Episode 186: Pregnancy and the Outdoors

Episode 185: Pregnancy and the Outdoors

Matrescence, Part 1

Pregnancy is a time of drastic physical change, and one full of expectation and anxieties, pressure and pain, hope and uncertainty. And for those of us who value time spent outside, it’s natural that we’d carry that forward into our pregnancies as much as we can. Continuing to hike, or surf, or whatever else we like to do, lets us still feel like ourselves, and helps us cope with the symptoms and stresses of this entire process. But as you’ll hear, it’s often not that simple.

In the first of a two-part series on matrescence, guest host Hailey Hirst spoke with two outdoor-loving moms about their pregnancies, Rukmini Halliwell and Rachel Barrett. And because there is no “one story” to tell about pregnancy, we also invited listeners in to share their reflections via voice memos. Whether or not you’ve experienced pregnancy, our hope is that you’ll listen and feel heard and illuminated.

Find the episode below, on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, or wherever you stream podcasts.

Featured in this episode: Rukmini Halliwell & Rachel Barrett

Hosted & Produced by Hailey Hirst

Editing & production support by Gale Straub

A Production of Ravel Media

Sponsored by Yonder, Danner, & Reel Paper

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Featured in this Episode

Rukmini Halliwell

Rachel Barrett

Rachel surfing during pregnancy, photo by Jill Cluett

Rachel on the water, photo by Karl Funk

Hailey Hirst

And a gallery of some of those who shared voice memos:

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Episodes air weekly on Wednesdays – subscribe wherever you listen so you never miss an episode. 


TRANSCRIPT

Note: This transcript was lightly edited and created using a transcription service. As such it may contain spelling errors.

Gale Straub – Narration: 

Hi all! I’m so excited to share an episode with you that my teammate Hailey Hirst has been working with me on for the last couple of months. It’s all about pregnancy and the outdoors. While I don’t have firsthand experience with this subject, Hailey does, and I’m deeply appreciative of how she has encapsulated this powerful and significant time for many. Whether or not you’ve experienced pregnancy, I hope you’ll listen and feel heard and illuminated. A quick content warning before Hailey takes us away —  in this episode she and those featured talk about pregnancy, including high risk pregancy, miscarriage, and fertility challenges. Hailey will give you a head’s up before talk of miscarriage. Ok, on with the show!

Hailey Hirst – Narration:

I’m Hailey Hirst and you’re listening to She Explores.

I’m usually behind the scenes working on the She Explores blog and designing graphics for our other projects, so my voice probably isn’t one you know yet, but I’m taking the mic this summer to talk about the journey to parenthood, and how this transition impacts our outdoor lives.

I became a parent last year, and while I knew that my world would be totally rocked by having a baby, the way it transformed my life was more complex than I had expected. It was joyful, but also difficult, consuming, isolating, and surprising in a lot of ways.

Anthropologists call this transformation that birthing parents go through “matrescence.” And Like adolescence— it’s a hormonally-orchestrated time of physical, emotional, and psychological change. But instead of a gradual shift over years like adolescence, matrescence is compressed into a time period closer to one calendar year.

In this relatively short period of time, we grow and give birth to a whole new being, but we also bring forth a new version of ourselves. Psychiatrist Daniel Stern, who studied and wrote extensively about motherhood in the 1990s, explained that giving birth to a new identity can be as demanding as giving birth to a baby.

That’s because becoming a parent calls us to renegotiate our relationships with pretty much everything—our bodies, work, social connections, daily routines, our priorities, autonomy, our time spent outside…

It’s one of the most significant transitions a person will ever experience. So it feels worth talking about. Especially coming out of a time that has us all even more isolated than normal.

In this series, we’ll be exploring different phases of ‘matrescence’ and how this transition affects our relationships with our bodies, inner selves, and the natural world—from pregnancy to those tender early days, and further into postpartum life.

[Music]

This first episode is about pregnancy. The growth and preparation phase, It’s a time of drastic physical change, and one full of expectation and anxieties, pressure and pain, hope and uncertainty. And for those of us who value time spent outside, it’s natural that we’d carry that forward into our pregnancies as much as we can. Continuing to hike, or surf, or whatever else we like to do, lets us still feel like ourselves, and helps us cope with the symptoms and stresses of this entire process. But as you’ll hear, it isn’t always that simple.

I spoke with two outdoor-loving moms about their pregnancies, Rukmini and Rachel, and they both had so much to share about what the experience was like for them.

Rukmini Halliwell:

My name is Rukmini Halliwell. I’m a first time mom. I have a son who is 18 months old. I’m an Indian Canadian. First-generation born here. I’m an avid hiker. And I like to consider myself to be an amateur mycologist. I work in the advertising sector and I kind of consider myself to be, I guess, a weekend warrior when it comes to hiking.

Rachel Barrett:

I’m Rachel Barrett. I have a six month old Lola who was born last September. I’m currently living in Nova Scotia on the coast and making the most of being close to the ocean.

Hailey Hirst – Narration:

I want to share a pretty obvious statement before we jump into this episode. One of the beautiful (and sometimes painful) things about pregnancy and motherhood is that there is no one story to tell. Maybe you’re listening and you’ve been pregnant and you’re not a woman. Maybe you had “morning sickness” all day or the whole time you were pregnant. Maybe pregnancy was a breeze but the postpartum depression hit you like a rough, heavy blanket. Maybe you can’t get pregnant. Maybe you never want to. And it’s worth saying also, that there are many ways to become a parent, and–that not all pregnancies lead to parenthood. There is such diversity in the experience, and it’s impossible to showcase it all within the constraints of a podcast. But we wanted to honor that diversity, by also including voice submissions from listeners about their own experiences:

Randi – Voice Submission:

I found out I was pregnant the day after lockdown started for the pandemic.

Rachel Muldovon – Voice Submission:

I am currently at the time of the recording. 13 weeks pregnant pregnancy

Erin Rodman – Voice Submission:

Hiking outside found me at the same time in life.

Jennifer Smith – Voice Submission:

Last Year we were matched with a wonderful family and decided on a hike to adopt their embryos.

Arielle Courtney – Voice Submission:

My pregnancy was normal with one exception. I was morning sick for more than half of it

Stephanie VanDoorn-Kazyak – Voice Submission:

While I was excited to be starting our family, I was also nervous about what that meant for my hiking capabilities and my independence.

Rachel Muldovon – Voice Submission:

I’m not just thinking about my own safety. I’m thinking about my unborn babies and it’s wild because I can’t do what I used to do. Physically, even just walking to the trail. Sometimes I get winded and I have to slow down.

Arielle Courtney – Voice Submission:

On the average day, my anxiety, but her wellbeing was barely manageable. But for those moments I was outside, it was a chance to be myself again, and also be with her in a calm and safe place.

Stephanie VanDoorn-Kazyak – Voice Submission:

Knowing that my little babe was there with me on each hike or each climb made me feel so much stronger and more in tune with myself.

Arielle Courtney – Voice Submission:

She just turned one. We’ve been outside almost every single day since she was born. And it has helped to keep us healthy as close to happy as we can get these days.

Hailey Hirst – Narration:

The women featured in this episode are proof of the infinite possibilities when it comes to bringing life into the world, and the role nature plays in it all. Rukmini, Rachel, and I have a lot in common – we all live in Canada, have children under the age of two, and we all want to make the outdoors a big part of our little one’s lives–but the pregnancies we speak of are as unique as the children we now know. I started off by asking these two parents about their relationships with the outdoors, and how they carried that connection into their pregnancies, — and also what hopes they had when it came to thinking about the future with their children. Here’s Rukmini, who also goes by Ruk for short.

Rukmini Halliwell:

So my relationship, the outdoors was non-existent. I grew up very much an indoor girl that wasn’t necessarily by choice. It is a little bit had to do with the culture that I was raised in. So I’m Indian and there was a lot of like limiting beliefs and cultural barriers associated with that. A lot of colorism and internalized racism that I think kind of created these arbitrary barriers around the outdoors for me. So I didn’t really have much of an opportunity to go outside because it wasn’t really something that quote unquote Indian people do, or it was that’s what white people do. It, wasn’t what we did. Or, you know, my mom used to say things to me like, don’t go outside. You’re going to get dark, which has obviously internalized racism and colorism at play. So I didn’t actually go outdoors until I was in my twenties. And then I went on a backpacking trip for the first time and got rocked and that sort of kick-started my passion and sort of like had that light bulb moment where I was like, I gotta rewrite this narrative for my son. Like I hate it. He can’t grow up with these same barriers that I had and arbitrary walls. I didn’t want that for him.

Hailey Hirst – Narration:

As much as Ruk held hopes for a stronger sense of belonging for her son, Rachel also had hopes for her future daughter. She and her husband moved to the coast and during pregnancy, she spent a lot of time in the water, surfing:

Rachel Barrett:

Oh, I remember the first time I’ve paddled out. After I found out that I was pregnant and I was so emotional and excited, and I feel that the ocean often has this way of kind of enhancing whatever we’re feeling. It’s just like the energy is so clear and pure. And so it was amazing to paddle out and just know, even before all the kicks or having a bit of a bumper or anything like that. But just this knowing and sitting with this open horizon and dreaming of what this who this little might be and how special that is, and just, I didn’t really grow up myself on the ocean or next to the ocean regularly, even though I lived in the East coast and that it would be considered close to the ocean. So for me, the idea of my daughter, being able to be connected in that way and have the experience of, of growing up close to the water. It’s such a special thing. It’s such a gift. And yeah, I think every time I paddled out during the pregnancy, even if I wasn’t feeling particularly great, it was always very special to feel that I was sharing it with, with her.

Hailey Hirst – Narration:

Rachel also shared how destabilizing pregnancy can feel. Which is true in a lot of ways. Not only do the physical changes of pregnancy, like increased blood volume and body weight, and a shifting center of gravity, literally make you feel less steady on your feet, but pregnancy is also a time when social boundaries grow fuzzy, and other people feel a freedom to offer comments or advice without prompting. Ruk and Rachel both spoke to these pressures, and on pushing against them. Here’s Ruk.

Rukmini Halliwell:

I think for me, this is a bit too hard because on one hand you have a lot of cultural rules around what women can and can’t do in Indian society or in, in Indian culture. But I felt like that sort of expanded outside of that and into just sort of like general limitations for a lot of pregnant women. I found for me, I lost so much autonomy, like practically overnight to becoming pregnant. I was no longer, you know, ruck. I was no longer this individual person. I was now like a house for another person. And I felt like a house that was gigantic. There was a lot of people that were telling me things that I couldn’t couldn’t do. Um, well, mostly things that I couldn’t do. In fact, there was a lot of people telling me that like, you can kiss hiking goodbye. Like it’ll never happen.

Rukmini Halliwell:

You never going to get a baby on trail, at least of all a toddler, like basically park your dreams for about five years until you can get back onto your life. And so I think when I got pregnant, I really made a habit out of hiking throughout my entire pregnancy. It was very much something that while obviously it was like physically very good for you. It was also a bit of an emotional middle finger. Tell the people who told me that I couldn’t do it. And all the people who told me that, you know, your priority is now your child, which he still is. But I just like, I hated that narrative that you belong to this other person. So therefore you can’t do the things that you want to do. So for me, yeah, I felt like was a little bit of an F U. *Laughter*

Hailey Hirst:

*Laughter*

Rukmini Halliwell:

A lot of societal expectations too, right? Like what was mat leaves going to look like? What daycares am I going to put him in? What don’t, you know what mommy and me classes, I feel like so much of that is pressure on the mother. You know, are you going to cloth diaper? You’re not like those decisions tend to be. And you know, this is a broad sweeping statement, not to say that dads don’t have decision-making power in those capacities, but I find a lot of those decisions lay with the mum. Right. And so like that, that feels like a very heavy weight. So beyond the heavyweight of my giant belly, it was also carrying all these societal expectations on my shoulders.

Hailey Hirst:

Yeah, no kidding. All of that is so relatable. Speaking of you feeling like very, very large, if I feel like that’s common too, as our bodies swell beyond their form or shape, there’s so much in the physical experience of pregnancy, that’s super complex, like your joints loosening and your organs shifting and all of the weird symptoms and discomfort. What was your physical experience of pregnancy like?

Rukmini Halliwell:

I went on a hiking trip, a five day hiking trip with my two girlfriends that we usually go every year on a girl’s only hiking trip. Uh, and we flew to Portland, Oregon. So I live in Toronto. So that’s, you know, on the other side of the continent for me, and I understand why people were like, you’re gonna travel. You’re gonna go hiking for five days when you were six months pregnant. And it might had, I was very much like, Oh, I can do it. And I definitely pushed myself to do it, but I understand why people were like, what my ankles were so big. Like I legitimately at one point it was like, I think I have to go to a doctor. Like, I don’t think that’s normal to have like grapefruits stuck into like my Crocs on a plane. Like it was absolutely prepared.

Rukmini Halliwell:

So I think I experienced a lot of those like regular sort of pregnancy symptoms. I did a lot of research before I started hiding while pregnant. So like, you know, using counterweight and things like that to just sort of like better your balance or using hiking poles and Ontario, we’re not overly hilly, so that’s not something we would usually do here. So I kinda, I did use some of those tried and true techniques. I did do a lot of research, but I had a very chill pregnancy. I won’t lie like throughout most of it up until my third trimester, I was considered a regular low risk pregnancy. And then midway through my third trimester, I developed preeclampsia along with the secondary liver condition, uh, which then sort of accelerated my pregnancy into a high risk. So up until that point, it was, I very much pushed myself. I think probably beyond the point of comfort sometimes perhaps to prove a point just to, I do not know. Yeah, very uncomfortable hiking pregnant. There was a lot of chafing and sweating and general discomfort,

Hailey Hirst – Narration:

Hiking while pregnant does have special considerations, and it feels different as time goes on. I went on a backpacking trip when I was three months pregnant, and even while I could still use my normal gear before my belly got in the way, it felt extra exhausting just carrying my own increasing weight up a trail, but it felt good to be out there anyway. The movement made me aware of the changing sensations in my body, and that helped make the pregnancy feel more real to me, in those early days when i was still trying to just wrap my head around it. There were activities I did take a break from doing while pregnant, either for my own comfort or safety concerns, like downhill skiing since the snow season fell during my third trimester, but hiking was something I continued the entire time, even snowshoeing the day after my due date, hoping exercise might bring on labor. We received a voice memo about getting pregnant during the pandemic, and listening to her body and her little one. Before we listen, I want to share that there’s talk of potential pregnancy complications about a minute in, in case you’d like to skip ahead. Here’s Karen:

Karen – Voice Submission:

Outside equals breath. It always has, for me in the past, during periods of change, I relied in climbing. Climbing has taught me that I have to let go to breathe in this year. The year I have planned to become a single mom by community climbing seemed out of reach. Gyms were closed and outdoor climbing was limited. This process to become pregnant can be hard without a partner in sight. Mine was filled with understanding a bunch of two and three letter acronyms and more questions than answers. It was may. And as we all Fred it over what tomorrow would bring, I questioned my choice to move in this direction. This was a month, my little one formed I was breathing. And so it was my little one. We were going on long bike rides, running in forest park, tipping into the Pacific ocean and pretending we could surf.

Karen – Voice Submission:

We tried out white water kayaking and a bit of roll ability in a few weeks in my breath stopped. As I stared up blood in my pants, on my chair and in my toilet, I was told to rest I was resting. I had thought I wasn’t climbing. I wasn’t mountain biking and back country skiing wasn’t happening until at least fall. I wanted so hard to hold onto myself, much like climbing through pregnancy. I have learned that I needed to let go to breathe in. I rested. I did not bike. I did not roll a blade or kayak or surf for a bit. I walked and walked all over Portland. I explored the community gardens and picked out some awesome trees, just blocks from my house. I found hidden gems where blueberries and cherries grew and my little one continued to breathe. And therefore I did too. In time for the long in my pregnancy, I hiked, I biked, I surfed, I cross country skied and I even climbed. I let go of my Insta vision of my pregnancy and let my little one guide me. I listened to my body felt my little one’s body bump up against mine and slowly learned to breathe in for two.

Hailey Hirst – Narration:

Ruk had to shift her relationship with the outdoors as well, during her third trimester:

Hailey Hirst:

When you were diagnosed with the complications later on, did you, did you stop hiking at that point?

Rukmini Halliwell:

So I was also, it just sort of coincided with like the height of summer. Well, where here it’s like a very sticky, hot summer. It was very humid. I literally couldn’t breathe with her without being pregnant. So when you added the pregnancy and then you added the complications, I took like about a two-month hiatus right before I had sad, which is a bit circumstantial. It was also, I think, you know, my anxiety levels were starting to climb, I think a little bit at that point. And I wanted to stay close to potential doctors in the hospitals.

Hailey Hirst:

Yeah. That makes sense.

Hailey Hirst – Narration:

It’s important to talk about real limitations AND the possibility that can be found in the outdoors during pregnancy…because while our experiences may be different, it’s very likely that you’re not alone in what your body can and can’t do. Earlier in my third trimester, we took a ‘babymoon’ trip to Hawaii and spent a lot of time swimming and hiking on the beaches and trails of Maui. I got some comments from strangers on the trail there, about needing to be careful, but that movement felt pretty gentle and comfortable to me. Rachel also continued activities she loved while pregnant, like snowboarding and surfing:

Hailey Hirst:

How much did you feel like you were kind of pushing back against what other people had to think or, or say about what you were continuing to do?

Rachel Barrett:

Uh, I found it really interesting how there were moments where I felt very vulnerable about it and very sensitive to other people’s opinions around it and moments where I was able to kind of fully stand in and embody my knowing in, and my journey, knowing that, you know, everyone’s pregnancy is different and that my experience really is my own. And no one, no one’s in your body, but you and you go, you’re going through that and you’re processing your emotional experience around it. And the changes in your hormones and all the changes in your body and everything. So some days I felt really sensitive to those comments from random pupil, like, Oh, should you be surfing when you’re pregnant? Isn’t that dangerous for the baby? Even if I had had a recent appointment with my doctor and my doctor was incredibly encouraging of me to continue surfing that being said, it was me continuing surfing.

Rachel Barrett:

I wasn’t learning how to surf. Um, during my pregnancy, you know, it was something that I’d already been doing and it was already a habit in my life and, uh, and experience in my body. So for me to continue it, it was like, you know, what my body knows and what my body does and how I am able to regulate my emotions and strengthened my physical body. And so of course through pregnancy, I kind of treated it like I was going into a major surgery and that I wanted my body to be healthy and able to recover well, not just be an amazing home to grow and nurture my baby, but also that for myself too, like post partum, that I would be able to still be in my body and present and show up and be the mother that I wanted to be. So even though those moments that I would feel sensitive and vulnerable to those comments kind of came, I would let let myself have that feeling and maybe have a little pity party about it, but try and shed those external ideas about what pregnancy is supposed to be, because it doesn’t look a certain way.

Rachel Barrett:

And it isn’t a certain way for everyone. It’s a very unique experience for each of us and how we will kind of explore and express ourselves in that time. Probably looks a bit different for everyone who goes through it.

Hailey Hirst – Narration:

We’ll hear more from Ruk, Rachel and other stories of pregnancy after the break.

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Hailey Hirst – Narration:

We’re back. As we talked about before the break, there are a lot of expectations about how we’re supposed to be while pregnant. And the expectations we have for ourselves are sometimes the greatest to carry.

Liz – Voice Submission:

I had this goal to go backpacking while I was pregnant. The school was obviously made before I was actually pregnant because I had extremely bad nausea and vomiting for the entirety of my pregnancy. But I held myself to my goal because I believe the story that I should be able to. There’s so much media out there showing pregnant women doing all sorts of outdoor activities, but the story of pregnant women being bedridden, or having to go to the hospital for IV fluids or a myriad of other hardships that pregnancy can bring is not often told. So I held myself to this expectation that I could backpack while pregnant. And I did. It was beautiful in that the women I went with helped carry some of my gear to lighten my load. And I felt proud of myself that I accomplished it, but why to say that I did to show that I was a hardcore outdoor enthusiast. I don’t regret having done that, but I think even my simple walks around the neighborhood barfing on people’s lawns, sorry, neighbors was dressed as helpful sunshine, fresh air, some dappled light through a tree. All of it was good. Any time spent outside was good, no matter how simple or challenging. Well, except for the gagging and vomiting, that’s never pleasant. Even in sunshine.

Hailey Hirst – Narration:

You just heard Liz share how she made a point of backpacking through her pregnancy, despite discomfort, the truth is you don’t know how you’re going to feel until you’re pregnant and to changes month by month pregnancy by pregnancy. Ruk’s experience reflected this.

Rukmini Halliwell:

I wanted to be that person. I wanted to walk around barefoot and nothing but a t-shirt. And that was just, it was not the pregnancy I had. I was sweaty and I was itchy. And I just like, I didn’t feel like a goddess and I didn’t really feel that sort of like mother earth connection to my unborn child. Like now that doesn’t mean that I didn’t have that connection. I think when I think back on those memories, I think back is like eating a lot of pizza and watching a lot of Netflix, like the times on trail that I, when I was obviously pregnant and going through that, I think about the discomfort, to be honest, I know that’s might not be the nicest answer and I wish my answer could be different.

Hailey Hirst:

I’m glad you’re honest about it because really, like, there’s so much expectation about how we should feel and what we should do or shouldn’t do that. I, I think it’s great that you’re being open about it because it’s so variable. And like, I didn’t really bond with, with my child in utero. We didn’t even have a name picked out. Yeah, no, like I had one moment when we did a backpacking trip really early on where I had brought the ultrasound picture and like, that was special for me to like, think about, oh, I’m carrying you up to this mountain, like before I meet you. But that was the only time that I allow myself that connection. Cause I was also carrying a lot of anxiety about like what could go wrong.

Rukmini Halliwell:

Yeah, definitely. And like, there were definitely moments, you know, outside of, outside of hiking that I had, that I knew that I was connected to my unborn child at the time. But yeah, I think it’s like, it’s often I’ll talk about it because I think mothers are sort of expected to have this like deep seated connection of like, you know, this is my child, it’s my box. Cause we talk about how dads often don’t have that connection with their children until after they’re born, but mothers do because they’re growing their children. And so I think in part, I sometimes hype to forget a little bit, because I think that expectation on moms is so heavy and when you’re already feeling so uncomfortable and you, your life is about to just do like a crazy 180. Sometimes it was nice to just walk, you know, and hiking was a bit of that reprieve for me to be honest.

Hailey Hirst:

Oh definitely.

Rachel Barrett:

I was nauseous a lot. I was pretty nauseous through my entire pregnancy.

Hailey Hirst – Narration:

This is Rachel again, speaking to how she coped with the physical and emotional aspects of her pregnancy,

Rachel Barrett:

Just having my yoga practice that was so supportive for me being able to be connected to the water. Yeah. Just allowing myself to have those ways of being present to the journey and I guess give myself the space to process, to, to be with myself and the journey. Yeah.

Hailey Hirst:

That makes sense. I feel like that giving yourself time, like not only helps you connect with hoping for what your life with a little one might be like, but also serve as somewhat of an escape and, um, yeah. Reconnection with what you care about and feeling like yourself, despite all of the chaotic things in the, in the transition.

Rachel Barrett:

I think that we can often get caught up through pregnancy and this idea of not losing ourselves. And I definitely had some time myself where the pressure of not losing myself was a heavy weight to carry how the journey really is this transformation. And it’s not to say that losing yourself in some ways is a bad thing that you, you shift in the ways that you experience yourself and you transform, you know, who you were and to perhaps a fuller, more deeply embodied version of yourself. Once I kind of had these moments of letting go, that idea of losing myself and just kind of letting myself be lost, allowing myself to be in the now of it and all of the questions and all of the constant change, then there was this really beautiful quality of myself that came forward that I was able to connect to and, and just experience of that trust and that loving energy of just being, being in the moment, being present with how potent that journey can be and how easy it is to get caught up kind of in the story of it and everyone else’s stories around what it’s supposed to be.

Rachel Barrett:

So just for everyone out there that has gone through it and felt kind of lonely or isolated, or for those perhaps thinking about stepping into conception and how, you know, we already have a sense of like mourning around it, of what we might have to give up, but it really allows us to redefine ourselves in really magical and beautiful ways. And that there’s this thread that continues through, I think, no matter what.

Hailey Hirst:

I love that. And it reminds me of a word you had mentioned on our first call and that was reclamation.

Rachel Barrett:

Yeah. And that, and that’s, so that’s so powerful. And I think we see it more and more now women kind of telling our honest stories of pregnancy and, and labor, you know, maybe the messy parts of it and sharing the emotional side of the journey and sure. All of the beautiful and exciting and wonderful parts of it too. But to recognize that, you know, it is a fuller story than that. It can feel very lonely and it is so empowering to come together and to recognize that, you know, we can really stand in our truth through this upheaval that we go through and our minds and bodies in so many ways, you know, be there for our ourselves through that. And, and for one another and, and the amazing community of, of mothers.

Hailey Hirst:

It’s like a chance to connect differently or more deeply to things you maybe didn’t before.

Hailey Hirst – Narration:

In the the spirit of sharing more experiences, making room for community, through things we share and ways we differ. I want to share a few more voice admissions from listeners. This first from Julia might be hard to hear, depending on your experience with miscarriage, if you need to skip ahead. It’s about three minutes long.

Julia – Voice Submission:

I rang in the new year in an MRI machine and normally active Colorado outdoors woman. I’d recently been relegated to the couch with severe knee pain and instability. The imaging confirmed it. My ACL was completely ruptured and my meniscus was sporting a nice tear. We scheduled surgery and just like that, my life was on hold until I recovered no more running on the trails behind my house, no more hiking or backpacking or trying to get pregnant for the better part of a year. We’d been trying to conceive with no luck. And now we needed to press pause. I was crushed two days before my surgery at my pre-op appointment, the doc recommended a pregnancy test. We give them to all women, your age. I dipped the stick, waited the requisite three minutes and carried it toward the trash. I was so used to seeing that glaring control line.

Julia – Voice Submission:

And then the emptiness beneath that, I barely looked at it as my hand hovered over the bin though, I paused was that yup. Right there below the control line was that faintest pink line, it had happened. Surgery was postponed and I was off to PT, working my need to be strong enough to support my growing body and that little miracle that it was carrying. As I moved from crutches to slow walks to hiking and then even jogging. I was overcome with gratitude, my body, and I have been through a lot together. We’ve backpacked, hundreds of miles climb to the top of fourteeners across the grand Canyon in a single day. And last summer summited Mount Whitney, apparently with a torn ACL, but this was different. Here was my body supporting arguably the worst injury it had suffered and it was rallying to carry me and my growing plus one up and down the trails that I loved on our hikes together.

Julia – Voice Submission:

I’d tell my little one stories about the places her dad and I had explored. I had explained the sounds that we were hearing and imagine hiking these trails with her in my backpack. I hoped she’d be soothed by the sounds of the wind in the grass, the waterfall beside the trail, my shoes crunching on the rocks next to those familiar sounds of the trail. The silence at our 12 week ultrasound was deafening. She’s so small and I can’t find a heartbeat. I’m so sorry. As quickly as she’d come into our lives, she was gone. My little hiking buddy on the day that I miscarried, we hiked six miles and ran three more, just waiting for my body to get that show on the road. In the days that followed my husband and I took turns, keeping it together while the other fell apart, we went for walks.

Julia – Voice Submission:

Sometimes side-by-side in silence and sometimes sharing stories of our dreams. Now differed as I nurtured my body through the painful process, I nursed a deep sense of betrayal. I trusted it. I’d been proud of it. And it had let me down this week, I was discharged from PT. My knee is officially strong enough once again, well, as strong as it’s going to be until we get that ACL repaired today, I went on my first hike since the loss I stood on top of green mountain next to my home in Boulder and gazed at the horizon and marveled once again at the magnificence of my body, two weeks after suffering a traumatic loss here, it was rallying once more to lift me up above the clouds, above the pain and sadness and carry me one more step along the path toward healing,

Erin Rodman – Voice Submission:

Pregnancy and hiking outside found me at the same time in life.

Hailey Hirst – Narration:

This is Erin.

Erin Rodman – Voice Submission:

I just left my home city for San Luis Obispo, where I was just starting college. And it was a thing to hike to the big concrete P up on the hillside, outside my dorm. And I went up with a few new friends. A few months later, I found out I was pregnant. Uh, boa happened was this new activity, hiking to the pea, became a coping mechanism for me. Most days I’d make the seep Trek up. And it was a time for my restless mind, just worried about what I was going to do about my pregnancy. Being pretty torn up about a really bad breakup that came with it and feeling alone in a new city. The hiking was an escape from all that. And I learned that when my body works, my mind rests a time outside during my pregnancy gave me the strength to exist. As an anomaly people didn’t expect to see a pregnant girl, hiking on a college campus or skiing or driving a dune buggy, but doing all these things ready me to be a strong, single, pretty young parent and ultimately finding joy and time outside during my pregnancy helped me to hold onto myself. Something often really difficult for moms. And to this day, I prioritize my time backpacking alone each year. It’s my time to come back to myself to fill my cup so I can be the best mom and best woman I can be.

Hailey Hirst – Narration:

We’ve mentioned Adventure Mamas on the show before, but Erin’s submission brought the organization to mind. We’ll link it in the show notes. Next we’ll hear from Jennifer who has taken a long path to pregnancy.

Jennifer Smith – Voice Submission:

It was on the trail that I fell in love with my husband and hiking simultaneously. We were engaged by a frozen waterfall and then married in those beautiful mountains. During a snow storm, we spent our vacations long distance backpacking across the U S and Europe dreaming about life together and starting a family. It was on those same trails that I cried over my husband’s cancer diagnosis. And then shortly thereafter, finding out we would not be able to have children together. We spent many miles processing and healing this loss often in silence, wondering where God was and all this pain. We eventually started talking about starting a family again, but this time through adoption last year, we were matched with a wonderful family and decided on a hike to adopt their embryos. And this winter on a trail close to home, we found out that we were pregnant again.

Jennifer Smith – Voice Submission:

I cried tears, but this time overwhelmed with gratitude and joy. After a five-year struggle with fertility over the next few months, my hikes were shorter and closer to home, but they still connected me to nature giving me the space I needed to process this gift of being adoptive parents, time outside and away from distractions has always been about connection, connection to each other. And those we are with connection to self connection to her faith and connection to the beauty and wonder found only in nature when you slow down enough to pay attention. Although the intensity and distance of my hikes may change for a short time, those connections will always remain. And truthfully, they’re the reasons I step outside. We now spend our miles on the trails, talking about sharing the same connection and excited for the new ones will experience with our baby girl doing September, 2021.

Hailey Hirst – Narration:

This last submission from Randi reads like a love letter to nearby nature. And after the year we just had, I can’t help but imagine that many of us out there would co-sign Randy’s message.

Randi – Voice Submission:

I found out I was pregnant the day after lockdown started for the pandemic in March of 2020. It was also the day after I had to shut down my holistic healing practice for the unforeseeable future. It was like overnight. I became unemployed and with child with no idea what the future would be like for me and my new little family, there was a lot of fear and anxiety that clouded this exciting time of a long awaited pregnancy. And there was a lot of mourning that came with the reality that I wouldn’t be able to share this time with my friends and family and have the support that I wanted and needed. But luckily it was spring time here in Fargo, North Dakota, and the outdoors would not only be accessible again, but it would be a safe Haven for me to stay healthy and active and connected to the rest of the world.

Randi – Voice Submission:

Enjoying nature here, isn’t an extreme sport it’s simply walking or biking through your neighborhood or down river trails or driving 45 minutes to the Minnesota lakes country and spending time with the loons and the gorgeous sunsets. So during my pandemic pregnancy full of worries, hormonal shifts, body aches and pains and global and personal unknowns being in the simple nature, waiting my swollen feet in a cool Lake wobbling along the river path with my husband and two dogs and tending to my small backyard garden became the greatest therapy and helped me find joy, purpose and relief. I honestly don’t know what I would’ve done without the outdoors while being pregnant during this time in our history, I don’t know where I would’ve gone or what I could have turned to. And as the seasons turn again, and my son is now here, I look forward to going to nature again and passing the gift of the outdoors on to the next generation.

Hailey Hirst – Narration:

As you’ve heard from all these voices, time outside during pregnancy can mean so many things, and we all carry the weight of the experience in different ways, while our bodies are not just our own.

And in the complicated processes of matresence — pregnancy is only the beginning.

If all goes well, somewhere between 36 and 41 weeks along, the birth story unfolds, and then, the real transition begins.

Later in the summer, I’ll be back with Ruk, Rachel, and others, to talk about what comes next.

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