Mothers who drug their babies on flights
From Times Online
September 24, 2007
As a mother of baby twins with a four-year-old son, I was guilty of dosing my child up for travel, and was surprised at quite how easy it was to get a doctor’s prescription. So many tired parents of twins have done the same in the past – given their babies a spoonful of “medicine” to keep him or her sleeping when they most needed it.
First, let’s make one thing clear. Mothers of twins are mothers in extremis, always looking for ways to cope with the constant pressure of two or more small children demanding the same thing at the same time. The behaviour of twin mothers, who generally have less time and less sleep, may not mimic that of singleton parents. Stress and sleep deprivation can turn quite ordinary people into angry monsters, so isn’t the occasional spoonful of something to knock the little darlings out worth it just once in a while?
We were flying with my elder child only, so, on the day of the flight, I gave him a dose before boarding, my heart thumping. My husband and I sat back in our seats, and waited for peace to descend. It never came. Instead, our normally inquisitive four-year-old became unusually alert - throwing crayons around, snapping books shut, emptying raisin cartons on our laps and switching lights and blowers on above our heads. We waited for the sedative to take effect, as he discovered the bouncy trampoline qualities of the seat tables, annoying everyone around us. His energy refused to dwindle as the hours wore on.
When the stewardess announced there would be an unscheduled stop in JFK to refuel, adding another two hours to our journey inside the plane, I began to feel claustrophobic. It was now approaching midnight at home, he had normally been asleep for five hours by now, but still he wasn’t tired.
As my husband and I passed him backwards and forwards between us like a basketball, we realised that our plan to drug him had backfired. The small contra-indication saying “may cause agitation and insomnia” had been read too quickly – and never mentioned by the doctor who gave the prescription.
We never read the small print. And boy did we pay the price. After 12 hours on the plane, with no sleep for any of us, we reached our destination a complete wreck. It was, and still is, the worst flight in my living memory, and we had only ourselves to blame.