Have baby, will travel
Kiwi summer is defined by our desire to get away from home and head to the beach, the bach, the campground, or overseas for a week or a fortnight or even longer (if you’re lucky!). But if you’re pregnant or you have a newborn, the prospect of going on holiday — or even leaving the house for more than a few hours — can seem impossible. All the what-ifs crowd your mind and you may feel it’s just easier to stay home and skip this year’s family reunion.
I remember being fairly heavily pregnant with my first baby and going on a babymoon weekend to the Bay of Islands with my husband. On the way up, as we drove on windy roads in search of Tane Mahuta, I realised I desperately needed the loo — and could we find one anywhere? (Yes, we did find one when we got to Tane Mahuta, but it wasn’t the pregnant woman’s dream loo I had been hoping for.) Note to self: Always bring your own toilet paper if you’re going to be using a DOC loo and you’re pregnant.
One of my relatives went away on holiday with her husband and their newborn just a few days after the birth. At the time, I hadn’t had my first child, and I remember thinking she was crazy. Several months later, I took my four-month-old daughter on a long-haul overseas trip — just me and her. Looking back, maybe I was the crazy one. My relative had taken her mother along as a helper, but I had to rely on my wits (and the goodwill of strangers) to get us through airports and on planes and shuttle buses. Baby carriers are a godsend when you’re trying to wrangle luggage on your own!
After those experiences, I lost my fear of travelling while pregnant or with a newborn. Yes, it’s different and somewhat less comfortable. You need to plan for things you don’t normally have to think about. The paraphernalia you end up taking along does take up more space in your luggage or vehicle. You’ll have to make more stops on the way. It can feel stressful at times, when you can’t find the loo or your baby is crying.
But what I remember most isn’t the stress I felt or the discomfort. It’s the special, unique little moments and memories. The bittersweet awareness that on my next holiday, it wouldn’t just be my husband and me — we’d be joined by a little person. Looking for a whole new variety of souvenirs — baby stuff! — at the gift shops. Not caring what I looked like in togs because hey, pregnant bellies should be shown off.
Then taking that little person on her first plane ride and feeling immense satisfaction at getting her settled into the airplane bassinet, where she actually slept. The offers of help from kind fellow travellers to lift my bag off of the carousel, or hold the baby while I ate my meal on the plane. Proving to myself that not only could I handle this motherhood thing, but I could handle it at 30,000 feet!
If you and your bump (or baby) are safe to travel this summer, I highly recommend it. Because I haven’t yet told you the best part — relaxing when you get there. There’s no better feeling than putting your feet up after a long day, gazing at your sleeping baby (or your quiet bump) and thinking, “It’s summer, and I’m on holiday!”