I was standing in a line waiting for the doors to open at a ski swap sale. I had busted my butt to get there at 8am to be one of the first inside when it opened at 9am. I was flying solo with my five kids. My youngest was 2 months old and they were in my vehicle that I had parked right there. I could see them, they could see me, but to others around me, I just looked like any other single person that had sauntered out of bed looking to score a good deal.
The group of people that were in front of me were chatting. I felt like I was just like them. Or I had been just like them before I had kids. They loved the outdoor life, and they had nothing hindering them from chasing after it. Then their conversation turned. One of the young woman stated “I don’t want kids. All the people I know that have babies use it as an excuse. Oh, sorry, can’t do that, I’m pregnant. Can’t make it to that party, I have a baby”. It took everything in me, to not barge in on their conversation and emphatically state that was a choice, not necessarily a reality. I really wanted to tell her that you can still live an adventurous life AND be pregnant AND be a mother. It takes a much bigger commitment, a lot of creativity, and a whole lot of energy, but it is possible.
I want to be like a big sister to you. Someone who has gone before you, saying it is realistic to do what you love, during pregnancy. I don’t have all the answers. I am not sharing a single drop of medical or scientific knowledge. Just my personal experience of positive, active pregnancies.
During my 7 pregnancies (2 miscarriages), I didn’t know anyone personally, that pursued a continuous, active pregnancy, by involving themselves in a variety of outdoor activities. I often had the sense that people were judging me, and giving me vibes that I was living a little too close to the edge of what was ‘safe’ for carrying a child. It was tempting for me to not be as active as I could be, because of fear. Fear that something might happen to my cherished baby. And that thought was re-enforced by my culture and medical system. I had to be a little secretive about what I was doing. If that wasn’t possible, I braced myself for peoples surprize. Especially running. Most people were floored that I was running.
- My Midwife advised I could pretty much do whatever I was doing pre-pregnancy, but suggested I didn’t take up any new sports. Outdoor activities were my normal, and what I was competent at.
- I had no health issues, was a healthy weight and ate well. I had no plans to give in to cravings, lay on the couch and gain excess baby weight that I wasn’t going to be able to shake later on. I had a lot of determination to do pregnancy differently than the cultural norm that I saw around me.
- I didn’t stop doing what I always did because I was tired or I felt sick (which was a lot more and longer than the textbooks say). I knew I needed to keep my fitness and momentum. I didn’t stop for a week or two, or a month until I felt better. If my body was moving regularly, I knew my muscles and ligaments would continue to adapt to my changing physique.
- I am a fairly simple gal. I don’t tend to be a fearful person (though pregnancy definitely heightens that in me!). I don’t need to know everything. I don’t consult Dr Google. I don’t take all the tests that are available. I don’t take meds. I don’t have a bunch of scans. I got good at listening to my body, not pieces of information or stories that might freak me out.
- I didn’t do absolutely everything. I opted out of stuff that felt too high risk for baby or myself. Things like cliff jumping/canyoning, as well as rafting and kayaking on difficult rivers.
- But I did do a lot! Active pregnancy is one of my life’s greatest achievements. My main thing was running. With my 3rd, 4th & 5th baby’s, I ran until I was full term. I also backpacked, kayaked, canoed, rafted, caved, mountaineered, downhill & XC skied, and mountain biked.
My personal experience showed me there is lots of advice and many opinions. Some like to treat a normal, healthy pregnancy like it is an illness or injury, that requires fragile treatment. It is a special time that does require extra thought and care, but for me, continuing ‘as normal’ was empowering. Sometimes a lack of self confidence and a knowledgeable cheerleader, hold mothers back from some of the best and most rewarding experiences. I need to know my mental and physical limits, but equally important is knowing when I can and should push past them – even in pregnancy.
I know my way is not for everyone. And my story isn’t your story. We all have our individual bents, personal circumstances, and physiological differences. But if you are an outdoor girl, feeling a little bewildered about all the changes family life might bring, know that there is at least one other person in the world cheering for you to keep that baby bump moving!