Life in a campervan, pregnant & with a toddler
In the second trimester, most parents would be attending regular midwife appointments and starting to think about a nursery, but Marcela and David had another plan...
words by Emily Bell
In 2017, Marcela and David packed up their lives and with their two-year-old son in tow, set off on a journey around New Zealand, in a campervan. Four months and 10,000 km later, the family are back in Auckland, their temporary base, where Marcela is now very heavily pregnant and one week away from her due date. Though most would associate touring the country in a campervan with 20 somethings, the couple have proven that it is just as doable with a family. We sat down with Marcela to discover more about travelling with a toddler whilst pregnant.
What made you decide to move out of Auckland and into a campervan?
I gave up my accounting job to become a full-time mum to my little boy, Benji. We were living in a small, rented bungalow in Auckland but really wanted our own place, somewhere that reflected our sustainable, eco-efficient lifestyle. But it was becoming more and more unrealistic to think we could buy a house in Auckland, due to the rising property prices. So in July, we decided to buy a campervan and start to plan our trip around New Zealand. We started to downsize when I found out I was pregnant.
How did pregnancy affect your decision making process?
We really had to think about this new development and decided to leave it until after the baby was born. Sadly, I miscarried, so after a while, we decided to bring forward the trip, planning to leave before Christmas. We were both so busy with planning the trip that I didn't realise I was pregnant again! I didn't want my pregnancy to stop us - it was clear this baby wanted to travel! On the 19th of December we left Auckland for our adventure.
So what was it like living in a campervan, pregnant, with a toddler?
Amazing. Although our campervan was only small, we got used to it. We all sat in the front of the car so we were driving together, which was great. I loved every second, it was so tranquil being together. The campervan even had a little toilet where I potty trained my son!
How did you cope with pregnancy whilst being on the road?
We didn't travel more than 2-3 hours at a time as sitting upright was taxing on my back. So, I did around 45 minutes of yoga every day to stretch my body, which helped a lot. We were really lucky that we didn't have any complications with the pregnancy. Usually you go through pregnancy with one midwife, but I had about six or seven! We have quite an organic approach to pregnancy. We had no scans or birth plan. With this brought some anxiety though, which was hard. We also were not sure of the exact due date!
How has your two-year-old adapted to the change?
He loved it! We have just arrived back in Auckland and he keeps asking when we are leaving. Initially it didn't him long to adjust. The hardest part was sleeping - we had a big bed in Auckland and the bed in the campervan was half the size. We co-sleep, so for the first week he slept sideways (which was difficult for us), but after a while it improved. We found a rhythm for everything. His language increased so much because there was so much to see. Every day, we were doing something new and talking to lots of different people. At first, we were scared about what it would be like for him as there was a reduced sense of "home" and little stability, but as we were all together, it worked out perfectly.
Now you're back in Auckland, what's the plan?
I'm due in two weeks, so we are currently staying with friends and I'm preparing for the birth. If everything goes well, we would like to have a home birth.
What about when baby is born?
We are trying to figure out our options right now. We were thinking of travelling around a different country, but ideally I would like to nest and cocoon myself with my newborn for those first few months.
What advice would you give to people who are in a similar position?
My experience has exceeded my expectations. We definitely had fear, but we didn't let that stop us. It was so empowering and even though there were a couple of setbacks, I wouldn't change anything. We challenged ourselves and parented at the same time, so I'm quite proud of that.