Wednesday, December 1, 2010

The Road Trip at Five Months

By Bethany Erickson

Our plans for Thanksgiving weekend were set long before we knew we were pregnant - in fact, they were set last Spring, when we bought tickets for a college football game in Kansas City, something that has become a tradition of sorts since we started dating.

But this year, I knew I couldn't handle an eight hour road trip. So immediately after we got our big fat positive pregnancy test, we began making plans to break the trip up over four days, driving about five hours on Thursday afternoon, three more on Friday, and then leaving after the game Saturday and driving halfway home before stopping again. We'd finish the trip up Sunday, with plenty of time to relax Sunday evening before returning to work.

At my 18 week check up, I talked to both my OB and our perinatologist about the trip. Both recommended drinking plenty of water, and making plans to stop every hour and a half to two hours to walk around, because pregnant women can be susceptible to blood clots.

"Shuffle your feet around while you're sitting in the car, too," my perinatologist said. "And make sure you drink plenty of water. People have a tendency to get dehydrated when traveling because they don't want to have to make a lot of bathroom stops."

Armed with that knowledge, we felt pretty confident in our preparations. But I did one extra thing that turned out to be a real lifesaver this trip: I made sure I knew what hospitals had labor and delivery facilities where we were traveling, and which ones accepted my insurance. It was easy this time, because my insurance has an iPhone app. The information traveled with me, and changed according to what town I was in. But if it hadn't, I would've made notes of all that information prior to leaving.

And as I said, it turned out to be a good idea. Thursday night, we stopped at a restaurant in Oklahoma to eat dinner. The service was slow, and our meal took 45 minutes to get to the table. In retrospect, I probably should've sent it back. But I was very hungry, and it tasted OK. But not long after, I began feeling quite ill. And soon after checking into a hotel in Wichita, Kan., I began vomiting.

It was pretty clear: I had food poisoning. And after a little arguing from me and a whole lot more vomiting, my husband convinced me it was time to go to an ER and get it handled. Armed with two different iPhone apps, we found a hospital that took my insurance. And at 3 a.m., we were seen right away.

I have to admit, I was reluctant to go. Yes, my mind knew that going would mean I could quit throwing up and I could feel better. But the other part of me wanted no part of going to a strange hospital in a strange town with nobody we knew nearby. My genius plan? Wait it out until 8 a.m., and then call my doctor in Dallas. My other plan? Wait until a little later, and then drive on to Kansas City, and go to a hospital there, where at least we had friends and family nearby. But thankfully, cooler heads prevailed, and the doctor and nurses at the hospital in Wichita were wonderfully sympathetic and ready to help. We even got to hear the baby's heartbeat again, which was a nice bonus.

So at 6 a.m., we staggered back to the hotel, and passed out, waking only to check out and drive to our hotel in Kansas City, where I proceeded to sleep for a solid four hours straight. That night, I felt much, much better. By Saturday morning, I was feeling nearly recovered, and ready for some football. The rest of the trip? Blissfully uneventful.

So fellow mommies-to-be, my advice is simple: Plan and prepare, but know that sometimes the unexpected will happen, and you just have to roll with it. I guess it's good preparation for parenthood, right?

Bethany Erickson is 20 weeks pregnant and the wife of Texas Health Resources web editor Tom Erickson.

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