This winter, Savvy and I decided to do something new; we traveled home for the holidays. In my family, summertime has long been the season of choice for gatherings and it is a tradition we whole-heartedly embraced. After all, why go home during the cold winter when we can visit during the glorious summer days? However, with Savvy’s four-month maternity leave, we could not resist the opportunity to fly back to Oregon for two months so that Grandma and Grandpa could meet Bryson and Ryder and spend quality time with their youngest granddaughter. It was a plan born out of love, and fraught with peril.
Before we boarded the airplane, strangers started telling us how brave (or insane) we were for taking two newborn children on such a long flight. In reality, it was not much worse than flying with one newborn (we took Reina when she was three months old). With Bryson or Ryder always needing to be fed, changed, or burped, the 12-hour flight passed quicker than usual. The unfortunate part was getting delayed in San Francisco, after our connecting flight departed without us (the nerve). This resulted in an unscheduled 12-hour layover after a sleepless flight. Somehow, while the twins slept blissfully in their stroller, Reina stretched out on a booth in the food court, Savvy tried in vain to snooze while leaning on a bag, and I managed to keep my eyes open by consuming copious amounts of caffeinated beverages. When we finally arrived at our destination in Portland, we collapsed into bed and thankfully everyone slept.
On the second night of our stay, Reina awoke at 3am and was unable to go back to sleep. Between her and the wakeful twins, I only eked out an hour of sleep for two nights in a row – not an ideal situation at any point in life. Compounded by jetlag and a cold, I felt truly awful. With the gracious help of Savvy’s sisters, we managed to sneak in a few naps, get the help we needed with the twins, and overcome jetlag in the first week. Lulled into a sense of normalcy, we decided to take all the kids out shopping at Babies “R” Us (a welcome place of pilgrimage for any expat parent). Alas, we ended up spending more time feeding the babies and changing diapers than actually shopping.
This happened every time we went out with the twins. During the six-hour road trip from Portland to Grandma’s house, we made a stop at a fast food establishment to grab a quick bite. Savvy and I spent 48 minutes tending to the twins, who immediately awoke when the car stopped, and 12 minutes wolfing down our own food. As usual, people wandered over to where we were nursing babies and changing diapers to ogle the kids and marvel at our bravery for traveling with them by car, let alone trans-pacific flight.
During the entire trip, the experience that surprised us the most was at airport security in San Francisco. After getting all our jackets, shoes, bags, stroller, and children through the various scanners, the line was fairly well backed up, but the agents wouldn’t let us handle anything. “Which bag is yours?” they asked. Then several of them gathered everything and directed us to a bench; we put on our shoes while they delivered everything to us. “It’s the least we can do,” said one officer. “Good luck with your travels. It looks like you’re going to need it.”
Illustration: Sun Zheng