Sunday, January 11, 2009

The trip home...

Well, the day started out way too early. M showed up at 6:15 AM and we weren't quite ready. Thankfully, he was patient with us and we finally got the car loaded and the girls in their coats in their PJs. It was really surreal that we were actually leaving Moscow and really didn't know if we would ever be back. Hopefully, one day in the future we will be able to take Vera back to see where she was born and spent the first 14 months of her life. There was more traffic at that time of day than I thought there would be, especially the closer we got to the airport.

Once we got to the airport, we found where we needed to check in. I stood with the girls and all our luggage while Ryan dealt with checking us in. Vera's ticket was a paper ticket, so they had problems knowing how to link it to our e-tickets. But, finally they figured it out and they figured out how to check our baggage all the way through to Chicago! Yes, that is an answer to prayer. I had no idea how we were going to navigate a stroller, 2 children and rechecking all our luggage in London. So, next we went up the escaltors and got ready to go through security. I was dreading this because we have so many electronics we have to get out and the line looked horrendous. It was hard enough when it was just Ryan and I. You show your ticket to a lady before you get in line and she told us that we should go to the business class line! At first I thought, oh my, we get to sit in business class! But, since we had children we got to go through the lines for business class passengers for immigration and security. That was just about as good as sitting in business class. There was little to no line and made it so much easier navigating security with 2 kids.

We made it to our gate and I needed to feed Vera her breakfast, Kiara had eaten something while we waited for Ryan to check us in. She obviously wanted more when it was all gone, so I fed her the rest of the formula from the bottle. I had tried a bottle once before and she acted like she didn't know what to do with it, but this time she sucked it right down! I thought it would be good to have a bottle of water with us so that if I needed to make another bottle I would have it. I went to the vending machine and put in a bill, pushed E3 for the bottle of water I wanted, but nothing happened. I tried it a couple more times, nothing. I look over my shoulder to the person behind them and try to ask them what I needed to do. Well, somehow I understood that I needed to put more bills in! Duh! I am so used to just putting in one bill to a vending machine, but I had just put in a 10 Ruble bill and the water was 40 Rubles! I get back to our gate, open it to take a drink and it sprays, not all over, but obviously I got carbonated water instead of still water! So, then I send Ryan to get still water. While he is gone they start boarding, I feel like I wait there for him forever and he finally comes and his is carbonated water, too! Oh, well.

The lady that looks at our tickets as we board says something to me in Russian. Another man there tells me that she said it is cold on the jetway. Basically, I didn't have Vera in her snowsuit, so I guess she thought she might get sick from walking for 20 seconds on the cold jetway! We get to our seats and Ryan and Kiara are on on side of the aisle and me and Vera are in one seat on the other side of the aisle. I sat next to a very nice lady and her 4 year old son. She works for the US Embassy and is fluent in Russian, a great person to sit next to when you are using a Russian airline.

Of course, Vera waited to poop for the second time ever for us until after we took off. So, finally I think it has to be okay to get up and change her. I get to the bathroom door and the flight attendant says something not too nicely to me in Russian, so I return to my seat. No joke, as soon as I sit in my seat, the dinging noise sounds to let you know you can now unfasten your seat belt and move around the cabin! The nice flight attendant then comes up to me to let me know I can now use the bathroom, how nice of her. It is probably one of the hardest diapers I have ever changed since it is in a airplane bathroom and there is no changing table or counter to change her on, but we got it done and returned to our seat. Kiara ended up sitting over next to Max, the 4 year old boy, and his mom. They had a good time together. Ryan and I were busy trying to take care of Vera. By this time it is time for her nap and she had gotten up 2 hours early. There was too much going on and it was too bright for her to sleep. So, I feel very bad for the people around us because Vera was not very happy. Towards the end of the flight, Vera pooped again! The line to the bathroom was extremely long, so we decided to wait until we got off the plane to change her. Again, I felt so bad for the people around us because she wasn't sweet smelling! The flight was really hard, but I was so thankful for the woman and the son. She basically took care of Kiara while we dealt with Vera, I don't know how we would have made it without her.

Once we get off the plane, we stop at the bathroom to change Vera. Unfortunately, there was no changing table there either, so Vera had to be changed on the floor. So, after a diaper change and PJ change, we were in the bus that was taking us to the right terminal for our connecting flight. So, we have to go through security again. Ryan was the lucky one who got to open and try each jar of baby food we had with us, to insure that we weren't smuggling anything dangerous! Poor guy. While he was doing that, me and the girls were over to the side and the girls were playing together so nicely, I had to take a picture. Ooops, I guess you aren't suppose to take pictures in the security area!
Next, we walk into our terminal and it is nothing like in the US. It is more like a mall. There are a ton of stores, a lot of them are pretty pricey, too. At Heathrow, they don't tell you what gate you are leaving from until about 15 minutes before you are suppose to board, so everyone congregates in one area. We found an Irish Pub to eat at and thankfully Vera fell asleep for awhile. It was hard convincing Kiara that even though it said her meal came with chips, it really was french fries!

Finally, it is time for us to go to our gate and by the time we get there they are already boarding. Luckily, we had the bulkhead seats. So, we were right behind business class and had extra leg room. Once we are up in the air, Kiara gets comfy with the Disney channel shows on the personal TVs we have on the plane. Luckily, she watched this for nearly the whole flight, she had to be watching things over and over, but I wasn't going to question her. Vera had only taken a half an hour nap at the airport, so after feeding Vera my first priority was to get her to sleep. I had asked for a bassinet that attached to the wall in front of us. Unfortunately, I think Vera was longer than the bassinet! It did serve as a great place to store things during our flight, though.
So, I tried for awhile, then Ryan took over. During this time they started to serve dinner. The flight attendent was nice enough to let me eat later. Eventually, Ryan got her asleep on the floor in front of us! It was a miracle! So, I go back to ask the flight attendants for my meal and it turns out they had saved me a meal from first class, they were so sweet! I felt like Ryan should have gotten it since he got her to sleep.

By this time, Ryan was pretty much asleep, which was good because he had to drive us home when we got to Chicago. I had finished eating and was getting comfortable when the fasten your seatbelt sign came on. The flight attendent comes up to me and says "I hate to tell you this, but you will have to pick the baby up since the sign came on.". I was like, are you kidding me! Vera had only been sleeping an hour, so I knew if she woke up it wouldn't be a pretty sight. So, I picked her up and got her to go back to sleep pretty quickly on me. That is where she spent the next 3 1/2 hours. Kiara ended up falling asleep for the last hour of the flight.
It was pretty exciting when we touched down because we knew Vera was now a US citizen! See how excited she was.
So, both the girls were pretty much a mess when we got off the plane. Kiara didn't like being woken up and basically cried all the way from the plane through immigration! I am sure some people wondered what type of parents we were when Kiara is crying and crawling on the ground through the immigration line! The first immigration officer tells us to get our bags and then to go to a certain area. We do that and the officer tells us that it will be awhile because he has a lot of people in front of us. Thankfully, 15 minutes later, he comes up to us and says, since you only have the baby, you are set and can go! Yippee!! Luckily, we didn't have to wait long to catch the shuttle back to the Park & Fly hotel we had left our car at.

Here is a picture of Vera's feet hitting US soil for the first time.
Vera was not a big fan of being in a carseat, but she fell asleep pretty quickly. We popped in a movie for Kiara and she slept a lot of the way home, too. I was kind of in and out for a lot of the trip home. Thankfully, Ryan stayed awake for the entire trip home!
So, there is our trip home. Sorry the post is so long, but I wanted to document everything and if I didn't do it here, I know I wouldn't get it done. Thanks for bearing with me!


Holli said...

the carseat picture is classic! the poor thing - I would hate a carseat 2!

Jackie said...

I LOVE that you documented everything and I enjoyed reading it! Your flight was about as fun as ours.... I bet it felt good to get home though! That couple with the three kids we met at the Embassy. Oh how I felt for them on our flight! But God really blessed them with some kind people who spoke Russian and English and could help with the boys. There hands were very full with their two year old daughter!

AbbyMel said...

I love the carseat picture, she really is a US citizen and Illinois resident with a Cubs blanket!! Yeah....I am so happy you guys are all home safely. See you soon!

Dani said...

Okay, so I have to talk about the car seat picture too...first off, poor Vera, but love the Cubs blanket on her... but secondly, did you take a good look at Kiara? She is posing her heart out as her sister is wailing! That cracks me up so much. We are all back on US soil now and can't wait to see everyone again and meet Vera in less than two weeks!

JoJo said...

OMG...she is soooo cute! Congratulations!!! I didn't realize we both got home with our daughters a few weeks apart! I love the post about the trip home...I so can relate to so much of it! I am sooooo glad to be home as I can only imagine you are too! Congratulations again!