“Do you need any help?” I asked the worried, frustrated, and perplexed mother of a 4-month old who was travelling with me on the same plane from Frankfurt to Mumbai. She looked at me as if I had said something she was longing for.
I was returning from a trip to the USA with my husband and my 1-year old son when I couldn’t help but notice this new mother. She was all alone in the window seat with two strangers sitting next to her.
I initially thought one of them must be her family member but their ‘PLEASE DO NOT BOTHER US’ attitude towards the helpless mother made me realize that she was travelling alone.
I did not pay much heed to it initially as I was occupied with my own son, who had recently started walking and was too excited to explore the entire plane on his two little feet.
I was with my husband and believe me, it was difficult for even the two of us to handle him. My husband held the hot water thermos while I put the milk powder in his bottle as my baby wailed for his milk, my husband changed his diaper when I somehow managed to hold him still in the extremely small baby room, we made him walk in the plane pathway and tried to make him sleep in our arms turn by turn, as it was too much for one person to handle. It was proving to be a task for both of us. And, here was this lady, stuffed in a small seat, trying to handle her crying baby alone.
She tried to feed the baby but he just would not eat and kept crying. She also tried giving him bottled milk but he ended up vomiting. That brave woman somehow calmed the baby, cleaned the mess the best she could. Because she could hardly move in that little space, she had to constantly take baby to pathway so that she could swing the baby in her arms and make him sleep. And everytime, she had to cross two sets of legs, somehow fitted in the not so leg–room friendly economy class, and endure the frustrated looks of her co-passengers.
After all the failed attempts to calm the baby down, she somehow covered herself and tried breast-feeding him and by God’s grace, the baby calmed down. Breast-feeding was another challenge in such limited space, when the baby was comfortable in a position, her elbow poked the person next to her and the moment she moved a little, the baby cried with all his might and she had to again make him latch, which was again a big task. It was all so difficult to look at
I was looking at her with all my sympathy and my husband kept telling me not to stare at her as she might get offended but I couldn’t control myself.
It was an 8 hour long flight and every minute was a challenge for her. She couldn’t eat or drink properly. Every time she had to take out something from the cabin she had to keep the baby in the bassinet and do it herself. Let me add that the baby just didn’t like being in the bassinet and was so uncomfortable. Going to the washroom was a challenge, as she had no one to leave baby with. I asked her to leave the baby with me and go, if she needed to, and she happily gave in. I’m sure that her primary worry was bothering and disturbing people around her rather than her distressed baby. As for me, the mere thought of travelling alone with my baby petrified me looking at this woman struggle.
I counted my blessings and thanked God that my husband was with me through all this. I just wanted the flight to get over soon as my son was getting restless now, but more than that, I wanted that mother to be relieved from this constant pressure and stress.
It was such a relief to see the mother and the baby leave plane safely and I felt happy as even I had become a small part of their journey.