Almost Fearless

On Being Pregnant (Again)

You know what a really good cure for baby fever is? Getting pregnant. I think it takes about two years for the previous pregnancy to wear off, and you forget completely how sick you were, and start day-dreaming about that baby smell, those tiny little feet, that smooshy, warm snuggly bear that sleeps against your chest as you wear them in a sling. Then the first trimester hits and you drop all of that, you drop everything really, because you’re reeling with morning sickness and strange aches and in my case, a deep sense that you had done this before.

When we got pregnant with Cole, we got pregnant on the first try. Which amazed us because we had been together for almost nine years at that point and our birth control habits had been laid back, to say the least. In fact we were kind of convinced that nine years without an accidental pregnancy meant that we were definitely going to need some medical intervention to get pregnant now that we were trying. Nope.

Getting pregnant this quickly meant that I wasn’t really convinced it was real. The first pregnancy test had the faintest of blue lines and Drew asked, “Well, what does it say?” I responded with, “it’s inconclusive.”

Friends, let me let you in on a little secret: you can’t be a little pregnant.

Still, there I was, 32 years old, Googling my test results and finding myself reading teenage girls’ desperate Yahoo Answers queries, “Um, so like do you think that means I’m pregnant, cuz it’s barely there?” with the sage older woman responding, “Honey, you are so pregnant.”

That was me. I was deeply ambivalent and feeling that I shouldn’t get too excited because THERE WAS NO WAY I WAS REALLY PREGNANT.

Weeks later when I heard the heartbeat, all of that vanished. Still, I didn’t feel truly pregnant until the baby kicked, and I didn’t know if I would cry when he was born, and I worried that my lack of giggly-joy was an indicator of my future as a mother. It wasn’t. I sobbed when I first saw him and I’ve been in love ever since.

This time around, I spent the better part of the last year lusting over my friend’s baby pics on Facebook. Drew and I knew we wanted another one, the issue was just timing. Finally when we arrived in Beirut, we figured we could start trying, in preparation for the months it would take to get pregnant. You see how our brains work? We learn nothing. Ever. After the first try? Pregnant.

Yet this time was different. The pharmacy gave us a pregnancy test that was off-label, sort of like one of those pH sticks you use to test your pool water. I took a few of those over several days and I wasn’t pregnant. Not even a little.

Drew was convinced I couldn’t be pregnant so he said, “stop wasting money on those” or something equally grumpy and we dropped it. I think we just forgot. It wasn’t until weeks later when I had been increasingly sick that I suddenly remember something. A feeling I had when I was pregnant the first time. This sensation I can’t even describe, like having a head cold and food poisoning and taking too much Theraflu. Everything smelled weird and I was woozy. When I gagged at the moist smell of ripe fruits and vegetables in our kitchen, a smell that Drew said he couldn’t detect, I had this scent memory and everything flooded back. I remembered. Oh right, this is what it feels like to be pregnant.

“Drew I think I’m pregnant. You have to go first thing tomorrow and get a test.”

Then I ran to the bathroom and threw up.

This time, Drew bought the expensive Clear Blue tests, even though he was sure I just had food poisoning. When the test turned positive, I just laughed. This time Drew didn’t have to ask what the test said.

Drew and I had our giddy, ‘yay we’re pregnant’ moment, then I collapsed back in bed.

Everything I had forgotten about pregnancy beyond morning sickness — the achy feeling, the sore lower back, the constant mild cramping, the headaches, the allergies (my allergies really act up when I’m pregnant, which I COMPLETELY blocked out) and my god, my poor breasts, I mean seriously, this is just cruel — all of it has come back to me. I even caught myself thinking, “Christine, you can just make it through the next few weeks, the rest of the pregnancy will be easier” but with a certain feeling of déjà vu, I’m sure I thought that the first time, only to have the rest of the pregnancy be uncomfortable, slightly nauseous if I didn’t constantly eat, and woozy. I play the same tricks on myself each time. I think it’s called hope. Or deep, deep denial. In either case, it’s keeping the world populated with little Gilberts, so at least it’s working.

The big question now, is where to have this child. Drew and I talked about having the baby in Mexico or Buenos Aires, but now that I’m knocked up and miserable (sorry, I’m a big baby about feeling crappy, I can’t pretend I love the first trimester) I’m fantasizing about a lovely Thai birth, in a calm and soothing Thai hospital, and spending the last months of this pregnancy eating Thai food and getting $3 foot rubs. I have no idea what that would mean for me professionally, because I also have nothing new to say about Thailand. What would I write about? “Hey guys, have you heard of Chiang Mai? OH RIGHT I WROTE ABOUT IT A MILLION TIMES.”

Maybe I can’t really think clearly about this yet. I’m somewhat amazed at how completely this pregnancy has derailed me. Drew asks me something simple like, “Do you want pancakes or muesli with bananas for breakfast” and my head literally hurts. It’s kicking my ass.

Meanwhile, Cole and I have been on an extended date together, long snuggles in bed with his sicky mommy. He’s never had such unlimited access to me, and I think he loves it. We have this secret language now, his little ‘mmm hmmm’ whispered to me beneath the covers, I tickle him, but know when to stop, he wraps his arms around my neck and squeezes. He’s so long, his feet stretch past my knees when he lays at chest level, and he rubs his feet together, like I do, as he’s falling asleep. It’s our last hoorah together as a solo baby-mama act, and it feels almost as important as the first.

So Thailand? Buenos Aires? Mexico? Spain? I have no idea. Right now, I’m just being patient, enjoying Cole and waiting to see what happens next.


Christine Gilbert

I’ve been dragging my husband around the world since 2008 always with the promise that, “Yes, Drew there will definitely be hammocks there.”



  • Bangkok. Here:

    I met a woman who’s had 2 kids there and she loves it. You get a private room with an intimate birth with the option of moving to a more “hospital-y” setting if there are complications. All for a fixed price (I can’t remember exactly, but it was pretty cheap compared to US standards). I think she did something like this: .

    There’d be plenty to write about on Bangkok…

  • I second BKK. Have had a few friends have kids there. The hospital experience is amazing and cheap. And those pre/post baby (cheap) massages are a big incentive. Plus, you wouldn’t have to travel very far. BA and Mexico are long flights from where you are right now…

  • You know what is the coolest thing (to me) about this post? It’s you two calmly analyzing and deciding your child’s nationality by birth! 99% of the world would never think this option was open to them. But choose well. Who has the best future outlook in regards to civil rights, passports, etc.? Lots of factors to consider, although I certainly can’t fault you for the Thai food/foot rub factor… 🙂

    And *congrats,* of course!

  • HOLY BALLS you guys are amazing!

    While I feel like a badass for just being a digital nomad, you guys calmly decide where to push a child out of your vagina in the same way I decide which continent I want to eat on next month. It’s incredible. Congratulations and I look forward to reading more about your inspiring life!

  • Congratulations! Wherever the little one is born it will be one lucky baby to have such incredible parents (& an impressively worldly big brother!) :o)

  • I find it most interesting that you’d not even consider the US…does Grandma not want to help with the birth? Or is the American birth experience so bad that you want to go somewhere else?

    • I don’t know, I guess we don’t really have any interest in going back to the States to have the baby. We did that with Cole, but we know more about the process now and have more experience with international healthcare, so we’re pretty comfortable with our ability to find quality care in most countries. I mean I’m not having the baby in a yurt in Mongolia! Some of the Thai hospitals for example are much nicer than the ones I’ve seen in the States.

      • Christine,

        I know exactly how you feel. We had our first in the States, then, when pregnant again, we had to decide where to have our second. Choice were (my) USA, (wife’s) Canada, or our (then home) Czech Republic. We chose Czech for the comfort, friends and cost, and to some degree, safety of the birth.

        My vote – Thailand for sure. Go with your comfort and well-being. The “professional” side will follow.

        To Heather, while the US is still a great country, it also leads the world in some unfortunate stats, particularly during pregnancy & birth. That steered us away.

        Best to all,

  • Congratulations Christine & Drew, & Cole! What exciting news although I know it feels like hell some moments. I love your writing and everything you are doing– and love that you are so open to wherever you give birth to your next child. Best of luck on your decision, sounds like Thailand might be the ideal pick!

  • You’ll be able to write about what it’s like to go through pregnancy and the birthing process in whichever country you two decide on. I vote for Thailand, but then I would, wouldn’t I? Super congrats and hugs from the Chiang Mai Nahabedians. xo

  • Christine…that is so exciting! Have followed your journey for a while now and am so glued to see how the adventure continues to unfold being pregnant overseas. Wishing you, Drew, and Cole the best!

  • Wow!! Congratulations! Our daughter just turned 2 yesterday but I am nowhere near thinking of the second one yet, much praise to you!

  • Congratulations!!! Our baby no.1 arrived in China, but our time there was coming to an end when no.2 was due so we seriously considered Thailand too – the great healthcare and not too crazy prices just make sense – we ended up in the UAE which is maybe another option close to where you are now – although I’m guessing considerably more expensive than Thailand.

    And just to answer Glenn Dixon, you don’t automatically get a passport based just on where you’re born – neither of my kids are entitled to the passport of their country of birth – they get either my, or my husbands nationality

    • Hi Christine,

      As Kirsty mentioned, just because you’re born in a country doesn’t necessarily give you the right to citizenship. However, there are still many countries (mostly in the Americas) that observe jus soli, or “right of the soil.”

      Might be something worth discussing, as not only could your child get citizenship, but there might be options for you, Drew, and Cole to get residency too.

      Here’s the Wikipedia article on jus soli:

  • Hi Christine,
    I remember all too well how morning sickness can make normally pleasant smells turn your stomach. I have a number of friends here in Thailand who have had babies here and they all have had very positive experiences. I guess it just depends what international passport you want your next little gilbert to have! Great thing to blog about though. I think lots of people (well female expats – anyway!) will be interested.

  • Sigh. I love it… and you’re right, you DO do it by feel the second (and subsequent) times… the whole thing is much less scary… pamper yourself and Cole and savor the time! 🙂

  • Wow! Christine! Congrats. You really live life all-in. Between Beirut, the movie and now this? Hugely wonderful, except, yes, I understand, first trimester. It’s unpleasant.

    And let me say, if you choose Buenos Aires, I can help you out on resources with that. I’ve done my research there, because when thinking of a new baby, that’s probably where we’d go, too.

    Besitos de Argentina.


  • Oh boy. I finally made it to my third trimester (4th pregnancy – but I had a miscarriage between #1 and #2), and I hear you loud and clear about how the awfulness of the beginning. What IS it with the amnesia?!

    And now I’m remembering that I had determined the point for being so miserable in the first trimester was to make sure you really wanted the baby, the point for being so miserable in the third trimester is to not care anymore about birth pain and stuff – YOU JUST WANT THE BABY OUT. (second trimester is just a break).

    Birth! I vote for Bali. My friend just had hers there – and those stories of the birth center with the singing-during-birth sound pretty awesome.

  • I have felt your pain!

    Got pregnant (unexpectedly) with #5 (Atlas) just as we left to live in India. I was so excited to go. But threw up the morning we left for the airport and was so sick the entire 30 hour flight. By the time we arrived, I already hated India!!! The smells, the heat, the food. I was not a happy pregnant traveler. 😉 Greg wondered what had happened to me (I was wondering the same thing).

    Now that he’s almost 2 years old, I can appreciate the experience and look forward to going back and ENJOYING India next time.

    Wherever you have this new one, I’m sure it will be amazing! Maybe we’ll come visit if it’s in Mexico or Buenos Aires.

  • Oh honey, sorry you’re having such a tough first trimester! I was lucky to escape with mild nausea and just one episode of vomiting but I know friends who’ve had it really bad. I hope it gets better for you soon.

  • I like the idea of the child gaining citizenship from the country where it’s born.
    While Thailand has a good reputation for its hospitals, you need to be 100% comfortable with the doctors and nurses, and most importantly their communication skills because having language issues in a (potential) moment of crisis is a complication you don’t need.
    A couple of years ago, I read a series of blog posts written by an expat living in Bangkok about her experience with the birth of her 3rd child in a Bangkok hospital. It wasn’t 100% positive as everyone else seems to suggest. Unfortunately, I can’t find it now, but if I do I’ll send it to you so you can have another perspective.

  • I suggest Thailand too, but a different town this time. But then again, maybe spending more time in Chiang Mai will lead to some interesting new discoveries about its culture.

  • This was a really beautiful post, especially the last bit with you and Cole, very moving. I just had food poisoning, and during the throws of it vowed never to get pregnant because there’s no way I’d hack the labor. I never considered the morning sickness. From the response to this post I think you’d do very well documenting the birth (not like, live or anything!) in Thailand. I’m currently in Bangkok, planning all our health checks here myself! Congrats!!!

  • I feel for you. Sounds like my pregnancies… first shot but so rough. I returned to Oz from overseas for both births, but only because my mum is a midwife and I needed her (big wuss). But I’d say Thailand… great care and you’ll always find something to write about. 🙂