So Where Are We Having the Baby?

When I told my in-laws where we planned to have the baby, they were like, “really?”

I’ve been hearing that a lot lately.  I don’t know what to say, life has a way surprising of you.

First, when I found out that I was pregnant, it was just after launching a Kickstarter campaign, which meant spending 30 days working extreme hours while knocked down with morning sickness — and this time around it was the vomit-eight-times-a-day variety.  It was kind of hilarious, because I was online typing, “Yay! MC Hammer likes our Kickstarter and just retweeted us!” but I was at home, laying in bed, pecking at my keyboard with one finger while intermittently dry heaving into a bucket.

Honestly, I deserve some kind of award.

But beyond the scheduling conflict between being uncontrollably ill and our film festival ambitions — the pregnancy is perfect.  Cole will be almost exactly three years old.  We were scheduled to leave Beirut anyway.  We could literally go anywhere in the world to have this baby.

We originally settled on Buenos Aires.  There’s a number of reasons, one being I wanted to pick up Spanish again (and had planned on heading to that part of the world anyway) but the others being: good healthcare, in-country health insurance that’s very affordable and available to non-citizens and best of all, my child would get an Argentine passport.  Dual citizenship!  For the win!  I even started putting out the word to a few friends in the region, getting myself all excited for grilled meats and after the baby was born, red wine.  Steak, glorious steak!

Of course, this has been the kind of year where everything has been amazing but unexpected.  It’s been highs and lows — Beijing in the winter, learning Mandarin, the realities of Beijing air, returning to Thailand, Beirut for the summer, getting pretty good at Arabic, the joys of Lebanon and the disappointment of 3-6 hour daily power outages, raising $37,000 for our film, being sick as a dog the whole time, and getting pregnant at just the right but unexpected time!  It’s been an intense year.  We’re kind of rockstars, if you just take the last 11 months into account (well maybe skip that 2 month period where I hid under my comforter in Thailand while licking my wounds from China).

So now what?

We got a message.  From the lovely couple in Oregon who have been taking care of our dogs, Molly and Jack.

I know, right?  You’re like, “Wait, you have dogs???!!?”

Yes.

We originally brought them with us when we started traveling in 2008.  I quit my job, we moved to Madrid (with the dogs), Cole wasn’t born yet, and Drew still didn’t know if he liked travel.  It feels like a million years ago, but I would fly around Europe, on my own, while Drew stayed in Madrid with the dogs, and when we came back to the States, I spent a few months backpacking through Central America solo while Drew helped to fix up his Dad’s house in Vermont.

I know, dogs!  Two of them.  It’s crazy.  They are huge.  100 lbs each.

Anyway, after Central America, in 2009, Drew and I said, “Let’s get pregnant!” and then we were, just like that, with two dogs, a tiny fetus and some travel lust.  We took the dogs and we drove cross-country, camping along the way.  I was sick, but figured, “Well if I’m going to be puking anyway, I might as well look at cool stuff.”

We drove all the way to Seattle, then took the ferry up to Victoria, BC, then drove through the Canadian Rockies, to the Yukon and onward to Alaska.

I’m telling you this in part, because I didn’t blog about any of it.  I think I wrote one post about buffalo in the Yukon or something.

So we’ve had all these great adventures with our dogs, and they love to travel with us, but after Cole was born, I was like, “okay, this is too much.”  And Drew cried, and we decided (mostly me) that it was sort of mean to fly our dogs everywhere, and Drew had to agree to that, so we came to a compromise: if we could find somewhere awesome for the dogs, then they’d stay and we’d go; if not, we’d do a road trip through Central America and into South America with the dogs then figure out the rest from there.  Either way, no more flying with Molly and Jack.

So we found a place.  It was perfect.  We were both sad to see the dogs go, but we had this big adventure ahead of us: a newborn and five continents to film interviews for our documentary.

Now, just as we raised the funds for the film festivals, we get a message: “It’s time to come get the dogs.”

Oh holy cow.

So that happened, and then we went to the beaches in Thailand, and something just shifted.  It was like I remembered, “Oh right, I need to spend more time near the ocean.”  I’ve been living in these impossible cities because I’m chasing some language goal or researching their admittedly fascinating culture.  I mean this year has been BEIJING and BEIRUT.  I’ve been challenged-out.  I want somewhere easy and cheap and close to the waves.

Drew was in charge of figuring out what we’d do next with the dogs (find them a new caretaker? or a permanent home?) and I announced, “Why don’t we just go to Mexico?  We can take the dogs with us.  You can just drive them down from Oregon.”

And because this is the way that I tend to communicate — which is to paint a picture of my plan in a big long rambling monologue, I launched into exactly how it would work, before Drew said anything (which happens to be his style, he waits for his moment):

“I’m picturing a little house in the hills, just a bicycle ride away from the beach.  We’ll have two big dogs, our new baby and Cole.  We’ll eat fish tacos and guacamole, I’ll perfect my Spanish maybe you guys will learn some too.  We’ll stay there for half the year, then when it’s time to leave [I have travel for the book to do after the baby is born] we’ll find a house sitter, maybe some traveling family that likes dogs and wouldn’t mind free rent for a few months.  If we settle in Puerto Vallarta, we can have the birth at a nice private hospital and scope out sailboats to sail around Baja.”

Drew said, “Wow, looks like our family just got a lot bigger.”

Yup.  Two kids.  Two dogs.  Two of us.  Mexico for six months in 2013.  Life is amazing.

 

59 Comments

  1. Just read this in my inbox. Congrats! Cool stuff, and I know how great it is to be back with the animals. Too bad we won’t see you in Argentina this year, but perhaps later. Bss. xoL

  2. Jodi Ettenberg

    DOGS + BABIES + TACOS + GILBERTS = great months in Mexico. Tempted to visit you guys myself 😉

  3. Tracy A. Williams

    Nothing wrong with 2 dogs and 2 kids! I mean, there was no mention of suburbs or SUVs, right? 😛

  4. ‘well, if I’m going to be puking anyway, I might as well look at cool stuff’
    That, Christine, is the VERY attitude that makes a traveling family work. Of course it’s hard, of course it’s vomity. It involves carrying sleeping children, fantastical logistics, endless toilet runs, early mornings interrupted nights and all that. So why not do it somewhere fun?
    Brilliant.

  5. I’m convinced! Cole will adore the dogs. PV has awesome medical facilities.You will have your beach. PLUS, it will be a heck of a lot easier to get to all those film festivals as The Wireless Generation begins collecting awards!
    p.s. It was fun to hear the parts of your incredible adventure that were old to you but new to most of us.

  6. WOW! I so envy your ability to adapt in this way – the thought of ever leaving Paris makes me a bit sick to my stomach yet I can’t deny my curiosity for life in other places. Picking up my life to move anywhere for six months, and only six months, seems to go against my inherent desire for stability but the picture you paint sounds divine. Whatever you guys do, I’m sure you’ll make it as rewarding an experience as possible.

    • Seriously, I could be up for housesitting, as long as the dogs wouldn’t run at full speed down said beach, dragging me the whole way.

  7. we talk the same way, I think. Doug’s always baffled as to why I preface everything with a roundabout monologue, as if a yes or no wasn’t enough. Funny that.

    We (mostly I) were thinking a similar thought about water and challenging cities and mammals- my cat is still with my parents in Victoria, a temporary measure 4 years ago when we left Turkey. Thinking now about Mexico, about reclaiming Lola, about not being in cities of 15-20 million people.

    I think these are good shifts. It’ll be good for the soul to get water and mammals and sanity back. Best wishes to you both.

  8. Wow. Thanks for always reminding me that the only thing standing between us and what is possible is ourselves. Kudos on a year well lived… and many more to come. And congrats on the baby to come. And please put me on the prospective Mexico housesitter list. I love dogs 🙂

  9. Mexico is a GREAT place to have the baby!! And a great place to have a toddler, and a great place to have the dogs! Good for you!! Enjoy!

  10. You guys never cease to amaze me!!! This sounds insane and wonderful, and I am so excited to follow the next stage of your incredible journey. And if you get to the stage where you’re looking for a dog-loving house-sitter, sign me right up!

  11. Hahaha what a coincidence!! Tomorrow I’ll be traveling to Puerto Vallarta to visit my mom after 3 years and finish my PhD thesis. My next plan is to travel, volunteer and practice zazen meditation (I’ll also practice zazen meditation in Puerto Vallarta :).

    Anyway, I know you must have a pretty busy life, but if I can help you with anything at the same time that I interview you ;), let me know.

    I’ll be in Puerto Vallarta from Nov 13-Jan 19 🙂

    My email is danielamtzmora@gmail.com

    Good luck and congratulations for the baby!!

    Sincerely,
    Daniela

  12. Wow, you kind of are a rock star. Learning Arabic and Mandarin in the same year?!! I’ve been studying Mandarin for over a year now and can barely get out a sentence. Kudos to you!

  13. Great news, Mexico is beautiful! I am originality from Baja, so let me know if you need help with your Spanish 🙂 Check out Oaxaca’s beaches (Puerto Escondido and Mazunte) as well, it is a little paradise and still sort of Virgin.

  14. no worries on house sitters/doggie caretakers! i’m ready to go back to mexico, anytime, especially near the beach. congrats on your journey!!

  15. Amy Brunner

    Christine, you never cease to amaze me. I absolutely love reading about yours and Drew’s adventures, and your writing style is so much fun. I so enjoy living vicariously through the two of you, since I’m way too tied to being near my family to do what you’re doing, despite the romantic side of me that would love to do it. I am really looking forward to your book.

  16. Lindsay Lake

    Sounds perfect! Check out Sayulita while you’re in the area – it’s a wonderful little place!

  17. Ok. I’m still confused. You’re going to have the baby in Argentina so you’ll get the dual citizenship thing and then grab a flight to Mexico where you’ll live for 6 months?

    *feels stupid.*

    • Yeah that would be weird! 🙂 No, we’re skipping Argentina completely and having the baby in Mexico. Wee!

  18. We are driving down to Sayulita with our dog and two kids in Jan. Maybe Drew can caravan down with us.

  19. I glanced nervously through the comments to see how many housesitters have volunteered already but to my relief, not too many. Perfect. My husband doesn’t know it yet but this would be a dream for us, our baby could learn bit of Spanish (besides Finnish, English and Norwegian, we need another “useful” language in the mix!), my husband has always wanted to have dogs but I haven’t let him (I’ve had dogs all my life, he hasn’t, he doesn’t know what it takes…) plus I could totally see myself fine-tuning my newly found surfing skills and picking up some Spanish myself! 🙂

    Anyway, great to hear that your plans are coming together and the picture you painted of life in Mexico, well, sounded like a dream!

  20. Wow it’s nice to know we won’t struggle to find a housesitter!! 🙂 I’ll let the folks know on here (if you left an email) when we pick dates and then go from there. Yay! Love it when a plan comes together 🙂

    • Perfect!! 🙂 My email should be visible for you (??) but if not, here it is just in case… satu AT todestinationunknown.com

  21. Christine Schmit

    You’re going to love Puerto Vallarta, it’s a great city. Send me a message if you need any specific info, I know the area quite well and will probably move there in a couple of years.

  22. Im right there with you! Baby number 1 is on the way and we are so excited to share the world with him/her! we only have one 20lb dog though 😉 bueno suerte!

  23. I’m not sure if I’ve ever commented here before, but I’m too excited not to! Mexico is a great choice…I spent a year working in Colima/Manzanillo (6 hours-ish south of PV) and it was incredible. You’re right about the healthcare…it was so efficient and inexpensive, and the private doctors all speak English, so even if your Spanish doesn’t get too good, you’ll be fine. All my friends went to the private hospitals to have their babies.

    It’s a great place to hunker down and get used to a new reality. Enjoy!

  24. A baby in Mexico – YAY!!!!! That’s been my dream! DO IT! We should be in PV in Feb/Mar staying with family – I’ll be in touch!

  25. I can’t imagine what my mom would say if I told her I was going to have a baby anywhere besides the US. She acts like the US is the only safe place to have a baby. Not at all true though. I’m sure things will go great for y’all. Congratulations and best of luck!

  26. Life is good! Congrats on the new decision and growing family! I’ve heard of other couples having babies with private clinics/doctors in Mexico with great success.

    I’m happy to apply for the house sitting opportunity as well!! My Spanish fiance and I would gladly act as caretakers and neighbors. We’re beach and animal people too! sobremesainspain {at} gmail

    Qué tengan mucha suerte!

  27. Just read this. Too funny. Nothing in there sounds at all familiar to me. 🙂 Well, maybe the part of Mexico and a baby and a boat, but I swear, nothing about the dogs at least.

    Congratulations, hope we can meet up when you get here. If you need any help with a Doctora or hospital stuff or whatever please let us know.

    All the best. Pat and Ali

  28. Caroline

    So you have 2 dogs! Who knew? How in the world did you find someone to take care of your dogs for so long? Was it a relative? Are there really people out there that are willing to take care of a stranger’s dog for 1+ year?!?! I’m very curious to hear more details about the dogs because I’m moving to Central America to travel with my family in 2013 (probably just for a year). We are trying to figure out what we are going to do with our 10lb poodle. We plan on spending most of our time in Costa Rica. I think it would make more sense if we left her behind, but that almost sounds more difficult to arrange than winging it with her in C. America. I’m also curious to hear about your plan b (road tripping in Central & South America too). Were you going to drive to Central America from the US? We are not brave enough to do that, but we aren’t sure if shipping a car is the way to go either. I would love to hear your suggestions!

  29. Jake, my only just big enough to be called a dog, dog and I will be available for a 3 month tour with Molly and Jack (Jake adores huge dogs). Let us know when you need to plug us into the sitting schedule and we’ll be there. We need to work on our espanol and adore fish tacos!! (Kudos on the article — Loved it! You continue to amaze!)

  30. Pingback: Thai Driving in Seattle & Other Bad Ideas | almostfearless.com

  31. Just catching up on your guys’ plans! I’m all in favor of anything that brings you closer to copious amounts of guacamole. Safe travels. xx

  32. L O V E! Now if I could only find my soulmate to create such a life with… yearning! In the meantime, I wander alone. Keep having a blast on your adventure, so inspired by you and your family! ~Carol

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