Saturday, June 14, 2008

We're home

It was probably one of the toughest 42 hours I've experienced, but T is home with us.

My days are still muddled bear with me.

We left our hotel, yeah, Friday. We had to be out by 4:00, but our plane didn't leave until 1:30, as Robin wrote about earlier. This was a tough way to start out.

You've already read about the first flight, but the second was far worse. The flight, itself, was of the least turbulent flights I've ever been on. We also had a great tail wind, so we got in very early. But T was inconsolable, mostly through the first half of the flight.

It should be known that it's not the flying that bothers him. He seems quite indifferent to the magic of flight. The problem is just with being trapped in the same area for such a long time. Frankly, me and many others feel the same way, we just choose not to express ourselves with shrieks of terror, suggesting that we're being tortured by our companions. He was completely hysterical for hours and Robin was in tears from frustration and exhaustion. Feeling defeated and like terrible parents, we finally caved in, in fear of being murdered by our fellow travelers and of killing too many of T's brain cells - we gave him a little dose of Benadryl (at the recommendation of our pediatrician, but we still felt horrible about it). After awhile, this slowly seemed to take the edge off his hysterics and he fell asleep within an hour. This would have coincided with a scheduled nap, and the drugs seemed to extend the nap to 4 hours.

This was both good and bad. The good reasons are obvious...the less obvious reason is that he was on my lap...and I was getting uncomfortable. Given how T had done on the flight up to that point, I didn't want to move a muscle. I wanted him to stay asleep so much, I tried to match my breathing to his. All of this was very painful.

Thankfully, I got to take my mind off of it by watching "27 Dresses" for the third time on this trip...without audio. So, while I've watched the whole movie three times, I have yet to hear any of the dialog. I've come up with my own dialog based on what I see on screen and what I think Korean subtitle characters must mean. I'm certain my version is better than the original.

Eventually, T woke up and the nap helped his spirits. He was still pretty edgy, but it was much better and Robin and I realized we may actually survive the flight. We entertained him and us by putting on a concert of 70s and 80s songs, sung by squirrel puppets with choreography. His favorites were "Celebration" by Cool and the Gang, and the Village People's YMCA. All those weekends at WRST producing The 80s Rewind radio show in college really paid off. I hope our neighbors were all sleeping at the time.

While I cannot complain about the overall service of the Korean Airlines staff (we would definitely fly with them again) at the points where T was at his worst, they would come hover over us and ask us if they could hold him for awhile. First off, I figured these people deal with this all the time, and I was hoping for a better suggestion. But second, there was no way T was going to be happier with them holding him. We had no doubt about this. So, after the second time they asked, I secretly hoped they would ask a third time so I could let them take T just so they could see how right we were. If this was their best idea, I wish they would have suggested it and then just made sure we knew they were there if we needed help. What else can they do? Hovering just made us feel more awkward than we already felt.

We bought a seat for T on these flights. When we got on the first flight, we were wondering if this was foolish since he would never sit by himself. It turns out to have been a good move. It gave us much needed space to work with and I also consider the ticket purchase a donation to John Q. Traveler who would have otherwise had to sit next to us.

One bonus from this whole experience is that I think I changed like 6-7 diapers on these flights. If you can change a diaper on an airplane, you can do it anywhere (or so I would think).

We arrived in Chicago ahead of schedule. Nice. We left Korea at noon on Saturday and landed in Chicago around 10:30 am Saturday. I've tried to explain to Robin how this works, but haven't managed to find the right words yet. I need a globe. Robin thinks that since we went back in time, the terrible flight just never happened.

Getting through immigration was a breeze. The agent, as expected, asked us for the paperwork from the embassy, which we presented on the spot...we were led to a secondary office where we thought "oh great, here goes the next 3 a waiting room". Less than one minute later, a woman stamped T's passport, said "have a nice day", and we left. We dare not complain, but Robin and I couldn't help but wonder 1) "Weren't you gonna read some of those documents before you stamp his passport", and 2) "How about a 'congratulations' or 'welcome to America'...'have a nice day' was the best you could do?

Again...NOT COMPLAINING!! We're grateful nearly all the government workers we've encountered in this process have been courteous and professional.

Robin's parents picked us up with our car and drove us home (THANK YOU!). We considered driving by ourselves, but we did the math and decided our lack of sleep would have been the equivalent of blowing a .18 BAC level. I was asleep before we got very far.

T took to his car seat nicely:

I would's super comfy. We stopped on the way home for his first American food - Culvers hamburgers and french fries. He nibbled a smidgen of beef and mostly just squished some french fries. He was more tired than hungry at that point, but we were famished and it tasted amazing.

Being in the U.S. with T was surreal. It was like two worlds colliding. We couldn't believe he was here...still don't.

We showed him around the house and he quickly found his toy room. We also showed him his bedroom, although he won't be sleeping there, at least for a little while.

We made him some food for dinner (thanks for getting us groceries, Meredith!), which was SO MUCH EASIER at home. Hot water I can drink from the tap? Plentiful knives? No more cutting up banana with a dull plastic spoon?! A fridge! I don't know how we managed to keep him fed without these tools we take for granted.

After napping through part of the afternoon, I laid awake thinking "we HAVE to get up...otherwise we'll all be wide awake at 9:00". It was tough to get up, but a dirty diaper helped get us out of bed.

We took the stroller for a test walk since it was so nice outside. We also visited a park, where as we predicted, he LOVED the swings.

We're looking forward to getting Punkin back. T spotted dogs at the airports in Bangkok and Chicago, and on our walk...and seems excited. I hope they get along.

I don't know what to do next. There is so much on my list. I'm grateful I decided to stay home for a few weeks to get everything settled.

For know, I think the stack of stuff will have to wait until tomorrow. It's very late, and T and Robin have already been to bed for awhile now. I couldn't help myself...I stayed up to steal a taste of my home brewed beer.

It's great to be home...with T.

...and tomorrow's Father's Day...what a treat :)



Glen and Andrea said...

It's so good to see the three of you home safe and sound. Kyle, your writing is fantastic and I really enjoy your wit. Although I felt sorry for you guys, imagining your looong trip home, I was also laughing at your writing, I think a snort came out too! I loved the photo of Thanu in his carseat; what a precious son you have! It's wonderful you are all together now.

Hanna & said...

Super !!!
We're so happy for you guys.
Now just enjoy !!!!!!!!
A huge hug to the three of you.
Hanna, Elke, Maarten & ...

Mrs. Mark Arni said...

Welcome home!!! Thank you so very much for the invitation to your blog. I have really enjoyed your writing and following along on your journey to your beautiful son.
Rich blessings to each of you (including Punkin) as you setle in to life as a family.

Chris in Ohio

. said...

Yay! your home! Im sure when Thanu is a little older you will tell him about the "airplane" story and all laugh about it.
Happy Fathers Day

Chris, Terri, Matt and Mark said...

WOW - atleast you are home now. You already are amazing parents! Happy Father's Day Kyle!
Thank you for blogging so much during your trip. It truly helps those of us who are doing this in the future! As we've experienced, short flights can be an issue with young children so I'm more than nervous about this flight with 3 children to console! We're "practicing" with Matt and Mark this summer with a red-eye home from California which we know will be 1/4 of the time change and flight length of our Thailand trip. LOL

Hannah said...

Happy Father's Day, Kyle! Welcome home! I will be sad not to have my daily postings to read - you guys are great bloggers.

Keep us posted on Thanu's adjustment and in a few months maybe C&J(and P), you guys, and us can meet up at the Thai gardens.

Congrats on your wonderful journey

Jess & Ben said...

welcome home.
happy father's day.
we are so happy for you.
ben and jessica

The Whole Crew said...

Oh I know how you feel...welcome home and a HUGE congrats on becoming parents! what an amazing thing!

Amy Holland

Anonymous said...

Welcome back!! Glad you survived the trip and don't feel guilty about the benadryl - is normal as a first time parent but honestly most of us have done it and gotten rid of the guilt - it does not make you a terrible parent.

Don't worry too much about your list of things to do - soon you will find out (if you haven't already) that our priorities and lists get quickly rearranged by the new additions to our lives!!

Happy Father's Day!!!


Anonymous said...

Welcome back and Happy Fathers Day Kyle :)

I hope things are a-ok!! I bet its wonderful to be back at your home but I'm sure you guys had a GREAT time in Thailand! I've been thinking about Thailand SO MUCH these past couple of weeks, mainly from reading your blog and your adventures there, that my husband and I have decided to go back sometime next year for another visit!

I'm looking forward to reading about this next chapter in your life with Thanu :)

Take care, Ame.ena

PS. Here is my newly resurrected blog in case you are interested.

Melissa May said...

Congrats on making it through an experience that makes hospital-labor-delivery look like a piece of cake (at least from my perspective.) The crying, the hovering (oh good grief!), the crying - I say congratulations are in order even for getting him to TAKE the benadryl! (My kids hate it.) And, yes, I think you'll find there are maybe no places worse to change a diaper than on an airplane. Enjoy being home you guys!!! Happy Father's Day and thanks again so much for sharing so much with us all. Amazing!

Jessica said...

Welcome home. You made it - that's all that matters. The rest someday will be a story you laugh long and hard about. Happy Father's Day!