A heartbeat

And there was silence long before a little heartbeat.

We spend our lives hearing people are pregnant. It might be your neighbour, a cousin or a friend. It’s almost always something that brings a smile to people’s faces – ‘When is the due date?’ – ‘When will you know the gender?’ – ‘How did your family react to it?’. There are a lot of questions asked that are extremely easy to answer but others, not so much.

I found out I was pregnant on December 5th 2018 as my period was 2 days late. It was barely a line, we had to tilt the test to see it but one thing was sure: it was there. Hard to believe as I wasn’t feeling anything at the time but every single one of the 2463 links that I’ve clicked on Google said that a really faint line was still a line. We’ve decided to take the test again 2 days later as it should show a better result – and for our surprise, it did. We knew we were very early in our pregnancy, possibly less than a month, but you just needed to look at our faces to know we were a mess of emotions.

‘Is there really a baby?’ – ‘I’m sure someone in the world has had positive results when they weren’t pregnant, I might be one of them’ – ‘What are we going to do now?’ – ‘How do I tell people at my work?’ – ‘Are we going to be good parents?’ – ‘What if I go to the ultrasound and there’s nothing there?’. I’ve already experienced some situations in my life where I have had a lot of questions in my head, this was by far the one I’ve questioned the most (and still do!).

‘How are you feeling?’ – This was the golden question when I finally spilled the tea to my family with the fact that yes, I was pregnant.

‘Good…happy.’ – and scared and worried and not believing my eyes.

The weeks seemed to drag. The midwife would only see me when I hit my 8th week and expected me to know exactly how far in my pregnancy I was – I had no idea but tried to figure something out. She had a lot of easy questions about family health, urine tests and blood tests. ‘Am I really pregnant?’ I kept asking myself ‘Am I making a fool of myself coming here to find out my belly is empty?’. Ultrasound was scheduled for my ‘12th week’ which would be 3 weeks from the midwife appointment date. ‘How am I supposed to live 3 weeks not knowing for sure if I’m pregnant?’ I finally asked the midwife which I thought would understand my concerns. She laughed it off and said that a faint line was still a line.

I got home quite frustrated about the fact that I was feeling that way. At what point you start believing that you are indeed pregnant and that there is a heartbeat inside of you? The fear of completely believing it and being let down was so strong I couldn’t help myself. Three long weeks went by with me feeling that way – ‘Maybe I’ll get my period again soon’, ‘My belly doesn’t even feel hard and I’m sure it would be hard by now if I were pregnant’.

The long awaited day arrived, the 12th of February – Ultrasound day. I made sure I had every single document I needed (believe me I already have two books full of stuff – God knows everything that is in there, apparently it will follow me all through my pregnancy and is then to be kept by the hospital) and that I took a really deep breath as I left home with Kevin. He seemed quiet, a bit apprehensive like me as he too wouldn’t believe it until he saw it.

Getting called by the doctor gave me that cold feeling in my belly that you only get on big life events such as getting engaged or bungee-jumping – we went in, I laid down and Kevin sat by my side. The moments following me laying down there are a blank space in my mind until I saw the image on the screen.

A baby.

Wow.

Squished between my bladder and something else I couldn’t figure out but still a baby.

My baby, there, moving non stop and making a motion that really resembled the ‘swallowing’ movement. ‘The baby is eating the amniotic fluid’ the midwife said.

I have a baby and my baby is eating? Just like that, he can eat?

‘Look, this is his hand by his face’. My baby had a hand by its face. MY baby. Our baby.

I looked at Kevin at this point and he couldn’t take his eyes out of the screen. A leg kicking, another leg kicking, feet, fingers, a really straight spine and a well-shaped ‘oval head’ as described by the midwife.

I am yet to be able to describe 10% of the feeling that comes with seeing your first baby for the first time. It is out of this world. How amazing is life and how incredibly lucky am I to have this tiny little soul in my belly? There are still a lot of questions inside of my mind but there’s only one feeling overwhelming me at the moment: Love. In it’s purest form. Love from inside out. Just love.

We spend our lives hearing people are pregnant. It might be your neighbour, a cousin, a friend or…you.

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Nadine

 

 

 

Long roadtrip tips

In December ‘18 my husband and I took a long road trip from the UK to the north of Sweden and we’ve learned some things about long road trips. We have done some road trips before but nothing this long.

Here are some tips for you, that like us, decided to ditch the cheap Ryanair tickets that let you go with only a carry on and brought a boot full of Christmas presents:

Be mentally prepared: It’s a long trip. You will feel tired, you will need to stop more than you’d like to but it’s also really enjoyable if like us, you’re getting a tour around the beautiful countries of Europe. Make sure you prepare a really long Spotify playlist and possibly get Spotify Premium – you will want to pass some of the music more than once.

If travelling on a Ship (like we did from the UK to France) try to do it during the day: The trip on a Ship is an adventure on itself. Lovely to see that huge sea and the birds flying over it. It made me feel like moving to the coast!

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Bring small cushions/pillows/ blankets: This is something we did that helped us a lot. Small pillows are easy to fit behind your back or under your legs when you need to – this helps to avoid cramps, back and neck pain as it gives you support when it’s needed. After sitting down for so long, changing positions is crucial for you to keep going. The blanket helps when you want to snooze, your body temperature goes down and you can end up feeling cold. This also helps in case the car breaks down when you’re travelling on winter.

Stop to stretch: We stopped for around 5 minutes every two hours in the first 6 hours driving and then every hour after that (We drove around 9 hours a day for 3 days). We would stop for around 30 minutes twice a day for lunch/dinner but made sure to have little breaks in between. When we did that we would stretch our legs, walk in a quick pace around while stretching arms and neck. We were not experts on road trips when we did this one but I didn’t have any muscle pains when we arrived at our destination and none of us experienced swollen legs – which is a good sign. While in the car it’s good to move legs and feet (possible up and down if you’re the passenger) just to keep the blood flow going.

Be prepared for road tax: I am not sure exactly which countries you have to pay road tax but Denmark was a surprise. We paid to get in and to get out even though it only took us 5 hours to cross the country. Thankfully we brought our card with us but it’s nice if you can check any kind of additional taxes that the country you’re going through will charge you – this will help you to prepare your budget for the trip!

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Food tips: Nuts and fruits will help but won’t keep you going. If you are on a road trip for more than one day, you need to accept the fact that you will have to purchase bigger meals as you can’t prepare all of them and bring it with you without any form of refrigeration (unless you are a raw vegan that can fit a lot of stuff on your back seat).

  • Lunch and dinner: I would suggest something filling but light. Kevin and I stopped at Subway/ McDonald’s and Carl’s Jr. but got salad with chicken/meat instead of hamburgers/sandwiches. We ate their big fresh salads at least once a day and it was really good! They didn’t make us feel too full and tired to drive and gave us enough energy to get to our destination at the time we were planning to. We did end up getting one or two Subway sandwiches as they are the healthiest option that is easy to find.
  • Fruits: Choose fruits that are easy to eat and to feed the person that is driving, the ones that you can take apart without much fuss. Instead of bringing an orange that is difficult to peel, you can bring already peeled tangerines and give it to the driver piece by piece without making things dirty or having sticky hands. Grapes were our go to this trip and we had lots of it. We did bring bananas that we ended up eating on our breakfasts more than during the trip, but they are filling fruits that I would recommend bringing with you. Already chopped mangoes/pineapple/ strawberry are a good choice as well – don’t forget to bring forks.
  • Salty snacks: Crisps were good to keep up with our salt intake – they might not be the healthiest snack but after 2 days driving you need to vary as much as you can. We ended up bringing some cheese sandwiches that we indulged in between lunch and dinner. Babybel/ string cheese are a nice choice for salty snack together with salted nuts.
  • Drinks: I think it’s needless to say that you need water. Bring a big bottle, those really big ones so you won’t have to stop to fill it all the time. We got some children’s juice such as those Innocent bottles or the little boxes that come with a straw – this was very helpful specially on our breakfasts when we wanted something more than water.

Make sure your car has everything you need: Before the trip, service your car – change everything that might not make it on a long trip. Check the water and tyre pressure – our car has a tyre pump that was used a lot as we travelled to extreme low temperature. Other than that, make sure you have a first aid kit and another one with all the material you need to be safe on the road (i.e. spare tyre, triangle, night vision vest, flashlight, etc…). If you have all of this sorted, it is unlikely that your car will break down, but this will make your trip much more relaxed as if it does, you’re prepared for anything. Do not travel if something is wrong with your car.

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Bring toilet paper/wet wipes: This will help even if you don’t have a toddler with you. You might spill drinks or stop at a place that doesn’t have toilet paper available. 

Use Waze/other app for Petrol/Diesel prices: We tried to fill our tank little by little until arriving in Denmark where Diesel prices are extremely cheap. It’s crazy what an imaginary border can do. Belgium and Sweden had much higher prices.

Also use Waze/ other app to find places to stop: Here’s something that Denmark is really good at – there was a stop with food/bathroom/parking every 15 minutes on the road. It was amazing because we didn’t have to worry about it there while in Germany/Sweden they were more scarce and we had to make sure if we should stop or if we could wait 30-40 more minutes to go to the next toilet.

Stop to sleep: One of our best tips will be for you to stop to sleep. Try to stick with your routine – we stopped to sleep at 11pm and woke up at 8am to start driving at 9. Eight hours a day is ideal before being really tired. That’s when we decided to stop both for our safety and the safety of others. You might want to keep going, it’s just 2 hours until you reach the next country, right? Wrong. If you feel tired, stop and sleep. You can start fresh and safe the next day – plus the fact that you will enjoy the view much more.

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Do you have any must haves for road trips or other tips that you would like to share?

Ps: I know I have been babbling about a big change on my life/blog recently and thought it would be ready to be shared this week – turns out I will need a couple more weeks until I can share the news. I promise it’s coming.

Nadine

Road Trip to Sweden pt1

The sounds of the ocean, lighthouses and the seagulls flying around – the sunset – it’s hard not to feel inspired.

It was around 12pm when Kevin showed up at my workplace so we could start our journey. Our first destination was Dover in England and from there we would get a ship to Calais in France – this didn’t take long considering that we’re only 2 hours away from the Port but it was a beautiful start. The white cliffs of Dover are huge and the views breath-taking. I got myself thinking that we have to come back to spend a full day there as the place deserves more time to be explored – I’m planning something for when the weather starts to warm up. 

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We only had around 90 minutes in the ship but it was quite an experience as the sea seemed to be angry and the strong winds coming from the North caught us up in the middle of the journey. I have no problems with the motion but many people do, bathrooms got crowded as I sat by the window to watch the waves while the ship went up and down – it started getting dark soon after that. This has just confirmed that one day Kevin and I are going to get a sail boat, we both love the sea and dream about going out there on our own adventure. The idea of getting a boat and travelling makes me excited and I feel that this is something we will conquer as soon as we can.

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In a blink of an eye we crossed France – it really didn’t take long for us to get to Belgium and then arrive to the Netherlands where we decided to stop to sleep. Our plans were that if we’re going to do a 30-hour trip, we would have to be fully rested for the drive starting at 9am, stop frequently to stretch/eat and to sleep around 10pm. We have stuck to that and it has worked for us, a whole night of sleep made us much more attentive on the road and aware of the beautiful views while it was still bright outside.

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Our longest drive during daylight was in Germany and in Sweden – and I couldn’t be more amazed by the views. Lots of nature around, beautiful houses and windmills – I can’t help but think about the little lives that make that place alive. Someone making coffee in the morning, taking the dog for a walk or their children to school. The old man taking care of his garden and the two friends shaking hands at the bakery. Europe is beautiful – even though I feel that there is no word to describe its beauty – I am in constant awe since I’ve moved here. I feel lucky to live in a place as safe as it could be, with peace, green fields, with different seasons and really tall trees. I specially love the tall trees. 

When we reached Sweden we started seeing snow – as we still had a 10-hour drive ahead we knew it would get cold…and so it did! By the time we reached the North Pole (yes, we were that far North) it was already -27ºC outside. I was thankful for the hot air in our car and for the thousand layers of clothes that we’ve brought with us plus the snacks. We had tons of snacks which I will make a separate post about, with tips of what to bring on a long road trip apart from the ‘nuts’ and ‘water’ that every single site tells you to bring on this kind of journey. 

If I could describe this road trip in three words it would be: Adventurous, exciting and tiring. By the time we were 5 hours away from our destination we’ve started feeling extremely tired and we had to stop a lot to stretch. Each hour seemed to have 120 minutes in it and we couldn’t stand the same Spotify album going on over and over again – you can’t really fill 30 hours of songs without repeating most of them. Well, at least we can’t, Kevin has a really peculiar taste for music so we were picky with the soundtrack. 

Having said that, nothing beats the happiness to be back together with family. We arrived there 1 day earlier than expected (they had no idea we were going with a car) and their surprise was extremely fun to experience. I would surely do this all over again. We were very blessed with a smooth trip, our car was amazing apart from the fact that the water to spray the windows froze and everything else went just as planned. I couldn’t have asked for an easier and happier trip, full of pictures and memories for us to share with our grandchildren (and on my blog!). 

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Have you ever gone on a road trip or plan on going on one? Is there anything that you would like to know more about? Just let me know and I will add it on my Road Trip tips post. 

The post with the big surprise that I’ve been working on will probably go live by the end of next week – so stay tuned! 

Nadine