Ella was only a few months old when we went on this first trip away from our new daughter. It was both scary and liberating. My parents watched her at our home in Jersey while we flew away for some fun and sun in another country. I was pretty nervous to leave her and as things would turn out, rightfully so. There was point where I feared the reality was never seeing her again.
I started the trip heading to the airport with my bottle of Xanax in-hand. Once we landed, I called home every few hours. Over the course of the first few days, I found myself crying several times. By the third day, I was able to look at her framed photo on the hotel room nightstand and did not have a full on sob session or panic attack.
As the vacation progressed, it got easier to sit by the pool bar and drink umbrella cocktails. Before we knew it, we were packing to go home and while eager to see Ella, my eyes were welling up and I was wishing we could stay.
And we almost had to. As Adam and I walked into the small and empty airport to catch our flight home, we found one desk with a makeshift straw awning and what looked like a handmade sign identifying the spot to be for “departure check in”. It was so quiet we could hear the ceiling fans overhead moving warm air around and the luggage belt humming beside us, barely carrying a bag or two.
We gave the check-in clerk our name and in very broken English he told us were weren’t in the ticket system. I assumed we misunderstood him or he didn’t look up our names correctly. He checked again. Nothing. I started to sweat. And panic. Adam had maxed out on my breakdowns regarding Ella by this point and he told me to go sit somewhere while he worked things out for us.
I found a little bench under a shady tree and rocked back and forth like a drug addict in withdrawal. When Adam didn’t come to get me after only a few minutes, I went back to the desk. Before approaching Adam again, it seemed that things still weren’t good. As I was walked faster, closing the gap between us, I was rummaging through my bag to get a photo of Ella. I figured anyone with human heart would let new parents board a plane. And anyone with a brain would want a loon out of their country. One of these tactics had to work.
Once I approached the ticketing agent, I haphazardly pushed Adam out of the way by throwing the top half of my body and the counter while frantically waving around the photo. I was repeatedly yelling “Bebe! Bebe! Need to get to casa for bebe!!”. Totally freaking out and speaking a made-up language - I was hoping he’d get my point.
My arms were flying around in the air in exaggerated motions. Adam grabbed them and brought them to my sides. He gripped tightly around my biceps to keep me still; looking kind of like one does when about to shake the crazy out of a person. He looked into my bugged eyes and said everything was fine. He said we would be on a flight in a few hours. He then told me to stop acting nuts or they probably would detain us, pegging me for mental. I wandered off with a look of emotional exhaustion and popped the cap off my Xanax. I didn’t care that I needed anxiety meds and alcohol to help me through the trip - the point was that I was able to spend days away from my baby and return to her safely.
Now, it has been many years grounded at home. While mothering two kids that provoke me to yearn for an escape sometimes, I no longer cry to be with them but rather, I get upset and go crazy when we don’t get our mini-vacation without them!