Pregnant

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.

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…

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┬ácord! 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!