#Perspective: Cleavage and carry-ons, navigating air travel with a nursing baby

After four flights with my third (and final) baby, I have discovered the best approach is to go at it 'gorilla warfare style'.

Flying solo with a baby feels a bit like a high-stakes adventure movie.

You’re the protagonist, your mission is survival, and your co-passenger? Well, they didn’t sign up for this action-packed ride!

After four flights with my third (and final) baby, I have discovered that the best approach is to go at it ‘gorilla warfare style’.
Firstly, cleavage.

If you are a nursing mom like myself you are going to be bringing the ladies out anyway, so they might as well assist in attracting male baggage carriers.

Lol, just joking, in reality fellow mothers are the most likely to take pity on you and offer to help carry your bags.

Which brings me to my real first point: luggage.

You need to be military about going as light as possible. But we all know that babies need (and I stress, need) all sorts of ridiculous items, which makes it tough to cut down.

Case in point – on my last flight I had slimmed down so much that I hadn’t packed any toys (had I lost my already mushy mind?).

I was forced out of desperation to bow to airport extortion and buy a squishy plastic sheep – that likely cost less than R5 to make – for R110!

It didn’t even have a clip attached to it so Esti was able to repeatedly ‘drop’ it under the seat and make me scrabble about for it at five minute intervals. I was very soon cursing that sheep.

Even though packing light is the dream, there are a few items I won’t fly without. My travel pillow, an extra pillow for wedging under my arm to support a sleeping or nursing baby (if this happens count yourself extremely lucky), a baby carrier, and my pram.

‘A pram!’, you exclaim, how is that an essential item? A pram my friend is all that stands between you and the proverb ‘the straw that broke the camel’s back’.

On my first flight with Esti I thought I was being really clever and I left the bulky pram behind. Armed with only my carrier I was suddenly faced with a devastating realisation: there are no trolleys on the other side of security check-in.

That’s why its called ‘hand luggage’, because you have to be able to carry it by hand (all these years and the penny only drops now).

That’s right, now you have a six to 13kg baby strapped to your front, a heavy rucksack on your back, the baby’s car chair in your right hand and some last minute items squashed into a Checkers packet in your left.

Forget the coffee, you won’t be having one for a very, long, time (sharing a seat with a baby means hot drinks are knocked completely off the table).

Now that you can picture me looking much like the proverbial camel on the brink of collapse, let me tell you my knight in shining armour story.

I was privileged to fly to Cape Town for the December holidays, while my husband did a two-day road trip with our older boys to join us in ‘the land were things work’.

Kudos to him, they got through the entire audiobook of Tolkin’s ‘The Hobbit’ and a mountain of snacks and arrived none the worse for wear.

While I was very grateful to be spared two days of our baby screaming to get out of her car chair (she’s not the easiest car companion), I was still a little anxious because my back had started to give trouble.

I know the signs when it may go into spasm and that was the last thing I needed.

Weighed under by way too much luggage, and without the trusty pram, I was pretending I was absolutely fine. Well, I definitely was not.

In my hour of need a kind gentleman offered to help me with my bags. He looked a little familiar.

And while it took me a moment, I have watched enough cricket – albeit in protest – to recognise Jonty Rhodes.

Turns out Jonty can still bowl a maiden over!

I had struck the luck of meeting him on his way back to his wife and kids in India after visiting his dad in Hillcrest.

He now lives that side, working as the fielding coach for the Lucknow Super Giants.

And what a nice guy. He has kids the same age as our boys. He even made the effort to seek me out mid-flight and offer to help me again after we landed.

Only fellow parents really know how tough it is to fly with a baby, and I was touched by his thoughtfulness.

Father God spoke to me so powerfully through this simple exchange of kindness.

He told me that I am so precious to Him that even in something as mundane as my anxiety over flying alone with too many bags, He sees my need.

But He doesn’t just send anyone to help me, no I get a sporting legend to carry my bags.

He’s an over the top, extravagant Father God.

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