I've Moved!

My new blog is called Reflections from a Global Nomad, in order to acknowledge that we no longer live in Maadi and that we are, in fact, global nomads, not staying in one place longer than two or three years. Please join me at http://DeborahReflections.blogspot.com

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

The Best and The Worst

I'm here! As I said in my last post, I'm now at my mom's house, where I'll be staying until a couple of months after the baby's birth. Things didn't go quite according to plan--when the last post posted, I was not somewhere over the Atlantic; I was still at the gate in Frankfurt--but eventually I made it. I don't think anyone is particularly interested in a play-by-play of the entire trip, so I'm just going to give you the best and the worst. I'll start with the worst so we can end on a good note.

The Worst
  • I had to leave my husband and my cats behind.
  • My 24-hour door-to-door trip turned into 31-1/2 hours.
  • We were stuck at the gate in Frankfurt for 3 hours while they fixed the cabin air conditioner and tried to find the part to fix some other problem (I forget what it was) before eventually deciding that it would be okay for us to fly with the part broken; we'd just have to go a longer route. It added about 10 minutes to our flight time.
  • I missed my connecting flight at Dulles, which was scheduled to take off at about the same time we ended up landing there. It was delayed 30 minutes, but that still wasn't enough time to clear customs and immigration and get to the gate.
  • All the later flights to my destination airport were full. So were the later flights to the airport that's the same distance from my hometown in the opposite direction. (Our town is less than an hour from one tiny and one small airport, so we usually go with whichever one is cheaper at the time. It also allows for great flexibility in situations like this, unless the flights are all full.)
  • I ended up taking a later flight to an airport that's 90 minutes from my mom's house.
  • That flight was scheduled to leave approximately 5 hours after I arrived at Dulles. Due to a mechanical issue, it was delayed an hour.
  • Throughout the entire day, a muscle in my gluteus maximus spasmed every time I put weight on it. Therefore, standing and walking was a slow and painful experience.
  • The business class lounge at the Cairo airport was closed; there wasn't time in Frankfurt; and I was no longer business class in Washington. So quite possibly my only chance to experience a business class lounge has escaped me.
  • I was still dealing with congestion, drainage, and general nastiness from my cold.
  • My ankles currently are about the size of tennis balls, maybe slightly larger. They were twice as big early Tuesday morning when I arrived here.

The Best
  • I managed not to cry, although it was difficult.
  • My Tempur-pedic travel pillow went a long way toward making all the seats, in the airports and the planes, much more comfortable. Depending on the seat, I used it rolled up or flattened out behind my back every time I sat for more than just a few minutes.
  • Business class in the Lufthansa flight between Cairo and Franfurt was nice. I was able to put my feet up, although there weren't independent controls for the footrest and the back, so I couldn't get my feet as high as I wanted without reclining too far for Alexa's safety. I was able to compensate by getting onto my side--the seat wasn't quite wide enough for it to be truly comfortable, thanks to the belly, but it was a lot better than economy or than sitting there without my feet up. I slept for most of the flight, so it was comfortable enough. Service was only marginally better than it would have been in economy, although Lufthansa's economy service is much better than any other airline's that I've experienced.
  • Business class in the United flight between Frankfurt and Dulles was wonderful, even considering the extra 3 hours I spent there. The seats could recline all the way back like a bed, they could recline like a recliner, or I could adjust the back and the footrest independently. I only slept for a couple of hours, although the seat was comfortable enough to sleep longer--the sleep on the previous flight was enough that my stubborn body wasn't ready to sleep more yet. I could watch any of a few dozen movies or TV shows whenever I wanted, and I could pause, fast forward, and rewind them too. I had my choice of meals--I chose the filet mignon for the first and the turkey sandwich for the second. The first meal (the second was considered a snack) was three courses--appetizers (yes, that's plural), main course (choice of beef, chicken, or pasta), and dessert (an incredible chocolate mousse parfait-type concoction with strawberry sauce, or fruit ... guess which one I chose). The service was incredible. One of the flight attendants took one look at my belly and made me her personal project--I was never without water, I was told to use the first class lavatory rather than waiting in line for the business class one, I was given the option--repeatedly--to go to cooler areas of the plane before the air conditioner was fixed (it really wasn't even that hot), and I was generally hovered and fussed over. The other flight attendants also were incredibly attentive, but I think they provided that level of service to all the business class passengers. If anyone is traveling overseas on a United flight, the upgrade is totally worth it, if finances allow.
  • I didn't have to overnight in Frankfurt, although that option was offered to me by the gate attendant, who came down to ask how I was doing. The only time that my personal flight attendant seemed confident that I was doing just fine, thank you very much, was when the gate attendant tried to take me off the plane and away from her. Suddenly I went from practically invalid status to perfectly okay. I got the feeling she didn't trust him to take good enough care of me.
  • When the maintenance issue was discovered at Dulles, it was less than 10 minutes before they announced exactly what the problem was (I forget now, but they told us), that the plane could fly but required a longer runway on which to land, that our destination airport didn't have a functional runway long enough (the long one was being worked on), and that we therefore were swapping planes with another flight heading to an airport with a runway that the broken plane could use. No 3-hour decision-making process there!
  • I didn't have to overnight in Dulles. I was able to make it here, although it was a very long day. I think it woud have been worse if I'd had to overnight somewhere, even though it would have allowed me to sleep sooner.
  • I'm here safely.
So there you have it--the best and the worst. Since I've been here, I've pretty well been taking it easy. I'm trying to drink lots of water and keep my feet up to bring the swelling down. On the bright side, the swelling actually is about the same as it usually is for me after this trip--I expected it to be worse because of the pregnancy, but apparently it helped that I was able to have my feet up most of the time until I got to Dulles. At some point soon, I'll finish unpacking (I've unpacked my stuff but not Alexa's stuff), go through the boxes that have arrived (things we shipped and things that were shipped from our online registry), do some ironing (that I should have done in Cairo but just threw in the suitcase unironed instead), and make a list of things I need to buy. But for now, I think I'm going to sit here with my water and my mom's laptop (mine is having internet issues right now), keep my feet up, and catch up on reading the blogs I've missed in the last few days.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Going Home

If I've done the math right, I will be somewhere over the Atlantic Ocean as this blog posts. I'm going home to the United States for the summer. This will be the first time that I've left Jeff for any significant amount of time since we married--three weeks for job training used to count as significant, but not anymore, not with this separation looming over us. I have mixed feelings about going.

On the one hand, it will be good to be home. It will be good to spend time with my family, to see my niece and nephews who have all changed so much over the last year, to get to know my little nephew who was born just before we left and who was too little during our visit last year to remember me. It will be good to shop at familiar American stores, to eat at my favorite restaurants, to live again in a community that is heavily influenced by Christianity. To understand the language spoken around me. It especially will be good to know that I'm in the place where, if it's needed, my daughter can receive the best medical care in the world--I realized not too long ago that if she were to be born prematurely, on that very day, in America, my daughter would have a hard fight ahead of her, but she probably would win it; if she were born even now in Egypt, she probably would die. From that day forward, I've been ready to step on a plane.

But on the other hand ... I'm going to be away from my husband for over a month before he's able to come for the birth, unless something unexpected happens. I won't see my cats--don't laugh! they're my fur babies, sweet little souls who are part of my family!--for four months. There are other aspects of life in Egypt that I'll miss, but not so much that I can't bear it. But I hate the thought that my husband won't see my belly grow or feel the increasing strength of Alexa's kicks, that my cats won't understand why I'm suddenly gone, that I won't be here to take care of my family. Even after Alexa's birth, Jeff will be with us for such a short time before he has to come back without us, while we wait for her medical clearance and all the paperwork to get her added to our orders and get her passport and visa. We're all going to miss out during this separation: Jeff, me, Alexa, Isis, and Cleo.

It doesn't help that Jeff and I both have been sick this week. Jeff has something going on with his inner ear, so he's experiencing vertigo--he has medicine that's supposed to take the edge off the symptoms, but it isn't doing much good, and the doctor says that his body basically has to deal with the problem itself. I've been fighting off a cold and finally admitted defeat last night. On the positive side, we've had more time together, since Jeff hasn't been able to work much. On the negative side, we've both wanted to do nothing but sleep. I'm not even finished preparing the freezer meals I want to leave for him--I still have a casserole, a double batch of macaroni and cheese, and a total of four batches (two singles and a double) of meatloaf to make, although I've already made the lasagna and more batches of chili than I care to think about. I still have so much to do (cooking, ironing, getting stuff together from all over the apartment, then packing on Sunday) ... and all I want to do is go back to bed.

This is turning into a downer. I've always been that way--more likely to be down when I'm tired, which is definitely the case this week. Time to look on the bright side. Everything that has to get done will get done, and the rest of it is probably not as important as I'm making it. I will be away from Jeff and the cats for way too long, but I'll have all that time with my extended family--parents, brother, sister, niece and nephews, the in-laws; I'll even get to see a grandmother, cousin, and maybe an aunt or two. I'll be able to do the needed shopping in air conditioned stores, with air conditioned transportation to and from them. My baby will be born in an environment where, even if things don't go according to the plan we have for her, things are incredibly likely to turn out well. I'll be staying with my mother for the first six to eight weeks of Alexa's life, a time when I'm sure to need and want her help more than ever. While I'm home, I'll get to attend, even be a bridesmaid in, my brother's wedding (assuming we can figure out the correct dress size and get it in time--the wedding's just two months after my guess date and I have no idea what size I'll be then). And even if I am dealing with sinus issues while I fly on Monday, at least I'll be dealing with them from the comfort of a business class seat--my first time ever in business class; thank you to my hubby for upgrading me!--rather than from a small, uncomfortable economy class seat.

As they say, every cloud has a silver lining, and when I think about it, I realize that this one really is more lining than cloud. The cloud is a doozy for someone who's philosophically and emotionally opposed to leaving her husband (and not fond of the idea of leaving her cats either!), but there is a lot of lining. Now to just focus on that ...