The trip home was a nightmare. The night before we left John started coughing. We didn't sleep much that night because of that, and we had to be up before 5 am, packed and ready to leave the hotel by 6 am. We got checked in and to our gate by 7 am, but our flight wasn't leaving until 9. John did pretty well during this wait. He loved looking out the window at all the airplanes. This, however, coincided with clothing change #1 because he had a major diaper blowout. By the time we boarded and got settled in for the flight, he was asleep. I'm thinking, wow, this might be an easy day. ;) We got to Shanghai and had to collect our luggage to recheck it for an international flight. O.K. Also, they gate-checked John's stroller, but it ended up going to baggage claim too. Thanks. This kid is heavy and that's exactly why we brought our stroller to the gate, so we wouldn't have it when we got off the plane. ;) So, after waiting in a long line at the American Airlines counter and having to have our bags rummaged through because (gasp!) we had over 100 ml of fluid in our CHECKED luggage, we got through security with everyone, including John, patted down extensively. We're hungry now so we're scoping out where the food court is...we're looking for anything NOT Chinese at this point! ha ha Lo, and behold, there was a pizza place AND a Burger King! We opted for pizza. Now came diaper blowout #2 (no pun intended) and a shorts change. No problem, we've got this. We're parenting pros. (The one bright star in the Shanghai layover was free Wi-fi and it didn't require being able to read Chinese to log on! Score!) John didn't eat much for lunch--a BIG red flag because this kid eats like a man. An hour later--does he feel warm to you? Nah, I think he's O.K. 30 minutes before boarding--this kid's got a high fever. So, we go through the airport checking the gift shops for any children's tylenol. Of course not. Well, we have adult ibuprofen, so we can hide half in a gummie and he'll be fine... (We had given away our children's tylenol to another family in our travel group with a sick child.)
After I argued my case for the stroller (and won), thank you very much, we boarded this monstrosity. My memory of the actual flight is already a blur. No sleep for Billy or me. Fitful sleep at best for John, whenever he wasn't barking like a seal with his cough, or vomiting, or having diarrhea. He was pitiful. He wouldn't eat at all, but we could get apple juice/water down him O.K. Not the best for diarrhea, mind you, but we're pretty limited here. We're wrestling with what is triggering the vomiting (the fever vs. the sinus drainage when he's lying flat vs. a combination of both). So, we're trying not to let his fever get too high...he's not eating the gummies so we're forcing the half ibuprofen tablet down...we're trying to keep him upright by sleeping on us...nothing really works. I got by without too much bodily fluids on me, but Billy had it on his shirt and pants. This goes on for thirteen hours. For flight attendants we had the seat belt Nazi (who was clearly more concerned that John would somehow fall out of Billy's arms than the fact he was very sick) and apparently a self-appointed consultant for the CDC. Really. Yes, he had the medical exam required for his visa. No, he doesn't have some deadly exotic illness. No help or sympathy here. We used all 3 of our little airplane blankets and the flimsy baby pillowcases for vomit absorption. By the end of the flight, John had not a stitch of clothes on him except for his diaper. I'm crying by the time we're on the ground in Chicago.
Getting through customs was suprisingly painless. I'm getting pretty tired of waiting at baggage carousels by this point, but we get our luggage, turn in the brown envelope from the U.S. Consulate (yea, John is a U.S. Citizen!), and make it through without a customs officer having to pilfer through our dirty underwear. Before we recheck the luggage, we get out some fresh clothes for Billy and restock the carry-on for John.
John is feeling a little better now so we're hopeful. He eats some McDonald's fries and although he still has the horrendous cough, seems to have a little more life in him. After we eat a bite and freshen up, it's about time to board the plane to Huntsville! In that short flight he manages to vomit up all those fries and have another diaper blowout...on Billy. Fever once again has spiked.
Never in my life was I so happy to be almost home. :)
Homecoming to be continued...