Join Angela, Axel, Abel and Asher as they welcome their new sibling home.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Biological Warfare by Air

So we arrive in Frankfurt. First task is to get off the plane. Remember, it's me with a large (read very heavy)  backpack on my back, carrying Asher on my hip and a diaper bag-type thing in my other hand. (cost me $7 at the cheap Chinese store in Belgrade) We have to go down the airplane steps again, only they are VERY steep, and it's raining so it's slippery. I get about 1/2 way down the steps and we are somehow stuck. I figure its the diaper bag caught on something so I'm kind of pulling. Maybe a little bit hard. Finally the guy behind me grabs my shirt (no jacket, since I left it in my car at home!!) and pulls me backward UP the steps. He's saying something in Serbian, and I look down to see we're "stuck" because Asher's foot has caught in the railing! Here I was gonna yank it off! Poor kid! (later I found a perfect impression of a bolt in his ankle. Poor baby never made a sound because he's learned it doesn't help to cry in pain. Nobody will respond to it.)

One of my fears about the trip home was how we were going to make it through the airports without a stroller. (If you're traveling to bring home a small child, bring a cheap umbrella stroller with you! The are over $200 in Serbia!!!!) The Frankfurt airport is MASSIVE, and the Belgrade flights come in at one end of the airport, then you have to get to the far opposite end to catch the transatlantic flights. Every single time I've come through the Frankfurt airport, I have barely enough time to get through security (again) and all the way to the other end. With Axel I had arranged for a wheelchair and I literally RAN through the airport, barely making our flight. I was really worried how this was going to go with Asher.

Well, God was watching over us. Not only did we arrive on time, but we had 90 whole minutes to get through the process and make our connecting flight. THANK YOU GOD!

We were strolling along, Asher enjoying walking with me (he LOVES to hold hands!) and I was looking at the signs for the "Z" terminal. (We were currently in the "A" terminal. See what I mean about the other end of the airport?) I was checking out the signs for the train when an escort person, complete with walkie talkie, came by with an elderly couple. "Are you going to Z?" she asked? "Follow me." So we joined their little parade, which was great since the older couple walked about the same speed as Asher. LOL We rode the train with them, then down an elevator, then...glory to God...she guided us PAST the 100 people standing in line for passport control, and then PAST the 200+ people standing in line for security! Can I just say, God is SO GOOD! Once we got past all the people staring at us as we bypassed their misery, our escort pointed the direction we needed to go from there. We made it to our gate with 1/2 hr to spare!

On this flight I've always flown on one of these giant airbus things

Now, these are HUGE planes (with an upper deck seating area as well. I've always wanted to take a look up there.) so they don't usually have them pulled up to the jetway. Instead you get on a bus and drive MILES  out to it. (I swear its miles, it's like a 10 minute drive!) When we in the terminal were waiting for the bus there was a family with two little boys around ages 5 and 2. The two year old was s.c.r.e.a.m.i.n.g during the entire wait. As I looked around at all the other people, I could just see  everyone's thinking bubble above their head saying, "Please don't be sitting by me on the plane!" I felt horrible for them. The family I mean. I know that stress of having "that kid" with you!

So we get on the bus, and the family with the screaming 2 year old is in the seat next to us. 1/2 way through the drive to the plane, their 5 year old starts throwing up. Oh how lovely. I happened to have packed extra plastic bags in my carry on, so I handed the dad a couple of those along with a big wad of wipes. You know how that puke smell gets on buses...ugh....

As we're boarding the plane there is an elderly woman on the steps just up ahead of me. She is dragging with her a purse and a very heavy-looking carry on. The stairs are steep and she is huffing and puffing up them. I looked up at her and realize she's also sweating profusely. Oh lady, please don't have a heart attack right here! I'm carrying my two carryons, plus Asher on my hip, leaving one hand free for the handrail to lug us up. Behind me is another woman carrying a small baby, then the family with the puking 5 year old. I really didn't want to fall on any of them! I'm about to die but we're only 1/2 way up the steps. I couldn't stand it any longer. "Are you ok?" I asked? Between breaths she huffed "I don't think I can make it up these steps." I grabbed her dangling bags, "I got these, you just keep going." I tried to catch the eyes of the flight attendants at the top but nobody was noticing the dilemma....sigh....By the time we got to the top I was sweating as bad as the woman I was trying to help.

Are you tired yet? Because I was wiped at this point, and there were still 13-16 hours of travel time ahead of us.

Finally we get to our seats. Bummer! This plane doesn't have individual t.v. screens on the seats.  It was gonna be a long flight. I prayed, "Please Lord, let this be a smooth flight!" I knew the flight wasn't full so there was a chance we'd be able to move to different seats. Our current seats were fine, being isle seats, but we were a long way from the bathroom and I was worried about those blowouts.

Here's Asher right after we got seated. He was having F.U.N! Notice the seats next to him are empty? Yeah, that didn't last long. LOL Two BIG guys sat next to him.

While we were waiting for the rest of the people to board, Asher and I both fell asleep, Asher curled up in a little ball in his seat. I was very vaguely aware that we'd taken off. All of a sudden a flight attendant tapped me, "Sorry to wake you, but there are seats open way in the back and there is only one person in the row. It's right next to the bathroom and much more room if you'd like to move." I don't think he'd even finished talking before I was up grabbing our stuff!

The family with the puking 5 year old and screaming 2 year old were now sitting right in front of us. I think this row had emptied out because the other people who HAD been here found new seats away from the 2 year old! LOL

The new seats were AWESOME! They were the very last row, where there is room to stand and yes, the bathrooms are right there. By the time we got to our seats, the flight attendants were getting ready to serve the first meal. These new seats meant we first to be served. SCORE! However, I dreaded feeding Asher because I knew within a certain period of time - usually 30-45 minutes - there would be another blow out. I had brought two meals-worth of baby food, plus a bottle. I fed him quick before my food arrived.

There was an empty seat between Asher and the other guy so Asher was able to stretch out. Not long after we ate he fell asleep again. And he did sleep... for about 90 minutes of the 8 1/2 hour flight.... with his legs hanging over the arm rest. LOL

I had been asleep for about an hour when I got a wiff of something. "Please God, let it be the 2 year old." No such luck. It was Asher. I peeked down his diaper, and while I couldn't see anything, I could certainly smell it!

Now, my friend Abby had made a suggestion. She said pack plastic bags, each with a full change of clothes (including socks!) wipes, etc. so if there is a problem I could just grab a whole bag instead of having to dig for stuff. Abby is so smart. ;-)

We got to the bathroom and I was SO GLAD I followed Abby's advice! Asher's pants were FULL. Not just his diaper, but his pants. THANK GOD AGAIN these planes have a changing table space. Although it's quite cramped, and not really meant to fit a 3-4 year old, it was better than trying to change this mess standing up in an even smaller airplane bathroom! Asher was a bit scared that first time, but he did ok.

Asher is a pretty good traveler as long as he has something to dangle. I had packed a few special dangly toys I knew he'd like, so when we got back to our seats I gave him one of those and dozed off for awhile.

I dozed off and on for a couple hours when that smell reached me again. Please no! I lifted the back of Asher's shirt a little so I could check him....omg....OMG. This was an up the back type of disaster. Oh please don't let it be on the seat!

I quick grabbed another bag of supplies and we headed to the bathroom. UGH! I hardly knew where to start. I stood him up on the changing table, which means his back....which was covered with poop... was against the panel where the paper towels and stuff are. Poop smeared from his back all over the panel. OMG I whipped off his shirt, knowing there no way to avoid getting the mess in his hair. Then I sat him down so I could scrub the wall panel.

Once that was clean I removed his pants and found it was all down his legs as well, EVEN HIS SOCKS  With him on the table, pants off, there was poop everywhere. Wait...almost everywhere. Asher has been nicely trained by orphanage staff to put his feet all the way up over his head (imagine folded in half laying on his back.) Now think about this for a second, and think about the anatomy and where all orifices would be in this position. It was at this time that Asher made it known his stomach had not yet settled.

There was now poop on the CEILING of the bathroom.

No, really.

I know, right?

Let me just say, that bathroom was....I hope...cleaner when we left it than it was when we got in it. Let me also say, after the way we messed up that bathroom, I never want to enter an airplane bathroom again because now I know what happens in there! I bet you don't want to either. ;-)

Asher had one more blow out about 1/2 hour before we landed in Chicago, but it wasn't quite as bad. Evenso, he went through all the spare outfits I'd brought along, except for ONE shirt.

We did miss our connecting flight in Chicago, but we were able to get on another and after a couple hour delay we were FINALLY on our way home!!! That last flight is only an hour. Asher had hit the proverbial wall by this point and was acting all the crazy boy while we waited. When we got on the plane he fell asleep instantly and stayed sleeping until we landed in Minneapolis. It's a good thing too, because I had one clean shirt left and I changed him into it while we were taxiing to our gate.

Next up: Homecoming!


  1. I have not laughed so hard in a LONG time.
    Now to give this link to hubby and daughter who are coming home from Bulgaria with 2 boys on Saturday! I know they packed zip lock bags. Hope they have enough!

  2. Wow what a ride! Okay I admit I was smiling very wide reading this!! Wow, I would have been a puddle of tears at the first blow out and puking kid! You are one amazing mama!! :)

  3. If ever I had any desire to bring a child home, it stopped right here:) You are amazing Leah!!! Don't know how you did it and still be able to write about it.

  4. LOL Joyce! Notice it took me A WEEK to write the post! HA!

  5. Oh, I'm exhausted after reading that!!! And I'm horrified because I'm remembering a VERY similar incident with Samantha on a flight back from England a year and a half ago, us trying to use every available wipe, paper towel, piece of toilet paper in the bathroom to get her cleaned off, as the light went on to return to our seats to begin our descent to the airport, Samantha screaming her head off. Omg, I sooooo sympathize with you... Glad you're home, though!!!

  6. Oh my Leah...the ceiling?!? Yes, I will never want to use an airplane bathroom again...let alone change a child in one!!!!! LOL

  7. Becca just told me about your adventure. I am reading and sympathizing as only an adoptive mother can. It took me 8-9 months after returning home from our 8 week stay in Ecuador to even feel like myself again. ( of course we have to add the fact that I pulled my back picking her up in Jan and still have very bad weeks.days. sigh.) I hope the tummy issues are figured out Stateside. I havent read enough to determine what the thoughts are on it- physical or food allergy etc. hugs.