Thursday, December 9, 2010

Bouldering! ... and other stuff

My daughter is taking rock climbing classes this month so on a whim I asked my co-worker who is really good at rock climbing if she would come with me to the gym during my daughter's class and climb with me. This is only the second time I've done that. Last time I was on the belay rope and this time we did bouldering. I am now hooked and want to learn and get good at bouldering. Bouldering is rock climbing without the belay rope and you don't go as high and it's all about climbing across a rock ... like a spider basically. Probably wasn't a good thing for me to try when I'm supposed to be cleaning and packing up our house because my hands and forearms are so incredibly sore today! If I had been using proper body mechanics I don't think they'd be *this* sore, but without the harness and belay rope I was gripping stuff really tightly out of nervousness. And I fell five out of six times I'd try, but they have really soft mats to fall on.

When my co-worker gets up there and boulders it looks like she's doing ballet. She's so graceful and seems to know exactly where to put her hands and feet and she just glides along the rock. Near the end I let go with my right hand and swung my body to the right and my foot landed on a tiny little jutting rock and my hand landed on a small piece of boulder and I felt like I just went "whooooosh!" My co-worker said, "Excellent! That was beautiful!" But the reality was that my right hand cramped and slipped off the rock and I started to fall and caught myself. So, the best move I did the whole night was an accident!

My daughter's class was doing bouldering too, so when her class was over and my arms were too exhausted to try anymore we sat on the mats with my co-worker and her friends and watched them try to conquer the really hard walls. It was really fun to be doing something like that with my daughter. It's nice that we can share bouldering and horses as two sports we do together. Plus, the people I've met at the climbing gym are really nice and there seems to be a really nice, supportive community there without much competition. Strangers would praise my co-worker when she'd do well and she'd do the same. I talked to a couple guys who were waiting for their first beginner class to start and I instantly felt this excited commraderie with them and wished I was in their class too.

In other news, it seems like lots of people I know are having babies this Spring. My neighbor, two women from my church, and our friends who live off grid up north. My only concern is one of the couples is having a home birth and after my experience with my labor, where it all went awry, I had an emergency C-Section and if my daughter hadn't been right there to be put on a ventilator because she couldn't breathe on her own she would've died, it feels important to warn people. I had toyed with a birthing center and midwife and staying away from a "cold sterile hospital setting" because I'm just that kind of off-grid-thinkin', keep it natural type of girl. But then when one of the Hasidic rabbis came to me and all he said was, "My wife is a midwife and wants you to know she wishes you would give birth in a hospital because home births are dangerous," I decided to listen to him. Because in their temple at least, all babies are born at home and they are very cut-off from the rest of society. So for his wife to want me to know she thought it was safer to give birth in a hospital meant a lot to me. I didn't know why until my actual labor.

So, I felt like it was important for me to tell the couple who's planning the home birth what happened with me, and to warn them that it is safer to be at a hospital and something goes wrong. But they said they were fine and they trusted that the mother and baby would know what to do. So, I dropped it. But it makes me mad that there is a movement that pushes that kind of thinking. I mean, it sounds really good. It makes sense. Your body and your baby both know what to do basically. Our bodies know how to stay alive and fight infection too - but only to a certain degree. We are hardwired to die too and there are many complications in the world for our bodies. And our bodies don't know what to do if the baby is breech or the cord is wrapped around the baby's neck or many other issues. Well, our bodies do know what to do in those cases - the baby dies. That is natural too that the baby dies. But I didn't want to have THAT natural. So, I hope for my friends that they have a totally normal birth and no complications so that their natural experience is a happy one and not a sad one. In third world countries where there is no medical care during childbirth, the chance of a mother or baby dying during childbirth is three times higher than in countries where babies are born in hospitals with medical care available for an emergency. But many moms and babies do have safe labors and births and hopefully that will happen with my friends. I'd hate for them to be like me and plan on a natural childbirth, have things go terribly wrong, but in their case not have all the medical equipment and doctors on hand like I was lucky enough to.


  1. As one of the people due in Spring, I am totally with you on this one. I have a couple of friends who are OBGYNs and the stories they can tell about perfectly normal births that went awry... it would make your toes curl!

    Sorry, but it's hard for me to see that choice as anything other than a purely selfish one by the parents. THEY want the "perfect birth" experience, and that trumps having emergency assistance close at hand, just in case the health and safety of the baby (or Mom) is at risk. What if you're wrong? The life-long guilt would cripple me. Even something as relatively minor as a serious tear is NOT something I'd want a Midwife to handle, you can have life long issues (Depends and painful sex for life?) if it's done wrong, so bring on the most experienced Doc for me please!

    That said, we are opting to go with midwives and a doula at Swedish Hospital in Ballard (where there's an OB/GYN on call). If I were to totally put my money where my mouth is, we should opt for 1st Hill where there's a NICU. If there's any indication of problems, we will drop all of our plans and head there. Healthy baby, healthy me is much more important than my birth plan. It's not like they'll tie me to a bed and have their way with me. I have faith that my parenting skills can overcome a more traumatic birth experience. :-)

  2. I don't think they're being selfish so much as being terribly misinformed and naive.

    You know, my gone awry emergency c-section and then my daughter's life being saved on a respirator and at NICU was at the Ballard Swedish. Lots of people don't think they have a NICU but they do. They are prepared for a lot and I had the best nurses there who were really compassionate and supportive.

  3. My son was a difficult birth, also at Swedish in Ballard. That was back when it was Ballard Community Hospital and the maternity ward was new (22 years ago). I don't think either of us would have survived if we had done a home birth.

    There was no NICU there then, so my son was taken to Children's Hospital. It was there when my daughter was born. For some reason I went back to the ward for something, and stopped at the desk to talk to one of the nurses who I also knew from the playground. A new mom was there with her premie who was being taken care of at the new NICU. I commented it was much nicer there than at Children's, which was large and more hectic. It was definitely more calm and relaxed at the smaller Ballard Swedish (though it may have gotten a bit bigger, my son's cardiologist has moved to the brand new medical building there!).

    Plus, lots of people were skittish about that time since "The Birthing Place" was shut down because both a mother and baby died there. The midwife did not catch the eclampsia in time. The really sad thing was that a friend of ours knew the poor woman's husband. Apparently she was afraid of hospitals because her own mother died in one.