Hold the Rum

So many life changing experiences are made much more special when you’re on an island in the Caribbean simply due to the quirkiness of your lifestyle, pregnancy being no exception. Back on the mainland, I can’t count how many times I’ve rolled my eyes at people remarking, “At least you didn’t have to deal with morning sickness during the summer! That’s the worst.” Oh honey, you don’t know what “worst” is. I was pregnant on a rock when the trade-winds stopped. I was pregnant and got afternoon sickness from the heat, and then my husband conveniently decided he wanted soup for dinner every night. Have I ever mentioned we didn’t have air conditioning? There, I just did. I think I lost about 20 pounds during my first trimester from sweat and vomit alone.

Let us start at the beginning, when we found out I was expecting:

“There’s a line and a half,” my husband calls out. “What does that mean?”

“WHAT?!!” I ran to examine the pee stick that I had somehow totally forgotten about in my wine-induced stupor. Sure as rain, there it was. A line and a half that meant that motherhood was suddenly staring me in the face.

I was surprised, but excited. He was surprised, but horrified. We were both pretty sure this wasn’t going to happen without sinking thousands of dollars into in vitro whenever he was finally ready to be a parent…you know, like, in our 50s.

preggo warning sign

One of the early challenges of pregnancy is figuring out how to announce your good news to the people you love. But before the people I loved knew, someone else figured it out first: my bartender. Linguistically, on an island, I feel like this is the equivalent of saying “my mechanic” or “my postman”.

Every day after work on St. Thomas, I would walk into Captain Quinn’s Rum Bar, where the cheeky bartender would say, “Coconut (rum) and Pineapple, Steph?” I would typically have at least one while I waited on the 4pm ferry back home. Well, unfortunately you can’t just keep drinking rum after work every day when you’re growing a fetus, so the day came when I had to say, “Yes, but hold the rum.”

“Holy shit, you’re pregnant.”

Well played, bartender, well played. He was excited for me of course, and I still bought bottles of water from him and sat and had conversations, as that was the more enjoyable part of waiting for the boat back to St. John.

After the bartender, and subsequently half the island knowing that I was expecting, I decided I’d better tell my mom. I made a point to take the time to do this after work one day and drove my Jeep to a grocery store parking lot to give her a call. I don’t dare attempt to talk on the phone while driving on St. Thomas. That is a death wish, for sure.

Right as I’m about to give her the big news, a man walks up to my Jeep and tries asking me for money. While I’m on the phone. I point to the phone and say, “I’m on the phone!” My Jeep was a true island car, so it had no windows, and thus no way for me to shut this stranger out. I wait for him to leave so I can resume my tender moment with my mom on the phone, but he just stands there. Waiting. Waiting for me to get out of my Jeep so he can ask me for money again.

“Ugh, HOLD ON MOM.” I set the phone down, and drive to a different parking lot, and resume my phone conversation. I finally get to tell her the good news. Of course she was overjoyed and surprised, as we all were.

Looking back, I actually appreciate the fact that my bartender found out before any of my family or other friends. I even appreciate the annoying man asking for money, as these two experiences added to the unique flavor of being pregnant in the Virgin Islands.

Oh, and the big Facebook announcement? The shirt speaks for itself:

Made in St John 🙂

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Stephanie Tavera

About Stephanie Tavera

Stephanie fell in love with the Caribbean when her boyfriend moved to the US Virgin Islands in 2012. She married him pretty quickly after that and joined him in a cozy little shack, erm… “cottage” in 2013. Life on St. John was fun, fast, and drunk. Stephanie briefly moved back to the US to birth a delightful child. Though she temporarily left the islands, the islands never left her. Haunted by dreams of sapphire blue water, awkward situations, and enchanting critters of all sorts (read: stray cats who pee in your Jeep), she and her husband resolved to return.

They are both starting online businesses and are returning to the Caribbean to reside in Grand Cayman. Stephanie is currently learning how to survive without Painkillers (the drinks, not the pills), while transitioning into motherhood. You can find her stripping her teeth at whatever calamity she is facing, while retaining her Southern roots: “Bless her heart.”




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9 thoughts on “Hold the Rum

  1. Congratulations! We have a Cruzian and a Tomian….let us know if you need any help navigating the next steps. In truth, raising island babies is pretty awesome.

  2. Congratulations, how exciting! I’ll have to follow along with your pregnancy postings. Many blessings to you both and the new one on the way!

  3. Congratulations!! St. John is an awesome place to have a baby. And the experience will be very unique. Trust me. I had my first on STJ and the second in South Carolina. Let’s just say I came back. I’m pretty sure this will add a whole new dimention to my connections with this site. Go get em mama! I can’t wait to read the “old wife’s tale” post that is sure to follow. Muahahahahahaha!

  4. Thank you Barbara! Baby is actually here, and this memoir is from 2013! We had a healthy baby girl last May. She’s nine months old now. 🙂

  5. great sense of humor!
    Here in VG pregnant women have a paint-on-belly party when they are very visibly “PG”( as we said in my youth when”pregnancy was almost a dirty word–dates me!). The preg. (“with-child”)’s friends and father of the baby-to-be have prepared all the party stuff and they meet somewhere with other guests. The p.g. woman’s abdomen can already have been painted with all kinds of designs etc. and/or the guests can add to what’s already bulgingly there.Everyone gets to drink alcoholic beverages ( we all know that meeting places and bars are almost synonymous on rocks) except for the PG woman who will soon be free of that prohibition again..
    P.S. When I was pregnant with my last child I had to stay in bed for the last 3 mos.This was 35 years ago. The doctor said i MUST have two jiggers of alcohol daily or he would take me to the hospital and feed me alcohol intravenously. I did not resist his suggestion!

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