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Travel has been a part of me since I can remember. The idea of seeing new places and experiencing the culture of new countries and cities is unbelievably exciting to me. I spend a lot of my “quiet” time daydreaming about how I can see more and make it work both with timing and finances. For me, life before my daughter was born was full of adventure. I was active duty military and filled with wanderlust. My travels took me to seven states and to the countries of Qatar, Kuwait, Jordan, Afghanistan, UAE, Kyrgyzstan and Oman. I never said no to the opportunity to see and experience something new. I even traveled all over Europe by myself for 31 days when I was 23 years old. I feel the most alive when I travel.
Fast forward to August 2014. My husband of 3.5 years and I found out we were expecting a baby! SURPRISE! We weren’t planning a baby at the time, but accepted the news with open arms and joy. We continued to live like we always had with trips to Virginia (4, 19, & 27 weeks along), Tampa (6 & 12 weeks along), Orlando (20 weeks), New Jersey (19 weeks along) and California (28 weeks along). We traveled as we always had, but we both felt a sense of sadness growing as my belly grew. We really thought our days of traveling were over. We assumed and had heard from other parents that traveling with kids was miserable and not feasible. (Don’t get me wrong, we were REALLY excited for our daughter, but it can be hard to imagine the life changes when you have never had to not be selfish before)
In April 2015 we welcomed our chubby baby girl 6 days before her due date. Early, like her mom always is. I knew once we had her Earthside that our days of travel were not over. I knew they would be different, but not over. Our daughter was part of our little 3-person team and even sitting with her in the hospital, I knew she would be like us. She would want to travel and we would take her.
Since her birth we have traveled to 13 different states and we took her at 6 months old to Europe where we trekked Germany, Austria and traveled from the North to South of Italy. It was in February 2016 when I decided to start a website to help my friends with children see that travel is still possible. Big Brave Nomad was created and has been an amazing avenue for new parents to see that being filled with wanderlust does not have to die when your child is born. As a matter of fact, it can grow. Traveling with our daughter has been very rewarding and exciting. The thought of traveling without her actually makes me feel sad.
In February 2016 I also found out that we are expecting our second child. That’s right! The Nomads are going to be a family of FOUR in October of this year. Our children will be 18 months apart. When we found out we were pregnant again, we were a little surprised. Our year was already planned with trips almost monthly from Jan-August. The reality started creeping in because my pregnancies are not easy. I get sick. Really sick. For a long time too. With my first I was horribly sick from 7-17 weeks. With this pregnancy, I have been sick since 6 weeks. Now, I am 20 weeks and I still get bouts of terrible sickness. I wasn’t sure I would be able to manage my toddler and my sickness, but so far we’ve managed to see some cool places this pregnancy and have found ways to accommodate the sickness. So far we have traveled to Las Vegas (6 weeks along), New Orleans (12 weeks along), and Houston/Southeast Texas (18/19 weeks along). We are headed to New Hampshire at the end of July and hoping to squeeze in a Babymoon somewhere along the way.
So, how do you travel with a toddler while pregnant and sick? Well, first of all my husband is normally with me and is always willing to step in when the sickness becomes unbearable. I did fly alone with my daughter to Las Vegas, but my sickness hadn’t kicked in yet, so I flew with her in my lap like always and we had no issues. Once we got to LV I had about 3 days of feeling good. My daughter and I were able to do a lot of sightseeing while my husband was at work. However, the day after we left the Grand Canyon I could barely get out of bed. We still had two days left of our trip. My husband was amazing through this. I managed to go to dinner and to the Aquarium at Mandalay Bay with my family, but other than that I was at the hotel staying near the bathroom in case I needed to throw up and he was on full baby duty. This trip was hard for me because the sickness came unexpectedly; I thought I had at least another week. On the flights home my husband held our daughter in his lap and played with her in the airports while I dealt with the sickness.
I was still very sick when the time came for our 3-day trip to New Orleans, but we knew I was going into it. We were there to celebrate our daughter’s first birthday, so I really just wanted to eat Beignets and soak up the city. We rented an amazing Air B&B near St Charles. We didn’t make any major plans and decided we would do what we could. I was able to hang for most of the trip, but did go back to the room for the afternoon/evening on Saturday. While I stayed back my husband and daughter explored different parts of the French Quarter. He loved having the time with her by himself. I stay home with her every day, so he enjoys any one on one time he can get with her. We stayed flexible the entire trip and keeping an open mind helped us all enjoy the time we had. Even with the sickness, we left saying how nice it was to get away and see something new.
Our trip to Houston was the easiest yet. My sickness has begun to ease up and sometimes I go days without throwing up. We left on a Thursday and returned on Sunday; our 13-month old was such a trooper. It was the first long road trip we had done with our daughter since she was 6 weeks old, so we were anxious. We took lots of toys, book, snacks and an iPad just in case things got crazy. She normally cries hysterically in the car, but on this trip (11 hours there and 9 hours back) she barely fussed at all. Since I mostly felt good we were able to tour Space Center Houston, spend lots of time with family, go to a wedding, and eat delicious crawfish without many hiccups. My husband and I were able to spend some quality time with each other too. Texas was a very enjoyable trip.
Since becoming a family of three we have found new ways to enjoy ourselves. We no longer spend our nights exploring the local bar scene, but we now have a new travel tradition that we love: we always eat dinner together in the hallway of our hotel while our baby sleeps. We have ordered carry out and room service, but we still sit together where we can talk and enjoy each other’s company. Traveling has always been a way for us to connect and this is a new quirk that we both get a kick out of. It sounds silly, but it’s ours and we love it. We have adapted to this new normal. Life with a baby is different that life without one. Life with two babies will be even more different, but I know when this baby gets here we will settle in like all families do. Our life will go on and be twice as exciting as it is now.
Some Earth Mama Angel Baby products that have helped me tremendously on this journey:
Morning Wellness Spray – I huffed this in the car to and from New Orleans and Texas. It helped keep me from actually puking when the nausea crept in. I carry it in my purse and smell it whenever I feel the train coming.
Happy Mama Body Wash – I use this daily for my body and face. It smells amazing, doesn’t make me feel nauseous, it’s light on my skin and doesn’t leave any oily residue. This is perfect for travel; it has a lockable top/lid and fits nicely in my bag.
Body Butter & Natural Stretch Oil – Let’s be honest, my stomach is stretching and growing quickly. Sometimes I swear I can even feel it growing. After my shower I always spend about 2 minutes rubbing on the oil first then the butter. I massage it all over my belly/sides so the skin gets hydrated, stimulated and blood flow comes to the skin. Taking care of my belly skin is really important to me. So far, I haven’t had any itchy skin either – WIN! Also, both of these fit nicely in my toiletry bag. The lotion locks down so it doesn’t leak and the oil has a cap.
Lip Balm – these are amazing for travel. Plane or Car rides always make my lips chapped, so I keep this in my purse and apply it constantly. It smells SO GOOD too.
Angel Baby Bottom Balm – My daughter had diaper rash so badly that her skin had sores. We tried everything. EVERYTHING. Finally, I tried this. We put it on before bed and by the next morning her sores were pink spots and the rash was gone. It was amazing. Now we use it every single night before bed and haven’t had any re-occurrence.