About melbaseto

Like most people, there's many layers that make up the sum of who I am. I have a profession, hobbies, passions, unique skills and dreams. Ultimately my background ranges vastly so here's the tip of the iceberg. Dreams: I wish to build myself a self sustaining environmentally sound home where I can grow my own food and build my own things. Hobbies: I enjoy, reading, knitting, board games and team sports. Passions: Everything I do is so I can ultimately support these particular passions; climbing, pottery, theatre, and culinary arts. My sub-passions include: paddling, snowboarding, skiing and all outdoor activities. Unique skills: Bushcraft, pole fitness, guitar, Macguyering things, scuba diver, ski patroller, RCACS alumni, leadership and survival skills. Professions: Dental hygienist, lifeguard, potter.

Infant Regression. Change Your Mindset.

Let’s talk about “regression.”

I dislike this word very much and avoid it as much as possible. (Yucky) The reason I don’t like the word “regression” because it’s a cop- out. It’s being able to use that word so you can give up and have an excuse to not have to work hard anymore to change things.

It’s kind of like when you try a new diet or work out program, you work hard for a few days or a month, then a holiday/ weekend comes along and everything goes down the drain. We blame it on the holiday/weekend for regressing.

This term is often thrown around a lot in the parenting world whenever little humans are no longer doing the thing you’ve gotten so used to them doing. Whether it be with food choices, nursing, toilet training, attitude.

So what do I do instead? Well I’ve recalibrated my mindset to think of the word “consistency” when striving for success. Rather than then the word “regression” which denotes failure.

I apply this to all new skills, habits and trends- when I’m introducing them- I begin with a mindset that this is something I plan to do indefinitely. I don’t set long term goals of what I HAVE to achieve by X time. (Ex. I would avoid saying “I’m going to Lose 10 lbs by spring” instead I say “I’m going to exercise 5minutes a day. Period.”)

Before you know it… the weight loss will come because you changed your mindset to accepting the 5min a day, is not just a part of regular routine. A way of life.

Now, how this applies to toilet training is that there’s always a point in toilet training where I get a lot of parents coming to me in a panic about “regression.” Parents come to me saying their humans are “regressing”, they used to go pee/ poo X many times a day on the toilet and now it’s been x many days since they haven’t.

Stop counting the “catches” and just continue to be consistent. The last couple weeks I’ve only “caught” a handful of poops in the toilet but it doesn’t phase me. I don’t blame it on “regression” or voodoo. It doesn’t and shouldn’t affect how successful I feel. Instead I take it as an opportunity to observe him better and take him more often or find a better suited time to take him. I adjust a little but still maintain consistency.

I teach people that instead of looking at each moment as a sign of success or failure you accept that this is just a part of your everyday routine. I mean if I personally miss pee or poo myself, I’m not going to run around blaming it on regression – so why do have that standard for our little humans?

Things change in life, the weather, our hormones, our activity level but if we use every change to dictate our ability to succeed then we will never succeed.

When I teach consistency, regardless of whether your human is successful going into the toilet every day or every time, the success is measured by your ability to be consistent in giving them the same amount opportunities every day- indefinitely.

Just like exercising- you’re not going to see results in day, in a week, even in months, you probably will even fluctuate with your weight and body size and “regress”, (ugh gross word) but if you consistently put in a little bit of time…. everyday then OVER time you WILL see results and THAT is success.

Change your mindset. Success = consistency. Not only in toilet training but in life. #melbamethod

Follow me on instagram @melba_seto for more up to date posts!

Top 3 Winter Adventure Family Activities around Fernie, BC & Winter Family Photo Tips

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Travelling with little humans is not always easy but if you can manage to sneak away for a weekend you can maximize fun in a short amount of time!

Our little humans are 2.5 years old and 10months old and this weekends daytime temperatures were about -10 to -15 degrees C.

We left Calgary Friday afternoon in hopes to arrive at our friends Airbnb that evening to enjoy a meal, drinks and evening social with the families. Nestled around a fire and books it was a perfect way to set up for a quick weekend getaway.

1. Cross Country Ski Fernie Golf & Country Club.

After a hearty breakfast of homemade giant omelette, fruit and coffee we all geared up and headed to the Fernie Golf Course. Groomed and maintained by the Fernie Nordic Centre we were fortunate to enjoy a 3km loop around the course, experiencing mild terrain and amazing views! There was even a cleared pond for skating and hockey!

With 3 babies and 4 adults, it took about 2 hours with short breaks to adjust, enjoy the scenery going at a super easy pace.

If you have ski chariots for the kids you can pack everything you need and more for a full day of fun! We skied with our humans in back pack carriers and reconvened at the van for our traditional after adventure snacks and headed back to our lodgings for a hot lunch!

Parent tip: make sure you pack a lot of hot hand warmers (for little hands, feet and body, extra blankets and hot thermos of drinks and soup!)

2. Frozen Water Falls in CrowsNest pass

Lundbreck Falls is just 30min East of Crowsnest Pass and offers spectacular frozen waterfall views in the winter season.

We were pleasantly surprised to discover that this small detour on our way back home was actually just right off the main road. For families with small children it’s always a bonus to not have to trek too far to see incredible sights.

The area offers multiple viewing platforms to get the most out of the experience and it seems that there might be access to the bottom of the falls as well. It was quite windy when we stopped so it will have to be an adventure for another time!

Parent tip: finding sites and roadside attractions that are parking lot ready makes it a great way to learn and experience history and outdoors with the little humans while being able to hop back into a warm vehicle!

3. Mountain Photo Session with Tara Hill Studios.

This was definitely a highlight of our trip! We won a mini photo session with Tara Hill Studios and was able to coordinate a mountain photo session with her while on our getaway!

Tara took us to a beautiful nook just between Fernie and Crowsnest pass where the Rocky Mountains and clear pebbly Elk river set the backdrop for our family photos.

Be prepared for mountain photos with little humans because you have to make magic happen in a short window of time, due to brisk temperatures and possible fan dangling of little adventurers.

Winter Family Photography Tips:

1. Talk to the photographer first about their plans before going outside!

We just did the roll down the window chat to see where she was going to shoot and what we were hoping to get out of the session as well as our plan of action for wardrobe change.

2. Have the vehicle warmed up.

Little humans can succumb to hypothermia and cold much quicker than adults so tule of thumb is.. if YOU’RE cold … they’ve already been cold for a while. (Basically recognize your cold limits BEFORE you reach them)

3. Have extra blankets, and a down or warm layer to be removed quickly for outdoor photos.

We started with out winter outdoor gear and underneath had our traditional Chinese clothes ready. Our little humans are used to the adventure lifestyle and even so we only managed to get a handful of shots in their traditional garb!

If you keep these few points in mind you’ll maximize your time with the photographer and keep everyone happy for the best photo experience!

Thanks again to Tara for her ninja skills and experience with winter photography to get these amazing shots in a matter of 10-15minutes!

There’s not many amazing mountain photographers out there with the skill to adapt and take family portraits in different settings, so I would definitely recommend booking a time to check out Tara Hill Studios if you’re in her neck of the woods!

Want us to review your business? Send us a message or connect with us on instagram to collaborate ! @melba_seto

What to Expect Climbing Sisyphus Summits 10d, Off the Couch and Still Breastfeeding.

I read about Sisyphus Summits about 10 years ago when I started climbing consistently. The longest sport climb (600m+/2000ft+) North Of México, has been on my tick list since then.

However as the years wore on, the timing never seemed right, I didn’t have the right partner and it just taunted me every time I drove past it.

Finally the opportunity arose about a month and a half ago when a good friend of mine from BC had come to climb Sisyphus with another friend. When talking about my yearning, she instantly and happily said “I’ll do it again with you.” I remember tearing up thinking how wonderful this human was to even want to do a crazy project like this twice and with someone who just had two kids, knee surgery, and been barely climbing for the last two seasons.

I had to take this chance. Along comes this strong, competent, patient and supportive partner with the added bonus for being female! Something about climbing with another strong woman really brings on the stoke. Before we knew it we had planned the climb for Sept long weekend. Time of year is crucial for this project because you start the first 5 pitches in the sun and the rest in the shade with a potential 15-20 degree swing. Meaning you’re scorching in the heat and then freezing in the shade.

Gear. These are the things I packed.

– comfortable long day climbing shoes, harness, chalk.

– cell phone (there’s reception the whole way up- or else I would have brought a radio- can get windy for communications and when linking pitches.)

– energy snacks (pepperoni sticks, cheese, dried fruit) Sting electrolyte gummies.

– 3L water and 1L electrolyte drink for the climb, 2L for the car to hydrate before and after.

– heavy carb pasta salad for the car ride and pre climb.

-70m Mammut infinity 9.8m rope

– 10 alpine draws, 10 quick draws

– (each climber) gri, atc, 2 cordelettes, 1 metolius PAS, 6locking biners, 1 Prusik line. )

– Medela Breast pump

Route Summary/ Linked Pitches: (Belay stations 7&11 suck)

*Due to my baby brain and circumstances of being in skin foot pain for the majority of the climb my memory of each pitch is blurry. My biggest recommendation when deciding to do this route, climbers should be strong 11 climbers able to onsite low 11’s to be guaranteed success on this climb. The grades are pretty true to YDS grading and when working on such a long project, you have to factor in everything not just the ratings. You have to hike up- and down. You have to endure hot- and cold. You have to hang on belay stations for 20-40min at a time- many times. You have to due 21 pitches of mostly 10’s. It’s not just about climbing a bunch of easy/ moderate routes. It’s a long day, even for strong climbers.

Climbing profiles:

Jennine is a solid onsiting 11 climber with sends on low 12’s and projecting 13’s. Climbing 3-5days at week, pushing grades. She mountain bikes regularly and does a plethora of outdoor things. She’s a fucking badass.

Melba is a solid 10 onsiter with occasional 11 on sites and 12a sends, projects low 12’s. Her current training and fitness level includes moming a 5m old and 2 year old, disc golfing couple times a week, white water kayaking a few times this season and has climbed a handful of times this season- not ideal for preparing physically for Sisyphus but providing an example it’s possible from these two ranges of climbers.

Pitch Breakdown

Pitch 1 (10a- Stay low, heady traverse) – Jennine

Pitch 2 (10a) Melba

Pitch 3- 4 (10c/10d- thin face crux) Jennine

Pitch 5-6 (10b/ 10c) Melba

Pitch 7-8 (10c/10d-)Jennine

Pitch 9 (10d) Melba

Pitch 10-11 (10c/5.8), 12-13(5.8/10a), 14-15 (10a), 16-17 (5.9- beautiful ledge, crimp face) 19- 20 (5.9/10b- technical roof Jennine)

Pitch 21 (5.9- slab) Melba

Last Nursing, Saying GoodBye To My Babies…

Since I just had a new baby 5months ago I was still breastfeeding, and though I prepared a few bottles for my New Little Human I wanted to give him a big boost of boob before we left.

This meant we had to stay at home in Calgary and get up 1.5hrs earlier to do this and drive to the base of the climb (versus camping in Canmore and saving the hour drive.)

I also had a mini emotional moment the night before when putting my Big Little Human to bed. I told her I loved her so much and all the wonderful things I loved about her. I told her she was smart, kind and loving and thanked her for being such a good girl and thanked her for always being so helpful and trying so hard.

I find since having children… I fear death more. Not because of death itself… but the permanence of never seeing my spouse and Little Humans again. I fear that I won’t be there to raise them and do all the things I imagined my whole life doing.

The Morning of the Climb. Sept 5, 2020. (One day after my New Little Humans’ 5th month birthday. )

Having about 4hrs of sleep thus began our adventure….

We left at 03:30hrs and arrived at Grassi Lakes parking lot at 04:30hrs. Jennine offered to drive because she’s awesome and considerate of my “mom- fatigue”. It was still dark and we had buffered a little time to get ready, eat and hydrate. We loaded up and started hiking from the base of the trail just around 05:20hrs.

Going at a slow, “Melba pace” meaning 2/3rds the time of an average person we arrived at the base of the climb at 06:30hrs. We were instantly disappointed to see another party of two already working up the first pitch. I had seen another vehicle in the parking lot and hoped it was climbers on another climb or perhaps photographers or hikers trying to get the morning sunrise shot for the Gram.

Often times when multi pitching in the Rockies it’s not recommended to climb below another part due to having a lot of choss/ loose rock.

We took a beat, watched the sunrise and discussed our options and decided to continue with the climb.

Since there was another party in front of us, we had to climb the first few pitches switching single leads instead of linking them.

We were climbing around 06:50hrs Jennine started the first 10a traverse lead. With the first high bolt and uncertainty of the traverse and climb in general I didn’t want to psych myself out too soon. So happy she did that.

I came up second around 07:15hrs. So far, so good we met up at the anchors of the first pitch and reevaluating what to do regarding possibly passing the party ahead and when we would link and swing leads.

The first 10c/d pitches.

By the 7th pitch my heels were starting to really hurt from all the friction. I realized that this was something to consider for next time. TRAIN YOUR FEET SKIN!! Since I spent most of my summer mostly in flip flops and only climbing a few times, my heels and feet were soft rather than calloused which led to a very painful rest of the day.

Pumping Milk on a Multi Pitch

Partway up- I don’t quite remember what pitch – around 11:30 so maybe like pitch 7/8, my milk bags started ringing. Imagine the feeling of one of those deep settled pimples that never pops when you really want to pop it and it’s sore.

We needed to take a break to pump some milk to alleviate the pressure. Normally my 5m old needs every 2 hours and by this point it had been nearly 8hrs since I nursed. Milk is made based on demand so it was important to keep the milk flowing it doesn’t affect production when I get back to the little human.

I almost didn’t bring a pump because I was trying to save space and weight and intended to manually milk myself if needed – but that would have taken much longer and milk would have been everywhere. Which would have resulted in a cold, wet and wasp/ bait for myself. I also could have pumped probably 500ml with how much I’ve been producing but only pumped enough to alleviate some pressure from both sides.

Jennine was also very adamant that the first time she sent Sisyphus they ran out of water and it played a huge part in us staying extra hydrated this time. I told her I got it covered… we can always drink my milk…. hahahaha.

In the end this aspect of the climb I considered pretty magical. I’m not sure how many women can say they’ve pumped milk on the side of a sheer mountain face at 200M/600ft. I mean think of how many breast pumps have even been able to enjoy these views!

My favourite pic of the climb, P&P pumping and peeing.

I remember after enduring a couple more painful pitches finally saying to Jennine… “I don’t think I can lead the 10d’s anymore…I can’t stand up.” I stayed positive and thought perhaps I could lead the easier 10’s and 9’s, but as the day wore on so did my skin.

By the 12th pitch every small toe hold and step up on slap resulted in a cry of excruciating pain.

By pitch 17th literal tears with each step up. There was a couple sections with nice overhangs and underclings and laybacks but for the most part it was small feet or smearing, which was wonderful for those heels and toes.

It never occurred to me to bail the route. I just knew I had to find ways to mentally and physically deal with pain. Having Jennine as a partner was amazing because she knew even though I was being tortured, I was still having a good time – inside. And I knew she was strong enough and amazing enough to lead the rest of the climbs. I just had to keep going and in my head I knew if for some reason Jennine couldn’t do it I would step up (though I hoped it would not come to that.)

The Story of Sisyphus.

Greek mythology, Sisyphus was a trickster that tried to cheat death multiples times and manipulated the gods. His eventual punishment was to roll a huge boulder up a hill, upon before the gaining the summit it would roll down and kill him. Only to resurrect and repeat this for eternity.

My Mental Motivation.

I know that life happens and we don’t alway expect things to go the way we planned. To offset my physical limitations when achieving goals I regularly practice mental exercises to strengthen my mind.

In this case I knew raising two little kids, while doing life stuff and having difficulty finding climbing patterns willing to climb with kids with matching schedules… I didn’t have the time I needed to train. Ideally I would have climbed 10 climbs a day for 4 days a week for 2 months before this climb. I knew this wasn’t possible so all I did was imagine. I played scenarios in my mind of what I was capable of and what I would do if faced with certain problems.

One of my focuses was- quitting was not an option. Every climb was within my on-site grade, I’ve hiked more than 3 hours before, I’ve endured 10hrs+ of physical challenge before (not including labour). I’ve endured long belays in the blasting heat and freezing cold. I’ve endured dehydration and hunger. I’ve endured pain for more than hours at a time. Everything physically needed to complete this climb… I have done and overcome. Therefore there was no reason I would not finish this.

That was that. I focused on this reasoning when trialing mental for this project and when it was time… I Sisyphused the shit out of my feet and pushed that boulder to the top.

This is the second last pitch to the top of the climb. Dwayne managed to get a “smiling” photo of me but it’s actually a picture of a grimace. For the last 10 pitches the skin mom my heels were so raw every step was excruciating. I was throwing down some pretty neat arch smear, knee smear, mantle moves … anything to not use my heels or toes.

I lead the final slab pitch to the top. In pain, to the very last move. I joked about bailing the route and coming back another day. I waved at hikers dangerously taking selfies at the ridge and I kept rolling the god damned boulder.

We did it! I summited at approximately 17:00hrs making it roughly a 10hr project from base to peak and 18hrs from door to door. (Yes it took me 2 hrs to hike down Ha Ling) omg my knees.

Thank you to amazing friend – pretty much family – Dwayne for hiking to the top and rappelling down to cheer us on and take photos. And also carry most of my gear down!

I was so exhausted hiking down my legs were shaking and I felt like a zombie. I just needed to sit was all I could think. Had a moment to lay down while dwayne got the shuttle vehicle… nap time.

To Jennine, thank you for being so amazing, inspiring, strong and just a funtastic human that I was so privileged to share this tick with. Love you so much for enduring me and doing this again!

Birth of A Better Human: A Climbers Home Water Birth Story

Labour CAN Be Amazing… With Realistic Expectations.

We all hear about “the miracle of birth,” and how magical it is. Nowadays a lot of women have become disillusioned with the process of birth. They see beautiful photos on social media and hear all these whimsical things of unicorns floating out of their womb, yet very few women these days have actually seen or been a part of the labour process. I personally had not.

However, I am a realist and over the years I have done my own market research about birth and child bearing and all that jazz. I heard many stories and listened to numerous experiences. I found one common theme seemed to pop up. “Most women are unprepared for the reality of labour.”

Very few women, especially in my generation, take the time to think about the birthing process from start to finish. They see what TV and Instagram show them and they believe that it’s a push for a little while , scream and cry and then… taaa- daaa!!! Baby! They fail to think about the process and only see the end.

I’ve been in more than enough lengthy physically and mentally draining situations in my life, (from running half a marathon to surviving in the bush for 7 days without food to growing up with a bipolar stepmother). I knew I had to take the time to actually put myself “in the shoes of labour” so to speak, to be able to truly prepare for what was to come.

Why I Climb is my mental perspective that helped me with the whole journey and it let me take the time to appreciate the process.

Being someone that has been conditioned to process scenarios from beginning to end I’ve been subconsciously preparing myself for birth since I took my first Baby sitter CPR course. I learned to run scenarios from beginning to end from lifeguarding and EMS and over the years made it a habit to always assess “what if this happened to me?”

And so, throughout my data collecting I also learned that pretty much every woman I spoke to about birth endured under 36 hrs of labour. This became my endpoint. It was how I was to set my pace.

The other major factor in making this experience amazing was the climbing mentality I developed. I was able to apply the same techniques I use to “send” climbs to the birthing process.

The Big Day, Play by Play.

After 41 weeks the big day finally arrived. Apparently its common for first time moms to become anxious once the due date passes and I have to admit a little bit of that apprehension was beginning to apply to me. I still managed to sleep – for the most part- soundly through the nights but as each day came closer to the due date every odd movement at night would wake me up and each day past the due date I began to wonder if those movements we the beginnings of true labour contractions.

However each day resulted in just another morning with the Little Human still inside. Adam and I maintained light moderate activity right to the end. I credit my healthy pregnancy to playing at least 3 games of disc golf a week. This gave me purpose, light – moderate exercise and kept me in good spirits.

Phase 1 – Loss of Mucous Plug

On this particular day it began at little different. Instead of getting up around 8:00hrs – 9:00hrs like we normally do. we decided to sleep in. I figured it could be any day now with the baby, so I wanted to bank my rest. I slept until about 11:00hrs, I ate some stuff. Then went back to sleep for another 2- 3hours while Adam cleaned. I remember how heavy my eye lids were. I kept catching glimpses and whiffs of Adam scrubbing the bathroom. The smells burned my eyes and was so strong but I was too tried to say anything and I kept falling in and out of heavy sleep. Eventually I started to feel like I was awake and we finally started to mobilize about 14:00hrs.  When I went to the bathroom at 14:33hrs, I discovered my mucous plug had fallen out!

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This was super exciting for me because I had been waiting for “signs of labour” and this was one of them. Not all women experience the loss of the mucous plug, which is viscous or waxy build up in the cervix that can dislodge when the cervix starts to dilate. Many women miss it because it can easily be lost during a toilet session.

I knew the oversleeping was a good sign that my body was preparing for something big and when I saw the plug I was on high alert for other signs! However the day must go on and I didn’t want to just sit around waiting for labour to happen.

Phase 2 – Regular Contractions

We had plans to run errands, eat things and go watch a beautiful screening of a powerful film “Breaking Free” by our friend Calixte Leblanc owner of Cross Road Media Productions . I remember being at the intersection off Sarcee Trail and whatever that road is that takes you to the Beacon Hill Costco. I was feeling my Braxton hicks contractions (which are kind of like practice contractions that don’t typically hurt and just occur randomly and intermittently but are easily alleviated by changing position or drinking water) and it dawned on me that there was something rhythmic about them.  My eyes settled on the digital dash clock of our 2010 Subaru Forester and I started watching the time.

It was 16:14hrs when I started questioning my Braxton Hicks contractions. They seemed to be coming in at regular intervals and in waves so I started to time them. (Apparently something you do when you’re in the last stages of pregnancy.) Lo and behold the next one came in at 16:22hrs, then the next one at 16:30hrs, 16:38hrs and then 16:46hrs….

I told Adam…. “I think baby is coming.”

(Which was not a shocking phrase as it was something we had been jokingly saying, repeatedly for the past 2 weeks but this time… I meant it.)

“I think I’m going into labour.”

We give each other a *High five!*

We had already made commitments for the 7pm film screening and I figured well… it’s not like the baby will pop out in the next few hours. Adam and I decided to just keep on doing what we were doing and by 18:00hrs we were at our event with contractions at 7 minutes apart and noticeably getting stronger.

Phase 3 – “Breaking Free” & Bloody Show

“Breaking Free,” is a short film produced, filmed, and created by  my friend Calixte Leblanc. It’s a powerful kayaking film about drowning the stigma surrounding mental health that featured Adam and I in the previews.  This was an intimate screening with maybe 15-20 people at a therapy ranch and it meant a lot to us that Calixte wanted us to be there for him during this important transition in his life.  While we waited for other guests to arrive, I helped myself to more food, kept breathing through the steady waves of contractions and tried to contain my excitement.   By 18:36hrs (at the film screening event) I had my first “bloody show” which is basically some bleeding in preparation for labour. Another exciting sign! It also meant that labour was near and we were starting to push the envelop. I decided since it was still quite early in the labour stages we didn’t “have” to be home and we wanted to wait to call the midwives when the contractions were less than 5 minutes apart. Therefor I figured we were still good for time.

I recall throughout the event people would ask me “when’s the baby due?” (as common practice goes). I would reply with a soft smile “today. I’m in labour now.”

The screening began later than expected and my contractions were gradually getting stronger and closer together, but we didn’t want to miss the screening.  Which I am so happy we didn’t because we began the evening with a smudging ritual and a small presentation of rock gifts  from Calixte. Smudging is a traditional indigenous ritual where a bundle of sage or braid of sweet grass is burned to purify the soul and cleanse the soul as well as the energy of a space.  Many people often perform this short ritual when starting a new, moving into a new place or when they want to transition the energy of a space or themselves.

I remember feeling very calm and open during this time.  I was elated, happy and just grateful for the things that led up to this day and for the experience that awaited me in the hours to come. This was a wonderful way to being our labour journey.

I’m glad we continued with our day as planned because the event turned out to be such a beautiful and powerful presentation of breaking through life’s challenges and it was a celebration of our friend who broke free from a decade of pain and wanted to share his love and appreciation for those that supported him. Details of this amazing story will be shared another time but I wanted to mention it because it was a major moment in pushing me through the night.

I couldn’t have imagine a more beautiful opening ceremony of the events that were to follow. By the time we left it was sometime after 20:30 and we arrived home around 21:00 with contractions now beginning to be uncomfortable at 5 minutes apart.

Phase 4 : Carb Load and Final Prep

We knew we had a long night ahead of us so I started hydrating with my favourite electrolyte drink Sustain and Adam started to inflate the birthing pool. I started to make some pasta to carb- load but the contractions were starting to make it more difficult, so I just sat on my exercise ball, turned on Netflix and just started focusing on myself and the beginnings of labour! Adam took over the cooking and made me some garlic mushroom pasta.

At this point Adam made a call to the midwife to check in and give them updates. We had a team of three midwives that had been overseeing my pregnancy. All were great but Adam and I really hoped Julie would be the one to attend the labour.

We knew the baby was a lucky a baby and lo and behold Julie was the midwife on call that night! Adam relayed my status to Julie and she asked if we needed her to come. I wanted to hold off at long as I could so Julie could get as much rest as she needed and also so we didn’t risk having her drive all the way only to go back home if I wasn’t far enough along.

Adam passed the phone to me and Julie asked me how I was doing. At this point I could force quick sentences between contractions or speak single words but it was definitely getting harder. Wondering what contractions feel like? Imagine having bad diarrhea pains or bad period cramps and trying to talk through them.

Julie asked me where the pain was during contractions – back or abdomen? I told her it was in my uterus. She asked me how I felt during contractions. I told her I wanted to bear down, clench and squeeze my toes in. Julie instructed me to try softening and relaxing the perineum and not to squeeze my toes but rather imagine “a buttery perineum.” She asked me again if I needed her to come and told me to try get some rest and she’ll see me in the morning.

I remember laughing to myself and Adam saying “I don’t think Julie knows how far along I am… because there’s no way we’re sleeping tonight, the baby’s coming.”

We’ve been told numerous times that first time moms usually are anxious and over anticipate labour, so it was no surprise that Julie assumed I was in the same boat and that she had more time.

I wanted to ensure I followed Julie’s every instruction so Adam and I headed to bed and tried to get some sleep.

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Phase 5 : “Buttery Perineum” = Water Breaking

Upon the next set of contractions, I focused on keeping my feet relaxed, on my breathing and then imagining a soft and relaxed perineum.  Suddenly I head and felt a “Pop.”

“AdamMyWaterBroke.” I said quickly in the middle of my contractions.

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Adam jumps up “really??” He runs around to my side of the bed and lifts up the sheets. He asks if I want to get up so he can soak up the fluid. I was still in the middle of a contraction and I managed to utter a couple words indicating we just wait a minute.

This was sometime around 23:00hrs. At this point I told Adam maybe it was time to call Julie. I also called Leanne, my doula and let her know my water broke.

At this point Adam started to partially fill the birthing pool and I wandered around the house trying to find the best positions to endure the contractions which were now at about 4- 5 minutes apart. I had also taken the opportunity to check the fluid because we had been warned that if there was meconium (baby poop) present in the fluid then there was concern of the baby aspirating it in utero. I took a quick photo of the discharge and kept the pad to show Julie, my midwife. (We later found out that in many cases this was a possible indication to go to the hospital but after monitoring mine and the baby’s vitals Julie deemed it was okay.   This was the first of many “complications,” that could have warranted a ride to the hospital.)

Phase 6: Team arrival, pool time, traction

Leanne, my ninja friend and doula arrived first.  This was now sometime before 24:00hrs and by now contractions were leaving me quite focused in whatever position I would find myself. After some hellos and loving strokes of my back, Leanne stepped in and started providing me with traction in my hips through the contractions. Basically what this means is that she was squeezing my pelvis together in the midst of contractions to counteract the painful expanding of the hips during a contraction.

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This changed everything! The pained was reduced quite dramatically, just by having Leanne use her palms or inner thighs to squeeze my hips in whenever I was experiencing a contraction. For the rest of the night Adam and Leanne alternated this task and I couldn’t imagine enduring labour without this. There were only a couple times where I recalled looking up desperately for someone to be at my hips. Imagine a panic-eyed- puppy- dog kind of an expression.

Julie arrived about 20-30min after Leanne and set up her things in the living room. Julie took my vitals as well as check on the fetal heart rate and checked my cervical dilation. (She didn’t tell us at the time but I was already 4cm dilated which meant I was progressing farther along than she anticipated.)

Shortly after she asked me if I wanted to get into the pool. I remember over zealously asking “Can I??!” (Thinking the pool was pretty much just for the pushing portion of the whole labour ordeal) she replied “yeah if you want!”

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Happy as a clam I waddled into the pool and Leanne jumped in with me, while Adam added hot water to the pool. (At one point burning his own hand.)

Being in the water made me much happier. It helped with easing the pain of contractions quite a bit. Also this was a childhood dream of mine to give birth at home in a pool so emotionally I was hitting all the tick lists.

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Phase 7: The long game & complications.

This was one of the longest moments. It seemed like contractions would never end . One of the biggest things I didn’t prepare for was back to back contractions. I had no idea that this was a thing. I always thought there was a rest in between every set of contractions but NO there comes a time where you may experience back to back to back to back to back contractions. This was the worst.

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I recall only two moments in time where I looked up at the kitchen clock. Sometime around 23:00hrs and sometime around 03:00hrs.

Throughout this time there were only a few thoughts that cycled through my mind continuously like a mantra. “Keep your perineum relaxed – like butter,” “36 hours left” and “breathe.” Every time I could feel a contraction building up these were the things that kept me focused. Just like when I’m climbing. “Breathe, move your feet, just try harder.”

Phase 8: Complications.

I endured a few complications that flagged some concern with my midwife. However she was very experienced and recognized that as long as I progressed positively and kept my mind and body in control, then she would wait before making the decision to transport me to the hospital. (Basically since I wasn’t freaking out, the baby wasn’t freaking out and the midwife wasn’t freaking out.

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Complication #1 when my water broke I noticed some yellowy green discharge and took a photo and kept my pad to show Julie when she arrived. We later found out that this was one of the moments where she was a little concerned there was meconium present which could potentially be aspirated by the baby. However upon checking my vitals and the baby’s she deemed it was safe to proceed with the home birth.

 

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Complication #2 amniotic sac had a bubble. During the last few hours, my contractions had caused a section of the amniotic sac to pinch off and create a fluid filled bubble which was resulting in a stand still in the labour process. Once again checking my vitals and the baby’s, Julie deemed us stable and corrected the situation but using what essentially resembled a crochet hook, up into my hooha to puncture the bubble. I remember instantly there was a small relief in pressure. Julie then reported that some more space was now available in the birthing canal for better ease of getting the baby out.Complication #3 this was the more severe issue that posed the most concern. There hit a point (I think around 3am) that things were “stuck”. There was an unusual amount of blood coming out during each contraction (when normally there should be little to none) and though I was dilated the baby was not able to move down. Julie realized that my cervix was being pinched and dragged by the baby’s head versus the baby’s head thinning the cervix and bypassing.

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Imagine putting a heavy weight (baby’s head) on a long strip of carpet(the cervix) and dragging it. The carpet would being to fold and rippled rather than the weight glide over the carpet as intended.To fix this Julie had to manually press down on the tissue during several contractions to allow for the baby’s head to move down. It would be like having someone hold the carpet down while another person drags the weight.

Phase 9: Experiencing the True Miracle of Birth

People often think the miracle of birth is when the baby pops out and is on the mothers chest and they meet eye to eye for the first time. For me, I learned the miracle is when you realize that the very moment you are in, is the most mentally and physically challenging moment you have ever experienced in your entire life and all the while you are appreciating it as awesome as it’s happening.

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Now this was one of the most painful points of labour. The next set of thoughts in this phase that helped me through was, “if you do as she tells you, you don’t have to do it again and this will be over sooner,” “36 hours left,” “isn’t this great? Live in the moment because it will never happen again. How many people get to experience this exact thing!?”

Yes, that last thought was my go- to whenever things got really “unbearable,” I reminded myself that what I was experiencing was unique and magical. Believe it or not it was in these moments you may have caught a fleeting smile because it was when I truly would understand the “beauty and miracle of birth.”

All this was occurring while I was still in the birthing pool. The absolute most painful part of my labour was what happened next. Julie asked me to get out of the pool.

My Will said “ok,” but inside I remember thinking “omg I can’t,” because I knew contractions were coming and I didn’t think I could make the 5-6 steps to the bed let alone high step out of the birthing pool and then climb up on the bed. Every time I started thinking about the whole process of what I had to do, I simply told myself “just do it,” and completed each movement one at a time until I was finally on the bed .

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These next moments were some of the most painful moments of the labour. To the point where it was the most difficult to recollect. In my mind I thought perhaps it was 20minutes or so but when I asked Leanne my doula and friend, she said 45min to an hour. She also said she could hear the tone in my voice change and she could her the escalation of pain.

I guess being in the water truly is better!

During this time Adam was emptying the pool and changing the water for the last phase of labour. Julie, the midwife was assessing me on the bed and doing her magic. I don’t remember much of this phase, just that it hurt and I remember desperately looking for someone to apply traction to my hips every time a contraction was coming, but due to my position no one could help me. I remember pulling on my hair so hard I partially expected clumps to rip out. Leanna recalls this as well.

Eventually Julie said I could return to the pool. I don’t remember how I got there but next thing you know I was back in the pool.

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This next phase was also a little foggy. I just recall Julie instructing me to change position – probably something to do with the baby  obviously. I wasn’t about to argue. Here begins the awkward get-on- all – fours – with- your – feet – up position. Yay.  This was not a pleasant position to be in but I had to do some interesting breathing / panting patterns to get the baby into an ideal position. I’m not sure how long I was here for because by now I was just pacing myself to get to my 36 hr mark. (Remember this is the goal I preset for myself because whatever happens in labour… the baby is going to be out within  36 hrs.)

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One of the other worse things I remember is this stupid tile seam or something that my knee kept gravitating towards.  My knee was so sore and bruised from resting on it but I couldn’t waste the energy to say more than one or two words at a time so I was unable to let Adam know I needed help fixing this horrible painful annoyance.

AND I WAS SO HOT! The pool water seemed to be like hot tub and all i could muster was “wet, towel. Hot.” Too hot. This is the part in labour where you DO NOT TOUCH the pregnant woman.

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Phase 10: The Calm. 

This was another unexpected transition in labour that I had no idea existed. The calm phase. For a wonderful amount of time, the contractions spaced out. They slowed down as if to give my body a chance to reboot.  It was as if your body is telling you to slow down, remember this moment because the next part of labour… is what you have been waiting for your whole life.

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I actually was able to sleep in between contractions at this point. They were less frequent and less intense. I knew the end was near.  Throughout the labour process I was still able to crack a few smiles and make a few jokes and this phase I was definitely feeling pretty happy. I conserved my energy to express this happiness but if you were part of my team you had the chance to see little wisps and bursts of uncanny and witty humour.

Anyways, cold cloths, naps and quiet time. It’s interesting. When I show people my birthing photos people always comment on how calm it seems, and in reality it was. At the end… how quickly you people forget about all the phases I wrote to you above! Alas yes, this was my favourite part. It brings tears to my eyes to recollect this wonderful moment. It gave me time to reflect on the entire journey, from when I realized I wanted to be a mom all those decades ago, to this exact point in time… moments a mere couple hours before I would get to hold a little human and call it mine.

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It gave me time to appreciate the day leading to this moment in the freaking hot tub of a birthing pool and smile at those around me. Adam, Leanne, Julie and Callan. It gave me time to breathe and listen to my breath.  I remember looking around and being grateful for all the tired faces around me. Thinking about when the last time each of them slept. Feeling humbled that these people around me were willing to not only participate voluntarily in a wake – a – thon but basically be expected to work their asses off keeping me alive, cold, tractioned and hydrated.

This was the calm phase… the begging of the end of the beginning.

Phase Eleven: The Push

This is the phase you see in the movies. The 20 minutes of labour that make people think is all labour. They part where women seem to fear the most. This was actually what I looked forward to the most. It’s because it meant I could see the finish line. If any of you have every competed in anything, you know this feeling. A mix of joy, followed by a reality check of not getting too excited because you still have to save your energy and then a burst of focus and determination to get to the end. CF5_5472

This moment is when I knew that within and hour or so I would be able to finally sleep and the back to back to back to back contractions would no longer be.  It was GO TIME.

I was also mentally prepared enough for this moment that I could be patient. I wanted to limit the amount of perineal tearing as much as possible and knew I would have to take my time.

I remember being really in tuned to my midwife. I’ve always known that the “easy” way out is usually the harder in the end so it was better to be focused and listen carefully to the instructions of Julie. I recall being able to feel and hold easy push and be mindful of the baby moving down the cervix. Of course it was painful but I knew if I didn’t hold my position it would only mean the baby would get sucked back in and I would have to do it again. Think about rolling a heavy boulder up a hill, if you let go each time you wanted to take a break, the boulder would roll back down to the bottom and you would have to start again. Rather, be strong, persevere and maintain an anchor when you need a break and slowly but surely you’ll get that boulder to the top of the hill.

Hold and push. Hold and push. Breathe.

I did hit a point when I knew I was getting too tired, and if waited a couple more holds it probably would have reduced the tearing. I had to decide in my mind whether I had enough energy to wait or if I didn’t complete the final push now perhaps I would be too tired to continue. At this point you’re not worried about tearing anymore because in reality the worst was over so whats a little “split lip?”

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Adam always jokes about how when the midwife asked me if i knew what the baby sex was I replied “boy,” because I saw the umbilical cord. What really was going on my mind while everyone was teary eyed and celebrating was “I don’t care what the sex is, I need to sleep and there’s still so much work to be done. I need to get out of this pool, deliver this placenta, get sutures and still get examined and do who knows what. I’ll just saw whatever sex comes to mind to get them to stop bugging me so we can keep going!”

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Phase Twelve: The Work Begins, delivering the placenta and all the other stuff people neglect to incorporate in their birthing process.

A lot of people think the hard work is over once the baby comes out. I knew better. I allotted myself enough energy for up to 3 more hours of “work,” once the baby came out. I had realistic expectations and I knew my limits. If I didn’t continue “working” I would shut down and run out of adrenaline.

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This was another 1-2 hour process. The most painful aspect of the labour process for sure. Everyone was getting ready to rest and enjoy the baby and I was in military mode. No one tells you how the contractions get worse and continue while delivering the placenta and nursing. They had to massage the crap out of my uterus to make sure all the blood clots came out and the placenta was released properly so there wasn’t unresolved bleeding.

I remember wanting to ask for sutures as soon as possible but I was too tired and too polite to question the teams process. It seemed like forever. Maybe 45 minutes before it was attended to. (Adam says 20-25 Minutes but he also thinks hiking into cougar canyon takes 20-25minutes…)  I was counting the minutes, listening to everyone clean up and take notes and all I could think about was getting stitched up before my adrenaline wore off.

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Finally it was time to get sutured. It was the most painful part of the whole process. Where I was frozen it didn’t hurt it was everything else. I remember my inner thighs and labia majora being so tender and just the slight touch of a glove would send crippling spasms through my body.  I’m sure I was breaking the hands of Adam and Leanne as they held on to me.  My back hurt from all the spasms. I wish I said something sooner. Whether or not it could have been addressed to I wish I made the effort to say something because it was THE WORST.

My proudest moments:

I remember the doula, Leanna and midwife Julie saying that Adam was the most hands on and attentive partner they’ve ever seen. (He was basically my doula 2IC.)

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The midwife said she only wanted to attend climbers from now on because of our ability to focus and have such control. (I mean this really was just a long climbing project I needed to send.)

When the midwife said there were several incidences where she considered a hospital intervention but saw how calm and focused I was.

When my doula said of the 16 births she attended this was the calmest she’s seen a baby come out. Just quiet and calm.

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Things I want for next time:

Frozen cloths for when I’m burning up, sutures ASAP, video footage, padding under the birthing pool. Glass O’ Wine!

Pregnancy Pilgrimage: The Hatchelorette Season 2, Part 1

Many of you may remember The Hatchelorette Part 1: Celebrating the Woman Who Was, Is and Will Be. A pregnancy road – trip I took with my first unborn child at 8 months pregnant. It was a way of closing a chapter in my life while celebrating the coming of a new one. The intention was to visit natural hot springs and celebrate myself and who I was as Human and Woman.

Now the tradition continues, the Pregnancy Pilgrimage in search of new hot springs but this time with my family unit. Again I am 8months pregnant and this time, I will have my 21month old Human and my life-partner to share this adventure with.

I am excited for this trip because it’s been a long time since we have travelled and travelling has always been a huge part of our lives. Being in different places, exploring foods and cultures and climbing destinations has been a way to constantly remind me how fortunate I am and how to be value the simple things in life.

Our plan is to do a multi day loop down to Montana, through to Idaho and up through British Columbia and back home. It won’t be a long trip as I want to be within a reasonable driving distance from Canada in case of any medical emergencies but nevertheless I am confident that one does not have to go far to reconnect with nature and themselves.

Our first stop will be Sand Coulee, Montana. A little town just outside of Great Falls Montana. This will be a resting point em route to our hot springs and hopefully give us a chance to find some nice disc golf courses to hit up and get some mileage in for my pregnant bones.

Last journey, I slept in the vehicle with my Dragon the Toilet Trained Cat: Week 4 and the most painful part were the nights of changing position and having my hips pop and settle and resettle. I’m happy to report this time, since there’s going to be my whole family unit with me, I have booked airBNB’s along the way to make the journey much more bearable!

This Carriage House Bed and Breakfast really hit the mark. Warm, cozy and lofty it made us wish we could stay longer to really enjoy the extras! We arrived pretty late, close to dinner time and it gave us enough time to settle in, relax and make some dinner. There were a great variety of books and board games for us to enjoy and to be honest after a long day of travelling we just looked forward to some rest.

Our breakfast consisted of a some amazing homemade eggs and pancakes with homemade jams, fresh blueberries, fresh squeezed orange juice and a side of sour cream with a brick of butter. We were pleasantly surprised by the amount of food and on top of this breakfast delight we were greeted by our hosts barrage of animals!

It was such a wonderful treat for our little human to experience morning on a Montana homestead! Horses, chickens, donkeys, kittens, puppies, roosters the whole she- bang made this a great kick off to our little family adventure.

We hit the road after breakfast, pooping and packing and took a little detour to check out Giant Springs Park in Great Falls which had a pretty amazing fish hatchery for us to check out.

With a full day ahead exploring natural hot springs we managed to just get on the road and make our way to Stevensville, a little hamlet just south of Missoula but a wonderful base camp for the next day.

Hopefully the weather holds and we’ll be able to hike in to a series of natural Hotsprings in Lolo National Forest where we will spend the morning & afternoon soaking old bones in nature’s mineral waters.

You *Blank* Like A Girl

There’s been a lot of girl power stuff going around these days and I was really inspired by the whole ” —– like a girl,” movement.

My whole life it always seemed like such a negative to be a girl. “You throw like a girl,” “you cry like a girl,” “you play like a girl.” Like what does that even mean? I was always one to play as hard, throw as far and run as fast as most boys in my school days and yet it was always the worst insult when someone said ” you *blank* like a girl.”

Well you know what? I’m taking it back and making it a positive! Damn right I *blank* like a girl, because girls are unstoppable now.

This is why when komfibaby approached me about making a custom shirt for Basia, it didn’t take long for me to decide on “Climb Like Basia.” It doesn’t mean she has to become a climber someday or even like climbing, but hopefully it will inspire those that doing things “like a girl,” is actually the best compliment.

Not only that, but I requested that her name be spelled in American Sign Language (ASL), because deaf culture needs more credit!

I hope that at the minimum it sparks conversation and intrigue to learn what those letters spell and at the best open the world to climbing as well as ASL!

5 Reasons to Own a WestCoastSewing Baby Sling!

With all my adventures and hobbies I often find ways to make my life as efficient and practical as possible. In my social circles I’m slowly becoming known as the “No Fuss Practical Mom.” Continue reading