In Antigua...the weather is perfect--in the 80s, mostly sunny and humid, with a sprinkle of sun-kissed rain every day (lots of rainbows!). After we switch rooms from our initial ant-palace, we relax and enjoy the comforts of the resort. We go snorkeling at the coral reefs, we kayak in the ocean, visit the town of St. John's (and see Obama's inauguration on tv at one of the bars, amidst cheering West Indian residents--pretty cool) and Mike plays beach volleyball, beach soccer, and takes windsurfing lessons. We eat a lot (what will my OB think of my weight gain at my next appointment?), swim a lot, and relax by the beach and pool a lot.
Not only is the vacation refreshing and nurturing to us as pre-parents and as a married couple, but it is also a fun time to be reminded of the excitement of being pregnant itself. Away from the usual day-to-day activities of work, email, phone calls...there is something unique in sharing a pregnancy with strangers who don't see you every day, especially when you are the only pregnant woman, and you are walking around in a bathing suit for all to see the bare belly! It is a good conversation starter and attention grabber for other resort goers and employees. Every day, at least 5-10 people talk to me somehow about the baby:
Most often, people say, as I walk by, or if I enter or exit a restaurant, "Take care of that baby!" or "How's your baby enjoying Antigua?"
-"When are you due?" One restaurant hostess doesn't believe I am 6 months pregnant and stares at me for an awkward amount of time as I try to laugh it off while taking my seat at the table. "Yes, he's in there!" I say. More staring. "Hahah, yup." More staring. "It's my first." I am running out of nonchalant things to say and she's still staring... She shakes her head, very serious. "I don't believe it," she says almost in a disapproving manner. "Hahah, well, it's true. He's moving around in there!" More awkward staring. Okay, another employee is here now to take our drink order. Hostess leaves. That was weirdly tense.
-"Are you having a boy or a girl?" Or many people guess first, "Is it a boy?" (No one guessed a girl--interesting, right?)
-"I love that belly!"
-"You girls are lucky you can wear tight clothing now--it looks great! When I was pregnant they had us wearing tents!"
-One of my favorite comments is from a young man working at the buffet who makes eggs to order at breakfast and grilled sandwiches at lunch. The very first time I see him, in line for an egg white omelet, he says with no other opening, "I wish you would have your baby in Antigua." I almost do not understand what he says as I'm not expecting that statement. I ask him to repeat himself, he does, and I laugh. "Oh, yes, that would definitely be memorable!" He asks when I'm due and I tell him. After this, every time I see him, he comments that I should stay for three more months to have my baby here. He knows I would love it. The baby would love it. Why don't I stay?
It is a relief to walk around and have everyone instantly know that I am pregnant. I realize that while being pregnant in the winter has its advantages, it would also be fun to be pregnant in the summer. There are no heavy winter coats to hide your belly; people can instantly see it's not just pudge under a bulky coat--you are really pregnant! The temperature and high humidity also does not seem to bother me (yet, at least), clothing is easy and light (lots of summer dresses are loose enough to fit and bikini bottoms still fit), and it is just so joyous to be out in the sun. That works wonders for any mood.
Perhaps one of the best advantages of "summer" in terms of my pregnant body is the light feeling I have when I walk in the water. The first time Mike and I walk into the ocean, I notice a different feeling as the water surrounds my belly. I almost feel as though my belly is expanding, but at the same time, it feels as though it is floating on its own. My lower back, which has been aching a great deal lately, feels no pain and the sensation of lightness is amazing. As I walk out of the ocean, I slowly start to feel my back aching more and more--until the water is just at my legs, and I feel heavy and achy once more. I know water makes you feel lighter, but I have never experienced it in such a dramatic and obvious way before.
And while Mike and I enjoy the advantages the water, sun, and all-inclusive resort provide, little Womb Baby seems to be affected by the vacation, as well. After our snorkeling trip about half-way through our vacation, he starts moving and kicking more than I have ever felt him before. He kicks and punches hard, flops over hard, and moves along my belly in slow firm motions. None of this is new (although we do feel him hiccup for the first time), but what is new is that he seems to be moving almost constantly when I am awake. He now not only moves when I'm sitting or lying down, but he moves when I am standing, walking, eating--times when he would typically relax prior to the snorkeling trip.
I am not certain what has changed him after the boat ride and snorkeling excursion, but apparently he is a new man! And stronger than ever!
And now, we are back in New York. We're back on our computers, making our own food again, and I rest my feet on the space heater to warm up the little piglets. But the memory of the pastel ocean, the clear and winding pool, the soft sand, the Caribbean music, and the solid "Mike & Tara Time" we experienced, are still very vivid, strong, and make me smile.
I now just need to teach my body to be patient for another six months until it can relax in the warm sun on the beach once more...with a little baby by its side...