(Here’s Travelling & Pregnant: Part One, in case you missed it)
Tall and I flew into Rio de Janeiro when I was 17 weeks pregnant, and flew out of Santiago at 25 weeks, having travelled across, up, down and back through Brazil, Uruguay, Argentina and Chile. I’d made my decision: with a few tweaks to our already-loose itinerary, and as long as I was sensible and safe, I saw no reason why we shouldn’t take our trip.
We stayed in some fairly dodgy hostels, and some amazing 5-star hotels. We took our time, moving from place to place when we were ready. Tall carried seven-and-a-half weeks in his pack, while all I carried was our netbook and important documents. I was escorted to the front of immigration queues and offered seats on trains and buses by elderly people who wouldn’t take no for an answer. Strangers’ faces lit up at the sight of my growing belly, and they were desperate to know, “un niño o una niña?” People rubbed my belly without asking and I didn’t mind.
I struggled with not being able to eat salads; I craved that crisp crunch of iceberg lettuce. I refused to eat the steak so extolled in Argentina – if I couldn’t have it medium rare, I wouldn’t have it at all. We spent 2 days in Bariloche, and I ate pumpkin soup at every meal. I forgot to ask for my water with no ice in Rio, and drank it anyway because I was so parched. But I didn’t get sick, and Tiny kept up the in-utero acrobatics.
Tall got to swim with sea lions. He got to go white water rafting and climbed an active volcano – I had to be content with sitting in the sun, reading. But I got to see a southern right whale swim right under our boat and watch her calf play with another – a sight rarely seen. I stood less than a metre from Magellan penguins and could have reached out to touch newly-hatched chicks. I sat in parks and visited galleries and museums and shopped and spoke halting Spanish to people who laughed and thanked me for trying. And Tiny danced merrily inside me.
There were some long and uncomfortable bus rides – you can’t travel in South America and avoid them. I tripped over absolutely nothing in Santiago and have specks of Chilean dirt healed into the palms of my hands from adopting a belly-protective fall. I walked into a bus sign post and moments later had a tree branch fall on my head. I got hot and cranky. I got sick of wearing the same pair of maternity shorts day after day, and got annoyed at the clothes that no longer fit taunting me from the bottom of the pack. I got bitten by mosquitoes, despite using a pregnancy-safe repellent. But I didn’t get sick, and I didn’t do anything stupid (okay, apart from walking into the sign post), and Tiny kept kicking and dancing and flipping upside down.
We chose to take this trip, fully informed of the possible risks to our unborn child. We’re smart, and we knew we couldn’t travel the way we normally would, but we were prepared to give it a go. I am incredibly glad we did. We had an utterly amazing time on our last trip together without children, and we created an incredible story to tell Tiny about before he was born.
*Tall’s Christmas present from me last year – personalised canvas from NZ Canvas Lounge