Great Britain

I went backpacking around India and Bangladesh with my three-month-old baby

NATALIE Dimmock, 41, is a marketing director and lives in Godalming, Surrey, with her daughter Tiger, nine months.

"Mopping up sick from my shoulder, I jiggled my daughter up and down to stop her crying.

But unlike most small babies, Tiger wasn’t vomiting in the comfort of our home – we were 17,500 feet up on the Khardung La mountain pass in the snowy Indian Himalayas.

I caught the travelling bug thanks to my ex-boyfriend Robin. We met when I was 17 and had a weekend job in a bakery.

Robin was one of my customers and although he was 16 years older than me, we hit it off. Over the years, we would go backpacking around countries including India, Nepal and Thailand as often as we could.

We talked about having children and taking them travelling too, but at the time I felt too young.

After we broke up when I was 30, I realised I really did want a baby, and began dating widely to try to meet the father of my child, but frustratingly, there was no one I could imagine having a family with.

At 34, I used some savings to pay to freeze my eggs as well as having embryos fertilised with donor sperm as a back-up plan. I wanted to have a chance at being a mum in the future.

Robin and I had stayed friends and I was devastated when he was diagnosed with small cell lung cancer in February 2014.

He underwent chemotherapy, but passed away a year later aged 52, leaving me heartbroken.

His death sparked an overwhelming desire to seize the day, so I threw myself into travelling, socialising and dating – I knew it was what he would have wanted.

Two years later I still hadn’t met a man I wanted to have a baby with, so I decided to use my frozen embryos. The first four cycles of IVF failed, but I finally became pregnant on the fifth attempt.

I began thinking about using my maternity leave to travel with my baby in tribute to Robin. I worked out that I could afford a three-month trip to India, followed by another month in Bangladesh.

Friends thought what I was planning was madness, but ultimately they knew the decision was mine.

Tiger Robyn India was born on January 18, 2019. Three weeks later her first passport arrived, followed by our visas for India.

On April 23, we flew to Delhi on our journey to the Himalayas. Tiger – who had just had her 12-week inoculations as well as the BCG vaccine to protect against TB – slept for most of the nine-hour flight.

We spent our first night in a hotel before beginning our journey through the villages of the Himalayas by taxi. The locals were welcoming and Tiger adapted well to all the travelling.

I kept her close to me in a baby carrier, which helped her to feel secure, while our clothes and possessions were in a rucksack. As we were in the mountains, the climate was similar to the UK.

I chose to alternate between breast and bottle feeding, and used a travel kettle to boil bottled water for formula, and scrubbed reusable nappies clean.

I’d been concerned about malaria and dengue fever, but there are no mosquitoes in the mountains, which meant that Tiger didn’t have to take medication.

We avoided altitude sickness by ascending mountains slowly by road.

We stayed in hotels and guesthouses in the villages, and I chose the upper end of what was available, but nothing ever cost more than £20 per night.

On the day we visited Khardung La, a snowy road high up in the mountains, I looked at the beauty surrounding us and I knew that Robin was looking down on us and smiling.

After three months in India, we returned home to the UK for the summer to see friends and family, before flying back out to Bangladesh for a month in September.

We went walking in forests, visited tea gardens and took boat trips in the Sunderbans mangroves.

In October, it was time to go back to the UK. As a solo mum, my return to work was a financial decision, and although I wish I could have travelled with Tiger for longer, I love my career.

I have a plan that in 10 years’ time we will return to India and retrace the trip I took her on in memory of Robin when she was just a tiny baby."

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