The first baby. The first airport. The very first time I considered flight times with feed times, making sure that ears weren’t blocked, and begging ground staff for bulk heads with basinets. The first time I made my parents stand in an airport and wave goodbye to a grandchild. My father gripped the handles of the soft material basket with an eleven day old baby inside, his arm moving slowly, back and forth, back and forth. Gently gently, he looked down at his first Grandchild and swayed amongst the chaos of the airport around him.
G and I stood at the counter surrounded by our excess baggage. I’d been home for six weeks with the sole purpose of waiting, I shopped for baby necessities to fill the time. My nest was made in a corner, each day I’d return with new trinkets to add: muslin cloths, baby wraps, pram toys and rash creams. “What do you need?” the sales assistant would ask. I’d stare back blankly. What do I need? A manual? I had no idea how to answer that question.
“I live in Indonesia, I’m not sure what sort of stuff they have there, but if you could point me towards whatever you think I really couldn’t do without.”
Years later I would remember that particular store as I gave away the still in its box bath thermometer.
I’d return to the obstetricians office.
“When does your husband get here?”
“When do you think he should get here?” I was clueless.
As the due date became closer I began to research “How will I know if I’m in labour”.
Too much time to think. And then came the whirlwind. G arrived in town just before the 1st little traveller made her entrance. We all stayed awake for the next 11 days while people came in and out of the hospital, in and out of the house, on and off the phone. They asked questions, so many questions, while we fumbled over mystery hooks and levers trying to fold strollers, feed, and dress the baby. The hands on the clock on the wall seemed to spin by during the day but slow to a standstill at night. And then it was time to go.
We stood amongst the chaos of the airport, I turned to see my father looking down into the basket, gently gently, back and forth. I panicked about when I’d need feed her, memorising the instructions from the obstetrician. “Feed her on ascent and descent, it will protect her ears.” I was sure I’d break her, right off the bat, before we’d even started. What if I broke her?
We said our goodbyes at the gate. Tears, hugs, a stoic shake of hands from a father to his son in law. We wandered into the abyss of International departures, still there but not there, in limbo. I put the basket on my lap, gently gently, looked down at my first with the residue of tears on my cheeks. My first baby, my first girl, our first flight together. The beginning of our story as travellers together.
We were alone for the very first time. Alone, together.
The first baby.