Disclaimer: I am not a medical professional and am not pretending to know what is best for women and their babies. This is just my story that I wanted to share. Every women and child is different and no two pregnancy journeys will be the same. Every woman’s approach to her pregnancy is unique. Please be mindful in considering what is best for you and your health and do not rely on the experiences and anecdotes of others to drive such important decisions. I think one of the most important things to remember is to listen to your body, your heart, and mind as you gain as much knowledge as possible relating to your pregnancy. Do what is BEST for YOU and for your BABY.
Unconventional is how we roll. So, approaching this pregnancy unconventionally was natural for us. What we quickly found out was that doctors and women’s health care providers aren’t stoked about unconventional. Usually they need notice weeks in advance to schedule an appointment for you. That is SUPER difficult to plan when you live on the road and are constantly on the move. We never know exactly where we’re going to be and we never know when the RV is going to decide to poop out on us. But, if you CAN plan where you’re going to be weeks in advance somehow, even still, once you tell them, “oh by the way I only need one appointment because we live in our RV full-time on the road”… they don’t really like that. In fact, as I was searching for doctors, the first few times I tried to explain our unique situation to various receptionists on the phone, they totally shamed me. They made me feel like I was doing everything wrong and not living in a way that was in the best interest for the baby. I was turned away many times. Generally, clinics won’t take you if you aren’t planning on staying with them for the whole time, getting to know their doctors, following their monthly pregnancy billing plan, and planning on delivering in their affiliated hospital. I didn’t realize it was going to be such a struggle to get good care. But, if you are planning on being pregnant on the road full-time, don’t worry, it’s possible. We made it work and you can too.
The only way we could make it work on the road was to plan way in advance and transfer to different doctors’ offices along the way in different locations.
So, in October we planned to be in Chicago for two whole weeks. I had a huge window of time to schedule my first doctor’s appointment and ultrasound. The first hurdle is finding out what doctors and offices are within your insurance network. You can’t just show up anywhere, you have to find places that will take your insurance of course. I ended up calling a doctor referral service in the downtown Chicago area and they matched my insurance plan with a OBGYN office at Northwestern Memorial Hospital nearby where we were staying. When I called the doctor’s office to schedule my first appointment, I told them that we had just moved there and I found out I was pregnant, but didn’t know exactly how far along I was. It turns out I was already almost 14 weeks! So, I got checked out, had my first ultrasound and everything looked great. They said I was really healthy, active, and was most likely going to have a really low-risk, easy pregnancy. I was so happy! They gave me the whole schpiel about their doctors, their hospital, their billing process and everything. My doctor gave me a whole schedule of all the appointments I would be having throughout the rest of my pregnancy. SO MANY APPOINTMENTS. I told her that we travel often for work, and to tell me which appointments were the most important ones. She said that I would definitely need to be seen between 18-20 weeks for the big ultrasound/gender reveal, and that at 28 weeks we would need to do a glucose test for gestational diabetes, then from 28-34 weeks I really should be coming in every 2 to 3 weeks to check the baby’s heart beat and and record the growth and position of the baby, then from 36 weeks on I would need to be seen every week for sure. This sounded like a pretty do-able schedule to me.
A few weeks later, knowing that we were going to be at Cees’ family’s house in Idaho for Christmas for several weeks, I asked the Chicago office to transfer all my records to an office in Boise. I called ahead and told the Boise office that we were moving there and it was all pretty easy. I had a preliminary consultation appointment with a nurse over the phone, then over the holidays in December I had my second appointment and big ultrasound at 21 weeks in Idaho.
To Gender Reveal or Not Reveal?
— We decided not to know the gender of the baby and waited until the birth to find out, because we’re weird like that. I just think it’s the ultimate last surprise and I didn’t want to take that surprise away from the kid haha. Although, I totally get why people can’t wait to find out, because it’s fun, and makes it a to easier to plan for things. But, I just wanted to have the experience of being in the delivery room, popping out a human, and then Cees announcing whether it’s a boy or a girl!
Anyways, after we had that ultrasound at 21 weeks, we were back on the road again and didn’t go back to Idaho until we finished all the parks that we could before the baby is born. I was already 31 weeks along when we had my third appointment of my pregnancy. It was slightly too late to take the glucose test at 31 weeks, so they just drew my blood instead to check for gestational diabetes. Everything was fine. We did the best we could with appointments. I understand that they want to monitor the baby and make sure the growth is normal and everything, and we made sure to check in as much as possible, but in my experience I felt that they want you to come in more than is necessary. These doctors deal with such a wide array of women that they have to make the general guidelines wide enough to umbrella people across the spectrum from very healthy to drug users, young to older and everything in between. I’m really healthy, very active, I don’t use substances or alcohol, and if something was wrong, of course I would go to the doctor. I know my body and am very in-tune with everything going on. When I was pregnant I read a lot of books on pregnancy and felt comfortable with the process and what was happening with my body. There are a lot of resources out there and many questions that I had, I could easily find answers in my What to Expect book and other books or in online sources. I could also always call my doctor if I had any concerns. Again this is MY experience and I am not trying to recommend my path to anyone else. Everyone is different and has to go about it in a safe way for them and their baby.
Did being pregnant on the road limit my adventures?
— I was really lucky and only felt nauseous for about the first 3 months but rarely ever threw up. It never held me back from doing any of our normal, adventurous activities. While we were still on the road I hiked almost every day, mountain biked, kayaked, climbed, repelled, snowshoed and even skied at 7 months. Obviously, everyone is different and we all have different bodies, abilities, and other things that are out of our control. But, I was very lucky and felt pretty fantastic almost the whole time.
Once I was well into the third trimester I got pretty huge and uncomfortable and had to take it a little easier. It was really good that by 34 weeks we made it to my mom’s house in California to ride out the last few weeks of pregnancy and to be near a hospital and stable care. Once we got home, I had planned on using our family’s OBGYN. I had contacted them once I found out I was pregnant at 14 weeks to make sure they knew I’d be coming at the end of my pregnancy. Trust me, we tried to be as responsible as possible and not leave this until the last minute. BUT, when I got home, they informed me that they had JUST stopped working with my insurance in that office, so I was out of luck and had to find a new provider! This was a huge road bump.
By 35 weeks I STILL couldn’t find a clinic that would take me so far along already. It was a major struggle, but FINALLY by 36 weeks and barely in time, I found a nurse midwife from a great clinic who cared for me until I delivered 2 weeks later. I would recommend PLANNING way ahead and contacting a doctor in advance in whichever town you plan on delivering and letting them know you’re coming. This is crucial and something that was stressful for us and I don’t want anyone to wind up in a similar situation. We were very blessed to have an extremely healthy and low-risk pregnancy, a very easy delivery, and a super healthy, happy baby.
If any of you have questions about pregnancy and road life, don’t hesitate to reach out. I would be more than happy to chat more about it and answer any questions. As always, thank you all so much for your constant love and support for us – you are the best! Stay tuned for our baby’s birth story coming soon!