I have put this off as long as I can. I'm starting this tonight is two weeks short of a year though it will be finished slowly over the course of many days. I've been meaning to write it for so long. Thinking about writing it triggers panic, actually sitting here and preparing to write it has tears already started. It seems like with a year to prepare for this I could have thought to have some tissues nearby. I just posted the following on my FB page:
It wa finally time to go to the boarding area of the airport. It was just a little separated area with more chairs to sit in. Boohoo was really getting agitated. We were all getting agitated. This is one of the memories that I will never forget. Every white person in that boarding area was holding an Ethiopian child. It made me so angry on behalf of Ethiopia. I don't see how an Ethiopian sitting there could have been anything less than disgusted with the entire situation. I think what made it worse was that there was only one or two children that were older than Boohoo. The rest were babies, little babies.
I don't remember a lot from this first flight to Dubai. I remember Boohoo getting a little more scared, which in this case made her a little easier to handle. We bought her her own seat even though with her (incorrect) age that we had she could have flown as a lap-child. I am SOOOO glad that she had her own seat. I totally recommend that. She didn't want to be buckled up but they made us put her in her seat and buckle her. The Emirates staff brought out this strange little pack of baby-care items, which we handed over to her and let her mess around with until we took off.
The most random thing that we had happen to us was that a man from South Africa who was in the middle section, a row behind us, struck up a conversation with Andrew. He talked about Boohoo and how beautiful she was and kept tellling Andrew how much he liked children and that he would like to visit us in the United States and trying to get Andrew to tell him our address. Andrew declined and tried to cut off the conversation. We're pretty sure that he was drunk, but it was very weird.
We thought that we were landing in Dubai, but that only some of the passengers were getting off the plane and that we were staying on and then they'd reload/refuel and we'd be off again. We were excited about that because who wants to traipse through an airport with a child? Well, that was wrong. Boohoo eventually slept (thanks to a little antihistamine helper) but she fell asleep shortly before we ended up having to get off the plane. I remember trying to stand up with her so carefully to keep her asleep, but seriously, did I think that I was going to get that lucky? I'm leaving out a lot of tense moments of traveling with a toddler who hates you, but those have just all blended together. We were simply thankful that she wasn't screaming.
Not only did we have to get off the plane in Dubai, but we had a very short time before our next flight. We had to go through the far from friendly Dubai airport again and because we were just that lucky we had to go through security again! This should have been totally unnecessary since we were simply changing planes, but while we were in Ethiopia there was that bombing in New York and the man responsible for that had been on the exact same flight that we were taking so security had been stepped up. We had to walk through the scanner thing, our bags were scanned and they confiscated the majority of our coffee (which I have not forgiven them for yet) and then we all got a pat-down.
Andrew had his groping out in public, but in order to preserve my honor I was taken into this little changing-room like pod with Boohoo and a beefy Arabic woman in a security burqua to be felt down and up. It was rather intimidating. She asked me "yours?" and indicated to Boohoo. I was a little afraid that she'd be confisicated with my coffee beans and that these were actually security agents with an Ethiopian fetish. I said yes she was mine (in a broad manner of speaking), but I didn't feel like it was a good time for jokes. She tried to smile at Boohoo while she was feeling her up and down, but Boohoo wasn't buying it either. She was probably pretty tired of being manhandled by strangers at this point and even I seemed like a good bet compared to Ms. Quarterback. We hustled out of there as quickly as possible and commenced more waiting.
I'm going to have to try and get Andrew to write down his recollections of this stuff because his memory is much better than mine.
The flight from Dubai to JFK is really long. Let me just put that out there. It didn't seem quite as long when we weren't traveling with a toddler, but holy moly. It was a long flight back. Really, besides the constant level of heightened stress so that you feel like any minute you might puke, have your heart explode, and then your entire body burst into flames it wasn't a bad trip.
The first part of this flight was probably our best traveling time. We (again) had all three seats on the side of the plane. Andrew was on the aisle, Boohoo was in the middle, and I was at the window. When we got to our seats she was pretty excited, as in overstimulated, overtired, slightly manic kind of way, but she was handling it fairly well. The flight attendents brought us all warm washclothes and she thought this was the. best. thing. ever. It was so funny. She washed her face and her hands about a million times and then she started washing our hands for us (she even touched Andrew and allowed him to talk to her) Please keep in mind however that I am the only one who has held her, carried her, fed her, changed her, helped her for over 48 hours already though. After she decided that we were clean enough she started wiping up the seats and the armrests. She was very enthusiastic and animated about the whole thing. When they came back by to collect the washclothes we refused to give them back because she was still entertained.
I mentioned in an earlier post that I felt underprepared as far as the amount of toys and food and such that I had brought with me. She did like one of the foods I had brought...I can't currently remember what it was...but she was eating all of it and I was afraid we were going to run out. She didn't like any of the toys that I had brought (or more likely she just didn't like me and wouldn't have liked anything that I had) and Andrew had an ipod, but he didn't really know how to use it yet and it was vastly underutalized. lol.
She slept just a little little bit on this long long flight. She needed her foul foul diaper changed several times in the teeny tiny bathroom and everytime I had to go to the bathroom she had to come with me. Those bathroom trips were stressful. We let her play with everything in the seats, touch everything in the seats, etc. We tried to get her interested in a movie, but that was short lived. She went through several very restless phases and there was just nothing that we could do to entertain her. She ate off all of our plates when we were served food, but I basically wasn't able to eat anything. She was so bouncy and in my personal space (not in a good way) that I couldn't eat. Andrew was continuting to feel sick and so he wasn't eating that much either. Getting her to drink was almost impossible. She hated the "sippy" part of sippy cups, but no exaggerating if we took the lid off she would spill it EVERYWHERE, and a lot of the time it was on purpose. When it was the appropriate time again we tried to get her to sleep with a little more help, but it didn't work that time and she just carried on as she was. But if she wasn't sleeping than no one was sleeping. So, I wasn't sleeping. I wasn't eating.
And then we landed in JFK and our world officially imploded.