We are back from Aruba. Baby girl has neared viability at 23 weeks. She is kicking like crazy, which I am enjoying a lot. Nothing like unexpected reassurance throughout the day (and night)! My uterus is just about up to my belly button and depending on which way I move and lay down, it forms a giant lopsided egg. I am imagining that in about two weeks my stomach chub will no longer accommodate this baby without some stretching. I think I gained four pounds while on vacation.
If you are unfamiliar with Aruba, it is a desert island off the coast of Venezuela. It has a windward side to the north that features heavy surf and is largely uninhabited and a leeward side where the islanders live and all the tourist features are offered. Any pictures of white sand and calm, cerulean waters would be taken on the leeward, or southwestern, side. Aruba is your place to be if you are interested in kite surfing or wind surfing, as it features constant wind and reliably sunny weather at 86 degrees or so. The island also offers many other adventurous opportunities, such as snorkeling, “snuba” (a cute cross between SCUBA and snorkeling, featuring deeper water site seeing while wearing a helmet and attached to a boat, rather than wearing your own tank), ATV and jeep tours, cycling, and other fun stuff that you can’t do if you are pregnant. I did snorkel, but did not dive further than 2-3 feet a couple of times.
I typically stay off of the beaten path on my trips. I’ve stayed in a tree house, alone, sans electricity, on top of a mountain in Dominica; I’ve camped on St. John; and more recently, have done private rentals of houses. This is all far more complicated than just getting a hotel—there’s more risk involved and there is less touristy luxury, which I have shunned. However, I think getting older and particularly thinking of vacationing with a child (queue advanced planning where we can afford all of this); we’re going to have to stay on the beaten path, maybe the all inclusive beaten path. This might help with the relaxation part of vacationing!
Unfortunately, going to the Caribbean during this Zika outbreak did really affect me. I had spoken with my doctor, educated myself, planned on wearing bug spray, and would hope for the best. The reality was that I ended up in a house that was supposed to offer mosquito nets for the bed. It did not. I ended up with 20+ bites in my first two nights until I wizened up and kept the bedroom door closed during the day as well as the night (many Aruban houses do not have screens on the windows, which is unfortunate, as the temperature can only be described as delicious at night). I kept myself together for most of the trip and repeated my mantras of: There is no known Zika in Aruba; you aren’t around any people; these aren’t the same mosquitoes as carry the virus (the culprits are black with white spots and these were little brown guys); etc. By the end of the week, with home in sight, I questioned how I could ever have taken the risk. But now? I’m back to regular anxiety level and if something bad did happen to our baby, we will love her and care for her all the same. Of note, the CDC is not offering testing unless you have been to an exposed area, according to my high risk doc.
Some other interesting changes have been happening. We went to a donkey sanctuary in Aruba, where injured donkeys go and are cared for. They were supposedly all very friendly to people (not necessarily to each other) and would try and come over to you. I’m not sure if it is because I have been kicked, bitten, stepped on, and thrown by horses, but I just couldn’t go near them. I scratched a head or two, but could imagine somehow getting kicked in the stomach and we left there fairly quickly. It seemed to be a biological response which overrode my natural curiosity and desire for a new experience. Also, both while snorkeling and more recently at yoga, my body is not allowing me to move like I normally would. The stretching associated with swimming and side bends is getting more and more difficult and I think that I’ll have to move to prenatal yoga soon enough. I don’t think there are many prenatal classes in my area and it is difficult for me to motivate myself with videos, particularly as prenatal yoga is not very challenging. I am also finding that my not very good posture is getting worse with the tightness in the belly.
That’s all for this week. I haven’t made any progress on picking out birthing classes, which I am a little concerned about, although I did read about 30 natural birth stories in one of Ina May’s books. The next Bradley Class won’t start for another 6 or more weeks, putting me at about 30-36 weeks start to finish. That’s not a lot of time for practice. All in all, I’m keeping the faith and staying positive, and enjoying getting back to regular life. I’m also realizing that I need to make arrangements for an actual baby! I think I might reward myself at 24w with a crib!