The flight home

Our flight left at 10pm, which gave us all day on saturday to prepare and pack. Ron was tied up assisting our new friends at the hospital with the challenge of the measles outbreak that touched the orphanage so tragically (fortunately, our co-adoptive parents were able to bring their baby home, eventually).

Silly Sal stayed with me the whole day, and, while I packed and organized, he watched the video of the coffee ceremony from the previous day over, and over, and over… He was fascinated with watching himself and his friends.

Jelly Belly was in and out – the option of taking advantage of the nannies to watch him/feed him/put him down for a nap was most welcome in this last hectic day.

Throughout the day, other families left, and a mild level of anxiety set in for me. We’re going to leave this safe protected sanctuary, and embark on this unknown journey with these unknown children? Would they throw tantrums? Run away from us?

The evening set in, and we sat with the dew remaining families, each awaiting our turn to take the van-ride to the airport. It was finally our turn, and we loaded in. We arrived at the airport, and joined the line to check in. It was long, and Silly Sal was curious about all the people, and eager to say hi to everyone around us – increasing my anxiety that he would just pick someone else to be his parents. We were about halfway to the front, and he tugged at my shirt and announced “Shint!”, the Amharic word for urine, and I quickly looked for the toilets. Thankfully, they were close, and he and I walked over, leaving Ron in charge of sleeping Jelly Belly in the stroller. Silly Sal was impressed with the facilities, and loved the hand blower, and then had fun running around the large open space between the bathrooms and the line. Ten minutes later, Silly Sal announced loudly “Kaka!” (“poop”) and back to the bathroom we went! He did his business, but before he got off the seat he leaned over to the side, hawked up a nice wad of phlegm and spit it out on the floor! I was nonplussed – I couldn’t believe it, and quickly wiped up the spit, thankful that there was no one else in the bathroom! I tried to indicate to S that we don’t do this – not too sure he understood what the problem was!

We got checked in, and boarded without issues. Unfortunately, we had two pairs of seats, in two rows, one behind the other. We had been working all day with S about holding his nose and blowing out his cheeks to help depressurize his ears – J was going to be less of a problem, as long as we had him sucking on a bottle with ascents and descents. We did great with the first takeoff, and S was quickly disappointed that it didn’t feel like we were flying – it just was a cramped place where he couldn’t run around. We had a stopover in Khartoum, in Sudan, about an hour into our first leg to Amsterdam. On this first descent, we got behind on keeping S blowing to keep his ear pressure equalized, and he ended up screaming frantically. There was a group of Ethiopian ladies sitting across the aisle from us, who tried to reassure him, and he was having none of it! He struggled with the seatbelt, and almost climbed out to his seat – he barely calmed down during the actual layover, and then we had the same struggle on the ascent back out of Khartoum. More screaming, and great difficulty keeping his seatbelt on. He only calmed down when dinner came, and he enjoyed eating on his personal tray. On the landing into Amsterdam, we again had troupe with the seatbelt, which he now associated with pain in his ears, but, with a little struggle, we successfully landed, tired and looking forward to a shower and some rest at the wonderful Schiphol airport, only to find that the airline was not goof to give us our stroller for J! So, now we had to carry all our things plus a heavy baby around a huge airport!

Fortunately, Schiphol has a fabulous baby room, with dim lights, little round cubicles with a bench to sit on and a crib for the baby, as well as a microwave to warm milk and a sink. We started off with both kids at the playground, with climbing structures and slides. S stayed there with Ron when J needed a diaper change, and then, after a prolonged toddle around some leather seats near the art museum shop, he and I retired to the baby area, and he napped after a bottle.

We eventually all used the showers at the Hotel Mercure in the airport, and then had a meal, and finally it was time to board our final flight across the Atlantic to get home. We were a little anxious about another screaming bout with S on the ascent, but we rehearsed blowing out his ears, and it went OK. He was very psyched about the personal video screen on KLM, and figured out the controls on the remote quickly, ending up watching “Finding Nemo” at least 6 times in a row. It seemed to Ron and me that his favorite part of the movie was the intro with the Disney castle, and the shooting star arc the extends overs it!
I usually can’t sleep on planes, and I settled in to watch some movies with Jelly Belly on my lap (he refused to stick to his own seat!)…next thing I knew, I woke up to find Jelly Belly ON THE FLOOR(!!!) at my feet, thankfully still sound asleep. I was mortified, and wondered if anyone had seen my negligence. I hauled the baby back up into my arms, and settled down again tithe movie screen (or maybe to the audiobook on my iPhone), determined now to stay awake and hold onto this new child of mine! I can’t say how much longer it was, or if his stay in the floor of the airplane had anythig to do with it, but at about 2 hours before landing, a good bit of time before they do the whole wake-’em-up-and-feed-’em routine, Jelly Belly roused himself, looked around, and then vomited EVERYTHING he’d consumed in the last 6 hrs+ onto ME!!! Ugh!! My shirt, my pants, everything was covered!
I woke up Ron, who lent me his outer shirt, the flight attendant was incredibly sweet and helped me get to the lavatory with the baby and wash him, and me, up as well as possible. Of course, I had extra clothes for him, but nothing for me (who woulda thought I needed a change of clothes packed?) – thank goodness for Ron’s extra shirt!
And, then we were home, enduring one more log queue at Dulles customs, with both boys in an ebullient mood (since they got a nice sleep on the plane!) and socializing with everyone in line. Big sister Shanthi was waiting for us with car, and we made it home. Whew!

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