Pregnant on the Road Part 3: Wait, I’m Actually Pregnant, Now What?!

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!

Much love,

 

15 Comments

  1. J. Morrison

    While I admire your independance and confidence during your pregnancy, this has to be one of the most irresponsible blog posts I have ever come across. Your short sightedness and blasé approach approach to pregnancy is not something that should be celebrated or encouraged. There are millions of women in America who struggle to get proper pre and postnatal care. Millions of women hanging on by the skin of their teeth. This is missed opportunity by someone in the spotlight who could help educate people about how important proper care is. This is another perpetuation of the massively out of touch lifestyle blogger. As a mother, I wish you the best of luck raising your child but please remember how public your voice is and how powerful it can be.

    • Madison

      I appreciate your concern and reminder. I went back and made edits to some things that I wrote that may have come off blase or careless – that was not my intention at all. I see now how that could have come off that way and I do apologize. Thank you for helping me understand from another’s perspective. Every woman’s body, pregnancy journey, and baby is so unique and no experience will be the same. I wanted to share my experience especially for those in a similar situation as we were who might wondering how we made it work while traveling. Our approach to pregnancy may have been a more natural, intuitive one, but it was one that I personally felt good about with my health. Of course I don’t think this is a good option for everyone and the last thing I want is for people to try to approach their pregnancy in a way that’s not safe for them personally as everyone is so different. I should have made that much more clear initially. I will be more mindful about the way I share things from now on, considering our public voice. Thank you for your advice and well wishes 🙂

  2. Julia B.

    Thank you so much for sharing! I love hearing about unconventional stories of any kind, #vanlife included. I had some thyroid issues early in college (everything is fine and under control now, thank goodness) but my doctor was about an hour away. He wanted me to see him once a month but that was not possible because I was in school and also worked, so I ended up seeing him every 6 months and it worked out great for me! I agree that doctors generalize and want to see patients way more often. My mom has a theory that they do that not only to cover their bases but also to make more money, which is understandable.

    It’s so encouraging to hear people listening to their guts, because our instincts are almost always right!

  3. Beck and Steve

    Thank you! This was a helpful and good read 👍. You guys make it look easy…Oh yeah, and CONGRATS!!!

    • Madison

      Thank you so much for your support! We were very blessed with an extremely healthy pregnancy experience and baby, so we feel really lucky!

  4. Awesome post series! Thanks Madison!

    We are 10 weeks into our pregnancy and 7 weeks into our Road Life. Thanks for sharing the appointment and insurance info. It is tricky thinking about it. I plan on a similar “only the essential” appointments in the 2nd trimester, then will be basically in the region where my provider is for most of the 3rd trimester. Not sure yet though…seems so far away to plan! And insurance is messy. “I travel for work” doesn’t seem to be enough of an excuse. I’ve had to adapt a bit of my activity in the 1st trimester – mostly just not paddling hard whitewater because I hate the surges of anxiety/adrenaline and the chance of swimming in whitewater and banging my belly on a rock. My nausea hits every afternoon, so trying to make the most of my mornings!

    Again, thanks for sharing! Looking forward to seeing the Bean grow on the road too! We plan on being in the Road Life starting again in at 3 months old for a full year of infancy + RVing!

    • Madison

      Susan congratulations!! That’s super exciting for you guys! I’m so impressed that you’re out there still doing your thing while pregnant! You rock 🙂 I hope your nausea gets better! It should start to slow down in a couple weeks I bet. Oh my gosh, insurance is a niiiiightmare… it’s so hard to plan ahead and figure out which doctors and offices will take you. Healthcare in America is completely ridiculous. Someone told me about an online women’s healthcare service: https://www.mavenclinic.com/how-it-works which I really wish I would have known about while I was pregnant, just so I didn’t feel stranded in between appointments and different doctors. So, there’s that option just in case, check it out! Thanks for being supportive and so nice, I was nervous to share our story, but I thought it might possibly be helpful for other travelers to not feel alone in this. Good luck you guys! We are stoked to continue to follow you on this new, happy journey! I hope everything goes beautifully 🙂

  5. Hey Maddison ! This is cali from Wanomads. First of all congrats again on baby Theo 🙂 ! He is a very lucky baby, truly blessed and full of natures’ energy from the beginning of his life ! Thank you for sharing your experience! I loved every part of it :).
    If there is something we all share in the vanlife living is the ‘unconventional’ , and being able to share our unconventinal stories makes us feel less lonely and crazy , I guess, hahaha.
    I admire you and your strength through out the pregnancy , and acknowledging that you were blessed with a healthy and no complications
    Pregnancy. Not all women can go through that. I believe that part of it was because you listened to yourself and your body and knew what was best for you and you kept going no matter what.
    For me it was very clear that this was your experience you were sharing. People have to understand that like as individuals we are all different and we will all go through unique experiences. But it is always nice to read advices from people that have gone through it. Take it or leave it , don’t judge and be thankful for the person who took the time to share their stories. So again , thank you for sharing yours ! I loved it. Can’t wait until the next post !

    • Madison

      Cali! Thank you SO MUCH for your kind words of support and encouragement. That really means a lot to me that you would take the time to write your thoughtful comment! We really feel so blessed to have Theo – he’s such a healthy, happy baby. We are so happy and excited to get to raise him in the wild! I hope our paths cross again on the road with you guys, we need to have a Toyota motorhome meet up! It’s so nice to be able to relate with people like you guys who truly understand and appreciate the unconventional life 🙂 thanks for understanding us and not judging us and our unique journey. Lots of love to you guys and can’t wait to see you again on the road! Happy travels to you beautiful people! <3

      • Cali

        Thank you for your response too ! 🙂
        It would be so awesome if we could do a meet up before we go! We are only staying until end of july, and then we are off to New Zealand!
        Being a part of a whole community that lives the unconventional life feels like you have support when ever you are feeling down.
        Best of luck for Hawaii!!! sounds really exciting! Lots of love for the Our Vie family!

    • Madison

      Haha it’s a little tricky for sure, but still possible! Thanks for reading and for the support! 🙂

  6. Mandy

    Looks like this blog is over now that you have a baby. That’s too bad, it was a lot of fun to follow. Best of luck.

    • Cees

      Ha! No way are we giving up that easy! We just got back from the islands and will have the posts up shortly! Thanks for keeping us on top of it though!

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