Every year, our family takes an annual camping trip in the summer. My husband LOVES camping. To say I would rather do anything else is an understatement. To clarify: I love hiking outdoors, seeing nature, campfires, and the peace and quiet nature can bring. I just want to experience all of these things with a real bed, bathroom, shower, and air conditioning at the end of the day. My husband is a "dig a hole in the ground and poop in the woods" sort of camper (are we bears??) I'm a "Pinterest how to make your own tent air conditioning" sort of camper. When we first discussed camping together, I figured we should probably break up instead of me taking a poop in the woods. When my mother found out I would be camping, she was in shock. "You must really love this guy." Luckily, we have learned to compromise so I am not in complete misery and he still feels like we are turning into filthy mountain creatures on our trips. Campsites with bathrooms, a sleeping pad, and an abundance of baby wipes to give the illusion of cleanliness.
At the beginning of February, we booked a site for late June at Dorst Creek in the Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Park. Two weeks later, we found out I was pregnant. Dread set in. Camping at almost 6 months pregnant sounded like a horrible idea. I was probably going to opt out. But as the trip got closer, the more compelled I felt to go. I really wanted to see those massive Redwoods and Sequoias. I wanted to disconnect from the city and quiet my mind. I got the go ahead from my doctor and he even informed me that I could use bug spray containing DEET. Most importantly, there were flush toilets at the site. I could do this!
We set out on our camping trip. We had to make a few bathroom stops along the way for my bladder but I survived. The first night of sleep was torture. Our site was on a slant. I kept sliding down the hill and trying to inchworm my way up in my sleeping bag with all my new extra weight was a real bitch. I had to get up and pee twice. Headlamp on, I was convinced I would be eaten by a bear on my way to the bathroom. (Pro tip: my husband lined a path to the bathroom with glow sticks to help me find my way at night. Brilliant.)
The next day, we set out for a hike. 4 miles down was easy and I was cruising. The scenery was gorgeous and we stopped for several pictures along the way. I had to pop a squat a couple times along the trail. My bare ass pressed against a tree trying not to pee on my pants was not my most dignified moment but since I've been pregnant, I've cared a little less about dignity and more about what's necessary. There was a ton of shade from the gorgeous trees and I felt so happy to be surrounded by such beauty.
The 4 miles back was almost all uphill and I was not as happy. I was sweating and my thighs felt like they were on fire. I attribute not dying on that hike to a few things: 1) my husband paced me and offered solid advice and encouragement, 2) I wrapped this incredible cooling towel around my neck to keep from overheating, and 3) I had continued working out through my pregnancy. If I had not done that, there is no way I would have been able to manage a hike like this. Your heart pumps harder and faster when you're pregnant. Add in the heightened elevation and I was breathing like I was sprinting uphill for hours. My fingers swelled up so much I couldn't feel them. My 9 year old stepson said he didn't think he could do the hike anymore but I told him there was a pizza place on the way back to camp and to adopt my workout mantra: "DO IT FOR THE PIZZA." We repeated that mantra a few times along the way and finally made it to the top. I felt like a frigging warrior and you best believe we ate pizza after that.
That night, my father in law unboxed an air mattress and pump for me. The pump didn't work so my husband and brother in law blew the damn thing up by mouth. HEROES DO EXIST, Y'ALL. I slept like a frigging princess the next two nights of our trip. The next day, we went swimming at Hume Lake, surrounded by massive dragonflies and a family of ducks. Later on, we went to visit the General Sherman Tree, the world's largest living tree. I was in awe of how incredible it was to see in person. After that, we explored a trail lined by trees and meadows. We went back to our campsite that night and practiced tying knots and made S'mores over the fire. The next morning, we returned back home and I can honestly say I was so happy I didn't talk myself out of this trip just because I was pregnant. Was it a bit more difficult than if I wasn't pregnant? Yes. Was it a bummer to not drink a beer by the campfire at night? Sure. Did it suck having to get up in the middle of the night every night and hope a bear didn't eat me so I could pee? You bet. But was it worth it to not let my pregnancy hold me back and still explore some of the beauty California has to offer? Without a doubt.
So if you are planning on camping when pregnant, I say go for it. Of course, you should always ask your doctor beforehand as we are all different. And if he/she gives you the go ahead, I suggest the following to make your trip more pleasant: air mattress, headlamp for late night bathroom trips, glow sticks to illuminate paths in the dark, and a Camelbak for constant hydration during activities. Also, be honest with yourself about your fitness level and remember that your pregnant body is not the same as it was before- everything will be harder. If I had not kept working out through my pregnancy, I would have been in a real bind on that strenuous hike. There are so many options for you out there that no matter what your level of fitness, you can still be active. Just be smart about it. Probably doesn't need to be said but as someone who needs reminders to not overdo it sometimes, I feel it's worth sharing. Lastly, bring a camera to document your baby's first camping trip. I bet they will be impressed with their mama when they look at the pictures later in life. Happy Trails!!