Life Abroad,  Milestones,  Pregnancy

A Little Ray of Sunshine: The Next Phase Begins

Our life adventuring abroad has occurred in big phases. Stepping onto a plane bound for Glasgow, Scotland with no return tickets. Moving to Ceske Budejovice and becoming gainfully employed in Europe. Getting married and coming back to the Czech Republic with renewed commitment. The post-wedding years really coming into our own here. It’s time for what will be the beginning of the next phase: We’re expecting our rainbow baby in July and we’re so excited!

You might be wondering some details, so here are the questions I could think of…

How are you feeling? Really great, now, at twenty-one weeks. Truly, every single day feels different. I don’t think anyone’s first trimester is fantastic but generally aside from fatigue and some food aversions from time to time, I didn’t have it too shabby. I’m feeling great now except I get a lot of ligament pain when walking sometimes. Just taking it slow and steady. Magnesium supplements mildly help.

Also having days of a) omg, i’m pregnant mixed with b) Imposter Syndrome (well, I’m not actually pregnant… am I? am I that big? nobody notices, right?) In fact, it was hard to even announce this as I still feel like it’s sort of a dream. Is this even real life?

Did you find out the gender? Yes! It’s a boy! Myself and a house of boys.

Did you know it would be a boy? Not at all. Of all the old-wives tales, only the “Chinese Gender Predictor” (google it) was correct on this one.

Do you have a name picked out? Almost. We’ve got it narrowed down to a couple we both like (fortunately it seems like Alex and I have very similar tastes), but I want to think them over the next few months very carefully and see what resonates the most. It’s easy to rule out a name too quickly! I also think you’ve sort of got to meet the baby and then see what resonates the most then.

Will you give birth in the Czech Republic? Yes! For many reasons, the biggest of all is that we already live here and are permanent residents. There are fantastic maternity leave policies (2-4 years, partially paid) and it is extremely family-friendly and safe here (despite what you might be thinking these days with everything that’s going on in Europe). We are also happy to have one of the best hospitals in the country with the best neo-natal care at our doorstep. I’m really looking forward to having my maternity years here, especially in such a laid-back place. For now, I’m feeling really positive about the whole thing. After all we’ve been through over the past nine years with visa struggles and so on, I think language-wise, at least, we’re ready for the challenge.

Will you be moving back to Washington? Probably at some point down the road, but not any time soon. The way things are with Alex’s job and us being lucky enough to get to spend lots of time together (definitely not a guarantee with the busy lifestyle in the USA and societal expectations of constant hustle and bustle), we feel it is in the best interest of our little family to stay in the Czech Republic at this time. I still am marveling at my luck that Alex will be home on summer holidays ’til mid-September!

Will your baby be a Czech citizen? No, not unless we also become ones someday. The plan, or rather the hope is, that he will learn Czech, however. May it be much better than our Czech!

What has been the toughest thing so far? Physically I had a relatively smooth first trimester, mainly just fatigue, but because of past experiences, there was some anxiety week-to-week – some days it was fine, some were scary. Not being able to drink tea or consume anything herbal all winter generally sucks (but it’s a fair trade off, I’ll admit), and have abstained from some thyroid triggering foods which I love, such as processed soy and peanuts, and generally hiding from Covid in my house this winter while everything was open, all regulations were dropped and everyone I knew was mostly going on with their normal lives, which was an unsettling time. The question of whether or not to get boosted while pregnant has been much more complicated than I thought it would be before. I assure you that you truly don’t really know ’til you’re in this position. Ahh, pregnancy in the time of Covid. Not what you hope for.

I didn’t have any nausea but as I mentioned, food aversions can be fierce. In my first trimester I would eat something once or twice and then decide it was the most vile substance on Earth, like rooibos tea after I bought two boxes of it, buying some kind of zeli (sauerkraut) pastry and decided savory pastries were the devil and avoided the bakery because of the smell! Only the sweets for me, thanks! Holiday dinners have been total busts (on Christmas, I ate white plain rice and salad for dinner), but fortunately after December and entering the second trimester, I got my energy back and things were pretty normal again. For now.

Really, it’s been special to have someone to share every little thing with so far. Every little kick, or how weird my belly looks right now (goodbye, bellybutton) – I know Alex will not totally get how it feels, but it’s been fun to share those new things (even the walking really really really slow part, I guess).

As I’ve been waffling a little bit with the blog, nine years into my expat/immigrant journey, when it is harder than ever to find time between different pursuits to write here and to think about something to write about that I am passionate enough about, I look forward to having a space to record an entirely new adventure here, if this seems like the medium that suits me the most.

That said, I do keep a private pregnancy-related blog with semi-TMI things for friends, including all the thoughts that I would never share in a public space so if we are blog, social media, or real life friends and would like to read it, send along your e-mail within the next week or so.

Let me know (kindly) if there is anything else I’m forgetting! Halfway there on this pregnancy journey and feeling optimistic and positive about it all.

Sending love to you all, and especially holding space for those who have experienced loss.