So, we're home, finally, and with two full days to recuperate before going back to work. Well, ok, Corey gets two days to recuperate, and I have to get back to work today, but whatever we still get to take it slow and hang out a bit without being in the car, so we're calling it a weekend.
The question you're all probably dying to have answered is: how did a two week road trip in the third trimester of pregnancy actually go?
The answer: pretty well, actually.
I mean look, it was still weeks 34 and 35 of pregnancy, so it was bound to have its downsides wasn't it? Just because I was traveling doesn't mean I got to leave behind pregnancy or any of the inconveniences that come with it. And I've never been pregnant before so I have no baseline for what weeks 34 and 35 would have been like without sitting in a car for hours at a time, sleeping on a thermarest in a tent, or staying in unfamiliar beds for two weeks. However, I do have a strong baseline for what those things are like outside of weeks 34 and 35 of pregnancy and I can tell you that they are not made in any way easier or more enjoyable by being pregnant. That said, they were still pretty fun.
Keep in mind I'm the kind of person who LOVES road trips when I'm not pregnant. If you were to walk up to non-pregnant me and say, "Hey, Virginia, I'm thinking about going on the road for a month, driving between 6 and 16 hours a day, and camping/sleeping in the car on my way across north america and I need a buddy to do it." I would reply, "Well, you have come to the right place, my friend. I am precisely the buddy for that kind of adventure." I might jump into your arms and hug you as well. I seriously love road trips and always have. My mom started me on them when I was young, and for many years it was a thing we did together. When I got old enough it was a thing I often did solo. I have driven across the US by myself a handful of times. I have been in all 48 contiguous states largely thanks to my road trips. I have traversed, alone and with friends/family, the east coast from north to south and back again. The west coast from south to north. Gone from coast to coast east to west and west to east, and many shorter trips in between. I've driven from just north of the Mexico border all the way into Canada. And from various spots in the US down into Mexico. I have now gone from Winnipeg to Toronto and back twice. I really desperately want to go coast to coast through Canada sometime in the not too distant future.
I think you get the idea. It's safe to say I love road trips.
So, I didn't think I was going to suddenly hate them while pregnant, and I was right. I was so happy to be road tripping, something that is a big piece of my identity pre-deciding to have a kid, that I was able to blissfully ignore most of the small discomforts that road tripping while pregnant brings with it.
But you folks are here precisely because of this whole pregnancy business, so while I may have ignored them or suppressed them to the best of my ability in order to do a thing that I love, I will still enumerate them here so that you don't get the wrong idea about smooth sailing through late pregnancy symptoms etc.
I could give you a play by play of the whole trip, but that would take forever, and I have bunch of work that I need to do, and you probably have places you need to be, so we'll just do two lists; one of lowlights, one of highlights, throw in a few pictures from the whole thing and call it a blog post. Shall we?
Lowlights (aka when pregnancy got the best of me on this trip):
- sleep - funnily enough some of my best nights of sleep were in a tent, with benadryl to aid my slumber (and yes I did squeeze my pregnancy pillows into my sleeping bag with me, and yes it was totally worth it) but mostly sleep was elusive and shoddy for the whole two weeks. Naps helped a lot, and kept me functional and able to enjoy the rest of my time, but even my "best" nights of sleep were uncomfortable (holy crap! I didn't think my hips and lower back could hurt that much without pulling or dislocating something) and filled with far too many pee-breaks. Last night, our first night home in two weeks, was the best night of sleep I've gotten since we left and I still got up to pee 5 times.
- sitting in the car - normally, I love both my driving and non-driving car stints as I find them peaceful, scenic, and good excuses to get writing and reading done (I never get motion sickness and this may be one of the reasons that I'm such a fan of road trips). However, pregnancy has put a serious damper on this. I still don't get motion sickness, thank Gwen, but I find that I can't sit still for more than hour or so before my hips and back start to ache. I managed to stretch and shift enough in the car to make it through, but it was a challenge that it has never been before. I have never found myself so uncomfortable in a car. Last night, as we neared the end of our only 15 hour drive of the entire trip I was about ready to pull my own hair out to distract me from the pervasive discomfort in my hips and back. I stretched, I twitched, I pretzled myself, I did everything I could and I still felt like my hips were on fire. While my normal cut off for driving hours in a single day is around the 16-19 hour mark I would put my pregnant cut off at 10 (ideally 8 or fewer - really) or 12 if pushing things, but really no amount of car sitting was comfortable/enjoyable the way it usually is, it all came down to a question of how long I could suppress the discomfort. :-(
- heartburn - I don't think this was road trip related except that heartburn is less likely to creep up when one is properly hydrated and staying properly hydrated when one is trying to make any forward progress in a car while pregnant is simply not possible unless one wishes to install a catheter system for the car. I had heartburn flare ups a few times on this trip and it appears that this is a fairly common symptom at this point in pregnancy. I hadn't had much yet in the third trimester and I now attribute that to staying hydrated. On a day when I am at home and have easy access to a toilet I drink between 3 and 5 liters of water easily every day. On a day when I am in a car for 8 hours or more I drink substantially less than that because to drink my normal amount would lead to needing to pull over 4 times an hour which is simply... not going to get you anywhere in a reasonable amount of time. I tried to drink a liter before we left camp in the morning, and then drink two more after we stopped for the night, with one more liter spread out slowly over the drive, but that generally wound up being too little too late in terms of my stomach acid deciding that it wanted to explore other regions of my body. When we were in civilization and restrooms abounded I managed to drink enough to not suffer heartburn too badly but there were two nights on the trip where it completely stopped me from sleeping.
- getting kicked in the crotch from the inside - a novel sensation to be sure, but some part of Speck making sudden and harsh contact with my cervix (best guess) hurt enough to double me over mid-stride, but at least had the decency to be a short lived experience. The first time this happened was on Wednesday of this week, and it has since happened a couple more times. I am not a fan. Speck has been warned that this is not acceptable behavior, but my guess is that Speck is bored and there's not much else to do in there aside from lash out at things and see what happens, there's also a chance this isn't Speck hitting me, but is something else entirely. I will mention it to my midwife at my next appointment, but I don't think it's anything too worrisome.
- the heat in Toronto - Ok, it was actually humidity in Toronto, since heat itself doesn't usually bother me (I'm a desert rat at heart), but 95 degrees with 95% humidity fucking sucks in the 35th week of pregnancy. It made sleep, and everything else, difficult and sticky. Thank goodness we were visiting some of our favorite people in the world, or it would have been easy to get down about the heat. As it was, it seemed like a mild nuisance in the midst of an otherwise lovely visit.
- needing to pee a bajillion times a day/night - I think this has been roundly covered in other points, but just in case anyone forgot about it between a few paragraphs ago and now... well, I haven't. I've already had to pee twice while writing this blog post. It's annoying even in the middle of a normal day working from home and on a road trip it's... well I think you understand.
- having to get up/down, bend over, get in/out of a car, or just roll over in bed with a 35 week pregnant belly - these simple motions are not only uncomfortable, they can often result in an uncomfortable kick fest from Speck, and make me alternately (and sometimes simultaneously) out of breath, nauseous, or feeling like all the blood in my body is made out of molasses. All I have to say is camping is a lot harder when bending over is hard and I am really fucking glad that I'm good at picking things up with my feet.
Ok, that's enough whinging about how my perfectly healthy pregnancy with minimal negative symptoms made my fabulous road trip harder than normal. Here are the highlights, along with some photos, so we can get back to the point where I said the whole thing was pretty good all in all. Because it really was a good trip and I don't want my attempt at keeping honest about pregnancy symptoms to make anyone think I didn't have a great time, or that I didn't appreciate just how lucky I was to be able to make the trip at all.
So here go the highlights - some are pretty general, others are very specific:
- visiting awesome people - from our very first stop in Canyon Lake to our days in Ottawa and Toronto the best thing about this trip was getting to spend time with so many of our favorite humans. It is always nice to go out into the world and be reminded of how wonderful people are and to feel truly lucky in our friends and family. Speck is going to have a really great group of adults as role models and that's no small thing.
- eating amazing food - road trips for some people may mean cheap fast food eaten on the fly (and it has meant that for me many times too) but on this road trip we did food properly. Our first night of the trip we were treated to an amazing meal by our friends in Canyon Lake and we went out of our way to make/bring delicious road food so we weren't hurting for good meals even on the road. Then, at our various destinations our friends and family treated us to amazing meals at every turn. From fresh caught lake fish to delicious salads, fabulous curries to killer pizza, pan fried halloumi to pancakes with bacon in them, and gourmet burgers to specialty cheese stores, we did food right this entire trip. To cap things off I introduced Corey to the amazingness that is Tuco's Tacos in Sudbury on our way out of Toronto, a stop that he was dubious about at first, but quickly changed his tune when he put the first bite of taco into his mouth. (While I am sadly lacking in photos of most of our culinary adventures, I do have this one shot of our Taco experience. I ate most of them before I remembered to take a picture. That's how good they are.)
- touristy things - I often skip the more touristy things that one can do in any given destination as I prefer to see what the locals are up to rather than tick of a list of "must sees," but it can be nice to do a bit of touristy sight seeing too, when one is in the Capital of a country for example. Here are some photo and video tidbits from our Ottawa days:
You may have seen some of these from my last blog post, but fear not! There are new pictures coming in some of the next bullets.
- camp/outdoorsy things - we didn't just tour around big cities with friends and family, we also camped with friends and family and went to the beach and stuff. These were honestly my favorite parts as I am very much a fan of spending time outdoors, and less interested in cities no matter how cool they are. Unfortunately, I don't have many pictures of the lovely camping we did with our Ottawa homies, which is too bad, because it was freaking wonderful part of the trip and produced many highlights for us both. Corey has some more photos on his phone, but they aren't easily accessible to me right now, so these two beach pics with dogs in them are all you get.
I do, however have a series of awesome photos of a beach day in Toronto with our good friends who are also 35 weeks along with their first baby.
These pictures lead nicely into my next highlight bullet point...
- visiting our good friends who are also 35 weeks into this whole first pregnancy thing - there is something particularly epic about sharing this adventure with two people that have been good friends of mine for 8 years and good friends of Corey's for... a whole lot longer than that. We've been in touch via the various wonders of technology throughout this crazy ride, but getting to hang out in person for five days was extra wonderful. This beach day was a highlight of a highlight and despite being a writer I cannot express to you in words how fabulous it was to be able to spend time with these two at this particular moment in our lives. We felt all the feels.
- the epic scenery that is the northern coast of Lake Superior and parts of northern Ontario - note that those are two pretty different locations, but they were both gorgeous and sadly... I did not get many pictures of the scenery as I was too busy soaking it all in. Corey snapped a few scenic shots and I might add them here later, but if not go ahead and do a google image search for Agawa Bay, Neys Provincial Park, and Algonquin Park, and you'll get an idea of how spectacular the scenery we enjoyed was. In the meantime, here's a shot of sunset in the Whiteshell that I managed to snap from inside the car last night on the way home (which is Manitoba, not Ontario, but hey you're stuck with what was on my phone camera instead of Corey's).
- traveling with my partner - Corey and I travel very well together, it's one of the reasons we're still together after eight years. Our adventures together are a big part of why we work as a couple. After all we cut the teeth of our relationship on dropping everything and moving to Japan together, and traveling and exploring have always been mainstays in our life together. This was a small adventure when compared to many of our others, but was still an adventure, and something that we both needed and missed. It was also a good reminder that we make excellent adventure buddies, and that part of the reason we chose to try procreating was that we decided it would just be the next big adventure.
I'm certain that after two weeks of travel and not having even finished unpacking yet I am forgetting things. Pregnancy brain is great that way, and so is travel brain. But this post is sufficiently long, I'm now up to 5 pees and a lunch break since I started writing, and I'm going to go ahead and call it finished. Week 35 was wonderful and filled with lots of fabulous things.
Here is the week 35 bump pic! Taken just today, I think it shows off how swollen and tired I feel after so many days in the car, but hey, that's pregnancy for you. See you next week!