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Trials and tribulations of traveling during pregnancy

TANYA ENBERG, Chic Savvy Travels TANYA ENBERG, Chic Savvy Travels

Pregnancy can seem like a constant waiting game.

It’s not a rush for the baby to arrive so much as it is passing certain milestones safely — the anxious first three months, the five-month exam, the long final stretch that hopefully leads to a healthy, full-term baby.

Peppered along the way, you’re on the edge anticipating various test results, while adapting to a host of bizarre bodily changes and the weird sensation of small legs and arms kicking and twitching inside your tummy. If you’re lucky, you’ll get to squeeze in one final travel foray sans child before the third trimester begins.

Enjoying one final pre-baby reprieve — snorkeling in Cuba at six months pregnant.

Thankfully, we escaped to Cayo Largo, Cuba, for a baby-moon. Though it’s only a few months ago, it already seems like a faraway dream getting dusty in the distance. Now we’re on the serious countdown — just two weeks away from my due date.

All in all, I’ve had an easy run of things.

Other than chronic heartburn, breathlessness and severe bouts of sleepiness, it’s been a breeze, especially when compared to the candid horror stories so liberally shared by other pregnant gals.

But, there was the whole dizziness stuff, too.

Dizziness can go hand-in-hand with the baby-carrying turf, as so many ailments do.

I’ve had dizzy spells sporadically throughout my pregnancy.

After going uphill or climbing a flight of stairs, the whirly-brain spins often occur. Same goes for getting up too fast, or staying too long in hot environments. It can slow a gal down indeed.

It was in Cuba where I realized I had new limits.

No longer could I speedily zip around or embark on long hikes in the unforgiving heat.

Among other things, pregnant women experience a spike in body temperature, so an already hot climate can at times feel like being trapped in a sauna covered in head-to-toe wool.

While my partner and I explored the sleepy island of Cayo Largo, I suddenly felt my heart rate speeding up, my face flushing and the picturesque beach scene surrounding me growing blurry. I struggled to get in gulps of air. The waves crashing against the shoreline seemed to become more erratic, the ground grew wobbly and my legs were like uneven pegs on the trail. I had to stop. It wasn’t a ‘should’ or a ‘maybe’ — it was a must.

Pulsating heat waves rushed through my body, as though a stove had been cranked up inside me. I put one heavy foot in front of the other wishing I had I Dream of Jeannie skills and could transport myself back to the coolness of the room with a simple snap of the fingers.

We turned around to make what felt like the longest haul back to our home base. I was convinced I would soon pass out and was surprised when I didn’t. After making it back safely, my body soon normalized and I could breathe properly again.

A couple of days later, we had plans to take a flight to Havana. At sunrise, like clockwork, we both got struck with food poisoning and made a run for the only washroom.

Still, we persevered and dragged our achy bodies and uncertain bellies to Havana.

Rustic building facades, sketches and hanging laundry is part of the texture and character of Havana.

We’d signed up for an organized group tour to fit as much in as possible in one day. It was going well and even the symptoms of our food poisoning were holding off quite nicely.

Then, while checking out a fantastic historic pharmacy with an impressive collection of old bottles and jars, the dizziness and wooziness returned.

The glass bottles began a jagged dance through my eyeballs, the room spun by a few times and, by the time I was leaning against the countertop, I could see only a dark shade of grey. This time, I was definitely passing out.

My partner helped me sit down and the workers brought out a small vile of what smelled like straight alcohol.

I think they wanted me to sip it, but when we explained I was pregnant, the liquid was instead patted all over my face.

Ten minutes later, I regained my balance and sight. We thanked the kind workers for their help and went to catch up with the rest of the group. The shakiness stayed with me throughout lunch, as did the heat, but I could at least focus my eyes and get some water and nourishment in me.

Say 'ahh.' Relaxing in Cayo Largo surrounded by white sand beachfront and postcard-perfect turquoise water.

While travel and pregnancy don’t always mix perfectly well, that’s for sure, but the moments of relaxation are well worth suffering the setbacks for.

That said, the dizzy spells I will not miss.

As I write this, the letters (set in a font size far larger than I typically use) lack sharpness and stir together like alphabet soup at times can be a frustrating thing. Paragraphs merge together in one heaping, brain-spinning mess, which can certainly sabotage some of the joys of writing.

The rough guessing game in which I try to measure unknown boundaries based on changing physiology is not a fun one to play. I’ve never been entirely certain of where those boundaries lie, though I’ve listened to my body during these months more than ever before. It’s made me more acutely aware of my inner system and more respectful of its powers.

Moments before succumbing to an alarming dizzy spell, I snapped a couple of photos of the collection of jars stored in a historic Havana pharmacy, where the floor became a very quick friend.

The idea of mind over matter (something I’ve long been a fan of) can easily be trumped and flicked aside like a delicate fruit fly by uncontrollable physical developments.

As we enter the two-week-until-baby countdown, I plan to enjoy every single minute of our baby free time, dizzy or not. There are books to be read, long sleeps to be had, baths to enjoy and gourmet meals to be eaten … all without crying baby interruptions.

But if I am ever convinced I’ll feel energetic and back to my old self soon, I am reminded daily that this will not be the case.

Yes, new and veteran moms alike are not shy when it comes to sharing the challenging realities of motherhood. So, while I may not see rooms spinning for much longer, I’ll apparently turn into Tanya-the-zombie, squeezing in naps whenever possible, barely showering, and living in a blurry haze in which day and night become one long, exhausting slog, dotted with constant feedings, diaper changing and learning the rather confusing new language of interpreting our baby’s various cries.

For now though, I’ll savor every page of A Year In Provence (written by Peter Mayle), a book almost as delicious as sitting down to a fine French meal, accompanied by a rich red wine (the latter of which I really look forward to indulging in again).

Of course after so many months without wine in my bloodstream, those first tastes will make me superbly dizzy, no doubt. Let’s just hope the room manages to stay still.

Date Added: June 1, 2012 | Comments (0)

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