BECAUSE traveling with two children is not complicated enough, my husband and I have upped the ante. When we visit Amsterdam and Germany this summer, we'll be taking along that standby American demographic -- 2 1/2 kids. I'll be just shy of six months pregnant when we get on the plane.
My ob-gyn, who cleared me for take-off and landing, had a few suggestions. I am to drink lots of water, no really, lots of water, not just the occasional pull at a sports bottle. To prevent blood clots, I am not to remain seated for more than two hours at a time (with all that water, not to mention the kids, this doesn't seem like a possibility anyway) and she would prefer that we not visit any countries with a bird flu issue. (Me too.)
She put together a travel pack of "baby-safe" medications, including a sleep aid, just in case, and scheduled an appointment for the day before we leave. And I'll have her number with me at all times.
Having already made a few trips by car and plane during this pregnancy, I have a few recommendations of my own.
* Do not take the window seat on the airplane. This is not a problem for me because I have two children who will fight to the death for this honor. But other prospective moms should keep in mind that window seats force you to crawl over other passengers to take those frequent walks to the restroom. Window seats also seem warmer and more claustrophobic, conditions exacerbated by bulk and hormones.
* Bring your own food and plenty of it. Many domestic carriers have their passengers on a starvation/junk-food program these days, passing around baskets filled with nuts, crackers and cookies in lieu of meals. All of which you will eat, in disturbing quantities, if nothing else is available. Even if meals are provided, you will still be getting airline food, which can be indigestible under the best of circumstances and often salty. I am already retaining quite enough water, thanks. Having learned all this the hard way, I am taking an insulated lunch box filled with real food, and if I look like Aunt Esther hunched over her waxed-paper packet in the bus station, so be it. At least there's a chance my shoes will fit at the end of the flight.
* Check your bags, or pack only a lightweight carry-on. You shouldn't be lifting anything heavy other than yourself (and all that darn water).
* If traveling by car, the food rule is pretty much the same, unless you want an excuse to raid the gas-station snack shop or rediscover the glories of Chicken McNuggets. Also, plan on stopping every two hours for a little walk around. You're already prone to mood swings (as your spouse or children will be glad to tell you); why allow fanny fatigue to make this worse?
* Packing is at once simpler and more difficult. I don't have nearly as many clothes to choose from as I usually do, so the danger of overpacking is diminished. That's good, because I need all the room I can get for those enormous prenatal vitamins as well as doctor-approved over-the-counter items -- antacids, Tylenol, laxatives -- that I now consume regularly. Once, when I wasn't pregnant, I was caught in Italy with a terrible stomachache only to discover that pharmacies were not open on Sunday evenings and not even the bars sold Alka-Seltzer. This time I'm packing my own.
* Most important, as I keep warning my family, a pregnant woman cannot be expected to maintain a breakneck, castle-a-day, it's-just-a-few-more-miles pace. I will need to sit and rest and even take the occasional day off.
To which my husband can only reply, "Can I get that in writing?"
Contact Mary McNamara at firstname.lastname@example.org