The morning of June 10 two vans picked us up at our hotel. Richard and the drivers loaded our 15+ suitcases and backpacks up while the kids and I ate breakfast, and then we strapped our five little people up and left for the airport. A lump rose up in my throat as we pulled out of our familiar little corner of London, but beyond that I felt a sense of peace and gratitude and I listened quietly for the next 45 minutes as Miriam and Simon talked the ear off our driver until we arrived at the airport.
It was pure bedlam at the airport. The kids played bumper cars with their small suitcases on wheels while Richard checked us in and I tagged bags. It didn’t get any better even after we had checked the large luggage, because getting through security we had to wrangle four kids, a baby, all our carry-on suitcases, the stroller, carseat and all the backpacks. We managed with the help of TSA agents and strangers and we made our way to our gate. We had been hoping to gate-check all the carry-on suitcases like we had done when we flew TO London, but the flight staff were unaccommodating, so the worst was still ahead. Getting all the kids, suitcases, personal items, baby and ourselves onto the plane proved to be the greatest task of all. We couldn’t rely on Simon and Miriam to handle their carry-on suitcases, plus I no longer had the stroller so I had to carry Amirah in the carseat PLUS her and my luggage. We simply lacked the necessary amount of arms. It was a circus. It’s not like you can leave a few bags behind in the jet bridge, because abandoned bags are not looked upon fondly by security. So Richard and I awkwardly and embarrassingly hefted everything down the narrow airplane aisles, while everyone in First Class looked on. (Thank goodness for pre-boarding!) I pleaded with my eyes for help from a flight attendant or stranger or ANYONE, but they all just stared. It was awful, but we did it. We got everyone in their seats, and once our bags were properly stowed in the overhead bins it was a smooth ride.
Simon was obsessed with this eye mask. He and Miriam thankfully both had naps during the flight.
Dream baby, dream.
The flight itself went wonderfully. Amirah slept quietly in her carseat, and during the entire nine hours she only cried once for 5-10 minutes. (Which of course felt like eternity.) The kids each had their own in-flight entertainment, and Miriam watched three movies in the first four hours before I made her turn it off for awhile. The kids have had enough airline experience to know when and how to ask for things and when and how to use the restroom. So e
ven RIchard and I were able to watch a movie and relax.
When we landed in Seattle we had a second round of bedlam. Boise was our final destination but because it is not an international airport and has no border security or customs processing we had to do all this in the Seattle airport between flights. We had to collect our luggage that had been checked in London so it could be re-checked by TSA, and then we had to exit the international terminal, where we had our passports checked etc. Then we had to go back through security when we entered our departing terminal for our last flight We hadn’t expected to do this and we were unorganized, tired and frazzled.
Fortunately our last flight to Boise went by so quickly we hardly had time to get sleepy. We landed in Boise around 6:30pm, or 1:30am London time. Our families were there with posters and balloons and cousins we had never met and smiles and hugs and I think we all got a major adrenaline boost that felt wonderful. We sent the kids off with family while Richard and I sorted out the rental car, and we all met up at Chik-Fil-A for dinner. Eventually we made it back to my parents house where we all went straight to bed. The last few hours of that day feel like a dream when I think about them; a sleep-deprived, emotionally saturated period of time that I couldn’t possibly adequately absorb.