‘Ello, Ducky

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I can’t even remember where it started, but in college my friends and I would say “Ello, Ducky” with a British accent. I think it was a combination of our trip to Salzburg, Austria, and wishing we had accents and trying to pretend we did, and also our obsession with the classic Amanda Byne’s film, What a Girl Wants. A certain someone’s college boyfriend constantly reminded us, “You’re not British.” Apparently fake accents are only fun for the people doing them. Anyway, that was in my head the whole time that JR and I were in London.

Sarah Marshall London

We also said this to each other often during our trip. Forgetting Sarah Marshall is a great movie.

For certain posts throughout the world, the quality of local medical care is such that they med-evac (medically evacuate) FSOs or their dependents to that location. London is the med-evac point for Kosovo, and that’s where they wanted to send me to get some standard tests at the end of the first trimester. Because I was considered on official “med-evac” status, my flight and hotel were covered, but we had to pay for JR’s flight. It saved us a decent amount of money for him to fly on a separate flight, so we planned to rendezvous at London’s Heathrow airport. We also decided, since we would already be in London from Wednesday to Friday, to extend our stay by two days and leave on Sunday (the hotel and any costs for extending the stay were paid by us).

We arrived at Heathrow on Wednesday afternoon, and while waiting for a cab, JR was having some flashbacks to his last visit to London during a study abroad semester in Wales his junior year of college. Something tells me that first trip to London – all carefree and young – was a bit different than this visit with his pregnant wife!

We took a cab to our hotel, and after checking in, I was determined to find a pub with a cheeseburger. He was excited to visit a pub for different reasons. Unfortunately, the British aren’t known for their cheeseburgers. We had a decent meal, and then went back to our hotel for naps. We found a great italian place for dinner – garlic bread, delicious. We passed by at least 100 bars advertising champagne and cocktails and I was quite disappointed that I couldn’t partake!

The next morning we woke up early for our appointment. It was walking distance from our hotel in a residential neighborhood. I was very, very nervous. I mean, I spend my life in a perpetual state of nervousness, but I was almost sick with worry. Luckily, we didn’t have to wait long and the ultrasound tech called us back to the room to get started. In prior ultrasounds, you really couldn’t see much (well, JR said he saw the flicker of a heartbeat, but I really didn’t. I faked it for the doctor though, because I felt like a terrible person since I couldn’t see it.) This time, as soon as the image came up on the screen, it looked like an actual baby. Holy cow. We were able to hear the heartbeat, and take video of the images. It was a huge relief and a happy moment for us.

The doctor, who goes by Mr. instead of Dr., met with us briefly, told us that everything looked great and they just wanted to do a quick blood test and then send us on our way. The whole thing lasted less than an hour, so we had an entire day to check out the city.

It was sort of a last minute trip, which meant we didn’t really budget for it, and holy cow, that was a mistake. I mean, the city was very neat to see and we had great weather, but I was kind of put off by the crazy high prices for everything. We’ve become used to the lower prices of of food and drinks in Kosovo. And although we lived in DC, where the cost of living is quite high, the majority of the sights are free admittance.

So imagine our surprise when we walked up to the London Eye, excited to take a spin, and tickets were 18.90 pounds each. JR did a quick conversion in his head (the perks of being married to man who likes to budget) and we realized it would be $61 USD for both of us. Where I come from, you can ride a ferris wheel at the local carnival for two bucks! We wanted to make the most of our visit without breaking the bank, so we did a bit more research to figure out which places we were most interested in seeing, and we bought tickets for a hop on/hop off bus tour of the city.

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London Eye that we did not ride.

We did have one major splurge during our trip. We bought tickets to see The Lion King at the Lyceum Theatre. It was such a great show. The performances and music were so cool to see live, and we were really glad that we treated ourselves to it.

Some more pictures, and another post about our trip to coming soon!

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Me and Big Ben

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Westminster Abbey

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Churchill

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Lion King!

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View from our seats

An Important Test

I wrote this post shortly after finding out I was pregnant. I’ve written a few other posts about the experience so far, and now that we’ve shared the news, I’ll publish those soon.

I’d been looking forward to our trip home for weeks. I was excited for JR’s sister’s wedding, to see our families, to eat great food, and also to have a fabulous day of shopping, topped off by dinner and drinks with my friend Elizabeth.

Elizabeth knew we had talked about trying to have a baby in the fall, and would occasionally ask me if I was going to accidentally get pregnant and lose the ability to drink while I was home. I reassured her it wouldn’t happen that way!

On the Sunday before we came home, I reailzed I was one day late. I did not think I was pregnant, I just thought something was up. (I’m very much a worst-case scenario worrier, so I actually thought my ovaries just up and quit working).

I had purchased some local pregnancy tests the last time I was near a pharmacy. They are only 1 euro each, and from the packaging, they look nothing like what I’m used to seeing at home. But when in Rome, right?

So Monday morning I took one of those tests and it was negative. Same result on Tuesday. Elizabeth was checking in with me regularly, and it was nice to chat about it, because JR was very unconcerned about my status. This is probably due to the fact that in the past, I’ve had a few times where I was CERTAIN I was pregnant, and I’d scared him half to death. So he takes everything I say with several grains of salt.

We traveled all day Wednesday. At the Dulles airport, as we were going through security, there was a very pregnant woman in line beside us. She asked to skip the scanner and be patted down instead. JR jokingly touched my stomach and said maybe I should do the same. I swatted his hand away and told him to stop messing around! Thursday morning when I woke up, I took another Kosovar test. There was the faintest pink line. Now, it’s like 6am. JR is asleep, and I’m furiously Googling “What does a faint pink line mean”. All signs on the internet (which is never wrong) pointed to pregnant. I woke JR up to tell him that I thought I could really possibly be pregnant. He said “hmm okay” and rolled back over to sleep.

We had to pick up a rental car that morning, and I was going to be gone all day visiting two of my friends. I had a lot of anxiety and didn’t trust the Kosovo test, but I wanted answers! We picked up two fancy digital tests at CVS (much to the chagrin of my very frugal husband who thought the digital was an unnecessary expense), and headed to get the rental car. I realized that we wouldn’t have time to go back to his parents’ house to take the test, and I did not want to wait until that evening to figure it out (plus, if this was all a big misunderstanding, I wanted drinks a drink at dinner!).

This led to me taking the test in the bathroom at the Budget Rental Car store. It came back invalid – basically saying I’d done something wrong and it couldn’t give me an answer. Seriously, expensive digital test?? I was really bummed, but I had to get going. I know JR felt bad that I had to leave right then and we still didn’t know.

I had a lovely day with my friends, and Elizabeth and I did lots of great outlet shopping. She was convinced I was pregnant, and teased me about buying pants and dresses that might not fit for long. I was becoming more convinced that I wasn’t. We had dinner at Cheesecake Factory (where I refrained from the booze, but not the cheesecake). At the end of dinner, she said, why not just take the other test right now?

So for the second time that day, I took a test in a public bathroom. Keeping it classy! But this one came back with an answer – pregnant!

Secrets, Secrets are No Fun

One of my biggest shortcomings in my personal life is that I’m a terrible, terrible secret keeper. Most of my friends know this about me, and accept it (and by that I mean, they either choose not to tell me secrets or they spend an hour stressing the importance of me keeping my mouth shut before they share anything). I’m kind of an open book, and I just don’t do great with secrets and especially something that requires me to not tell the entire truth. I’m even worse at lying. This makes it difficult for me to do things like participate in surprise parties or events.

It also made it really tricky to not tell people that we are having a baby! Today is Halloween, JR’s FAVORITE holiday, and it seemed like a good day to share the news. Although, I’m feeling a small bit of guilt over not doing some cutesy announcement. So, for those who like a visual representation and can appreciate my laziness and lack of creativity, here you go!

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Jack-O-Lantern-Onesie

Funny little backstory. Knowing that we would most likely be living overseas when we started a family, JR and I didn’t know if our children would be born back in the States or wherever we were living at the time. The reality is that JR’s work strongly encourages all children to be born in the US, which somewhat eliminates that decision for us, but we didn’t know that back before he actually started the job. So we were discussing the pros/cons of having a child born outside of the US. JR got really excited thinking that if we had a baby in Kosovo, it could potentially have dual citizenship. And with Kosovo being a very small and very new country, he thought our future child could be an Olympian for Kosovo (where the competition would be likely not as intense as in the US). In his mind, being an Olympian is one of life’s greatest achievements, and our child would be able to train with great coaches in the US, but then compete as a Kosovar.

I don’t even know where to start with how crazy that seemed to me. What about me makes you think – yep, she’s a parent of a future Olympian? Nothing. More importantly, if our child wasn’t born on US soil, I’m pretty sure he or she couldn’t be President. Or if it happened, they’d be constantly harassed about a birth certificate. (I realize this is a debatable issue, but it seems like a birth in the US would give the child the BEST chance to be President without being hassled by Donald Trump down the line.) That’s not fun for anyone. So we went back and forth over what would give our potential kid (which at that time was still very much in the wayyyy future) the better future – a chance at being President, or a chance at being an Olympian. Because we are kind of ridiculous.

Anyway, after discussing the matter with our doctor here, the decision was made and we will be back in the States in the spring to have our baby!