Flying with Diabetes and a Baby

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A few months ago, my husband suggested that we go on vacation in December. (Actually, he said “go on holiday.” South Africans know how to make everything sound fancy.)

My first thought was Count Me In. 

I began to mentally prepare. I hope my parents will babysit Maya for a week… I need to start pumping milk… I need new flip flops… I have to refill my insulin prescription. 

Maya was happily playing on her mat. Gary picked her up and made her “fly” around the living room. He said to her, “Soon you’ll be flying on a real airplane!”

I realized that Gary was planning to take Maya with us. 

I love being with Maya. She’s my best bud. But whenever I’ve seen babies on airplanes, their parents look wrecked. 

Nevertheless, we figured that with a little preparation, we would be just fine. 

As I always do, I planned to make an extensive packing list comprised of several categories.

But first. A list of the categories:

Clothing, Shoes, Toiletries, PJs, Beach, First Aid, Electronics, just to name a few. And of course, Diabetes. 

But time got away from me. My categories were merely headings with no bullet points underneath. I only managed to fill out one list. The one called Baby. I became an avid online shopper. Diapers, wipes, baby food, baby swimsuits, baby sunscreen, baby sun hats, and a lightweight umbrella stroller were all delivered to the apartment. 

Maya was all set.

Gary packed too. It took him seven minutes. 

As for me. I left my own packing for the last minute. I had no lists and nothing to check off. I had to wing it. I threw some shorts, t-shirts, and test strips into my bags, and that was that.  

We made it to the airport with two suitcases, a backpack, a small black bag, a diaper bag, a stroller, a car seat, a red Vera Bradley carryon filled with diabetes paraphernalia, and a seventeen pound baby. 

We checked our suitcases and then we continued onto airport security. 

Ah, airport security for the person with diabetes.

After stepping through the metal detector, a TSA agent usually pulls me aside. It’s annoying and predictable, but also a little thrilling. For a moment, I feel like a person with something to hide.

The agent typically asks me to hold my insulin pump. This is followed by an explosive trace detection sampling of my hands. 

Occasionally, he calls over a female TSA agent to give me a pat down. He shouts, “Female Assist!” It’s all very intrusive. But I understand that they take security seriously, so I am okay with a pat down. 

This time, I stepped through security, and, as expected, the gentleman asked me to step aside.  

I wondered what he would scrutinize. My pump? My lancets? My bottle of insulin? I was ready to obey.

But he wanted none of those things. 

He was only interested in my 9 month old daughter’s pink and green sippy cup.

I had filled it with water before we left for the airport. I intentionally measured out 3 ounces so that we could take it through security. But the agent said it had more than 3 ounces. And if I wanted it back, he’d have to “test the liquid.”

Testing the liquid didn’t sound appealing so I asked to spill it out.

He said that to spill it out, I’d have to exit the security area (escorted by another agent), dump the liquid, and then come back through security with the empty cup.

Complicated.

But that is what I did. 

When I passed through the metal detector for the second time, surprisingly, it was a breeze. No one stopped me. I slipped on my Sperrys and strolled over to Gary and Maya who were waiting for me on a bench.

Maya napped for part of the flight. (Don’t ask about the other part.) While she slept, I finally had the chance to carefully peruse my big red bag of Diabetes. Even though I winged packing, it was well stocked. I didn’t forget anything. It made me feel secure. I could finally relax.

We’re in our hotel room now. Gary is organizing our bags. Maya is drinking from her sippy cup. (I refilled it.) And I can see the sun shining outside on our balcony. I’m ready for holiday. 

But first – a nap. 

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