It was amazing! I'm so glad we bit the bullet and did it. The boys turned out to be amazing little travelers and it was such an empowering experience for me as well.
We were delayed on the outbound as it decided to snow in NYC that morning, so a 6.5 hour trip turned into 7.5. Urgh! However, I would say we had a total of 10 minutes crying from each baby for the ENTIRE trip. No joke! They were awesome and charmed everyone around them (well, almost everyone--some people are simply baby haters).
The flight was fully booked, but we were lucky to each sit by a nice lady who didn't mind being touched by a baby (other people's seatbelts are so much fun!).
Snacks were eaten, milk* was drank, magazines were destroyed and thrown about, toys were played with, books were read, buttons were pushed, naps were taken in Ergos, diapers were changed on the back of a dirty toilet (with a blanket spread over) as there were no changing tables in ANY of the airline bathrooms, aisles were paced and we were all just fine.
They didn't lose it until we had to install the car seats in the rental mini van and figure out how to arrange all the luggage and the monster double stroller.
Tired, hungry and spent--plus it was bedtime on the East Coast--there was much crying. But once we popped them in the seats and drove out, they fell asleep and had a nice nap.
One thing we did NOT anticipate was the fear of the hotel room. They've been to other people's houses and many different places, but they were so scared. I felt like the worst mother as the door kept opening and closing while Chicken unloaded the car and at that moment thought, "we should never leave home again". It was short lived and they did get over it, but the combo aircon/heater freaked them out as well. Every time the fan would go on, they would shriek and cling to me. So sad. Again, short lived, but at the moment....
These are the things you don't think about as 'problems'!
I managed to re-arrange the living room (we booked a Jr. suite here) so that it fit 2 pack-n-play cribs (brand new and hotel provided for free), the double stroller and had them remove a table with a glass top.
Then, I got out my Lysol wipes and cleaned things and after that my duct tape (Gorilla tape) and taped down cords, outlets, drawers that opened, etc.
We had a couch that I could comfortably breast feed them on, a fridge and when I requested use of their microwave, they simply brought one to my room for free! The only thing I didn't have were high chairs. I had bought these travel high chairs, but they didn't fit the chairs in the room so I was SOL. Feeding the boys turned out to be my BIGGEST challenge of the entire week. Chasing around two crawddlers in a hotel room offering morsels of food or spoonfuls of yogurt is chaotic and MESSY!
We managed to put them to bed on California time...and in theory they should wake up on California time, right? Three hour time difference problem solved! Um...NO. They woke up on NYC time every single stinking morning! Every night they went to bed on CA time...didn't matter. So, we simply had to adjust our sleeping time as well. We were in bed by 8:30 or 9:30pm every night as the boys (or at least one of them) were up anywhere between 4:30-5:30.
It made for a long day, but I simply doubled up on caffeine and kept on going! At home the boys only take one nap now, but in SF they were back on their old nap schedule.
We did one nap in the morning and then a stroller nap in the afternoon. It all worked out very well.
They slept great in the pack n plays both at night and for naps. We would do a bit more soothing than at home and then leave the room (and go to the bedroom) just like we do at home.
I loved the neighborhood we stayed in: Cow Hollow/The Marina. It was pretty residential and had nice sidewalks, stores, cafes, grocery and 2 wonderful toddler friendly parks. This one was my fave. The parks were one of the reasons I picked the hotel/neighborhood. I wanted to make sure we had something close by to do every day and it was perfect.
The hills! Wow, it was tough pushing a double stroller with two 20 lb boys and a 10 lb diaper bag up those hills. Damn. If you've got a baby in SF, there is no reason to ever go to the gym! My hands and wrists even hurt from gripping the stroller so hard!
The flight back was a bit shorter (5 hours) and more eventful. Grunter had a hard time falling asleep and there was about an hour combined total of fussing /crying on the plane. But, luck was on our side. The flight attendants were super nice and kid-friendly, I ended up with the whole row (3 seats to myself and Whoop Whoop) and Chicken had 2 seats for herself and Grunter. The other passenger was a guy with a one year old who was traveling to India soon so he was nice and taking notes! Whoop Whoop was a rock star and I was able to happily nurse him with ease on this flight much to his liking. He only fell asleep one hour before we landed.
We managed to transfer them both sleeping from the Ergo to the stroller and then while waiting for the luggage W2 woke up but happily sat in the stroller taking in the midnight airport crowd while Grunter slept. Grunter was again transferred from stroller to car seat--still asleep!-- and we were on our way home. We had a car service with a van pick us up both ways and they waited while Chicken installed car seats, etc.
The boys got a little second wind when they got home at 1am and saw all their toys, slept until almost 8am the next morning, went to bed on NY time that night and one day later...were back on schedule!
All in all, a LOT of work, but we had a great time, did loads of fun things and it was an amazing travel experience. We are super charged now knowing that it's just going to get easier each time we do it!
I will post later with 'what we did' and some photos. But I know a lot of you were wondering about specific logistics, etc.
If you have any more questions that I didn't cover--ask away and I'll address them.
*Only breast milk is allowed through security. So....fill up those sippy/straw cups and/or bottles and tell security it's breast milk. Or, not. But if you don't you'll have a lot of milk to find and buy in the terminal and it won't be organic whole milk that's for sure. Do NOT count on the airline to give you milk!