The Most Epic Babymoon

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“Is this a good time? Are you sitting down?”

I took a deep breath. I was sitting down, the bus ride was bumpy and long, and I had been expecting the call. In fact, I already knew what the news was going to be even before the nurse on the other end said a single word. “Shoot.”

“Congratulations, it’s positive!”

My brain couldn’t compute. “I’m sorry, I’m having trouble processing what you’re saying. Can you say that again?”

“Your blood test result was positive. You’re pregnant!”

If I’d been drinking coffee at that moment, I would have done a genuine spit take.

You may have noticed that in my posts for the past few months, I seldom included pictures of the lower half of my body. And that’s because for the first part of 2023, I’d been sprouting a baby bump, and I wanted to hold off on sharing the news, juuuuust in case it didn’t work out (there’s a good reason why I’m so anxious but I’ll save our “journey to parenthood” story for another time). But now that the bouncy boy is out, and I sit here writing this post covered in spit-up, breastmilk (or “boob juice” as Wanderer likes to call it), and having slept a grand total of 4 hours in the past 2 days, I can finally share the story of our pregnancy and what it was like travelling through 6 whole countries while growing a baby.

Baby bump in 2nd trimester

So, we found that we were expecting on a long bus ride right after we’d booked an epic 5 month trip to Thailand, Vietnam, Australia, and New Zealand. And not only that, I’d invited 30 of my friends from the FIRE community to join us. Now, with this news, even though I’m the one that invited them, I was not going to be able to make it.

I nearly cancelled my entire trip right afterwards but luckily common sense prevailed and I asked my doctor first whether it was safe to travel.

“Travel doesn’t increase your risk of miscarriage,” he told me. “In fact, in all pregnancies there’s a 25% chance of miscarriage in the first trimester and if it happens there’s unfortunately very little you can do about it. Just make sure you’re near a hospital and get all the necessary first and second trimester tests.”

To assuage my fears, I found a comforting graph (because pregnant or not, I’m still going to MATH THAT SHIT UP), which showed the % decrease in miscarriage rates once you get past the 14th week mark.

So, after a series of appointments with our doctor, he cleared us medically to travel as long as we got back before the third trimester began, and we got all the required prenatal tests while we were abroad. The plan was to get our Non-Invasive Prenatal Tests (NIPT) and Nuchal Transparency (NT) Test done at week 11 in Thailand, and our ultrasound done in Australia in week 20. Once third trimester rolled around, it would be unsafe for me to travel (plus, airlines won’t let you fly past 36 weeks without a doctor’s note anyway), and we’d come back to Canada to give birth.

For those who don’t speak pregnancy, the NIPT is a blood test that that screens for series of genetic conditions in the first trimester. It can also tell you the sex of the baby. Whenever people ask me, “Do you know what you’re having or will it be a surprise?” I respond with “Oh I found out in the first trimester.” Screw being surprised. You think this control freak of a brain would wait a whole 9 months to find out? And somehow not plan for the rest of the 18 years for my future kid’s life? HA!

So, yeah, we found out Little Matchstick is a boy as soon as week 11 rolled around. We did it at Bumrungrad hospital in Bangkok, which looked more like a 5-star hotel than a hospital. We even saw limos pulling up in front straight from the airport! I had no less than 4 nurses attending to me and seeing the doctor was instantaneous. They also had free water and juice in the fancy-pants waiting room and a cafeteria attached where you can get all sorts of delicious dishes while you wait. Forget the usual crappy hospital meals, they have pad krapow gai!.

The doctor was also very knowledgeable and explained exactly what we were looking at during the NT with fluent English.  In fact, this hospital is the best international hospital in Bangkok and boasts staff that speak 32 different languages.

After the NIPT blood test was done, we only waited 9 days for the results to be securely sent to us. The whole process was convenient, efficient, and gave us peace of mind that our little bundle of joy was healthy.  

The cost? 23,456 THB for both tests + doctor’s fee, which is $668.12 USD. Given that the NIPT test isn’t covered by health insurance in Canada and costs around $500 + tax anyway, it was a good deal.

And then when week 20 rolled around and it was time for us to do the anatomy scan, which was a 1 hour thorough ultrasound scan of all the baby’s body parts to make sure everything is growing normally, we booked it in Sydney, Australia and had an equally pleasant experience. The doctor told us exactly what we were looking at, including the chambers of the baby’s heart, the kidney’s, the stomach, bladder, the spine, etc. It was even detailed enough to show you which way the blood was flowing through the heart, colored red on the screen for vein and blue for arteries. They gave us all the information from the scan onto a USB drive that they provided, including a 3D image of Little Matchstick. We later shared this with our OBGYN back in Canada, and it was easy peasy. The cost? $300 Australian dollars or $193 USD.

Other than the tests, the thing we had to worry about was the discomfort of flying while pregnant, especially in the first trimester, where I was so nauseated I couldn’t even drink room temperature water without gagging. I had to drink ice cold water or coconut water. And for food, only bland ham and cheese sandwiches. Back in Canada, I was getting depressed because there was literally nothing I wanted to eat. But once we landed in Southeast Asia, I was so happy to be able to eat nearly everything that I cried tears of joy.

The second I ate that first spoonful of seafood noodles and black chicken feet stew at the Singapore Airport. Everything tasted like home. The only thing I couldn’t eat was anything spicy, and coming from a province in China known for “spicy food and spicy women,” that made me a bit sad, but hey, it beats ham and cheese sandwiches any day of the week!

The sheer number of flights were a bit much, I have to admit. Here’s how it went:

Toronto to Montreal. Then from Montreal to Tokyo. Then from Tokyo to Singapore. Stay overnight. Catch a flight to Chiang Mai the next day in the afternoon, and then straight to dinner with a friend before he lives Thailand the next day.

I was so jet lagged I couldn’t even calculate our share of the bill at dinner. Luckily, my friends were super concerned that I couldn’t MATH THAT SHIT UP and took care of it for me.

That said, it did help that we flew business class using points for all those legs so I still got 7 hours of sleep on the Montreal to Tokyo leg and 6 hours of sleep on the Tokyo to Singapore leg. This was my first business class flight ever, and I never thought I’d be sad when a 13 hour flight was over but that’s what happened, but that will be the subject of its own article in the near future.

Feeling refreshed even though it was a 13 hour flight and I as in my first trimester
Business class flight from Tokyo to Singapore on All Nippon Airways
Business class meal on ANA

So Little Matchstick has been to 6 whole countries (Thailand, Vietnam, Japan, Singapore, New Zealand, Australia) before he’s even born! Hopefully he’ll be a good little traveller going forward.

Have you ever been on a babymoon or travelled while pregnant? Do you have any parenting tips for us? Let’s hear it in the comments below!


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45 thoughts on “The Most Epic Babymoon”

  1. Parenting websites:

    https://feedinglittles.com/
    https://takingcarababies.com/
    https://biglittlefeelings.com/

    Kids need so little. Diapers, wipes, change of cloths, and boob juice/formula

    The doona was amazing for travel the first year.

    https://www.doona.com

    Then we used this:
    https://gb-online.com/en-us/strollers/pockit-all-terrain

    And

    https://www.amazon.com/gp/aw/d/B09Q575WV9?psc=1&ref=ppx_pop_mob_b_asin_title

    Travel with a little human is not much different. We have traveled 4+ times internationally with our little one before she was 20 months. The only drawback is the time change/jet lag suuuuuuucks! Takes our little 5+ days to fully adjust her night sleep.

  2. Congrats you two…

    And welcome to the world little Matchstick! Looking forward to your exploration of the globe as a family. Extremely happy for you all! The million dollar question that remains – will he be taking your last name or @Wanderer or both?!?

    Safe travels and many blessings as always!

    ImmigrantOnFIRE

  3. Ha. You started out as rebels and nihilists, but slowly and surely you are regressing back to the norm.

    Baby now. Homeowners next. Minivan(s) on the way. Bigger family later.

  4. Joovy Gloo Portable Play Tent for travel crib. Start with the small size, it fit in my carry-on. I started using at 6 months and my kid slept in it (and later larger size) for 4 months a year until she was 4yo. Get a dark color better for sleeping in bright places.

  5. I had the same preconceived notions about medical care outside of western countries and was more than pleasantly surprised when I realized I was being brainwashed my whole life by the Canadian medical system… spoiler alert its crap… you get what you pay for IMO!

    So glad you had a good experience!

  6. Congratulations on your baby boy!!!
    We had our baby girl in July and can’t agree more on lack of sleep!!
    We didn’t fly at all during my pregnancy & just did a road trip which was still awesome!! Can’t wait to hear all about your boy’s trips :)))

    1. Congrats!Was in Singapore last week from Tokyo and now in Malaysia on Langkawi Island!Malaysia is much cheaper but wondering about the medical facilities here if we want to live between Tokyo and Kuala Lumpar

  7. Congratulations from a long time reader and first time poster! this will be the adventure of your live!
    You asked the internet for parenting tips, so here are my recommendations (father of 6yo daughter)

    “hunt, gather, parent” by Michaleen Doucleff

    Google:Attachment parenting (i got good sources in german)

    no/few toys

    it takes a village to raise a child

    good luck and enjoy the time!

    best regards Martin

  8. Congrats on becoming parents! It’s a wild ride but so worth it! The book On Becoming Babywise by Bucknam saved my sanity and was a great resource for getting our kids on a sleeping/eating schedule when they were infants. Have fun!

    1. A non-judgemental follow up suggesting you research the Babywise parenting philosophy.

      Buckman and the Babywise approach are rooted in Christianity and not pediatric research (previous book is “Preparation for Parenting: Bringing God’s Order to Your Baby’s Day and Restful Sleep to Your Baby’s Night” which advocates leaving your baby to cry it out because God didn’t intervene when Jesus cried out on the cross), and following it’s recommendations has resulted in infants failing to thrive. The American Academy of Pediatrics and other experts cites dehydration, undernourishment, poor weight gain, sluggish growth, delayed development, premature weaning, and lowered milk supply in mothers as issues associated with the Babywise methods. I believe more recent versions of the guidance/book have softened it’s recommendations.

  9. Congratulations! My only advice is to ignore everyone’s advice! Every baby is different and you’ll try things and see what works for you. My first was an energizer bunny who never slept. My second I couldn’t wake up. 😂. Of course. I guess I’d improved a lot as a parent? 🙄 I can promise you it’s easier to fly pregnant than with babies – but that one day really soon you’ll have blinked and they’re not babies anymore and you miss the smell of them and their sweet cuddles. Sniff!

  10. Congrats, hope you will enjoy the parenthood a lot! There’s a YouTube channel Flying the Nest where they travel with baby and a toddler. I’ve got useful tips from them. 🙂

  11. Congratulations. What was wanderer’s reaction when u told him?
    I am surprised he didn’t wrap you up in cotton wool, first instinct of all first time fathers to be when they find out in my experience. Looking forward to your posts on traveling with a child and the increased costs with it.

  12. Congratulations.
    When I was 3 months pregnant with our 1st baby we travelled to Cartehena, Columbia.
    I went scuba diving to the horrors of my friend. “It was only 30 feet deep.” I replied in my defense.
    I was clueless about how to vomit through the regulator. I never had to vomit. All turned out well.

    I am grateful for all the good travelling memories we have in spite of our youth. Though I blissfully thought I was wise. Hahaha. Unfortunately I have no advice.

  13. Congratulations,
    Sometime around year old your baby may develop air sickness. The trick to handling this is always be prepared. On leaving for the airport, (yes it can start that early) have air sickness bags on the ready at all times. If you are not prepared, there will be a mess that is insanely difficult to deal with on a plane. I have travelled with children who would begin vomiting on the way to the airport (a drive in the dark for early morning flights) and not finish until after leaving the departures area.
    Somehow we all survived.
    Good luck,
    T

  14. Congratulations to you both! I’m so happy for this new chapter for you. Nothing has brought me greater joy than my kids, and I’m sure you both will find the same.

  15. Congratulations.
    Also , until your little one is over 12 months , it’s a good time to travel as no extra costs for a seat and he’s manageable.
    You get to open an RESP for him, will you front load it or contribute yearly ?
    After he’s a year old , I wonder which house you’ll be living in, which car you’ll drive and which preschool, kindergarten and school you’ll be driving him to ? Also after traveling business, you’ll never want to fly any other way.
    Welcome to the “FIRE until your kids 18 “ movement

  16. Congratulations on the new adventure. There is alot of advice out there, but I recently went to 2 baby showers for family. I picked up two really really good pieces of advice, that are a bit off the beaten path.

    The first was one from my mom. She said in the crib you put a mattress protector, then fitted sheet. Then mattress protector and sheet. That way in the middle of the night if the baby has an accident. And your exhausted and can’t see strait anymore, you can pull of the solid layer and have a fresh layer underneath

    Second invest in a GOOD collapsible wagon. You will use it for years, they fold flat and their light weight. Kids will not always want to walk, and you will use it for use stuff as they age like haloing their soccer gear, or trick or treating. One brand I heard the most was MAC

  17. Wow! I’m happy for you! Don’t forget to sign that child up for Spanish lessons with Uncle Dan in Taipei, Taiwan.

    Even though I live in a place with pretty amazing health care and medical insurance, I’m still wowed by the level of English language care you got as (if I understood you correctly) an uninsured patient in Thailand.

    So how will your new Mom and Dad jobs fit in with the logistics of your FIRE lifestyle that includes so much traveling?

    Best wishes from Taipei, Taiwan–bring that child over for some free Spanish lessons from his American uncle!

    Dan V
    Taipei

  18. Loads of Congratualtions to you both for the beautiful new addition to the family. I am eager to see how this will influence your future choices. Whateever you choose, I wish you all the best on this brand new journey as a family.

  19. Glad I am not alone in calling it boob juice.

    Our little one was conceived during the height of the Delta variant in Transylvania while we were in quarantine after a wedding. My advice; travel is easiest before 9 months old, after that they can get very impatient on long trips. Also time travel with normal sleep schedules, far less exhausting than travel during the day. We squeezed in five countries, but the flight home from Rome was 10 hours of exhausting play to keep our almost toddler in a good mood. For now sticking within 2 hours of the house, which is fine when you live in the Yukon 🙂

  20. Again, so excited for you 💗 We did a lot of skin on skin, MB only in a diaper for a lot of the first year, supposed to increase bonding, and yay less laundry. South Asian in laws had lots of unhelpful comments about this, we ignored them 😘

  21. Congrats! I’ve never travelled while pregnant but I did go to Italy with my sister who was seven months pregnant (her doctor said it’d be fine 🤷🏻‍♀️, well I guess it was so who knows). Anyways, Italians loooove pregnant people and we got to skip to the front of most lines and there were people chasing her down the street trying to get her to eat at their restaurants. Highly recommend Italy while pregnant. Plus fetuses love pasta and gelato.

  22. CONGRATS! i can’t wait to hear more about how you navigate this journey. i’m expecting my first little one soon and am sooo curious to see how it shifts our fire plans.

  23. Congrats! The hardest most precious thing you will ever do and yes… I’ve read your book and know that is saying a lot.

    Sleep and honor your body.

    It’s a gift.💛

  24. Traveling while pregnant turned out to be a real problem in the USA. A Canadian traveling to the US needs health insurance (and some nose plugs for all the Trump smellyness).

    US hospitals are insanely expensive.

    Problem was, when we read the fine print, pregnancy was considered a pre existing condition and so was uninsured.

    If anything went wrong, we would be on the hook for like 100K US or more in hospital bills.

    Totally ruined our trip, that we had to cancel.

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