Day 9, the long journey home.

I could not believe it was already 4 AM when Ron woke me up this morning. My body was screaming “NO” while my brain understood that if I wanted to get home, I was going to have to drag myself up. I gave myself an additional 15 minutes to allow brain and body to come to an understanding.

Cara was even less enthusiastic than I was about getting up! She did everything she could to roll away from me while I tried to dress her, and somehow, some way, I managed to get her clothes and shoes on. The bellman knocked on the door to take our luggage down, and we managed to get Cara to understand this was the day we were going on the big airplane, and we had to go.

We took a cab to the airport. The drive was uneventful that early in the morning with little to no traffic. Cara sat quietly between Ron and I, never saying a word. When we arrived, the driver was nice enough to get us a push cart for the overabundance of luggage we had with us.After getting our luggage checked in and our boarding passes, we had to go through customs and security. Cara was fine through the whole process, never questioning why she had to remove her shoes, or put baby in a bin to go through the scanner.  But halfway to the gate, she started crying, and then screaming that she wanted to return to the hotel room. I was pulling the roller bag containing my computer, so I wasn’t able to pick her up. When she felt me pulling her along, she sat down in the middle of the floor and howled.  I got her up on one hip, managed to find a place to sit, and she continued to howl, asking to go back to the room. I walked her to the window to show her the planes, and she stopped, suddenly very excited about the airplanes. Miglena had explained to her that we would be flying on 3 airplanes (it was actually 4), and she finally understood where we were and that we were going to get on the plane. She started howling again when we went to board, but the gate attendant spoke to her and explained what was happening and that we were finally going to get on the airplane and fly up in the air. She also told her she could not cry on the plane! J I was incredibly nervous about the flight, praying she would settle in, and not scream all the way to Vienna! I needn’t have worried! She was absolutely fine all the way there. We had to go through security again in Vienna, and while in line, she had to go to the bathroom. When I tried to explain we had to wait, she melted down again! By the time it was our turn, I explained she had to use the bathroom, and of course, the buckles on my boots set off the alarm. The poor agent was trying her best to get me through quickly so I could get Cara to the bathroom, and I finally took my boots off, walked through the arch again, and the agent pointed out the bathroom. Poor Ron was stuck with all the carry on, both jackets, and my boots while he waited for us to come out. Thankfully, Cara had quit crying, and was happy to watch the planes taking off while we waited for our next flight to Dulles airport in Washington, DC. I wasn’t sure how this trip would go as it was 10 hours in the air. I located the nearest bathroom while looking for our seats, and got Cara buckled into her seat, all the while praying she would not need the bathroom until the “fasten your seat belt”  sign went off! I was truly amazed at how well things went. The flight attendants were very efficient, getting food and drinks to us right away, and gave all the kids on board a bag of things to play with. We had packed puzzles, her whiteboard and markers, My Little Ponies, and the barrel of Monkeys. She never needed any of it. She was so fascinated with the individual TV’s and the remote that came with it, that she played with that, slept, drew a little bit with her whiteboard, and generally enjoyed the whole thing. Our guardian angels were with us the entire trip!

Because Dulles was our port of entry, we had to go through customs. This is where we were to give the customs agent the sealed manila envelope with all of Cara’s immigration papers, allowing her into the country, and her immediate status of US Citizen. While waiting in line, Cara told me she had to go to the bathroom again. I told her we had to wait, she started to howl! The line ahead of us parted like the red sea allowing us free passage to the front of the line. The customs agent was very nice, told me to give him the paperwork and after comparing  Cara’s passport picture with her howling face, told me where the bathroom was, and pointed me in the right direction. He said he would give Ron everything we needed.

As we hurried to the bathroom we passed two customs security agents with dogs. I quickly pulled Cara up into my arms, but wasn’t quick enough. She saw the dogs and blood curdling screams ensued. She was tired, and deathly frightened by the dogs. None of them even came near her, but she screamed until we got to the bathroom, where the screams turned into huge air gulping sobs. I did my best to soothe her, but she was so frightened she was shaking. We have 3 dogs at home. Three.Barking.Psycho.dogs. You can imagine what was going through my head about then!

When we left the bathroom, I located the dogs, and made a wide berth. I finally found Ron, and took one of the carry on from him, and had Cara walking beside me. Unfortunately, we had to walk right between both dogs. Up on my hip she went, but the dogs were sniffing each piece of carry- on luggage, and there was nothing I could do. Of course she let loose with those blood curdling screams again, and I finally walked away from the luggage while the dog sniffed it. We were finally free of the dogs, and the screams died down.

If you have  never been through customs, once you get through the first check point where your passport is looked at, you then have to go pick up all of your luggage and go through security all over again, because you are transferring from the international terminal to the domestic terminal. They don’t seem to care that you have already been through three security checkpoints already.  Shoes off, coats off, belts off, computer out of the bag and in a separate bin. Thankfully, without the threat of dogs, Cara went through security with me without a hitch. We had to transfer to the domestic flight terminal, and then wait just a few minutes before boarding our flight to Denver and our last flight change.

Cara and I slept all the way to Denver. We were both exhausted, and just could not stay awake any longer. It was a four hour flight so we got a decent nap, if you can call sleeping while sitting up, decent. And we finally had a long enough layover in Denver that we were able to get something to eat. It had been several hours since we’d eaten, and I knew Cara was hungry. The closest place to get food was a Pizza Hut/Hagen-Daz place, and Cara indicated she wanted pizza. I bought her water and an individual cheese pizza, which she completely devoured, as well as part of mine. She seems to be digesting her food better with the enzymes I brought, and has not had to go to the bathroom quite as much. This has been a blessing on the airplane. This was the only airport Cara did not have a meltdown. She handled the tiredness, hunger, and waiting, with grace and when it was time to board our last flight home, she walked onto the airplane like a pro, settled into her seat and buckled her seat belt. She and I slept most of the 90 minute flight, waking when the pilot announced our approach. Because we were just four seats from the back of the plane, we were the last ones off. I wish I had video of Cara’s face when she saw Daniel and Alexandra waiting for us at the bottom of the ramp. She started yelling their names, and when we got down the ramp, she reached immediately for Alexandra, finding her newest best friend!

Alexandra sat with her in the back of the car, and Cara talked to her non-stop all the way home! She was so excited to finally see her! When we got home, we took her to her room, and once again she was over the top excited. She had her picture book full of photos of her room and the house during the four months we waited to bring her home, and seeing her room in person was huge for her. She sat down and immediately started serving tea to all of us. Sleep was the furthest thing from her mind, and the only thing Ron and I wanted! However, trying to convince her that it was time for “spish” (sleep) was fruitless at this point. I finally started unpacking, she finally wore out, and I was able to get her into her pajamas, and up on the bed. Before long, she was rocking herself and was sound asleep. Unfortunately, I was wide awake by this time, and unable to sleep. I finished unpacking, started the first of many, many loads of laundry we’d brought home with us, and finally fell asleep around 5 AM, knowing I was not going to be ready to wake up when Cara did!