My midwife gave me the go-ahead.
My wise mother encouraged me.
I took the leap and bought a ticket from San Franciso to Milan and Zurich so I could be with my husband while he worked abroad for a week.
To be honest, I was pretty nervous about traveling while 33 weeks pregnant. I've gained a healthy 30 pounds, and I'm not the agile sprite I was 8.5 months ago. I mean, as far as pregnancy complaints go, I'm pretty lucky. I don't get leg cramps or heartburn, I'm sleeping pretty well, and my aches and pains are mild. But I still don't feel entirely like myself, and I certainly don't have the boundless energy I used to have!
But, hey. Why not go? Why not treat my body like she is now, as opposed to who I was a year ago? I'd nap when I needed to. We'd take short walks, as opposed to ten hour hikes in the mountains. We'd look at expensive Milanese baby fashion and eat gelato and spend time together before our little warrior comes.
If I didn't go, I knew I'd regret it.
I went on the trip with the intention to bond with my husband, to celebrate our time together with just the two of us. To enjoy traveling together, and to savor these last few moments without our special son.
I thought I'd have a great time, but I never expected to gain an entirely new appreciation for my body.
I could take a thirteen hour flight, recover quickly from jet-lag, and still support a growing 5+ pound baby. I could walk for a few hours on my feet, and keep going the next day. I could climb on top of a brilliant Cathedral, and I could take a train around the Alps by myself to little towns in Switzerland.
By the end of the trip, I felt stronger than when I left. Maybe its walking on all the cobblestones. But maybe it was doing something I thought I couldn't do. Or that people told me I was crazy to do. Of course the support hose and belly band and flower essences certainly helped.
But I know I'll remember this feeling during the birth.
I can do it.
I have a new found appreciation for the physical body and the amazing things it can do. How it can really sustain us, when we believe in it.
Sometimes pregnancy just feels like one big embodiment lesson. Think you're living in your body? Try some hemmorhoids. Or leg cramps. Or morning sickness. Or a baby's foot in your rib. Or who knows what.
But I'm grateful for the descent into the physical. For all the grounding that comes along with generating another human life. And for my new appreciation for the physical body, and her ability to house the spirit of both me and this miracle boy.
For the curious, here are some things that worked really well for me while traveling.
Note: I'm not a doctor; these are simply things that made my trip more comfortable and enjoyable!
For the Plane
- Flower Essences: Travel Essence from Bush Essences was awesome. I don't think I'll ever travel without it now! Rescue Remedy is also a great all-purpose blend for travel.
- Sleep Tools: Sleep mask and noise-canceling headphones. These are travel basics, but while pregnant, comfort and sleep is so, so important! Noise-canceling headphones can be pricey, so earplugs work too.
- Hypnobirth Tracks: If I wasn't sleeping or getting up to pee, I was listening to the amazing hypnobirth program by Rachel Yellin. This really helped me relax, and it kept me in constant contact with the energy and wellbeing of my baby. It was also a good opportunity for me to practice and prepare for birth!
- Swelling Control: Compression socks and compression hose helped with the swelling on the plane. I also drank Pregnancy Tea from Traditional Medicinals. Normally I drink herbal infusions of nettle or red-raspberry leaf, but the pre-packaged tea is really great for traveling.
- Belly band! Every day, I wore my belly band. This was so helpful for preventing back aches.
- Naps. While planning our days, we would always plan time for at least an hour nap in the afternoon. This kept me from feeling overwhelmed, and also kept me feeling well-rested. It can be hard to nap when you want to go eat gelato or check out the mountains, but this really supported the entire journey.
- New clothes. I wore a new outfit. At 8.5 months pregnant, it doesn't necessarily make sense to buy new clothes. But I was going to Milan, and I wanted to look good. Having something new to wear really made appreciate my body more, so I felt less like an unfashionable orangutan.
- Salt baths. Our hotel in Zurich had a bath tub, so I'd take warm baths with epsom salts and lavender essential oil at the end of the day. This really helped with any soreness from walking around exploring. I went to the local health food store and was able to buy some salt there, because it is waaaayyy too impractical to travel around with pounds of salt in your suitcase ;-)
- Baby Talk. I talked to my baby incessantly. Even though he's still inside me, his consciousness is so present. I wanted him to really understand what was going on. "Baby, this is a lake with swans and a view of the Alps!" or "Baby, we're now getting on a long airplane flight." I'm pretty sure letting him know what was going on helped the both of us out energetically.
- Constant Communication. I'm really proud of the way my husband and I communicate. During the trip, we'd be in constant diaglogue about what my body was needing. As long as I was honest with myself, and was therefore honest with him, everything worked out really well. In hindsight, this seems like great preparation for birth and beyond.
- I had my midwife write a letter saying I was fit for travel. This came in very handy when Turkish Airlines almost didn't let me fly. (And on that note, I will never again fly Turkish airlines while pregnant. Their website says you can fly between 27-35 weeks with a doctor's note, but it turns out that if you're after 27 weeks, they are going to give you a hard time. This was by far the most stressful part of traveling!)
So even though it took way more preparation than my normal travel, it was totally worth it.
I'm so glad I said yes.
And for now, I'm also grateful to be staying put until this wonderful being makes his way into the world. And I'll eagerly await the day when we can take him on a plane, on my lap instead of in my belly.