A vomiting, copiously, orangely, and without warning, about six hours into the flight out. Not good, although I can't fault the staff, who, despite the fact that they should have been enjoying an extra holiday courtesy of Unite instead of mopping up our puke, were gracious and helpful, and amazingly tolerant of the fact that we'd totally trashed their bassinet.
S screaming. And then screaming. And then screaming a little bit more. For a solid two hours on the way back. For about ten minutes I was nails and stuck to my guns ("ride it out, she will go back to sleep eventually, if you get her out it'll just make things worse") and then the stewardess came and asked if everything was ok, the man next to us offered to see if he could calm her down and my sister glared very obviously at me and I gave in. Mistake.
L refusing, in classic L fashion: body rigid, head back, lungs inflated, to put her seat belt on. Every time.
And to top it off:
Two hours sitting on the tarmac at Heathrow on the way out because it was too cold to take off, only to discover, when we got there, that our bags were still, you guessed it, sitting on the tarmac at Heathrow...
But, as I say, generally, the good bits outnumbered the bad. L was (seat belt aside) amazing. On the way out she sat and watched the tv for about an hour and a half before saying "I want to go to sleep now" and doing just that until I woke her up when we were due to land. And on the way back just the same, apart from the fact that the sleeping was done on the floor rather than in her seat. Quite frankly, if I'd thought I would fit, I'd have joined her. As for A and S, they were pretty good too. It was hardly A's fault she was sick, and otherwise she slept throughout, and as for S screaming, I guess that if someone had offered me two hours of screaming out of two eight-hour flights, I'd probably have taken it. Whether the people around us would have done is, of course, a different question...
So after asking for hints and tips, in the end, none of them were necessary. But for next time, I will know:
- Take every single thing you can possibly think of to entertain them. Even if (like us) you never use any of it, you'll be glad you had it just in case.
- Ignore the air hostesses except when absolutely necessary. Apparently it's unsafe to let a child sleep on the floor of a plane because the oxygen masks won't reach that low down (the fact that you'd probably choose to pick your child up to put the oxygen mask on her rather than letting her suffocate seems to have escaped them). I said "Oh right, thanks" and did nothing about it.
- A whimper is better than a scream. If your child is whimpering, ignore her. If she's grumbling, ignore her. If she's yelping, ignore her. If she's really properly going for it, you might have to pick her up. But until then, just hope. And don't make eye contact. With child or fellow passengers.
- Normal rules do not apply, especially over food. L ate what she wanted and ignored the rest. In her case this was yoghurt and chocolate biscuits. I can't imagine that it did her any harm.
- But the converse of that is that if babies are in a routine, stick to it as far as possible. We were lucky in that both our flights were evening (ish) so we just dragged out the routine so that A and S were having their bedtime milk as we took off. Cue no painful ears and they both fell asleep during take off, and in the case of one baby each flight, stayed that way until landing.
- If all else fails. Drugs. In this case Calpol, but anything else that works would do...
- And finally, sadly, don't think it's all over when the plane lands. You've still got the jetlag to come.