*I'll be back dating this post to Wednesday later.*
SS did an amazing job and received a lot of kudos from the flight attendants on both flights. She remained buckled up during both flights and after her initial request did not ask to remove the CARES again. It did help that the flights were short. The SFO to SLC flight was uneventful and SS spent the entire time playing with the dollar store Toy Story mini figures. We could not find her beloved Buzz Lightyear before we left home Tuesday. I was about to buy her a replacement when P pointed out that it would be one more thing for us to look after. The plan was to let it go and if SS had a meltdown we would buy her a replacement in Chicago. It worked out well because once SS saw Buzz, Woodie, Jessie and Rex she seemed to forget about her large Buzz figure.
Delta limits preboarding to parents with infants and you have to ask the gate clerk first. I asked at SFO and the clerk had us board first, much to the annoyance of the first class passengers. At SLC when P asked the clerk stated "We don't allow preboarding for kids, but if you feel you have to then I guess you have to, go ahead." P was annoyed at her condescending tone and pointed to SS (snuggled in the Ergo) and our carryons and noted that it would take a while for us to settle and install the CARES, so it was to the other passengers advantage that we not hold up boarding.
The SLC to O'Hare leg was difficult but not because of SS. There was a very young couple in the seats in front of us and across with three girls ages 3, 2 and an infant. We were hoping SS would sleep but the girls began to cry before we left the gate. SS has always been very empathetic when children cry. She wants to know what's wrong and tries to reach out to calm them. This time their cries really upset her, she was not mad but she was visibly upset. P and I feared a chain reaction meltdown and quickly set out to distract SS.
The girls cried during the entire flight. I tried to take video of SS on several occasions and only have a 50 second segment when they were not screaming their heads off. P kept looking at me with a "are they ever going to shut up?" look on his face. My heart went out to the parents because I know what is like to have the loudest child and wishing the earth would open and swallow me to end the misery. By the time we landed SS had obviously had her fill of crying drama. As the plane was making its way towards the gate the girls pumped up the volume. SS rubbed her ears in exasperation then began to laugh. It was her maniacal laugh. We were surprised but better for her to laugh than to be upset or to cry. Then P could not hold his laughter in and he began to laugh. The louder the girls cried the more hysterical SS's and P's laughter became. I felt really bad for the parents and did my best to keep a straight face, bit my lip hard, but in the end joined them. I am not very proud of myself, but it was absurdly funny.
We were in the back (row 32 of about 36) and this meant a long wait to deplane, and the girls of course cried the entire time. When we landed P and I quickly removed the CARES and that is when the couple behind us stood up to try to help us and then noticed SS. They were stunned, they had no idea that there was a child in front of them. They could not believe that SS had been quiet for two and a half hours (she wasn't we did talk and she laughed a lot). I started to tickle SS to keep her mind from the mass of people around us and the crying and they remarked how they could have lived through two an a half hours of giggling. I feel weird when that happens because SS is not a well behaved child by any means. If they only saw our daughter at home they would think it was a completely different child.
SS fell asleep shortly after we arrived at baggage claim. We took the shuttle to Enterprise and when the clerk could not find our reservation P realized that our reservation was with Alamo. He keeps travel info in his phone and forgot to add the new rental info to the travel folder, so he was looking at last year's reservation. The shuttle driver was really nice, returned us to the terminal and had us wait inside the cool bus until the Alamo shuttle arrived. SS woke up when we moved to the new shuttle and was not able to fall back asleep, probably because of the heat and humidity. We checked in at the hotel, went out to dinner and made a stop at Target for a small cooler and other essentials. That is when SS hit the wall, well it was more like slamming into the wall at mach speed. She put her head down and we knew something was wrong. I reminded her that we would go swimming as soon as we returned to the hotel and she said "I can't." SS never turns down a swim invite, she had to be spent.
When we arrived at the hotel SS immediately asked out of her carseat. When I opened the passenger door SS let out a scream and began to cry. P quickly unbuckled her and carried her upstairs. SS cries were different than we have ever experienced. We knew she was tired but when we hold her that usually calms her down quickly. Inside the room P handed SS to me thinking she just needed a Mama cuddle but that did not stop the crying. I walked over to the window, SS saw the pool and cried harder, thinking that were were going down to swim. I stripped her, changed her diaper and laid down with her hoping she would calm down. SS was restless and kept crying until exhaustion took over. This well deserved meltdown reminded us of her exhaustion during the NC to PR flight last year. P looked at me feeling so guilty and said that we had really overdone it this time. This was so much worse and so painful to witness.
About an hour later we got the answer as to why SS was so miserable. She woke up screaming so loud that it startled P awake. P is a sound sleeper, and it takes over the top noise to wake him, especially when he is exhausted. SS was screaming "change diaper" and crying. P quickly turned her on her back and I opened the diaper. Our poor baby was constipated and we were just in time to help the process along (sorry TMI). She cried for about two minutes and was out cold. That is when P mentioned that SS was really tense when he was holding her. Well, that explains why it wasn't just a matter of holding SS and having her easily slip into dreamland. P went back to sleep in record time and I am as usual wired and unable to sleep. Tomorrow we are going to take it easy in the morning and allow SS to wake up on her own, and only then we will make plans for the day.
Listening to music. She spent most of the flight playing with her action figures. We did not have to bring out the DVD player or the Leapster.
SS's sticker book has Ni Hao Kai Lan, Dora, Diego, Wonder Pets and Sponge Bob Squarepants stickers. It has a story format, and SS had a great time looking for the stickers that corresponded to each part.
Just because she was in the Ergo did not mean that SS was dead weight. She cracked me up by insisting on helping with the luggage. Not a bad trick.
The carseat bag held well and it was easy to roll around. I am not giving it our seal of approval yet though. It needs to make it home in one piece and withstand the trip to Maui. The bag we used last year was half the price but not only did it rip after only one use, it was a pain hauling the carseat around without wheels.
SS's first opportunity to put her feet up and relax was short lived. We had to leave in search of food.
SS's first taste of a hot beef sandwich. She ate more than we expected, and their fresh cut fries are the best we have had. P had seen a feature of this place on the travel channel and it was on his to do list.
A rare moment when the screaming trio was not drowning out what SS said. The laughter at the beginning is her maniacal laughter. Now imagine that laughter times ten. That is how SS was laughing when we landed and the girls were crying.