Tuesday, January 5, 2010

If God wanted pregnant women to fly

The airlines don't recommend flying after you reach a certain point in your pregnancy. During our Christmas travels, I have come to believe that this is unrelated to air pressure and more directly tied to the stress you undergo from terrible airline customer service.

I should say, I'm not a stellar flyer anyway. I don't get sick (not counting the newly pregnant flights I took). I am not afraid of heights nor of mysteriously floating metal tubes filled with flu-infected people breathing my same air. I am a worrier and nothing gives you the opportunity to worry like a day of deadlines and strict schedules and thousands of variables.

As soon as I earned my own wings and began flying solo, I arrived at airports two hours early, before it was required, afterwards, I made it three and sometimes four if it was a miserable place like DFW. I hate that airport and have long known what puts in the f in DFW. Then, I married a man who is allergic to waiting in airports. His ideal travel scenario is cruising through check-in and security and stepping directly onto your waiting aircraft. You can do this in his model, not because you own the plane, but because it has already boarded and everyone else is seated in the final preparations before take-off. This as you may notice leaves no time for error, and I am a committed anticipator of airport error.

Our flight from Pittsburgh (we drove there) to El Paso was relatively smooth. My anxiety at the rising levels of falling snow was kept under control and we made it out with just a slight delay. That slight delay then meant that we had 15 minutes to navigate DF Worthlesses catacombs to reach our connecting gate. (Insert mental image of frantic pregnant lady running through airport here.) Andrew cleverly checked that fear by providing us with up-to-the-minute flight information revealing our connecting flight was also delayed and we had an oh-so-comfortable margin of 45 minutes to go from terminal A to terminal C. Ha, we stopped to pick up ice cream on the way.

After a lovely holiday with family and friends, we returned to the airport. Only it was an airport in which security had lost their minds and the entire Sun Bowl was ahead of us in line. However, I kept myself relatively calm and we walked through security directly onto our waiting plane. We took off to Pittsburgh with a short, but comfortable stop over in Dallas.

Traveling pregnant is not much fun. Early on, I was incredibly sick. Now, I'm too big to be comfortable. I'm not even really big yet either. People still are mistaking me for being either slightly pregnant or slightly fat. I am 31 weeks pregnant here - that's 7 months! There's 20 pounds out in front of me now, granted it distributes itself a bit, but this belly is in my way.

The baby's not terribly crazy about it either. It may be my very active imagination, but I am convinced that as we took-off, she reacted. Right as the plane pulled away, I felt all four limbs stick me in various places like she was bracing herself from a fall. I also imagined her franticly saying to me, "What the heck was that? You didn't tell me we were doing anything out there." She hasn't done this acrobatic trick again, but I have rubbed my belly and Andrew explained everything to her in subsequent take-offs.

Our little stop over in Dallas proved a bit more eventful than we imagined. A "customer service" agent helpfully encouraged us not to worry about not finding our connecting flight listed on the board or on any gate - he assured us it was taking off at its appointed time and gate. Only telling us about it's cancellation due to mechanical problems after we enjoyed an hour of wasted could-be-finding-another-flight time. He then became too busy with no other customers to help us rebook a way to Pittsburgh.

We danced through the half-truths and attempts to shuffle us out the door for the next few hours. Andrew deftly negotiated with these liars and losers while I alternated between concentrating on my sore back and concentrating on angry tears and inappropriate language. Then, I learned I wasn't going to arrive in time to make my (very happy last minute) flight to North Carolina in time to greet my baby brother as he arrived from Afghanistan. Pregnancy plus big sister plus war plus incompetence is not a pretty combination. Andrew then had to concentrate on keeping me from the American Airlines people's throats - all of them, any of them.

In the end, Andrew flew to Pittsburgh and lake-effect snow standing between him and our house. I had to laugh (a cynical, hysterical laugh) as it became painfully obvious that I had walked into a twilight zone where nothing functioned. Our checked bags were somewhere in the system not to be had, there was no C-2 baggage claim, our hotel reservation at the Westin was no longer available to us, the new hotel had no restaurant or internet, the shuttle driver forgot that I was second on her list to drop off, the fun kept going. I had a night's stay at a smokey hotel, but I arrived in North Carolina. I am here; armed only with a too-heavy-for-me-to-lift carry-on bag that contains: a very random assortment of my clothes and Andrew's, no toiletries, and no Christmas presents for Ryan. Ryan is expected this evening! Things are beginning to work themselves out.

This wasn't yet terribly obvious to me though as the guy next to me on the flight said, "I really like your hair." Thank you, I said, thinking maybe having no make-up or shampoo wasn't the end of the world. "Yeah," he continued. "You sure don't see many females with short hair." I took an immediate and profound interest in the contents of the Sky Mall catalogue.

1 comment:

  1. Welcome home Ryan!
    Fun travels by you and Andrew, Dana, may mean Dan and I will travel today eventlessly through Houston to San Pedro Sula. We can hope.
    Your writing continues to be a marvel. Thanks.

    Elizabeth and I are thinking baby shower in Sewickley, say, on Feb. 6? Mom T