Now that I am fully recovered from my mountain trek (a month ago!), I thought I might share a little of the journey with you. While we had our share of ups and downs (pun intended), there was one particular section of trip that warrants a mention. Mainly because it nearly broke me, in a fuck-this-I’m-sitting-down-and-not-moving-ever kind of way.
Let me set the scene for you: perfectly sunny, mild day, fresh air. Oh, and the biggest friggin’ mountain you’ve ever seen. Plus an 18kg pack. Plus 3 hours of climbing. The reason I’m telling you all of this is because as I was climbing (and climbing, and climbing), I couldn’t help but relate the hike to labour. Now I know I have zero experience of actually going through labour, and I’m sure it is about 100 times harder than my hike, but it did share some key elements. Of course, thankfully it wasn’t a 24 or 30 hour hike like some labours can be. Instead, my step by step battle was more easily related to the later stages of labour. So here we go:
1. Firstly, the neverending-ness of it. We climbed for about 5 hours that day, and while some of it was quite manageable, some of it actually enjoyable, the majority was a complete Slog. With a capital friggin’ S.
2. The excess weight. 18kg is one big ass baby. Carrying that weight on your back while climbing up a hill did not help my posture, my breathing or my mood one iota. The plus side of my extra weight is that once I reached the top, one swing and voila! Back to my old shape. Something tells me my post-baby body might not bounce back quite so speedily.
3. The overwhelming need to focus mentally. That sounds a bit odd, right? I’m climbing a hill, what on earth do I need to think about? It was my own state of mind that gave me the most grief on the ascent. That little voice in your head that says, “Uh, what the fuck do you think you’re doing? You can’t do this! Turn right back around this minute, loser!”. As I’ve said before, I think my mental preparation will be what really counts in the labour ward, being able to focus and not panic will be what gets me through. I was pretty damn proud of myself for proving that little voice wrong.
4. The point of giving up. I was so close, SO close to the top at one point, and I nearly gave up. Nearly said no, sat down, and gave up. All I could see was hill. More, more and more hill. I was never going to get there, I wasn’t making any progress, I was failing. I was actually only 10 minutes from the top, but having pushed myself for so long, I couldn’t see it. Watching my plethora of reality shows, I’ve seen this moment so many times with women in labour. They’ve endured hours of pain, are pushing with all their might, and almost every one of them hits a point when they’re yelling “I can’t! I can’t do it. It’s not working” – usually about one or two pushes away from giving birth. It’s that moment, that mountain, that last push that is the hardest of the whole ordeal.
5. The summit. The top, the grin-inducing, endorphin-rushing relief/joy/impossible dream that is the end result. All the pain, the exhaustion and feelings of defeat vanish instantly when you hit the peak and see that magnificent view, and I can only imagine the intensity of that moment when your child is born. No wonder people go back for more.
For me, the mountain was evidence that I am tougher than I think, and that if I can focus and put one foot in front of the other, I can achieve what I had thought was impossible. It might not be Everest, but for me it was enough.
To all of those reading this who are mothers, who have been there, I applaud your strength.