March 31, 2012
Yesterday I would have killed Dorothy for those shoes...and her little dog too.
The trip back was awful.
But we are home and that's what matters. (repeat as needed.)
We started out with a bang...literally.
Mia and I were on our own as Kiefer had to fly home on a different flight. Right as the two of us boarded the plane Mia launched into a 30 minute screeching tantrum that ended with a wild headbutt that split my top lip open.
Things were not looking good for the next 22 hours.
Fortunately though we were seated on the second floor a 747 and there were only 10 other people in the cabin with us. Also a bit of good luck was that our two seats were facing backwards away from the other passengers and near the galley allowing all screeching to be directed away from the rest of the passengers. I'm fairly certain that no one else felt very lucky to be there but at that point I was focused on my own overwhelmed, exhausted and traumatized daughter to care too much about it.
To their credit, no one complained. Possibly out of pity for me. Possibly because they were afraid Mia might bite them. I made a point to let the flight attendants know our situation right at the start and I think that may have helped to set expectations and avoid (most) judgement (again, not that I cared).
We had two big, beautiful, lay flat business class seats, used both of them, never at the same time. I never slept and Mia only napped for one hour at the beginning of the 14 hour and 23 minute flight and three hours towards the end. And even then the only position she would sleep in was on top of me.
In between her all too brief periods of rest I did things I'm not proud of.
Forgive me. Desperation and exhaustion won out over more desired parenting standards.
I let her eat candy, drink soda, rip pages in a magazine, smash play dough into the seat.
We made (I AM NOT EXAGGERATING) 3 trips per hour to the potty...where she touched everything while I tried not to hyperventilate.
The lowest point was reached when to my utter horror I gave in and let her play with the water in the bathroom sink. I, mother of the freakin year, let my new daughter fill a public bathroom sink and slosh soapy water around a disgusting lavatory for 30 minutes...three times.
All I could think was, whatever it takes to get through this flight... also...we can get antibiotics at home.
Interestingly not once did anyone knock on the door or try to hurry us along. I'm pretty sure my cabin mates would have let us stay there the entire 14 hours if meant peace and quiet.
I do have to thank two flight attendants who were a great help by speaking to Mia in Mandarin. I could kick myself for not learning more Chinese. It was a huge mistake on my part. Mia took comfort in being able to be understood by them. It was a huge reminder of how much more difficult this process is on the kids than it is the adults.
When we touched down in Chicago I started to cry. Tears of relief. The worst of the travel was over, but also I was officially done with adopting. We weren't home yet but somehow it all hit me then; eleven months of stress, over.
We were both pretty beat getting off that flight and I was beyond grateful that the lines at Customs were short and moved quickly. I paid a porter to carry our bags (DO THIS!) and he loaded everything onto a cart so I only had Mia and an envelope full of adoption documents to carry. The porter then brought us straight to the immigration official (who took all of four minutes to process us and was completely lacking in ceremony...stamp, stamp grunt, you're the newest American. Next.). The porter then cut through all the lines, rechecked our bags and fast tracked us to our next gate. It was a HUGE help.
We spent the majority of our 3 hour layover riding escalators; up and down and up and down and...
We had a minor delay with our next flight but nothing awful and Mia caught a second (or fifth) wind and was actually pretty good on the short flight to Cleveland (so maybe I let her rip up a few more Sky Mall magazines but seriously who buys that stuff?)
Due to the half hour delay Kiefer's flight landed just before ours and he (thank you Jesus!) was waiting at the end of the jet way, ready once again play the role of sherpa.
26 hours after waking up in Hong Kong, the dreaded trip home was over.
And our family was waiting just around the corner.