22 Weeks : 10 Days in Iceland

As we made our descent onto the harsh landscape of a country inhabited with a mere 300,000 people, I couldn’t help but feel like we were landing on the moon. Accurately named the land of fire and ice, this country already had a grasp on me.

After much anticipation, 10 upcoming days of Icelandic adventure, a writing retreat, and a baby-moon were upon me. Here is a small taste of my experience traveling to Iceland while 22 weeks pregnant.

International travel as a baby bean carrier felt amazingly out of whack, but at the same time, so normal, because it was still me, doing my favorite thing in the world.

Far outside of my control and comfort zone, I quickly realized that the real Mother Nature rules the roost on this island. 

My anxiety level was certainly higher than on a normal trip, unsure of so many unknowns and wanting to protect my baby. I had a few rough nights of heart-racing insomnia that left me questioning my strength. This led to anxiety about having anxiety and not wanting to put extra stress on my baby. Anybody?

I quickly turned those thoughts into a positive mantra, arming myself with a new sense of purpose and double the amount of strength with my baby on board.

“I will not harbor unhealthy thoughts anymore.” – Elizabeth Gilbert.

With pickled shark plaguing the menus, I knew I was in for an interesting week of eating. We as Americans, or maybe me as an internet reading informant, seem to be significantly stricter on pregnancy diet than other countries. No lunch meat, no unpasteurized cheese, no raw eggs,  the list goes on. No such rules exist in Icelandic culture. I cheated a few times, and gave myself permission to be ok with it. Hunger and nausea usually won the battle when there was nothing else to eat!

Bean, will you forgive me?

Natural, geothermal hot springs sprinkled the landscape. A full-body mineral bath plunge felt like Iceland’s form of a baptism; holy relaxation. 

As if in perfect harmony with my need for reassurance, bean was moving around inside of me like a wild, fist-bumping banshee the entire trip. While laying in bed one night, watching “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty”, my husband felt bean kick for the very first time. His reaction and disbelief were priceless, slightly creeped out yet unable to get enough. We laughed and cried in a magical moment imprinted on my memory forever.

Despite the challenges, and missing out on a couple of experiences, it was worth it. It’s always worth it to jump out of my comfort zone and come back built up with an even greater layer of strength and bravery.

Our pseudo lunar landing was complete. One small stamp on our passport and one giant leap in the memory book for our family.

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Tales From The “Baby” of Four Girls

We have a special guest blog post today by Michelle Loftus, my baby sister, who makes me laugh and smile every single day.

I can honestly say that I am who I am because of my God-given situation: having three older sisters and being the baby in my family. I have experienced more first-place medals, birthdays, break ups, and graduations than any typical 24-year-old, because whatever my sisters experience, I experience. While I didn’t always have such an optimistic perspective on sharing in my sisters’ experiences (I mean who really wants to go from a soccer game, to a water polo match, back to a soccer game all on their 10th birthday?), at least I got to wear my cool, new, bright blue sunglasses for the events. I have realized that I am better because of everything my sisters have endured. My three older sisters are each a role model to me in their own, unique way. They are my trinity personified.

Every birthday and Christmas list from year five until the ripe age of 14, I would ask for the same thing: a baby brother or sister. God was really looking out for me by not giving me that, because I biasedly think that being the baby is the best position of the family! You have older siblings as guinea pigs for your parents to test out rules on. You pay attention to every detail and learn from it. For example, if I got put on time-out, I would just take a nap and make the most out of it.  Being the baby has given me leverage to be the most [on purpose] annoying sister about how I’m my parent’s official “baby”. As much as it doesn’t seem like it, this is a big joke within our family, but I play the role well, enjoying all of the attention and perks that come with being the youngest of the family.

Being the baby of four girls, I quickly learned that life isn’t fair (arguably my dad’s favorite quote), no item of clothing is truly just mine, and that I need to speak loudly and extremely fast if I want to be heard. I learned how to handle criticism and grow tough skin. My sisters were right about a few things: braces were not my best accessory, bangs should never be placed on my forehead again, and zits will always be named and receive appropriate attention.

In later years I learned that whatever standard is set by an older sibling, will be the standard I want to reach. Each of my sisters set the bar higher than Everest.  I learned hard work through watching their achievements: working numerous jobs until receiving a [well-deserved] full-time teaching job, embarking on an 18-month journey [alone] to work in Australia and fulfill her adventuresome spirit, and being offered a professional job [and being loved immensely by the coworkers] before graduating from a Masters program.

They’ve taught me how to love, how to get out of a love that wasn’t right, and how purely blissful life is once you’ve found your soul mate. I was typically the first responder for  big relationship events, like  the first kiss, crying sessions after big breakups and my favorite, many three-way date nights.

Above all, the concept that gets me through all my days (combined with faith which is another blog in itself) is that I know my three older sisters and parents will always love me unconditionally. This isn’t because of who I am, but because of the people they are; endlessly selfless, loving, and supportive. Being the baby has given me confidence to be my truest self whether that’s acting goofy, impatient, laughing uncontrollably intermixed with snorting [slap happy], doubtful, hyper, talkative, etc.. I know that my family will always accept me and welcome me with the biggest hugs and hearts.

Being the baby has given me and will continue to give me perspective, gratitude, and boundless love.