My father said it best, “Adelaide travels like a small rock band”, which I suppose makes the rest of us her roadies. Whenever possible we load up the minivan and drive to our destination but sometimes you have to fly and, lemme tell ya, there better be a margarita waiting for me on the other side. Our traveling escapades have been one misstep after another, it's really amazing that we continue to take trips, but I refuse to let Adelaide's disabilities stop us from enjoying life.
When we go away all of Adelaide's equipment comes with us. This includes but is not limited to: her pulse oximeter, feeding pump, suction, nebulizer, ventilator, oxygen concentrator and, cough assist. Then there are all of her meds, formula (which can’t be bought in the store) and everything else you would bring along for a typical infant: stroller, car seat, diapers, etc. If flying, nearly all of this has to come on the plane with us because if it were to get lost in transit we would be screwed. Last, but most certainly not least, is Adelaide: 32 lbs of dead weight. Did I mention that due to Miguel’s schedule I usually travel alone with our two kids? Yeah, I’ll take a massage with that margarita.
To prepare for these “adventures” an FAA-approved oxygen concentrator has to be rented weeks in advance and the airline notified. Clothes are packed the day before because let's be real, I am sooooo not on top of laundry and Adelaide’s meds and equipment are not packed until the day of travel because its all in use. Essentially, what I’m saying is that the 24 hours before a trip are a sh** show at our home and even with preparations, something inevitably goes wrong.
Once, on the way to the airport, I realized I forgot a nose cannula needed for Adelaide’s oxygen concentrator which she is unable to fly without. A mad scramble ensued calling every drug store in the vicinity of O’Hare (FYI: they don’t carry nose cannulas) until we found a medical supplier that would sell one to us directly. Adelaide has had seizures walking into the airport, in the security line, and on the plane. I’ve taken Jackson to the bathroom on the plane after he dumped a full cup of water on himself while wearing Adelaide in a baby carrier when she was much too large to be worn. I’ve left one of Adelaide’s meds in my Aunt’s refrigerator and had to have it overnighted to us and I’m sure we leave a trail of socks, syringes, and sanitizer wherever we go.
However in spite of all of this, somehow, traveling has managed to restore my faith in humanity. I may often travel solo with the kids but I always encounter strangers willing to help. Regardless of the airline, the gate agents allow us to board early and often helps me carry our things down the jet bridge. If we wait until everyone is off the plane the flight attendants usually help me get everything off, that is if another passenger hasn’t already offered. On Monday we were flying home from my cousin’s wedding in North Carolina and due to horrible storms in Chicago, our flight was delayed…for 10 hours. No. Thank you. Then a lovely woman came up to me and offered to help in any way I needed. She spent the day with us playing Uno with Jackson, watching bags while I took Adelaide for diaper changes and we even had dinner together, with much needed margaritas of course. It was a horribly long day, don’t get me wrong, but it could have been so much worse, and I’m eternally indebted to Ms. Aimee and her mad Uno playing skills.
We’ve learned to live in a high-stress environment. There have been periods where it is a weekly, if not daily, occurrence to question whether we need to go to the ER or call an ambulance. That has helped put the travel stress in perspective. Now, I would obviously never put Adelaide in danger, if she, (or Jackson for that matter) were unwell we would cancel our plans and have had to just that. But I don’t want to look back at weddings, reunions, holidays or opportunities missed because it was too much work to get on a plane. Also, I’m stubborn - and I love margaritas.
Side note: HUGE shout out to Jackson, who is the best travel companion a mom could ask for. I could not manage flights if he was not incredibly helpful every step of the way even while waiting in a taxi line at 11:30 pm after sitting in an airport since 12 pm.