How “Leaving on a Jet Plane” Helped Me Heal a Wound I Didn’t Know I Had

Singing has never been my forte; but the song came to me when I needed it most

Gina Denny
7 min readDec 13, 2021


In the summer of 2006, I was a new mom and everything had been going perfectly.

Image © Gina Denny, 2006


As perfectly as new motherhood ever goes, anyway. My labor had been both tortuous and torturous, but that’s a story for another day (or four days, as my labor lasted). My physical recovery had been slow but steady. But my baby slept through the night for the first time at six weeks and never looked back. Breastfeeding had been a disaster, but he was growing and thriving on formula, and I had a good rhythm working mostly from home. Everything was going great.

Then he started teething.

Four teeth erupted within five days of each other. He was inconsolable. Round-the-clock screaming, flailing, no amount of acetaminophen or ibuprofen would help. I put the stuff on his gums, I gave him the crunchy toast things, icy rings, gummy-toy-things… nothing helped.

On something like day nine, I thought I was going to lose my mind. Neither of us had slept, I was falling behind in my work, and the house was an utter disaster, since I’d spent every moment trying to comfort a baby who was also losing his mind.

I had read in a baby book that a mother’s voice can be stronger than medicine to many infants, so I decided to give it a try.

As I stood there, rocking a screaming baby, with less than four hours of sleep for either of us in the last three days, I forgot every song I ever knew.

Seriously. I couldn’t think of any songs. None. They all had flown out of my brain. I was a band kid, obsessed with musical theater, music education major for two years in college, with a collection of nearly 1,000 CDs (this was 2006; only kids had iPods, the rest of us still had multi-disc changers), and I couldn’t think of one single song to sing.

Growing up, my family took road trips. From Phoenix to Milwaukee and back, every couple years. In the early years, when my sisters and I were small, we all fit into one Toyota Corolla. That Toyota Corolla didn’t have air conditioning and it didn’t have a…



Gina Denny

B.S. Business/Human Resources M.S. in Child Development/Education. Associate editor for Touchpoint Press. Erstwhile classroom music teacher.