Towards the end of 2010 my wife and I found out that we were expecting our first child in June, 2011. On a visit to the doctor we asked about my wife travelling on the plane to go see my family for Christmas and his response was one that neither of us were really expecting:
“You want my honest opinion? No, don’t go. With the cabin pressure, potential exposure to illnesses within the cabin and the poor air quality, it is simply not worth the risk. My own family just cancelled a trip for the same reason.”
So that was that. Although many people do it and fly while pregnant I’ve found evidence online that airlines may refuse you to fly anyway if they want to. We’d also have felt horrible if anything had happened to our baby after we had not followed the advice of our doctor.
The weather in England had been bad for a few days. Well, when I say bad, I mean it had been about the same weather as we’d had in Chicago and while the Chicago area continued to function, England fell to pieces and had planes literally frozen to the tarmac in Heathrow. Frankly, as a Brit, I found it embarrassing. I showed up for my flight on the 19th and didn’t get to leave the airport until the 22nd. The airline had offered to fly me to Phoenix and then onto London (which would allow me to arrive a day earlier), but frankly that just sounded like a great way to make me stranded in Phoenix rather than to be able to go home each day from the airport in Chicago, so I declined.
My flight was a little late leaving on the 22nd and was one of three flights from Chicago to London on that day. Two flights were still cancelled. I arrived in Heathrow and was going to wait overnight then take a train to my parents, but couldn’t stay there. People were still stranded in the Airport after days and I just wanted to get out. I called Enterprise car rental and was told by the operator that they were closed. I decided to go for a walk and outside came across the Enterprise shuttle bus and the driver offered to take me there, see if I could get a rental and if not he would bring me back to the terminal.
I arrived at Enterprise and found that because everyone had been renting cars in an attempt to get to where they were going before Christmas they only had cars with manual gears available. I hadn’t driven manual gears since I was maybe 18-19 years old, but took the car anyway. I’m really grateful to Enterprise because by the time I left with my car it was almost 1am and the office was supposed to close at 10:30pm.
Considering the roads were supposed to be difficult to drive on (just like I was told last year) according to the British TV news, I didn’t see any problems whatsoever on the 208-mile journey to my parents and I was able to get there in about 3.5 hours. The temperature gauge on the dash had said -3°c most of the way, but nearing my parents (and the river Trent) it did drop significantly and was -6°c upon arrival. When I got there I called my wife in the U.S. and asked her to call my parents and ask them to open the front door.I had a really good time while I was there. Meeting my brother’s wife was a highlight as was simply being there with the family. I do notice myself missing my family a lot after a few months and gradually notice my mood and even my personality changing a little bit the longer I am away. I’m ordinarily full of jokes and that stops the longer I’m away for. I also found the time to fix my dads computer, visit other family and go to the RAF Duxford Museum with Matthew, Tricia and my Uncle John. On December 30th my wife was at her doctors appointment where we hoped she would find out the sex of our baby. I felt really quite bad that day because I was dreading her being told something had gone wrong while I was not able to be with her, so I had her take her mother to the scan. Thankfully though this didn’t happen and we were told it looked like we’ll be having a baby girl. The scan pictures also looked absolutely fantastic and features were much more visible. New Year was quiet, spent playing on the Nintendo Wii, watching TV and talking to Sheila over Skype.
The New Year started in a fantastic way as I got a great work-related surprise on January 1st. Perfect way to start what is going to be a really fantastic year for everything I think! I actually had to wait for hours and wake my wife up in the early morning (her time) just to tell her.
The rest of my time in England was spent relaxing. On the 7th January we celebrated my brothers 18th Birthday (early, so we could be there). Then that night I went to bed but only got one hour of sleep before I had to get up at 12:30am and finish packing.
I left just after 1am and arrived back at the Enterprise in Heathrow by about 5am. It was a little bit annoying though as my GPS was unable to find the place so I had to drive around a little bit to find it… I eventually managed to and amusingly have to say that by the time I parked my clutch control and use of manual gears had improved greatly. I think that the concentration of driving helps to keep me awake though because the instant I stopped driving it really hit me how tired I was. Every blink was long…I arrived in the Heathrow terminal with hours to wait and got through check-in and security very, very quickly. I’ve never understood why the security in the British airports (where you are flying to the USA) seem much less than the security in the American airports, and frankly it’s a little bit scary that I am able to notice how little security there seems to be in England compared to the U.S. Anyway, I waited a few more hours, boarded my plane and headed home to my wife.
Tim is British and lives in the United States with his wife and kids.
He works for software developers Image Space Inc. and Studio 397 on their racing simulations, and is a fan of Gaming, Motorsports, and photography.