Back when we met, my husband once said to me that the best way to get to know someone is to travel with them. After a bunch of holidays in India and abroad, 2016 was threatening to be a year without a voyage. Why? Because I was expecting.
A few months into my pregnancy though, we said, “What the heck! Let’s do a holiday nevertheless.” After considering and discarding a couple of options, we finally settled on Rome.
Getting Our Visa
While we didn’t know whether my pregnancy could be grounds for rejection of a visa, we did not want to take a chance. I mean, what if they thought we were headed there to give birth to our baby and get him citizenship! So I made it a point to wear a nicely roomy dress to the visa interview, hold a big manila folder with our documents in front of me and stay partially hidden behind my husband. I think it worked. Well, at least we got the visa!
Planning Our ‘Pregnancy-Friendly’ Itinerary
For the first time, I was reading up about a travel destination with very different lens. The focus of my research was on figuring out how to make our week in Rome most pregnancy-friendly. That means, what means of transport would tire me out the least, what foods would be safe to have, how best to get into tourist places without having to queue up for hours etc etc. Equipped with all such relevant information, we were set to go.
The Perks of Being Pregnant While Traveling
As it turned out, pregnancy is a great time to travel, as long as there are no complications with regards to one’s health. We breezed through queues at the airport, got priority treatment at immigration desks, received special privileges at tourist spots and were flashed the sweetest smiles by strangers.
I had read tons about the intimidating lines at the entrance of the Colosseum and the Vatican Museum. It was a pleasure to walk straight past dozens of other tourists and step right into the cool shades of our destinations. Another special was the ‘secret passage’ that led from the Sistine Chapel in the Vatican Museum to St Peter’s Church. This route is ordinarily closed for regular visitors, who need to walk around the city’s wall to reach the entrance of the church- a good 20 minute hike in the hot June sun. Thanks to my detailed research and the memoirs by other pregnant ladies found on the internet, we walked boldly across the threshold and straight into the church. And guess what, nobody stopped us!
The Downside of Being Pregnant While Traveling
One of the biggest pains in our entire journey was my constant need for food and toilets. I was ravenously hungry most of the time, which meant I would also wake up at 2am and 4am with a growling stomach and look for something to eat in our hotel room. Whenever I was not scavenging for food, I was hunting for a toilet. Hardly a wonder given that I had a 2 kilo baby sitting right on top of my uterus. Combine that with the doctor’s instructions to have plenty of water and bingo, you have a tourist with only one eye on the sights, the other busily on the lookout for washrooms.
Another letdown was the Segway tour that my hubby took across the streets of Rome. Pregnant ladies, said the Segway rules, were not allowed to go jouncing about on the two-wheeled vehicle. But frankly, I didn’t mind those three hours I had to myself. A short rest in the hotel, followed by an aimless saunter through Roman alleys showed me a whole new side of the city.
The Food of Rome
The streets of Rome are packed with pizzerias, gelaterias, restaurants and cafes. All those pizzas, pastas, hot chocolates and gelattoes left me standing in horror on the weighing scale by the end of the week. I had put on 3 kilos of weight in just 7 days, while I should have been averaging a kilo a month! A subsequent visit to the gynaecologist revealed that I had a mild case of gestational diabetes which had gotten exacerbated with all the carbs packed in the Italian cuisine.
One’s camera lens take on a completely different angle on a visit like ours. Suddenly, the focus is not so much on the ancient structure behind, but on the growing belly in the front. We experimented with angles, sunlight and clothes to get some good baby bump photos. Not to forget, the classic, hand-on-bump poses!
All in all, Rome proved to be a grand holiday. So what if we were operating with many pregnancy-related restrictions, it was a adventure of its own kind. Seeped in a history that goes back millennia while carrying the promise of a future within me- it was, truly, a special feeling and a special vacation!
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Piyushi Dhir is the author of 'In Search of Love', 'I'm Yours, The Next Time', 'Silent Promises' and 'Enmeshed Evermore'. She is a contributor in 'Nineteen Tales of COVID-19', a collection of short stories. A voracious reader, a keen traveler, a businesswoman and a mom, Piyushi currently resides in Canada. A nomad at heart, she loves to discover new places and capture the hues of life with her pen.