also a lot more fun from there.