My heart begins to race, the cold sweats are setting in and the disabling anxiety is starting to take full control. Everyone is glaring at me, unwilling to help or offer up their seat. I can see the look on their faces and I know exactly what they are thinking, hell I used to be one of them. Somehow through my tunnel vision I manage to spot a familiar face and I know I am only moments from relief. And that was the terrifying moment that I entered the Emirates Lounge in Perth with my three month old screaming blue murder as she needed to be fed and comforted after enduring security.
There is honestly nothing more debilitating as a new mother when your newborn starts to kick off and you are out in public, unable to find a place to stop and no one willing to assist you, rather just look at you with their judgmental eyes. This has happened on many occasions and it never gets any easier as you start questioning your ability to parent.
As I look back on that day in the lounge, I cannot believe that no one offered to help me when it was evident I was travelling solo with a very young child. Everyone with their self-righteous eyes, getting ready to board their Sunday evening flight to journey somewhere in the world for their business meetings. As a platinum frequent flyer, I had every right to be in that lounge as they did, and surely many of them had children and grandchildren of their own. Thankfully one of my former colleagues was on the same flight and was able to mind my bags whilst I disappeared to the disabled shower room to nurse my child, away from all of the staring eyes. And being a gentleman and a new dad himself, he had a glass of champagne waiting for me on my return. Sadly, I have found myself feeding my child multiple times on the floor of disabled bathrooms as there has been no where else to seek solace.
There were several more dramas on the journey home, like when I went through security at Dubai. Here they let me walk through the scanner with my Baby Bjorn on, as opposed to trying to wrangle the baby out of the carrier whilst also unloading laptops and liquids, so I foolishly thought it would be a cinch. But my Valentino rock stud flats were not so security friendly and trying to take ones shoes off and put them on again ended in another complete meltdown. At least I looked stylish. Then there was trying to collect all my luggage at Manchester. Whilst I asked for help from Emirates, this was not forthcoming, but thankfully there was a kind elderly couple whom insisted on helping. There is no way I could have managed 2 suitcases, a stroller, travel cot, carry-on bags and a baby without their help. And finally when I arrived at the Emirates desk for my chauffeur home I was advised that they did not have a baby seat so I would be required to hold said baby for the almost two hour journey home. Neither safe or practical, but we survived!
My husband and I have been determined as we possibly can be to continue our pre-baby life as far as reasonably practical. And I think we have done a pretty good job thus far. Whilst the late-night cocktails at a hip bar have taken a leave of absence, although who am I kidding, we were never that cool anyway, in six months we have still taken two long haul flights with the baby, multiple train rides to London and continue to explore the Yorkshire pub scene on a weekly basis. So, whilst we have evidenced that travelling with an infant is still totally possible, it takes an extra level of organisation and some yogic breathing to keep oneself calm. Because inevitably the moment you become stressed, the baby replays it ten-fold and suddenly you need a rather large gin and tonic and some noise cancelling headphones!