Tag Archives: camping

Transitioning to Motherhood

While I was waiting for my son to be born, nine months ago, I wrote about the anticipation of parenthood. I wondered how my life would change, what adventures with a little one would look like, and if it was realistic to expect to carry on our travels and lifestyle with a child in tow. My questions revolved around the changes to our lifestyle and our activities. What I didn’t anticipate, and the question I didn’t think to ask, was how much *I* would change.

I have so much that I can say about my transition to motherhood, and I have a feeling that transition will never quite be finished. Every day feels different than the last. My baby is different, my family is different… I’m different. And as far as adventures go… this is a big one.

My son was born at a birth center with a midwife at the helm. I was able to experience labor and birth naturally, without induction or medications of any kind, and I learned the true power of the female body. Labor is difficult, but it is also truly amazing and empowering. I am fortunate to have had the excellent care that I did, and that everything went smoothly. After 16 hours of labor, a beautiful baby boy lay on my chest. I was sweaty, exhausted, and elated.

We were sent home, everyone healthy and happy. Those first few weeks were intense. I don’t think there’s any way to understand what that time is like unless one has experienced it. The constant, round-the-clock demands of nursing and caring for a newborn are difficult to describe, and something that parents tend to gloss over once they’re past. When I was in the midst of it, older parents just chuckled, or smiled. I was grateful to my neighbor who saw me out for a harried walk around the block one day and assured me that it would change, that it would get better.

Out for a walk with our newborn. This guy has rocked the dad thing from day 1!

I am also grateful that my husband and I were home together for a good portion of that time, and we could lean on one another and figure it out as a team. As difficult and shocking as those first few weeks were, those weeks also strengthened our bond with this new little person. As I nursed him and comforted him and cried with him, as I wondered if I’d ever leave the house again without feeling panicked, I fell more deeply in love with him.

I was assured that life would feel normal again. Or, at least, a new kind of normal. Eventually, I did leave the house without panicking. Eventually, he stopped nursing constantly. Eventually, we could figure out why he was crying, and how to soothe him (and eventually he was able to figure out why he was crying, too). Now, he’s turning into a little person who interacts with the world around him. He smiles and laughs and cries and grabs for things. He rolls and crawls and points to things he wants. He reaches for us. I’m fascinated watching him take things in. Everything is new to him, and he’s fascinated by it all.

So, how has motherhood changed *me*? Honestly, I’m still figuring that out, and the change is ongoing.

There have definitely been some surprises. One big one is that I’m not climbing much…. or at all…. and I don’t mind (the fact that I don’t mind is the part I didn’t anticipate). I know it’ll be there down the road. I find myself being very picky about the things that will take me away from my baby boy. Part of that is the unexpected demands and logistics of nursing, but a big part is just wanting to spend time with him. When choosing what was important enough to be away from him, weekly visits to the climbing gym just didn’t make the cut. That’s not to say that I’m done with climbing. I’m just not itching for my next big climbing adventure right now.

A rainy hike in the Cathedral Spires.

A rainy hike in the Cathedral Spires.

We *have* found a few opportunities to get out with the whole family. Our annual trip to the Black Hills went on as usual this year (I’ll write a separate post about that), and we took our little guy along. We camped for 5 nights, hiked to the top of Harney Peak, and even got a climb or two in. The fact that we could do that at 7 months gave me a lot of optimism for what we’ll be able to do as he gets older.

Overall? This parenthood thing is amazing. It’s hard. It’s challenging, but most of all… amazing. Fascinating. Full of love. It’s showing me a level of patience and selflessness that I never knew I had. Time is different than it was. Changed, somehow.

Nine months in, I finally am starting to feel myself beginning to emerge once more. A self that’s separate from my baby boy, which hasn’t been the case since I became pregnant. The all-consuming demands of nursing are starting to lighten up, I’m getting more sleep, and I’m finding moments here and there to do things on my own. This blog post is proof of that.

The adventures that I wrote about in my final pre-natal musings are right around the corner. I can’t wait to show my little guy the mountains and the places that we love so much, and to see what else motherhood has in store for me. I’ll do my best to keep posting about them.

Cheers.

Camping and Other Stuff: 6 Months Pregnant

I’m 27 weeks pregnant, or just about 6 months (nearing the end of my second trimester!) 3 months to go!.My belly’s getting bigger and bigger and the little one is kicking and wiggling all over the place. Overall I’m feeling pretty good! We’re eating well, I’m sleeping well, not craving anything crazy… I just need to make sure I drink lots and lots of water and all is well.

Working on the house. Yellow is a nice baby color!

Working on the house. Yellow is a nice baby color!

We’re spending quite a bit of time and energy this summer buttoning up big house projects. Getting things finished up so that when baby comes we can just enjoy baby and not be worrying about things like putting up trim or re-siding the house. Not the same kind of fun as a two week backpacking and climbing trip out to the mountains of Wyoming like we did *last* summer (that was awesome, read about those trips here and here), but it’s a good feeling to see the house coming together.

This summer is a quiet one, overall, though, and we’re staying close to home. Seth did take a 12-day mountaineering course in the Cascades in May, which was big, and he’s been getting out on the local rock with friends. Otherwise, the extent of our outdoor activities has been a lot of walks in town and a couple of smaller, overnight camping trips together

Car camping means steak over the fire.

Car camping means steak over the fire.

Camping while pregnant? So far, so good! Our first trip was car camping, scrunched up next to a lot of others who were also car camping. We built a fire, had some steak (hey, might as well, the car’s right there!), and slept in a tent. I brought an extra pillow for support and was pretty comfortable.  And… our site was close to the bathrooms. Yay.

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Skills practice! This is an extended top-belay so I can look over the edge and see my cimber. It’s pretty slick!

That particular trip, we camped near one of our outdoor climbing areas, so we woke up and met a friend for skills practice and climbing. I’m still not doing any climbing, and won’t be until next winter, (read about that here), so I stayed up top and helped with anchors and such and they went down and did the actual climbing. I set up a little station and experimented with some different ways to rig up anchor systems and top belays, as demonstrated in the AMGA Single PItch Instructors’ Manual (lots of good info in that book if you haven’t seen it).

 

Watching the climbing from the top.

This past weekend was our second pregnant camping trip. We chose a hike-in site at Lake Maria State Park and took our 7-year old nephew along with us. Seth packed my pack with all of the light, fluffy things. Sleeping bags and pads, and he even snuck a pillow in there for me. He took the heavier stuff: the tent, food, stove, etc. The nice thing about a hike-in site is you’re more secluded, which I loved. The downside to this particular site was the bugs. They were kind of ridiculous. We swatted our way down the trail to our site, set up camp, and I hid in the tent for a while setting up sleeping pads and bags while Seth and K gathered sticks and got a fire going. The fire helped keep them at bay, but they were persistent. I have four bites on my face to prove it. We roasted some smores and tucked into the tent for the night. This trip I was 27 weeks pregnant, so not quite as comfortable as the last one. Next time I think I would bring an extra camp pillow or two for extra support, but with a good pad, the sleeping on the ground part was still totally fine.

That, again, was just an overnight trip (which was fine with me, since the flies and mosquitoes were so aggressive). As far as camping while pregnant goes, not very different from camping while *not* pregnant. I carry less weight in my pack and need a bit more strategic support while sleeping, and that’s about it. Not a big adjustment at all.

We might take a longer trip in September when it’s cooler and the bugs have died down. Me and my big belly are gonna rock it!

In the meantime, I’m taking advantage of some of my extra non-climbing time this summer to do some reading. Something I’ve gotten away from the past few years. I had forgotten how much I enjoy it! And I’m staying active in other ways as well, walking and continuing my kettlebells classes 2-3x a week, making adjustments as I get farther into my pregnancy.

And, of course, the big house projects. Beginning next weekend we’ll be starting a big push for the next month or so on some of the bigger stuff. And the house is going to look fabulous when we’re done.

Stay tuned.

Tiny Adventures: Snow Camping

The temperature crept up to nearly 50F last week. Snow was melting and the rumor was that one of the south facing walls at Barn Bluff in Red Wing was dry and warm, ready to climb. The forecast looked good, so Seth and I packed up our gear and our tent and headed down. It turned out to be a bit more of an adventure than expected!

First Outdoor Climbs of the Season:

Hiking into Barn Bluff

Hiking in to the climbs

 

The hike in was still quite snowy, and a lot of it was just plain ice. We still had a little bit of snow in our backyard, so I’m not sure why this surprised me, but it did. The wall that’s dry is the wall with more difficult climbs on it, so it was more of a project day than a sending stuff day. We hung out and worked a few routes before heading to our campsite.

Excited to Climb!

Snowy Camping:

We chose a walk-in site at Frontenac State Park and realized very quickly that we were probably the first to camp there in quite a while. The trail and the sites all had probably 10″ of snow covering them, something I didn’t expect at all, although in retrospect it seems pretty obvious that snow would be a possibility. This is where the tiny adventure part of the trip begins. Believe it or not, I had never set up a tent in snow before!

The question turned out to be, how do we stake out the rain fly when the ground is frozen (That was my question, at least. Seth knew all about using deadman anchors, extending the anchors with rope, tying something to the end and covering it with snow to hold it in place)? Since we weren’t very worried about rain, and the design of the tent keeps the rainfly above the mesh at the top, we just let it flap in the wind. Problem solved.

Once the tent was set up, our next project was getting a fire going. Remember the snow in our campsite? There was also ice in the firepit. A big chunk of it. I wasn’t sure how that was going to work, either, but Seth was confident that it would all be ok.

Campfire on Ice

Campfire on Ice

We stacked our firewood and kindling and got the fire going, but as the ice melted, it took the coals with it. We had picked up two bundles of firewood in town and quickly realized we would need more. As Seth went back into town for more firewood, I kept the fire going, bailing out water from the firepit as the ice melted.

Seth returned victoriously with more firewood, and by the end of the evening we had steamed all of the ice/water out and had a roaring fire going. We threw some hobo packs on the fire, filled with seasoned ground beef and lots of veggies, and had a delicious meal before heading to bed.

Our delicious meal

I loved that we were the only people out there, camping in the snow, making a fire on the ice, and making it work. I learned all about staking out a tent in the snow (even thought we didn’t actually do it) and the wonder of meat and veggies cooked in tinfoil. Another successful tiny adventure!