There's a special way that the majority of the world treats a pregnant woman. Regardless of what country she's in, she's revered. A precious jewel to be treasured while she creates another human life. This sentiment is only magnified when she's on her own. She's strong but fragile. Powerful but vulnerable all at the same time. Something to protect.
At 21 weeks pregnant with twins I decided to take a trip on my own to the Moroccan coast. This was a country I had been to several times before (both on my own and with others) and had always felt relatively safe in. I have always been incredibly respectful of cultural boundaries and fairly 'street smart' (the usual no dark alleys at night on my own; always knew where my money was safely zippered away etc), so I was curious to see if I was going to be on a higher alert being on my own and carrying a 5 month twin stomach around.
With a visible bump on display you attract the courteous "please come to the front of the queue," through to the heartfelt blessings bestowed upon you by others in a different tongue. I felt the Moroccan women watching me protectively as I'd walk by and the men being sure to keep their respectful distance. I was hassled less by vendors and felt that I wasn't seen so much as prey by local 'opportunists'; they pretty much let me be. Going on my own while pregnant should have been no different. But it was different. I actually felt safer and more looked after.
Aside from the lovely respectful locals and a slightly increased sense of protection that I personally felt, that time away on my own while pregnant reaped some other pretty noteworthy rewards too:
1. Eat when you want. Sleep when you want. Utter bliss. No one else's timing to consider. No one else's itinerary to work to. I fell asleep to one of the Harry Potter films at 3pm one afternoon - couldn't tell you which one; it didn't matter. Dubious viewing? You bet. Did I have to justify that to anyone else? Hell no.
2. Coming to terms with the massive life change. You're pregnant. PREGNANT. Your whole entire life is about to change. You're probably working full time still, juggling social and other extra curricular activities and the magnitude of what is happening probably hasn't had a really good chance to sink in yet because you've also had your head down the toilet bowl just trying to cope with the physical toll on your body, let alone the massive mental shift that needs to be made. This is your chance to take stock. Let it sink in. Slowly.
3. Planning. Just three days into my trip I literally felt my mind start to clear. At 2:00 a.m. one morning I started to write out a plan. I didn't stop until sunrise. I asked myself some really hard questions. What support would I need after the babies were born? What was my financial plan? What was my 10 year plan? Where did I want to bring them up? What were the fundamental things I wanted to make sure my children had in life? The really big thinking needs time and space. When I was done I had a tailor-made roadmap that I felt completely happy about. It's an incredible feeling to get that clarity down on paper. It leaves you free to get on with the intense physicality of just being pregnant.
4. Nesting. I understand that this phenomenon usually occurs much later in the pregnancy and is often identified by a massive cleaning spree. However, I realized by the end of the trip that any purchases that I'd made (beach wraps, baby lanterns etc) were all with the babies in mind. I was all about creating the most unbelievable nest for them. It's quite a beautiful thing when you realize that you're responsible for creating a world for a small human or two. It's a mental step change from the once purely selfishly driven purchases (please note: this is not said negatively for I will get back there again, just in 18 years time and already I can't wait!) that you need to make. I don't think I'd purchased a single thing for them before this trip.
I came back feeling completely refreshed, focused, energized and more excited than ever. My horrific morning sickness also happened to stop by the end of the trip too. Coincidence? Potentially. But being able to clear my head in an exotic location where I felt completely safe and totally inspired let me relax, plan and feel ready for the incredible journey of motherhood ahead.