Thursday, December 9, 2010

Climbing pregnant, the first fall: Week 30

It never crossed my mind that I might, at some point, actually fall while climbing. I know, duh, it is a possibility, I just hadn't considered it. I have been very thorough with whomever is belaying me. Checking and double checking that everyone is double backed, locked and loaded. I make sure that my belayer knows to keep me tight so I don't go far if I was to fall. All the precautions were there, and I felt safe.
A few nights ago I was in the gym, same old same old. I was warmed up, it was my last hard climb of the session. I placed my foot on a positive but slick foot hold, and stretched up for a far reaching hand hold. SLIP. My foot skated off and off I went. I was dangling there in space when I realized I had actually fallen. During which time I tightened my abs as much as they would tighten (reflexes), so tight in fact that I had a hard time getting them to relax. I re-situated myself to a more comfortable resting spot and contemplated what had just happened. I sat there, waiting for the contractions to start. But there was nothing. My breath wasn't labored, my body felt fine. I was fine. So I kept climbing, I finished the route and called it a day.
Even though everything seemed well and good, I needed to feel the baby move before I was on a path towards ease of mind. I sat down to take off my climbing shoes and put on my regular shoes and bam bam bam goes the baby. Knocking around in there like nothing out of the ordinary had happened.
I would have been fine had the voices of the hundreds of people who have said to me,
"You aren't still climbing are you?"
"Oh that's so dangerous, what about the baby?"
"You shouldn't be climbing, should you?"
And even though I know how to answer each and every one of their questions and comments. Even though I know that everything is fine and that climbing feels better than walking. Even though the baby was moving, I didn't get a single contraction...
The ghost-like voices in my head filled me with anxiety. It took me two days of talking myself, talking to the baby, talking to my medical practitioner friends for me to let go of the notion that I had damaged the baby by falling a 1/4" on top-rope.
I'm fine,
the babies fine,
if something irregular happens with the baby, it has nothing to do with my climbing. If mama is happy, baby is happy.
How much better can I take care of the growing life in my belly than to eat well, be well, and choose activities that give me peace of mind.
F*** the police.


  1. Well lets hope we dont have to hear you whine if you do kill your baby.I cant think of anything more reckless myself but,as long as you dont whine on if the worst happens then I guess its your baby to risk.

  2. I debated for a moment on whether or not to publish this comment. But the main reason I'm keeping this blog is to give a first person account of exactly what climbing while pregnant is like. The positives as well as the negatives. I've met people like anonymous who hold back the emotion a bit and instead say more mundane things like the comments I've posted in my blogs. I'd like to answer this comment:
    If you are going to belittle someone at least have the backbone to call yourself something other than anonymous. I'm sorry you are such a wimp. You should actually read the blog sometime. Are you a climber? Are you a mother? How many children do you have? Are you a doctor? If you have concerns lets hear them. Don't just post a juvenile comment that helps no one and makes you look ignorant.

  3. That's insane. You're an athlete who knows their limits. You know when you're going to fall. Add on that the fact that you're on top rope. Jeeze, no problem at all.

    Somehow the body has evolved pretty well to accept a lot of pressure (for example, how many pre-born babies have been killed by the mother rolling over in the night).

    At some point you'll stop climbing, but you'll know when that it is.

    -kyle r.

  4. Anonymous- apparently you do not understand rock climbing. Top rope climbing (as Carrie was doing) is perfectly safe while pregnant. If you fall, you do not fall more than a few inches when a dynamic rope catches you softly. She wears a full body harness, which distributes her body weight evenly and safely around her body. I climbed until I was 36 weeks pregnant and only stopped because it wasn't fun for me anymore. Hiking is way more dangerous, but you probably wouldn't bag on a pregnant lady for hiking now would you? If you think climbing pregnant is dangerous, check out this lady:

    She's as far along as Carrie and plans to ski and continue mountain biking! These activities seem way more dangerous to me than top-rope rock climbing, but I'm not about to leave a nasty comment on her blog or judge her. I trust her judgement to do what's best for her and her unborn child as I trust Carrie to do the same. It's not like they're smoking and drinking!

  5. Coop,
    You are one of the most incredible mothers I have ever known. Truly an inspiration to all you meet. Anonymous up there is obviously an idiot. Stupid people say stupid things because they don't bother to educate themselves before lashing out. Those who know you, myself included, know you would never put your child, or anyone you love for that matter, in harms way. You rock mama, keep on keepin on, love to you and the fam!

  6. The top ropes in a gym are not dynamic....they're static. Anyone who climbs in a gym should know this.

  7. 1. You never always know when you are going to fall.
    2. Gym ropes are static.
    3. Since your child is not old enough to answer whether they would like to share in this risky behavior, perhaps you should default to assuming they might not want you to expose them to this potential injury.

    Too much risk and for what, really?

  8. is it me, or does "anonymous" sound like a man who works in a "healing arts" or "wellness" "profession"? One with climbing aspirations like, "5.12b on tr in the gym before the solstice". coop, take comfort and inspiration from the ultimate climbing bloggerina of the webnet,

  9. I'm not sure s/he knows what "static" means. Too much Risk? Do you drive a car or eat processed foods? That's right, you never know when you are going to fall, like while walking, or putting on your shoes. That's when I'm most graceful at least... You're right, I should just sit on the couch all day watching daytime television. Real healthy.
    Why do haters always post as Anonymous?

  10. Anonymous, yeah, their static and its top roping. Not lead climbing. There is no slack in the rope when you fall, because its top roping. You must be getting the worst belays in the world.

  11. I climbed on TR through month 8, and it never even occurred to me to be concerned about falling. As long as your belayer is attentive, climb on!

  12. Hi, I am also pregnant and climbing, I asked my doctor about it and he said it was fine as long as I feel good. However, I am having some thoughts about lead climbing. Right now it is still very early but I guess at some point falling when lead climbing could have too much impact. I was thinking about maybe stopping lead climbing at 4 or 5 months and only toprope after that. Does anyone here have experience with this?

  13. I have a friend that lead things she was very very familiar with and pretty darn sure she wasn't going to fall on into her 5th month. Personally, I stopped bouldering around four months. Especially given where the harness lies and the impact of falling, my opinion is that its better to be safe than sorry. It would suck to prolapse your uterus.

  14. This is fantastic! I only wish I knew about that harness when I was pregnant. I did some research but could not fine one. So glad you were able to continue what you love doing. My husband and I just took our 2 month old on a climbing trip (she did not climb obviously) but I was surprised by all the crap we got for just taking her with us. Just because you have a child does not mean you stop living. In fact you’re teaching your child to continue to be true to who they are. Oh, and Carrie I love your comment on being in more danger driving and eating process foods, so true! Hope your baby is well!

  15. Carrie, I would like to thank you for sharing your story. I have been climbing for years. I did not think I could climb after I out grew my harness,so when I read your story I ordered the 8003 full body. Now I am six months and still able to top rope. I hear all sorts fo comments at the gym about how safe it is. I think they just do not understand.
    much love and light

  16. I am a climbing mother and I have to agree that it is WAY more safe than hiking or driving for that matter while pregnant. If someone is making a negative comment towards climbing top rope while pregnant, then they obviously don't know what top rope climbing is. Most people don't even understand that there is someone belaying you. You are doing great!

  17. For the record, and I know this is an old post, but it's now relevant to me so I just thought I would correct a factual inaccuracy.

    The ropes in the gym are NOT static. Falling on a static rope with any slack in it whatsoever would cause serious injury. With significant amounts, it would break your pelvis. For example, a three foot fall because your belayer had not taken the slack in would result in a near death experience and months in hospital. Obviously, a shorter fall would hurt less.

    Are they fatter, and hence stretch less than a skinny and pricey lead rope? Yes of course, mainly because these ropes last longer before they need replacing.

    You want more stretch, not less. That way, the rope absorbs the forces not your pelvis - or the placenta. Having no slack in the system by top roping reduces the forces that need absorbing.


Write your mind here.