Five states. Six cities in China. Two cities in Thailand. Poland. Germany; all of the places I’ve stepped foot during my pregnancy. In hindsight, I often wonder how I was able to do it. It was such a turn of events, as my husband and I are newlyweds, just getting our feet wet in the marriage game. I remember the day he asked me to be his wife. It wasn’t your typical down on one knee proposal…
Before I proceed, let’s backtrack. By career, my husband is an International American Football Coach. He’s coached football on just about every continent with the exception of Antarctica and Australia. When he and I met, I was teaching English Literature at an International School in Cairo. Unlike him, Cairo was my first experience living abroad, so I had no plans to leave. I was rooted there, with the intention of creating a life for myself, abroad.
When he and I began dating, it was a joy to have the company of someone like-minded, of color, who lived in the vicinity. I remember the day our situation got serious – I actually laughed at him. His proposal wasn’t specifically of marriage – he actually handed me a stack of papers that were written in half Mandarin, half English, and told me it was a gift from him to me. His next contract was in China, and he was inviting me along. As I looked at him crazily, with a major side eye, he already knew that I was not going to follow any man anywhere as his “girlfriend.” So, this stack of VISA papers was for the long haul. It took me some time, but once I realized that I would get the opportunity to see the world, with a man who enjoyed living it and who I enjoyed being with, I was all in!
As we prepared for the upcoming Fall, we hadn’t anticipated that we’d be welcomed with another gift to bring along. Although our original plan was to wait a full year, travel together, and then try to have a baby, the Lord had other plans in mind. Our focus had shifted from a traveling duo to a traveling trio. I had many friends and family members who were not comfortable with me traveling to China. In their minds, I needed to be home with family and friends. They also projected the fears of me not being able to see a viable doctor, in order to get my regular prenatal check-ups. But, there was no way I was staying. I was setting out to enjoy life with the man that I’d created life with.
Prior to my departure, I visited the doctor and received a clean bill of health for both my baby and I – not specifically with regard to travel, but overall. I never focused on others’ perceptions or negative ideologies towards accompanying my husband to China. I have always been a wanderlust, and was looking forward to the adventure. My husband departed almost two weeks before me, which left me to have to travel solo. The first stop was Beijing, and I was ecstatic. We toured 6 different cities in China for a week each. But, because I was not hired by the league that employed my husband, I was usually flying to each city and getting to the hotels solo. Another set of adventures for me was how I saw it. Throughout the tour, we went to Dalian, Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Shanghai, and Qingdao.
During my travels, I did visit doctors. They do exist outside of the United States, and oftentimes, have better service, depending on where you are. Each time I flew, I was never questioned about my pregnancy and whether or not I should fly. I was living life, as I believed it should be lived. When women are pregnant, society tends to stick us in a box, where we are only “allowed” to do “certain” things. And although pregnancy can be tedious, it is not a hinderance – and I was, and am, determined to live life as such.
Upon leaving China, my husband and I decided to take our talents to Thailand for vacation. It
was there that I rode jet ski’s, and accompanied my husband on the back of our motorized scooter to explore the city of Pattaya. I was never fearful of doing things that I would have normally done had I not been pregnant. Throughout my pregnancy, I wanted to create a very positive experience for myself. I had always been told that how you feel and how you deal with those feelings teaches your child coping mechanisms, so I used traveling during my pregnancy as fortitude to be at peace and happy in order to give my child the same experience in the womb. Prior to leaving Thailand, we visited Bangkok, where we did more exploring and living on our terms.
We headed back to the states to visit family before another, “Bon Voyage” to Szczecin, Poland. Imagine the look of horror on people’s’ faces as we told them that we would be having the baby in Poland. I was 36 weeks when I boarded our flight. Once again, I was open to the journey ahead of us, and not focused on all of the fears that others wanted to project. We also took the opportunity to explore parts of Berlin, Germany, due to its 2-hour closeness in proximity of where we are staying in Poland. It was this trip that I began slowing down and realized that my exploration would be on halt until after the baby was born.
I don’t believe that every woman will have the same experience or means to travel as I, but, I truly believe that through my experience of traveling while pregnant, I was living my best self. Not only for me, but for our baby. I implore all women to find your best self during that time. If international travel is out of the question, book yourself a getaway in another state. Plan a night out with the girls, or just book a nice Noirbnb in your area where you can pamper yourself once a month. Remember, traveling is truly a means of rejuvenation. You are not escaping, but revamping!Tags:international travel, living your best life, user story