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Travelling when pregnant

Travelling when pregnant
Being pregnant in Thailand was nowhere near as challenging as I had anticipated it was going to be. Sure, I ended up in fainting at the breakfast buffet and on a drip in hospital, but still, nowhere near as bad as I had feared.
For the first fortnight we were there, I actually felt better than I had done in weeks. I am uncertain whether it was due to where I was at with the pregnancy – nearing the end of the first trimester – or due to the food or relaxing or, quite possibly, a combination of all of those factors. Oddly enough, I think that a lot of it had to do with the fact that most of my food choices were limited and often, made for me. When I was in Sydney, trying to prepare meals and decide what I felt like eating led to deep feelings of nausea. I didn’t know what I felt like eating until just before I ate it, so, not having to prepare my meals took that feeling away completely.

A lot of rice and noodles and banana pancakes were also involved, so that was a huge plus for me too. Carbs and sugar. Brilliant.

I had also feared that being around a whole group of people who were constantly drinking was going to be really difficult, and just before we flew out, I did have a bit of a moment where I was afraid that I was going to be left out of a lot of the celebrations due to that fact.

The reality, of course, was not that at all.

I drank my body weight in virgin Pina Coladas and coconut slushy shake things, I woke up every day fresh and without a hangover and not surprisingly, I was not left out of anything. I really did think that it was going to be a challenge as all Pete and I had spoken about leading up to the trip was drinking cocktails by the pool, on the beach, in bed, etc. but I didn’t miss alcohol at all. Not only have I not missed it, I haven’t felt like it. Well, okay, there was ONE instance in Thailand.. we were all up at the bar at Kata Rocks, watching the sun set over the ocean and Pete decided to buy himself an Elijah Craig whiskey.. I wanted.

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So, to make up for it, I have demanded that that be my birth present. In the delivery room I would like a bottle of Elijah Craig and a straw.

I also realised a pattern that my body has been going through, something which I am sure will be subject to change (just like every pregnant woman before me has said, as soon as you think you have figured it out, it will all change). There are about three days each week where Bubba is doing his growing because those three days see me being almost completely incapable of doing any kid of cardiovascular activity including being able to breath steadily while I walk. So, on those days I kick back when I can, sleep when I can (never) and remind myself that I am growing one of the world’s most complex creatures right inside my belly.

Another happy discovery whilst in Thailand was the complete joy of listening to my body and what it needed. Just before Thailand, still in the deep throws of the first trimester (and sitting in front of a computer with internet all day, every day) I was conducting a lot of research. I researched everything I could think of about pregnancy and what to expect, not to adhere to the advice or recommendations, but simply due to my curiosity. Don’t eat sushi, always make sure your dental hygiene is a-grade (shouldn’t that be for even when one isn’t pregnant as well?), don’t eat cheese, make sure you take this supplement and that supplement and do all the exercise, etc. etc. Pregnancy, if a woman wants it to be, can be completely controlled and determined by the advice and stories and experiences of all those that preceded her. And, working in hospitality for as long as I did, more often than not, women do let outside resources dictate what is possibly the most intimate and personal experience one human can have.

In Thailand, we didn’t have 3G, we were far too busy relaxing and eating all the food on the island of Phuket and I did not research anything about the stage of pregnancy that I was at (except checking what size fruit bubba was that week – a strawberry, then a lime). Instead, I tried to stay as ‘in my body’ as I could even though I hate that phrase more than life itself. When I was tired, I rested. When I overheated, I swam. When I was emotional, I listened to Mumford and Sons and cried. When I was hungry, I ate pad thai and banana pancakes. And in every other moment, I looked and watched my body change shape and grow with each day and often woke up with Man’s hand resting on my belly.

No amount of research will ever replace personal experience. Ladies, if you take anything away from this post, besides my usual wit and clever turn of phrase, please, I implore you to stop typing symptoms into google and step outside for a walk with your belly and your bubba. Feel yourself get tired and fatigued – feel it and celebrate it because I know now that when I am at my most exhausted it is when our healthy, beautiful baby is using up all of my glorious energy to do a big ol’ chunk of growing. Those shitty feelings of headaches and nausea and complete overwhelm are in fact the most important ones, because they can serve as a reminder than you have a tiny human developing within you.

We were nearing the end of our time in Thailand when, all of a sudden one night sitting across from Pete and his brother at dinner, I felt incredibly sick. I knew that it had nothing to do with the pregnancy, it was far too severe. I took myself for a walk along the beach with my hands behind my head and tried to breathe deeply. I didn’t get very far before I had to sit on the beach, completely incapable of lifting my head let alone signalling back to the restaurant for Pete’s help. I felt like absolute ratshit. Luckily it didn’t take long for him to come and find me, but by that stage I was almost completely beside myself in pain. He doubled back to the table to get our things, propped me up and helped me walk back towards our room. The searing pain in my stomach was excruciating and we had to stop constantly because every step was agonising, and I was using the rest of my energy to not vomit. Once we finally got back to the room, all I wanted to do was throw up, but it wouldn’t come. Instead, the pain churned in my belly and made me increasingly scared and panicked for both myself and Bubba. It isn’t often that I cry or scream in pain, but on our bed, I writhed and grabbed at the sheets and cried and screamed from the pain. It felt like my stomach was splitting into fragments.

After a couple of hours, I was granted relief (or so I thought) – I managed to vomit and I felt a lot better. I thought that that was it, I thought I would be able to lie down and fall asleep and let my body feel. In fact, that was only the beginning of what was the most violent illness that he or I have ever had (yep – Pete got it too, the day before we flew home). I couldn’t stop vomiting. And even when there was nothing left, my body kept trying to throw up. I was up all night, the pain in my stomach still very much there, punctuated only by hideously excruciating bouts of dry-reaching. All night.

The following day I stayed in bed. I felt okay – but I couldn’t do anything except drink my disgusting Sprite with sea-salt combination and do my best to rest.

The next morning, I felt bloody brilliant. Yep. I was hungry. My appetite was back and I had my energy back. Man took me to the buffet. I noticed something was wrong when, on the one minute walk to the buffet, every single ounce of my energy was usurped and I felt drained. I ate two pieces of plain toast and managed to say to Pete, “I’m going to faint,” before I did, in fact, faint. I came to, and then fainted again. And again. Pete called his brother as he needed to get me to hospital. In my moments of consciousness, all I could think about was how worried I was for Bubba. We weren’t at the twelve week mark yet and something felt very, very wrong. I was panicked. I was wheeled (rather comically) in a wheelchair to Shari’s step-mother’s car and she took me to hospital.

Long story short – I was in hospital for about eight hours with a bacterial infection that had reached my blood. My blood pressure was lower than it had ever been before at 88 over 40, and I was severely dehydrated. I was on a drip, given a lot of medications – all suitable for Bubba – and I also had an ultrasound where we saw Bubba and heard his still very strong heartbeat. Relief flooded through me.

When we arrived back to the hotel, Pete got it. The very same series of events were repeated that night.

In hindsight, it was as awful as it sounds. I also realised how lucky I have been so far during this pregnancy. So many women have terrible morning sickness – granted, I had terrible morning nausea that stretched well into the afternoon, but after having vomited whilst being pregnant, I really am grateful. Even though you know deep down that everything is going to be okay, you can’t help but worry frantically whether all the clenching of muscles and energy of being sick is going to hurt your baby. Or maybe that is just me. Either way, I am thankful for my health thus far.

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All in all, travelling while pregnant was pretty easy. However, I will leave you with these suggestions:

  • Definitely pack Panadol, because your lower back will start to hurt after about two hours on the plane
  • Purchase a neck pillow for the flight
  • Drink ALL the water, and if you are going to a place like Thailand where the tap water is not drinkable, always make sure you have at least three giant bottles of water handy
  • Pack different size of clothes if you are away for more than a week. By the end of our trip, I only had one dress I could fit into and the rest of my luggage was completely irrelevant and unusable
  • I learned that charcoal tablets are suitable for pregnant women, and are a natural medicine to settle stomach pains and nausea
  • Hand hygiene is king, if I had my time in Thailand again (please god, no) I would have packed or purchased a bottle of Dettol hand-sanitizer as I am sure that that is how the infection spread
  • Most bars will make you a virgin version of any cocktail so you can still feel like you are a part of festivities without the risk of a hangover!
  • Get travel insurance

As always, every single woman (and their partners) will have a very different pregnancy experience, so much of what I said may be completely irrelevant (though I hope it was still entertaining). All I know is that, today I am fourteen weeks and I still have no idea what I am doing but what I do have are my own experiences and a platform to share them on. So if you are travelling while pregnant, don’t worry yourself too much. If I can go to Thailand, eat the food (not street food, I’m not an idiot), end up in hospital and still be alright, then you will be too.

Sorry if that last bit sounded preachy. It totally did, didn’t it? Sorry.



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