Well hello there! I hope this finds you all well and enjoying life! My little family is together again and I am pleased. I woke up this morning when Collin woke for work around 330am and ended up being wide awake. So after a bowl of cereal and my ongoing cup of coffee I decided to get caught up with the updating before I let anymore time go by. As it was already wrote half of this and somehow lost everything instead of saving it :) So round 2 here we go!
As you know I started my day on Monday at 2am finishing up last minute packing, loading the car, and saying our "see you soons" to Nana and Bill. I got to the Killeen-Ft Hood airport around 430 am and turned in my car packed us up and headed in the airport. This time I had 1 big suit case, a rolling back-pack, car seat, diaper bag and baby strapped to the front of me. Much more manageable then before and to my surprise my bag was only 4.5lbs over weight and since I am military I thankfully got that waived. Maybe there is something to this whole rolling your clothes in your luggage instead of folding because I know I had a ton more stuff I crammed into that bag. Anyway the airport was fairly small, in comparison for those of you who know it was bigger than Colorado Springs (an airport of 10 gates) but smaller than Cleveland. Nana was a smart thinker in that even though it will cost me more I should get the already measured powdered formula instead of the already liquid formula for 2 reasons. 1 it would take up less room and 2 security didn't have to take the time to scan all the bottles! It worked. Security was a breeze! In fact almost too easy. I was at my gate earlier than I wanted to be but better early than late I guess. The flight from Killeen to Houston was your typical short 45 minute flight. Tiny aircraft and moderate bumps along the way and a sleeping baby for the whole flight! We were soon hearing "Welcome to Houston!"1 leg down, 2 to go! Bring it on!
The layover in Houston was a bit of annoying one as like in Baltimore I had to walk to the international terminal and it wasn't exactly around the corner and the airport was too small to have a train to take me. Had a found one of those guys on a nifty cart I may have caved and asked for a ride but I didn't see a single one. So I just slowly walked along starving but passing every restaurant knowing that being in the international section and it being all big flights that there would be a couple options to choose from once I arrived at my gate! Man was I wrong. All I had in eye shot range was a one of those juice places and a wall street journal. I like smoothies so I picked Jamba Juice! I got a Banana mixture smoothie a sour dough pretzel and a bottled water. The drink was good, the pretzel was awful and the water well not much to say about water.... half went towards bottles for Audrey and half was consumed by my already worn out body. I made a few last phone calls to my parents, grandparents and sister ate my pretzel, did my best to entertain Audrey and soon was showing our passports waiting to board the aircraft.
As we got to our seats (the Army hooked me up with 2 seats) I got everything put away and sat down nervously awaiting my seat mate. I just hoped for an English speaking American......... or an English speaking foreigner if possible :) I got a little nervous as the few Americans that boarded the plan slowly walked on by and I watched them disappear back into economy seating. Again the Army hooked us up and put us in Economy plus (which buy the way I will ALWAYS fly on long flights). A sigh of semi relief filled me when I saw a tall American man putting his luggage in an overhead compartment in front of me and started to ease his way into 21C. Audrey was 21 A and I was B. My contentment quickly went to a sad state when I could see the look on the follows face as if to say, Oh no! Please tell me I am wrong please tell me I am not really sitting here! He even checked his ticket again and then looked at the seat number that he was sitting in. He looked over at Audrey who was in my arms just waving everyone buy, with a scrunched face and as I said Hello with a smile he took a deep breath and looked the other way not saying a word. Well he everyone ends up talking eventually, after all we will get bored it is a 13-14 hour flight! Wrong this guy didn't say a word to me the entire time let a lone look at me for the whole flight except to say, "You didn't see anything" as he poured liquor into his sparkling water.
About 20 minutes into the flight the flight attendance came by and offered drinks, then about an hour later they offered bbq chicken or some weird entree that I had no clue what it was (after all though I was on a flight to Japan!) I of course went with the bbq chicken. Soon after I ate I joined Audrey in a deep, deep sleep. Something woke me up about an hour into this sleep and I quickly felt as though I would be sick. I looked at Audrey and she was fast asleep laying in the window seat next to me. Starting to sweat and realizing this was not just going to pass, I looked my silent drinking neighbor and said can you watch my daughter for a second I really have to get to the bathroom. He said I will watch but I will not touch. You have got to be kidding me! As I fumbled passed the man now feeling dizzy and hot I looked at the woman in front of me and said could you please watch my daughter she nodded and before she could get a word out I turned and started towards the bathroom............. lights out! I woke up to being at the back of the economy plus near the bathrooms with at least people in my face trying to ask me questions. One was an male American flight attendant holding oxygen on my face saying ma'am, ma'am can you hear me. Ma'am can you open your eyes, ma'am.....
As I squinted my eyes and tried to focus the best I could I mustered up "Yes, my baby where is my baby" in a very slurred and groggy voice. Your baby is fine the woman who you were sitting next to has here and is taking care of her. Forgetting that I even talked to her, in a panic I said I wasn't sitting next to any woman just an American man. The man said he would check on her and went off. Again I must have slipped into a sleep for a few minutes or something cause I felt a tapping on my shoulder and in very broken English heard, Ma'am I need of you to focus, I am doctor on flight, I need of you to focus. Then heard we need and IV her blood pressure is not rising. After confusion of finding out some woman was taking care of my daughter and hearing that my blood pressure had bottomed out and a recap of what happened I then realized I was laid out in the aisle way of and had a ton of faces from all around the world starring at me wondering what happened to me, some looked concerned for me and others looked petrified. I was so embarrassed and just kept answering health questions and thinking Did this really just happen, am I really laying here being scrutinized, did this really just happen, what will Collin think, where is Audrey God please whoever is watching over her keep her protected! Can this woman even speak English to my daughter.... through all these thoughts I must have put myself into a deeper panic as I heard "Her blood pressure drop even worse get approval she need IV!" coming from the passenger medic. I was getting a Chinese oil applied to my foot and someone beating on the soles of my feet saying something about with this Chinese medicine you will feel better! Interesting. Next thing I know a passenger nurse is preparing the IV. OUCH! Through my hand seriously!" Even longer story short 2 IV bags later 1 1/2 tanks of Oxygen and 2 hours later I was back in my seat holding on to Audrey. I asked to take the oxygen off as I think it was scaring her a bit and was so happy to have the IV out as she just wanted to pull on that line and it hurt more and more with every grab. Houston to Tokyo was a very very eventful flight but nearing the end of the flight I looked at my now tipsy seatmate and said, "I am really sorry for everything that happened on this flight." His reply was "YEAH" I asked the lady if there was anything I could do to thank her for all the help with my daughter and off even tried to offer her some cash I had in my wallet. She declined and gave me a big smile and said, "It was my pleasure. Your daughter is such a delight! I really enjoyed her and prayed for you while you were being taken care of." Feeling happy I smiled back thanked her again and said, "I thank God for you, I was so worried about who she was with and I couldn't have asked for better!" After a couple more hours I was relieved to hear in Japanese then in English that we were preparing to land in Tokyo!
Once getting off of the aircraft I had to go back through a security check with my bags. I didn't mind much except I don't think the people who ran the airport believed in a/c and with the rest of the herded people through the lines was feeling very hot and very uncomfortable. Not to mention I didn't see an American in sight. As I cleared security a woman was waiting with a sign that had my name in big bright Orange letters. I looked at her in question.... someone knows an American is coming through and is offering help?! She told me that she "Don't know English much" and pointed to a wheel chair. I realized that someone had notified this woman that I passed out on the plane and they were offering a wheel chair for me. In my best English I said, "No thank you ma'am I am doing much better now." Then I realized Hey dummy she has no idea what you just said so I looked at her again with a smile shook my head no and gave her a thumbs up to try to let her know that I was fine and didn't need a wheel chair. She looked and said, "You don't need?" Then "OK" and walked off shrugging her shoulders with the wheel chair to find her next passenger. I should have taken the wheel chair and let her get me to my gate because it was not very easy navigating my way through I really just want another American to confirm what I am doing! The screen that listed all the flights and gates switched over to English and I went through the list finding a few Seoul flights but none of them mine. Then before I found my final flight it switched back to Japanese. I waited for a bit and again it flashed in Englished........ Gate 27.... awesome I am soooooooooooooooooo on my way to sit and wait for hours. I just want to be home!
During the remainder of my 5 hour layover Audrey and I went to the bathroom and got cleaned up and freshened up, watched several young soldiers join the wait, got some water at a near by shop, spoke to a Korean Woman from Seoul who offered some help with my journey and mentioned the places to shop and nearby churches and informed me that it will be a hard transition living off post but she could tell I was a strong woman and said that she believed I would be just fine!
Emotions took control of my body as I heard the lady at the counter confirm that we would be boarding for Seoul in 10 minutes! Tears filled my eyes. I can't even fully describe it. I was exhausted, embarrassed, tired, overwhelmed with the lack of Americans (and all I could think about was my new home and lack of Americans) but so desperately wanting to be safe in my husbands arms! As I showed our passports and gave our tickets to be scanned a very young very pretty Asian girl said, I heard you were having some problems we have been instructed to monitor you through out this flight. Laughing to myself I just shook my head and said, "Thank you!" At least United takes care of their people. Once on flight I was immediately given water and asked if there was anything I needed. We soon received our Custom and Immigration forms and after filling those out I fell fast asleep for a solid hour. Once I woke up excitement filled me so much to the point of not sitting still and my heart pounding. I looked at the in flight monitors and saw that in 22 minutes I would be on the ground, on Korean soil!
Audrey had been amazing fussed off and on but only cried twice, once when she finally saw mommy and I think the oxygen scared her on the Tokyo flight but was fine again once back in my arms and then again AFTER the plane touched down in Seoul!
Once off the flight I got down to the train that would take me to Immigration, baggage, customs and then to the gates of my husband! As we were waiting for a train I heard a small voice from a young boy yell DADDY, DAAAAADY! Everyone laughed and the mother explained that his daddy wasn't far off but not waiting at the train. We engaged in conversation and we were both moving to the area to be with our Army husbands. I hope she is in Yongsan, it will be nice to see a familiar face from time to time. We got on the train and became disconnected. Finally I see the mile long lines for immigration. As I stood in line hoping I choose the right one a Korean airport official came and motioned me in another direction....... ugh what now? He pointed me to a speedy line for Korean entries and said, "You wait there" Ha no problem there was only 1 person in front of me here and to my surprised it was the woman and her young boy! We talked as they were being approved and once again said good luck to each other and she departed. After a series of questions I departed as well! One step closer to being done. Next up baggage claim! After about 5 minutes I saw the familiar face a crossed the way grabbing her bags and moving towards customs.... then finally I found Audrey's broken car seat. Slightly upset but at this point I could care less. Luggage was being unloaded just the same as in America and I watched several people grab their belongings and walk away as I was starting to panic that my big purple suit case has been lost. There was only about a dozen people left and no sight of my bag. There was a soldier next to me who was also getting concerned. I heard a click and realized that the first conveyor belt stopped. I looked at the soldier and said, "Well it's either here or its not! The last bag has been unloaded." Finally I saw a big purple bag and smiled. The soldier helped me get the over weight bag off the belt and soon he was reaching for his. I saw a sign that read Customs and dashed in that direction. almost done! I handed the lady my paper and looked at Gate D! Then I saw what appeared to be khaki shorts and the bottom of a white jersey stand up and disappear. I saw the legs walk away and just knew it had to be my husband. The gate opened and the tears started to fill my eyes! It was my husband and I am home!!!