Trip type: Personal-ish
Hi. I’m back.
Isn’t it cute how I thought I’d post some old stories while I was out on maternity leave? Six months and one baby later, I’m back–and back in the air!
Last weekend found me getting my travel sea legs back under me by jetting off to Detroit for a Junior League conference (how thoughtful of them to have it so close to home for my maiden voyage!). I had been looking forward to the trip and dreading it in equal measure for a while so I was surprised to find it finally upon me last Thursday.
Compounding my anxiety about being away from H for three nights was the added stress of figuring out how to transport breast milk back [If this is not your cup of tea, you might want to cut out of this post now. Sorry, dudes.] Consider this post a how-to for moms who pump and fly.
- In preparation for coming home again, I bought a soft-side can cooler which said it held about nine aluminum cans. I figured this should accommodate three days’ worth of milk stored in plastic bags. I also bought two Medela hard-sided bottle cold packs. I figured these would give some structure to the many bags and not get condensation like a standard cold pack.
At the hotel, I made sure there was a refrigerator in the room. There actually wasn’t supposed to be one when I called ahead to ask, so I requested it. (Don’t worry if you don’t remember to request it, however; they sent me a nice little confirmation and everything only to forget to actually do it and had to send one up post check-in.)
- I packed my pump bag in a larger bag. I figured when I came back, this larger bag would hold the pump and the cooler bag. This greatly confused the TSA agent:
“A big in a bag, eh? What’s in here?”
– “A breast pump.”
“A what now?”
– “It’s a breast. Pump.”
“Oh.” And then he dropped it like it was hot and he was Snoop.
- Obviously, you’ll also need plenty of bags, a pen for marking, and a Ziploc bag to transport pump pieces to and fro. Oh, and I wish I’d remembered a cover but a scarf worked just fine.
I actually had a very nice time pre-flight at the airport and especially appreciated the woman with whom I bonded at Surdyk’s who told me “Motherhood is a sisterhood–all my love to you on this first trip away” when I got a little bleary eyed looking at her five-and-a-half month old.
Naturally, the flight out did not go smoothly. Due to a fast-moving storm, we were grounded for about a half hour and then pulled out of line to re-route. Twice. It was not awesome. Just when I was starting to wonder if I’d be testing out the pump’s battery-powered abilities in the airport bathroom, we were off. Crisis averted.
Although I knew TSA policies would be on my side, I wasn’t sure if all the agents would be fully accommodating. At DTW on Sunday, I went to the Pre-Check lane and was delighted to find myself all alone with three TSA agents. I wasted no time announcing to the first agent that I had precious cargo and he loudly relayed the message to his two counterparts. The agent working the conveyor did go through my bag (“Wow, it’s labeled and everything!”) and swab it for explosives but it was smooth sailing other than that. I was very relieved to get everything transferred home successfully.
It was a little weird to be back in the air. Everything felt familiar but oddly surreal. It was like using an arm that’s fallen asleep to brush your teeth. You know you’re doing it right but it feels really strange. I’m sure I’ll get the hang of it again soon.