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Travel-Stained Monthly Recap: October 2015

I had to laugh to myself a little, when I re-read what I wrote in the intro to September’s Monthly Recap. 34 weeks pregnant and naively thinking that I still had 6 weeks of restful nights ahead of me. Yeah, right! Because our little Naia was prematurely born exactly 2 days after I published that post.

Since then, while I’ve been indoors, taking a crash course in unexpected early motherhood, autumn in Seoul seems to have come and almost gone. Trees that were almost uniformly green, pre-baby, have morphed into a riot of vivid reds, yellows and oranges, almost as if by magic.

This year’s autumn doesn’t feel as long or beautiful as it has in the past, with several days of truly horrid air polluting the usually crystal clear blue skies I remember from years past. I hope this isn’t a harbinger of things to come. πŸ™

Unsurprisingly, this month was completely devoid of any exploration on our part…unless you count trips to the hospital for follow-up appointments, or to the store for diapers as travel? πŸ™‚

No, for us, October has been all about the internal journey. Traveling the distance from couple to family has been exciting, rewarding, challenging and totally exhausting…and we’re just getting started!

The amount of chaos a tiny little 2.5kg person can create in your life is beyond unbelievable, but somehow we all made it through the first month intact. We literally had NOTHING prepared for the new little person in our house, so much of the month was spent scrambling to buy everything we needed.

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Fortunately, Korea must be one of the most convenient places in the world to online shop. Before month’s end, we’d ordered and received a crib, bumper bed, stroller, car seat, baby bottles, bibs and more, all without leaving the comfort of our couch. And received most items within a day or two of placing our order.

Aside from the little monster, our house has been a little busier than usual because my parents flew into town to meet their newest grandchild. It’s no lie that having your own child, makes you appreciate your own parents more. Well…at least it’s been that way for me. But then again, maybe I just appreciate all the home-cooked food and diaper changes my mom has been doing for me. :p

Koreans seem to have all kinds of “rules” for nursing mothers and newborns, including eating miyukguk (a seaweed soup rich in iodine) everyday, and not having visitors for at least 21 days (apparently the “safe” time allowed). Of course, we didn’t really follow the “rules” with our expat friends, but not a single one of my Korean extended family graced my doorstep, until after the 21 days were up. Of course, since then, it’s been a never-ending parade of relatives, gifts, and parenting advice (wanted or not)…

October wasn’t a great month for posting, but I think we had a pretty good reason. πŸ˜‰ Despite that, we still managed to get a few blogs up, including a letter to Naia, that I hope she’ll read one day in the future, and the 3rd in our Take 6 Trips in Korea series.

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It’s not that I would change anything about our lives right now (except for perhaps a little more sleep), but there’s definitely a sense of restriction that comes with becoming parents for the first time. Where I once had hours to slowly write and edit a blog post, now I’m lucky if I have time to drink a single cup of coffee in one sitting.

It makes me miss the not-so-distant days of total freedom I used to enjoy. Right now, a long trip feels out of the question, so I’m reminiscing a little about our trip around the world in 2012, when the biggest decisions we had to make were what we were going to see, or which local food we were going to try out.

In 2012, we managed to visit 5 of the 7 New Wonders of the World. Our retrospective on Our Year of World Wonders, feels like a dream…and it’s the post I’m recommending this month.

Where was hubby when my water broke? In a bar, drinking and thinking about his last days as a free man, completely unaware of the drama happening at the hospital. Thank goodness he was conscious enough to answer his phone the next morning. This month, if we’re lucky, we’ll get his version of a “Dear Naia,” post.

And if I’m really lucky, I’ll manage to write all those travel-related posts I’ve been planning to write for so long…(meaning this isn’t going to turn into a baby blog if I can help it…) πŸ˜‰

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Did you get out and about to see the changing of the leaves in your city? What did you get up to in October?

25 Comments Post a comment
  1. Sha #

    Lol, we put out ours almost at the same time! We have confinement time here as well for new mothers, which is why my friends usually want people to come over to visit them because they lack the adult conversations. Hope you enjoy your time with her, it’s too bad they grow so fast! Will look forward to the other Dear Naia letter. By the way, what does the name mean? πŸ™‚

    November 9, 2015
    • Haha, yeah a week late! πŸ˜‰ In Korea, it used to be that mothers and newborns were expected to stay inside for 100 days, but that tradition is from when Korea was poor and many babies didn’t live past 3 months. That’s why the 100 day celebration is so important here. Naia was basically just a blob for the first few weeks, but now she’s starting to interact more, and she’s so cute. πŸ™‚ Naia is a Hawaiian name actually, and it means “to flow.” Hope you’re having a great trip!

      November 11, 2015
  2. Congratulations on the birth of your baby!! My daughter was born here in Korea back in 2014 and like you, I was thinking at 36 weeks I still had a month to relax, but one weekend I fell sick and ended up at the hospital and had to deliver her. I was trying to talk my way into having those last few weeks, um, to relax but my doctor said it was necessary to deliver her. I acquiesced and then, asked “when?”. she was like we can go surgery in 30 minutes. I could have fainted. Can you imagine? I needed hours to get ready, so I stalled and said her father has to get here before I go anywhere. I was totally not ready to become a mother in 30 minutes. In the hospital, I was fed seaweed soup every meal, but I came love it during my pregnancy and those ladies at the hospital made good food for me. I am forever grateful because when I think of hospital food, I never thought of any it being appetizing, but what I had at my hospital was so delicious, including that huge bowl of seaweed soup. I even ate after I was out of the hospital. Happy to have come across your blog and look forward to reading more posts.

    November 9, 2015
    • Hi Tabitha! Aww thanks so much. Oh my goodness, I don’t know how I would’ve coped with having to go into surgery after 30 minutes! I at least had 24 hours to kind of wrap my head around things…and to be honest, I was so scared of the actual surgery, I didn’t really think much beyond it to the whole “becoming a mother” thing. I was given seaweed soup with every meal in the hospital too, but unfortunately, I’m not a big fan. πŸ™ On top of that, I have my mother visiting here from Canada, and about a million aunts all yelling at me to eat miyukguk everyday. I’ve even been given gifts of the dried seaweed from my father’s 75 year old friends! Gahhhh!! I had a tough negotiatiation down to 1 bowl a day. :p

      Are you still in Korea? I’d heard so many nightmare stories about hospitals here, I’m happy to hear that you also had a great experience. πŸ˜€

      November 11, 2015
      • I am still in Korea. My daughter is now 16 months. Overall, I had a very pleasant experience at my hospital (treated like VIPs…I don’t think many foreigners deliver there) and my doctor is all sorts of awesome. Where I originally planned to deliver, which was in the heart of Seoul, that doctor recommended her mentor at Dongtan Jeil Women’s Hospital because we relocated and she was worried about the distance if I went in labor at the wrong time of the day. I really didn’t want to change doctors, but it made sense to and well, it turned out to the be the best decision. She is one of the best OB/GYN and surgeons in Korea. Very experienced and just a sweet and compassionate lady.

        November 11, 2015
  3. Little Naia is so adorable, Congratulations to you all. Yes, life certainly does change once a baby is added to the equation. πŸ™‚

    November 9, 2015
    • Thank you so much Sylvia! πŸ˜€ We are slowly adjusting to new rhythms and learning to live with a little less sleep. Can’t wait till we can take her out on the road with us!

      November 11, 2015
  4. You’ll be strapping Naia into a backpack and hitting the world with her in tow before you know it! When I had my first, I thought my freedom and my chance to roam were dead and gone; little did I know that my real travel adventures were yet to come. Traveling the world with our kids has been a big part of our lives and with your multicultural, adventuresome backgrounds, I have no doubt it will be similar for you!

    November 10, 2015
    • That’s great to hear! When we traveling RTW, we met a few families that were doing year long trips with their kids, and it’s something we definitely want to do with her when she’s old enough. Travel has been so rewarding and expanding for us, I can only imagine what it will do for her… πŸ˜€

      November 11, 2015
    • It is true. I don’t know how it would be with more than one toddler, but I traveled solo with my 16 month old last month to both Hong Kong and Vietnam and we had a blast. Her father had to stay back and work. I am now planning another trip for us to do more exploring here in Asia. I am trying to get in as much travel while we are on this side of the world. Minus flying with a toddler, she is was the best travel partner on the ground and an ambassador in training (LOL!). She loved all of the attention she got from the people we met. I look forward to many more adventures with her.

      November 11, 2015
  5. Great family selfie! We barely have any pictures as a family because usually we only take pics of our son, not ourselves :p
    October, well it’s been a mixed month with its ups and downs when it comes to my health, we didn’t get around much at all except one short visit to the local zoo but at least I could spend enough time with my son.

    November 10, 2015
    • Actually, I hate being in front of the camera myself…would always much rather be behind it, but in the interests of posterity, some pics with are daughter seemed important. πŸ™‚ I’m so sorry to hear about your health. πŸ™ I hope it’s nothing too serious, with an end in sight!

      November 11, 2015
      • Indeed is important to have some pictures together with the own child that’s why we also took a few πŸ™‚

        November 11, 2015
  6. I’m looking forward to travel AND baby posts. In fact, once Naia is old enough, traveling baby posts will be great too!

    November 11, 2015
    • I’m hoping to get those traveling baby posts going as soon as I possibly can! πŸ™‚ How are you feeling? I guess you must be in your second trimester now? How was your first? Difficult? Mine was definitely not enjoyable. I was so happy to get into the second…which truly was the honeymoon phase of pregnancy.

      November 11, 2015
      • Yeah…first trimester…I don’t think anyone enjoys that! I am still waiting for the time I’m supposed to be all glowing and feeling wonderful, but it’s not here yet. I am better than I was though. I realized today I probably only have 12 more teaching weeks left before I should probably go on maternity leave. Time is certainly going faster now that my belly is getting rounder by the day!

        November 17, 2015
        • My first trimester was no fun at all either. No throwing up, but basically 24/7 nausea. Fortunately, it completely disappeared by 14 weeks and the rest of my pregnancy was a piece of cake. πŸ™‚ Kudos to you for working through the first tri. The whole time I was in it, I kept thinking about all those women that continue to work through it, and how tough it must be…

          November 18, 2015
          • Hope you are all settling into a routine as a new family and aren’t too exhausted.

            I actually quit my job the day I got pregnant (didn’t know it at the time, obviously)! I applied for different jobs, but by the time interviews came round, I was already so sick I had to cancel everything. It would have been impossible to start a new job, let alone stay in the one I was familiar with. I was incredibly lucky to find another job once I started feeling better, although I lost all my benefits and don’t really have ‘maternity leave’, just unpaid leave. With the price of childcare here, I’m not even sure it would be worth me going back afterwards anyway. Sometimes I wonder why on earth I chose to have a baby in the USA!

            December 2, 2015
            • Oh man, I have a few friends that live in the US that are recently pregnant too, and they are all stressed about the 3 month maternity leave from work, never mind if you don’t have benefits at all! It’s really a terrible Catch-22 there…work and pay for overpriced childcare or have a little less money and stay at home. Super tough choice. πŸ™ But glad you are feeling better at least. Hope the rest of the pregnancy goes super smoothly! πŸ™‚

              December 7, 2015
  7. Happy to hear great news! Congrats! Believe me when I say that it’s okay to talk about the baby on your blog. πŸ˜‰ Afterall, I know you won’t be able to resist anyway. πŸ˜€

    November 12, 2015
    • Thanks Rommel! It was quite the early surprise, but so far, so good. πŸ™‚ Haha, yeah, you’re right…I probably won’t be able to resist, not to mention that she basically takes up all my time now…

      November 15, 2015
  8. Jen #

    Naia is so cute! <3

    November 15, 2015
    • Thanks Jen! She changes so fast, I really wonder what she’ll look like a year from now.

      November 15, 2015
  9. Cute Baby and Beautiful name. Babies and travel blogs can coexist nicely. It won’t be long before you will feel confident enough to take her travelling with you. We took our first on a 2 month trip to Europe from Australia at 10 months. Our second had a complicated birth, in an induced coma in hypothermia treatment for the first few days and then intensive care for a couple of weeks, but by the time she turned 1 we were on a 6 month round the world trip. In 3 weeks we are taking our now 7 and 4 year olds on a month RTW to go to Rovaniemi for Christmas. It all comes together. Enjoy it.

    November 20, 2015
    • We’re in the new parent chaos right now (she’s 2 months), but we’re slowly figuring out a kind of rhythm. Still a lot to learn and manage, but she’s such an easy-going baby. Lucked out with her temperament. She only cries when she’s hungry! πŸ™‚ So wonderful to hear that your 2nd was able to travel for so long after what sounds like a scary beginning. We intend to get ourselves to Europe for a few months next spring/summer, but of course, nothing is planned yet. I hope it will, as you say, “all come together.” Enjoy your time in Finland!! πŸ˜€

      November 24, 2015

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