Once upon a time, I used to love backpacking. Packing up my food and shelter and carrying it up a mountain in hopes of reaching a summit above the tree line was exhilirating. Slowly but surely, and a few days later, the mountain would run out of up and I’d be at my destination atop an archive of new memories. But the backpacking experience can also be very humbling. Weather and wildlife, the angry variables, will inevitably have their way with your trip, regardless of your expectations.
Pregnancy resembles backpacking in so many ways; if you’ve experienced one, you can gain some understanding into the level of difficulty involved with the other. For the sake of brevity in this analogy, I’ll skip straight to the moment you find yourself at the trailhead on the mountain, or starting point of your pregnancy.
At the foothills of the mountain, you may notice that the air is thinner. This is kind of like the first trimester of pregnancy. You just need to become acclimated to the new environment. It takes at least a day (for me, at least) to re-train your lungs to deal with the lesser amount of oxygen on the mountain.
Fortunately, by the time you get used to the fatigue and nausea associated with the first trimester of pregnancy, it’s over.
That’s when you hit your stride. It’s easier to take in the wonder of your changing world at this time.
The ascent up the mountain is relatively predictable, but there may be a thunder storm here and there, a mob of mosquitoes, or a patch unexpected snow. The second trimester of pregnancy is the same. Aches and pains become normal, there is a child growing inside of you, after all. The weird stuff happening in your body, like baby’s somersaults, and heartburn hasn’t become freaky yet.
Still, you’re taking it all in and dreaming of the spectacular view from the top.
Then the third trimester hits. Or, similarly, you reach and pass the tree line on the mountainside. Uh oh, you no longer have the tree canopy to shelter you from thunder storms.
In pregnancy, you realize you’re no longer coasting on borrowed parenthood time and that revelation leaves you feeling vulnerable. It’s time to get real about being a parent and make sure you’ve got the tools necessary to be a good one. No matter what, there remains a degree of apprehension around your parenting capabilities. It’s something that parents probably don’t ever get over… it may even be a stipulation to join their club.
On the mountain, now is a good time to get out your rain gear so you can truck straight through the inevitable downpour. In pregnancy, go ahead and wrap up your nesting phase. In both cases, you’ve got the gear and you tell yourself you’re ready for what’s around the corner.
But, guess what? If ever there was a time for things to go awry, it’s now. You could run into a bear on the mountain, or be knocked off a cliff by gusty winds. Lightning could strike you much more easily since you’re on top of a mountain.
Your water could break IN PUBLIC, you could not know you’re in labor and end up delivering in the car, or you could end up delivering an eleven pound baby, vaginally. Or, as in my experience (up to this point), the baby drops and sudden sciatica renders you immobile. I’ve been stuck on the couch all week, unable to cook or clean or have any fun, really. Fortunately my husband is at hand and ready to help in any way necessary. He’s my rain gear, you could say. Without him, I’m not sure hiking straight through the misery* would be tolerable. Anyways, the uncertainty is daunting.
So here I am, at the point of the backpacking trip where I’d rather turn tail down the mountain in hopes of getting to a hotel at a decent hour. At the same point in pregnancy, labor hasn’t even begun, but the fear is taking over. Right now it’s looking like Backpacking is easier than pregnancy, because now I have no choice but to head straight into the storm of labor and delivery, unsure of what’s on the other side. No turning back!
I’ll be sure to let you know when this baby comes, and whether or not there were any bears.
*I refuse to indulge any of you in the freaky things that my body is doing right now, but if you’re a mother, you undoubtedly know the disgusting (and painful) things your body does when you’re edging closer to labor and delivery.