Friday, January 2, 2009

everything is easy, part 1

Here I am, with my reporting of traveling cross-country with 4-month old twins. I’m trying to squeeze this in between all the busy-ness of caring for the boys, so forgive if it’s not well thought-out. Also, I didn’t take any photos while we were traveling, sorry!

First, I will admit that I’m a “Secret” junkie, and this did inform my approach to the trip. A couple of years ago, I was coached to approach my day with mantras like “the sun is shining and the grass is green” and “everything is easy.” The latter has stuck with me, and it is what I reach for when I do things that, from the outside, might seem insane. Like traveling alone with my twins.

For starters, I got a fast-moving stomach flu the day before we were set to travel. Because of this, and because I didn’t know whether the boys would get sick or not, I first thought I would have to travel on a different day, but in the end, I just missed my 6am flight out. To make a long story a little shorter, I ended up traveling on the same day as planned, but we got on a 2pm flight instead. Because things were less than ideal, I started in on my mantra…. Everything is easy…. Everything is easy…. Everything is easy.

Our friend and doula, E, came with much grace with us to the airport, and thank heavens she was able to. I can’t imagine how I would have gotten my luggage into the airport, as I had to carry one baby in a carrier, push the other in the car seat snap-and-go stroller, and also push the luggage cart, bearing two large suitcases and, two car seat bases, and the second car seat. We got into the airport, checked the bags, and then found out that E would not be allowed (by the airline) a pass to accompany me to the gate – something I had been assured was standard practice by both the airline and the Portland airport prior to our travel date. Point of Advice #1 – I learned this from a blog I used to follow (Better Make it a Double) – when traveling with young twins, dress them especially cutely – you will attract positive attention and assistance. We parted ways at the security check, where I was met by our first angel, a TSA agent who brought us aside to a much shorter line and helped me get all the gear (2 diaper bags, 2 blankets, fleece suits for both of the boys, my winter coat) out of the stroller, get the stroller and the car seat and my shoes and the baby carrier onto the conveyer belt, and the get through the metal detector (holding both boys). Point of Advice #2 – You may think you need to bring 2 diaper bags, but try not to. You’ll be surprised by the amount of stuff you never have to touch. Nice to Know #1 – I brought a full day supply of expressed (donated) breastmilk with me. I had read on the TSA website that this would not be tested, nor would I have to taste it for the agents as long as I separated it from my other items at Security. This proved to be true – I had no problem carrying this liquid with me. So, anyway, with the help of this very sweet and loving woman, I made it through Security, repacked my stuff, and went to the gate.

At the gate, I went up to the counter and told the airline rep my situation (traveling alone with twins) and that I would definitely need someone to help me get both babies on board. This woman was so kind – she actually left the counter in her quiet moments and came and sat with me in the gate area, even giving one of the boys a bottle. She helped me onto the plane before boarding any other passengers, and went as far as looking up the passenger who was supposed to sit next to us and assigned him another seat (with his permission), giving us the whole row. What a kind and wonderful woman! Everything is easy!

On the plane, we had the serendipitous luck of being seated across the aisle from a mom traveling with her nine-year-old fraternal twin boys. She was nostalgic about having twin babies and was eager to help me. She ended up holding either one of the boys for that whole flight! Her boys were totally charmed at the thought of themselves as Max and Shoghi. We managed to anticipate their needs and honestly, there wasn’t even a full two minutes of crying in the whole 6 hours we were on that plane.

The other thing that happened on that flight was a departure delay, for which passengers were allowed to get off the plane. Because the people sitting behind me had paid us friendly attention when they boarded, I asked them to buy me a sandwich when they got off to get some food. Thank God I did – that would be the last food I would eat for more than 12 hours (it was also the first food I’d eaten in 36 hours because of that flu!). Point of Advice #3 – Say YES! Traveling with twins gives one many opportunities to exercise trust in humanity. I was lucky to always be offered help, so I didn’t have to ask strangers for assistance, but by saying yes and finding small things they actually could do to help me, the trip was much, much easier. I had people to hold babies, get me food, and watch a twin while I went to the washroom. The last was probably the scariest – trusting people with the babies in my absence – but because I had connected with multiple people, I could feel comfortable that the group was actually watching out for the baby… and on a plane, where’s anyone going to go, anyway? Nice to Know #2 – neither of the airplanes I flew on had changing tables in the airplane lavatories. This was a complete shock to me. I had to change a messy diaper right on my seat! Point of Advice #4 – put your babies in overnight disposable diapers in case you end up stuck on a plane and can’t change them!

And so, even though we were delayed on the plane for over an hour, and the flight itself took nearly 6, the first leg of our trip was remarkably successful. Even the flight attendant was fabulous - when we got in late to Chicago, she came with me herself to the next gate, allowing me to take the staff elevator to save some time getting to the other terminal. We were surrounded by lovely, truly helpful people, and even with the mishaps (not having E at the gate with me, flight delay), everything was easy!

It's almost 10:30pm, and I still have to get things ready for bed (the boys are mercifully sleeping right now), so I should go. I'll come back another time with Part 2, in which I end up stranded in Chicago overnight with my small baby boys...


  1. Ever since I left you at the airport I've been dying to hear how the trip went. Part 1 brought tears to my eyes, but I can't wait for Part 2...stranded in Chicago, agh! I think of you often and miss you all! Happy New Year.

  2. Wow -you are incredible! Good for you-I bet you feel like you can do anything with twins after all that. I'm still around -just moved to WordPress. Feel free to e-mail for the PW if you want to keep in touch. Your twins are gorgeous.

  3. Holy cow, amazing! You are amazing and what wonderful people there are in the world.

    Can't wait to hear part 2!

  4. what an inspiring story!! how much joy you bring to the world because you have been put into a situation that allows people to constantly be of sweet and tender service. what a gift this is to those around you :-) and you are so VERY gracious in receiving help.