Yep. You read that right. I went to a Zika-infested country while pregnant. Purposely. BUT… before you cast judgment, hear me out. I was already in my third trimester when I traveled, and I informed my OB-GYN before I left. I wasn’t going in with eyes closed, folks. I armed myself with some research before I left and with some precautions.
So here’s what happened…
Why I Chose to Travel While Pregnant
Truthfully, my hubby really wanted to visit his family. And his mother wanted to throw me a baby shower. I know they are not the best reasons to travel, but he is having some trouble adjusting to life in the U.S. You see, my hubby is from Ecuador, born and raised. The first time he set foot on North American soil was with me in 2014, after we were married for a year and expecting our first child. He has an aunt here and some cousins, but he’s essentially by himself here. He comes from a close-knit family—he doesn’t have that here.
HE begged and begged to go and I finally relented when he was honest with me and said he needed a break from being here. He was feeling blue. I love him with all my heart and I really didn’t want him to feel bad because I decided to bring him here. We could’ve continued to live in Ecuador after we got married, but I didn’t want that. I was born and raised here. I wanted to be here. I felt guilty for uprooting his life.
The first time we bought tickets, my hubby picked the dates and I essentially just signed the check. I didn’t realize until afterwards that he had picked dates where I would be flying at 33 and 37 weeks! 37 weeks! I almost had a heart attack! How the hell did I let that happen? I was so sure he would pick good dates that I didn’t even check. I was so nervous. Even more nervous telling my doc. I knew she would tell my I was crazy!
I held it off and held it off until one day I casually said, “So we’re thinking about going to Ecuador for a few weeks.”
“No,” she said shaking her head.
I turned back and glanced at my husband.
Then she checked off reasons why I shouldn’t go:
2-Too pregnant to fly
4-Did I mention Zika?
I cringed. At the time, Ecuador was listed on the CDC’s list as one of the countries where people shouldn’t travel to. And I believe there were three cases where people were infected in Colombia and then went back to Ecuador to get treated.
I said okay and left.
So my doc said no, but I already had the tickets. What the hell was I going to do? If I tell her I bought them she’s going to bite my head off. She already told me not to!
Every appointment after that I wondered, Do I tell her? When do I tell her? What if I don’t tell her and something happens?
The Call That Changed Everything
Then one day hubby Henry got a call. The airline changed our itinerary. No more direct flight. We would be making a layover. We didn’t pay for a layover. We paid over $500 for a direct flight. The rep that sold us our ticket informed us that we could take the new itinerary or get a refund.
I told Henry this was a sign from God. We shouldn’t go.
We went back to the agency in New York where we bought the original tickets so we could get our refund. But hubby Henry had other plans. “Okay, let’s go earlier. We’ll go when you’re 30 weeks!”
“Please!!! We’ll go for three weeks, not four. My parents were so excited about seeing us. Now they’ll be so sad.”
At some point I conceded. I don’t even remember when. He has a way of just smiling or giving me puppy dog eyes, I don’t know, but he has a way of convincing. So… we bought the tickets… again.
What was wrong with me? Every part of me said DO NOT GO! You could get infected. Think about your baby. But then hubby would reassure me that where we were going wasn’t even humid or hot. And we wouldn’t be going to any beaches or to the coast. We’d basically be in an urban habitat. And the mosquitoes are attracted to stank water ponds. His mother didn’t have that. She was a very clean woman.
I Armed Myself With Bug Repellent… Lots of Bug Repellent.
So I finally told my doc. But before I told her, I told the other two doctors in the office. Every time I would go in, the nurse would hand me a list of new countries added to the CDC’s list. Ecuador wasn’t on it.
I told my docs and they basically said, if you have to go, you have to go. The list of countries changes form day to day. They basically learn
something new everyday regarding Zika. Just make sure you wear long sleeves, pants, and bug spray.
Phew! They were pretty cool about it. Now I just have to tell my personal doc.
When I finally told her, she was concerned, but told me the same as the other two doctors. Don’t worry, I told her. I won’t go anywhere humid or where there have been reported cases.
And so, I did as I said I would. If I went anywhere remotely sunny, I would use my Repel Deet I bought from Amazon and my Organic Bug Repellent, also from Amazon (please note that these are not affiliate links. They are just links directing you to the products I bought. I won’t get any monetary compensation if you click these links).
I bought the Repel Deet to use over my clothes since I read that since I was pregnant, I shouldn’t let it come into contact with my skin. It was also not safe to use on children, so none for baby Henry. I bought the Organic Bug Repellent for him. But we all used it. Boy did it smell good! It was very citrusy. And I did not get bit by a single bug and neither did baby Henry. When we went to visit Sucua, Henry got bit but not us!
When our three-week vacay was over we finally went home! HOME!! YES!! I couldn’t wait!
The first thing I did when I came back was, of course, thank God for my healthy return. And then go to my appointment. My doc was happy to see me! “How did it go?” she asked. “You seem well!”
“Oh yeah,” I proclaimed. “No bug bites. I did experience an earthquake though.”
But that, folks, is a story for another day.
How I Managed a Trip to Ecuador While Pregnant and in Fear of the Zika Virus is a post that first appeared on the website: Baby Henry Likes on July 31, 2016.