What a journey, but we finally made it to Rome!
To say that our travel day was a long day is a vast understatement. I am so glad that it is over! Would I do it again? Probably, but time helps you forget some tortuous experiences. If not, I think most people would only have one child, right? So here is how our day played out:
We left New Orleans around 10:45 am. We had a 12:45 flight. Besides a little traffic going to the airport, the morning went very smoothly. James slept until 8:30. Of course, I was up at 6am to have some time to myself and make everyone a big breakfast to start the day off right. Pancakes, eggs, and bacon, yum! James refused all of it and acted like I was poisoning him. Ok, great. Getting this kid to eat has become a giant challenge.
Anyway, our flight to Charlotte was fairly smooth. We were in first class and the extra room always helps. James finally fell asleep about 30 minutes before landing. This was after we had emptied the contents of my purse and used all the “emergency” toys before we even left New Orleans. As we started to descend, the stewardess asked me to buckle my seatbelt (the nerve). I mean, didn’t she see that I had a sleeping baby in my lap? As I tried to buckle up, James woke up and he made her pay. He screamed for about 10 minutes. Really screamed. The stewardess (different one) was really sweet and blamed it on his ears. She said, “just let him cry, it’s the best thing he can do for the pain.” Whatever lady, he wasn’t in pain, he was just pissed because he got woken up.
Quick Sidenote story: On the flight to Charlotte, there was an Army soldier (possibly officer) sitting in front of us in first class. Since we got to board first, we watched everyone else board. One of the last people to board was a young girl about my age or younger carrying a baby. She was by herself. I couldn’t see the baby’s face, just the back of her head, but I could immediately tell that something wasn’t right. The head was very big proportional to the rest of the body. Before we took off, the Army soldier asked the flight attendant if he could go back in couch and let her have his first class seat so that she could be more comfortable. This was such a beautiful gesture and somewhat restored my faith in humanity. I really believe that there aren’t many true gentlemen anymore. The stewardess let the girl come up in first class as well since there were a couple of extra seats. The soldier and girl sat across the aisle from each other and talked most of the flight. I did my best to eaves drop on their conversation but between the noise from the plane and James the wild man, I could only hear bits and pieces. It seems like she rescued this baby from Haiti when she was just born. She was born with anencephaly, which is basically when you are born missing a major part of the brain or brainstem and have a very very small chance of surviving any amount of time. She is now 2 and has severe hydrocephalus (which is why her head is so large). Developmentally, she is about 4 months, but I saw her smile and be responsive. Something like that really helps put things in perspective. As I looked at James, so perfect and healthy with everything that he wants in the world, I teared up and gave thanks for our many blessings. It’s something that I will never forget. Also, I want to say thank you to US soldier Lunde (I think, I only got a quick glance at his uniform). I should have said this to you in person on the plane, but for some reason, I couldn’t get the words out and I regret it.
Back to “the Ittmann’s do Italy”
Once we got to Charlotte, we got the stroller (which we gate-checked) and headed to the Admiral’s club. Again, I begged James to eat. He wouldn’t. Instead, he spent his time running around and waving to the other people. So, I also spent my time running around the club. A bit different from our usual club experiences. I did have a glass of Prosecco, but I had to drink it in between running after James. Justin watched the first half of the LSU game in the club bar. Then, he took James for a walk around the airport to give me a break. Much appreciated. Our flight for Rome was at 6:45. We can blame it on James or possibly the LSU game, but we both forgot that we were 2 hours ahead in Charlotte. All of a sudden, I hear “boarding for Rome starting in 5 minutes.” I asked Justin, “did you hear that?” That’s not us, right? The look on his face is one that I don’t get to see often. He was caught off guard. We quickly gathered our things and briskly walked to our gate. Before we could get on, we had to get in a line so that they could check our passports and we got on the plane. Business class to Rome. We were excited. Even James. He made his presence known to all of the business class passengers as he squealed in delight at all the buttons he got to push on the remote and all the room he had to explore. I’m sure they were cursing at us under their breath. This was going to be easy, right? We’ve got tons of space. I was optimistic. Things were looking good. The flight took off and we settled in. I changed James’s diaper and put on his pajamas. I laid the seat all the way flat for him. Put down his lambie (see picture), gave him the iPad and he was looking like he was going to fall asleep shortly. Bam. I win.
Then things took a dramatic change. The captain came on the overhead speaker and said that one of the air conditioner units is not working and we were turning around and landing in Philidelphia. Wait, what? The rug was pulled out from under us. The captain said the they were going to “try” to find a plane and get us back on our way shortly. I could tell by Justin face. This is bad. We were going to have to unload a 400 person plane, find a plane to hold us, move all of our luggage and food onto that plane and load us all back up. This was going to be a 2 hour minimum delay if they were even going to be able to find a plane. We may not even get to head out again until tomorrow. Sooooo, I have a 15 month old that I have already sedated with Benadryl about to fall asleep for the night. Now, I have to wake him up, put him in the carrier and wait to see what happens. Ok, I can do this. Stay positive. Let’s not make a bad situation worse.
Justin was concerned about the stroller, since we gate-checked it. We didn’t want it getting lost in the shuffle. As we were getting off the plane, Justin asked the airline employee if we should get the stroller now. He gave him a couple of sarcastic remarks. And then Justin lost his cool. Those of you who know him well, know that this is a very rare occurrence and can be quite…..how do I put it? Explosive, surprising…..yep. He was watching all of his careful planning for this flight go to shit and that guy pushed him over the edge.
The scene in the Philly airport was a zoo. They didn’t communicate well and nobody knew what was going on. They did find another plane to leave that night, but it was a smaller plane and they were asking for people to go tomorrow. In the meantime, I walked, bounced, and sang to James who was half asleep in the Ergo baby. Then I heard them call our name overhead. Not a good sign. To make a long story short, we were being bumped to coach because we used miles to book the flight. We weren’t the only ones who this happened to. I think the were 8 people who got moved to coach. I know that Justin did absolutely everything in his power to fix this situation, but it was unfixable. We were going to be flying to Rome in economy with James, the 15 month old energy bunny in our laps. Again, I can do this. We will get through it. Lots of people have done this with babies. I can too. But it may not be pretty.
Luckily, James slept most of the flight. However, he moves alot in his sleep. He flips from his back to his stomach to his side all night. Which is what he did for about 6 hours of the flight. He slept, Justin and I, not so much. He would wake up occasionally and let out a few loud cries. I wanted to cry with him. Like I said, it wasn’t pretty and it wasn’t comfortable, but we did it. We landed in Rome about 5 hours after our original landing time. Luckily, as we exited the plane, and an Italian airline employee saw us immediately and asked us if we gate-checked a stroller. I could have kissed him. We were not in the US and it was already obvious. We have traveled all over the world and EVERY airport and airport personnel is better than the US. We breazed through customs, got our luggage and met the car service with no trouble. The driver had the carseat installed already and we made it to our apartment in no time.
In Rome, we are staying pretty much in the city’s center. We are about a 10 minutes walk from the Colosseum. The place is great. Justin booked it through air B&B, and it is totally geared towards kids. There is a crib set up, a highchair, and tons and tons of toys. James is in heaven. For the rest of the first day we walked around, picked up some pizza, and ate on the terrace. We really fought the urge to go to sleep right away. I think that helped some with the jet lag. James did ok that first night. He slept from about 7:30-11:00pm. Then, he woke up and cried about every minute for about an hour. We finally decided to try some Benadryl and Motrin. I think that helped. He finally fell back asleep and we all slept until about 7:30.
The next day we had the Colosseum tour at 8:30. We weren’t sure how it was going to go with James in the carrier. He did fairly well for most of the 3 hour tour, but towards the end he decided that he had seen enough of the ancient ruins and wanted to wander around the Palantine by himself.
After that we got something to eat….our first restaurant meal in Italy with James. We were both a bit nervous about this. He is at a very busy age and quite a bit destructive. We went to a place called Enoteca Cul de Sac. It was very good. We got some meats, cheeses, and pâté. We also got meatballs and mashed potatoes, and lasagne. It was all very good and James was pretty well behaved.
On the way back to the apartment, James fell asleep in the stroller. I think he really likes the bumpy cobble stone. We put him down for a nap, and Justin went out for a walk.
For dinner we ate at a place called Salumeria Rosciola. It was delicious. We got the foie Gras and cuddle fish salad for starters. Then, we each got a pasta dish. I got the Carbonara, and Justin got the “cheese and pepper.” Everything was great and James did really really well. He didn’t sleep too long at nap time, so we didn’t know how it was going to go, but we were pleasantly surprised. I did end up with Carbonara in my hair by the end of the night. Whatever makes him happy!
So, aside from a rocky flight over here, things are going well. I am concerned about James not eating. I literally can not get him to eat anything. To put it in perspective, we got gelato this afternoon and I couldn’t get him to eat it. Also, he had 100.8 fever today. I’m praying so much that it’s nothing, but I’m also googling and keeping my eye out to urgent care clinics. I guess we’ll see what tomorrow brings.