September 4, 2012

Hot Air ballooning, Pregnant and with a Toddler

So I felt compelled to write this post right away due to the lack of research I was able to find on this subject.

Riding in a balloon basket at Pennypickle's Workshop,
the award-winning Children's Museum in Temecula
We have renewed energy to beef up our 100 Weeks list as baby #2 will join us soon! As a part of a weekend trip to Temecula, CA (partly to celebrate our anniversary, though we didn't taste -much- wine and M joined us) we decided to go hot air ballooning. It seemed like the "other" thing to do in Temecula, if you weren't visiting all the wineries. So we called and made a last minute reservation for the three of us Sunday afternoon for the next morning. But then later that evening, a friend on Facebook asked, "Are you allowed to do that when pregnant?"

getting ready to take off!
we flew with 15 people (including the pilot).
 luckily the basket was compartmentalized,
and our family got a compartment to ourselves. 
Hm. The balloon company never asked (and it was me, a woman, who called). They didn't seem to have any concerns over us bringing the two-year-old along (in fact, they had a toddler aboard the day before, the man said). But better safe to do some Google-ing. Between hubby and I, we came up with post after post that said, "DON'T DO IT". Some, with no reason at all listed, but some said that a rough take off or landing could be dangerous for baby. Some also said the altitude might mean less oxygen for mom and baby. Still others suggested that the stress of being afraid of heights would be detrimental. Some just said that many companies had policies against it. Only one poster said that they'd actually asked their doctor, who said they were fine with it.
watching in fascination as the
 crew sets up the balloon, rocks and sticks
 were also fun to play with while we waited.

But I REALLY didn't want to have to cancel our adventure. So I called the balloon company back and asked if it mattered if I was pregnant. They said, "How pregnant?" About 4 months. "Hm. This is probably a question better asked to your doctor. But we aren't expecting it to be very windy tomorrow, so we don't anticipate very bumpy landings. If it were February or March, we'd say definitely not." OK, thanks for the information. Doubtful I'll hear from my doctor before 6AM tomorrow.

So hubby and I discussed. I am not afraid of heights, and had been ballooning before, so I didn't think stress from that would be an issue. Bumpy landings were less of a risk, given the weather, but we (and the company) were willing to subject our toddler to that already, right? Less oxygen? Hm. Didn't seem like a real risk since they didn't ask if we had any other health conditions... 

So we did it. And while I am NOT a medical professional, nor have I consulted mine about this (yet), here is what I will tell you:

up in the air! with a bunch of other balloons!
With respect to being pregnant, bring snacks and water and a hat. We each had a banana before heading out at 5:45 AM and didn't have another chance to eat until 9AM (we didn't think we should bring our whole bag along for the flight, given the space and exact weight being calculated). Too long for me to go, and I did start to get really tired. You stand the whole time (it was about an hour and fifteen minutes for us) in the basket (except the breaks I took with M) and beforehand while they set up. I declined to wear M, or even pick him up (not that that would have been very safe in the air anyway). We could have easily brought a bottle of water and some Nutragrain bars with us. Actually, we did have a champagne/OJ toast to celebrate the safe flight after we landed (about 8:30). But still, a little OJ over three hours later was cutting it close. The hat is because, while it is sunny up there, you are also really close to the flame throwers that heat the air in the balloon. And they are hot on your head! I guess pregnant or not, another layer between me and that would have been nice. They did actually tell us to bring hats, and everyone had one except me, because I didn't pack one on the trip. So just saying, they are serious about that.

watching the balloon come down after our ride
With respect to bringing a toddler, bring snacks and water and a hat... and a cell phone. Again, guess who else needs to eat frequently and be protected from heat? And gets cranky if they don't have these things? M loved watching the balloon be set up, and the first 20 minutes or so of the ride. He rode in our Ergo carrier with his daddy for takeoff, and for those first few minutes, but then wanted to get down. He sat in the floor of the basket (where it was further from the flames and cooler) and looked out of the foot holes, or flipped through photos on my iPhone. Every now and then, either Daddy or I would squat down and help point out mountains or lakes or trees or other balloons we could see out of the holes. Only twice did he complain that he was "all done". At the advice of our pilot, we didn't put him back in the Ergo for the landing and while it wasn't very bumpy, we did have a bump and he hit his face on the basket, right where there was no padding. A little whining, but fine after a kiss, and no mark.

All-in-all we were happy with our decision!
the traditional post-balloon ride toast (just juice for me and M)

1 comment:

  1. My gosh M is adorable!!! Good for you to go! There is actually very little you can do to hurt a pregnancy. Happy you had fun!