Tuesday, 28 May 2013

The other wait which has been making me anxious

H and I used to travel. A lot. In fact, for a transatlantic couple whose very courtship spanned North America and Europe, by way of Colombia and the Middle East, you could say that not only has travel been a shared passion, but a defining feature of our love story.

But all that was in the before.

And then as we embarked on what we hoped would be the road to a globe trekker junior, and the spectre of infertility loomed over our lives, all that stopped. In in the beginning it was 'I might be...months pregnant by then' (ha! The foolish optimism!), meaning I wouldn't be able to safely fly/eat the street food/make that challenging hike that a particular holiday would entail. Then it was because of doctor's appointments and procedures. Or, because our travel choices have always tended to be to more off-the-beaten-path, less developed destinations, there was the fact that malaria tablets or vaccines - none of which are safe or compatible with ttc - would be involved. And so like many couples who are struggling in the ways we are struggling, an important aspect of life was temporarily lost. And it's something we miss.

So when H returned from work about a month ago with news that he'd have to travel to Estonia for a workshop, I glanced at the map and I imagined.

I've always wanted to go to Saint Petersburg, I said in an offhand way.

H looked at me and said, we could get a ferry from Tallin to Saint Petersburg. We'd be there during the White Nights, which would be amazing. (The White Nights being the midsummer period in Russia during which the midnight sun illuminates an apparently fabulous range of street festivities, picnics, parties and concerts that run through the night like a kind of two-week movable night feast. How H possesses this encyclopedic local knowledge from across the globe, I don't know, but I'm regularly delighted by it.)

After all, that particular corner of the continent, while perhaps not as intrepid as other possible destinations, is rather off the beaten path, and who knows when we might next get the chance? And before we knew it, we were thinking about itineraries and researching the best beaches in the Baltic and booking flights. How exciting! Without really having an impact our baby making efforts, an adventure presented itself. We're doing this old school people: with backpacks and budget hotels and train passes. We'll relive our wayward actually pretty tame youth. This is my kind of travel.

But then.

Then we found out about the Russian visa application process. Or perhaps it would be more appropriate to say, we realized we'd both need visas but found out very little about the actual process thanks to nearly useless and impossible-to-navigate Russian Embassy webpages. Well ok, let me clarify; for Canadian citizens like myself, it's pretty straightforward really. But for Austrian nationals - due in part, I suspect, to some  historical my-empire-is-bigger-than-yours! sparring between the Russians and the Austro-Hungarians (fact: these kids haven't always played nice in the sandbox) - there was a series of seemingly interminable hoops through which to jump. There were very specifically (but actually also confusingly ill-defined) proof of address documents to supply. There were questionnaires to complete (blood type, boxers or briefs, etc, etc). There was Russian-approved, designated health insurance to obtain. And then there was a mixup with our payment. And the weeks ticked by and we waited. And waited, worrying that the impending date of departure would arrive before our travel documents ever did...It was all a little nerve wracking, let me tell ya.

But the story has a happy ending, because you guys, today they have arrived! One fruitless visit to the Russian Consular Service in London, many phone calls and contradictory email instructions later, we - finally! - are the proud owners of two Russian visas. Yes, we get to see our full names spelled out in Cyrillic script in our passports. 

(As an aside, this has been a much more satisfying wait than my usual monthly anticipations, not least because it resulted in the desired outcome. For another thing, I could yell at the Russian visa officials when they gave me crap information. There is no such outlet, beyond random outbursts at my poor husband, which will relieve the tension of a two week wait. What am I supposed to do, start punching my ovaries? I've already tried that.)

We leave this weekend, for three weeks of hiking and train riding and city exploring, taking in Helsinki, Estonia, Latvia and Saint Petersburg. I could not possibly be more excited. We need this holiday. (Bonus: the next time I find out I'm not pregnant, I'll be in a foreign country!)

I plan to enjoy the hell outta this trip. Because if there's one thing we've learned in all this time, it's the following: while we continue to wait, that doesn't mean we just have to sit around and wait.


Documented and ready to go!

26 comments:

  1. Love this. Love that you get to go. Love that you will be finding so much joy. Can't wait to hear about your travels xxxx

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    1. Thanks Lisa, I'm planning to be a joy-seeking happiness bomb during those three weeks (which makes me sound insane and manic, *guilty as charged*)! I hope you're also having a wonderful trip.

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    2. I go back to Canada tomorrow and will be writing all about it then. It's been amazing. But short...too short. Ah life. Xxxx

      P.s. There are much worse things to be than insane and manic.

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  2. Glad they finally came and things worked out! Enjoy, and I hope you have a safe trip!

    I've never left the country, but we always dream about taking a vacation somewhere, someday. I bet it's a really awesome experience to visit other cultures/places and take it all in!

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    1. It is so so awesome, and in truth, maybe one of the few things that can get me genuinely, deeply excited these days. I'm hoping the change of scene will be just what the doctor ordered!

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  3. Oh, I'm so happy that this tale had a happy ending. Have an amazing trip. White Nights sounds so amazing, I'm feeling equal parts happy for you and equal parts totally jealous.

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    1. Thanks Amanda! I'm very excited about experiencing the White Nights, and all of it really. Since all we seem to be doing is waiting at the moment, I think it will be great to have so many divsersions to keep our mind off things for now.

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  4. Oh this is super exciting, I am so happy for you :) (And I know all about finding out this was not our month in a foreign country... oh well) (We'll always have Paris?) (Sorry I am not making any sense here).

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    1. Thanks my dear, I a happy and excited too! And that is all too rare around here recently, so I'll take it (even if it means finding out I'm not pregnant - again - in a foreign country). At least this way, there will be many lovely distractions, right?!

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  5. Ahhh....how marvellous! Enjoy, enjoy, enjoy. Such a wonderful trip should certainly help to take your mind off the dreadful two week wait. Oh, wouldn't it be amazing to tell your little one about the day you were hunting all over a Russian town for the test that told you they were on the way......just day dreaming for you.

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    1. Aah, Ana. Even if it doesn't come true, your day dream just put a huge smile on my face :) Thank you for that! I think daydreaming doesn't hurt, and in fact might be a useful coping mechanism.

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  6. I'm so glad it all worked out. Have a fabulous time on your trip!

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    1. Thanks my friend! Hope we can exchange travel notes on our respective returns!

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  7. Perfect! I envy you your trip and hope you have a wonderful time! (Which I know you will, because you are a fellow globe-trottin' gypsy.) Here's to embracing the old you and the new you! Nasdrave!

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    1. You're so sweet Lauren! And yes, I'm feeling that travel itch again, so this will be just the scratch I need (not to mention distracting from our *other* situation).

      I like that toast, I'll definitely drink to that :)

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  8. Amazing! I've always wanted to go to St. Peterberg!

    We've always loved to travel, too. And so many times we've had those thoughts - "How can we book, I could be pregnant..." Only to be disappointed over & over & over. Sigh.

    Post lots of pictures!

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    1. I know, I'm not even sure why it's always been on my list, but I just have so many romantic associations of the place, it's onion domes and canals and artistic life. I can't believe I finally get to check it out for myself! I'll try to pop in with updates, and will definitely post photos on my return!

      Those thoughts are hard, especially when you reflect back on them and realize how baseless they were... But you have to keep living, I think. I really, truly hope that both of us will have very good reason NOT to travel in the near future. Hang in there.

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    2. My grandmother was born in Russia, so I've always wondered what it would be like. But St. Petersberg is so much more interesting than Moscow to me. So jealous!

      We don't have a vacation planned right now. We've traveled for my birthday in Sept for many years but won't be able to this year - new job + two coworkers will be out on maternity leave (bah! yuck!) But you're right, we just have to live our lives and do what we can.

      Here's to NOT traveling soon! For both of us!!

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    3. I think they should institute a (paid) 'My baby died and now I'm barren' leave that equals maternity leave. Just sayin'.

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  9. Yes!! The way you describe travel is the way travel is supposed to be. Off the beaten path, adventurous, immersed in the moment...beauty. I was holding my breath reading this because (even though I had never even thought about going to Russia before), I suddenly was craving going to Russia and therefore wanted you to go for me. So glad it worked out. And three weeks?? Damn girl, I'm jealous. Post tons of pics.

    p.s. Whatever the news is this time, it will be either: a) easier to take because of the scenery, b) absolutely completely the coolest way to find out.

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    1. Hehe, I'll make sure to have some vodka and caviar for you :) Or, even better, I won't be able to do either.

      But you're right, this long exploration will certainly take the sting out of the result! Being immersed in the moment is all too rare in this game, so I'm really planning to make the most of it. I'll post pictures for you guys!

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  10. Yay for Russian visas! My husband and I lived in China for a year and were hell bent on going to Russia but... got easily discouraged by the paperwork and seemingly shady way of getting a visa (I think we needed to send our passports away or something like that).

    I know the feeling of postponing life plans "just in case" of a pregnancy. I spent many, many years living this mindset.

    Enjoy your trip! I'm jealous!

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    1. Yes, that was the dodgy thing here too! We tried to avoid it by going in person, but they only sent us away with a longer list of requirments, and so we finally had to comply and post them...hence my (eventually baseless) worries. I'm not sure I would have trusted the Chinese/Russian postal service either though; I lived in Shandong province, and going into the post office was always one of the biggest adventures of life there!

      Thanks for the wishes Alicia, I'll post pictures when I can!

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  11. That sounds like an awesome trip! You should enjoy it and leave everything else behind. I, also, spent a lot of time putting off life in case of pregnancy or treatment and I always regretted it.

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    1. That's it exactly, right? Whatever happens, I think I have to be able to look back on all this and have as few regrets as possible. You can't stop living while you're waiting, and for those rare chances to really suck the marrow out of life, well, sign me up!

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  12. I am so very happy for you. I am obviously playing "catch up" on here. You really deserve this trip. I want photos of the White Nights! Please! Sounds like an alternate universe. Enjoy. You always make me laugh--like how you'll be somewhere else when you find out you're not pregnant. We are planning a mini-vacation to the Cape and I still have to confirm my cycle. Enjoy the freedom of living fully again!!

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