The Pacific crest trail hike has fascinated me for a long time. People take about 5 months to hike from Vancouver down the West coast of the United States; for 4,346 kilometres, or the other way around. Daily they hike for 25+ kilometres, and set up their tent every evening. They eat out of dehydrated food bags, and sleep in sleeping bags. They miss their families, they say no to the comfort of their lives, their beds, favourite entertainment and friends. They give up on business opportunities. They are singularity focused in their goal to reach the south coast. Trail angels, (people who bring in food) meet up with them every couple of weeks to bring them new supplies. It is a goal that means that you give up most things for a time. And you trust, that once you have completely your trek, that you can return to civilization, and continue a less extreme life if you want to. And that your friends and family will be there waiting for you. You will have missed some things, but it will have been worth it.
What if we looked at having a baby like this? I didn’t have one baby first, I had two. And even thought people told me it would be a whirlwind and a blur, I was determined to not get lost in it. In retrospect, maybe I should of. I don’t know. When our twins were only 3 months old, we packed up on 3 hours sleep and drove 3 hours to play in an annual, recreational volleyball tournament. People held our babies and looked after them. I played some of the games, and some I didn’t. We had fun and we were exhausted. I wish I could say we went because I thought it would be a fun day. And that is true. But the main reason we went, was because I felt fear that we would lose our friends if we didn’t participate in things our friends were doing. It feels silly to say it now, because it sounds like I don’t trust my friends to understand that we were in a season of our lives that meant that we were no longer free to go to evening dinners, and card games, and weekends away. We didn’t have the time or energy for coffee dates and workouts and long conversations.
In the first few weeks after having twins, I would allow no-one to talk of their travel plans inside my home. In fact, I wanted a sign on the wall that said “No Travel Talk”. I didn’t have the perspective that one day I would be able to travel again. I felt like I was in a vacuum of babies. Living between naps and feeds on a 24 hour clock. People say the days are long, but the years are short. And its true. It does go by quickly now. But in that first 6 months, I remember knowing where every hour went. It went very slow. The short sleeps and the sore nipples. The 2 hour break between 1 hour feeds. I never did have postpartum depression, somehow between doing what needed to be done, and having endless amount of support from my mother and my mother in law and friends in the first 8 months, we got by, but it sure was a grind.
If I could go back and give myself perspective, I would say to myself. This year, the 5am club is not for you (and actually maybe not ever). Intense workouts are not for you. Girls trips are out, because your babies need you, but don’t worry, you’ll have them again. This is a space in time that is intensely devoted to raising babies. And if that is all that happens this year, you have done amazingly. Your friends will be there when you come back around, when you have time again to pay attention, to listen and to string coherent thoughts together again. You’ll have dinner parties, and you’ll go on long hikes. This year dig in, and dig deep, take breaks to do things that fill you up, like showers and baths, and short walks alone, and breaks in the sunshine. This isn’t forever, it is for a time. And just like the pacific crest trail, there are sacrifices that you will make because you have chosen to have a baby (babies - ha). You’ve got this. And when you don’t, lean on your partner, lean on your family, lean on your friends. They are your trail angels.