The One Where I Get a Smack-down…On an Airplane

So…I wrote an article on Ain’t No Mom Jeans about flying alone with kids.  And I got a ton of really nice comments.  So many nice comments, in fact, that I was actually starting to feel a teensy bit…smug?  Like I had it all Figured Out.  Like I was some kind of guru, you know?  A travel expert.

Sigh.  I mean really.  For shame.  I should know better by now.  Feeling smug simply means that I’ll be blindsided by the smack-down.  WHAPWHAPWHAP.

So I flew, last Saturday.  Alone, with the kiddos in tow.  And due to the popularity of my article, I was feeling preeeeety good about this trip.  And, per my exacting instructions in the article, we were on the 6AM flight.  We have a, two-flight trip:  2ish hours to Chicago, then a fast flight to Green Bay.  Easy.

About 20 minutes into take off, Pax started to get fussy.  Poor guy woke up at 4:30 AM and isn’t quite the roll-with-the-punches guy that R is.  So I pull Pax up to my shoulder, and rub his back.  “Close eyes, Baby Boy” I coo.  “You are just a seepy little guy.”  Pax snuggles his face into my neck.  I smile, smugly (see?  Bad form! Bad form!), and settle in.

Pax rests.  For about a minute.  Then….


“Whoa,” I think.  “It sounds like Pax just threw up?  But no.  That can’t be–”

Then I feel it:  Great, big, warm chunks of vomit….soaking my back.

Shocked, I pull Pax away and look at him, “Buddy! Are you OK?”  Pax answers by throwing up in my lap.  I still had the Ergo clipped around my waist and laying over my legs…mostly saving my jeans.  But there’s no getting around it – I was sitting with a pool of vomit in my lap.

But Pax?  Wasn’t finished.  In desperation, I hold up my one free hand, which he promptly fills with more puke.

Now God knows I’ve been puked on before.  A bunch.  But never have I been So. Totally. Soaked. with puke.  Down my back.  Down my front.  Pooling in my lap.  And filling my hand.  I just can’t I don’t even know I just OMG.  

“PRESS THE CALL BUTTON!!!” I yell at the guy sitting next to me, who has jumped up in shock.  Instead, he runs down the aisle and returns with….ready for this one?  TWO KLEENEX.  Not two boxes, but two tiiiny, thin pieces of Kleenex.

We stare at each other.  Both of my hands are full (one with Pax, one with puke) so I can’t even take them from him.  He (sheepishly) lays, very carefully, each of the Kleenex over my puke-covered hand.

I think that’s when I start giggling uncontrollably.  I mean OMG…it smelled.  So, so bad.  It was all I could do from tossing my own cookies.  And really?  Those two pathetic Kleenex that I couldn’t even use?  I didn’t even know where to start. I just stared at the soggy, smelly Kleenex mess in my hand and could feel the puke dripping down my back and down my stomach and UGH!!  You know how they say your brain protects you in times of crisis?  Yes.  That was me.  The whole thing was like an out-of-body experience.

The guy next to me finally pressed the call button, the stewardess came by, acted completely horrified and grossed out then offered up a vomit bag.

I stopped laughing.

“Are you kidding me??” I said through gritted teeth.  “GET. ME. A TOWEL…RIGHT NOW! GO!  GO!”  God help us in a real emergency. Sister was a little slow on the uptake.

But she did return with a few washclothes from first class.  I one-armed Pax onto Raines’ lap, and told Raines that he MUST hold onto his brother.  It may have been the wild look in my eyes, (or the fact that I was wearing Pax’s entire breakfast, and – uh – dinner) but Raines immediately stopped freaking out about the ONE DROP of puke on his arm, and just held onto Pax.

I then had the new sensation of puke squashing between my fingers as I tried to clean out my puke-filled hand.  Oddly, this feeling was the worst part.

Once I had both hands relatively clean…what next?  I mean seriously:  WHAT THE F*CK NEXT????

If I stood up, the pool of puke in my lap would…what????  What would it do?  Slide down my legs?  Not good.  Get flung into the aisle?  Better for me maybe, but these other passengers might actually try to do me harm.  I mean…we still have an hour and a half to go!  An hour and a half.  Not to mention that I have to navigate through Chicago’s airport….then board yet another plane to Green Bay.  There’s NO FREAKING WAY I can do this for another five minutes, much less an HOUR AND A HALF.

So I look down at the pool of puke.  I don’t have many options.  I unclip the Ergo from my waist, and ever-so-carefully roll up most of the pool of puke in the Ergo.  I let it drop to the floor.  There’s still a small pool of puke clinging to my shirt, and I’ve sort-of scooted down in my seat so I can lean back….preventing it from getting all over my jeans.

But the shirt?  It’s gotta go.  It’s just…gotta go.  Like…now.  I take a deep breath, not even bothering to see who is watching.  Because, honestly?  It doesn’t matter.  I start with the bottom hem of my shirt, and roll the puke up in it.  Bit-by-bit I roll my shirt up and off and then YES:

I am sitting topless on the plane.

It’s a funny thing, reaching rock-bottom.  The place where you have no shame left.  Not a shred.  Or a shard.  Or whatever shame looks like (in my case, a shirt).  I’d like to say it was liberating…but I’d be lying.  Instead, my breath was coming out in funny gasps, and I was wiping the puke off my skin as fast as I could, as my brain raced, “Scarf!  Put on the scarf!  I’ll wrap it around me….NO WAIT!!!  I DO have a SHIRT!! GET THE SHIRT! FASTFASTFAST PUT SHIRT ON OMG ARM IS TWISTED GET THE F*CKING SHIRT ON SHANA WHY WON’T IT BUTTON OMG???????!!!!!!!!”

Ah.  There.  That’s better.  All better.  I am now shirted, and nonchalantly acting like everything is normal.  Like my seat-mate wasn’t just sitting next to a crazy topless woman.  I glance over at him and smile.  His eyes are glued to his magazine.  (It happens to be an ad for Depends.  Snort.  Think he’s reading?)

I pick up Pax, strip him down, grab a new outfit and head for the back of the plane.  I just need some air and to change the poor guy’s diaper.  Once I’ve returned to my seat, I look down and realize that my shirt is mis-buttoned…by three buttons.  And one side of my postpartum-pooch is on full display.  Which explains the embarrassed, averted gazes from the passengers in the back.  Sigh.  I’m not even “one of those mothers” you hear about on the plane.  I’m worse.  In a class all my own.

Thankfully, the rest of the flights were fairly uneventful.  As long as you count turbulence so bad from Chicago-to-Green Bay that Raines was shouting, “WHOO HOO!!!  WHOOO HOOO!!” as uneventful.  And after a particularly big drop – BOOM – Raines throws his hands in the air and yells, “BEST!  FLIGHT!  EVER!!”

Yup.  I’ve pretty much been drinking since we landed.  Smack-down.


This entry was posted in Pax - 1 Year, Raines - 4 Years Old, Traveling. Bookmark the permalink.

45 Responses to The One Where I Get a Smack-down…On an Airplane

  1. rachel says:

    I literally have tears streaming down my face. Haven’t laughed that hard in a LONG time. My husband is worried about me. Thanks for the cathartic schadenfreude!

  2. Melanie @ Thinking Thin Loving Food says:

    You gotta be kidding me! Geez, OUCH! BLESS YOU. Bless you!

  3. grace says:

    oh you poor thing. it must have felt like such an out of body experience! congrats on making it through!!! (and nice move on going shirtless… I wouldn’t have thought of that but will have to save that one for an especially difficult flying day) — and the fact that you didn’t have to wear an airline blanket for the rest of the travel…? genius.

  4. Heather says:

    Ok, I think I may have seriously peed my pants reading that one.

  5. Rebecca Schultz says:

    Read your article at ANMJ and thought you had it covered. I don’t think there are many moms out there that can prepare for vommit and other disease during a flight. Well done. Good thing Austin Straubel isn’t a large airport!

  6. pdkirkl says:

    OMG! I felt like a needed a bag of popcorn and a glass of wine while reading this! I was completely engulfed in this story like a movie. You are such a talented writer. I could FEEL your panic. And I have no idea what I would have done, because….well, I don’t have any kids. I linked over from ANMJ. Is that weird?

  7. Tysie says:

    OMG!!! I am beyond sorry about the whole experience…BUT I am doubled over with laughter over here! You brave, brave woman ’cause I know you had a return flight too. More power to you for having that experience under your belt and even MORE power to you for sharing. Tonight I shall “pour one for my homey/mommy” in your honor 😉

  8. Paulette says:

    I am lol so hard I cannot breath!!! Have you laughed yet????

  9. Christy says:

    I seriously cannot stop laughing! I’m sorry because I would have helped if I were there on the plane, but this is really making my morning much better!

  10. JulianaB says:

    I’ve been there–both my boys have vomited on planes (on me) during flights at one time or another. Yuckers!! (Although I admit I was less calm than you). Drinking is good.

  11. Oh, darling! I cringed and giggled through your entire recount…because you are so RIGHT…just when you think you’ve got it…you get taught that you don’t. I applaud you for not screaming your head off at your “helpers”…2 kleenex and the offer of a barf bag AFTER the fact?!?! Ugh. Thanks for sharing your REAL self with us…it is encouraging and comforting to know we’re not alone.

  12. Molly says:

    Wow. I’m just speechless. Cah-razy!

  13. Jenn says:

    Laughing my head off!! The whole experience sounds terrifically, and exquisitely dreadful. Good on ya for employing your great sense of humor to save the day. LOVED the story as only a mother with children can… Thanks for sharing. 🙂

  14. Rebecca says:

    I’m so sorry you had to go through this, but it will make an amazing story one day.

    I’m also now packing a second shirt in my carry on from now on. 🙂

  15. I am laughing so hard there are tears pouring down my face! Seriously. Can’t even type…

    I’m SO SORRY, mama. But you are now officially my hero. As if you weren’t before. If I can handle that kind of hell with HALF of the humor and grace you did, I would be a lucky mama indeed!

  16. Kelly says:

    I am so glad you had an extra shirt!! I always bring extra clothes for the kids with me but never for myself. I would have been in serious trouble!!

  17. Sarah says:

    So impressive Shana! Making it work is what you do. And your kids are your priority. Plus you are an engineer who can write! You are so gifted…You have done so well, yet again!

  18. Eastern Babe says:

    Quite simply … you RULE. You have an incredible storytelling talent and the honesty is a balm to all us Moms. Bravo, sister-friend.

  19. Rocio says:

    It sucks that you had to go through that! It sounds like a nightmare scenario that you’d hope would never happen. I guess at least you have a story to look back and laugh hysterically about!

  20. Eden says:

    If I were a high-powered executive (I’m not) and had been on your flight (I wasn’t), I would have offered you an excellent position in my company on the spot. Crisis management, delegation, planning ahead AND being able to laugh (albeit a little hysterically) while covered in warm baby puke makes it clear that you are one skilled individual. Also a very good and funny writer.

  21. Rachel says:

    You need to know that I read a very similar story in Parents magazine when my first daughter was a baby (she’s three now) and I was scared out of my mind about flying and being puked on. You handled yourself like a pro (albeit covered in throw up, but what can you do?). Glad you got to your destination safely.

  22. Thank you for ensuring nothing could ever be as bad for one of us. AMAZING. YOU.v(AND for the horrified grins this telling gave me!)

  23. Sara says:

    O…M…G. That is so funny… yet so horrifying at the same time! Ohhh Shana, dear friend, BIG HUGS TO YOU!!!!

  24. Rachel says:

    Highly hilarious retelling! Nothing is funnier than reality. I have only one but we have been to Europe and to Mexico and all over the states, (my work), and while I have yet to be thrown up on, I was once soaked in piss by my little guy and didn’t know until we were landing because he went through his less than capable Luv Diaper while we were sleeping. Fun times.

  25. Polina says:

    Thank you for sharing this story! I love your AINMJ blog and so thrilled to discover this one. Your writting is brilliant, i relate to you in so many ways – you are like my long lost sister but with a better sense of fashion 🙂 I spent hours reading your older posts and the one where you write about your bond and love for your first-born esspecially moved me, since i am going through the similar experience. I wish i had a friend like you in real life!

  26. Renee says:

    Okay, now you really ARE the expert! You’ve lived through vomit and toplessness on the plane so that now the rest of us will know what to do!

    And I second the comment above – now I’m definitely packing extra clothes for myself, too, and not just the kids!

  27. WyDave says:

    Reminded of this scene from “The Hunt for Red October”

  28. Laura says:

    Oh so totally bringing an extra shirt for our flight to Chicago in two weeks! This was awesome and I am SO impressed at how you handled it. I would have been a sobbing mess!!! You are one amazing Mama. Love the way you look at it with humor and now I know, things can be worse than crying kiddos on a plane 😉

  29. sdraugelis says:

    OMG you guys – these comments are just so…so…SO FREAKING AWESOME. I get so much from this little community of support – seriously. And that movie clip? Yup. Pretty much perfect.

  30. DHughes says:

    I’m flying with my infant for the first time next week so I was just reading your flying with kids post yesterday! I will now be sure to take a change of shirts for me and the hubby. Also, I’m laughing with tears at work. I’m pretty sure that gives it away that I’m not doing work right now. Amazing!! Thanks for sharing!

  31. All I can say is “laughed so hard my tears ran down my legs” Love you Linda Meldrum Wait until Melissa hears this story.

  32. Elana says:

    I love this!!! And I feel you…once had my 3 year old son and 10 month daughter on a flight from Houston to DC when my daughter pooped. All over me, the seat, it was everywhere. And the stench was far-reaching unbelievable. At least you had a shirt to change into, smart travel mama!

  33. Annie Pannie says:

    I keep reading this over and over. Kids rule, especially on airplanes!

  34. Rosie says:

    So funny!! The kleenex thing..LOL!!

  35. Lesley says:

    OMG you poor thing!!! I read this 2 weeks before my first time flying with both of my boys alone (almost 3 and 9 months). This post freaked me out! But thanks to you I packed a extra change of clothes for all of us on our flight on June 11. Unfortunately a VERY similar incident happened where my almost 3 year old threw up all over his brother and myself (poor little guy had chunks of it in his mouth!). We had just landed though so it wasn’t as awful as yours. I definitely thought of you though and was so grateful to have the spare clothes!

  36. Heather says:

    My 13 month old puked on the plane… on the lady next to me. Most horrifying moment of my life! She took it very well, she was a grandma. Ironically, she was also on my flight home a month later but not seated next to me, thankfully.

  37. Rusti says:

    so, SO sorry for your troubles… and for totally laughing my ass off!! I’ve been through the being puked on – in various ways, but haven’t yet flown wth my kids… if ever I do you can bet there will be a change of clothes for each of us close at hand!! thanks for sharing! 😉

  38. Ashli says:

    I am not even a mother or going to be any time soon and I have never enjoyed reading a blog about being a mother. This was awesome I laughed so hard when you said you hit rock bottom

  39. Jen says:

    I have recommended this article to every woman with children I have come across, because it is that true and that funny! I will always pack extra clothes when traveling! Lesson learned. You get kudos for handling it the way you did- simply awesome! You are a perfect example of how life is 90% reaction and 10% circumstances! 🙂

  40. micahandheather says:

    I followed the link from ANMJ & couldn’t help but laugh! I will definitely be packing a change of clothes in my carry-on next time I fly with my kiddos!

  41. Pingback: Funnies For Your Friday | bevanddara

  42. Lindsey says:

    baaaahahahaha! i’m laughing so hard i’ve got tears! this is so hilarious, but oh so horrible for you at the time i’m sure. lesson learned here!

  43. lindseypie23 says:

    bahahahaha!!! so hilarious! lesson learned here!

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