2-For-1 Adventure: We’re Having a Baby in Ecuador

90 days until we depart Alaska for Ecuador … and about 25 weeks more of pregnancy.

(SURPRISE!!! We’re having a baby!)

Adventure #1 – Pregnancy, childbirth, and a baby

If you’re a general member of the public, you may not realize what a huge, huge, huge, huge deal this pregnancy is for us. We’ve been riding an agonizing emotional rollercoaster of infertility for several years, but last year we called it quits and finally gave up trying for a successful pregnancy. We had spent thousands on medical help, lost five (known) early pregnancies, and shed countless tears. The emotional toll of the endeavor had grown too great and we were ready to move on with our lives. And so we did.

Instead of draining our energy on unsuccessful family-building, we redirected ourselves towards positive life-building in general. Our infertility experience made it excruciatingly clear to us that we are unable to control all aspects of our existence, but that nonetheless, we have the power of choice in all situations. Sometimes the apparent options will all seem undesirable; but we still get to choose which is the least undesirable.

We were not able to choose to have our own biological children, but we could choose to forego the years of certain emotional turmoil that would come with sticking the course. We could choose to proactively build a healthier relationship and life while we are still physically and mentally able in lieu of the tenuous and dark path that would never guarantee a biological child at the end. We have a limited length of time to live in a healthy body, and our experience reminded us of the importance to control what we can in order to create a life worth living. (If you want to read more about our infertility experience, jump to my old blog: So, this is happening …)

OK … so where was I going before I got off course … oh, yeah!

SURPRISE! We’re having a baby!

We discovered I was pregnant Thursday, January 25th. The next day I was shocked (and elated and anxious) to find that a viable fetus with a heartbeat was snuggled in my uterus (every single ultrasound I’ve had prior to this one has shown us only disappointment or sorrow). Two weeks later, we were nearly 9 weeks into the pregnancy and the baby-to-be was still alive and growing at a normal rate. I had sobbed at all of my zillions of ultrasounds … but never from joy.

Rodney has been my pillar of strength and a well-spring of positive energy from the day we first discovered the pregnancy. You see, when I took that home pregnancy test on January 25th and it was positive … I wasn’t excited. Every positive pregnancy test I’ve ever received … ended with a dead fetus. I was certain that we were in for just another “character building” experience. I really did hold a tiny glimmer of hope deep in my heart … but it’s shine was desperately buried by the shadow of doubt nurtured by years of infertility. But Rodney, from that first day, bolstered me with his excitement and confidence. It was like he willed this baby into good health and denied my body from rejecting it.

We saw the baby in the 12th week … looking like a real baby. Unbelievable. It kicked and somersaulted and was undeniably alive. Today is the first day of week 16 and we’re officially carrying a baby into the second trimester. (Aaaaaaaaa! It’s still sinking in!!) My taste for coffee and hummus has returned, but my husband’s (usually delicious) homemade sauerkraut still repels me and my sweet tooth continues to be much stronger than it has ever been before this pregnancy.

Adventure #2 – Sticking to the lifestyle change

As soon as we realized that this baby intends to join our family, we started to analyze our plans and options. We have tickets to depart Alaska for Sweden in August; plans to  be in Spain and Portugal until October; make our way to Kathmandu for a TEFL course in November; and then hang out in Southeast Asia thereafter. Baby plans to arrive in September. Hm.

To most of our family and friends, there was one obvious and clear choice: delay departure until after Baby is born and then figure out what to do and when. For Rodney and I, this sounded very unappealing. We have been working hard towards and eagerly anticipating the upcoming lifestyle change. To delay departure doesn’t just mean putting off travel, it means that Rodney would be shackled to his 9-to-5 desk job with a daily commute merely to secure ongoing healthcare to afford the birth of Baby. And then, after Baby arrives, Rodney would have limited time off from work to be with his new child. Quite simply, that wasn’t the obvious and clear best choice for us.

We looked at the healthcare costs of various other countries to see if we could afford to stick to our original plan and have Baby along the way. Our minimal research suggested that we would probably pay a similar out-of-pocket amount for Baby to be born in Sweden or Spain as in Alaska, but what we didn’t know is if we would want to bunker down for awhile to adjust to life with new Baby. Additionally, if we were going to have give birth outside of the USA … how about securing dual citizenship as a bonus gift to Baby?

Jus soli, or birthright citizenship, is a privilege offered by relatively few nations- certainly not Sweden or Spain. But when we looked at countries that do confer birthright citizenship, we were excited to see that Ecuador (along with most American nations) is among the few. Ecuador ranked highly in our list of potential countries to move to when we started to talk about lifestyle changes about a year and a half ago. Ultimately, we decided to “slow travel” for an indefinite period before plunging into a more permanent move … but, here was Ecuador again. Waving it’s cheery flag of desirable characteristics.

Ecuador is well-known in the ex-pat community. Its affordable and relatively good healthcare, low-cost living, pleasant climate, incredible biodiversity, foreigner-friendly national language and visa policies have put Ecuador in the top rankings of “best countries for expats” for a handful of years (albeit, it’s rank has slipped a bit in the last year or two as other countries have gained popularity). Having already been on our radar as a potential country to move to, Ecuador quickly became our target destination when it appeared in the list of jus soli countries. We excitedly researched medical and visa options and then with some good-looking data to lean on, decided that moving to Ecuador to have Baby and stay indefinitely will be our new plan.

So there you have it. We’re off on a serendipitous 2-for-1 adventure, thanks to the inability to control all aspects of our existence, combined with the invaluable power to choose. It’s deliberosity, baby: there’s always a choice. And we are doing our best to make the most of our insignificant and fabulous lives. Woooot!!

Lighter, freer … and living with my parents

I’m sitting in my comfy pajamas as the gray sky outside the window slowly lightens; my sweatshirt cozily hooding my head, and a wool blanket tucked around my legs. My mom is to my left enjoying her coffee, snuggled in her fuzzy bathrobe. Rodney sits to my right, equally cozy in front of the glittering Christmas tree. Nixin is just out of view, snapping together her advent puzzle. We moved in with my parents a couple weeks ago.

This is the third Christmas in a row that my small family (Rodney, Nixin, and I) will be living with my parents in their large home. Many people hear this and think that it’s a situation we resorted to, rather than created. It’s funny to me that the first impression that people have to this news is usually the polar opposite to how we perceive the situation. We don’t have to live with my parents, we choose to and actually very much enjoy it. We have also joined households in the past for economic and familial benefits with no clear goal or target in our sights. This most recent joining of the households, however, has a very different feel to it. This time, an enticing target rests on the horizon and there is an almost imperceptible current subtly pulling us towards an incredible and life-changing adventure. And every day I feel the pace of the current gently increasing.

August 2018 is when we take the final steps to embrace the major life shift we have been working towards. “Eight more months, eight more months!” we sing to ourselves when faced with an irritating situation or task that will be left behind when we board the plane to our next phase of life. It’s really, really going to happen. It’s really, really happening right now!

Yesterday, we officially moved out of our old place; it’s sparkling clean and ready for a new tenant. I remind myself that these aching muscles from determined scrubbing of property and endless hauling of “stuff” will soon be free from both. I have my fingers crossed that I will never clean any of our rental units again. And I am hoping with all my might that by spring, I will be the proud non-owner of several fine rental units. Oh how the tables have turned!! Not long ago, we aimed to become small-scale real estate magnates as part of a goal towards financial independence. Now, we are excited to shed our couple of properties and with them, the last of our debt and business responsibilities.  When we board the plane to Sweden in August, we plan to walk on with our backpacks, and leave zero encumbrances in our wake, either financial or physical. Our remaining ties to Alaska and the United States will be only of the highest value: our family and friends.

So now we’re living with my dear, generous parents. We’ve expunged approximately 90% of our belongings and I’m anxious to get rid of the remaining bits over the next eight months. It feels WONDERFUL!!!! It’s insane how much one small family accumulates in a short period of time. It’s insane how difficult it feels to let go of items once they are in your household. We are vowing to be more deliberate about possessions. It is so easy to accept and purchase more goods because they are useful, because they are beautiful, because they were gifts. But these things weigh us down, use up our precious moments of life, and eat up resources from the earth that can never be replaced. I’m nearly disgusted by our thoughtless accumulation of goods over the years … and ecstatic that our consumer trend line is plummeting in exchange for a freer, lighter existence.

For now, I will sign off because we are off to celebrate that we’ve cleaned a rental unit (fingers crossed) for the last time!!!!

 

Holey moley! It’s not just talk anymore!!

Recently, I’ve been feeling like I’m riding on a whirlwind. I imagine the blustery tornado from “The Wizard of Oz,” lifting up Dorothy’s house, twirling it around, and jettisoning the unsuspecting Dorothy off into another world. It’s a somewhat scary but spectacular world, brimming with self-discovery, new friends, and adventure. It’s not the perfect analogy, but it’s the visual that I’m relating to right now.

Rodney and I have talked and talked, planned and planned, and then talked some more about potential changes to our lifestyle. To be fair, we have made some decent headway and important progress in the last few years, namely in our finances and diet. But we have never taken steps that I would consider to be … dramatic.

Until now.

During our many discussions we always remind ourselves that the lifestyle of our dreams won’t just drop into our laps. It will require decisions and, most importantly, it will require action:

“The unexamined life is not worth living, but if all you’re doing is examining … you’re not living.”

Well, now we’re doing a lot more than just examining. Just this week:

  • we enrolled our daughter in home school
  • we made an appointment with our realtor to put our properties on the market
  • we started to give away our belongings

Whoa.

Whoa, again.

Taking some real action is definitely exhilarating, but it’s also a little … not quite frightening, but … maybe reality-inducing? We find ourselves saying “Oh man, we’re really doing this?!” and “It’s happening!!!”

And then it occurs to me … we’re graduating out of the “big talk” phase. If we truly want to live the life of our dreams, we need to majorly reconstruct our lifestyle and that will require big change. Big change requires much more than big talk.

Maybe we should plan a ceremony, or at least a celebration, because after years of mostly words, Rodney and Dianna Wehr have graduated from Big Talk to Big Action. (Congratulations to ourselves!!)