I checked another item off of the to do list yesterday. Charlie went on her first train trip. Despite all of the preparation, I was a bit nervous. However, things worked out as they generally do.
We boarded the train early in the morning. I selected a seat in the very front of a car so as few people as possible would be disturbed if Charlie acted up. The umbrella stroller clanked as I tossed it in the overhead compartment and we sat down. I held my breath and hoped the seat next to me would be occupied by a baby friendly fellow passenger. Relief washed over me when another family with a child filled in the surrounding seats.
Initially, I was concerned about Charlie’s sensory issues. Fortunately, I had no more difficulty than any other parent traveling with a small child. Overall, Charlie seemed to enjoy the ride. Admittedly, the cheese and crackers from the Cafe Car kept her entertained for the majority of the way.
Once we arrived in Philadelphia, I worked to move quickly so we would not hold up the bustle of the other passengers. We were traveling light, but I looked like a pack mule as we headed up the stairs into the station. A friendly voice offered, “Do you need a hand?” It came from a man dressed neatly in a business suit. He smiled and said, “I remember those days.” I declined his offer but the acknowledgement did boost my morale.
We had a lovely day in Philadelphia. Before I knew it, it was time to come home.
By that time of day, Charlie was tired and cranky. She fussed while we stood in line for the platform. Concerned, I said, “Don’t worry, we won’t sit near any of you on the train.” to the people in line with us. They laughed and made incredibly kind remarks such as, “It won’t bother me.” or the hopeful “Maybe, she will fall asleep once the train gets going.”
On the train, Charlie munched silently on a few crackers before falling in to a deep sleep. With Charlie asleep in my lap, I glanced across the aisle and saw another passenger attempting to watch the opening ceremony of the Olympics. It reminded of the the night I watched the opening ceremony of the summer Olympics with Charlie during her third month in the NICU. That was almost two years ago but it feels like it was much longer ago.
Our station was the last stop for the train that evening. Charlie and I stayed seated as we let the other passengers file out ahead of us. A considerate man retrieved the stroller from the overhead compartment without being asked. One of the passengers from Philly leaned into to Charlie and said, “You did so well!” as she walked passed. I breathed a sigh of relief. We had made it.
There are many things I enjoy while traveling by train. I like the scenery, the legroom, the sleeper car option, the dining car, the ability to move around as needed, the wifi, and the power outlets at each seat. However, I think my favorite thing about this journey was the people. Ultimately, Charlie’s first train journey was a success because of them.