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Chronicles of a Pregnant Weekend Warrior
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Chronicles of a Pregnant Weekend Warrior

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Chronicles of a Pregnant Weekend Warrior

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Created/Edited: Jul 26, 2009 / Jun 6, 2011

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The Crux

Aside from the intense excitement we both feel, we are embarking on what we suspected would be the crux of pregnancy: At what level will I be able to participate in our weekend warrior adventures, if at all? In fact, our first tiff, since it hardly qualifies as an argument, was about whether or not I should or could handle a climb and ski descent of Wheeler Peak and Old Mike in the Wheeler wilderness near the Taos Ski Valley. The previous week, at 5 weeks pregnant, we had just summited Chicoma Mountain (a relatively short excursion ~4 miles and 2450' vertical feet to climb) and it was a successful trip. But with this latest discussion, I felt like I was already being put out to pasture before I had even shown signs of slowing down. Needless to say, I was disheartened and upset.

We agreed to ask our doctor at our first prenatal visit, which fortunately was that day. We both desperately hoped our doctor wouldn't punt and give us the usual conservative, rote answer: "Don't exercise above 5000 feet." To which we'd reply, "But Doc, we live at 7235'." Only to hear, "Well, (thinking hard), then don't exercise above 8000 feet." To our delight, we didn't get the typical reply from our doctor. We were told to listen closely to my body and to heed the instruction my body gives. More specifically, the doctor warned against getting dehydrated, and to make sure my blood glucose levels didn't get too low and to avoid calorie deficits. To this list, we personally added not allowing my O2 saturation levels to get too low. I acquired a pulse-oximeter for this purpose. We were assured that my body would give us clear warning signs before any harm would befall our unborn jelly bean. In other words, I'd pass out and be stopped in my tracks, for example, to ensure the baby continues to get the oxygen and nutrients it needs. As a caveat, the doctor also told us that we, as weekend warriors, constituted a small percentage of pregnancies and that not a lot of information is known on this topic. "Do your own research" we were told.

Our first task after arriving home, which is what any dutiful parent to be would do, was to get online and Google it! We searched for "performance athlete pregnancy" and shortly thereafter purchased a book on the subject: "Exercising Though Your Pregnancy" by Dr. James Clapp. This newest addition to our climbing library joined the ranks of Roach's Colorado's Thirteeners and Colorado's Fourteeners. Clapp's book seems to be one of the only research based references on this topic. The book categorizes women into those who are just starting an exercise regime, those who are recreational exercisers, and the competitive or extreme athlete and discusses each type independently.

What follows is a chronicle of my experiences as a pregnant weekend warrior. I am 38 years old at the time of this writing. I try to give useful information, including heart rate and O2 saturation levels at altitude. Please keep in mind that I live at 7235 feet, not at sea level. I have also attached a SP factsheet to this article that mentions some findings on the effects of altitude on pregnancy. There are sections titled TMI, which are intended for those with a morbid curiosity. Please skip these sections if you don't want too much information! I hope this "40 week trip report" is helpful and encouraging to those women/couples who esteem an active lifestyle and are tired of hearing how pregnancy and parenthood mark the end of it all. When asked recently how I am handling this, all I can say is: don't be limited by what people say you can't do. Good luck!

[This article is dedicated to my husband Scott, whose inspiration and encouragement makes this all possible.]

3-4 weeks

Before I knew I was pregnant, I enjoyed several days of inbounds skiing and skinning. On 4/5/09, I was at Taos for closing weekend, which included a hike to Kachina Peak (12481'). I also skied at Winter Park (4/11) and Copper (4/12). On Tuesday 4/14/09, results from a blood test confirmed I was pregnant. That day, after sharing the news with my husband, we went sport climbing at Old New Place in White Rock. Did a few 5.9s.

As a point of clarification, the activities I list in this chronicle are not all encompassing, but only specific events for which I took notes. For example, I do not list all days that I go for a run. In addition, weeks are calculated based on date of last menstrual period.

5 weeks

4/21/09 Chicoma Mountain, NM (11561') 2450' 4 miles RT, car to car 3:50' hours
3+ hours shoveling out car, 19 hours doorstep to doorstep. This trip report says it all.

 
Chicoma1
Skinning up Chicoma.
 
Chicoma2
Skiing the south slopes of Chicoma.
 
Girls Gone Wild
Ready to boot up for a few more turns.
 
Chicoma3
Skinning back up & out.
 
Chicoma4
Digging out.

6-7 weeks

5/3/09 Jicarilla, NM 3000' 6.5 miles RT, car to car (CTC) 7h50min (just over 6 weeks)
O2/HR stats:
95/110 end of 2 mile hike w/ skis @ 10000'
87/160 strenuous upclimb @10500'
94/160 strenuous upclimb @11000'
notes: quicker to get winded & lower energy reserves
Link to trip report.

5/5/09 2-3 mile run (almost 7 weeks)
Oh dear, are my running clothes are already feeling snug? My sports bra sure is. As I set out for a nice leisurely run, wait, is it possible that my knee and hip joints are feeling unstable, or am I just hyper-educated about all the changes that occur in pregnancy? I continue to jog along getting used to the weakened feelings in my joints when I realize that I am not really running, but bopping along, more in an up and down movement than in a powerful forward stride. It's my mental attitude that's the problem. I am feeling weaker. I decide to leave the "delicate" pregnant woman syndrome behind and lengthen my stride. Ahh, that feels better. No wonder my joints were hurting! I am more winded and feel mild dehydration come on earlier than usual in the arid, high altitude, New Mexico air. As I pass the 3/4 mark, running becomes easy again and I feel strong. I push it a little more towards the end on the uphill. Notwithstanding my uber dry throat, it feels ok.

5/6/09 1st Ultrasound-AOK. Baby is 1cm and heartbeat is strong. I weigh 133 lbs. BMI=20.5.

8 weeks

5/8/09 Sin Nombre, NM 12,819' "No Name Peak", 6.5 m RT, 2650' climbed, CTC=5hrs (7 weeks)
O2/HR stats:
94/99 end of easy 2.5 mile skin @ 11100'
91/93 After 700-800' boot pack and ridge traverse to peak @ 12819'
96/91 Back at car after ski down/very short hike shouldering skis @ 10160'
Link to trip report.

5/10/09 Mother's Day attempt to ski Mount Antero, 5 miles RT, 1000', CTC=3 hrs (just over 7 weeks)
This was supposed to be another step up for me during pregnancy: longer mileage/higher altitude & vertical. Planned trip was ~ 9 miles RT, 4400' to 14,269'. Well, we ended up only hiking in our ski boots for 5 miles and ~ 1000' and our skis never left our packs. Warning to expectant moms: the cool wind made my breasts extremely sensitive and painful. I had three lightweight layers on (sports bra, 2 lightweight capilenes).

Cerro Pedernal, NM 750' 1 mile RT to 9862', car to car 1 hour
Shut down, we decided to do Cerro Pedernal instead. Beautiful hike, 3-4 class in one very short section. I didn't take any O2/HR stats because the hike was so short. Of particular interest was that this hike required balance: rockhopping on talus and 3-4 class moves. I did not feel any issues with balance and, in fact, felt very stable and less winded ascending the steep shoulder leading to the crux pitch. Link to trip report.

MIDWEEK NOTES:

I was EXTREMELY wiped out on Monday. Very fatigued and tired all day. In addition, I developed a pretty nagging headache that lasted for about 36-40 hours. Although headaches are not uncommon in the 1st trimester, I couldn't help wondering if the ache was an affect of my strenuous and physically demanding weekend. [The headache could also be my typical period like symptoms, which I've read can occur right around the time I'd normally get my period in the 1st trimester.]

5/11/09 & 5/13/09 Pajarito Ski Hill, 1200' (9200' to 10400') CTC=26 min & 24 min

9 weeks

5/16/09 Mount Democrat (14,148') and Mount Bross (14,172), 7.5 miles RT, 4500' vertical climbed, CTC=8hrs (just over 8 weeks)
Last week was supposed to be my trial run for higher altitude, more vertical climbed and longer mileage, but as you read, that didn't happen. This weekend was a biggie and with no "pregnancy trial run": two 14ers 1 day and a 13er the next. Quite frankly, I was a little worried. My trepidation was only made worse by the fact that shortly after we arrived at the ~11,500' TH, I had a pretty bad altitude headache, which lasted through the night. This was worrisome and a little curious because I have never been affected by altitude, besides the occasional dehydration headache. I realized that my pregnancy may very well have changed all that and that physiologically, all bets were off. I'll pause here to mention one nicety of car camping while pregnant. I had to get up several times during the night to go to the bathroom. It's these little details that one doesn't appreciate until experience educates you. Fortunately, by the time I was skinning the next morning, my headache was gone. [I also felt like I was about to get my period-that low heavy crampy feeling that morning. I was a little concerned and hoped it wasn't serious. Again, it is not atypical to experience period-like symptoms around the time you would normally get your period, which would be right on for me. This feeling went away about an hour into the climb.] My baseline stats at the TH (11,500') were HR=66 and O2=94. After a climb to 13,900' my HR=106 and O2=93, so far so good and my energy levels seemed a bit higher than recent trips. I attribute this in part to Vanilla Bean Gu, the only caffeine I allow myself these days. Even the non-caffinated Gu works great and I alternate. Seems 1 Gu every 1.5 hours keeps the lethargy and sluggish feelings at bay. We skied off Democrat and then we started skinning up the S couloir below Mount Bross. Again, not sure how long I'd last or if my energy reserves would dry up during the second climb of the day. At about 13,300' I was feeling a bit out of breath and I stopped to check my stats: this time I was at HR=137 and O2=83. Whoa! No wonder I was feeling out of breath. I slowed my pace a bit and continued upwards and checked again: same HR, O2=89, better. Just for kicks I sampled my companions stats. They had been resting for ~2 minutes: HR~105-110 and O2=81,83. Hmm, guess I'm not doing so bad. Of course, they don't have to worry about supplying O2 to a growing baby. As a bonus, one climbing mate said "Thank god you are pregnant" or ... I'd be kicking their butts! :-) I had consumed 3 liters of water by the time I reached the top of Bross.
 
Summit of Democrat
Summit of CO's Mount Democrat.
 
Skiing off of Mount Democrat
Ski descent of Mount Democrat.
 
Democrat3
Amy skis into a foggy couloir below Mount Democrat.


5/17/09 Mount Buckskin (13,865'), 4m RT, 2300' vertical climbed, CTC=4hrs (just over 8 weeks)
Although I felt well rested and not tired, I definitely felt physically fatigued after yesterday's adventures. I was more sluggish, but aided by Gu and a very caring companion, I gained another summit. It was well worth it. I am noticing that I am feeling less tired after these trips. I used to literally pass out after exercising-couldn't keep me from sleeping-and now, I'm tired, but not conked out. Link to trip report.
 
Buckskin1
Ascending Mount Buckskin
 
Buckskin2
Hiking the ridge toward the summit.
 
Buckskin ski descent
Sweet spring corn ski descent of Mt. Buckskin.


Notes: My appetite has really decreased. I crave lemonade and fruits. We'll see how I feel over the next few days and if I get another headache. Ever so slight headache late in the day on Monday. Gone after a little food and water. Energy level normal for a pregnant chick, that is, no added exhaustion as a consequence of my active weekend.

10 weeks

5/24/09 Unfortunately Memorial Day weekend has us rained in this year again. Instead of relishing my (possibly) last backcountry ski days, I went running this morning. Short ~2.5 miles. At the end, HR=160, O2=99. Can't ask for better than that. My energy level seems to be generally improving. I seem to have more endurance per day. That is, I can actually stay up past 8:30p now. :-) I am one of the lucky 25% in that I did not experience morning sickness. There were moments, usually in the early evening (4:30-6:30p) where I'd feel a little "off". I'd go for a short walk outside and that usually fixed me right up. Walking also helped digestion after dinner. Large meals are difficult for me now. TMI: With the exception of the first few weeks, I have had no constipation and I attribute this to the fact that I remain very active. IMHO this helps tremendously.

11 weeks

5/31/09 Blue (Twining) Peak 13,711', 4 m RT, 2800 vertical feet climbed, CTC=4h40m (10+ weeks) 
Blue (Twining) Peak
Spray on Blue Peak

O2/HR stats:
85/147 skinning @ 12600'
93/90 at rest on summit @13711'
92/101 @ car 11400'
Snotty. And I'm not talking about attitude. My nose was a runny mess. It was so runny that it would, well, I'm embarrassed to say and you can probably imagine. This was an interesting trip. We continue to be conservative in our plans and this trip was no different. I am finding that it takes me some time to "warm up". That is, my ass is dragging for the first hour or so. It's almost as if it takes that long for my body to get the picture that I need it to redirect some of its resources to fueling the physical activity. So I suck wind while skinning in, even if it's at a moderate pace. Then I eat a Gu and I feel more energized. I consumed 2 Gus this trip. My body gets the picture and I take off like a firecracker. This time I jetted up the snow couloir leaving all behind. I didn't even feel taxed. Breasts still hurt, balance still ok although I fell a few times. Nothing high impact, just tough snow. Really don't want to risk too many falls though. I seem to be regaining some of my endurance back, meaning I'm not so exhausted afterwards and I can actually stay conscious. Link to trip report.

12 weeks

6/6/09 Old Rag 3268', ~9 miles RT, 2510' vertical climbed
No O2/HR stats on this one. We went light figuring my O2 was probably fine on this one since this hike was all below the altitude that I live at. :-)

Located in the Blue Ridge Mountains in Shenandoah National Park, the summit of Old Rag is a popular destination. Ridge scramble up, fire road down. I read there was a short section of scrambling on this route and was looking forward to it, but was pleasantly surprised to find how sustained this section was. Very fun. At the crux, there were ~20 people backed up there making use of a rope to ascend. Most attempts were pretty ugly. Descending this crux was a woman 6 months pregnant! The summit has plenty of places to bask on a semi-private rock and enjoy some views. My dad, age 65, came with us!

13 weeks

6/12/09 ~flat 2.5 mile run @ 7300', 12+ weeks
O2/HR stats: 95/160 at finish
A new sensation. I felt like I had to pee urgently the whole run. I wasn't sure I'd make it home. I wished I had done more Kegel exercises. When I got home, I headed to the bathroom only to discover, I really didn't have to pee that bad. It was the rhythmic pounding of my growing uterus on my bladder as I ran that made me feel like I had to pee the whole time.

6/14/09 West Spanish Peak 13,626', 7 m RT, 2600' climbed, CTC=3h45m (12+ weeks)
O2/HR stats: 89/120 @ 12,300' during a vigorous ascent, 1 Gu
This was a beautiful hike and I would highly recommend it. Nice, easy to follow trail with good scenery. I didn't sleep well in the car (11,300'). I've learned that if I have to pee during the night, the best course of action is to get up and take care of it. Only then can I get back to sleep. Nonetheless, this hike felt really easy, even after I had just spent a week at sea level. For the first time I felt some instability in my joints. More noticeably in my feet, ankles, and knees. So far it seems like my balance is unaffected. TMI: My breasts continued to hurt as the winds were blowing chilly and strong against me. Call 911, please put out that fire!

Entering 2nd Trimester

My energy has returned! I'm not pre-pregnancy energetic, but close. I've tried to push it a little more this week by working out almost everyday (M,T,W,F). I'm alternating between hiking the Ron Harper Trail at Pajarito, our local ski hill (1200' vertical feet in 3/5 mile, CTC=45m) and running ~2.5 miles. Saturday & Sunday were bigger days (see below). I had my second ultrasound 6/18/09 and everything so far looks normal. The growth of the baby, the placenta and amniotic fluid all look great. Baby is 3 inches CTR (crown to rump), right where it should be at this stage. These measurements are good metrics for how exercise is affecting your pregnancy. Any deficiency in growth should be a warning that you are pushing too much and you need to cut back. Dr. Clapp (author of Exercising Through Your Pregnancy) says that exercise increases blood flow and encourages the growth and development of both baby and placenta.

14 weeks

6/20/09 Attempt of Emma Burr Peak (13,538') ~2m RT, 1100' climbed/skied (13+ weeks)
Baseline O2/HR stats: 93/87 upon arriving by car at 11,700' trailhead
This trip was nothing special, except that I was going to telemark ski again. I fought a low grade headache upon arriving at the TH, but maybe that was a combination of sun beating in, rough 4WD road, and altitude. I drank a lot of water and successfully fended off any headaches. We hiked in our boots, skis on our backs for 1/2 mile and then climbed a couloir and started skinning until we hit another couloir. The second couloir, while more North facing, was not in as good of shape. We think that it gets more sun and the lack of a freeze overnight because it was overcast left this couloir with the 8" layer of sugary snow we found ourselves sinking into. We made the call to be conservative and bail the couloir. We still got a few good turns on the ski out. So far balance still aok. One concern I had was while we were contemplating ascending the couloir, I was even more nervous about avalanche hazards. I know I should always be respectful of avalanche danger, and I am, but this was beyond my typical reservation. Because I've found I am generally more short of breath while I've been pregnant, the thought of being suffocated in an avalanche really didn't sit well with me. :-)

6/21/09 Mt Columbia (14,073') ~10m RT, 4900' climbed (13+ weeks)
Great trip! Ya know, besides the typical little ass drag one feels during the false summits before the real summit, I couldn't even tell I was pregnant (except for the SOB=shortness of breath that accompanies me now). My energy level was high and I was fine at the high altitude. The typical swelling that turns my fingers into small sausages while ascending a peak was present, but not any worse. Because this day was bigger in altitude and distance than any previous trip I've taken while pregnant, I carried (actually my husband carried) an extra water bottle for me as a reserve. I carried and went through 3L and finished the 12 oz reserve right before strolling back into camp. Another precautionary change I made was to bring a bag of nuts with me and to munch a handful at almost every pitstop. I think not getting behind on calories or water was key to keeping my energy level up. I consumed 2 Gus (always one early on now) and some cheese, salami, and bread before the push to the ridge and while on the summit. I went light on breakfast-half a nasty chocolate mint bar-not recommended. The choc. mint bar, not the light breakfast! Link to trip report.

15 weeks

6/27/09 Rock climbing at Gallows, White Rock, NM.
Besides my climbing harness getting smaller, rock climbing was really fun and relaxing. In deference to my husband, I didn't lead anything. All routes were 5.6-5.8 and I felt very comfortable and strong climbing. I tried a 5.10 in The Pit at the end of the day, but couldn't pull the opening overhanging moves on sharp rock. I can usually manage 10s, but couldn't today, likely due to climbing atrophy and end of day fatigue. Not clear I can attribute this to the pregnancy.

Week 15 maintenance runs on S, M, W, R. Strange, I cannot seem to find my heart rate over 160. Probably for the best. Also, I haven't noticed any considerable joint issues or loosening yet.

16 weeks

7/2/09 15 weeks. From the way I feel, look, and how my clothes are fitting, I guessed that I've gained between 5-10 pounds. However, at my first routine checkup and now into my second trimester, I lost weight, weighing in 3 pounds under my pre-pregnancy weight. HR=67, BP= 98/73. Although both my husband and I were both surprised the 3" gain in my tummy girth yielded no additional weight, the docs didn't seem at all concerned. I guess a few words about diet may be useful here. While I am eating more, and more often, I continue to eat healthy foods. I've read only 300 additional calories are needed. I take a prenatal vitamin and a USP certified fish oil supplement daily. I no longer consume caffeine, including chocolate, and, of course, alcohol. I stay away from foods and drinks that are mostly sugar and candy, except for the occasional swedish fish-ahhhh. Oh yeah, and I had my first doughnut in probably 15 years, but hey, cut a girl a break! For breakfast, I eat a bowl of cereal with low fat milk: shredded wheat mixed with Barbara's shredded spoonfuls. Lunch is often a rice concoction with protein (chicken, pork or tofu) and bok choy for iron and folic acid. Dinner varies. I have 1-2 pieces of fruit a day and yogurt or figs for a sweet snack.

Week 15 maintenance runs on M,T,W

17 weeks

7/11/09 Stewart Peak, North Slopes (13,983') & Baldy Alto (13,698'), 10m RT, ~4000' vertical, CTC=6.25h, 1 Gu (16+ weeks)
O2/HR stats: 85/147 @ 12,700' during strenuous activity, 89/116 @ 13,100' during mellow activity
As we climbed in altitude during the approach to the TH in the Xterra, I developed a headache (TH at 11,500'). This also happened during our drive into the Emma Burr TH (~11,600'). I am more susceptible to high altitude headaches. I've also noticed that even though I stretch (a little) after exercising, my muscles are tighter than normal. More on the headaches later...cure with water.
A bar for breakfast-seemed to want Chewy granola bars. During this hike, I started to feel a little uncomfortable with the waist strap of my pack and I loosened it a wee bit. It put more weight on my shoulders, but made my tummy feel better. I adjusted this as necessary throughout the hike, wanting it tighter at times and looser at others. Just listening to my body. I am easily winded during any uphill stretch; I generally feel like I'm just badly out of shape. I think I must now officially relinquish my title as the Uphill Monster. At the start of the hike, I am very sluggish and then about an hour in I find a rhythm and my pace quickens a little. Ya know how it feels during that first hike out of the gate at the opening of climbing season? That's how I feel now in general. TMI-my boobs hurt less; what a relief! No more urgent fires to put out. :-) The warmer weather helps as does the 2nd trimester I'd imagine.

7/12/09 Organ Mountain, East Slopes (13,801), 8.4m RT, 3481' vertical, CTC=5h, 2 Gus, (16+ weeks)
O2/HR stats: 79/137 @ 13,100' during strenuous activity, On the summit 86/109 @ 13,800'. Just for reference, Scott was at 82/89 on the summit.
Bar for breakfast. In general, I think I am getting more easily dehydrated these days. Perhaps that explains why I feel more susceptible to altitude headaches when first arriving at the TH. Even though I didn't really feel other effects of dehydration, when I chug some water, my energy level improved. Admittedly, I only had a bar for breakfast, but after 2 miles, my stomach was already feeling like a bottomless pit-you know that feeling? I was famished. I had a Gu, which helped, and I held out for salami & cheese on the summit. We did 1000' vertical feet over 2 miles in 45 min and 3581' in 2.5h. So even though I feel really slow and the journey is noticeably harder, I'm still making decent time. Definitely craving sweets-chocolate malt, chocolate chip cookies, chocolate chip Chewy granola bars, etc. Picking up on the theme here? :-)

Trip report for Stewart & Organ.

18 weeks

7/15/09 It's a girl! Ultrasound shows baby is now 5.5 inches CTR and 7 ounces. I weigh 135 lbs, up 5 lbs from my last visit and up 2 lbs from my pre-pregnancy weight. My O2 sat was 98%, HR=66, and BP=90/60. Growth of baby and placenta on track. I took this week off from remote, high altitude (>10000 feet) activity after an amniocentesis. The amnio was painful. I've heard other woman say it's only uncomfortable, but I had a different experience. I was not prepared for how painful this procedure was. A few things that may have made it worse in my case: 1) a longer needle was used because my placenta is positioned anterior and the doctor needed to access the amniotic sac from my side so as not to go through the placenta, and 2) the doctor seemed to struggle to get the needle through the muscle in my abdomen. Once the needle penetrated the muscle layer, my muscle spasmed or perhaps it hit a nerve. This was pretty damned painful and I think there was some muscular damage done based on what my stomach muscles felt like in the days subsequent to this procedure. Once the needle was withdrawn, the pain subsided. In the following days, I experienced no uterine cramping and felt like I had badly strained a stomach muscle. When I sat up or laughed I felt twinges of muscle soreness and a general tenderness around the area where the needle was inserted. I consider myself a person with a high pain tolerance and this made me acutely aware that I may have a surprise in store for me regarding the pain of childbirth. Fortunately I have a few months of peaceful, easy feelings before that day.

On 7/16/09 I did prenatal yoga from a DVD by Jennifer Wolfe. I'm generally into power yoga and this was an acceptable pregnancy friendly workout. Thank you Jennifer. I felt back to normal by Saturday (7/18/09) and went for a run and did my normal situps/crunches routine. It was difficult to take the time off as the weekend weather was great for another assault on a high peak. But we felt conservatism was called for and we decided not to venture into the isolated backcountry. I ran several more times throughout the week.

19 weeks

Weekend of 7/25-26 (19 weeks). We had planned to head up to the mountains and hike a few peaks, but the weather just did not cooperate. I was especially anxious to get back out there, but what can one do. As a consolation, we have planned a special outing next weekend, weather permitting of course. Stay tuned! Instead I did a short hike at moderate altitude: ~ 5 miles RT, 1400' vertical between 9050' and 10320'.

7/28/09 Got an unexpected call from K2 Skis today asking me to join their Women's Alliance Team - I'm a sponsored skier now and one of the ~40 K2 women in the World!! I get my choice of a new pair of K2 skis to show off. A big woohooo!

20 weeks-Dallas Peak!

8/1/09 Dallas Peak (13,809'), 9.3m RT, ~4800' vertical climbed w/ technical pitch, 3 Gus, CTC=9h (19+weeks)
O2/HR stats:
85/96 gradual grade ascent
85/120 scree ascent @ 13000'
91 O2 @ ~13,720' base of 5th class climb after resting 5 minutes
85/106 descent @ 13,300'
 
Below Dallas Peak
Wildflowers below Dallas Peak (13,809')
 
Ascending below Dallas Peak
Ascending cliffs below Dallas Peak.

I was really looking forward to this trip especially after being couched for two weeks. My hiking pants still fit!!! Whew, because I don't know what I would have done otherwise. I'm still waiting for the Mountain Hardware maternity line. :-) I did several maintenance runs and hiked the ski hill this week, but it takes more these days for me just to keep pace with the rapid physiological changes occurring: now gaining some weight + baby growth spurt again = greater demands on my body. I ate VERY well the day before this climb (green chile breakfast burrito, pork burrito and a slice of pizza) and felt fairly strong during the hike/climb, even though I carried a heavier pack due to rappel gear, helmet, harness. My dear partner was a hero and carried all the trad gear and a single 8mm 60m rope! The uphill while pregnant continues to be more taxing for me, but today wasn't out of my "new" ordinary. I consumed 3 Gus on this trip, which is an increase compared to previous trips at the same level of commitment. Breakfast was a Gu and a bar. As you can see from my stats, it was difficult for me to keep my O2 saturation level above 90, even on the descent. Overall, this trip felt really good. The 5th class section was fine, but moves that require a high step or leg up are challenging because this impinges on the growing belly. My balance remains good and I've had no significant joint loosening or strains. A word of caution, when sitting or squatting, stand up slowly to avoid feeling dizzy and lightheaded.

Trip report for Dallas.

8/2/09 San Miguel Peak (13752'), 8m RT, ~3000' vertical, 2 Gus, CTC=5.5h
O2/HR stats:
96/74 @ 10,800' trailhead
83/93 @ during ascent

This trip was the follow-up to Dallas Peak and was supposed to be an easier day. It wasn't. I woke up with significant lower back pain. I'm guessing that my increasingly more forward center of gravity puts a strain on my lower back. I have a new found respect for the effort involved in hosting a beer belly! It took an hour of hiking to warm up my back, but eventually the pain went away. My ass dragged the entire ascent. At first I thought it dehydration, but it wasn't. It was a calorie deficit. I must have used up all my reserves the day before on Dallas. A bar and a Gu for breakfast (190 calories) didn't cut it. Plus dinner was a whole 11 hours before. That is just too long to go without eating now. My husband let me eat almost all his food! Thanks Scott! Lesson learned: I'll be eating breakfast from now on. Hey any excuse for another green chile breakfast burrito, or, a muffin (sigh). Hey muffins can be darned good.

Note: make sure you pee before driving the 4WD roads!!! This can get pretty uncomfortable.

Note: A general increase in appetite, easily dehydrated, must watch O2 more carefully.

21 weeks

I'm still able to do sit-ups/crunches without any discomfort. During my maintenance runs/hikes this week, my legs, mostly my calves & my tibialis anterior, felt very fatigued. I don't know why, but it was quite noticeable. Perhaps a shift in center of gravity? Speaking of center of gravity, it's finally time for a new running shirt, either that or I'm going to need to apply sunscreen to my belly!

Since last week I noticed it was harder to keep my O2 saturation levels up, I made a point of monitoring my oxygen to see if this issue persisted during my local runs. HR=120, O2=94, no problem. In general, when I sample people who are with me and engaging in the same activities, my O2 is usually higher than theirs. Although, they're not carrying a baby, so I'm not sure that is really relevant.

8/9/09 Traditional rock climbing at El Rito, NM. ~7600'
2 Pitch routes: Big E (5.7) to Swollen (5.7+), Chile Verde (5.6) to Unnamed variation (5.8-), Pack Rat Dihedral (5.6). To avoid leader fall, Scott does all the leading these days. Thanks Scott!
Ok, time to retire my Arc'teryx harness and pull out the fully adjustable Black Diamond climbing harness. Today was tight. I am finding that I need more room not only in the waist, but also in the legs loops so that I can hike the waist up a little higher for comfort. The women's Black Diamond harness is great too because it has releasable straps in the back making going to the bathroom considerably more convenient.

 
Elrito1
Climbing at El Rito, NM trad area.
 
elrito2
On Swollen (5.7+), how appropriate!


So on to the climbing. The first pitch of the first climb felt a bit awkward. Cobwebs! The rest of the pitches felt pretty darned good at these YDS ratings and I moved more easily through them. I love the multi-pitch climbing on great rock that El Rito Trad provides. We had the place completely to ourselves all day and there was ample time to ponder life during my time belaying. So naturally, I started thinking about what I would be for Halloween. At 7 months pregnant, The Great Pumpkin immediately came to mind. Too obvious? How about a hobo, an opera singer, a clown, a cocoon, a large sea grouper? Hmm, bleak possibilities. My turn to climb, thank god! On the second pitch of the second route (Unnamed), there was a slightly overhung bulge (5.8) near the top of the pitch. I made a few moves on it and encountered a good sized, loose rock. Whoa. I reached higher and found some handholds, but I was in a full vertical stretch to reach them. Yikes. This feels tough. I've been careful not to strain myself too much and didn't want to push it here. Inner monolgue: Be responsible, you can easily go around. But this bulge looks really fun. Let's just take another look. Hmm, risking a fall, just go around. "Slack!" I yelled. "More slack!" I bailed and went around. I know it was a good decision, but boy I felt like a real weenie. This is what it's about now. I'll have to leave the "tough gal" attitude behind and just come back next year to climb this route.

22 weeks

Maintenance runs on M,W,Sa, yoga on Friday
Hubby sez that I am running faster now than before I was pregnant. It is very helpful to have a gauge for such things. During my recent runs, I have felt less challenged cardiovascularly. I attribute this to the fact that my blood volume is catching up with my dilated vessels and therefore my heart doesn't have to work as hard to oxygenate the tissues. Or maybe it was that amazing spaghetti dinner I had last night! However, I continue to experience severe fatigue in my right leg while running. I have a few theories that I can test out: 1) I need new running shoes. After all, they are 4 years old and I don't have leg fatigue in my hiking boots or other shoes, 2) I'm dehydrated since I run first thing in the morning, or 3) well, it's just that darned belly having its way with me again.

8/12/09 Ultrasound Appointment
BP=100/70. My weight was measured at two different doctor's offices today. Weight 135 (up from 131 on 7/2/09) or 139.6 (up from 135.8 on 7/15/09) +4 lbs either way you look at it. The ultrasound technician located and measured the major organs and bones and all looks well. Baby is now 14 ounces and around 11 inches from head to foot. Amniotic fluid volume, placental growth, and baby's growth is normal, coming in right at the 50th percentile. A good place to be in this game.

8/13/09 We both felt an unequivocal baby kick for the first time!!

8/16/09 Mount Hope (13,933'), 6.7 m RT, ~4073 vertical feet, CTC=5h 45m
No HR or O2 readings on this trip. I'm wondering if my pulse-oximeter is on the blitz or if there is some other physiological reason that I cannot get an O2 saturation level reading these days. So I did a little research on how these oximeters work and their proper functioning relies on obtaining a pulse reading. So one hypothesis is that the device isn't able to get a proper pulse reading on me. In addition, and I'm not sure yet if this is relevant, I generally have poor circulation, especially in my fingers & toes, and lower blood pressure, as you can see from previous week's postings.

Here's the low down: Essentially these pulse-oximeters work by calculating the ratio of oxyhemoglobin to its deoxygenated form. This ratio can be measured by emitting both red and infrared light through a translucent part of the body, such as your fingernail, since oxyhemoglobin and deoxygenated hemoglobin have significantly different absorption properties at these wavelengths. It should be noted here that for an accurate measure of respiratory sufficiency, other factors must be considered, such as the level of carbon monoxide and methemoglobin, and whether a person has compromised blood flow or hemoglobin levels. There is now an FDA-approved Pulse CO-oximeters that measures total hemoglobin, oxygen content, methemoglobin, PVI (patient fluid volume, aka dehydration levels), and carboxyhemoglobin (http://www.masimo.com/rad-57/). I haven't been able to find pricing on these and am not sure they're even commercially available.

Interestingly, I also found this little tidbit while researching the oximeter: Supplemental oxygen is required for pilots operating non-pressurized aircraft above 12,500 feet (10,000 feet outside of the US). I won't postulate on this, but it's something to consider.

Now onto the hike!! Sadly, I have expanded beyond the capacity of my favorite pair of hiking pants, but fortunately I had a pair of EMS hiking pants sporting an elastic waistband tucked away in a drawer. These worked great! Overall, this trip was fantastic, albeit a little windy and cold on the summit ridge. We hiked at a more moderate pace on this trip, in part because I couldn't get a good O2 saturation reading and in part because we were with a few friends that preferred a more leisurely pace. It was great fun having them along! I felt strong and less easily winded. This is a nice change. In addition, I had no leg fatigue issues, as I do when running. This makes me think my leg pains could likely be due to a mechanical issue, such as how I place my foot when running. I tend to run on the ball of my foot instead of using my whole foot and, even though this hasn't been a problem in the past, changes in my physiology due to pregnancy may magnify any effects, making this an issue all of a sudden.

We hoped to get the tri-centennial Quail Mountain (13,461'), but fast moving storm clouds demanded we try this peak some other day.

This evening, I felt a lot of baby movement as I went to sleep.

Crux #2 - Risk.

8/20/09 The blues. As you may have guessed, physical activity is a big part of my life, my lifestyle, and my identity. I'm also guessing this is likely true for you too since you're reading this blog on SummitPost. Last weekend a few friends of ours did Ellingwood Ledges, a 5.7 route to the summit of Crestone Needle in Colorado. We had planned to do this route a few days before, but begged off because of the risk involved and because I didn't pull that 5.8 bulge at El Rito last week. Curses! Reality sets in: there are plenty of peaks/routes to do without assuming unnecessary risks. However, hearing about our friends delightful trip on the Ellingwood Ledges and recalling the fervor and passion that such routes excite in me, left me with a bad case of the blues. Accepting that I cannot do one such route is no biggie, but contemplating the reality that my active life will continue to take such hits and my physical ability will continue its downhill slide to incapacitation (I exaggerate to convey the dark mood) for at least the next 6-12 months was just too much in one sitting. I find peace and solace in challenging myself physically. Physical challenges clear my mind, make me feel alive, and provide the dopamine and endorphins that keep me "Mrs. Nice Girl". How can I just give this up? I've already slowed down and now the thought of slowing down even more leaves me anxious, defensive, and cranky. The nature of my dilemma is two-fold. First, can I slow down and still satisfy my needs in terms of physical challenges? Second, what does slowing down mean and how much should I slow down due to pregnancy, even if I'm not strictly limited physically? This brings me to Crux #2.

Crux #2: What is an acceptable level of risk?

Geez, number crunchers at insurance companies get paid big bucks to try to quantitatively answer this question. Truth is, you don't know for sure what is too risky until you've gone past the limit. And that, at least in extreme outdoor adventure cases, is just too late. We've all heard our share of the stories. And what happens when you & your partner have different levels of risk acceptance? Seems cavalier and dangerous to let the less risk averse partner lead the way, but always deferring to the partner with the lower risk preference burdens that person with a lot of responsibility and leaves the other person feeling severely constrained. In either case, what's sure to occur is that both parties will feel frustrated, at the very least. And now, put a child in the picture. Perhaps this picture becomes clearer, but perhaps not. Seems obvious to lower the risk bar, but again, to what level? What is acceptable? This is a question each climbing team needs to answer for themselves, for any trip, and responsible mountaineers will consciously address this question.

For us, constructive communication is key. We first needed to clarify that this question is not about capability. I am still capable of performing well on "risky" trips. But what if something goes wrong? That is always a possibility, and since now we're carrying our child along, the stakes are higher, the margin for error is lower, and my ability to withstand greater physical stress if I am caught in the backcountry is diminished. So where do we set the bar? Where do we draw the line?

23 weeks-Ice Cubed

8/22/09 Ice Cubed: High traverse along the Continental Divide to summit the Three Apostles in CO. (North Apostle 13860', Ice Mountain 13951', West Apostle 13568'), 9.5m RT, ~4400' vertical climbed, 3 Gu, CTC=11h

I first heard of this traverse back in 2005. I joined 14ers.com just to get some beta on this route because I was planning to take Scott on this trip as a birthday surprise, complete with buddies ready to help celebrate on the summit. Unfortunately, weather conditions that weekend foiled our plans and we haven't gotten around to these peaks again until now.

I took my adventurine stone with me this weekend on this high traverse along the Continental Divide. This stone promotes good balance (at least that's what they tell me in Taos). It lived in the pocket of my ski pants last season when I was learning telemark!

 
North Apostle Summit
Belly profile on summit of N. Apostle, CO
 
Ridge2Ice
On the northeast ridge headed toward Ice Mtn, CO


O2/HR stats:
96, 108 @ 12600' ascending slopes below saddle between North Apostle & Ice
94-91, 94 @ 13400' saddle between North Apostle & Ice Mtn
85-->93, 93 @ 13951' atop Ice Mtn (range indicates went from 85 to 93 after taking several deep breaths)
86, 101 @ 13300' during ascent to W. Apostle

We slept at the S. Winfield trailhead @ ~10600'. Gratefully, I am no longer experiencing headaches at these higher altitudes. I'm not certain what has changed Although I can still lie on my back in bed, last weekend while sleeping in the Xterra, I felt the toe numbing sensations of baby impinging on my inferior vena cava. This is why doctors recommend sleeping on your left side. This weekend I brought a thick blanket and folded it over 3 times as extra padding under my thermarest. This worked like a charm! Very comfortable. In fact, I think I'll do this even when I'm not preggie.

I mentioned previously that I need a head start on calories in the mornings. My solution to this is to split a cold, green chile, sausage breakfast burrito with Scott. This is the perfect amount; it doesn't bog me down, but it provides some much needed sustenance before hiking. And it's quick! Sleep over warm breakfast anyday, but especially those days when a pre-dawn start is needed! We headed out of camp via headlamps around 5am. I am consciously eating more on these trips even though I'm not particularly hungry. This trip I enjoyed 3 Gus (strategically consumed before strenuous, uphill pushes), 3L of water, dried salami and crackers, and mixed nuts (almonds, cashews, pumpkin seeds, pistachios). I bring an assortment of bars, but didn't eat them.

I felt very well balanced on this trip (the adventurine stone??) and still do not feel any significant joint loosening. On the downhill returns, however, I am starting to experience minor lower back pain. I'm guessing this is due to my increasingly front-forward posture. The baby is pretty still during the hikes, as is the case during the daytime hours normally. Based on her movements, I can't tell yet if she enjoys 3rd class or 5th class sections more, or, if she is an uphill or downhill monster. This was a very fun traverse of three very individual peaks along the Continental Divide. It offered everything: 1st class hiking on great trail, 2nd class scree nightmares and a chance to work on our "scree skiing", phenomenal 3rd class scrambling, and 4th class exposed climbing. I gotta tell you, this trip chased away those blues!!!! Thanks hubby!

TMI: The last few trips I haven't experienced any breast "fires". For the most part, they have completely subsided. The fires seemed to be correlated with heavy breathing (from exercise!) and cooler temperatures. It also seems that both cooler temps and a high heart rate have to be present to ignite a breast fire. The last many trips have been fire free.

See Ice-Cubed trip report.

Still troubleshooting the pulse-oximeter. During the last trip, it helped to get several readings on different fingers as some fingers gave me the O2 reading and some did not. I also found that it helps to fold my finger towards me, as opposed to holding it straight out. Baseline O2/HR stats at home (7235'): @rest=99/75, after 5-10 min cool down from running=98/103.

Maintenance runs: Tues
This week has brought much cooler weather (~ 50 degrees) and I found that the sensitivity in my breasts has returned. Must be due to the cooler temperatures. For a spell running was quite a chore. I didn't particularly enjoy it. I'd often feel like I had to pee and I'd have that heavy period feeling down low. I think this happens when the baby moves low in the uterus. These sensations have been alleviated somewhat. I've learned that even though I pee in the morning, another quick trip to the bathroom just before leaving allows me to fully empty my bladder. Ahhhh. In addition, the baby rides higher up now; perhaps too big to nestle down? I feel pretty good running, more of a cardiovascular champ except for my darned lower leg muscle, which continues to plague me. Admittedly, I haven't been too proactive about fixing that problem. Afterall, it's only 30 minutes of discomfort; I will get around to it soon. Nonetheless, I do think it's time for a belly band! I'm told the belly band will provide some added support and can be quite fashionable when squeezing into clothes that don't fit anymore-the band hides unbuttoned pants and covers the belly when shirts no longer do! Nice.

24 weeks

Warning: Diastasis recti! A concerned friend of mine mentioned this condition, not in so many words, when she found out I was still doing crunches into my second semester. This condition occurs when the main abdominal muscles (called the rectus abdominus) begin to pull apart. The left and right sides of this muscle separate, leaving a gap in between. Separated muscles do not tear or rupture. At this point, for me, crunches are becoming less comfortable, but still very doable. After looking into diastasis recti, however, I've decided to stop doing crunches. I really don't want to push it too far on this one and I know I will. So that's it. No more. I have read though that other forms of abdominal work is ok, such as planks and standing ab work. Any feedback out there? Here are two informative websites I found that offer alternative abdominal workouts during pregnancy:
1) Progressive Parent Series
2) Birthing Naturally

8/28/09 Three-Quarters: Half Peak 13841' and Quarter Peak 13647' (Colorado), 11m RT, ~5200' vertical climbed, 3 Gu, CTC=9h
Half Peak & Quarter Peak trip report.

8/29/09 Pointer: Point 13832' and Point 13811' (Colorado), 13.8m RT, ~5700' vertical climbed, 3 Gus, CTC=8h
San Juan Pointer trip report.

I was a little worried about how I'd do on two big back to back days like this. I really bonked on Day 2 (San Miguel) after doing Dallas the day before. This trip was going to be my biggest distance & elevation day while pregnant to date: ~11,000 vertical feet to climb over almost 25 miles. I consoled myself with the fact that the terrain wasn't going to be as challenging. It was mostly class 1 & 2, with small sections of class 3.

I had a slight headache arriving at the trailhead on the eve of Day 1, but I successfully treated it with avid water consumption. I really tried hard to stay hydrated through the night and paid for it with an extra trip to the bathroom. It was worth it though, because I felt great the next day. The extra padding under my thermarest continues to work well, but my hips (hipbones) start to hurt when I lie on one side too long. This hip pain is now also happening at home in my bed. So it makes for a lot of turning. Good if I were a chicken on a rotisserie, but alas, I'm not.

So we hit the trail just as headlamps were no longer needed and as I pushed up the first hill: nipple fire! Only on one side and in the cooler AM hours. It went away after warming up in the sun. We are carrying extra water and food these days to avoid bonkage. On Day 1, I consumed a total of 3.5L of water, 1/2 green chile breakfast burrito, 3 gus, 1 bar, and the traditional summit cheese & salami. Day 2: 1/2 green chile breakfast burrito, 4L of water, a few handfuls of nuts, and 2 Gus. This was more than enough. I did find my bonk zone though. It occurs after about 5100' of climbing. Ugh. On these trips, I started employing pressure breathing at the higher altitudes on uphill pushes. I have to say this helped a lot. I didn't get too winded and could continue uphill longer. Oh, here's a fun fact. I've learned that the amniotic fluid is completely replaced by my system every 3 hours. At 24 weeks pregnant, I've got just under a quart of amniotic fluid to carry around. So on these days, that's an extra quart of fluid replacement 2-3 times in addition to the expenditure from the strenuous hiking. No wonder it's so important to stay hydrated! I don't even want to add up the extra pounds I'm carrying up the mountain: 1 pound of baby, add some more for placenta and amniotic fluid, boobs, extra water and food. The good news is (according to Clapp) that the second trimester is the time to increase the amount and strenuousness of physical activity if desired. And indeed, this all feels aok.

 
23 weeks
24 Weeks pregnant.
 
Downclimb
Half Peak downclimb.
 
BellyForward
Belly crossing bridge.
 
SideHillHell
Sidehill Hell.


Now it's all downhill from here, including my hiking wardrobe, which, as you can see, I'm not winning any fashion contests out there! On the descent, my ankles were sore. I've experienced no other joint pains or signs of loosening. This could be very localized joint weakening or it could be just the effects of a long ass day hiking and sidehilling (my favorite). I have now consistently experienced lower back discomfort on the descent. I think I tend to arch my back more to compensate for the belly forward posture (see pic). Another thing to keep an eye on is the amount of tissue edema. On my descents, it appears as it the "sausage finger" syndrome has moved up my arm and now I get "kielbasa wrist". I have a feeling I have "frankfurter feet" as well, but it's hard to tell with boots on. One last thought, some sissy sticks (trekking poles) may come in handy as I get larger. These aren't necessary yet, but I'll see the day I enjoy carrying them along. What's a few more ounces anyway.

PS. My bellybands arrived today. I'll let you know how that goes.

25 weeks-Chicago

This weekend warrior adventure brings us to Chicago. We decided to avoid the crowds flocking to the wilderness this weekend by hiding out in the anonymity of a crowded city. It turns out to be a good choice this weekend as the weather forecast in our CO playground looks iffy.

Maintenance exercise: W,F,Sa,M runs, Thursday Pajarito hike

I've made some progress diagnosing my leg soreness during my runs. If I lengthen my stride, my anterior tibialis (AT) doesn't fatigue as much. Seems I wasn't using my whole foot, but running more on my toes. I must be running more up and down these days as a result of my increasing frontal orb. Makes sense. I find it hard to get my legs out in front of me and it requires considerably more effort to do so. Now for ruling out one of my other hypotheses: I did finally purchase some new running shoes. Same result=sore AT. In fact, they both hurt now. So much so that I'm considering giving up running for now. I'll try changing my footbeds/orthodics first. A related incident: During my Pajarito hike, I experienced severe calf fatigue. Frankly, all this lower leg malaise is starting to get on my nerves! Anyone else experience anything like what I'm describing, pregnant or not?

Crunches. As I mentioned, I've given up crunches-I really did! Instead I interlace my hands and place my forearms in a triangle on the floor and pushup onto my toes. It is similar to plank position in yoga, but resting on my forearms instead (dolphin plank). I hold this position for a count of 10 and then move to my side: legs together, balancing on one foot and supported my one arm. The other arm reaches straight up toward the ceiling. This works the obliques. Count of 10, back to center and then to the side working the obliques on the other side. Back to center. For the next set, I also lift my upper leg, so that now I'm balancing on one foot.

I bought some new hiking shirts. Since there were no maternity sizes, I bought L and XL capilene type tops. I'm now working on the new hiking pant dilemma. Fila seems to have some nice options.

Hey! My navel is disappearing! What's this? Now that I notice this, it seems like an obvious thing to occur, but it surprises me nonetheless. Nowhere have I read about the disappearing navel. This is another measurement I could have taken! Drats!

9/8/9 Ultrasound Appt
My vitals: BP=94/60, HR=68, O2 sat=96, temp=96.5 (normal for me). I've gained 7 lbs since my last appt and am now ~10lbs over my pre-pregnancy weight. The average at this point is 15-29 lbs*. Even though I've only gained 10 lbs, baby is doing great! She grew a whole 12 oz over the last 4 weeks, almost doubling her weight. She's ~13" and 1 lb 10 oz now placing her in the 58th percentile for growth. Her heart rate was 150. Amniotic fluid volume, placental growth, and baby's growth is normal.

*On average, a pregnant woman should gain 3-5 lbs during the 1st trimester and 1-2 lbs each week in the 2nd and 3rd trimesters [http://www.americanpregnancy.org/pregnancyhealth/eatingfortwo.html].

26 weeks

9/13/09 Jemez, NM Threesome: Cerro Rubio (10449'), Shell Mountain (10510'), and Unnamed Peak (9870'). ~2700' vertical climbed, ~10m RT, CTC=5.5 hours
O2/HR 93/93 @ 10510' summit of Shell Mountain
New hiking clothes worked great! This day seemed like a piece of cake compared to our last trip to CO. No lower leg fatigue ascending; this makes me wonder if it has to do with caloric intake. Food on this trip: 1/2 green chile breakfast burrito, 1 Vanilla Bean Gu, 1/4 apple Larabar, and 3 small pieces of homemade pizza (this is making me hungry again!), ~2 L of water. I noticed I'm starting to sweat more as I get more pregnant. I rarely perspired before pregnancy. Clapp dispels the fear that a pregnant woman shouldn't exercise because increasing the body temperature harms the fetus. He comments that the pregnant body becomes a more capable thermoregulator, and one of the ways it does this is to sweat more. On the descent, my hands were quite swollen (tissue edema) and my lower back ached.

Trip report

Super Placenta:
In the book Exercising Through Your Pregnancy, Clapp provides evidence that stopping exercise part way through your pregnancy is worse than if you didn't exercise at all. Essentially, exercise stimulates a more developed placenta. Makes sense because exercise not only stimulates blood vessel growth, but once established, the placenta also has to work harder to deliver O2 and other nutrients to the baby. I call this the Super Placenta. Baby benefits too because when mom exercises, that triggers an increase in baby's heart rate, which makes baby more capable of handling labor & delivery stress. But when a woman stops exercising while pregnant, the Super Placenta keeps nourishing baby, but baby is no longer exercising. Studies show that the baby ends up weighing more than those born to mothers who didn't exercise at all. In contrast, women who exercise have babies that weigh in toward the lower end of normal birth weight. In addition, labor and delivery are generally easier for exercising women and these benefits were not realized by the group who stopped exercising.

Maintenance: M,R,F; Pajarito hike W
I changed out my orthodics and just used the stock insoles that came with my new shoes. Seems to help mitigate my lower leg fatigue a little, as does the longer stride. ok, I'm doing crunch-like ab work again based on this website.

The key is that I am not flat on my back. These exercises seem to stress the abs less as well, so I hope to avoid diastasis. I personally think it's important to maintain strong abs to protect the back as the belly grows. Instead of their recommended 25 reps each, I'm doing 25 each side for the obliques, 100 for upper ab crunches, and 50 for lower abs. Feels good.

Also, sleeping with a body pillow now. This really helps me stay comfortable throughout the night and to sleep on my side (I prefer to sleep on my back). I got one shaped like this and highly recommend it! I'm pretty sure I paid less for it though ~$50.

27 weeks

While longer strides and running without my orthodics continue to offer reduced discomfort, I tried a new tactic this week to test the calorie deficit theory. I had a Gu before running in the AM. Result: no effect and possibly even decreased performance. So much for that theory. Friends tell me the elliptical is in my future. I'm not a gym person.

9/20/09 Summit Peak (13300'), Archuleta County, CO. ~2700' vertical climbed, ~7-8m RT, CTC=5h50m
O2/HR:
88/147 @ ~12000' during strenuous uphill climb
88/98 @ 13300' summit of Summit

I brought my body pillow along in the car and was happy I did. I put my sleeping bag on top of the body pillow. Not only did this make sleeping more comfortable, but the pillow kept me really warm! What a delightful change!! It was in the 30's in the car when we woke up at 6am. My only complaint is that the hip I was lying on would start to ache and I'd have to switch sides. I'll have to put still more padding underneath me. Currently I use a thick blanket folded in thirds and a woman's full length therma-rest.

 
SummitPeakAscension
Ascending steep, grassy slopes beneath Summit Peak
 
Summit Peak summit
On the summit of Summit Peak, CO


Breakfast was the usual 1/2 green chili breakfast burrito. This was only a 1 Gu hike followed by dry salami, crackers & cheese on the summit. I consumed 1.5 L of water. This was my first time to this area and it is gorgeous! Summit Peak is Archuleta county's high point and the high point of the South San Juan Wilderness.

The off trail portion of the ascent was on uneven, steep, grassy slopes, which caused my foot neuroma to act up again. Very likely due to carrying more weight and carrying it more forward (the neuroma is located in the ball of my foot), and possibly edema in my feet, aka frankfurter feet. As my belly continues to exert its influence on my center of gravity, I feel very minor, but perceptible, changes in balance. Worried that I will strain something if I lose my footing, I was more cautious about slipping on the descent and went a bit slower.

My hips ached the day after this hike and the hike last weekend. Joint loosening? Not sure, but this is a new sensation for me. Discomfort lasts for about 24 hours.

28 weeks-3rd Trimester Trifecta

Maintenance runs: I took several short walks. Friday was the first day I ran in a week. To my surprise, shorter strides alleviated my lower leg pain. Unfortunately, I was instead visited by sharp pain in my groin and inner thigh area. I have read that this presentation, especially during or after exercise, is due to the growing uterus, which stretches the ligaments. This groin/inner thigh pain was with me throughout the day, making the transitions from sitting to walking difficult.

9/27/09 Mt. Shavano (14229'), Tabeguache Peak (14155'), Point 13712', and Jones Peak (13604', class 3-4), Sawatch Range, CO.
13 miles RT, 5600' vertical climbed, CTC=9h 20m, 2 Gu, ~4L water

 
Traverse to Jones
The bad news is...

O2/HR stats:
9750' @TH 92/79
@12K' 95/106
@saddle 88/??
@13712 summit 88/95-->91/91

I arrived at the trailhead (9750') with a headache that remained with me the entire evening. I brought along extra padding for my hips, but that didn't matter. It was a brutal evening in the car. I would get up and get out of the car just to avoid lying on my hips for a few minutes. A big part of the problem was that we slept the opposite direction in the car so that our heads were uphill. When I had had enough, I reversed my sleeping position and that helped. My head pounded all night long and drinking water did not help.

The alarm went off at 6:20am (a leisurely start for us), my hips aching, my head still pounding. Half a cold, green chile breakfast burrito for breakfast. Breakfast of champions. We hit the trail at 7am.

This was a big day and, I thought, maybe too ambitious at this point in the pregnancy. But, there IS only one way to find out. So I went for it. The trail to Shavano wastes no time getting to the task at hand. A steady uphill grind. I was hurting. I felt REALLY out of shape (Hey! Isn't this first trimester stuff?) and my head continued to pound. I started thinking HACE and imagining rescue scenarios. I don't think I'm going to make this one, I thought to myself. I told Scott the situation and asked him to keep an eye on me. I seriously considered bailing on the climb if I continued to feel this way. After 1000' vertical feet of climbing, we passed a hiker that had left an hour before us. I was shocked. Scott reported that we had just ticked off 1000' in 30 minutes-a torching pace. No wonder I felt out of shape! My spirits lifted and thankfully so did my headache.

 
Belly makes 3rd class tougher!
Belly makes 3rd class tougher!
 
Almost there!
Sporting a belly.

 
Marmot impression
My marmot impression.
 
27 weeks
Jones Peak Summit!

By the time we reached the summit of Shavano, I felt great. The 1 mile trek to Tabeguache, our second 14er that day, was easy and the push to the third summit (13712') was easier still! I'll tell you the secret. We forgot our bag of trail snacks, which included the Gu reserves-YIKES!, so we brought Trader Joe's brand naan in lieu of crackers. Naan must be a superfood! From Point 13712', we headed toward the fourth peak of the day, Jones Peak, named but unranked. The ridge connecting 13712' and Jones is rated at 3rd class and Roach puts it best: "The good news is you don't have to reclimb Shavano, the bad news is you have to climb Jones." Although Jones is rated class 3, Scott & I both felt we did some 4th class moves. Normally, this traverse would have been a joy ride, but with high steps, stretchy moves, and needing more room for the belly to skirt around exposed outcrops, this traverse felt spicy! I was extra cautious and, therefore, extra slow on this section. I could appreciate how fun this route would be under normal girth conditions, but some of the moves are getting challenging. We had fun scree skiing shedding 1800' of vertical on the descent from Jones. Balance is not yet an issue for me. I also didn't experience any noticeable joint loosening or tenderness during the hike. My Morton's neuroma hurt at the beginning and again at the end during the hike out. Possible causes include mild foot swelling and added weight. During the drive home, my ankles were pretty tender, but the tenderness subsided within 4 hours and felt just fine the next day. I also had no groin or hip pain the day after.



We decided to get dinner on the way home and remembered this restaurant in Poncha Springs that advertises "Authentic Thai food". We sat down and ordered pad thai. It came with a choice of sauces: white sauce, garlic sauce, something else that sounded worse, and brown sauce. We asked the waitress/owner what sauce typically comes with pad thai and she told us the spicy peanut sauce. "Is spicy ok?" she asked. "Oh yes!!", we replied. We were famished! I should have known by the fact they offered a choice of sauces with the pad thai, but when the pad thai arrived, I could barely manage a few bites. This was not a pregnancy thing either. Scott & I both agreed that this was by far the worst pad thai we had ever eaten.

Review: Ass on a plate!

I want to leave you with this thought this week: "Those who say it cannot be done should not interrupt the person doing it." ~Chinese proverb

29 weeks

9/29/09: I've always been a firm believer that my body knows what it's doing and the less interference from me the better. This philosophy is why I don't medicate ailments and I've never received a flu shot. This year, however, I will get both the seasonal flu shot and the N1H1 (swine) flu vaccination. In fact, I got the seasonal flu shot on Tuesday. No ill effects besides a sore arm.

10/1/09: Ultrasound appointment.
BP=88/54, 98/62; HR=66, 61; O2=98; Temp=97.8. Again my weight was measured at two different doctor's offices today. Weight 139 (down from 143 on 9/8/09) or 146.8 (up from 146.4 on 9/8/09). The ultrasound technician did another growth scan on the baby and all still looks well, including placenta and amniotic fluid. Baby is estimated to weigh 2 pounds 8 ounces and measures between 14.5-14.9 inches from head to foot. She is at the 52% for growth. Baby's HR=160.

Tour de Latir Wilderness, New Mexico: Venado Peak (12734'), Latir Peak (12708'), Virsylvia Peak (12594'), Cabresto Peak (12448'), "Cabresto Sur Este" (12456'), "Bull Creek Peak" (12170'). 18m RT, 5700' vertical, CTC=10.5h, 3 Gu, 4.5 L

(Sorry I don't have O2/HR stats on this one; I need to replace the battery in my pulse-oximeter.)

The weather couldn't look better so we decided against staying cozy at home, growing roots and watching James Bond on Bluray and instead headed up to the Latir Wilderness, just north of Taos. This is one of our local areas that we've wanted to explore and this weekend afforded us that opportunity. We spent the night at the trailhead (9160' and no headache) and I was optimistic I'd get a better night sleep than last time. Double padding on top of the thermarest and body pillow with our heads toward the back of the Xterra. I was soon fast asleep and only had to get up once to pee. When I did, the full moon lit the landscape in a surreal fashion. It looked like daylight, but in a sci-fi film where the aliens are watching the unknowing humans walking around like idiots on a video screen. During the night, I was ravenous. I even contemplated raiding the cooler for a midnight snackie! Soon sleep took me again but I was all over that 1/2 green chile breakfast burrito the next morning!!

 
Venado
Atop Venado Peak, NM.
 
Packless!
Log bridge crossing sans pack!!


We hit the trail at 7am and summited the first of six peaks that day 2.5 hours later. Strategically timed Gu consumption and several small snacks "a piedi" kept me going, but after the fifth peak we had to reclimb #4 and I started to feel fatigued. After being on the go for ~6 hours, we sat for a few minutes at the saddle to fuel up on salami, cheese, crackers, and sunflower seeds! Our last peak was Latir, the area's namesake. It was cool to see the Wheeler Wilderness and northern New Mexico from this vantage point. As beautiful as it was, we still had more than 5 miles to hike out and I was ready to be back at the car.

Once we regained the loop trail (the routes to the summits were off trail), the hike down to Heart Lake and out along Lake Fork creek was taxing. Each step was a bounce for my tummy and it started to get uncomfortable as the baby's head impacted my bladder on each bounce. I had to stop to pee more than usual. I was sluggish. I imagine a belly band starts to come in handy here. I haven't used mine much yet, perhaps now it's time. With a few more miles to go, I developed shin splints in my right leg and Scott offered to shoulder my pack. I gratefully and guiltily conceded. Wow! What a difference shedding the few pounds of my pack made. I was significantly faster. I hadn't realized how much the pack was slowing me down. I was much lighter on my feet, more balanced and sure footed. You'd think the added pack weight on my back would "re-center" my mass, making up for my expanding belly, but instead the pack causes me to lean back more and destabilizes my balance and footing. Thank you, dear partner!

Latir Loop trip report.

30 weeks-77 days left

Hint: Aloha

When we talked about taking a vacation later in the pregnancy, Scott asked me where I wanted to go. My reply was "somewhere warm where I can be buoyant". We decided on Maui, HI. Maui was still in the US, so medical care, if needed, was at least predictable, not too far of a flight, satisfied my warm and buoyant conditions, we know a local there, and hey, isn't there a 10,000 foot volcano there we can hike? :-) Haleakala 10,023'!

 
Beach belly
Beach belly Maui, HI.
 
Maui Sunset
After a sunset swim.


When we arrived in Maui, the trade winds weren't blowing and it was and unusually warm. First task: ice cream! Whoa a double scoop on a waffle cone: mint chocolate chip and Kauai pie, the latter flavor a locals favorite and I see why! But, I overdid it. Sugar overload. oof. As we arrived at our Wailea condo, we were informed there was a tsunami watch due to the earthquakes that have been happening! They told us we might have to evacuate in a few hours and that we should listen for the sirens. Great. So we didn't immediately unpack and instead planned to have dinner on higher ground. Fortunately, by dinner time, the tsunami watch was called off.

There are a ton of fish and coral life to enjoy right off our beach at the Wailea Elua Village. We pretty much go snorkeling every day. It is great fun to be so buoyant! But tough going when I emerge from the comfortable buoyancy of the ocean and hit the beach again, like a bag of lead weights suspended from my hips. As I was on my way back from one snorkeling adventure, I saw a huge sea turtle nestled down in the rocks. The turtle's shell was 3.5 feet long and 2.5 feet wide. He seemed tentative that I was hovering above him in the water. But I couldn't swim away, not just yet. I was mesmerized. After watching for some time, he shifted his position and ascended. He came right up beside me to get some air. WOW! I reached out and copped a feel on his leg. He paid me no attention. After another breath, he descended again, in a slow motion spin, elegant and graceful, and nestled back in to his original position. I surfaced to mark the spot with respect to the shore, promising to return. We frequently saw turtles each day and I started to suspect that the turtles were drawn to me, or my turtle shell-shaped belly, wondering if I was a turtle too and if so, why I was swimming upside down! To finish our days, we often return to the beach to enjoy a quick swim at sunset and watch the sun turn into a beautiful orange orb, lighting up the sky in vibrant colors, as it descends beneath the horizon.

 
Hiking into Haleakala
Descending into Haleakala, HI.
 
The Edge
The edge of Haleakala crater.


10/10/09: Hike in Haleakala crater, ~11.4 miles with the Silversword Loop, descent: 3160', vertical climb out: ~1400'. Our hike started from the Visitor's Center (9740') following the Sliding Sands Trail and returned via the Halemau'u Trail (7990'). This route requires a shuttle back to our car and we were lucky to have a friend willing to pick us up at the exit trailhead. We happened to run into a person hiking out at the same time who also offered to shuttle us back up and we ultimately understood that it is common practice to hitch a ride back up. This was a pretty easy hike for us in terms of distance, elevation and terrain. The trail was a superhighway, but fortunately, absolutely deserted. We had the crater to ourselves. The terrain and landscape were very unique and although plant and animal life were largely scarce, north facing slopes tended to be lush with green growth. The season has already passed for the silversword blossoms, but we saw plenty of silverswords bejeweled with silver without their swords.
 
Lava Tube
Inside the lava tube, Haleakala, HI.
 
Hiking Out of Haleakala
The view looking back into Haleakala.

As we neared Holua Cabin, we encountered our first people of the day, several hikers who had spent the night at the Cabin and were now lava tube hunting. Accepting their invitation to join them in climbing into a lava tube and not ones to pass up such a great sounding adventure (plus we had oodles of time to kill having made it this far so soon), we found a very faint trail leaving the main trail not 5 minutes from the cabin. Sure enough this led to a lava tube entrance. We donned our headlamps and scrambled in. After the initial descent, there is a metal ladder installed that hastens your descent another 10-15 feet. Then blackness! There was no natural light to be seen down there. The walls were damp and water dripped from the cavern walls and ceilings. It was easy going though, we had to squeak through a few tight places and duck under other, but it was pretty straightforward and really added some excitement to this hike! The lava tube dumped us out uphill less than a 1/4 mile away.

10/11/09: Drum circle and firedance on Little Beach. This was a blast-a flavor of the local flair. We arrived at Little Beach after a short scramble up from Big Beach to a scene out of Woodstock: nakedness, a flipping drum circle in full jam, and the smell of hooch and patchouli. A sunset swim to the beat of the drums, some star fruit to snack on and then as soon as darkness encroached, the firedancers. Really impressive!!

31-32 weeks

10/20/09: Ultrasound appointment. BP=90/60, 104/79; HR=65, 71; O2=98; Temp=97.4. Growth spurt for both of us! I've finally started to plump up a bit more. Weight 146 (up from 139 on 10/1/09) or 150.6 (up from 146.8 on 10/1/09). The ultrasound technician did another growth scan and baby's growth, placenta, and amniotic fluid are all normal. Baby is estimated to be 3 pounds 8 ounces gaining 1 lb. in less than 3 weeks and is still at 52% for growth. Baby's HR=128.

This past weekend we were going to climb Lobo Peak in Taos, NM. A class 1 hike with 3900' vertical and ~8m RT, but snowy conditions and a sore throat shut us down. Winter is approaching and the big question in my mind is will I get on skis before delivering? It's a fun thought!! Scott reminded me that I don't have any ski pants that will fit, but I've already worked that out: open button & fly with suspenders! No problem! Now, I'm not looking to do anything stupid and my new size is becoming a little problematic. It would be a really bad idea to fall or have someone else run into me. We'll see if I can manage an easy groomer with a few good friends blocking for me! :-) Winter storm warning tonight is making us all restless. Speaking of restless, the baby is quite active and getting strong! I think she is wondering where her next summit is as the last two weekends have been very mellow (family in town). Baby has ~35 summits so far, but of course she'll have to power herself up them again some day.

For maintenance, I continue to do modified crunches and push-ups. I did actually make it to the gym to try out the elliptical. It's not my first choice, but it wasn't so bad. We managed several short hikes ~5m RT and ~1500' vertical. One of my buddies commented that he'd never seen anyone lean back so much on the downhill! Guess my center of gravity is whacked!

Crux #3 - To ski or not to ski?

I knew this day would come. The day when the ski areas, in particular Wolf Creek, CO. our early season go to for deep powder, opened up. This Saturday Oct. 31, 2009 is that day. What I'm calling the second to last Crux (the final crux is delivery!) is whether I will enjoy a ski run or two in 2009. That is, should I be on skis at this point in the pregnancy? What are the risks? What are the rewards? Are they worth it? My mind races with all the obvious warnings: too risky, what if...I fall, someone runs into me, I get hit by a chair lift, something happens and I'm at a mountain resort far from my OB and good medical care? I hear these warnings and I am acutely aware that an impact to my belly would not feel good or be good, I really do. I know they're true and the safest thing for me to do is to chill out and find another activity to enjoy in the new winter wonderland that nature has deposited in our mountains. Yet, and those of you with the same driving passion and love of the adventure will know what I'm talking about, those sane, cautionary words don't convince me. I must have been absent the day they handed out one of the fear genes.

I learned to ski in 2005. After getting some basics down, Scott took me to Wolf Creek. We headed toward Montezuma bowl on a small ridge to ski Prospector. Scott dropped in and took his powder tuns with style. He stopped below with another buddy and waited for me to make my move. I had never skied powder before and there I was at the lip of that ridge looking down at them. I had no idea what to expect and figuring that I wasn't going to magically know by standing there longer, I decided to go for it. It was like slow motion. I dropped in, I initiated my first turn, so far so good, no, wait, not so good, what's this, whoa, deep powder...and down I went. I picked myself up and continued the pitch to where my buddies stood. Unexpected, their reaction was to me. They were stunned that I just went for it, right into the fall line, balls out, even though I fell.

Well, that's how I live life. I live it. I don't watch others live it or think about living it. I live it. So the transition that I'm struggling with now, the knowledge that my lifestyle choices may have a profound impact on the child I bear, is a difficult one. What do I want to teach her? Do I want her to follow my example?


33 weeks - Judgment

 
skinSF2
Skinning up Ski Santa Fe on Halloween.
 
SkinSF
Belly at 33 weeks.
I know my friend was just acting out of concern, but the way she expressed her concern was a surprise to me. That she felt this strongly and actually knows me (or does she?) as passionate, driven, but responsible, and yet had this reaction to my skiing while pregnant opened my eyes to the range of other possible reactions people may harbor. While I felt no obligation to explain or defend my decision to ski, perhaps in part because of her approach, I spent some time reflecting on her particular reaction. Her reaction was extremely judgmental. She couldn't fathom the choice we made, simply because it wouldn't be the choice she would make. She hadn't gone through the very deliberate analysis of identifying the risks and how to mediate them. For us, we had already considered the little details of the matter: that if I ski we've considered groomed vs non-groomed, are we around other skiers or not, the chairlift risks, telemark vs alpine touring (AT), how far am I from my primary physician should anything occur. We pose the following analogy: as proficient skiers, skiing is as natural as walking. Would you tell a pregnant women not to walk? Or climb stairs? Some pregnant women struggle with or can't climb stairs, while others have no problem with stairs and can do far more. The important thing is to know your body and to listen to your body. Every body is different and has different limitations. I encourage everyone to make these decisions for themselves, and I respect my friend's decision not to ski when and if she's ever pregnant. However, IMHO, the world could do with a lot less judgment and more critical and constructive thought. In the end, we were most comfortable creating a situation where we were in the most control of the situation and the risks. This meant no resort or lift skiing, few people, yet finding an area with groomed runs.

 
Parachute
Ready to ski Parachute.

 
skiSF
Skiing at 33 weeks.

10/31/09: Skin & Ski Santa Fe! ~3000' vertical, GCBB for breakfast, 2L of water, 1 Gu, CTC~4h.
After careful deliberation, we decided to skin and ski at Ski Santa Fe, NM. The ski area was not yet open but they had received considerable snowfall in the last several days and we had excellent beta from some friends who had just been up there enjoying some turns. The trails had been track packed, some had been groomed, and the snow was in pretty good condition. I decided to ski on my AT skis, thinking it was just too easy to fall and too unpredictable to ski telemark. We were skinning by 8:40a. We skinned up Lower Midland to Gay Way and skied Parachute, which had a groomed track on one side and powder on the other. I practiced my short radius turns and speed control while Scott whooped it up in the powder section enjoying his new NTN bindings! Boy those bindings look sweeeet! We did a second lap, I skied Parachute again, but this time Scott skied Fall Line, which turned out to be a real powderfest (lucky bastard!). As the picture shows, I'm not exactly tearing it up, but I got a great ski day in this season! I probably won't enjoy another downhill turn until February. :-(

11/1/09: "Cave on the Rio" hike in White Rock, NM, 8m RT, 0 Gu, ~2L water, CTC=4.25h.
This was a great hike and was mostly off trail. It starts near the base of a mesa in Los Alamos, NM just south of the Y parking area. There are some petroglyphs, ruins, and caves to enjoy along the way. I was expecting a pretty easy hike, but there was some scrambling involved to gain the mesa top. I was cautious and deliberate in my movement during these sections, but it was fun! I was told I was not the first pregnant woman to do this hike! The views were beautiful and the terrain was very unique, at one point hiking on a mile long "sidewalk" on the edge of the mesa. Our turnaround point was a large cave entrance overlooking the Rio Grande and Buckman Mesa. We had lunch (leftover fried rice for me) enjoyed the views and some good conversation and headed back.

11/4/09: OB appointment. My OB appointments are now being scheduled for every two weeks. We're getting closer! Weight 149, up from 146 on 10/20/09, putting me at +16 lbs. for the pregnancy. My belly (from pubic bone to top of uterus-a standard measurement at this stage) should be growing 1 cm per week. Since my appointment two weeks ago, I've grown 2 cm and am right on track. BP=99/72, HR=71, the baby's HR~130-140. The baby moves a lot. I still do not have any morning sickness or backaches, but I feel mild and very sporadic contractions.

34 weeks - Incredible gift!

 
EsmesCrampons
Baby's first set of crampons and ice tools.

 
babycrampons
Crampons close up.


The incredible gift. No this isn't some hokey story about what a gift having a child is or being a parent can be. While those things may be true, that isn't the subject of this anecdote. This story is about an incredible visionary and master craftsman. Today I received a package from Australia. I had to sign for it. It was insured for $150. On the label it said ice shoes. Weird, I thought, I didn't order any ice shoes. I open the package and find these primitive, metal, almost rustic looking, colorful crampons. Within the package, I also discover a set of ice tools complete with heart decorated straps. Then it hits me - these are pint sized crampons and ice tools. They're for our baby!! Our baby's first set of ice tools and crampons! How magnificent! Where on earth did our friends find these antiques? In Australia? It dawns on me that there'd be no such gear sold, even antique gear, for kids. These are, of course, hand forged. Along with the love our friends have for us, understanding and support of our passions were forged into these tools. I feel giddy, absolutely giddy with excitement over this incredible gift. Thank you David & Lois Gardner! Lil' Adze (baby's nickname compliments of susanjoypaul of 14ers.com) will love them!

 
Jemez & Pajarito
View of Pajarito Ski Hill.
11/7/09: Unnamed 9970', Jemez Mountains, NM. 6.5m RT, elevation climb ~1100', CTC=2.5h, 0 Gu.
It felt great to get out and move. I am still hiking strong. I was energized on the uphill, pushing the pace, but not feeling taxed. Both the mileage and the elevation gain were really easy. After hiking, my hip flexors felt tight and sore. This is something I've experienced the last couple times I've been active.

35 weeks

 
Otowi Mesa
Great volcanic rock hiking on Otowi Mesa.


Maintenance: This week I worked out at the gym Tues & Fri, went for a short lunchtime walk Thurs (~1 mile), and went for more extended but very easy hikes Wed & Sat (see below). During the week, if I can't got out for a walk, I'll work out at the gym. I'll do a cross-training program on the elliptical for 30 minutes and then exercise my upper body with free weights: biceps, triceps, and lats 3 sets of 10 repetitions with 5-10 lb weights. I am able to get my heart rate above 160 now. 170 was my highest, but I keep it between 140 and 160 generally. Each day, I try to do modified sit-ups in the morning as described above and 20 push-ups at night (if I remember). I'm not nearly as consistent as I'd like to be with these.
 
Otowi stairs
Volcanic rock "stairs" behind left.
 
Otowi Fork
Houses on Barranca Mesa right of center.


11/11/09: Otowi Mesa hike, Los Alamos, NM., 6m RT, 500' elevation gain, CTC=2h 45m. We live very close to this hike and have hiked the first mile or so many times. This time our objective was the bitter end and we found it. Great hike with some volcanic rock scrambling. See photo of the volcanic rock "stairs" on this trail.

11/14/09: Kwage Mesa hike, Los Alamos, NM., 4.4m RT, CTC=1.5h. Pleasant hike, good view of Otowi Mesa. Trail evidently also used by horses.

Baby should be 4.5-5 lbs now. Things are slowing down here quite a bit. Largely due to the fact that we don't want to be too remote. I still feel pretty agile and capable, but notice that I'm more easily winded again. Accessing my feet is a chore; some slip on hiking boots would be nice. We're taking this time to explore many of the local hikes and to take in some local theatre and music. Last night we saw the play Sherlock Holmes: The Final Adventure performed by our local theatre troupe. Next week some jazz in Santa Fe performed by Anat Cohen. Check out Anat!

36 weeks

Finished with 35 weeks, only 35 days to go! Whoa.

11/15/09: Natural Arch hike from Mitchell TH, Los Alamos, NM., 2.1m RT, 620' elevation gain. Hiked with my friend Shauna Angel Blue, a photographer from Chicago: http://www.mvioletlbue.com. She took this photo as part of her current project. I do not usually walk around with my shirt unbuttoned! Well, I guess in pregnancy I actually do, but that's because my hiking and skiing clothes no longer fit! I'm still working on that maternity line for serious outdoors women.  
ArchHike
Portrayal of life & death on the Mitchell Trail.


11/19/09: Ultrasound appointment. I'm up 1 pound from last time, tipping the scales at 150.5 lbs. That's +17 lbs for the pregnancy. My blood pressure is 102/80, very good at this stage as it means there are no signs of pre-eclampsia. O2=94, HR=68, Temp=98.3 - I'm warming up! That's great, just in time for the cooler temperatures! Growth scan on baby showed everything is within normal ranges. Baby's heart rate was 133 bpm and they estimated her length at 18.2" and weight at 5 lbs 1 oz, putting her in the 40th percentile for growth. The doctor said anything between 20-80% is great.

11/20/09: Deer Trap Mesa hike, Los Alamos, NM. ~5m RT, 400 vertical, light scrambling, CTC=2.5h, 0 Gu. It always feels good to get out and move. I notice mild edema in my hands during extended hikes, even when we are not gaining elevation. Fortunately, this goes away within an hour of resting. My groin/hip flexor became sore near the end of the hike. This too goes away within 12 hours. Before I became pregnant, I suffered from a neuroma in my foot. For those of you who don't know what this is, it is a painfully inflamed nerve that can be debilitating. I had pretty much solved my problem by retiring my alpine ski boots and taking up telemark. Unfortunately, as my pregnancy has progressed, my neuroma is acting up again, even on tame hikes like this one. I imagine this is due to the added weight I'm carrying and possible foot edema. So those are my discomforts. The good news is that balance really isn't an issue for me at all. What is an issue is momentum! Hard to get it, sometimes don't get enough of it, and hard to stop it! This makes easy rock scrambling feel much more difficult. I'm also noticing that in late pregnancy, 2nd class stuff can start to feel like 3rd class!

11/22/09: Cerro Grande 10164', 4m RT, 1300' elevation gain. Very easy hike. It was nice to finally gain some elevation again!! I did not have any discomfort to speak of in my foot or my hips this time.

37 weeks

Happy Thanksgiving!

At the onset of this week, I developed a headache. On day three without any relief from the headache, I started to worry that it may be a sign of preeclampsia. I found out that there are several triggers for headaches, some obvious ones, like dehydration and low blood sugar levels, and some not so obvious, like peanuts, brie, yogurt, chocolate and caffeine. Although I had recently enjoyed some (pasteurized) brie, peanuts, and yogurt (no, not all at once), I decided to check my blood pressure anyway. The first reading was 137/86. Holy crap I thought, no wonder my head is pounding! However, seeing as I had just scurried in, I sat for a few minutes and then retook my blood pressure. 6 minutes later it was down to 96/70. Whew. I was amazed at how much brief, but brisk activity had elevated my BP.

11/26/09: Thanksgiving morning. Pajarito Mountain, Jemez Mountains, Los Alamos, NM. ~5m RT, 1200' climbed.

11/27/09: Atalaya Mountain 9,121' located in the Sangre de Cristo Range, Santa Fe, NM. Ponderosa Ridge Trailhead, ~6m RT, ~1600' elevation gain, CTC~2h15m, 0 Gu. The climb and getting my heart rate up felt terrific! Boy I miss this. Since we haven't been doing long or committing days, I wasn't sure how able I'd still be. We gained the summit, however, in approximately an hour, which means we climbed about 1000' feet in 40 minutes! Not too bad!

38 weeks

12/3/09: OB appointment. I'm considered full-term now. 3 weeks until the due date December 25, Christmas Day, 2009. I am happy to report my blood pressure is still within the normal range BP=117/79. My HR=66, baby's HR=upper 130s. I weigh 154 lbs now, a total of 20.5 lbs gained during the pregnancy so far. I will now have OB appointments every week until the baby arrives. I am eager to see if my experience of labor & delivery will be easier and shorter, as reported by other physically active pregnant women.

 
37wkSki
Skiing at 38 weeks pregnant.
 
Frijoles Canyon
Looking up Frijoles Canyon.

12/5/09: Skinned and skied at Ski Santa Fe, NM. ~1800' vertical climbed & skied, 1 Gu. I was elated when my husband agreed that another ski day awaited me. We had a recent, but modest, snow storm and Ski Santa Fe was gearing up to open Dec 12. That meant ski runs were being groomed, offering a perfect opportunity to ski predictable snow without the people and lifts to worry about. I felt reasonably fit skinning up. It was delightful to be out on the mountain in the snow. I was tentative through my first few turns, but the snow was in excellent condition and was very easy to ski. I felt very stable and have not experienced any joint loosening. I suppose I should want that soon enough though! :-)

12/6/09: Hike to Upper Frijoles Crossing from Ponderosa Group Campground, Los Alamos, NM. (3.2m RT, 600' vertical). Honestly, I wasn't expecting much from this hike, but was pleasantly surprised at the beauty of this canyon. Interesting rock walls and a semi-steep descent to the canyon floor where a 5 foot wide creek still flows.

Crux #4: With Love & Squalor

 
Pajarito Skin
Skinning up Pajarito Mountain on delivery day.
 
Tele turns!
Tele turns at 39 weeks pregnant

12/11/09: OB appointment. I'm starting my 39th week. The doctor's exam indicates I have dilated 1 cm. My blood pressure is increasing, BP=124/88, as is my weight, 158 lbs! That's a 4 pound gain in just 1 week. This gain is largely due to water weight. My face, hands, feet, and legs are noticeably swollen now.

12/12/09: Skin & ski Pajarito Mountain, Los Alamos, NM. ~3.5m RT, 2100' vertical. Given beta that several runs were now groomed, we headed up Pajarito for a few laps. My first lap was up and down Pussycat, a groomed run. The second lap was up Road 0 to the top of Mother lift and again down Pussycat. My lower back was mildly achy during my second ascent. I was on telemark this day because my AT boots were now so tight due to my swollen feet. I was nervous about making telemark turns at this stage in pregnancy, but after trying a few, I felt surprisingly stable! On my second run down Pussycat, I stopped to chat with a friend who was skinning up. He said, "Hey, aren't you, like, due today?" I assured him I still had two more weeks to go. Foreshadowing...

After a great day on the hill, we headed home. I had hot cocoa on the brain! But first, a hot bath. Ahhhh. After the bath, I noticed several gushes of water before conceding that my water had indeed just broken. As an after thought, was that back labor I felt earlier while skinning up? I yelled to Scott, "Better hop in the shower!" My contractions started roughly 20 minutes later (~4 pm) and the first ones we timed were already 4 minutes apart. We were supposed to see some live jazz this night and harbored hopes of spending the tedious early hours of labor distracted by the soothing sounds of Javon Jackson. As my contractions intensified, those thoughts quickly disintegrated.

 
Weighing In
Esme weighs in.
Delivery: Vegetarian sushi around 4 pm since I'd had no food since breakfast, 0 Gu, 1/2 granola bar around 7:30 pm, lots of ice water.
We checked into the hospital around 6 pm and our doula arrived around 8:30 pm. It was at this point that I was first checked for progress. My contractions demanded my attention and were pretty constant. I remember hoping that I was pretty far along, but I was only at 4 cm. However, at 10 pm, only an hour and a half later, I had already progressed to 7 cm. My contractions were relentless, and I explored a variety of different positions to manage the pain. I remained mobile and active throughout and I think this helped speed my progress. By 10:50 I felt the urge to push and a quick check verified that all systems were go-I had dilated 10cm. The doctor was summoned. I pushed for 40 minutes and this pain was considerably different from the pain of the contractions. Let me just say that the "ring of fire" is no joke. I gave 4 good pushes and she was on my chest! Wow! That was 10 hours from tele turns to delivery of our baby girl, Esme Olivia.

The stats: Esme was ~18" long and weighed 5 lbs 12.8 oz. Her 1 minute APGAR score was a 7 and her 5 minute APGAR score was a 9. This is excellent, especially given she was born at 7000'. I had a completely natural childbirth, with no pain medication, that lasted 7.5 hours from the time my contractions started. I did not tear. I felt in great condition and was walking right away. 10 days after her birth, I weighed 142, a loss of 16 pounds. 15 days after her birth, I skied!

The other stats: With Esme in utero, we had 43 ranked summits and 13 ski days!

After notes: My left knee had been progressively giving me trouble during the last month of pregnancy. It doesn't hurt to walk, hike, or ski, but delivers a shockingly sharp pain whenever I put direct pressure on it, for example, by kneeling on it or pushing on it with my hand. The doctor's diagnosis: patellar tendonitis. It was suggested that the patellar tendonitis was a result of my weight gain and that it would disappear on its own after I delivered. I got an MRI and it showed degradation of the cartilage. Save your money!! The pain in my knee completely disappeared after ~3 months. The lower leg fatigue I experienced while running has also completely subsided.

Legal Disclaimer

This Chronicle details my physical activity during my first pregnancy. I have intended it to be informative and entertaining, but it is not meant to be a guideline regarding the type and degree of physical activity that anyone, especially a pregnant woman, might safely undertake. Every woman who is pregnant should consult with her physician in advance about how much physical activity is advisable.

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RedwicThis is awesome...

Redwic

Voted 10/10

Very original, from at least a SummitPost standpoint. Thanks for sharing!!!
Posted Jul 27, 2009 2:36 pm

Nice Axe!Re: This is awesome...

Nice Axe!

Hasn't voted

Hey Redwic, thanks for the positive feedback!
Posted Aug 2, 2009 11:34 pm

scotthsuSo far so good!

scotthsu

Voted 10/10

I'm fortunate to have such a willing and capable partner even though she is now 4.5 months pregnant!
Posted Aug 3, 2009 9:13 am

Vertigo soulGreat write up and topic!

Vertigo soul

Hasn't voted

Very informative and useful! I'll probably forward this on to my fiance, whose scared sh#$less of how pregnancy will slow down her activity level (runs marathons and follows me on epic hike/bike/bc ski trips). The book recommendation will be useful as well. Thanks...and Good Luck!
Posted Aug 3, 2009 4:21 pm

Nice Axe!Re: Great write up and topic!

Nice Axe!

Hasn't voted

Thanks for your comment Vertigo soul. I was very nervous about slowing down too, and I have to the extent we aren't doing really high risk hikes (Little Bear Blanca Traverse for example). Physically it sure feels like I've slowed down, but our car to car times aren't too bad (yet). Just a tad slower. I think each day just feels harder/slower to me because I'm working so much harder now for the same level of accomplishment. I feel chronically out of shape :-) According to Clapp's book, many women runners actually feel stronger during the 2nd trimester because the physiological changes coupled with exercise make the women more efficient (e.g., oxygen use, vascularization, etc). I have yet to experience that though. Perhaps climbing at altitude impinges on that. In fact, the greatest benefit comes ~6 months after delivery when the body is still at it's peak, but with no additional life to support. I hope this article puts her at ease a bit. It's all been really fun and our baby has summited around a dozen peaks and has over 10 bc ski days already! Another question is how much we'll have to slow down once the baby comes.

The real key is to have a supportive partner. My worries diminished knowing that we were still going to be climbing/hiking/skiing partners and that all that didn't have to come to an end just because I was pregnant. I'm super lucky to have a partner like Scott.
Posted Aug 4, 2009 10:14 am

dfrancomGREAT READ!

dfrancom

Voted 10/10

Such a cool story of ambition and balance!
Posted Aug 6, 2009 10:26 am

scotthsuRe: GREAT READ!

scotthsu

Voted 10/10

Thanks for your comment! The balance part is especially difficult :-)
Posted Aug 7, 2009 9:53 pm

Nice Axe!Re: GREAT READ!

Nice Axe!

Hasn't voted

Hi dfrancom, I really appreciate your comment. Thanks!
Posted Aug 8, 2009 1:22 pm

TJ311Interesting Read!

TJ311

Voted 10/10

Great article! I bet there are many ladies that will find this info very useful! Congrats to you both!
Posted Aug 6, 2009 6:03 pm

scotthsuRe: Interesting Read!

scotthsu

Voted 10/10

Thanks for your congratulations!
Posted Aug 7, 2009 8:37 pm

Nice Axe!Re: Interesting Read!

Nice Axe!

Hasn't voted

Thanks TJ311! I hope this article will not only serve as a reference for women and couples tackling similar issues, but also as a stimulus for further dialogue and a repository for other experiences.
Posted Aug 8, 2009 1:30 pm

Joe Whitelovin' this

Joe White

Voted 10/10

article! My wife is 20 weeks pregnant...and still quite active...cool to know others are on a similar journey...

cheers!
Posted Aug 7, 2009 9:15 pm

scotthsuRe: lovin' this

scotthsu

Voted 10/10

awesome! congrats to you guys, and happy climbing!
Posted Aug 7, 2009 9:29 pm

Nice Axe!Re: lovin' this

Nice Axe!

Hasn't voted

Hi Joe, Congratulations to you & your wife on your bun and staying active! Please feel free to share your experiences here as well. Good luck on your journey!
Posted Aug 8, 2009 12:49 pm

Joe WhiteRe: lovin' this

Joe White

Voted 10/10

still waitin for that 20 weeks report!
Posted Aug 9, 2009 6:22 pm

Nice Axe!Re: lovin' this

Nice Axe!

Hasn't voted

:-) voila!
Posted Aug 9, 2009 8:42 pm

CheesySciFiVery impressive

CheesySciFi

Voted 10/10

Having summited a few fourteeners before even being born is hard to beat. And I thought that Day Hiker Jr had gotten off to an early start!

I'm really glad to see that pregnancy hasn't ended your adventures in the mountains, and that you have such a supportive partner. It is possible to remain active up until the end of your pregnancy. My ex-girlfriend got pregnant almost as soon as she got hitched, and although she wasn't climbing mountains, she kept working practically up to the day when her water broke.
Posted Aug 13, 2009 10:29 pm

Nice Axe!Re: Very impressive

Nice Axe!

Hasn't voted

Thanks CheesySciFi. So far, so good! I hope I will be able to stay active until the end. The benefits of doing so are supposed to be really worth while (according to Clapp's book).
Posted Aug 14, 2009 1:06 pm

spunkyAdventurerNeat!

spunkyAdventurer

Voted 10/10

We were hiking a lot before pregnancy and then being afraid of losing too much weight or miscarrying I completely stopped for the first trimester.

This weekend finally went and did 3000 or so gain after not doing much at all -- felt so alive. I don't have your guts to push the limits as much while pregnant but am hoping to keep at least hiking class 1 or 2 till the end over the weekends.

Have you experienced any problems with the balance as your weight shifts? It seems that you are handling scree slope downhills and class 3/4 fine which is very impressive.
Posted Oct 26, 2009 5:58 pm

Nice Axe!Re: Neat!

Nice Axe!

Hasn't voted

Hi spunkyAdventurer! Thanks for your comment and congratulations! How far along are you? Because so many women report problems with balance, I keep waiting for balance issues to crop up. However, I have not experienced any problems with balance thus far. That is not to say my center of gravity hasn't changed, because it most certainly has, but staying active has allowed me to adjust along with the changes in my body. I am also much more deliberate with my footing and move more slowly through challenging terrain. In addition, I have not gained a lot of excess weight and still feel pretty compact, so I'm sure this helps. I think what is important is to listen to what your body tells you, and do things you feel comfortable with. What works for one person, may not work well for another. Good luck and keep us posted!
Posted Oct 31, 2009 11:15 pm

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