Dirty Jobs

This post is a shout out to my amazing husband, who takes on all of the really dirty jobs that come with living on a boat. He puts on a brave face and does it all with hardly any complaining (and trust me, some of the jobs deserve A LOT of complaint, they are GROSS!)

One of the nastier things is pumping out the holding tank on a twice-monthly basis. You can see how thrilled he is about it:

pumpout

Another dreaded chore is cleaning out the bilge. All sorts of gunk accumulates down there, especially because we are in fresh water, and it needs to be scrubbed every few months so we don’t get a weird sulfuric smell that permeates the boat. Some biodegradable dish soap, a little elbow grease with a scrubby, and a LOT of rinsing will get it done. Tip: WEAR GLOVES.

bilge

The AC filter from our raw water intake can get pretty disgusting too (ah, river water). We run our air pretty much 24/7, so that one gets cleaned every month. Tons of weird stuff grows in there. I try not to get too close.

Needless to say, Conor is quite the trooper, and Scout and I appreciate that he keeps our little home both sanitary and running smoothly. I always make sure to have a cold beer ready for him when he’s done!

So thanks, Mister, you’re the best.

Love,

Taylor

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4, 3, 2, 1.

Today is National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day. This is a difficult post for me to write, but I strive to always be transparent and honest on this blog about the ups and downs of our lives. We recently announced that we have a new crew member on the way. I have been asked a couple times over the last few months if we knew I was pregnant when we bought the boat, and what on earth we are planning to do with a newborn aboard.

Yes, we knew I was pregnant when we bought the boat. If you want the brutal truth, this is my 4th pregnancy, after 3 losses, 2 years of trying, and 1 round of fertility medication. It has been a long, hard road with no guarantees. Against all odds, the boat and the baby dream came together at the same time, and we are thrilled about it.

My first pregnancy was ectopic. For any woman, the chances of an ectopic pregnancy (outside the uterus, usually in a fallopian tube) are around 1/100—it is very rare but always life-threatening. Conor had just deployed two weeks earlier, so when I experienced stabbing pains in my right side, I drove myself to the ER in the middle of the night and found out the bad news. It was traumatic, to say the least.

After Conor came back from deployment, we were ecstatic to find out that we were expecting again. The immediate concern was the chance of another ectopic, because once you’ve had one, your chances are 1/6 for subsequent pregnancies. Early scans showed that the little bub was in the right place, so we announced to friends and family in person while we were back in Washington over the summer. After all, what were the chances that we would have two losses in a row? We traveled back to California, and I went in for another ultrasound at 9 weeks, only to see that the pregnancy stopped progressing. Conor was in the field for an exercise, and rushed home to be with me.

I was diagnosed with a missed miscarriage, meaning that my body hadn’t recognized that the pregnancy was no longer viable and was continuing to behave as though I was still pregnant, morning sickness and all. I had to be medically induced. Not so fun fact: missed miscarriages account for only 1% of pregnancies. We had rolled the dice, and lost again.

To say I was bitter and angry at this point would be an understatement. Conor and I were both young and healthy, with zero risk factors. I only got more discouraged as the months dragged on and I couldn’t get pregnant again. My due dates passed, and I found myself thinking of alternate timelines. “Oh, I would have a one-year-old right now. Oh, I should be six months pregnant by now.” Instead, we were back to square one. Behind square one, even, because now the naive excitement of pregnancy had been replaced with bad memories and disillusionment, a track record of failure. I envied and marveled anyone who had pregnancies with no losses. It seemed impossible to me.

Eight months later, I finally got a faint positive test, which was quickly followed by another miscarriage at 5 weeks. I told my doctor I had pretty much given up by this point. We were also about to leave California. She suggested a round of Clomid as a last-ditch effort. “It won’t necessarily help, but it won’t hurt anything, either.”

I guess the 4th pregnancy was the charm. Conor and I feel beyond lucky to be at this point.

I hope my story helps anyone else going through the unique pain that is pregnancy loss. It can feel so isolating, especially because it is still so taboo to discuss in society. Women feel like they have to be so hush-hush and secretive about it, and wait until they are past the first trimester to announce to people because “What if something happens?” Well shit, things do happen. And it sucks to try to handle it on your own so as to spare other people’s feelings on the matter. I want to let other women know that they are not alone. For friends and family who support these women in your life, here are some tips to follow (and what not to say) if someone you know experienced a loss or is struggling with infertility:

1) “At least you can get pregnant.” Oh, goodie! And I can also have multiple miscarriages in a row! Definitely a win for me.

2) “It will happen when you stop trying.” Ah, yes. The truly scientific explanation, backed up by empirical data. So helpful.

3) “It just wasn’t meant to be/ God’s will, etc.” Why would you assume anything about my religion and what I believe in? Stop trying to make yourself feel better by saying a general platitude.

4) “You still have time to try again.” Well, I wanted that baby. And now that baby is gone. Any subsequent pregnancies are not a replacement for the ones that I’ve lost. They were all unique.

5) “Maybe if you wouldn’t have done ____, everything would have worked out.” Don’t you dare blame the mother. She’s also probably already obsessed about this herself a million times.

Here’s what you can do:

Say that you’re sorry for their loss. Listen to them if they want to talk about it. If they named their little passenger, refer to the baby by name. Bring meals, chocolate, distractions, whatever, don’t just tell them, “I’m here for you.” Show them. I had friends drop off care packages, check in with me months after my losses to see how I was coping, weren’t afraid to bring it up in conversation, and sent cards for what would have been my due dates. Don’t shy away from it. The mothers haven’t forgotten.

quote

There is an event tonight (October 15th) to acknowledge pregnancy and infant loss. Everyone lights a candle at 7pm and keeps it burning for an hour, creating a wave of light all around the world through the all the timezones. We’ll light ours on the boat.

Love,

Taylor and Conor

A Reader Lives A Thousand Lives

deviate

I grew up in the suburbs, in the same house for twenty years, and had never even heard of a liveaboard until three years ago. So what spurred this examination of different types of living, and gave us the courage to do it ourselves?

Books.

My first ‘ah-ha’ moment came from reading Timothy Ferris’ 4 HOUR WORKWEEK. It talks about travel, escaping the bonds of a traditional 9-to-5, and alternative ways to make money. Most importantly, it discusses ‘dreamlining’ and laying out goals for what YOU want to accomplish out of life (not what is expected of you). Though with Conor in the military, we weren’t able to take the ‘4 hour workweek’ part of it literally, the message of the book got us thinking about how we could make the most of our lives and try new things while he was still in the service. If you’re wondering how to break out of a rut, start with this book. He talks about things I had never assumed were possible, and will truly make you re-examine the validity of “The American Dream”.

If that book inspires you, here are some more that have influenced me along the way:

THE ART OF POSSIBILITY is a great non-fiction for examining personal and professional fulfillment. It gives a set of twelve practices for bringing creativity, and thus unexpected possibilities, into your life. It was helpful in slowly changing my perspective to embrace change and challenges.

Another one of my favorites is called THE ORGANIZED MIND: THINKING STRAIGHT IN THE AGE OF INFORMATION OVERLOAD. This book made me realize the importance of living simpler, and how it would affect my overall happiness. It got me to look into tiny living and minimalism, which eventually led to boats! It is good to read in conjunction with FLOW: THE PSYCHOLOGY OF OPTIMAL EXPERIENCE because they have a lot of parallels. Focus on what makes you happy, instead of spending useless time worrying! Don’t waste your brain power.

This is one that I just finished, so I can’t really say that it inspired us to get the boat, only that it reinforced my belief that we made the right call! DEVIATE by Beau Lotto teaches how to think, not what to think, and how by changing our perspective of the past we can influence our future. It explains why human hardwiring makes it difficult for us to live with uncertainty, and how to reengineer our brains to perceive a different reality, one that encourages creativity and innovation. The picture at the top of this post is an excerpt from the book.

As you can tell, I LOVE to read, and if anyone has other recommendations for me, I’m all ears! Please share your favorite books and what they have inspired you to accomplish.

Love,

Taylor and Conor