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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.

Strengthening My Lead Head

Marianna a.k.a. "Rope Gun"

Marianna a.k.a. “Rope Gun”

“Do you want to take some jumps today?” That’s my friend and climbing partner, Marianna. We also lovingly refer to her as our rope gun. She’s a super strong climber, and she seemingly has a lead head of steel. Her idea of practicing lead falls at the gym is getting to the very top, not clipping, and having her belayer let out a little *more* slack before she jumps off the wall. Once she’s dangling comfortably from the rope, you can usually hear her laughing.

I’ve been working to build my lead head again lately. It was at a decent level, but a few months ago it tanked. I was back to the beginning, afraid to even fall from a clip. I knew I had to actively work on getting it back, and Marianna’s style of practicing falls just wasn’t right for me.

So, what have I been doing?

I started, not by taking huge falls, but by taking small ones. The first day, I would climb, clip my rope, and fall (and that was even hard for me mentally). On lead, this is usually still a bit of a fall, and has a different feel to it than falling on toprope. Every clip I would do the same. Climb, clip, take a fall. Climb, clip, fall, etc.

Once that felt ok, I took it one step further. I’d clip, make one move above the clip, and fall. Then two moves, and fall. You get the idea. I find that I’m surprised when the falls are just fine. Before I let go, my brain tells me it’s going to be scary and horrible and I just might die. And then I let go anyway and find that I’m very comfortably caught by my belayer and a stretchy rope. I like it when my brain is wrong about things like that.

The next step for me has been doing this kind of practice with different belayers. I’m very careful about who I’ll let belay me on lead, but the folks that I regularly climb with are all good, attentive belayers. The first few falls with a different person on the brake are always a bit unknown, but learning how their catches feel gives me a boost in confidence when I’m climbing.

I have a long way to go. I start from the beginning each session, but I feel myself moving through the falls more quickly every time, and my general confidence with leading is returning as a result. I’m not yet to the point where I can just go for a big move well above my last clip, knowing that it’s going to be ok if I fail. But, that’s where I’m headed. And my friend, Marianna, who likes to leap from the top of the wall, is happy to catch my comparatively tiny falls in the meantime, while I work my way up.

Trip Report: Red Rocks November 2012

Nope, not the Red Rocks in Colorado. Vegas, baby.

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Seth and I enjoying the beautiful scenery

A short drive out of Las Vegas is Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area. Wanting to squeeze in a quick climbing trip before winter set in, four of us booked plane tickets and a condo and headed out for a whirlwind four days of climbing. The area is known for its long, moderate trad routes. So, naturally, we stuck to sport climbing. Continue reading

A Story of Three Women and Some Rain

Once upon a time there were three women. They wanted to go climbing on some rock walls, so they packed up their bags and headed out to the crag. The car ride was filled with stories and donuts, and all arrived in good spirits.

Up the trail they went. Harnesses and helmets were donned, the rope flaked with care. But, just as the tall one was ready to say “climbing,” raindrops began to fall.

They waited and waited for the rain to stop, hoping for a break in the clouds before things got too wet, Continue reading

Chicks Climbing: Devils Lake 2011

“You are absolutely glowing.”

That was Seth’s comment to me at dinner the night that I got back from Devil’s Lake. I realized that I was sporting a permanent grin.

I had just returned from a 3-day climbing clinic at Devils Lake, Wisconsin, put on by Chicks Climbing. If you don’t know about them, Chicks Climbing puts on ice and rock climbing clinics around the country. Clinics by women, for women, with a lot of their proceeds going to help women. Read more about them at chicksclimbing.com.

We had climbed all weekend long. In addition to climbing technique, I learned about gear, knots, anchors, gear placement, etc. All things that I wanted to learn this summer.

View from the top of the cliffs: Devils Lake East Bluff

Continue reading