Tuesday, September 10, 2013

5 months and the journey to the top

This little lady is five months old:

I can hardly believe that this time last year I was just coming to terms with accepting my pregnancy and now my little Charlotte is here. It has been five months of learning, changing, growing, laughter and tears. There are days when I question myself as a mom and as I put her to bed find myself asking if I loved her enough that day. I often feel guilty that I cannot be around her 24/7 but then I also feel guilty when I am relieved to get away. I continue to breast feed and I have no idea how long I will continue to do so. This seems to be a popular question along with, "Is she sleeping through the night?" which thanks to Babywise and sleep training I can say she is. I don't know why people think I can predict the future in how long I plan to breast feed because honestly that depends on Charlotte. I can say that while the act of feeding her has gotten easier, keeping up the supply has not. There are times when we have to supplement because I have to fly and I have not saved up enough breast milk to feed her while I'm gone. She is awake more now and therefor eats more and so when I am home my life revolves around feeding Charlotte. Our bond has grown over the past few months and I know now that she recognizes who I am and my voice and she will reach for my face and hair with her hands. There is never a dull moment around my house anymore:
As summer has drawn to a close I have felt myself drawn to the mountains once again and was able to gather a group of girls together to hike a 14er. While I love my time at home with Charlotte I do feel I need to get away and do something for myself here and there. My workouts have suffered the most since she was born due to my flight schedule and not being able to always take time during the day to workout since my gym has no child care. In order to minimize my time away from home I decided we should leave Denver around 8pm on a Saturday night, drive to the trailhead and hike Mt. Antero straight away in order to make sunrise on top of the mountain. Then we would hike down and drive home. The trip reports all said the hike was about 6 miles roundtrip but this was from the start of the top of a 4wd Jeep road. Upon driving a short distance up the road I did not feel comfortable trying to drive further so we stopped and began hiking. This greatly increased our mileage of hiking but fortunately it was dark for the majority of the hike so we could not see the great distance that lay ahead.

One of my favorite parts about hiking is the fact that there are no distractions. There are no cell phones or Ipads, televisions or anything else to distract from nature and conversation. The four of us hiked through the dark, alternating taking turns in the lead and discussing everything from workouts to relationships.Sometimes we said nothing to each other it all and just enjoyed the stars. It rained, the wind blew, there was darkness and cold but we marched on in the night hoping we were following the right path to the summit. Some moms like to get away to the spa to refocus and recenter but to me there's no greater place than the mountains for meditation.

Just as dawn began to break on the horizon we started our ascent to the summit. Mt. Antero is located in the Sawatch range and is not a difficult mountain to climb save for maybe the last 200 feet. There is a jeep road that leads to about 13,000 feet on the standard route and it made for an easy hike in the dark because the route was fairly straight forward. In my opinion this mountain is not an exciting or particularly scenic hike compared to many other 14ers so I wanted to do something special on the top for sunrise. Considering the fact that over the past few months my breasts have seen the light of day more than they have in 32 years I decided a topless summit photo was in order. Luckily the women I chose to hike with shared the same sense of playfulness and adventure as myself so they were game to go topless as well. As much as people may think they know me and who I am I have to say I am not particularly comfortable being naked. I can wear a bathing suit, short shorts and sports bras all day long but there is something about bearing it all that makes me feel too vulnerable. This coupled with the fact that I was probably the last in my school to even have breasts and was teased relentlessly by my friends for my small cup size have led me to not have much pride in my topless self. In light of giving birth and breastfeeding however, I now see my body from a new perspective. After having my best friend and complete strangers seeing me in the most vulnerable position I could be in I now no longer care what anyone thinks. So in honor of breasts, being at 14,269 feet and the wilderness which is the greatest equalizer among us...we bared it all:

It is rare to make the summit of a mountain by sunrise, and even more rare to have the summit to yourself. On this day, my 30th climb, we had both. I was reminded on this day that even the most ordinary mountain becomes extraordinary when you add the right mix of weather, friends and one crazy idea. The air was cold and I'll admit it felt crazy to take our shirts off up there at 6:30am but it also felt right and freeing.

While I missed my baby love and my greatest hiking companion (my husband) it felt good to get out and do something for myself. To walk among the trees, to breath in the fresh mountain air and to talk uninterrupted with people I'm just getting to know better and better. As the sun began to rise in the sky we made our way back down the mountain to our car...passing a few other groups here and there on their way up. The lower we got in elevation the more cars and four wheelers we passed on the trail reminding us that civilization wasn't far away. Yet on that mountain, on that star lit hike towards the sunrise, we were alone and felt a million miles away from everyone but each other. To come back down was like coming off a drug induced high and I felt myself grow more and more tired the closer we got to the car. 31 hours total I was up straight until we reached my house. I have no idea how I did it other than as a new mom I can function off less sleep now.

Fortunately I have an incredibly supportive husband who, even though I was gone most of the day, continued to watch Charlotte so I could nap when we arrived home around 3pm. I have never been so tired from being up so long in my life. However, the fatigue faded and I was thankful for our adventure and for the three women who joined me on the journey. A lot of friends express interest in hiking with me but not many people actually follow through. These three were open to the adventure, the crazy summit pose idea and did not complain through the cold, the rain or the fatigue. I can only hope seeing the sunrise on top of the mountain moved them to tears as much as it moved me. All the hard work at the end of the journey was worth it.

Hiking a mountain to me, is a lot like motherhood these days. It can be exhausting, there are times when you don't think you will make it and there are moments where you want to give up and even cry. Yet when you reach the highest point you prove to yourself why it is you started in the first place. While you know every summit won't be perfect in the end, if you have support along the way than you can find your way through and eventually make your way back home....