Last week I went on my first business trip for my new job. Business travel basically comes with the territory in my industry. I still remember one of the first business trips I took when I was brand new to sales. I went to Chicago with a couple coworkers, and I was super excited to see Chicago for the first time. Right before I left on my trip my husband and I went on our first date, and we emailed once and chatted on the phone once while I was away. As that relationship quickly progressed, the excitement of business travel quickly diminished. One month I was away more days than I was home! It was exhausting! When an opportunity came up a couple years later for me to take a position that would require significantly less travel, I knew I had to take it. We didn’t have kids yet, but I expected we would someday, which meant my travel frustrations would only get worse. I like what I do when I travel; meeting with customers face to face is wonderful. It’s just the travel I could live without: being away from family and friends, all the activities I can’t do while I’m gone (from fun things to chores), all the other activities I miss out on because I am preparing for a trip or recovering from a trip (this was especially a big deal when I was constantly on the road), and the pure exhaustion of travel (long days!!).Anyway, this most recent trip involved being away for three nights (I left Tuesday afternoon and returned Friday morning), which is basically an eternity in my world. I am a full time breastfeeding mama which means any travel without my son at this point is your basic logistical nightmare. I was up late at night (even later than usual, I mean) for weeks prior to my trip stocking up breast milk, and I still barely had enough prepared (basically I couldn’t afford any flight delays getting home or my son would be without food…yikes!). I brought multiple soft coolers and ice packs with me, and I made sure I got a hotel room with a fridge. Every day I had to figure out when I could squeeze pumps into my jam packed schedule. It’s never convenient– I just do it anyway. At night I was washing pump equipment in the hotel room sink. Am I crazy? Probably. Have I just convinced you that breastfeeding isn’t worth the trouble? Perhaps. But to me it’s such a beautiful and perfect gift that I can give my children that I am willing to make sacrifices. Frankly, being able to breastfeed while being a working mom makes the whole thing bearable. If working meant giving up that special time with my children, I don’t think I could do it. Anyway, long story short, traveling away from a child under one years old is particularly difficult for me.My husband and I were both worried about how my youngest would hold up. He is very attached to his mommy these days. He also does not sleep through the night consistently yet (yes I know about sleep training– worked very well for Parker, but Austin is different, and I have done what seemed to be right for him and us). The first night was a complete nightmare for my husband. The kids went down just fine, but then Austin woke up and screamed and kicked at my husband for an hour and a half!! He refused a bottle, hugs and any other form of comfort. He was basically pissed that his mom and his breast were not there. My poor husband and baby boy! The following nights Austin stirred throughout the night but seemed to have accepted his fate of being without mommy and thus eventually went back to sleep. So apparently going on a business trip is one way to sleep train your kid. Sheesh!
The event I was attending involved long days on a show floor, and I was absolutely done for at the end of the day. I was hoping I might have some energy to get something done, but nope… done, done, done for! Back at home Clint was feeling the same way. It was a long week, but we survived with a little help from FaceTime (video chat, if you’re not familiar) and finally it was time for me to head home. I was supposed to fly out at 6:00 in the morning, which meant my shuttle was picking me up at 4:00 (that’s 2:00 Pacific Time). Translation: I only slept for 2-3 hours. I actually felt surprisingly refreshed that morning (no idea how). I woke up a little later than I meant to, but everything was going pretty smoothly.
I texted Clint that I was on the plane, and I was about to settle down for a nice nap when the captain announced that the backup breaks did not pass the pre-flight tests, and we were going to be taking off a half hour late. I did some quick calculations and determined that I should still be able to make my connecting flight, but if I had any further delays I was in trouble. A half hour later the captain announces that they are delaying the flight another hour but that we can all de-board and rebook our flights. So I call the number they gave me and the person I speak to is lacking in helpful qualities and says my best bet is to stick with my original flight, catch a later connection and then get in 2.5 hours later than planned. There were other options with partner airlines, but she said she couldn’t use those as long as there was an alternative with their airline. Her recommendation should work in theory (it would be tight for Austin but doable), so I accepted it, but the delay on my original flight had me worried because I was not feeling at all confident it would be able to take off at the new time. Sure enough, shortly after I get off the phone they announce that the flight will be delayed until 5:00 that night or canceled all together. So I call back, and I explain to the new agent that I really need to get home because my son is going to run out of milk. She was wonderful and got me booked on a direct flight (with a partner airline) that got me home only an hour later than originally scheduled. What a miracle!
When I got in I wasn’t surprised to find that my bag did not make the flight. They weren’t sure about the status of it, so I filed the claim and then headed straight to the boys’ school. I snuck up behind Parker and surprised him with a hug. He was very happy to see me, of course. I explained to him that I was going to go feed his brother and would be back. I headed off to Austin’s classroom where I found him asleep. My breasts were going to burst, so I picked him up and settled him down to eat (he can sleep and eat at the same time, no problem). Part way through eating he opened his eyes and smiled up at me. Love that little man! After he was done, he was ready to be awake, and Parker was waving at me from outside the classroom window (his class was on the playground now), so Austin and I joined Parker outside. He and some friends were happily painting each other with water. Several of the older kids were fascinated by baby Austin and were grabbing at his toes and talking to him. We weren’t out there for too long before it was time for the kids to head inside for lunch. Parker started to eat with his friends, but then he decided he was ready to go home, so we gathered up our stuff and headed home.
It was good to be home, and I got Parker fed and down for his nap. Unfortunately there was still no word on my bag. I was getting a bit anxious because I had all my breast milk in there, and the ice packs would only keep the milk cold for so long. The last thing I wanted was to be in a milk shortage situation and have to stay up late again stocking up for when the boys returned to school on Monday. A little bit later I gave them a call. My bag finally arrived, and they said they could deliver it at no cost, but that it would take 4-8 hours! Yeah, that wasn’t going to work. I explained to them my situation and said that my oldest was taking his nap but that I would come pick it up after his nap. Then another miracle happened, and the girl said she would put a rush on my bag, and it would be delivered within two hours, and it was! Awesome! The milk was still cold too… hurray! So it was a crazy day, but all my mom’s prayers for my travels paid off, and God had my back.
The weekend was a bit stressful as we were all exhausted and trying to transition back to normal life. I walked into church on Sunday praying that when we walked out we would all be in a better place, and we were. God said I had to let go of my anger and hurt feelings, and I really didn’t want to because after all I was angry and hurt. Somehow He convinced me though, and I am glad He did because it felt so good to get back to us again.
So whew, business travel with young kids… I don’t recommend it if you can avoid it. If you have to do it though, it is possible… just pray a lot, plan well, and hurry home!