First Impressions

England and I did not get off to a great start.

It wasn’t really England’s fault. After flying from DC to Munich to Manchester with a toddler who decided to sleep for a mere 45 minutes of the flight, my body was wracked with exhaustion. I forget how many weeks pregnant I was–not many, six or seven–but it was enough to declare myself the enemy of odd smells and foods. My Hawaiian-accustomed body was crying out for sunshine; needless to say we saw only clouds when we landed in Manchester. My hands shook the whole first day as I tried to reconcile the jet lag, the pregnancy, and the sense that the weather and I were not going to get along.

From there I was sick. Boy howdy, was I sick. All morning. Evenings. When we went out to eat and had a waitress with even a hint of perfume it was enough to send me reeling. I couldn’t drink fruit smoothies or have anything remotely acidic. Even salads became suspect. My body felt like it had been beaten with a blunt object; I napped every afternoon. It was bad. It was worse than with Maggie; it was worse than I had ever dreamed. And I was cold. I felt frozen every time I left the house.

None of this was England’s fault. But I blamed England anyway. With my body as topsy-turvy as it was, the only thing that would have comforted me is the familiar and I couldn’t have it. If I was to be benched and fated to spend most mornings lying prone next to a bucket I wanted to be doing it on our favorite Hawaiian beach. I wanted to vomit foods with brand names I recognized.

The worst day was a bus tour that Tom’s work arranged for us to travel around The Dales, which are the villages outside Harrogate. Between morning sickness and motion sickness I set a personal pregnancy record for illness. Even water was a stretch. That night I took a bath and cried. It’s hard to explain just how debilitating pregnancy sickness can be to someone who’s never experienced it. It’s truly a handicap. I felt like I was trapped in my body and taking my family down with me.

Eventually we got into our house and settled into our neighborhood. We started meeting more people. I enrolled Maggie in dance class and discovered the playgrounds. We found that our organic/local grocery delivery service tasted better than anything we could have found in Hawaii. England slowly got better. Better became good. As the weeks drew on and my body acclimated to the wee person living within it my energy started to improve. I still can’t unload the dishwasher because the remnant smells of detergent make me vomit and I don’t always go on weekend adventures with Tom and Maggie on the weekends (I need the time to recharge) but I can do just about everything else. We can leave the back patio door open all morning and let in fresh air; it grew warm enough to start a little herb garden.

At some point I discovered that I didn’t hate England anymore.

Sure, the weather still bites, but what can you do? Hawaii is Hawaii. There’s nothing like it. I bought a nice new raincoat and tried to move on. And every day is getting better.


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