Monday, June 12, 2006

To fly or not to fly ...

When I was in 10th grade, I sat behind a chap in Geometry named Will Brown. Will was a nice enough fellow and I always thought he was eccentric, in a cool kind of way. That is until the day he turned around and told me that he'd had a premonition I would die in a plane crash when I was 38-years old.

Lovely, huh?

Now, regarding premonitions. I've had a couple good ones. When I went through my first round of IVF, in October of 2003 ... I knew that it wasn't going to be successful, because just days before I was scheduled to have my pregnancy test ... the Red Sox lost the American League Pennant to the New York Yankees. Add to that, San Diego was burning to the ground, our neighborhood was evacuated and I just didn't have a good feeling about the whole cycle. I was filled with dread. I called my doctor to notify him, "Unfortunately, the Curse of the Bambino lives on. I know that this cycle is a bust."

He thought I was an absolute kook and told me that I couldn't base my chances of a successful pregnancy on the outcome of some stupid baseball game.

Stupid baseball game?!

Fast forward to March of 2004. I went through my third round of IVF. As I previously posted, I had a suspicion that this cycle was going to be the one. The very day that I learned we were expecting triplets ... the first words out of my mouth after seeing three heartbeats were "YAY!" and then "Well, you know that this means that the Curse of the Bambino has been broken and the Red Sox are going to win the World Series, don't you?" It was intended as a joke. I honestly didn't believe that one thing had anything to do with the other.

Or, did I?

Everyone in the ultrasound room laughed. BUT, had anyone (including me) taken my *premonition* seriously, we would have made some serious BANK. Because, the Red Sox did win the World Series, one week after I gave birth. Now, in hindsight, I believe that when Charlie and I broke our own private, "Curse of the Bambino" the other, more well known "Curse of the Bambino" was broken, too. I firmly believe that had it not been for our amazing triplets born in October of 2004, the Red Sox would not have won a World Series Title, still. I'll stand by that statement until the day I die.

Which takes me back to Will Brown.

Since the 10th grade, I've questioned more and more, how thoroughly they inspect commercial aircraft. It never seems like they are at the gate for more than 30 minutes before they are boarded, pushed back out on the runway, and launched off high in to the atmosphere, again.

I don't worry about terrorism. If someone tried to hijack a plane that I happened to be flying on, I (and I'm sure most of the passengers onboard), would be all over their terrorist a$$ like white on rice.

Mostly, I worry that the bolts affixing the wings to the fuselage are going to wiggle loose at 30,000 feet.

Or, that the plane will lose propulsion during take-off and fall backwards to the earth because the weight limit was exceeded (this actually happened not too long ago).

Or, we'll have a funky landing and spin out of control, flip upside down and burst in to a ball of flames.

Ya know ... that kind of stuff.

The thing that REALLY freaks me out, is having the knowledge that the plane is going down. You get to sit there in your seat completely freaking out, and thinking how CRAPPY it is that you ever got on THIS plane in the first place. Really. How necessary was this trip? Shoulda, coulda, woulda. It's one of those times that you wish more than anything you could hit "CTRL-ALT-DEL". Start over.

Usually, when faced with an upcoming trip - I always toss around the idea of driving - or taking a train. So what if it will take me 5 days to get somewhere that I could fly in 5 hours? What's 116 *extra* hours?

Never, ever - have I ultimately decided to drive or take a train when I could fly. Rather, I book my ticket ... freak out the entire time leading up to my departure ... actually envision the evening news when the camera crews are covering the wreckage of MY plane in a field or over the ocean, somewhere ... freak out boarding the plane ... break in to a cold sweat during take-off ... and then wait anxiously for my beloved narcolepsy to kick in. I usually stay asleep until the plane lands. Then, and only then, I think what a silly fool I was for worrying about my safety flying because everyone knows that air travel is safer than ground travel. Yes. Even I know. And, I'm not even 38. Yet.

I continue to remind myself how silly this paranoia is, until ... I have to fly someplace else. Then, the process repeats itself, in it's entirety.

Since the babies have arrived, Charlie and I have flown cross-country three times, with the kids, by ourselves. Actually six times - if you count coming and going.

We flew to South Carolina when they were 8-months old ... Massachusetts when they were 10-months old ... and Florida when they were 16-months old. I will say that it became progressively difficult traveling with the babies, the older they got. (This should be a blog posting in and of itself, "The art or lack thereof, of flying with small children.")

Of course it would have been easier for us had we "tested" the Benadryl before we gave it to them on a crowded airplane and realized that the 3% of the time Benadryl has an ADVERSE affect and causes hyperactivity rather than drowsiness ... would have been with our 1, 2, 3 kids. Not a single one of our children were the least bit sleepy from being medicated. Infact, I've never, ever seen them so hyper. They were strapped to us in Baby Bjorns and it was like trying to hold a wild cat in a bag on our lap for 6 (SIX) hours. Much to Charlie's chagrin, I finally turned the bottle of Benadryl on myself and slept like a charm the rest of the flight. But BEFORE I took the Benadryl, I was a nervous wreck.

If you're wondering why I'm babbling on and on and on about this ... it's because next month, I have another business meeting. This time, it's in New Mexico. Not some place locally, like Palm Springs, where I could drive. To get to this meeting, I have to fly.

I received the agenda today and was informed that I need to be there (fly-in) on Monday and will return home (fly-out) on Friday. My mother (God Bless her) has volunteered to come out and lend a hand so Charlie is not flying solo the entire time I'm gone. But even though Charlie will have support on the home front with the kiddos, I have apprehensions about attending this business trip. Here are a few:

1) I do not want to DIE in a plane crash.

2) I will miss the babies terribly if gone for 5 days, consecutively. (Or more, if I DIE in a plane crash).

3) The babies are very clingy to me lately, and I wonder how they would do without me being here for 5 days, consecutively. That's a long time...

4) It would be nice to visit with my mother if she is flying out to California. I rarely get to see her, after all. (I'd never get to see her again if I DIE in a plane crash).

5) I do not want to DIE in a plane crash.

6) I'm finally healthy and don't want to travel and run the risk of getting sick, again. The times that I've been really sick this year, have always happened as soon as I get back from one of these business meetings. (Can you get any more unhealthy than if you were to DIE in a plane crash? I don't think so.)

7) I do not want to DIE in a plane crash.

That's all I can think of. Other than ...

8) I'll really miss the kids.
9) I do not want to DIE in a plane crash.
10) I'll really miss the kids.

Now, more than ever, I'd like to stick around and see my children grow up. Now more than ever, I wish that I could kick Will Brown in the shins. Or, should I thank him for giving me a tip on something that MIGHT eventually save my life? Hmm. That's a tough one.

So, I'm pondering what to tell my boss.

(1) Yes, I know I would benefit if I attended this meeting. But, I'm paranoid the plane will crash and that will be the end of me. Better stated, I'm scared sh*tless that I'll leave behind a husband and three small children. Of course, by coming "clean" and telling my boss about my (as some might consider) irrational fear, I know I'll hear back "You're so funny. See you in New Mexico!"

(2) Do I buck up ... book the ticket, revisit my life insurance ... pack some Benadryl and and pray for the best?

(3) Do I make it sound more serious? One of the kids developed a curious condition that appears a bit suspicious. Her nose is growing at an alarming rate. Kind of like her mother's ...

From where I sit ... I'm thinking the "No's" have it. If we didn't have children, I'd be nervous about flying ... but not NEARLY to the extent that I am, as a mom. Being a parent really changes your perspective on things. Simple five-day business trips, included.


  1. sarah scarborough6/13/06, 9:30 AM

    I know how to find Will Brown.


  2. Jenna-
    I know this is kind of a long comment but it's necessary:

    Airplane Disasters and Plane Crash Statistics
    The truth about flying safety
    The majority of the people who step onto a commercial airliner have no knowledge of how this big capsule with wings can get off the ground. Naturally their greatest concern (especially for the fearful flyer) is "what if something goes wrong and we are 33,000 feet off the ground?"

    Learn more about the first step: take-off and getting off the ground safely. Learn more about air turbulence and the processes that create it. Consider the statistics below:

    Probability of being killed in an airplane accident vs. other causes of death.
    Your chances of being involved in an aircraft accident are about 1 in 11 million. On the other hand, your chances of being killed in an automobile accident are 1 in 5000. Statistically, you are at far greater risk driving to the airport than getting on an airplane. However, the perception is that you have more control over your fate when you are in your car than as a passenger. Experience shows otherwise considering that over 50,000 people are killed on the highways every year.

    Negative bias
    Media coverage would suggest that such events happen daily. Studies have shown one would have to fly once a day every day for over 15,000 years in order to statistically be involved in an aircraft accident! Yet stories of aircraft accidents are between 150 to 200 times more likely to receive front-page coverage than other more common causes of death. Consequently, fearful flyers develop a negative bias toward flying. That is, they will bias their perception to notice those events and experiences that support their fears. Those fears become validated by the continual bombardment of information related to airline safety following an accident.

    The Truth
    Airplane disasters and plane crash statistics make for more dramatic, "eye-catching" newsprint. Not nearly enough information is printed on aircraft safety and because disasters seem to be more newsworthy to the public, the media is naturally attracted to the financially acceptable print and naturally it is LARGE PRINT in these cases.
    Good Luck and have fun in new Mexico!

  3. Finally, I get a few minutes to read the blog and this is what I got!!
    Tears are flowing with a smile becasue I have heard this one so many times... I guess I forgot to tell you -- Your southren cousins took care of "Will" years ago and well, let's just say he never saw the "predictions" he GOT! :-)

    I know your serious but thanks for the laugh -- I needed it.

    Much Love, M

    PS... this proves another argument for Catholism -- you'll get a few saints flying with you and praying for your safety. :-)

  4. Jen,

    I should have never read this post. It just increased my anxiety 100X. I am so scared when it comes to flying. I haven't been on an airplane for about 2 years (during pregnancy and now nursing) because I can't take the necessary amount of valium to take the edge off. I am always one for either not going or driving. I'd rather drive for a week if it means not flying.

    No disrespect to geologychick, but none of those statistics help. I would MUCH RATHER die in an auto accident than an airplane accident (not that I want to die at all). Could you bring the kids & Charlie (and your mom for that matter)? That way you'll all be together (I know that is silly, but I always think "at least we'll die together").

    I'm such a freak I've even done hypnosis and other things to help this fear.

    Anyway, as for Will's premonition, you have a few years to think about if you'll fly when you are 38.

    As for leaving the kids, that would be so so so so so difficult. If you do go, I hope you can manage to have some fun!


  5. Charlie needs a blog. If I was him, I'd be saying, "I have this horrible fear that my wife might be leaving me with the 3 kids for 5 days..."