The 34 hour day / by Susie Lubell

Almost two weeks have past since we returned from Israel and it's only now that I'm ready to remember the horror of the return flight. We'd had such a terrific time. Saw all of our people. Spent a day in Jerusalem, a day in Yafo, a few days in the Galil, a good amount of time with grandparents and family. And I myself had packed down an inordinate amount of shwarma. Even for me. And the weather was ridiculously good. Unseasonably warm for winter. Perfect fall weather actually. It was excellent.

And the kids had behaved beautifully. Especially our son, who is wont to ignore his grandfather, have tantrums in public and say no to nearly everything except chocolate milk. He was great in fact. Enjoyed his grandparents very much, played with the kids of our friends, and slept in several different locales. He even ate falafel, which I referred to as "falafel nuggets." Whatever works.

It was only in the last few days of the trip when our baby girl started having diarrhea that we started to get anxious about the trip home. At first I thought it was just a one-off thing. But two days and a very sore bottom later we knew we were looking at a nasty stomach bug, the likes of which we'd never encountered. Our son never had one. Well he had Rota virus but it was a mild case. So we were not prepared for what all would go down in the days to come. Or come up, as it were.

In fact it was already several days that she was not herself at all. Our perfect little baby girl became super grouch. Very whiny, very picky. It caught us so off-guard, I didn't even stop to think she could be ill. I just assumed our girl had gone to the dark side early and that we should just hunker down and prepare for the terrible twos. How idiotic is that.

So it was January 3rd when we woke up at 3:30 am to get ready for the drive to the airport for our 7:30 am flight home via New York. Twelve hours on a plane to New York - essentially ALL DAY LONG - which we knew, even with a best case scenario, would only yield a short nap or two. No hope for a five or six hour sleep. And the thing about a day flight going west is that it just keeps being day and more day and more day. It freaking never gets dark. So even with two healthy kids the flight is a bear. But a sick kid brings it to whole new level of discomfort.

About an hour into the flight our daughter seemed to be fairing well. She actually seemed starving, which she hadn't been in days so we took that for a good sign. We gave her yogurt, which she loves. Dairy in a sour belly. What the hell were we thinking. About a half hour after gobbling up a whole yogurt she started making faces and whining. Then crying and needing to be held. Not even her trusty rat Julio could soothe her. It was then that, with Julio close by, she barfed up all of her yogurt.

Suddenly there's vomit all over the floor, all over me, all over her, all over Julio and I'm running to the back of the plane yelling BARFING BABY! I NEED HELP! I get to the flight attendant station and they give me a paper towel. PAPER TOWEL??!! People I need a wet rag! I need a a tub of warm water! I need a biohazard disposal kit!

At this point I have to make clear that vomit is not my thing. I'm pretty good with other gross fluids, but vomit...not a favorite. So I'm trying to wipe her up and comfort her while taking off my sweatshirt and dealing with the rat who is now defiled. I bring her back to our seat and give her to my husband while I get her new clothes. Meanwhile my son has peed in his pants. Are you KIDDING me? So I get him new clothes too and now the plastic bio waste bag is nearly full.

Once everyone is changed and clean we begin to realize we have another ten hours on the plane and no rat. Julio is in the bio waste bag too because he is in a state of serious disrepair. And spare Julio is in the luggage hold. Note to self... So we take turns doing laps with our girl for the next six hours because she can't really sleep without her rat. And by now she's starving because we have nothing to feed her. She's even resorted to nursing again even though she weaned herself four days before. Anyway, we finally relent and give her a small bottle of formula though this time I drape myself in an El Al blanket. Half an hour later she's barfing all over me again. So we change her into the last set of clothes I have on the plane and while this is going on my son pees in his pants AGAIN!. This was not expected. I mean, the kid is potty trained for the love of jesus. Could someone please cut me a break here!

By now the bio bag is stuffed full of nasty clothes and my husband is now fighting waves of nausea - same bug apparently. We finally land at JFK and get through immigration. My husband runs to the toilet and I wait for the bags. I retrieve the spare Julio and things start to look up a bit. Hubby returns, I change into a new set of clothes, we get the kids into pajamas because even though it's 2 in the afternoon in New York, it's 9 pm for them. We come to find that our flight has been delayed two hours because of horrible weather in San Francisco so we camp out in a corner of the airport and after some chicken nuggets and french fries we all go to sleep for a few hours. The next flight is only six hours but by this point we are so wrecked I for one am basically hallucinating about my bed. I'm also fighting a gnarly sinus infection. By the time we finally get home and get everyone to bed we have been traveling for nearly 34 hours.

But the kicker is that no less than 30 hours later we are back on a plane flying to my mom's house for my friend's wedding, in which I am a bridesmaid. Bridesmaid of Frankenstein, more like it, between the bags under my eyes, and my zombie-like stare.

So I have to wonder if it was all worth it. I mean, we have friends in Israel whose kids have never even been on a plane let alone flown halfway around the world and back. It's such a small country, if you flew for an hour you'd be in Turkey. And I don't think they're lesser people for having missed the "flying with kids" experience. That said, and with all things being equal, I'd do it again. Even with the vomit I'd make the trip again. Time with grandparents is precious and the memories created, unlike the vomit stains, last a lifetime. People joke because my husband's first initial is M and mine is S. Together we're S&M. But it's the truth. We are a glutton for punishment - both inflicting and suffering. Bring it on, I say.

Is this legal?