Pregnancy Stole My Cool

New Zealand, Part 1: Bananagate.

Posted on Mar 11, 2014 in Pregnancy Stole My Cool, Travel Traumas

New Zealand, Part 1: Bananagate. 4

New Zealand.  I have to blog about my trip to New Zealand, even though it was two months ago.  My memory seems to be diminishing with each passing day of this pregnancy, so it’s imperative I document this trip now.  You know, so when I make our travel scrapbook 10 years from now I’ll actually have a record of where we went and what we did.

You guys, New Zealand is stunning.  Gorgeous beyond belief.  I knew NZ was one of those places Damon and I had to visit while we were living in Japan, but I wasn’t all that sure why.  Because it’s pretty?  Because Lord of the Rings was filmed there?  I mean, a lot of places are pretty, and I don’t really care about Lord of the Rings.  But still, for no particular reason other than vague praise from fellow travelers, NZ was on our travel bucket-list.  And thank goodness it was.

Perhaps we didn’t really know what to expect from our trip because it’s probably hard for most people – including myself – to articulate how incredible this place is.  Damon, Elisabeth, and I flew into Christchurch and spent 11 days traveling the South Island by car, spending one or two nights in a town before moving on to our next destination.  Even with 11 days, we only traversed the southern half of the South Island, but every day brought a different experience.  By no means am I a nature girl, yet I was rendered speechless by each beach, lake, mountain, glacier, waterfall, what-have-you we saw.  It was all magnificent.



We’d be driving along, admiring one landscape – say,  rolling green hills dotted with sheep – turn a corner and be struck by a completely different, but equally stunning view, perhaps a glassy lake in the most brilliant turquoise color you’ve ever seen, or snow-capped mountains against a perfectly blue sky.  Even when it rained (which it did, a lot) it was still crazy beautiful.




We took our trip in early January, summer in NZ and therefore the tourism high season, yet there were no people anywhere.  Okay, that’s a bit of an exaggeration.  But really, we would drive for hours without passing another car.  Coming from Japan, it was a little Twilight-Zoneish, actually.  But it explains why the country feels so untouched.

I could just post a bunch of pictures proving to you that this country is one of the most beautiful on the planet, but instead I’m going to make this trip a little more relatable before the deluge of pictures.

I just said NZ feels untouched.  That makes sense, because it’s near impossible to get to.  The reason we went this year is because we figured we should travel when we were “close” in Japan instead of back in the states.  “Close” still required an almost 12-hour flight.   So Damon, Elisabeth and I hunkered down for the long red-eye flight, and of course my dear, sweet child decided to sleep a mere three hours of the flight.  Three measly hours.  The personal TV on the seat back in front of her was far too exciting to waste time sleeping!  Upon arriving in Christchurch, we de-planed bleary-eyed and cranky.  We were immediately inundated with signs of threatening fruit and vegetables warning us to DECLARE YOUR GOODS OR ELSE YOU WILL BE PUNISHED WITH ETERNAL HELLFIRE AND DAMNATIONOr something like that.  Did you know fruit could be threatening?  It can be in New Zealand.

They take their customs process very seriously, to say the least.  I get it, that’s why their country is so unspoiled.  Damon extracted an apple from his backpack.  “I’ll just declare it on our customs form,” he said.  “Might as well throw it away here,” I reasoned, as I trashed the rest of our perishable snacks we had brought on board with us from Japan.  We got to customs, where the agent inspected our shoes and inquired about the food we were bringing into the country.

“We have some nuts and dried fruit, crackers and toddler-snacks…” All good there.

“Any fresh fruit?” she asked.

“We did have some, but we threw it all away.” Still all good.  We passed through.

Next we had to put all our carry-ons through another screening.  As I was gathering up our bags, I saw an FEA (Fruit Enforcement Agent), as I named her, holding up Elisabeth’s snack box.

“Did you have any fruit in here earlier?” she asked cheerily.  (Everybody is cheery in New Zealand!)

“Yup!  But we threw it away,” I answered, equally cheery.

“Is it okay if I just check inside?” she responded.

“Of course!” I answered.  As if I would be careless enough to leave something illegal in my bag.

I went back to collecting our stuff (we had a lot of stuff) and turned around to see the FEA holding up a… banana.

My stomach dropped.  No, no, no, no!  I did NOT leave a banana in our carry-on!  I turned to Damon who shaking his head in shame and then back to the agent, a look of disappointment sprawled across her face.   You know, the look parents give their children to make them feel really guilty instead of yelling?

I began apologizing profusely.  “I am so sorry!  I can’t believe I forgot that banana!  I thought we had thrown away all our fruit!”

The formerly friendly agent approached us. “Who claims responsibility for this banana?”

“I do,” Damon and I responded in unison.

“No, I do,” I insisted, figuring it would be easier for a pregnant, tired mom to get out of this than an active duty U.S. Naval officer.  “I packed the bag.  I’m so sorry.  I have total pregnancy brain!”

“Oh, you’re pregnant?” she asked.

“Yes,” I replied.

Subtext: Yes, I’m pregnant and just traveled 12 sleepless hours with a two year old.  My mental faculties are obviously impaired.  Take pity on me.    

“We might be able to help you then.”

Thank the good Lord.  All those threatening fruit signs had scared the bejeezus out of me.  Because while the New Zealanders don’t actually banish you to Hell for smuggling fruit into their sacred land, they do put some scary notation in your passport that probably prohibits you from traveling anywhere fabulous ever again.  And they fine you $400.  Now, I completely understand and respect the stringency of NZ’s customs policies.  But I also believe that unless it’s encrusted with diamonds, no banana should ever cost $400.

The first FEA brought over a second FEA who pored over my declarations form.  I helpfully pointed out that I had indeed declared fresh fruit, but had innocently forgotten the lone banana in my daughter’s bag.

Subtext: It is one freaking banana.  ONE.  I am not an eco-terrorist intending to wreak havoc on New Zealand’s ecosystem with a single, trafficked banana.  I am innocent.  Stupid, but innocent.

The agent eyed me suspiciously and walked away, I imagine to consult with other Fruit Enforcement Agents about my fate.  She returned a few minutes later and handed me some forms.

“We’re going to let you go this time, but here is a written warning.  If this happens again and you claim “pregnancy brain”, we’re going to know something’s up.”

Yes, ma’am!  I will never travel pregnant to New Zealand again!

I thanked the agent and hurried out of the airport, lest these customs agent changed their minds.  Needless to say, a near-deportation is not the way we had wanted to start our trip.  I was a bit shaken.  (I hate getting in trouble.  Even with people I don’t know and will never see again.  Even when what I did was an accident, and ultimately harmless.  I am just too much a goody-goody to get reprimanded by agents of any sort at the airport and walk away emotionally unscathed.)  But things could only get better from there, right?


Once we had settled into our hotel and recovered from Bananagate, Damon and I began to freshen up.  While we were brushing our teeth, a pants-less Elisabeth ran into the bathroom, hands outstretched, repeating, “Poop! Poop!”

Damon was confused, but I knew exactly what was going on.  This was a code-red diaper disaster.

“Damon, grab the baby!  Make sure she doesn’t get poop anywhere!” I screeched as I rushed into the bedroom to examine the damage.  Thankfully, the poopy diaper was contained.  Another near-miss on what could have been a very messy situation.

After a very comical cleaning of the baby (for those of you without children, cleaning a poopy toddler who has already displaced her diaper is actually quite challenging), we were ready to head out.  We elected to drive about an hour outside Christchurch to a charming little seaside village called Akaroa.  The drive was just what we needed after the eventful morning.  Beautiful views, relaxing, and a cheese shop en route!  What more could you want?  Oh, it was also quite windy.

View from the drive

View from the drive

Just as we were pulling into the town, Elisabeth threw up.  Not just a little throw-up, but major projectile vomit all over herself and the car seat.  Never a dull moment, I tell you.

We pulled into the first parking space we could find and went to cleaning.  Actually, Damon went to cleaning because the sight and smell almost rendered me sick as well.  Elisabeth was fine and wandered naked around a park while Damon attempted to scrub out a goodly amount of vomit from the car seat with the few paper towels and a bottle of water we had on hand.  He did his best, but the smell certainly lingered…  Meanwhile I gingerly wrapped up Elisabeth’s soiled clothes in a plastic bag and prayed that would contain the odor until we could do laundry.  Thankfully I had an extra outfit packed for Elisabeth, and after an hour of scrubbing we were FINALLY ready to being our vacation.


My naked baby checking out the sights.

My naked baby checking out the sights.

Akaroa was lovely.  Unfortunately we had squelched much of our time cleaning up puke, but we were able to enjoy a pleasant walk and nice dinner overlooking the water.  I would definitely go back, next time armed with an arsenal of disinfectants and Febreeze in case my daughter is prone to carsickness.


Our New Years Eve dinner in Akoroa.

Our New Year’s Eve dinner in Akaroa.

So that was the beginning of our trip to New Zealand: A rogue banana that caused us to be detained at the airport, poop problems and vomit.  Lots of vomit.  That this all happened in New Zealand lessened the trauma of it all, and the trip did improve enormously from there.  Except for the time we got attacked by bees, everything else was splendid.  But I’ll save the rest of the recap for another post.


I’d love to hear your travel traumas.  Anyone else ever almost get arrested over a piece of fruit?  Or something comparable?

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The Big Reveal

Posted on Jan 26, 2014 in My Kid Stole My Cool, Pregnancy Stole My Cool

Hello!  It’s been almost a month, but I’m back! What a month it’s been.  After wrapping up the holidays, Damon, Elisabeth, and I said Sayonara, Japan! and hopped over to New Zealand for an almost 2-week vacation in what can only be described as one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever traveled.  But more on that in an upcoming post. After pausing real life for those two weeks, Damon and I had major catch up to do when we returned home.  One thing that included – our baby’s anatomy scan!  (Read: Gender Reveal.) It’s funny – when I was pregnant with Elisabeth, the weeks leading up to the gender reveal crept by.  During that first pregnancy, every decision felt monumental.  I felt like I couldn’t really begin planning for the baby until I knew its sex.  Pink bedding or blue bedding?  Hair bows or bow ties?  Diana Jr. or Damon Jr.? Second time around, I experienced none of that anxiety.  Perhaps because my circumstances are vastly different this time around.  I’ll be having the baby in California while living with my parents during Damon’s deployment.  (More on that in an upcoming post also.)  Boy or girl, it’s not like I have a nursery to decorate.  And boy or girl, the baby is going to get stuck with Elisabeth’s hand-me-down gear no matter what.  This time around, I don’t have to spend 10,000 hours researching car seats and cribs.  And this time around, finding out the gender just didn’t carry the same weight as it did last pregnancy. But of course, I couldn’t help but think about it.  The weeks leading up to the reveal brought the inevitable, “What are you hoping for?” question from friends, and my inevitable, “I don’t care, as long as it’s healthy,” answer.  Which was true.  Because really, boys and girls each have their pros and cons.  Let’s review. (Be aware, these are mass generalizations.  Just go with it.) Girls:  I am the oldest and only daughter.  I have two younger brothers, Will and Jamie.  So I speak from experience when I say little...

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Confessions of a Pregnant Mom

Posted on Dec 12, 2013 in Pregnancy Stole My Cool

Confessions of a Pregnant Mom 2

Friends, my posting here has been sporadic at best.  Sure, life has been busy.  My husband was deployed.  I have a lot on my plate.  Blogging takes a back seat.  Blah, blah, blah. The real reason I haven’t been blogging frequently?  I’m pregnant.  And in case you’ve never been pregnant before, I’m here to tell you, it’s hard.  And get this, it’s way harder the second time around, when you already have a little Tasmanian Devil to chase after all day. Don’t get me wrong – my husband and I are overjoyed about the soon-to-be addition to our family.  Babies!  Woohoo!  I love babies! But I emphatically do not love pregnancy.  And I’m highly suspicious of women who say they do.  (You should be, too.  They’re probably liars.)  That first trimester – kill me.  The nausea, the fatigue, the general feeling of not wanting to do anything ever except hide under your covers all day and night.  Who’s with me? During my first pregnancy, I had terrible nausea 24-7 for the entire first trimester.  Luckily, I worked from home, meaning I could stay in my PJs until whatever hour I wanted, and then whenever I felt like I was absolutely going to die, I could just crawl to the couch and lie there eating Saltines to my heart’s (and stomach’s) content. This time around, the nausea was not as terrible, nor did it last as long.  Thank the good Lord!  But the exhaustion was so much worse.  And it’s Elisabeth’s fault.  I mean, I love her to death, but she is so freakin’ demanding.  Can you believe she still expected me to get up at 6:00 AM with her!? During the 1st trimester!?  Criminal, I say! All this to say, I was basically in a semi-conscious state for the past three months, and did not possess the energy to even type a simple blog.  I also reached new lows of motherhood.  Like, “Call CPS, This Woman is Unfit to Parent” lows.  I should probably keep this to myself, but what fun what that be? So here you have it,...

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The Pretty, Pretty Princess

Posted on Jul 30, 2013 in Pregnancy Stole My Cool

The Pretty, Pretty Princess 0

Not gonna lie – I totally got sucked into the Royal Baby Watch.  So when Baby George was born last week, and Kate and William made their first appearance on the hospital steps as a family of three, I got giddy.  How cute did they look?  So cute.  …Maybe too cute? After leaving the hospital, a bunch of idiotic commentators who have apparently never seen a woman after giving birth seemed shocked – just shocked! – at Kate’s belly.  Some even deemed it unsightly.  What the heck, people?  First of all, stop hating on the hormonal new mom.  How rude.  Second of all, were we looking at the same princess? Kate looked freakin’ awesome!  …Maybe too awesome?  Seriously – who looks that fantastic 24 hours after having a baby!? I like Kate Middleton.  Or rather, I like the image of her that is portrayed in the media.  Though I’d probably rather head out for a night on the town with Pippa, Kate seems just lovely.  She has a great fashion sense, and she seems down-to-earth.  (Heck, she wears her gorgeous designer outfits more than once!) So relatable. But then she goes and has a baby, and turns up one day later looking like this: COME ON, Kate!  That’s just not right. I mean, good for her for looking Vogue-cover worthy a day after labor.  I’m just not entirely convinced she actually gave birth; Prince George may be an imposter baby.  I have a hard time believing that anyone – even Kate Middleton – looks that great so soon after delivering a baby.  Sure, I get that she is a princess and probably had a team of stylists that prepped her for her first post-baby public appearance, but still.  Is she a magic princess?  A magic princess who shows no signs of physical exhaustion or pain? When I was discharged from the hospital after having Elisabeth, I was wrecked.  After being awake for some ungodly amount of time (thanks, Elisabeth, for the 21 hours of labor), the next two nights in the hospital were anything but restful.  I remember doctors...

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Why I Love Not Being Pregnant

Posted on Jan 2, 2012 in Adulthood Stole My Cool, Pregnancy Stole My Cool

6 weeks ago I went through this.  6 weeks ago little Elisabeth Lucy came into the world.  6 weeks ago my pregnancy was OVER! 6 weeks is a not insignificant amount of time.  Yet I still find myself, on a fairly regular basis, thinking, “Wow.  I love not being pregnant.”  When I open the medicine cabinet and see the Tums bottle gathering dust, I think it.  When I slip on a pair of pants without an elastic band, I think it.  When I climb a flight of stairs without breaking into a sweat, I think it. So in that spirit, here is my list of Top 10 Reasons I Love Not Being Pregnant: 10) I can sleep on my back and my stomach.  I don’t actually sleep on either, but I like that I have the option. 9) For the first time since moving into our new condo, I fit comfortably into my stall shower. 8) As suddenly as it appeared, my heartburn disappeared.  Miraculous! 7) I am no longer resigned to the elliptical at the gym.  I see running in my future.  And kickboxing.  And power yoga.  And if I’m feeling saucy, maybe even… Zumba! 6) My legs no longer resemble Bigfoot’s.  I don’t believe No Shave November was intended for women, but shaving my legs became an impractical and somewhat dangerous undertaking as pregnancy wore on.  As my belly grew, so did my leg hair.  TMI?  Sorry. 5) I am saving loads of money not having to buy toilet paper every other day.  Not peeing every 45 minutes has major monetary advantages. 4) I can wear my pretty, fun shoes again.  OK, I still wore them while pregnant, but it hurt.  Swollen feet + strappy sandals and high heels don’t mix. 3) Wine. 2) I have not once gotten stuck in the garage between the car and the trash cans.  Yes, that happened. 1) (Drumroll please) I get to cuddle and play with and love on the cutest little baby girl*.  (Awwwwww).  It’s INFINITELY better than have her play soccer in my stomach every time I try...

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