Saturday, August 24, 2013

the green card problem

Let me tell you about  a potentially disastrous travel experience.  A few days prior to traveling home to the United States, we got in touch with the U.S. Consulate.  We just wanted to double check that Jason would be okay to enter the United States without any problems.  You see, his green card had not yet come in the mail.  He is a permanent resident alien , but the card had not yet arrived.  We knew that was a gamble, but what do you do when you have emergency travel?

The U.S. Consul told him he needed to come in and get a temporary travel document to enter the United States.  If he didn't have this, he could be detained and fined.  Yikes. We arrived at the U.S. Consulate to sort it out and found out that there was a worldwide system outage.  There was nothing they could do to get him on a plane in  time.  They retained his passport and advised him against trying to get on a plane.
This is where I freaked out.  I didn't feel that I could stay in New Zealand until it was resolved because I really needed to get back to my job.  I also did not want to leave without Jason because a) I didn't want to travel with an infant alone and b) families shouldn't separate in these situations.  

Well, the uptight, nervous, and strict person that I am decided to go on our originally scheduled flight with Callum and get home to my job.  I was more than nervous to fly with a baby alone.  I was more than nervous about Jason's green card situation. 
Jason gave Callum and I a blessing of comfort.  At the time I wondered if it could truly ease the burden we were carrying.  What an idiot.  The trip would prove me wrong yet again.

Callum and I prepared for our long journey home while Jason did all in his power to get the green card situation resolved.  It was not a happy time.  We were at extreme stress levels. 

The entire family went to the airport to say goodbye to us.  When I say entire family.  I mean Richards style.  That means 8 siblings, their kids, and mum & dad.  That is a whole heap of people.  

        We enjoyed time together just outside of the international terminal until the very last minute.  

The goodbye was extra rough this time. a) Everyone had to say goodbye to Callum after barely meeting him for the first time.  (he is the only grand kid that lives away from Nana and Papa)

b) 10 days is just not long enough when you live far away.

c) Jason had to say goodbye to us as well.  
Here we are in those final moments saying goodbye to everyone.  

      One last family photo before immigration problems split us up for a significant amount of time!

He is so precious in his little bassinet 

Callum inside his baby bassinet.  My tv screen above him

I made it through customs and security with a baby in one arm and our luggage in the other.  Naturally, all the security people are nice in New Zealand.  One lady took my bag through another lady complimented Callum on his smile and mild manner.  I started taking off my shoes so they could be x-rayed and they quickly asked me what on earth I was doing.  They thought it absurd to take your shoes off!  We all had a good chuckle about how grouchy this process is in America.  

We then proceeded to our gate.  Callum had yet to make a peep or a fuss.  As I found a seat outside our gate, people started to give me that know, the one that says they hope they don't have to sit next to the lady with a baby.  We sat of the floor.  It was nearing his bedtime and I tried my darnedest to keep him awake until the flight.  I wanted to nurse him during takeoff and than put him in the baby bassinet on board.  He cried pretty loud in protest of this plan.  

The second we got on the plane I started nursing him and he was down for the count.  I wasn't allowed to use the bassinet until after the seatbelt sign went off.  The nice Samoan flight attendant set up the bassinet for me and Callum was sweet as.  I placed him on his tummy and didn't hear a peep from him until somewhere over Tahiti.  
I fed him twice during the overnight flight and changed two diapers in the lavatory.  He did so well.  I was so scared to do this by myself, but he was fine.  
Going through immigration in LA was a little rough. I had to hold all of our luggage and him.  The line was long and slow.  His diaper was smelly, and there was nothing to do but continue to wait.  Once we cleared customs and immigration we checked in for our domestic flight to Phoenix. 
We got to our gate and enjoyed time on the floor.  He stretched and wiggled and played for the 2 hour wait.  Right before it was time to board Callum got super fussy.  I knew he needed to sleep, and I tried to help him fall asleep.  The loud and hot and crowded gate area wasn't working for him.  People were staring, and I was getting worried. 
I rocked him the best I could, and after 10 or so painful crying minutes, he zonked out.  I carried him onto the plane zonked out, along with our luggage.  A fellow passenger noticed my struggle to carry it all and offered to carry his carseat.  Another tender mercy to ease the challenge of traveling alone!

The plane was so empty that I was able to take his carseat on board.  I laid Callum in one row all to himself while I sprawled out in the row next to him.  We both slept for the flight to Phoenix!

Believe it or not the trip didn't end here.  By now it's 8pm, and I still have to drive to Winslow. A 3 hour drive after traveling for 24 hours straight.  Fun.  When we arrived in Phoenix we discovered that someone had hit our car.  Currently our driver's side door doesn't open!  That's a crisis for another day.  
Mom and baby are happy even though daddy was detained :) 
Callum and I braved the 3 hour drive like champions. Somehow I stayed awake to drive it-even with the 30 minute road construction delay.  Somehow Callum slept the whole time.  Another tender mercy.  
When we pulled into the driveway I was so relieved.  We passed this test with flying colors.  I have to be honest.  I feel like a total champion for flying with an infant overseas by myself.  
And for the record, Jason was granted permission to travel 24 hours later.  


Mary Catherine Blackburn said...

Holy Crap!!!! You are such a trooper! Good job momma!! :)

McKenna said...

Holy cow.... that is crazy! You are amazing!!! That little bassinet is so cool, did you bring it or do they have it for crazy long flights? I'm so glad Callum got to go to NZ so soon!

Brittany said...

You are super woman! Glad things went so smoothly!