Tuesday, May 16, 2017

How I survived the trip of my life, on mother's day

The day of THE trip had come and the girls and I were heading home to Croatia from Indonesia. 11.000 km without my husband, just the kids (a three-year-old and a four-month-old) and I. On mother's day. Chances are, I'd never go alone with a toddler and a baby this far without my husband ever again, unless we get another child.

We had to fly three times, from Malang (my hometown in Java island) to Jakarta (a 1-hour flight), then from Jakarta to Doha (an 8-hour flight) and finally from Doha to Zagreb (a 6-hour flight).

Our first big flight from Jakarta to Doha was around midnight, so my mom decided to fly with us to Jakarta to give me a hand. I decided to fly to Jakarta early and book us a room in the airport hotel so the kids will be rested for the big flight.

Our local flight to Jakarta was on Saturday at 1pm (GMT+7) when the kids and I said goodbye to my dad. Goodbyes are always hard, but it was probably the hardest for my toddler to say goodbye to him. She's attached to him the most. Probably because she doesn't have grandfather in Croatia.

May 13, 13:16 (GMT+7), we took of from Malang, flying above the south coast line of Java
Both of the girls managed to sleep a little during the flight which went smoothly. We landed on time and took a cab to our hotel which was only 5-km-away from the airport. I got a superior room for free in Ibis Styles Jakarta Airport from my miles collection program. We ordered room service after checking in because my toddler was starving.

May 13, 16:05 (GMT+7), the toddler was busy with her coloring books in the hotel room
May 13, 16:56 (GMT+7), I went swimming with my toddler while my mom was taking care of the baby
A good friend of mine who lives in Jakarta came by to say goodbye to the hotel, so we spent the evening together. Both of the kids didn't nap well (they usually nap for three hours in the afternoon) so I was worried they'd be too cranky for the trip. That's the last thing I need.

The hotel offers free shuttle to the airport so we went to the airport with the one at 9pm to be safe. After passing the security check, the kids and I (and two huge suitcases and one small one) went to line for checking in while my mom was waiting outside of the departure area. There were a million of people in the queue. After 15 minutes of waiting and still a mile away from the counter, my toddler needed to pee. She said she can't hold it anymore. We had to leave the queue, heading to the toilet with the whole trolley full of stuff which barely fit in the restroom. I assisted the toddler in the uber tiny toilet while carrying the baby on my chest with the ring sling.

Ten minutes later we're back at the queue, which was longer than before. We had to start all over again and wait farther than we actually were before the toilet break. Two minutes of waiting, a gentleman in the airline's uniform came to me and nicely asked me to come to the first-class check in counter which was, of course, empty. Yup, a nice early mother's day treat.

Checked in, big suitcases gone, we came back outside to my mom. She was already accompanied by her sister, my aunt, who came while we're inside. We went to have dinner together, and my toddler fell asleep on my mom's lap. At around 11pm, I decided to head to the gate because we'd be boarding in 20 minutes. And it came the moment we all hate. Another goodbye. Another tearful goodbye with my mom, an hour before mother's day.

My toddler was half asleep when we came to the security check again, so a security guy took her and carried her until we found another trolley so I can drive her in. We waved to my mom and my aunt for the last time, and went to the gate. We passed the immigration check quickly, with just one question from the officer "Do you do this often? Traveling with them alone??" to which I smiled a little and shortly said "No".

May 13, 23:21 (GMT+7), she said her shoes hurt her so from this point on she had no shoes at all
May 13, 23:27 (GMT+7), we were entering gate D9 at Soekarno-Hatta Airport
The moment we entered our gate, it was boarding already. Families with small children were called for priority boarding so we went into the jetway immediately. We were seated at 12D and 12E, fourth row from the separator to the business class, meaning we've got no bassinet. All the bassinets were taken already when I checked-in, it was a flight full of infants, said the officer. To me, it was an 8-hour flight with my baby on my lap. Non-stop. Happy mother's day! :)

May 14, 00:27 (GMT+7), the toddler enjoying activity book that the baby got from the crew
We fell asleep almost immediately after take-off and missed dinner which was served an hour after take-off. The baby slept very well on me, who of course, didn't sleep that well in the small and uncomfortable plane seat, while the toddler slept stretched with her head and her body on her own seat and her legs on the lap of a stranger sitting next to her (I can't thank him enough for that!!)

May 14, 06:31 (GMT+7), we woke up to breakfast, six hours into the flight, two hours to go!
May 14, 08:31 (GMT+7), Captain announced landing position, she put on her socks ready to get out
We arrived in Doha on-time, around 9am Jakarta time, or 5am local time. Another stranger offered his help to take out the toddler's ride-on suitcase from the head compartment and carried it until we were out of the plane (another fine mother's day treat!) Then we were strolling on the quite long hallways of the gigantic airport. Ten minutes into walking, a golf-cart-like buggy appeared and the gentleman who drove asked us to board so he drives us to the transfer area. The toddler was super excited, she was driving next to the driver, while the baby and I were behind them. He dropped us in the departure gates and saved us a few hundred meters of walk (thank you!).

May 14, 09:17 (GMT+7), driving in the electric buggy to the transfer area
May 14, 09:58 (GMT+7), the toddler wanted a muffin so I took coffee for myself. Happy mother's day!

At this point the toddler was already nervous, she kept asking when will daddy pick us up. I kept explaining to her that we need to board on one more plane, and every single time she'd make sad faces. We finally boarded on time and seated on 8B and 8C, the bassinet row. Gold! Huge leg room. The toddler was frustrated because she wanted to watch Trolls but the headset provided by the airline was too big for her so it kept falling off her head. She then chose to sleep. The baby fell asleep on my lap and I transferred her  to the bassinet. Breakfast was served and I had my mother's day breakfast in peace.

May 14, 12:06 (GMT+7), she missed her breakfast
May 14, 15:29 (GMT+7), two hours before landing, both are awake and both are busy
The last hour of the flight was a little rough because the baby was extra cranky. She cried when we were sitting down and wanted me to carry her around, but the seat-belt sign was on all the time. It was an hour that felt like forever because of her crying. I wouldn't complain though, she'd been very calm the whole time until then. Landed on-time, we headed immediately to the border control then to the conveyor belt for the suitcases, which came up very quickly.

May 14, 17:57 (GMT+7), Zagreb, finally! Happy dance!
When we got out in the arrival area, my husband was right there waiting for us and the toddler jumped onto him. Another family, our friends, were also there welcoming us. The day couldn't be nicer and sunnier. It was around 1pm local time. I notified my family back home that we're safe and sound, and we headed home, reunited.

Compared to the problematic trip to Indonesia, this one was definitely piece of cake! It could be because the universe wanted to send me the best mother's day gift, or it could be simply because people are the most helpful when they see a mother alone with kids. It was definitely the trip of my life. One memorable mother's day. Now I'd go back to sleep because this jetlag is killing me.

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