Taking the Circus to Japan

Did I mention we were moving to spend this coming hockey season in Japan? No? Oh well we are, and I’m here. In Japan. For real. How did I get here? Oh, on a plane! With a 9.5 month old! On my lap. Without Dave. It was awesome. The trip went as follows:

Firstly, I flew with Delta through Detroit straight to Tokyo. So one connection for a 16.5 hour itinerary isn’t too bad. But did you know that when flying with an infant in arms internationally the infant requires a paper ticket? Not an e-ticket that you print out like every other human these days, but an actual, old school paper ticket like you used to have to hold on to like gold when you booked a trip. And getting that ticket to you when you’re flying from a tiny, one gate airport where the person who checked you in is later throwing your bags under the plane is harder than you think. It all worked out, but let’s just say this…if you call the Rates department at Delta and get Eva, call back again after her shift is over. She sucks. And if you ever need shit to get done in Marquette, Deano at the Delta desk will literally make it his personal goal in life to make your life better. He is wonderful.

The short leg of our flight was not noteworthy, which is totally how you want it when traveling with an infant. Shoutout to my man Moheed who sat next to us and entertained baby by making funny faces and letting her slap the glasses of his face. To his son Nadar: your dad wants to be a grandpa, hurry up, he’s not getting any younger.

Our layover in Detroit only left me 20 very sweat minutes of hauling my carry-on and personal item while wearing the baby in the hiking backpack. Those 20 minutes included 10 minutes of getting from C to A concourse, 5 minutes of speed diaper changing and going to the bathroom myself (a fine art when parenting solo in the airport) and then buying some emergency rations (chocolate covered pretzels, of course) because I was starving. Next thing I knew we were sweatily boarding the plane. So much sweating, all day long.

With the help of gestures, smiling and the shameful use of a cute baby as a prop, a kind Japanese woman with whom I could not communicate in words offered to switch seats with me so that we could use the bulkhead bassinet. Picture a mesh bag hanging off the wall with a snap-on cover. Every baby’s dream come true.

The flight took off after baby’s bedtime, but she remained happy and hilarious. Eventually she fell asleep in my arms. Eventually I gathered up the courage to place her in the bassinet. She was so tired that it actually worked! She slept in the bassinet! For one hour. BUT, it was the hour during which dinner was served so I ate both two-handed AND without baby hands all up in my food. Win.

The rest of the 13 hour flight consisted mostly of me holding the baby while she slept and I lost all feeling in the lower half of my body. She slept for 10 hours total, representing 5 movies watched by me. The five movies and their five word (or less) reviews are as follows:

Limitless: Bradley Cooper is so annoying.

Cedar Rapids: Loved it.

Paul: Aliens and British accents = Brilliant.

Life As We Know It: I cried on a plane.

It’s Kind of A Funny Story: Galifianakis warmed the cockles.

By the time we were landing in Tokyo, the baby was in the mood of a lifetime. She was squealing with delight, getting smiles and laughs from everyone around us, sitting so easily on my lap. When we got off the plane I strapped her into the backpack just in time to look down the longest hallway ever seen, the way to immigration and customs. Prepared to start sweating a new layer of sweat, I began to march until LO and behold a lovely young lady on a very fancy cart swung up and offered us a ride! I felt so very VIP! Where was this lady with a cart during that 20 minutes of running I did in Detroit? I hopped on and we waved to everyone we passed (baby loves waving, and I like gloating). I was so happy not to be slogging along that I didn’t even become the slightest bit annoyed by electric version of Yankee Doodle playing on repeat in the cart.

After the usual immigration hulabaloo, I collected all our bags onto two cars, leap-frogged my way to customs, smiled like a moron as they marvelled at my abundance of luggage and FINALLY crossed into the outer world into Dave’s waiting arms. Also, he had chocolate. That man knows me.

My first hours in Japan were filled with warm toilet seats, Left-Side Driving Terror Syndrome and a few hours of comatose sleep until baby woke up bright and early to announce her jet-lag. We’re safe, we’re sound, we’re ready for more.

9 thoughts on “Taking the Circus to Japan

  1. I LOL’d at the Yankee doodle on repeat… Seriously? I wish I had a video of that to watch on repeat. GOOD WORK YOU! I can’t say enough how glad I am that this went smoothly for you. I had anxiety thinking about it… You’re there. It’s done. Enjoy Japan and life. I’m also glad you didn’t get any blood clots in your legs from non-movement on the flight. Phew! Miss you buckets.

  2. You are a brave woman. Just thinking of flying solo with this crawling, wannabe standing 10 month old of mine makes me break in sweat.

    Enjoy your Japanese adventure, I am sure you’ll have great stories to tell!

  3. Glad to hear you made it safe and sound! V is a wonder baby! And you, a wonder mommy! People often cringe when you sit down beside them with a child, I, like Moheed, LOVE it. Children are a wonder of the world…
    Wishing you all the best Bonkers! xoxo

  4. I hear you totally on the flying solo with baby front. It’s not the funnest. I’ve done it about 10 times (5 trips to and from Europe – North America from Japan) in the past year. BUT the good thing is that people are generally really helpful when you’re with alone with baby – particularly a good natured baby as yours seems to be, and that is especially true in Asia. People are generally more tolerant of babies and children and I find that that in Asian airports there’s better infrastructure for babies and mothers.

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