Hiking is a vital part of my family. When my oldest, Jack, was a baby, we easily went on 2-3 hikes a week, with or without Hike it Baby. We are all high-energy people who need to move to stay happy. In fact, hiking with Jack sleeping sweetly on my chest was our bonding time almost every day when he was a newborn. As Jack grew into a toddler, it was our special time as a family to continue to bond. My husband works a compressed works nights, so he really needs his time outside with his son to feel connected to life. Hiking means to the world to us, plain and simple.
Facing a challenging second pregnancy
When I got pregnant with my second child, our whole world was turned upside down. I developed Hyperemesis Gravidarum at 5 weeks along. This is not your normal morning sickness. This is repeated and constant vomiting, for days or weeks on end. I mean puking up everything – including water. At 8 weeks, I was so dehydrated that I went to the ER to be rehydrated for the first time. My midwife put me on Zofran the next day, but it didn’t help.
At 26 weeks, I had been rehydrated for the 7th time and was on three medications daily to function, but I still vomited every other day. During that ER visit, they also found I had a UTI. I was prescribed an antibiotic and sent home to rest for a week. However, I didn’t listen; I wanted to be active with my family! After one morning out on the trail with Hike it Baby, I started to have intense Braxton-Hicks contractions. I called my midwife, who told me to come in right away. It turned out they were more than Braxton-Hicks because I was dilated to 1.5 cm.
The next day I did a non-stress test and was diagnosed with an Irritable Uterus. This meant my uterus was contracting early under stress. My midwife said it could have been the repeated vomiting stressing my body, the associated dehydration, the nasty UTI that took weeks to get rid of or all of the above. I was put on modified bedrest. I did not have to stay off my feet all day, but was not allowed to do strenuous activities.
Following orders to stay on bed rest
We did go outside some – mostly to parks where I sat under on a bench and chased Jack only has needed. After a few weeks, I was having less contractions and was vomiting a little less, so I went out more. However, I really overdid it when we went camping. I broke the rules on the trip and wore Jack in a carrier for a mile down a hilly trail. I knew this might be the last time I wore him as my only child, but I wanted a photo to remember it. Unfortunately, I paid for it the next day. I got dehydrated, started to swell from mosquito bites, and my contractions kicked in big time.
Can you guess what happened? Back to the ER it was. My midwife understood why I broke the rules, but she put me on real bedrest until delivery. This pregnancy was my rainbow baby, as we had a miscarriage a few months before, so I needed this baby. I had been through hell already and did not want to give up, so I took my midwife seriously this time.
And it sucked. It was the middle of summer and hot as can be inside our apartment. Jack spent most days at my mom’s house so I could rest, which only made me feel lonelier. There were so many times I thought about sneaking out for a walk, but I had to keep it in perspective. I wanted to hike with my baby one day soon. As important as hiking is for everyone’s well-being both mentally and physically, it’s important to know when it’s actually endangering you or your baby’s health. I had to tell myself this was only temporary. There were lots of adventures in the future and I needed to make it to meet my new hiking buddy first.
Curing the nature blues, albeit temporary
I came up with a few things to cure my nature blues:
- Sit on the patio or front step. This helped me a lot. We only had a small patio, but it was on the second story facing into the forest behind the complex. I could see the squirrels and birds play, hear the creek in the distance, and feel a nice breeze. It wasn’t quite the same as walking in the forest, but it was still a nice dose of nature. Once in awhile I did go sit at the park and watch Jack play, but I made sure my husband was with us to chase Jack. Being outside doesn’t always have to mean hiking.
- Make a baby trail bucket list. Rather than dwell on all that I was missing, I thought of how I could make up for it later. I made a list of all the trails and places I want to take my baby. It was fun to think of sharing my favorite trails and looking for new places. It gave me a reason to rest, knowing it would be worth it.
- Watch nature shows on TV. I know watching nature on TV does not have the same benefits as being out in it, but it helped me during my bed rest. I especially loved our local PBS station’s nature shows with highlights and features of all these wonderful places nearby, all waiting for my family to explore soon.
- Do gentle stretches on the couch or chair. Resting all day for a month makes you stiff and sore. I was approved by my midwife to do gentle stretches on the couch or chair to maintain muscle strength and prevent soreness. I often visualized doing yoga outside or hiking while I did it. It was a nice little mental escape from my apartment while helping my body stay healthy to get back on the trail soon.
- Paint or draw nature scenes. I drew nature scenes in a notebook when I needed the mental clarity that hiking provides. When your body is occupied with a task so your brain wonders and calms. It’s a wonderful time filler to make the days go by faster, too.
Despite my best efforts, I did have premature labor due to dehydration. Bear was born a month early but we lucked out and avoided the NICU altogether. He was tiny but perfect. I was cleared for gentle walking right away so he went on his first Hike it Baby hike at 5 days old! He’s now a rambunctious 2-year-old who happily is tackling that trail bucket list with us.
Photos courtesy of Sam Reddy.