Three things: Swimming, aeroplanes and ear infections. They shouldn’t have anything in common. Ah, but they do. If a swimmer, a pilot and a baby walked into a bar, they would have at least one thing to talk about. And that would be how taking a flight and a swim can result in the nastiest of ear infections for persons under the age of one.
Before we left for Mombasa, I asked the doctor if I needed to give Adoti anti-malaria medication. Her response was brief: “No. Sleep under nets.”
I went a step further and purchased wholesale amounts of mosquito repellent.
We spent 90-minutes on the plane in total, 45 to go and 45 to come back, but clocked a good number of hours commuting to and from airports and hanging around waiting to board.
Traffic jams in both Nairobi and Mombasa meant that we had to leave for the airport way before departure. I learned the ‘baptism-by-fire’ way that travelling with a young child is no mean feat. Not when you have a baby bag, your own luggage and a fist full of identification documents, boarding passes and the like.
Adoti was in full squirming mode, refusing to sit still for even a moment. She did not appreciate being confined to my lap for hours on end, not when she had just been exposed to a whole new world that needed exploring. I spent a good amount of time holding onto her legs as she tried to scramble away from me belly first.
I saw a few parents who had their own kids under control purse their lips and give the side-eye. I ignored them studiously.
So finally we board heading Coastside, baby, luggage and all. It’s a veritable comedy of errors as I try to push my carry-on bag into the overhead compartment, while balancing Adoti on one hip and her baby bag on the other. Finally, we plonk down into the window seat, knowing full well that we were supposed to be at the aisle. But no one short of Jesus himself would have gotten me to move at that point.
The air hostess came round and gave me an extra seat belt for the child, and I belted us both up and prepared for take-off. I thought she would sleep all the way through but yeah, she did not. One minute she was looking outside the window, the next she was trying to crawl under the chair.
It would have been a different story if she was doing this quietly but she was babbling away happily as if we were the only ones on the plane.
As we took off, every child on the aircraft began to cry, probably because their ears were blocking and they didn’t know how to pop them. I was comforted by the thought that my child wasn’t the only one causing a ruckus.
After an eventful 45 minutes, we landed in Mombasa and Adoti and I both began to sweat profusely. We didn’t stop for the entire trip, which was heaven for our skin but hellish on our general outlook on life. The child was genuinely confused, I would imagine. She was completely out of her comfort zone. But she took it like a champ. Well, for the most part.
On the plus side, because it was cumbersome to prepare her baby meals, she finally had the chance to eat off Mama’s plate. And eat, she did. With gusto.
It was a certainly a weekend of first for the girl. One of the more enjoyable moments when she saw the ocean for the first time. And when she took her first swim in the pool. She was a bit apprehensive at first but after a while she loosened up, even becoming so daring as to put her head in the water.
That was all fun and games until we got back to Nairobi and she developed a fever. She handled the trip back like a pro, as if she was some kind of world traveller, which was great. But after a day or two, I could see that something was not right with Adoti.
I took her to the doctor and explained that we had just come back from the Coast. Tests showed that she did not have malaria – thank God – but what she did have was a severe ear infection. That’s the last thing I expected to hear.
“You flew?” the doctor asked.
“Yes, we did.”
“And you went swimming in a pool?”
“You seem normally when you fly with a baby, you need to breastfeed them all through so that their ears pop when they block. Also, it’s possible she caught some infection from the water in the pool,” she said.
Well, someone colour me uninformed. Obviously, a doctor should have tagged along with the baby, the pilot and the swimmer. Oh well, you live and you learn.