I didn’t truly understand what a major life choice was until I lived in Singapore. During the Zika outbreak. While 6 months pregnant.
Miami, according to the news, was basically on lockdown after 49 cases in as many months. Whereas, Singapore springs up 242 cases in the first week and some people were still very “meh – the symptoms seem mild” or “I’m not worried because dengue is worse, you could die.”
I mean, I hope they’re right. I hope when the science finally catches up and we’re looking back on this in a decade that we laugh at how much we overreacted. And that the one article about Brazilian pesticides or Asia being a different strain were actually spot on. But so far, it’s not *proven* that this bug doesn’t cause severe brain defects. And I’m not about to bet my kid’s life on that one.
So why not just go back to the US like some women are doing? Well…. Because I have a job. And so does my Husband. And we are supporting – and growing – a family.
“Just going home” for 3 months really means
- Relocation, not vacation, back home
- New job for me, potentially no job for him
- Expat status and benefits gone
- US lack of mat leave means no pay and only a few months to financially figure out a new house, car, life, etc…
Not a fantastic plan A.
So since the little shits haven’t officially reached our neighbourhood yet (or even close), we have opted for plan B where I morph into Rapunzel (or Fiona, depending on your fairy tale of choice) and stay locked away in my tower for a trimester. Only difference is that my tower is surrounded by tiny little disease filled dragons and I can’t kiss my prince to make them go away…
Bring on the prevention!
First, most bug stuff in Singapore is citronella based… Which, newsflash, doesn’t work when you’re looking to use it outside! Wait … What?!? Yes, you heard me. Citronella doesn’t actually repel bugs, it just camouflages your smell for a certain radius. So a light breeze will blow it away. And the radius is about this big…
So for everything other than my left shin, and to accompany my essential oil stuff so I can be out for longer than an hour, I had a special care package of Picaridin and DEET flown in from a dear friend (ironically who lives in Miami) who was tuned in on what a miserable quarantine I was in for.
A typical day means
- Checking websites and newspapers for new reports of cases in case we needed to venture out – is it by our neighbourhood? Is it by day care? Or his work? Or our 1 place of refuge – the CrossFit gym?
- Going outside means my new favourite perfume – Eau du bug stuff – and long pants/sleeves.
- The office was next to a dengue red zone, and I wasn’t about to be the first Zika casualty for that area. So immediately started working from home (thankfully had a very supportive boss!) and went in on a few key days for meetings, but it was taxi driven to the front door, and no more walking between buildings a block apart.
- You can order in anything and have it delivered in this city; dinner, groceries, massages… Anything!
- I could still go for runs along the Marina. The concrete jungle that was downtown was pretty skito-free with the nice breeze we have!
- I should be safe 61 stories up with zero plants on my balcony because I can’t grow them to save my life!
- My desk chair at home is a yoga ball – which made the last month of emails a lot more comfortable.
- I got to spend more lunch and breakfast dates with #1 when I would’ve otherwise been at an office. 🙂
This also meant cancelling a few vacations though – buhbye Bali and Vietnam – as it probably wasn’t a great idea to go hangout in an actual jungle for a few months. But we will make those up.
Fast forward to December… we made it! I stayed sane, kiddo arrived healthy, and I would do it again if I had to. And thankfully for my other still pregnant friends, the cases are almost gone!
“It’s better to lose one minute in life than to lose life in a minute.” ~Author unknown