Friday, October 28, 2005

The First Hit Is Free, Then You Have to Pay

We flew across the country last week so that I could attend a conference and TrophyHusband could spend time with some college friends who have a five-month-old little girl. This trip posed a challenge: How to survive six hours in an airplane with HellBoy?

On the trip out, we made use of:
  • puppets
  • a beachball
  • soap bubbles
  • breasts
  • candy
  • dvds
  • singing
  • books
  • friendly stewardesses, and
  • many, many, many trips up and down the aisle
On the trip home, we made use of:
  • Benadryl
Yes, I drugged my baby. Despite my general belief in Better Living Through Chemistry, the idea of doping my child for my own convenience has seemed less than savory. But this time I realized that it was not for my convenience, it was for my sanity. And for my marriage. We don't tend to keep score in our relationship, but there's something about spending hours locked in an airplane with a maniac toddler that really gets a person watching the clock. OK, I've been making funny faces for 4.5 minutes. That means you have to chase him down the aisle for 7 minutes. Because it's harder to make funny faces, and you run faster anyway. So I bought the clever melt-in-your mouth children's Benadryl ("Children under 6: consult a doctor." Check!). He gobbled it up and asked for more. I felt like a pusher.

However, my guilt didn't last long. It would seem that HB has inherited a hardy liver from his mother. Because although he did settle in for a nap about 45 minutes after his dose, the nap didn't last much longer than his usual one, at which point he awoke, extra rested for his next assault. And then we entered some turbulence. The stewardess, who was either very rules-conscious or just sadistic, insisted that the seatbelt sign applied to HB as well, and he had to be strapped into his carseat.*

And then his DVD player, which apparently was not designed to survive being repeatedly hurled to the floor, broke.

How bad did it get? So bad that we actually had notes passed up the aisle with suggestions from other passengers on how to make him shut up. And I couldn't blame them. I actually hoped someone might have a good idea. But really, all he wanted was Out. Of. This. Frickin. Seat.

There was no evidence that the Benadryl had any lasting effect whatsoever. And when we got home he wouldn't go to sleep until 11:30. I guess next time we slip him some Xanax, or on second thought, take it ourselves and then offer it around the plane.

*This highlights the weird double standard about babies and airplanes. If they're under two, they can sit on your lap. Ah, they'll be fine, just hang on to 'em. We tend to get a seat for HB anyway, since we risk bodily injury if we try to control him within the confines of our two seats. But if we buy him a seat and bring his carseat, then they get all official on our asses. First they have to check if the seat is Approved, and then they make him sit in it. WTF?


Anonymous said...

Maybe Dramamine? Knocked my 8 year-old out so hard he slept from Frankfurt to San Francisco.

NOTHING works on my other kid, though -- just keep the drinks coming for me.

B.E.C.K. said...

Obviously since you're a doctor there's not a whole lot of new stuff to offer about Benadryl. At least now you know it could backfire (ultimately keep him awake at night) with your son, if you hadn't test-driven a dose before. We didn't try that with our son on twice-yearly flights from California to Missouri (and later to Florida). We did all the other things you did, though, plus we went through a truckload of goldfish crackers. Not that those worked all the time (and one time the kiddo barfed orange all over Daddy - heh). One thing I learned with my son in particular was that if I stroked his hand, he'd fall asleep. And yeah, I often thought, "Okay, I've been doing this for two minutes already and I'd rather be reading a book by now!" I mean, I'm nice, but not REALLY nice. :-)

(I am laughing about the other passengers passing notes to you, though. Please don't hate me.) ;-)


I HATE traveling with my kids. Passengers either love you or hate you, depending on your kids' behavior.

And I too loathe the double standard. they have to make sure the carseat is "approved"?? if i'd put my child in some cheap ass restraints made of ropes and handcuffs?? Give me a break!

btw, I found your blog f/ SW...I'm totally impressed that you're a mom and a physician...I hope to do the same some day.

Anonymous said...

Benadryl, Shmenadryl. We use it frequently (weird allergies) and it never seems to have any effect as a sedative. (If I take it, I'm sleepy for days, though.)

The trouble with plane travel for us, I've figured out, is that my son is happy in his seat during takeoff and landing, when he can feel the motion of the plane, but if the portion in between is smooth, he doesn't perceive that he's in motion and doesn't understand why he has to sit there. He's much more likely to fall asleep during turbulence.

What did the notes say?

carolinagirl79 said...

We use Melatonin!! I HEART MELATONIN.

DoctorMama said...

Emjaybee: A round of drinks is a good idea -- although chances are good HellBoy would kick a few over.

Denise: the notes weren't very interesting -- an excerpt: "Hi! [smiley face] I'm a nurse sitting two rows back ... the baby may be crying due to ear pain from the changes in air pressure, and sucking on something may help," blah blah blah. I should save them for his baby book, if I ever got my lazy self to make one.

little miss: I think I figured out you've flown with three kids? Deeply impressed.

BTW, this isn't karma biting me in the ass either -- I've always been nice about screaming babies on planes. I spent most of a flight from Europe once with a squirming 8 month old on my lap because her two year old brother had diarrhea and their harried mom (travelling alone) had to keep dashing to the toilet with him.

Someone linked to my site from a blog in French about how much they hate babies on planes. I'm being vilified in several languages.

Ms. Sheila Whotiger said...

I always heard the horror stories of the drugs backfiring and making the kid wired. If I weren't so afraid of that I would have done the same thing.

How was the rest of the trip? 'cause I HATE travelling with the kids all together. I always think it's going to be great, and fun, and relaxing, and the kids will have fun. And it's always nuts, and exhausting, and frustrating. It is just starting to be fun with the eight and five year old.

DoctorMama said...

The rest of the trip was ok -- I spent a lot of time at the conference while my husband wrangled HellBoy at his friends' house, so I can't complain too much. HB hated it at their house, because it was the opposite of baby-proofed -- it was a certified toddler Attractive Nuisance danger zone, and they had a hyper dog, so all he got to hear was "no no HellBoy, no Scout, no, bad dog, no no!" While their sweet, all-natural baby gawked in silent amazement. I did get in a couple of nice runs though. I think it will be a long time before trips will be relaxing again. Come to think of it, they were never relaxing anyway.

Anonymous said...

Thankfully my oldest seems to have inhereted my sleepy plane gene- typically passes out the moment we're in the air. The worst trip was the one time he decided to stay awake and since he had his own seat the flight attendant kept insisting he MUST sit in it. I finally lied and told her it wasn't his seat so he could sit in my lap (thank goodness we didn't bring the car seat on with us). Heifer really thought it was better to have a screaming 1.5 year old in his own seat instead of a quiet, compliant toddler in a lap sheesh. The passing of the notes is just too much, never seen that one happen before.

Anonymous said...

I am a Physician Assistant, Wife and a MOM (actually came about in that We travelled a lot with my daughter when she was ages 4 to 9 years old. My husband, also a PA, took some loan repayment jobs in Alaska and we flew all over). She LOVES to travel and would be okay as long as she had the window. Several times, after the flight was over, people would come up to us and say, "oh my God, we were delighted that your child was so quiet and well-behaved for the flight". But, I must say, our preferred method of travel when we have the time is the RV. Especially now that we have more than one kid. Kids can sleep, eat, go to the bathroom, whatever, whenever. Unless the road conditions are bad, we do not insist that they keep seat-belted in. Happy travels.