Being a Mom

Image

Wait a minute. I thought you said you wanted to hit the local crag today with the little ones? Oh, so you don’t want to go on a hike? You’d rather hang inside? But I thought the Patagonia vest, Kavu pants and Subaru indicated you were down for a toddler-in-tow bouldering sessions I’m confused. When you said you’d like to go climbing sometime you meant never?

Why is it so difficult to find other parents that are excited to take their toddlers on outdoor adventures? Does the hassle outweigh the time spent climbing or hiking so much that you’ll wait years till he’s old enough to do it on his own? Apparently, it is. Finding a willing parent is much harder than I ever thought it would be. I don’t live in a particularily lazy town, so when Baby C was no longer just a thought, I was certain there would be plenty of families out there who continue to pursue their outdoor adventures post baby. Again, I was wrong. Okay okay, I’m sure you’re out there. Maybe we’ve even seen each other at the grocery store? Maybe, that woman I thought was giving me a strange look while I let Baby C stand on the grocery cart seat was really just attempting to communicate her desire to go climbing with her toddler too telepathically!

When I do meet a climber parent their initial reaction to a family climbing trip is “My wife can stay home with the kids.” Bah! In my book, that’s just not how it works. You had a kid, planned or unplanned, and now they’re a part of your life. Your WHOLE life. Of course that doesn’t mean if you’re attempting a summit to Mt. Rainier that you bring them along. As a courtesy to your partner and your child, take them with you. And wear a damn smile on your face! Not only will it help to develop a love for the outdoors for your child, but also, your entire family gets to share in the experience. Resentment need not apply. He’s too heavy? You only got three routes in today? Boo-stinking-hoo. In a couple of years you’ll be back ticking off one route after the other and bagging peaks left and right. But in those couple short years with your toddler in the backcountry, you will have given him something that will last a lifetime. When he’s fifteen, he’ll look through pictures of toddler climbing trips and think (even if he won’t admit it), “dang homie, my parents were awesome.” I could go on and on about the importance of taking your kids outside (better physical, emotional, mental health – stewardship – imagaination -etc.), but I won’t.

This is a personal ad to all of your lovely climber parents:

Family seeking other awesome family who likes to spank crags and not kids

We enjoy bringing our toddler climbing, backpacking and skiing. We don’t take breaks on hikes, but instead just slow down to the pace of molasses. If you need to stop, we won’t judge, we’ll just hope you catch up. Our child determines our schedule and we respect his limitations. If it’s time to go, it’s time to go. We’re looking for a like minded family who loves bringing their kid climbing or hiking. Parents who are down for all sorts of adventures and mean it when they say it. Seeking family who let’s their kid get absolutely filthy. Seeking parents who aren’t afraid to get out there and keep pursuing the activities they love!

Signed,

F.A.M.I.L.Y

(family adventures make intelligent little yougens)

Hey Baby, Don’t Be Lazy

Image

Just because your sixteen month old acts like a baby, doesn’t mean you should give them a free pass to be lazy. Stick him in a harness (yes, they make them small enough) and make him climb an easy 5.6.  Okay, so he doesn’t actually use his hands and feet. For the most part, “climbing” for your baby, really translates as you pulling him up the wall.

If you find it difficult to convince your baby to go climbing, just have a little chat with him about the importance of excerise. This is how my conversations have gone with Baby C:

“Baby C, I noticed you’ve been napping a lot today and I thought it might be nice to go to the gym for a little bit?”

Baby C stares blankly at me, which obviously means he’s mocking me.

“Okay, so clearly you’re not into it. Your dad and I really think it’s important you start practicing early if you want to fulfill your dream of becoming a world champion rock climber / mountaineer / skier/ poet. So let’s go.”

Baby C leaves the room and returns thirty seconds later with a grape he found on the floor. Mind you, we hadn’t given him any grapes in days.

“This is serious.” I say very sternly.

“Bubble,” says Baby C.

“A bubble would make a a terrible climbing partner. No limbs and very fragile.”

The Memo You Didn’t Get

Breaking news! When you have a child, everything will change. Climbing, skiing, mountaineering, backpacking and hiking; all of those things you love so much will be put on hold. Obviously my husband and I did not get the memo that reads as follows:

“Dear expecting parents,

Awe, that’s sweet, you decided to make a baby. Good for you! You know what’s even sweeter? You think you’ll be doing all of the fun things you love so dearly within a few weeks. Sure, sure, drop baby off at grandmas while you hit the slopes. Life as you know it will stay pretty much the same, just with a sweet little angel floating around you. WRONG. I am here to inform you that everything will be different and for the first few months it will be hard as hell and even though it’s the peak of climbing season, you’re done. Oh, and forget about all those other fun things you like to do and your relationship. That is all.

Sincerely,

The people with the memo that you never got”

Before you start questioning the love we have for our child, hear me out. Let’s just start from the understanding that we love Baby C more and more every day. Our hearts feel like they could explode they’re so full. That said, I’d like to confront society for not explaining well enough how difficult the adjustment from single to parent life is. There are no books that tell you about the things my husband and I went through. Sure, sleeping, breast feeding, etc., that’s all difficult too, but I’m not talking about the physical aspects of parenting. I’m talking straight up emotional funeral; the severe sense of mourning your old life. Not in a regretful way, but in a surprised this all happened this way but we thought it would happen that way. You don’t realize how much time you have to yourself until you don’t have it anymore. At a moments notice we’d grab our rope bag and head off to the mountains. That’s just not possible anymore. That freedom is gone, for now at least. It’s no longer just the two of you and if you’re lucky enough to have a partner that’s also your best friend, this is devastating on its own. While a baby enriches your life and gives you such a humbling perspective, theres also the understanding that your wife is not just yours anymore. She’s his too and you have to share, oh and the sharing is 80/20 baby dominates. I don’t think most people want to admit these things in fear of being perceived as a bad parent. Let me tell you right now, you’re not. These feelings are valid and while you may feel sad about it sometimes, as you sink into the mold of being a parent, everything gets easier. Soon you won’t remember a time before your baby came into the picture. You’ll only know carrying an extra twenty five pounds on a backpacking trip or walking away from finishing a boulder project without a second thought because baby needs you. Eventually, it all feels normal again, I promise. If you find yourself feeling down, simply explain to your baby the importance of excellent crevasse rescue skills and poof! You’ll instantly feel better. By the time Baby C is three, I swear he’ll know the in’s and out’s of three pulley system just as well as he knows Elmo’s Song.
Consider this that memo I never got.

Baby In A Garbage Can

Image
Garbage cans are extremely versatile. Not only can you put garbage in them, you can also bathe your ten month old baby in them. Camping is quite the ordeal with a baby and if you have a child like mine, you will do anything to keep in line with their routine. If you stray from the norm, baby will have multiple meltdowns and you will suffer the wrath of an adorably horrific monster.

Bath time is number two in the series of five regimented tasks before bedtime. They are all necessary in inducing sleep and giving Baby C the queue’s he needs in order to know “ohhhhh, I get it. You want me to go to sleep now.” Without bath time, you might as well welcome the apocalypse in because Baby C will reign fury upon you.

Obviously the anticipation is killing you now and you’re just beside yourself with anxiety. Wait no more! I will divulge my garbage bath secrets!

First, clean your garbage can out. Second, heat up yellowish-brown pumped water at the campsite. Third, fill up the garbage can. Fourth, put baby in garbage can. Fifth, take pictures of baby bottom smooshed against garbage can. Sixth, watch baby enjoy the hell out of himself!

That’s it. Your baby is now clean and he can move onto step three in the series of five.

Infinite Bliss: Climbing Two Months Postpartum

Just two months after giving birth or as I like to refer to it, “massacre on my lady parts for eight hours,” I told my husband I wanted to climb the first ten pitches of Infinite Bliss. Located on Mt. Garfield’s western peak, 23 pitches, climbing roughly 2600 feet. It’s the longest sport route in North America and it is quite impressive looking. Two months postpartum, 1300 feet and ten pitches, noooo problem. Before I get into anymore details regarding the climb let me describe to you what two months postpartum means.

So you just had a baby eight weeks ago. Emotional chaos aside, your body is straight up wacky. I don’t mean wacky like, funny clown juggling cakes while riding a electronic bull. I’m talking sack of skin hanging from your stomach that used to house a seven pound human. I’m talking you haven’t slept in two months and your breasts are swollen to the size of healthy cantaloupes, not to mention leaking all over you (yes, I was fearful of attracting bears). To top it off, despite climbing and running into my 38th week of pregnancy, my physical fitness and endurance was nonexistent. Sack of skin, extra weight, full boobs and no endurance; a delicious recipe for an unsuccessful attempt at climbing Infinite Bliss.

Before we hit the approach trail, not once did all of those things mentioned above come to mind. The hike up is reasonably short but fairly steep. This should have been my que that maybe this was too much too soon. At the base of the climb, you can’t help but be captivated by the rugged scenery. Towering behind you is a massive vertical wall and in front is a stunning range of densley forested peaks. It doesn’t get any better than this. The first ten pitches are very easy and most people simulclimb them. Because we were just looking for a leisurely first climb, we chose to leap frog it. Our first mistake was getting a late start and forgetting that the climbing is quick but the rappelling is slow. By the time we got eight pitches in, it was three in the afternoon and there was a brand new baby waiting impatiently for us over an hour away. We decided to make the rapel down and head home. Once we reached the base of the climb, we met two climbers heading up. They told us they were doing all 23 pitches today, at four in the afternoon. Ha! Hope you brought your headlamps for the hours of night time rappelling!

I don’t want to downplay this trip. I realized I had serious limits. My body was hurting and it was desperately trying to tell me but my ego told it to “suck it!” I paid. Oh, I paid big time. Listening to your body is so important. I wanted so badly to climb a long route as soon as possible to satisfy my pride, but instead, I received a serious dose of postpartum reality. My husband wished we wouldn’t have gone, but in hindsight it was the perfect smack down I needed.

Infinite Bliss is still on my list, but this time, it’s all twenty three pitches! Now the only thing stopping me is a reliable babysitter…

Skiing With Your Baby

image image
Baby C had just turned eight months old when we got home from our trip visiting family in Europe. While in Germany, we went skiing at the highest ski resort in all of Duetchland. Zugslitze is roughly 3000 meters (10,000 ft) high and is home to three glaciers. There are 360 degree panoramic views of stunning alpine gloriousness. However, the skiing is subpar and most Germans don’t actually come here for the skiing, rather more for the novelty of it. because we didnt satisfy our ski urges, when we got home we needed to hit the slopes immediately. It would be the first time Baby C would ride with my husband down the mountain. Our local favorite mountain is White Pass for its killer expansion with open, fluffy terrain and excellent tree runs. They also allow baby in backpacks! It’s best to check with your local mountain before bringing baby on the slopes because some resorts do not allow it.

Our biggest concerns skiing with an eight month old were:

-Warmth. Keeping baby warm is crucial. He’s not moving, so he needs extra layers.

-Type of carrier. The first time we used a serious backpack carrier but in hindsight we would have used the Ergo. Balance is way off with the backpack, it’s bulkier and more difficult to hold on the chairlift. The Ergo is better because it holds baby closer to you keeping him warmer and the transition from back to front on chairlift is much more manageable.

-Falling or being run into.

Did I miss anything? I left the last one unexplained because there is a lot to say about it. It’s everyone’s biggest concern and I just know it’s YOUR biggest worry. There are two camps on skiing with a baby and typically not much of a middle ground. There’s the “no way, too dangerous, how irresponsible” camp and then there the “go for it, do whatever, it’s your baby, your risk” camp. It’s obvious where my husband and I stand. We have no delusions about the situation and we take it very seriously. No amount of skill can predict a fall or being run into by another skier. It’s an innate risk, no getting around it. The only control you have in the situation is to be alert and confident in your risk assessment. For instance, don’t pick a weekend day when it’s busiest, don’t ski tree runs, and don’t hit the terrain park. Those are all major duh’s. I will not attempt to convince you to ski with your baby, and no need to convince me otherwise. We have two grandmas to do that. That is all on that topic. The end. Shhh.

How did Baby C like it? He thought it was just okay. Just OKAY!? Ingrate. We just strapped you to our back and zipped down a mountain and it was just okay, mediocre at best? As anticipated, he was scared at first. Mostly he was afraid because it was nap time and every time he’d come out of his sleepy stupor he’d be flying down a mountain. There were moments of excitement for him, but we concluded he would enjoy it more when he got a little older. Was it selfish to take him on the slopes, of course it was, but do we have any regrets? No way. Life keeps going even when you have a baby, so you might as well strap him to your back and keep on living!

If you have any logistical questions, let me know! Share your baby ski story!

38 Weeks and 600 Feet

Whale in a harness
Thirty eight weeks pregnant and I thought “Let’s climb R&D!” It’s a classic Leavenworth slab route with easy to moderate climbing ranging from 5.5 to 5.7 on the ever popular Mountaineer’s Domb. It’s four pitches and 600 vertical feet of solid climbing. It was the last climbing trip my husband and I would have by ourselves.

So there I was, in my five point harness and my humongous body, resting at the bottom of the wall, looking up, wondering if this was a good idea? Really, my husband and our other climbing partner were more concerned that I would go into labor half way up the route. Honestly, how cool would that be? Three hundred feet up, screaming bloody murder and bam! Baby C falls out of me, only to be hanging on by the umbilical cord! Come on! Talk about EPIC. Believe it or not, climbing at 38 weeks pregnant is difficult. Not only do you weigh an extra 30-40 pounds, but you’re carrying it mostly in your stomach, so balance is completely off and not to mention, lifting your tub of lard up a vertical wall is extremely taxing! Who knew?

Up the buttress we went! The first pitch is mostly made up of low fifth class climbing, but pleasant all the same. For a second, I thought everything would be a piece of cake. I moved slowly up the rock, onto the second belay station to greet my hyperventilating husband. He was overjoyed there was no baby hanging out of me but before we could rejoice, we looked above and grimaced. A chimney. Oh god, not a chimney. For those of you non climbers, a chimney is a rock cleft with parallel sides just big enough to fit the climber in. The climber uses opposite pressure with their entire body to shimmy up the structure. Normally, this is a fun feature because you can use nearly any part of your body to get up it. However, when there is a giant yoga ball attached to your middle, a chimney is a cause for concern. Think about Violet from Willy Wonka in the Chocolate Factory getting lodged in a chimney. I was sure I would burst and amniotic fluid would shoot out of me given the right amount of pressure. Essentially, I would be juiced. my husband went first, reached the belay station and nervously waited to see my head pop up from below. No amount of “think skinny” will help you here ladies. Squeezing and grunting, and with a pull here and squish there, I was out! All fluids retained! Now all that remained was a couple of fist jams in a hand crack and lie back flake…

The last pitch was an easy jaunt up slab. Upon reaching the top I was greeted with a creepily long hug (even for my husband). It was a hug that said “we will never do that again.” Once our partner Dave reached the top, we concluded this route was an excellent 38 weeks pregnant route with tons of great features from chimneys, to handcracks and lie back flakes. Classic!

The scramble down was more painful than the entire climb. Had I been in a non-incubator form, it would’ve been much more manageable. Once we reached the bottom, we packed the gear up and headed back to our campsite for some delicious wood stained chicken…that’s another story.

Hindsight, would I have done it again? Abso-friggin-lutely! How can I risk the life of my unborn child like that? I could’ve DIED! Baby killer! No really, I would do it again and I would encourage any healthy, strong and conscious mother to be, to continue doing what you do and love. Sure, there was an added fear, but at no point did I feel unsafe. Had I felt my child’s life was at risk at any moment, there would be no question as to stopping. I was and still am confident in my capabilities and risk assessment, so need to bring out the shame police!

Put Your Kid In A Backpack

It’s not easy hauling a baby in a backpack for ten miles, or skiing down a mountain with a six month old straddled to your back. Shit, nothing about having a baby is easy. When my husband and I first found out about our son, we thought “this little creature can’t stop us, we’ll be summiting mountains just a few short months after he’s born!” Ha. Ha. Ha. It’s been nearly two years since our sweet, defenseless, and extremely precious son has entered the world and boy were we wrong. Im not talking, “whoops , I thought you said ‘squash the midgets’ not ‘wash the dishes,'”more like, donkey punch to the face wrong (My husband says that means something sexual but I much prefer an actual donkey punching you in the face with his hooves). Our worlds have turned upside down and while we begged for mercy in the first year (also known as the year of unrelenting sleep deprivation), we have evolved into “those people with the baby.” It’s true, we leave a pile of food smashed on the floor at restaurants, I whip out my boobs in public, and we’re always late, ALWAYS. The only difference between us, and the other baggy eyed servants swimming in a pile of regurgitated food at the restaurant, is our nagging desire to go on an adventure.

Going to the grocery store is a big deal with your child. I’d go so far as to call it an “outing.” Going on a ten mile backpacking trip or rock climbing in leavenworth (you’ll hear a lot about this place in future posts) is a huge deal. It goes beyond “outing” status and into “serious shit” mode. Things to consider before talking your baby/toddler into the great outdoors:

– Who’s going to carry the seemingly weightless feather and how?

– Who’s  going to carry all of the other crap, such as; diapers, wipes, food, extra clothing, lovey bear, favorite book, water bottle, sound machine, crib, bouncy chair, coloring book, etc.

– Naps. Are you a victim to your child’s nap schedule? Don’t you dare mess it up! Keep with the schedule or there will be hell to pay!

-How much energy do you want to exert because you won’t be sleeping for longer than two hours at a time when you get home because someone is still waking you up to play at 11, 1, 3 AM

-Your baby will gets filthy and there’s nothing you can do about it

There are so many considerations before you walk out the door. No more, “Let’s go for a quick trip to the Exits! Grab the harnesses and let’s go!” Yet, we still pursue our hobbies. I have to warn you, being adventurous with your baby doesn’t just entail preparation, it also confronts a whole other set of issues that my husband and I had not anticipated…

Haters. They are everywhere. You can identify them by the following attributes: stink eye, horizontal head shaking with duck lips puckered, incoherent whispers, and if it’s a woman, she’s typically got on a pair of Jordashe jeans, venti cookies and cream starbucks cup and her kid on a leash. But really, haters are all around you. They will be judging and they will be ready to share their opinion with you, given the right moment. On our second climbing trip for the season, my son was one month old. There were three of us so that one person could be with Baby C at all times. The landings were flat and climbing was easy. It was the perfect climbing trip to bring our little rug rat too. Of course someone just had to whisper in a non whispering voice “why the hell would you bring your new baby out here?” Instinctually, I wanted to ripoff my clothes, roll around in mud, carve a spear out of a tree limb and pounce on the man as if he were the last piece of meat before winter. For those of you who know me, don’t worry, I didn’t.  You see, he was a hater. It is inevitable you will come across them, but it’s up to you to remember that whatever judgements they project onto you, it’s their own shit. It’s not about you and if you take it too seriously, you lose. So chill out, smell the evergreens  and do some extra squats because that weightless feather really feels like a big fat sack of blubber on your back.

Image