Zach, a friend in DC who is finishing law school, was going out to a job interview in Salt Lake City a couple of weeks ago. At the last minute, he and his wife thought it'd be fun to surprise the grandparents by having Zach take their 6-month-old son Henry along for the ride. Naturally, I thought it was just the kind of crazy-sounding dadventure that belonged on Daddy Types, so I had him write about it. You can read his account after the jump.
One lesson I learned from it is one I've learned too many times on my own: the Baby Industrial Complex is seriously letting us down when it comes to simple powdered formula transportation solutions.
So I had a job interview in Utah at the end of September. When making the plans we tried to find a ticket for my wife Alicia, but the prices were outrageous and never really came down. So, we decided that Alicia and five-month old Henry would have to stay home. We knew how much Henry's grandparents wanted to see him and we kicked around the idea of me taking him on the trip. There were a lot reasons not to do it, putting Henry on formula and him being without Alicia being the main ones.
The night before I left we started talking seriously about it and decided it would be a stupendous surprise for Henry's grandparents. We slept on it and that morning we still thought it was a good idea. We packed about a dozen outfits (half of which Henry never wore). By the time we showed up at the airport my wheely bag and a huge duffel with all of Henry's stuff made a mockery of the airline's carry-on policy. When you have a baby they let you get away with murder.
I started to worry when I learned that the flight from DC to JFK airport in New York was going to be on a tiny commuter plane. I had to sweet talk the gate attendant into letting me try to take the big duffel bag on the plane. I took out enough stuff to survive the plane ride and fit the duffel in the overhead bin.
I thought the trip would be a cakewalk when no one sat next to me on that ride. Henry fell asleep right when we took off and the 45-minute flight was a great time to relax and catch up on some reading. I was so relaxed that I left the book on the plane.
The JFK airport is an awful place to hang out with a baby for four hours. It was crowded and there was no where to sit. I also had to worry about a stroller and two huge bags. I paid $12 for a terrible salad at a sit down sports bar and then tried to change an overflowing diaper in the stroller with many disgusted onlookers.
The flight to Salt Lake was totally full and Henry was screaming when we boarded the plane. We came up with the brilliant idea of putting the dry formula in plastic bags and then putting that in the bottles to make up formula. This proved to be an impossible task and I got more formula on my pants and the carpet of the plane than was in the bottles. Finally I put together some mixture of water and formula (that Alicia would likely not have endorsed) and gave it to Henry. I started to get worried when he wasn't asleep and there was no more formula. As we were taxiing I had to make a second batch and a woman on our row was nice enough to hold him as I made it up all the time cursing the plastic bags and wondering why we hadn't just put the dry formula in bottles (which is the way to do it in case you're wondering).
He went to sleep as we took off and stayed asleep the whole time. This sounds like the best thing in the world, but on a five hour flight, that meant that I got to hold him the whole time. There is only one position I could put him in where he would stay asleep and I even had to hold him while I went to the lavatory, which I think qualifies me for some kind of juggling certification.
We finally arrived when it was 1:00 AM our time and I was sure it was a mistake to bring him. When my parents picked me up at the airport they couldn't believe it and it was an amazing five days. Henry loved being held all the time and did great with the formula. He wore his jammies for a few days in a row and didn't take a lot of baths, but he survived. His relatives didn't want to let him go . . . and I got in a BYU football game, a horseride and I got a job offer, so I think the trip ended up being a success.