We were floating on the narrowboat along the London canal and Leon was already with us. Still inside and floating as well, but in the amniotic fluid. When I was around 4 months pregnant, me and Gabriel decided to celebrate and to go for a big journey overseas, to California.
No, not by boat. By plane. Leon has been a traveler since the beginning and a very good one as well. We were fine and happy during the whole pregnancy. Maybe he was just feeling our spirit of adventure and from the early times, getting used to following the flow wherever we moved to. I kept dancing and moving with him and we used to cycle as well until the belly was too much in the way. Sure, I was more careful and somehow I developed a natural protective feeling. Intuitively I knew when to slow down or stop. I later found this quote and I think it is really true, at least in my case.
“The movement that involved the mother’s body in space and in relation to gravity, allows the baby in the womb to sense the changes and facilitate already the baby’s motor coordination and his future capacity to adapt to the environment”
A month before the birth we moved into a flat near Springfield, East London, again close to a canal so we could visit the water and the ducks sometimes. Since Leon was born on June 24th 2013, every time we left the house he would be inside a comfy sling, very close to our heart beat. We did not even have a pushchair. Parents I really recommend to choose a good carrier/sling that works well for your bodies, you can easily put on and off, and use it as much as you like. There are plenty on the market. We very much like one called Ergobaby and Leon was very happy to be inside.
It was the end of October when we finally had Leon ‘s passport released from the Italian consulate. This was a very important day because now the Gypsy Trio could really start to move. We could fly!!! Austria was the first of many flight destinations for Leon. He had no problem on the plane, and it was a good idea to attach him to the breast during take off and landing, to give him some comfort and avoid pain in the ears from the pressure.
I am a supporter of breastfeeding for the benefit of all. Breast milk is a very good ingredient for a traveling kit too. The advantage is that as mother you can carry the “milk shop” with you and the milk is always ready at any time for your hungry child. I have been breastfeeding almost anywhere, sometime even in unusual places, and I never had any problems. The key was to be aware of the environment around and possibly choose a quiet spot. Sometimes I have even been in busy places, relaxed and discrete. You could also try a little exercise that involves your imagination, by creating a sort of energy shield of protection around you and your baby while breastfeeding. For me this was an interesting experiment.
Additionally to the milk I also prepared simple fresh food daily, and put it into tupperware or a Thermos container. I always kept little healthy snacks with me, that were easy to store as we travel (rice/corn cakes, grissini, fruits like grapes, mandarin or banana, or fruit smoothies).
When you travel, you don’t always have everything you need. But most of the time it is possible to be creative and build objects, shelters, or resting places with whatever you have. At some point for instance we did not have a baby cot for Leon to sleep in. So we improvised one in a suitcase. We like suitcases and later we used one as a nappy changer as well.
Most of the time Leon has been sleeping with us in the big bed, but we also used a plastic baby bath with padding, a camping cot, or a mattress on the floor.
Often people ask me how Leon is coping with traveling and how we manage the daily routine without having the usual home facilities to rely on.
My answer is: yes the environment and the objects around us might change. But we are always trying to be present and adaptable and transmit to Leon a sense of security and calmness, so he can feel that we are always there for him and he is safe. He seems to follow the flow with us. Sometimes he would take a few days to adapt to a new place. But who doesn’t need that?
In my experience it has been good to remain flexible, without having fixed ideas about how things should go and unfold, and without setting up a strict timetable in which my child needs to eat and sleep and play. This doesn’t mean that we have been without rules and plans in our life – but we are trying to listen to what is here and now.
Sometime you have to be ready to give your plan up completely. One time we missed a flight when Leon was 9 months old. It should have taken us to Brazil, into an eco-village for 3 months where some friends were waiting for us. In the beginning this was a big shock and we were trying to fix things around it, to get another flight or money back. But nothing was possible and we just had to STOP….wait…and trust..
Our main traveling started in May 2014 when Leon was almost one year. We decided to follow one of our dreams and buy a camper van. I still had many friends in London and motorhomes are much cheaper in England so we started from there. The van research actually took us up to the north of Scotland by train. First stop Glasgow, than westwards to Oban, and back to Glasgow again, where we finally found our van.
It was actually Leon himself who gave us the sign that this van was the right one. When we were still with the previous owner looking at the van, Leon was in a good mood and showed interest in playing inside. I have learned to get in tune with him, and sometimes when I have to choose something or make a decision I let him give me some nonverbal suggestions.
Very often he is right!
Although he is happy in most of the places he can pick up immediately where it isn’t safe to go, or where people are not friendly and genuinely open.
Regarding health, Leon has been fine most of the time during our journey. We have an Italian national health service card that covers us in the EU if we need it, with no special insurance. During our stay in Barcelona I have been to the local health centre a few times and once to the hospital. Both times we had a great assistance. We also consulted a private paediatric doctor in Austria for smaller problems and vaccinations. Since Leon was born we decided to cure him with homeopathy as much as possible, and it has been working well. I too grew up with homeopathic medicine only, so I have some basic knowledge about this approach and for me it works.
If I look back life has always being supportive and given us what we needed at the right moment. Although it takes trust to live in the flow and sometimes it feels a bit like walking on a tightrope – we like it this way… (more about living in the flow soon…..)