Summer is here and with summer comes the Knitschmidt Family Vacation. It usually happens at the end of summer, but without even knowing I was pregnant, my father in law called in January and said “what if we did early June this year?” It turned out to be about the last couple of weeks I would be allowed to travel this year before baby arrives. Perfect! I like to road trip it with the kids. Mr. Knit, being limited to only one week off, flies out to meet us. So it’s JUST me and the kids driving. Think back to the Chevy Chase Vacation movies and you’ll have a pretty good idea. We meet up with the hubby’s family in Virginia and trek down as a large group to the Outer Banks in North Carolina for a week of relaxation and togetherness. We don’t stop driving until we see this:
It’s always an adventure, but traveling pregnant – VERY pregnant – becomes even more interesting. First there’s the matter of permission, from worried parents and medical professionals. I got a lot of “but you can’t do that drive ALONE!!” from the Moms. My doctor, on the other hand, following an extensive ultrasound, glucose test and exam said “have fun, drive careful, drink lots of water and stop often! See you in a few weeks.”
I managed to rent THE most uncomfortable minivan on the planet for the drive. Between that and the “drink lots of water” part, the “stop often” orders were not a problem. I think I managed to check out every truck stop and rest area from Denver to Richmond. Kentucky has nice potties. However, my directions brought me into Virginia via a different route than I’m used to, which really threw me off when I was near SIL’s house. I thought ‘I’ll be there in a minute,’ despite the urgent need to use the facilities. Then I got lost. Then the rain started. And the urgency increased, which would cause me to have a braxton-hicks contraction, which would really make the baby mad, leading to a kick to the bladder, which would increase the urgency, leading to another contraction, which caused, well, you get the picture. I wish I could have been on the outside seeing me waddle-run to the back of that gas station! I arrived safely in the middle of a torrential downpour.
Also entertaining was just getting out of the car, belly leading and three kids in tow, by myself. I can’t tell you how many bug-eyed “you’re due WHEN??” comments I got. It’s like people think pregnancy is a terminal illness. No really! I CAN still drive a car! I had one cranky waitress at a cafe in Kansas act truly horrified that I was traveling pregnant with all those kids without my husband. On my return trip, after leaving the two big kids behind for a couple of weeks of fun with Grandma and Grandpa, I had the sweetest waitress ever in Kentucky tell me “good for you!” when she learned I was traveling with my toddler. She earned her tip!
All in all it was a relaxing trip, believe it or not! We had a week of glorious weather at the beach. Hot, but not unbearable. Humid, but not horribly humid. The morning we left for home started out miserable hot and pea-soup thick air humid. Perfect timing!
So! My tips for traveling by car, with kids, really pregnant:
1 – Drink lots of water, stop often. Doctors orders!! Really, this is not a problem. The former will necessitate the latter. About 3 miles after you leave the rest area you’re going to need to pee again. It’s not hard. And if YOU don’t, someone in the car will.
2 – Turn the air conditioning to the floor and freeze your feet. I was the sole driver, and had some swelling in my left ankle. Just my left ankle. It didn’t have enough to do, so it just sat there swelling. Keeping the air around my feet at arctic temperatures really helped to reduce the swelling. I figured this out the day before I got home after 4500 total miles.
3 – Take a small pillow or two. When you realize an hour into your 26 hour drive that the car you rented is ridiculously uncomfortable, you’ll want them. I did not know this. I came home with a matched set of Richmond Flying Squirrels sport cushions courtesy of my SIL. They helped a LOT!
4 – Give yourself plenty of time to get there. You’re going to be stopping to pee a lot. And need to stretch and move. 10-15 minutes every 40-50 miles really adds to the trip. Plan for this! I’ve made the trip from Denver to Richmond in 2 days (pure insanity – I should have been committed) and in 3 days (comfortably long days) but this time I took 4 days and each day of driving was more than long enough.
5 – Go someplace you can relax and have fun! For me, that’s sun, sand, Carolina pork BBQ and fudge. Oh, the fudge from the Scotch Bonnet! And apple uglies from the Orange Blossom bakery, and anything at The Flying Melon Cafe! Did I mention I had my biggest weight gain of the entire pregnancy on this trip?? Lets not talk about that…