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New mom takes baby daughter on year-long maternity leave around the globe

Posted October 20

Instead of letting motherhood trample her wanderlust, one new mom packed her new baby up for a maternity leave around the world. (Deseret Photo)

LONDON — Instead of letting motherhood trample her wanderlust, one new mom packed her new baby up for a maternity leave around the world.

Karen Edwards, 32, was shocked when she learned she was expecting.

“We did a test, and I immediately felt, ‘Oh, my God, my life is over,’” she told Today. “I am not going to travel anymore.”

But after the initial surprise sunk in, Edwards, a nurse, and her partner Shaun Bayes made a plan that involved their new baby, three passports and unique year-long maternity leave that would ultimately take the new family to three continents and 10 countries.

After the birth of their daughter, Esme, Edwards and Bayes quickly began planning their first family trip to Southeast Asia.

“I decided 10 weeks was a good time because it gave me a few weeks to find my feet and to have the second round of vaccinations for baby,” Edwards told Today.

The couple used the first couple of months of Esme’s life to get their affairs in order in preparation for their adventure.

“We sold our house, we sold our car and everything,” Bayes told Insider Travel. “On return, (Esme) was nearly 1.”

While it wasn’t always easy, the couple says they learned the ins and outs of traveling with a baby, spreading their newfound knowledge to other travel-hungry parents through Edwards’ Instagram and Facebook accounts, as well as her blog, Travel Mad Mum.

“I guess you could say Esme has not had a typical first year of life,” Edwards wrote on her blog. “She’s been around the world twice and visited 12 countries. Much of these travel expeditions involved backpacking.”

Edwards offers tips about everything from flying with a baby to her favorite baby-friendly travel products. She also posts stunning pictures of Esme in exotic locations, much to the awe of her 65,000 Instagram followers.

“The biggest misconceptions about traveling with a baby are that it’s really difficult or it’s not possible,” Edwards told Insider Travel. “

Now 2, Esme has visited five continents and nearly 20 countries, and the couple has no plans to stop anytime soon.

“If we’re lucky enough to grow our family further, we’d do it all over again,” Bayes said.

Edwards told Today she’s thrilled that her initial prediction about her traveling days being over was so very off base, and finds joy in the fact that she can share that message with others like her.

“I had an email from a lady a few months back. She sent me a picture of herself holding her little girl up in the air in Sydney,” she said. “It reduced me to tears. She said, ‘Thank you for inspiring me. I didn’t think it was possible to travel with a baby.’”

Jessica Ivins is a content manager for KSL.com and contributor to the Motherhood Matters section.

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