Friday 28 February 2020

Baby Flying Tips: Benny's First Flight with Air Transat

There are so many firsts that you experience with a new baby: first smile, first time they crawl, their first word. One of the major firsts that I was most looking forward to, and simultaneously gave me the most anxiety, was Benny's first flight.

Readers of La Petite Noob know that I love to travel, and really didn't want to see that love end once we had a baby. When the opportunity came up to take our first flight as a family of three with Air Transat, I was ecstatic! My dreams of traveling the world with a child were coming true, and I was counting down the days until it became a reality. Then the panic set in.

The thing is although I've flown countless times, sometimes as a pair, as a group and often by myself, I had never flown with a child - let alone a six month old baby. What would security be like? What do I pack? Will they cry? What is the protocol for takeoff and landing with a baby on your lap? There were so many questions that arose in the days leading up to our first trip with Benny, I found it hard to move past the fear of the unknown.

I'll save you any dramatics and just skip to how our flight turned out: it was excellent. Check in at the airport was a breeze, we sailed through security, enjoyed a (mostly) silent and sleepy flight to-and-from the Cancun Airport in Mexico, and packed some key baby essentials that made the day a lot easier. Flying with Benny at six months took a lot more planning than I'm used to, and there were a lot more nerves involved, but it was incredible and totally doable for the future.

So let's get into the details of flying with a baby. First, the airline: we chose to go with Air Transat for our first flight with baby and it was such a good decision. You guys know that I've absolutely loved traveling and working with Air Transat over the years (we flew Club Class for our honeymoon) so I was already confident in the airline going into the flight. There are some definite perks to flying Air Transat with a baby that we took full advantage of, and that made our first flight much easier. These perks include:

  • A Family With Small Children check-in and baggage drop off line. As a couple who has not checked any luggage for over five years (Brian and I prefer to travel carry-on only) the fact that we would now need to allot time to drop off our baggage, but also check in with a baby added a whole other layer to the airport experience. Thankfully there is a special line for families with small children with Air Transat that allowed us to bypass most everyone in line and drop off our baggage in no time. We learned quick that time is of the essence when traveling with a baby, so the less time that we spent in lines with Benny the better. 

  • Extra Baggage allowance for Diaper Bags. Knowing that we were able to bring a dedicated diaper bag for Benny, outside of regular carry-on items, on our flight made packing so much easier. 

  • Gate Checking Strollers and Car Seats. Knowing that we would be doing a lot of walking through the airport with Benny, I knew that it would be important that we kept our stroller with us right up until we boarded. Thankfully with Air Transat, families are able to gate check one stroller and car seat at no extra charge, which was a lifesaver for us. Although we didn't use our own car seat on this particular trip, knowing that we're able to easily bring it with us makes traveling to Europe much easier.

  • Families with small children are also eligible for Pre-Boarding with Air Transat. It seems like those traveling with kids are on two very polarized opinions on pre-boarding. For both Brian and I, especially on our first trip traveling with baby Benny, pre-boarding was essential. We took advantage of the extra time that we had on the plane to sanitize everything around us, store our carry on and remove any items that we would need for Benny throughout the flight, and to get organized and comfortable. 

  • Friendly and Helpful Air Crew. The flight attendants and crew working on Air Transat flights are very well-versed in making people comfortable, and they went above and beyond with Benny. From helping us collapse and pack up our stroller at the gate, to briefing us multiple times during take-off and landing, to even bringing me extra water since I was feeding often during the flight: the crew took care of it all. Air Transat crew will even warm up baby food brought from home. A friendly air crew can make-or-break your flying experience, and our crew with Air Transat made sure that we had an amazing first flight with Benny.

After a successful first two flights with six-month old Benny, from Toronto to Cancun and back with Benny on our lap, I picked up a few tricks that I will implement on any future flights. Here's what made our flights a little more comfortable with baby.

  • I was initially worried about the change in air pressure and how it would affect Benny's ears on the flight, so I made sure to breastfeed during takeoff and landing for both flights. I'm not sure if it was this, the particular flight, or our individual baby, but Benny did not fuss whatsoever with changes in air pressure. In any case, I'm sure the sucking motion contributed to Benny's comfort and the feeding seemed to relax him - in fact, he fell asleep every time. If you're not breastfeeding then offering a bottle or a soother would have the same effect.

  • Because we wanted to make sure that we had desirable seats for maximum comfort on the plane, we opted to upgrade our seats on our own both ways to Options Plus. Options Plus is great because it allowed us to select our preferred seats in advance, enjoy extra leg room and gave us food from Air Transat's Bistro menu.  Options Plus also allows you to have priority boarding and our own check in line (should we not have had a child.) 

    Although not always an option, we were so happy to have upgraded to seats with extra leg room at the front of the plane. If you're not comfortable with an upgrade, I would suggest checking in 24 hours in advance of your flight to make sure that you're comfortable with your seating arrangement.

  • Babies are fickle, and I never really know which toys will entertain Benny on any particular day. For this reason, we packed his favourite toys, but also got creative for entertaining baby on the flight. When Benny all of a sudden tired of his beloved keyboard, an empty water bottle with stir sticks inside provided a solid 20 minutes of entertainment. Some other make-shift baby toys are a mirror, snack wrappers - whatever peaks baby's interest, just roll with it.

  • I'm a light packer by nature, so I didn't want to overwhelm our plane seats with too much stuff. The items that I packed for Benny on our flight were a muslin blanket, an extra set of clothes, 4 diapers and a pack of wipes, a pacifier and a pacifier clip, two toys and a package of pacifier wipes to sanitize soothers and toys throughout the flight.  We used everything that we packed, and I didn't wish for anything else.

Flying with a baby can seem overwhelming, but is completely doable and can actually be enjoyable! It takes a bit more planning, some extra stuff, the right airline and a few deep breaths. I'm already looking forward to our next flight with Benny.

What do you guys think? How was your first flight with your baby and/or children? Are there any tips that made the experience easier for you? Let me know!

xo Joëlle

This post was created in partnership with Air Transat. All thoughts and opinions are 100% my own.

Wednesday 19 February 2020

6 Month Postpartum Update: The Good, The Bad and the Bloody

As I sit here and type this, I can hardly believe that we've had Benny in our lives for six whole months. When we were in the thick of the newborn phase, I was so sick of people telling me how quickly it goes by; turns out, they were right. Time is absolutely flying, and while I'm enjoying every new stage more than the last, I feel a anxiousness to try to remember everything as it is right now. It's a strange feeling.

This post isn't going to be about Benny though. Having a baby via C section as I had is a real shock to your body, and so much has changed since the hazy days that are pre-baby. I look different, feel different, and have different relationships with my loved ones. For real - postpartum is no joke, even 6 months out.

So I'm here to tell you what's been going on with me for the past 6 months since having a baby. The good, the bad - and the bloody.

C Section Scar

One big question that I've gotten from individuals online is how my C section scar is recovering. Although there is still a very noticeable red scar, it look so much better now. The scary red gash that once graced my entire lower abdomen is now fading into a lighter shade of pink, and is [slowly] shrinking in size along with my stomach. I do still have a bit of swelling overtop of the scar, giving me a 'C section shelf' but I'm optimistic that the swelling will also go down as I start to re-develop core strength.

I know that I'm supposed to cherish all of the scars that lead me to motherhood, but I'll be honest: when I first took off my bandages post-op after Benny was born, I cried. It's so jarring to see the body that you once knew so well change in such drastic ways, and that long bloody incision was just too much for me to handle. Although it's far from being invisible, it makes me feel a lot better to know that it's healing into something that is a bit more manageable.

Postpartum Period

Well, my period-less grace period didn't last nearly as long as I expected. Although I've been exclusively breastfeeding this entire time, and only recently started to seriously introduce Benny to solids, my period returned after about 4 months post-baby. And did she ever make an entrance!

This is when it starts getting real, so if you're squeamish then exit out. After having a copper-based IUD for over 10 years, I was used to a heavy period. That being said, nothing could have prepared me for the absolute madness that is a postpartum period. My Lord. You know the scene in The Shinning when the elevator doors open and blood just starts gushing out into a tidal wave of horror into the hallway? That's what's happening to my crotch every month, and it's not pretty. For this reason, I think the time has finally come to try out a menstrual cup to try and manage this bloodbath every month until my hormones level out. Or maybe this is my new normal. Who knows - stay tuned!

My Mood

I've talked about my prenatal depression and anxiety at length on the blog, and how I thought that postpartum actually provided a reprieve. I still think this to be true, however now that I'm looking back, I do think that I was experiencing postpartum euphoria during the newborn stage (Google tells me that this is indeed a thing.) Feelings of elation coupled with a pretty easy newborn cushioned the transition to motherhood. Coupled with the summer months and a sleep newborn, I was able to consistently get out of the house, absolutely crush work and exist in a pretty rosy bubble.

Now at 6 months postpartum the euphoric feelings have faded, teething and sleep regressions have hit and Brian has gone back to working long hours at the office. I'm still happy, and overall loving this new season of life, but I'm tired damnit. And irritable. And annoyed at the inequality in shared household responsibilities that seems to screw women.

I'm very happy for the most part, but I'm often pissed off. Pissed that I'm trying desperately to work at the same pace that I did pre-baby with way more outside responsibility and way less sleep. Pissed that trying to raise a family in the city will ultimately end up costing us all of the money in the world - and it still doesn't guarantee that we'll find a home. Pissed that gender roles are still very much a thing in 2020. I'm pissed that I can't seem to stay grounded and in a place of gratitude because my acute bursts of rage seem so encompassing at the time. I'm happy but I'm pissed.

Thankfully, I've been seeing a therapist every 6 weeks since having Benny and it does seem to help. If anything, I find that when I actually sit down and articulate what is making me so mad, I realize how silly I sound and it actually helps to ground me. It also helps to have someone tell me that my feelings are valid and very common in the postpartum period. I'm enrolled in a program that allows me access to free therapy sessions for one year postpartum, and I think it's going to be something that I continue on my own when the program expires.

So that's it! I still love being a mother, more-so than I ever imagined that I would, but I'm also human and struggle with bad days.

My Relationship

Another big question that was asked on Instagram when I mentioned writing a post about everything postpartum was how my marriage had changed since having a baby. I'll be honest, I'm a pretty open book when it comes to most things but I try to keep my relationships offline as much as I can, out of respect for everyone involved. However, I have a feeling that people are asking because we're all struggling a bit to find not only ourselves postpartum, but also where we stand with our partners. So I will say this:

Marriage is hard. Marriage after a baby is harder. Even if bringing a human life into this world together acts as a bonding between you and your partner, as it has with Brian and I, there are still very real changes that can put a strain on a relationship. I know myself, I haven't been the most pleasant person to be around sometimes. I'm upset with the unequal expectations that society has for women vs. men when becoming a parent, and oftentimes those strong feelings get placed onto Brian for simply existing as a man. And here's the thing - he actually helps a lot! He's collateral damage to my anger at a still very flawed and gendered parenthood experience in 2020. I see him succeeding with his career and, while it makes me proud and provides more security for our family, it hurts to know that my own will have to take more of a backseat for the next few years.

I'm working daily to focus on more big-picture thinking instead of just focusing on the semantics of this particular season of life. In the long run, I'm really proud of both Brian and I for handling this change to our lives with happiness and grace. There is lots of love and laughter in our home, and that's all I want for our son. For two Type A, know-it-all, high strung Aries, it's nothing short of a miracle - haha!

Postpartum Hair Loss

Now here's something fun that I thought I had escaped, seeing as though I was 4 months postpartum when it started - postpartum hair loss. Ya'll, I currently have the hairline of a balding man in their mid forties. I can build a hair-doll of myself every single time I use a brush. And now as the hair loss seems to be (hopefully) slowing down, I'm dealing with a serious case of baby-bangs with my new hair growth. And here's the kicker - my new hair is almost all 100% grey. HAHA oh the joys!

My Weight

I feel like you can't talk about postpartum life without addressing the question that seems to be on the forefront of everyone's minds. This post is getting long, and I don't want to focus too much on weight because it really doesn't matter long run, but here it is:

Have I lost the baby weight? Hell no.
Does it bother me? Yes.
Am I being gentle with myself in regards to baby weight? Yes.

I've slowly started to get back into regular workouts and moving my body with purpose again. It feels incredible - if only for improving my sleep and moods! I'm back at Soul Cycle and am slowly trying to build up strength in my core again. It feels amazing, and I'm finally feeling like I'm ready to start building up a fitness routine again.

© La Petite Noob | A Toronto-Based Fashion and Lifestyle Blog. | All rights reserved.
Blog Layout Created by pipdig