Friday, May 20, 2011

Plane Crash Scare

Dear Olive,

You had your first plane ride last night. Unfortunately we never made it to our destination.

I've been growing gray hairs lately, and everyone says it's due to stress. So when it was time to go to Hawaii and visit Carmen and her family for Brucie's wedding, I was excited to get away and destress a bit. So much time and money preparing for this trip... but it never happened.

We boarded the plane and got all settled in and ready to take off! But right after we got all situated, they told everyone to deplane so they could finish some routine maintenance that was not done (miscommunication from the maint. dept they said.) So we gathered all of our stuff again and got off.

30 minutes later we boarded again. But the captain came back on, "Well this is just not a lucky plane today, now we have to...." blah blah blah fix another part in the engine and then be on our way. Finally it was ready and we took off. This kind of thing has happened to me many times before, and it's never been a problem.

I'm not sure how far over the ocean we were, but I had taken a little nap and the flight attendants were coming down the aisles with drinks. I was in the middle of fiddling with my earphones thinking about what I wanted to drink, when all the oxygen masks dropped down from the ceiling.

Everyone looked around like, "Is this a malfunction?" But then someone came over the speaker and told us to put on the masks. That's when the adrenaline hit. You were sleeping in granmakin's arms and I just remember saying, "Give her to me!!!" I know you are supposed to put your mask on first and then help others, I knew I'd be no help to you if I was passed out. But I was so worried about your little lungs. It was so sad, you were peacefully sleeping. I yanked the pacifier out of your mouth and tried to put the mask up to your face. I was trying to hold mine to my face because I couldn't find the straps (they are tucked away fyi, and you have to pull them out) and once I got it out it was so huge and it kept slipping off my head anyway. They really are not easy in a panic.

The plane was going downward and you were just freaking out, turning your head and resisting the mask, while I tried to make sure you were breathing ok. Granmakin told me to open the window so we could see what was happening, and she looked at me with real fear in her eyes and said, "I think we're going to go down in the ocean."

I realized if we went down it would be really hard to keep you safe, so I tried to put the carrier on while we were descending. Honestly, we didn't know how much time we had, and if we were going down, I needed to get you attached to me. We were trying to get the straps on and then get you in, and the flight attendant came running over, freaking out to put the mask back on you. That made me even more scared to see her so serious and frantic. Part of me knew I needed to put your mask on, and part of me was afraid we only had seconds before we might plunge into the ocean and I'd lose hold of you.

Finally granmakin helped me get the straps tighter on my mask and I realized part of your mask was tucked under and I think oxygen was escaping. Those damn things are like floppy thin rubber and are very hard to handle on a moving baby. I got it more secure and held it fast, even as you thrashed. Your poor little arms were sticking out from the carrier because there was no time to try and and adjust you. And our oxygen bags looked so different than yours, I was so afraid you could not breath. I was so afraid you were going to go limp or pass out. I have never felt such adrenaline that was this long lasting, wondering if this was it for us. It was horrible.

Yet I was pretty composed until granmakin mentioned she had been having a bad feeling about coming and she had not told me because I have issues with this kind of thing any way. She thought it was the end for us, and I was extremely sad.

We kept going down and then finally someone announced we could take off the oxygen masks because we were low enough to be able to breath again. We hadn't thought about the fact we were going down so fast because of the cabin pressure, instead of crashing. I felt a rush of relief just knowing you were going to be ok, but it was not over yet.

We were then prompted to prepare for a crash landing. The flight attendants had on their life vests and we were trying to read through the brochures to see how to use ours. I wasn't sure how I was going to put it on because you were already strapped to me, so where would a life vest go? I decided I'd put it around my legs or something, just a way to use it to float I guess.

We were told to take off any heels or pointy things, jewelry, anything that could poke a hole in the raft. Eventually the captain came on again and told us we'd be landing in LA in about 25 minutes. The flight attendants then prompted us on how to brace ourselves for a hard landing and how to have an "orderly escape". We were supposed to leave behind EVERYTHING, so I was thinking how I better grab my phone at least. I'd leave my wallet, my new nook, my mac, whatever. I had one small pocket, good for a phone.

They quickly showed us where the exits were, repeating in loud strained voices where all the emergency doors were located. They showed us how to sit and brace ourselves, with your head down between your knees, again of course that would not be possible with you on my chest. If you couldn't assume that position, they told us to brace against the seat in front of us.

There was something to do with having too much fuel to have a safe landing, and there would be fire trucks and the like waiting for our arrival in case we were too heavy to land or something. But that made me feel better because he explained some of the loud noise was him just trying to burn fuel before we landed.

The whole time going down I was so scared that you weren't breathing. You were asleep in the carrier on my chest and I kept holding my breath so I could feel your stomach move. When we got close to landing I took your pacifier out so it would not cause you harm in the event we actually crashed.

Everything turned out fine and we got to pull in to the terminal and deplane as normal. Granpakin looked into it more today and apparently we were at the regular cruising altitude when the the alarms went off in the cockpit, and if it's bad enough, the masks will drop down. We had to go from 38,000 feet to 10,000 feet to be able to breath, and that is why it seemed like we were going down so fast... because I guess we were.

There was going to be a later flight on a new plane, but they canceled it because the crew were too freaked out to even think about flying again right away.

Now it's 10 pm the next day, we had a long night stranded in LA last night, we found a hotel eventually, then today we had to take a shuttle back to LAX, take a bus ride to Irvine, then a train to Oceanside, and get picked up to come back home. I am so tired, I can't wait to hit the pillow... This has been a really, really long 2 days. I'm so glad I was not alone for this ordeal! I can not explain or put into words the feelings that came over me in those moments, so I won't even try. I kept it bare bones and this was the best I can do to explain your first plane ride. Lets hope the next one is a little better!!!

Here are some pictures: You in your travel outfit visiting Nana on our way up to the airport. Us at the airport today just waiting around. You and granmakin on the bus to Irvine. Then you guys on the train down to San Diego. You were such a good girl the entire time.


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  2. Tee, I cried reading this just to imagine your fear and worry about Olive... Also the thought of being in the ocean with the baby is sooooooo SOOO HORRIBLE!! I feel sad just to imagine that...

  3. I tried calling you yesterday. I didn't leave a message and I'm so mad that I didn't. You could have stayed at my place I live 5 minutes away from the airport. Anything I could have done to take away the bad fears or emotions. I wish I could have helped in some way especially being so close.