Apr 22 2014

Climbing Pregnant: Month 8: In the Wake of Tragedy, Enjoying My Last Two Months of Pregnancy

As I wrote earlier, Month Six was my best month of the pregnancy. An unseasonably warm winter in the Sierras allowed me to continue climbing in Yosemite. I was feeling healthy, happy and in a groove, with regular trips to the Manure Pile Buttress to do some easy but enjoyable “trad walking” on climbs up to 5.8.


It was that month in Yosemite that I continued to bump into my friend, and fellow Yosemite resident, Sean “Stanley” Leary. His wife, Mieka, is also pregnant and one month behind me. We talked about trying to remain active through our pregnancies. He said that Mieka was still climbing and biking, and seemed to be doing great.


I would never have guessed that this would be the last time I would ever see Stanley …


By the beginning of month 8, my SI joint cleared up and I was able to start walking again. Who would think that the simple act of walking would bring so much happiness?! I was literally giddy every morning before, during and after my daily walk with Bodie. I had finally accepted that I won’t be climbing again until after birth, and it felt good to finally let this huge part of my personality go—at least for now. Not fighting the urge to be “fit” anymore was a relief. I was tipping the scales with almost 30 pounds gained, which slowed me down considerably and put extra strain on my loose joints. Peeing in the woods became difficult, my knees hurt, my hips hurt, and driving was becoming somewhat of a chore.


Beyond all that, I was just getting excited to meet our son. I could see a light at the end of the tunnel, and there, an exciting new life would be coming into our world. I couldn’t wait.


Just when everything seemed to be going so well, I received the horrible news that Stanley died in a wingsuit BASE accident in Zion National Park. I couldn’t believe it. It felt like just yesterday that we were booting up to go rock climbing in Yosemite, talking about getting ready for our respective kiddos to arrive and sharing our fears and excitement over being first-time parents.


So much has been written about Stanley, his amazing accomplishments and humble nature. He truly was one of those rare gems, someone who lived such a free life and was now getting ready to share it with another little being. Stanley was the guy who could push the limit and climb right alongside the very best in the world, only he would then shy away from limelight of media, never seeking attention or accolades for his world-class accomplishments.


Like most climbers, I have had friends die doing what they love over the years. But this death struck me especially hard. Stanley was a core member of the Yosemite community, super talented, and always approached the risks he took with respect. But moreover, the fact that he and Mieka were expecting their first child so close to ours added a another horrific layer to this tragedy. It really just struck home hard.


Throughout my pregnancy, I’ve been given the incredible gift of getting to experience, first hand, what goes into creating a life. All the work and pain and moments of optimism and joy. And yet to see up close just how fragile life is, how it can be ripped out of our hands in split second of time, is equally astounding. It’s hard to to really know what to make of this except for the observation that life can be so beautiful and so wonderful, and simultaneously so unfair and so cruel.


I’ve always been one to stress about being ready and prepared; just always having things lined up. I think that is one of my great assets, but it can also be a flaw. I realize that for so much of this pregnancy, especially in the beginning, I was so worried about outcomes and what will happen in the future that I forgot to just appreciate what I was going through in the present moment. That is so, so important, because you never know what tomorrow will bring. Stanley left a mark on so many people. Perhaps even his sudden and tragic death is teaching me—to remind me to enjoy each second of life, and to stop worrying and appreciate these last two months of pregnancy.


With almost 30 pounds gained, I am now pretty slow. I often feel useless and in pain. But as I write this, I am currently feeling the tiniest kicks in my belly. I feel the warm sun of Yosemite creeping through our window. Bodie is curled up at my feet. Randy is to my right. And I feel just overwhelmed with appreciation and emotion and a new sense that life and love are the most powerful things in the world, and that when you have those things, you don’t ever take them for granted. Thanks, Stanley, for the inspiration. You will be missed, but never forgotten.

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  • Beth, this is a very touching post and a great reminder to us all that we need to appreciate the moments we have especially with those we care for. I've been having a disagreement with a friend and your words reminded me to put aside pettiness. I'm sorry for the loss of your friend and I'm very happy for your soon to be arrival.

    April 23, 2014 at 5:08 am
  • Jack – thank you very much for your kind words and thoughts. We are getting excited to meet this little guy!
    Thanks again for your message, really appreciate it.
    All my best.

    April 23, 2014 at 6:27 pm
  • Beth, thank you for this blog on climbing pregnant. I am almost 35 weeks into my first pregnancy (also expecting a boy) and a friend shared your blog with me. I have always looked up to you as a climber, so it has been interesting seeing you go through similar challenges that I have been experiencing myself- especially the ever changing body and having to let go of some ego in order to do what is best for me now, not me the athlete. I am still getting in a few easy routes, but climbing definitely has new meaning and purpose for me- just for the fun of the movement. I am looking forward to getting back to challenging myself on hard routes in the future, but am definitely enjoying the sport for different reasons now. How many weeks are you into your pregnancy? Good luck=)

    April 28, 2014 at 12:28 am
  • Hi Karyn –
    Thank you very much for your thoughtful comment and message. And congrats on your soon to be baby boy! My due date is in a couple days….getting down to the wire! We'll see if he comes on time or not 🙂 It's been a very interesting journey and I'm super psyched to meet him. I definitely share your same sentiment that right now, or at least when I was climbing, it was for the fun of the movement. I'm looking forward to seeing how my body re-acclimates to climbing after recovering from birth….I'll definitely keep you posted.
    Good luck in your last month! Thanks again for reaching out.
    All my best.

    April 28, 2014 at 12:57 am
  • Yay, Beth! I'm so excited for you and thank you so much for candidly sharing your experiences. As someone who has considered but not yet decided my hopes for kids vs. no kids, its been really wonderful and helpful to hear from you and the women you talk with. Thanks for sharing. Sending tons of good thoughts for a comfortable last few weeks. 🙂

    April 30, 2014 at 12:18 am
  • B

    Go get em Beth! The true adventure begins soon! Can't wait to hear how everything went 😀

    April 30, 2014 at 2:01 am
  • Thanks so much Teresa! Little guy made his arrival – pretty incredible ride so far 🙂 I'm going to keep writing about it, just haven't had enough time to compile my thoughts on the last month and the birth. Thanks so much for the comment, it's great to hear that people have enjoyed the blogs 🙂

    May 20, 2014 at 5:24 pm
  • Thanks so much B! Everything went really well, super fortunate. I'm getting geared up to write about month 9 and the birth….and then continue with everything else!
    Thanks again!

    May 20, 2014 at 5:25 pm
  • And definitely the times when we are really enjoying the moment are the best times when you think in retrospective. I can relate to that side of one's need to try and have everything lined up for the future. Sometimes one can achieve it in the minor things in life, but for the most of things one can't. I have been really working in my patience, letting go of my anxiety about the future and enjoying the present. Even if that means not climbing a lot, not because Im pregnant but because of another kind of "baby", my thesis so I can finally graduate! 😛
    Im sure you are enjoying to the fullest this new baby in your life, congratulations 🙂

    May 25, 2014 at 2:14 am
  • Thanks so much for your comment Vanessa! I really appreciate. Yes, it's so hard for me to let go and not try to have everything lined up, but I'm learning 🙂
    Best of luck on your thesis! And thanks again!
    All my best.

    May 29, 2014 at 3:08 pm
  • B

    nice! hey. . . I figure you need to get your climbing legs back 😀 want to partner up for a nice trad walk in June? I'd be honored to climb with you (as previously discussed!). I will be in the Valley from 11-14. I was gonna try and get a climb day in on the 12. Snake Dike or Royal Arches or something!!??? If you're interested let me know.

    June 6, 2014 at 12:57 am
  • That sounds dreamy! Unfortunately my body is in no way ready to climb! I'm a slow healer I guess 😉 pretty impressed that all these other women could get out and climb so quickly after birth! The body definitely takes a beating. Please let me know if you make it back up later this summer or fall, as I'm definitely looking forward to some post-birth tradwalking to get back into the groove 🙂
    Enjoy the Valley!

    June 6, 2014 at 4:03 pm
  • B

    lol. no biggie. My wife's healing process was just as much of a struggle (and still is), as birth itself. Yoga……yoga yoga yoga. thats all I can say 😀
    All my best

    June 7, 2014 at 4:54 am
  • Thanks for the tip on yoga! And the info that it took her a long time to heal. I'm definitely finding it's going to be a while – and it's nice to hear from others that they had similar experiences – you don't hear much about the healing afterwards!
    All my best!!! And here's to yoga! 🙂

    June 10, 2014 at 8:25 pm
  • B

    Oh yeah. . . I got LOTS of stories 😀 Its a true adventure these little ones. Ill be there thursday hanging around. Im taking 12 of my firefighter buddies up the Cables on friday and gonna hit the alcove swing on thursday afternoon. So if you hear a bunch of dudes screaming like kids, its probably us! have fun:D

    June 10, 2014 at 8:33 pm
  • I felt like I took a long time to heal, too. I tried to get back into running/hiking fairly quickly and my feet, knees and innards 🙂 were NOT into it for the first few (or more than a few) months! I am in awe of some of the women I hear about that are biking, running, doing races etc right after birth. Not me!

    June 12, 2014 at 5:28 pm
  • Hi Dani! Thanks so much for your comment. It's funny, I didn't hear anything about people having a hard time recovering until I started putting some feelers out there with my prolonged recovery. My insides feeling like they want to fall out is what is currently stopping me 🙂 But, taking my time and relishing having Randy home to help out with Theo right now, and hoping things continue to improve! I hope that you are feeling great now!
    Thanks again for the comment!
    Best, Beth

    June 13, 2014 at 3:23 pm