Jelsa in the Air

Taking a 9-week-old on a 4.5-hour plane ride to Denver is not what I dreamed about when I looked forward to motherhood, but neither was spending three work-weeks in a row at home while my husband traveled for business. So Jelsa and I packed our bags.


The trip began as smoothly as a bike hitting a curb – in this case it was the Southwest curb as we attempted to check our bags at the Southwest curbside check-in. “Do you have her birth certificate?” the man said while pointing to the unidentified newborn in the stroller beside me. “No,” was my articulate reply. “But she is 9 weeks old and my daughter and here – look at the scar from my c-section…” Ok, I didn’t really offer to expose my still slightly chubby belly, but I think I convinced him Jelsa was mine. He wrote up a “non-ticketed lap child” “ticket” (huh?) and we were off.


Feeling confident after crossing that milestone, we headed to the security check line and made nice with the folks behind us. “What’s her name?” A simple question but one that usually involves me spelling j-e-l-s-a because people just don’t seem to get it – and then that usually leads to me telling them that the name is from a town in Croatia. “Oh – is she adopted?” this woman concluded. Hadn’t gotten that before. “No” was my articulate reply – and then I proceeded to point to my belly and explain how she was removed from this slightly chubby thing. Probably not necessary, but I was in the mood to prove this child’s bloodline.


For those who have ventured airborne with a newborn alone, you know the security gate is the best part of the whole trip. It is at this very special gate that you get to abandon all sense of peace and order and begin throwing, stripping, grabbing your body and belongings every which way. Managing to put everything but my daughter on the belt, I walked up to the TSA man ushering me thru the frame. “We have a problem here,” he said while holding my boarding pass. I looked up at him – in my bare feet and holding my spit-up covered daughter – and just asked why. “Is she a Packers fan?” was his reply. Dude, not in the mood for humor. Jelsa was wearing her “Little Packer fan” bib – not because she is a fan, but because it is the most absorbent bib we own. I said “Go Ravens” and he waved me on.


We had a solid 20 minutes to nurse and regroup at the gate. Then we lined up to the board the plane – and another hiccup. The agent asked for my nonticketed lapchild TICKET and I couldn’t find it in my bags. I handed Jelsa to another agent nearby and tore my bag apart. I managed to reach my seat about 10 minutes later – an agent following behind with magazines and my purse from my bag. It was a mess.


Despite the fact Jelsa slept less than 30 minutes of the 4.5 hour-flight, we managed just fine. An empty middle seat, no diaper explosions, spit-up contained to my person – what more could I have hoped for? And to top it all off – a older man two rows back thought it worth his while to take pictures of Jelsa the entire ride. He must have taken close to 20 – all without me knowing. I saw a flash once in a while, but I was focused on the baby. He gave me his business card and an email exchange later in the week brought the pictures to my laptop. Weird, but a nice twist to the story.


If there was any question about making the trip, all doubt was erased when I saw my parents waiting just behind the “do not enter” sign as I stepped off the elevator in the Denver airport. I walked up and Dad proceeded to get on all fours to greet his new granddaughter.

The Beginning

I keep waiting for the perfect moment to strike. A moment when the words will come easily, the tears held at bay, and the baby sleeping. No, this is not a blog entry about Barack Obama. This entry, this day, my life is about Jelsa Joy.


(The above was written on January 20, 2009. As is typical around here — I forgot to do something. In this case, I forgot to post it.)


Saturdays are still what they used to be but for not much longer and slightly different. Last Saturday Oozy and I went for a drive in his 98 Jetta. It “died” a while ago, but we’ve been storing it at his parents’ house until we have time to take it to Carmax. We took a few pictures, and then Ooze said – in the assertive voice that took me aback on our first day – “get in.” And we drove. We drove 30 mph around a rich Potomac neighborhood on a bright, crisp fall day listening to the transmission struggle to stay alive. And I cried. (This is the something “slightly different.”) I cried because I remember him picking me up in that car at the Brandywine apartments in November 2002 — almost 6 years ago to the day. I remember being impressed by its cleanliness. It practically smelled like a new car, he took such good care of it. I remember thinking “wow – I’m in the car of a guy named Oozy who I barely know but find intriguing.”  And so I remembered and cried.  Later that afternoon we took my Pathfinder to buy a baby car seat. Six years after the cool boy in the 98 Jetta picked me for our first date, my husband said the words, “We need a Snugride base for the baby seat, right?” right next to a display of baby socks. That was only topped today by my husband talking about breast pumps with a friend at Sibley hospital after our maternity wing tour.


It was a pretty low-key weekend. Hardly the babymoon the magazines talk about full of cliche romance, adventure and $$$. But it was the ideal trip for us, at this stage, for this month, right now. We went to Mimslyn Inn in Luray, VA. The Washington Post had a nice review of the place in early 2008, and we intended to go for our 2nd wedding anniversary in May but never made it due to morning sickness. (I was about 6 weeks along in early May.) Mimslyn Inn Take 2 turned out just fine.

Luray is a simple place. Waitresses in Luray look at you funny if you ask for skim milk or whole wheat bread. People in Luray eat dinner before 6 p.m. And most of the restaurants still have smoking sections that are inches away from the non-smoking section. The Luray Caverns are the main tourist destination along with the Skyline drive and Shenandoah National Park. We hit neither. Instead, we took it easy, visited a pumpkin patch, got massages at the hotel and watched a little Sunday football.

The Inn was recently renovated, and the staff is still working out the kinks. Our attempt to order room service on day 1 was successful; day 2 not so successful. I hit Uncle Buck’s restaurant on my morning walk and picked us up some bagels (white bread) with oatmeal (and whole milk) instead of the hotel’s breakfast menu. The inn was booked for the weekend (45 rooms) due to the Page County Heritage Festival (we didn’t hit that either), and even with reservations made in early September, we got a handicap room (though they did know I was pregnant, so maybe…). It was still very nice and perhaps even more spacious than the normal size. We played The Office – a stupid board game designed around the television show that we ditched and played with the trivia cards instead. Quite fun after we made necessary revisions.

Overall, the weekend accomplished the purpose for which it was designed: great conversation with my husband, little talk of baby, good sleep, good food, and good fall weather.


83 days left until the due date. Sixty-nine percent of my pregnancy has passed, and there is 31% left to go. Those pregnancy web sites are so very helpful. What am I not appreciating? What should I be savoring? My husband is watching a re-run of CSI, I am grading exams, the kitchen needs to be cleaned… ahh…how great the married life is before one has children.  These are the days.