Baby Prout diary
A different adventure, an “normal” and super scary one: on the road to Baby!
I struggle to find informations about climbing and babies, about climbing and pregnancy. So after endless hours or research I though about putting it all on our web site, and it is definitely an important adventure for us 2. James and I have decided to jump into the water, after 8 years of duo adventures.
Why? Why add a 3rd one and rush to break the balance? I guess the answers are long, personal, and after all, most of them where: Because we wanted a mini Prout.
If you wonder why we call him “Baby Prout”, you’ll find the answer in French. And in the story! feel free to comment, question, and ignore!
Maybe it’s time to start that diary, as we just told our big secret to our sponsors. James’s sister and my sister know, but not our parents. Not our friends. Weird no, to tell your sponsors that you’ll be having a baby before the parents.
Well, it seemed necessary. Our sponsors are our friends, we spend a fair amount of time with them, they support immensely our life choices, sometimes more than our parents. We needed to tell them because it will make a lot of changes in our work together, and in our adventures together.
James and I weren’t crazily worried about their reactions, mainly because we both thought that whatever sponsors decided about my contract, we would figure it out together. We were right not to worry, everyone was very happy for us, and we are all starting to plan new adventures that will include baby Prout.
Anyway, the secret is out now.
As soon as I knew that baby was on the way, I started researching for infos about pregnancy and climbing. I didn’t find that much. A few interviews, but mainly, a general: « top rope only and take it easy ».
I don’t want to take it easy. I want to maintain my level as much as possible, and I would die of boredom sat in my sofa.
But I have an ace in my sleeve, Carole Palmier, one of my best friends, is a midwife and an 8c+ climber! You won’t find many of thoses!
Here is what she told me: in France, everyone (doctors, nurses…) will be cautious, but it’s mainly because they want to protect their asses. But I just have to listen to my body, and it’ll be fine. Moving a lot doesn’t hurt the baby at all, it may only increase slightly the risk of miscarriage. And for that, you’ll have signs before hand that you should slow down.
I have kept on gathering random informations. A friend of mine did some trampoline when she was at 8 months, and I know that Chloé Minoret (a former comp climber) kept on climbing as usual until her 4 months. But then she said that she hadn’t put on weight before, and maybe the rest was then needed to allow the baby to grow. And of could I have read every article of Beth Roden’s website. But she was, I would say, mostly in a “worst case scenario a lot of times, and I am hoping to get more lucky:)
I have decided that I wanted to go on the adventures that I had planned before mini monkey came on board: An eco trip to ordesa, Spain (at 3 months), and an adventure trip to Japan (at 4 months). Of course I will listen to my sensations and what the doctors say, but so far, all good.
So, how is it of now, on the every day training , climbing, living?
I definitely have to take a few things easy: I sleep more, I struggle to digest a lot which means I have to nap a bit, but I haven’t slowed down a lot. I am definitely not as good at climbing. I lack tonus. But still try nearly as hard as usual. But I listen: if I feel like my abs are pulling , or if I feel some discomfort in my belly, I listen, I do one less route. Maybe half of the time it’s fine, but well, my level is going to go down anyways in the next months, so one less training lap doesn’t matter that much.
When we go cross country biking, I am a scardy cat. I don’t want to risk a bike fall. But climbing on lead, provided your belayer is competent, does definitely not make any of the chocks that people imagine when they aren’t climbers. Jumping off a chair is more of a chock! I have the same harness, that I open up a bit when I am not on the routes, and I lead. I just don’t lead when there is a risk of falling on a ledge and taking a chock. If I weren’t pregnant, I would accept the risk of breaking a leg. But now, no chock.
Biking was fine, I did take as little risk as possible, and as a result I ended up walking my bike down a lot J. Sometimes I hated James for bringing the bikes.
Climbing, on the other side, was way more dangerous than we had planned. The rock was very loose, and James and I decided that I would only second in El Ojo Critico. Even seconding was dangerous, and you could still pull a bloc onto yourself and even cut your rope. Leading, of course, was out of questions, there were way to many ledges, bad rock…
I did lead in Trad in half of the pitchs in a 7a+ max route, Racks. That was still a little bit scary because of the rock quality, but I chose to lead because I wanted to prove myself that I wasn’t scared. Was it a good choice? I don’t know. It went well, I didn’t fall. At the end of the trip we stopped climbing because we thought the risk wasn’t worth it. How much of the decision was because of the baby coming? I don’t know for sure. But it was actually James who wanted to stop. And that has never happened before.
We did alternate huge climbing days, the worst one waking up at 5:30 am, walking 1h30, climbing 13 hours, then walking back 4 hours, and then rest days where I made giant snoozes. I felt totally fine. the rest days were the bad ones actually, as I struggled to digest more on the sofa than in a route.
Before doing Racks I had to walk up on the appraoch very, very slowly, I didn’t feel well, had some pains in the belly, and wondered if climbing would make any sense. But then I did the first pitch, and everything went much better. I think it’s because climbing is My thing. Even when I had flues, stomach aches in the past, going climbing was always a good idea, as it would make me feel better. Power of the mind??
Yesterday I went to a steep crag and tried quite hard routes. Not crazy hard, 8a max, but routes where sometimes I may struggle with a move, have to get very pumped, fall. I am still leading, I can’t see how falling into the air could be bad. If you have a good belayer, you’re fine. Something I could never explain to a doctor who doesn’t climb, so I just don’t tell the doctor.
I have so many questions, and can’t find a serious answer. Everyone says it’s ok to climb, I have decided, with my friend who is a midwife and a climber, that leading in overhangs is fine too. But what I don’t know, is, how hard can I climb?
I have stopped rings and pull ups, because I have been told that I should not work on my adbos. A bit of research, well, it seems that I can keep on going with the pull ups so, that gives me a chance to keep my arms and shoulder in a minimum of shape.
Now what I don’t know, is what happens if I go for a full endurance climbing effort: if I run out of air because of climbing, like it happens in resistance routes, is that slowing the oxygen flow to the baby? I assume it does, as in case of extreme situation the body with put priority to the survival of the mum. So… Should I go far in resistance? I don’t really know, and I am struggling to figure out.
To be honest, I have really slowed down on training. I just climb outside. As well because indoor, falling on mats isn’t great, I think, and I struggle to have the motivation to train in a gym for no goal.
In 3 weeks we are going to Japan for waterfall up climbing. I don’t think I need to prepare much for that, It’s just going to be so weird!
I haven’t started putting on weight yet, but my belly is definitely starting to come out. In secret, I think it’s because I have told my baby that he was allowed to stick out now, after Ordesa.
nearly 4 months
I am not climbing much at the minute. At 35 degrees minimum, it feels too hot to do much activity. A few pull ups here and there. I found a book about pregnancy and sport, where it’s told to really avoid abdominals like crunch, as if you keep them strong you increase your chances of them ripping apart when the belly grows, and then recovery in abs is going to be very difficult. It’s even recommended to avoid standing up from a lying position, and to rather turn to the side to get up. I am not quite there yet. But as far as I know, pull ups, push ups are fine.
My belly has popped out in the last 2 weeks, at a speed that nearly worries me: how big am I going to get during our Japan expedition!
it feels pretty weird to no be able to contract my abs in my posture, in my every day life, as I usually do. It changes the way I stand, and I guess that’s why the change in my belly’s size is that fast.
James and I have started the “haptonomie” courses. So far, the midwife has mainly been telling us, make some space for the baby in your couple, but don’t let him use all the space! When it’s time for you two, he shall wait. And that starts us in all the educational questions. James and I havn’t talked about it that much, but in a weird way, I think we are on the same page. Most likely because we have been both observing and discussion about the educational methods of our various friends.
In the same book I also figured out my little theory about getting out of breath and the baby lacking oxygen was right. Obviousely it does make sense. Therefore, you should really avoid getting too out of breath… well, I did a bit of that, while hiking up hills. I will keep an eye on that in Japan. It means no very hard climbing too.
We’re 4 months in, and things are starting to become serious. Caroline has a real, little baby bump, and although you might not realise it if you didn’t already know her, seeing it grow with my own eyes, I can confirm its definitely there. We’ve been for 2 scans together, and seen the happy little chappy dancing around. At 4 months apparently all the development is finished, and now its just a case of growing bigger.
I’ve been thinking a little about what life might look like in 5 months time, and in fact, about if life is already starting to change. The big questions seem to always resolve around 2 subjects, time management, and risk, The first is easy to answer, at least in theory – I’m going to have to find a way to be more organized, less forgetful, and be generally a little less floaty than I am now. In the last 2 weeks I’ve flown to Italy without my driving licence (= no hire car and public transport nightmare), and almost missed my flight to Japan thanks to a forgotten drone battery bag. Caroline jokes that I will be able to forget Babies things, or even worse, Baby himself. I laugh, but deep down know I have some things to work out.
The second subject, Risk, is not quite as easy to answer. It seems obvious at first that with a baby in your life, with a little person depending completely on you, that you should take your personal safety more seriously than before. The problem comes when you try to quantify it, and justify it, and you realise it’s all, well, a little bit intangible. Life itself is risky, and to quote a famous cliché, we could all get hit by a car, tomorrow crossing the street. I’m not going to close myself in a padded room just because I have a kid. I’m aware that things happen, that sometimes people find themselves in the wrong place at the wrong time, but I’m also confident in my ability to deal with day to day life. I’m still going to cross the street, I’ll still walk to the shops, drive a car, and do everything I did before.
So what about climbing? Obviously going climbing is more risky than not going climbing, and add trad climbing to the mix, first ascents, bad rock, onsights, long days in the mountains… and things are only moving in one direction. Yet just like I’m confident not to trip off the curb and put my head under a bus, I’m confident I can deal with climbing, and know inside, somehow, when enough is enough. Trad climbing is about managing risks, not taking them.
The problem comes when you find yourself in a situation that is more dangerous than expected, especially ones that you can’t, easily get yourself out of. This happened recently in Ordesa, Spain. We’d decided to try to repeat a certain route, knowing it might be quite dangerous, and after 4 or 5 steep pitches where retreat had become really complicated, we realised the route was a lot more serious than expected. Everything went well that time, somewhat thanks to being physically and mentally in shape, and also having the experience to stay calm and carry on, yet I’d be lying if I said I was in complete control all the time. There were too many unknowns, too many variables, too many things that could have turned out to be really bad, and if I had the chance to go back in the route again, I wouldn’t.
So what could I have done better? Should I have aired on the side of caution and not gone at all, should I have trained more to have a bigger margin and be more comfortable in the pitches, or should I just accept the possibility that I’m selfish, that I want to do these things, and no matter how dangerous I’ll always be able to find a way to justify the risk?
These are all questions I don’t yet have the answers too, and maybe never will. They are not new questions, but ones I’ve been asking myself, sometimes subconsciously my entire climbing life, and so I’m not sure if this new arrival will offer any more clarity, or just further muddy the waters. The risks we choose to take are rarely black or white.
From that moment on, I see to have totally forgotten to write about pregnancy and sport. It’s been a full year now… so everything you read on will be from memory… and the memory of a young mum is famously very bad…..
Japan was definitely a special trip, it deserves more than a few paraphaphs, and promis I will get there… but for now, here is a glimpse of yet another original idea from James (video here). In just a few words, James decided to try the Japanese concept of “Sawanobori”, which is climbing up waterfall, with ropes, trad gear, and some weird shoes with a felt sole. Going for a proper adventure wasn’t always easy, I can definitely remember some crying in the rain because I was so frustrated to miss part of the excitement, and being so jealous that James could carry on with is normal self while I couldn’t… The last day of the big “Sawanobori” climb, the team left me on the ground because it was too much effort for me (sleeping on a wet ledge and a huge day of wet climbing with a lot of unknown); I was in charge of the drone footage, and I did worry a lot for them, especially when I couldn’t see them on my drone’s screen. I was finding myself frantically looking for a colourful patch in the jungly walls on the side of the cascade, at the same time fearing to find that colourful patch in a wrong place. From the eye of my drone, all I knew was that James was in yellow, Yuji in red. I realised that I was really not ready to raise a baby alone. James had to come back. He did. All good!
To be honest, I would do it all again, even if for sure, my doctor would have NOT agreed. Hiking was sometimes very hard, but climbing, even IN the waterfall, was always more than fine. It was happy. For me, and for baby.
picture from Dark sky media, Sardinia
We came back from Japan when I was 5 months pregnant. There, I had onsighted an 8a at 4months and a half, I had even taken some falls of a 7c+, and it was really 100% fine. But in just a few weeks my belly became much bigger, and I decided/accepted to stop leading. Why? why then? Simply because I was less comfortable in my harness, and I didn’t want the belt to push in in a fall.
The last 3 months, I still climbed, but James and I switched into “easy adventure mode”. I tried a Salewa industry harness, but it didn’t feel right, and I really didn’t want to buy a pregnancy harness for just 3 months. My view on that is that most people can’t afford to spend 150E on such a temporary item, so they don’t.. but instead of stopping climbing, we tweaked my harness by adding a lot of slings to shift some weight onto the legs. It took a few tries to get to the right setting, and I think it only worked because James is vey good with slings, geeky, and patient. Still, lowering off was not immensely comfortable, but then… you are never very comfortable after 6 months of pregnancy… As long as I was seconding, I was still fine climbing, and we did quite a few easy multi pitches, trad or sport. Why bother? Very simply because I am unbearable when I can’t climb. When I was 6 months pregnant, we did a multi pitch up “les sucettes de bornes”, 6c max, and I did it mostly, but had to pull on a quickdraw in a roof because I couldn’t use my feet at all:)… Then in Corsica and Sardinia, up to 8 months pregnant, we kept on going with our belief: “keep on climbing as long as it feels fine”, and did some 5+ multi pitch trad. I finally only stopped climbing for the last two weeks, as mini monkey was 2 weeks early. And this last two weeks have been the very worst. I was a pain in the a**, and I knew it.