On our way from North Dakota to Dallas, more specifically on the flight from Denver to Dallas, Elijah lay sleeping peacefully on my lap. He had been awake for most of the previous flight, but he usually sleeps from take-off until landing on one of our flights, and this happened to be the flight that he decided to do that. Admittedly, he is just like his mama, I can fall into a deep sleep as the plane lifts from the runway. There’s something about that backwards pull during take-off that sends me right off into dreamworld. A couple of rows ahead of us was a mother with her 4-5 month old baby. This poor child was obviously very sick because she was screaming, coughing, and perhaps even suffering from severe earache.
I’m not sure what it is, but I have a sixth sense in certain situations. Back in 2012, just three days before I was set to run my first marathon, I walked into a dorm room in Xiamen and I just KNEW that the sick girl sleeping on one side of the room would make me sick. It sounds strange, but I can almost smell the illness, and I just know that staying will cause me to fall ill too. Back then I ignored my instincts to flee, and this poor choice resulted in me having to withdraw from a race that I had spent months training for. There have been a number of situations like this in the last few years, most of them we are able to evacuate, but being on a plane it is the worst place for this realization! Once we had leveled off in the sky, the mom with the sick baby stood up to rock her child. A part of me felt awful for her because this baby was screaming and quite clearly uncomfortable, but another part of me wanted to scream. Elijah and I had a huge 30 hour international commute ahead of us, just three days from then, and we could not afford to be sick. How could this lady be flying with such an obviously sick baby anyway!? I looked down at Elijah, and all I could think of doing was covering our heads with my jacket. Maybe if I created a little cocoon over us, the germs would not impermeate our safe haven. Wishful thinking, right? The mom and sick baby, probably in an attempt to get away from the rows they had already infuriated, then started to pace the aisles, and there I was screaming silently, “Noooooo…. keep the germs over there!”. There was not much I could, sitting there jammed into that ridiculously full local flight across the States, all I could do was hope that little Elijah didn’t catch whatever was being spread through the cabin.
We had been getting great sleep in North Dakota, so when Elijah didn’t sleep a wink on our first night back to Dallas, I was shocked that this move back to somewhat familiar surroundings had disrupted his night so much. After an awful night of crying, kicking and constant squirming, I woke up to Eli coughing and moaning. Yup – there it was! The germs had followed us and we had only three days before we were set to travel back to China. Eli got much worse in the following two days. He developed a fever and his constant sneezing resulted in mucous being sprayed everywhere. I kept telling myself that it could be worse – I could be sick too! Taking care of a sick baby is nowhere near as bad as trying to take care of a sick baby when you are sick too! On the morning before we were due to fly back to China, I messaged Justin to tell him that I didn’t think that Eli was well enough to fly. I felt that it would be irresponsible to subject him, and other passengers, to flying in that state. We bathed him to get his fever down, rubbed him down with Vicks, and continued to give him plenty of breastmilk and infant cold medicine. I asked everyone to pray, and then waited on a sign as to whether or not we should postpone our journey back to China. Miraculously, on the morning we were supposed to fly out, Eli was crawling around, laughing, and playing happily. He was no longer sneezing or coughing, and his fever was gone. My motherly instincts told me that it was safe to fly. No doubt about it, my mother in law had probably been hoping that we would postpone, indefinitely!
Our journey went smoothly, and Eli only coughed about five times in the 30 hours. I did wonder if I was going to be “that mother with the sick, crying baby”, but Eli really made an amazing turn-around and he was happy as can be on our trip. Traveling is normally quite draining, and many times over the last few months, I have wondered how this long journey alone with an active one year old would go. I am pleased to say that this was actually one of the easiest journeys I have done so far (including those without a baby). Thank you Lord for a peaceful, happy, healthy journey!