The Baby Growing Experience

Baby Hansen is growing stronger every day. At first it was a slow and steady process, which left me wondering what, if anything, was happening inside of me. Lately there isn’t a second that slips by where I’m not consumed by the thought of this little human.

We first found out we were expecting in Phuket, Thailand, about a week and a half into our 4 week trip in South East Asia.

My body typically runs as precise as a clock. Nothing happens unexpectedly, especially not my cycles which literally sync with the moon’s schedule. Yes, my moon cycle mimics the moon's cycle... seriously! But traveling can mess up the most regular of any human's body functions, so I didn’t think much of it initially.

After Aunt Flo failed to show up over a week late we took a test that required translating from Thai to English, but the solid double lines were recognizable in any language- they were a very clear positive.

Cautiously optimistic, we took a second test 3 weeks into our trip which was also positive and we proceeded to enjoy every subtle sign that there was life in there without getting too excited until we were back home and could find out for sure that all was okay. The reality of pregnancies are that many, many women experience the tragedy of miscarriage. It's not talked about very often unfortunately, but it is sadly very common. So we chose to not celebrate it until we were further along and knew for sure all was healthy.

Baby Frog during the first ultrasound.

Baby Frog during the first ultrasound.

During the first 16 weeks I experienced the “joys of pregnancy” you often read about- quick growing nails and healthy hair, increased appetite, the ability to sleep-in without guilt, and a huge sense of excitement for what lay ahead. With that came a plethora of peculiar pregnancy realities few people tell you about, for example...

Nosebleeds, exhaustion and nausea, acne centrally located along my jaw line that have clearly caused scaring and will be with me for life, excess mucous stuck to my gums and teeth at all times, cavities, aching legs when laying down, and very prominent veins around my eyes that cannot be concealed.

So fucking unpleasant.

Those first trimester anomalies have somewhat passed, and at nearly the half-way point in this pregnancy I can now enjoy other things- like actually feeling our baby’s movements.

Turns out I’m growing a tiny dancer... Elton John would be proud.

At my first ultrasound the technician had a hard time pinpointing the location of Baby Hansen because of it’s constant movements. Then the image revealed a solid heartbeat, all limbs accounted for, and marathon-runner long legs. So really, it’s a tiny dancer and possibly Kenyan. Dylan's a solid swimmer and I ran track and field during my youth, so it makes sense.

As of last week, week 18, all babies movements are palpable, as well as indescribable. They were first subtle nudges I could only feel internally, or a “fluttering” feeling as it’s often described by the very many pregnancy apps, websites and "what to expect" resources available. Lately it’s reacting to both our voices, music and loud sounds, and can be felt from the outside by both Dylan and myself.

It’s all very new, bizarre and amazing. Apparently Baby Hansen prefers hip-hop, so with it's first few concerts coming up- Propagandhi and Gary Clark Jr.- I'll be sure to wear extra padding around the mid-section to not annoy it.

Thoughts of Our Honeymoon Make Me Gag

Memories of our honeymoon make me nauseous. Literally. Reminiscing about it makes me want to vomit. Never again will I eat Thai food, and I loved it dearly once. I almost can't look at the words 'Thai food' without gagging.

Morning sickness hit me hard in Phuket and continued on through the rest of our journey until we returned to home soil. For that reason, I will forever be grossed out talking about my time in Thailand.

When pregnant the senses are heightened. Being in Thailand is sensory overload for the average human. A human growing another mini human should not go to Thailand... Lesson learned!

Already extreme scents of trash and sewers in 30+ degree weather becomes magnified ten fold. Sea sickness from rocky trips aboard the world's least sturdy vessels where 1 out of every 5 people on board were leaning over the sides throwing up sent me to bed for at least 24 hours upon reaching the shore. The only thing that calmed my queasy stomach was being in the water (certainly not ON the water) whether in the cooler swimming pool or the warm ocean. That and bread. For some reason I needed bread desperately (something I don't normally care for).

I was that "Farang" ordering Western Food at the traditional Thai cafe and insulting everyone around me, simply because I needed some normalcy. Yes, I felt ashamed but my body needed something familiar to keep down and I wasn't going to perpetuate things by not obliging or eating another damn pepper.

I'm going to give it a few years and first try walking past a Thai restaurant without quickly averting my eyes and thinking "happy thoughts" of anything but the food inside the walls. Maybe then, just maybe, I can enjoy the memories of our honeymoon and my favourite Thai dishes once again.

 

 

The Islands of Koh Phangang and Koh Samui

During our final dozen days abroad we made our way to the Gulf of Thailand for some island-hopping.

On the small island of Koh Pha Ngan we settled into our beachside bungalow for 5 days of, well, mostly torrential rain. When the clouds broke and the sun showed it's face for the final couple days of our stay we took advantage of it and rented another motorbike. For $200 bhat/day (less than $8 Canadian) how could we not?

We managed to circle the entire island of Koh Phan Gnan over the course of one day, with stops at some amazing viewpoints, a seaside lunch, one frustrating game of mini-golf, and a dip in the ocean to cool down.

After 5 days exploring we headed to the larger island of Koh Samui, located an hour south by (ridiculously rocky) ferry.

Stopping for a view atop one of Koh Pha Ngan's many steep hills.

After nearly a month of enjoying Thai cuisine we decided to take a cooking course in order to bring a bit of Thailand back home with us.

Our excursion with Island Organics Thai Cooking School commenced with a tour of our hosts- Lat and Cameron's- lush property. From the compost and worm fertilizer, to the aquaponics and mushroom shed, they're enthusiasm and knowledge for sustainable practices was impressive.

During the garden tour we picked fresh herbs and vegetables and prepared a feast of several dishes- including chicken satay, Pad Thai, both green and red curries which were turned into sauces and soups. We even created coconut broth from start to finish by finely grating and liquefying the freshly cracked coconut.

If you ever find yourself on the island of Koh Samui, we'd highly recommend checking out Islands Organics Thai Cooking School. Lat was the most patient teacher, and together with her husband Cameron they've created an outstanding and authentic Thai experience.

The motorbikes look like your typical scooter- but they pack a punch, with the chance to reach speeds well above 120 km/hr. We did not test this feature!

The final days of our trip were spent taking in the sights of Koh Samui by motorbike once again. The very last day we took our time driving around the perimeter of the island, touring the many temples, enjoying the many beaches, vistas, and outdoor markets, then capped off with body-surfing in the warm waters of the Gulf of Thailand.

What an eye-opening experience. Coming to an environment so very different from the one we're accustomed to, each foreign encounter eased by the accommodating nature of the Thai people, and every day unique.

And now, back to reality.

Ko Phi Phi Snorkeling and the Beauty of Krabi

We've spent the past week bouncing around the province of Krabi, first on the party island Ko Phi Phi, then to the quiet coastal district of Ao Nang in Krabi Town.

The main pier and welcoming point to Ko Phi Phi island. 

The main pier and welcoming point to Ko Phi Phi island. 

Ko Phi Phi was not my favourite.

Perhaps 5 years ago when partying harder was high on my list of priorities I could have enjoyed it more. Or maybe if I were into shopping for neon bro tshirts with sayings like "Six Pack Coming Soon" or "Same Same." But I'm not.

Though we did have one incredible experience day tripping off Ko Phi Phi when we snorkelled around the island of Phi Phi Le.

Early afternoon we made our way about 30 minutes by long tail boat to several spots including Maya Bay where the movie 'the Beach' was filmed- a massive selling feature for every tour company (of course).

Snorkel tour off the island of Phi Phi Le

Snorkel tour off the island of Phi Phi Le

We snorkelled over coral reefs, with dozens of species of tropical fish, sea turtles and reef sharks. Once I got over my initial fear of not being able to swim so well mixed with sea sickness, it was awesome!

After a few days on the Phi Phi Islands we hopped back to the mainland by ferry, and I was relieved to see how spread out and lush Krabi was compared to the previous places we've been.

Railay Beach in Krabi

Railay Beach in Krabi

In the area we made home for a few days, Ao Nang, there's just one main seaside stretch. Several kilometres of beach line one side, and hundreds of shops, bars, and restaurants on the opposite side.

The scenery in Krabi is some of the best- towering steep peaks of limestone cut straight from the earth and topped with greenery. The cleanest beaches, pristine ocean, and so many preserved green spaces add to its appeal.

Khao Phanom Bencha National Park

Khao Phanom Bencha National Park

We rented motorbikes again to explore actual Krabi town, then headed off down a beautiful remote road into Khao Phanom Bencha National Park. Once parked we stretched our legs with a quick jungle hike to an impressive seven-tiered waterfall.

Khao Phanom Bencha National Park

Khao Phanom Bencha National Park

We're getting settled now on the (very damp) island of Koh Phanang where apparently there's some party happening??

Yep, the infamous Full Moon Party kicks off tonight shortly before midnight and doesn't end until after sunrise tomorrow. Oy, what are we getting ourselves into?