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???!!?”
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.