I still remember the look on my doctor’s face as I asked her if I could continue climbing during our second check up. That frown she gave me somehow felt a little judgmental and was not exactly the answer I was looking for. Fakhrul quickly reached for Rock & Ice magazine just to show her how climbing harness is worn and then she asked whether we were showing the picture upside down. The situation became somehow awkward because we know that people will never understand how climbing works until they experience it themselves. I know climbing, when done correctly, is safe and I feel safe doing it. A lot of people who assumed I must be hanging by an unsecured flimsy rope 40 feet in the air had never been climbing and didn’t know the safety precautions that we take before we even start.
“If anything happens because of these activities, you will blame yourself..” she said. If anything happens, its because it is meant to be, because Allah wills it so, I thought silently to myself. And you, my preferred doctor (that I will keep coming back to anyway), is a typical situation of “ignorance breeding fear”. The feeling was horrible. It felt like I was a child again and Mama told me I can’t go out and play.
Al-hamdu lillahi rabbil ‘alamin. The bump just turned 28 weeks 2 days ago which means I am embarking my final trimester of this adventure-by-itself journey that is pregnancy. And here’s a little shocker my doctor wouldn’t want to hear: I continued climbing and just had my last climb 3 days ago. And she was right, something did happen which was I’ve fallen twice – stumbled on the last step on the stairs at home and another was tripping at my Aunty’s house, not realizing there was a small drop at her second gate we seldom use. Thankfully both falls were landed on my knees and funny enough, happened when I was at my most graceful self. But never on the walls, not when I’m under careful watch and belay of le husband and definitely not whilst climbing on top rope.
Top roping is when the rope is connected to the climber, goes through a device at the top of the climb and down to the belayer at the bottom. If the climber does fall, the fall is only as far as the stretch of the rope, which is extremely minimal. I could hit my stomach if I fell and swung, but I was careful to never do a climb where I would swing and stayed on easy routes.
Honestly, it’s not that I’m trying to prove anything to anybody. Not looking for any bad-assery during pregnancy. I am neither a professional climber, nor consider myself to be an athlete. Not even particularly a good climber too or even close for that matter. Climbing has just been dominating my life in recent years and it’s hard to give up that “hardman” attitude that we climbers strive and aspire to embody. That hard-headedness is what gets us up climbs we never thought we could achieve, and attain the summits of our dreams. I was also simply pursuing a happy and less emotional pregnancy because I have to be honest, without sounding ungrateful, pregnancy is really not for me. I seriously don’t understand how some women can actually miss being pregnant. Of course, having a baby is a joy, blessing and miracle all by itself but how do you miss the overwhelming feeling seeing your body changes, waddling around like a stuffed penguin on flat ground? The inability to hold your pee and occasionally wetting yourself everytime you sneeze? Even rolling on the bed is such a chore and don’t get me started on the terror of seeing a bone sticking out from your protruding belly. It reminds me of what I will have to push out when the time comes!
It has been an emotional ride because being pregnant here in your own ground with your own usually-paranoid people can be really hard. I can see the dirty condescending look on people’s face as they watched me tie my double figure eight knot, adjusting my old bigger harness and double checking my belay partner as I was getting ready to climb. The stare to my bump as I breathe heavily on the steps of Bukit Gasing for weekend morning hikes. I don’t blame them and often gave the benefit of the doubt that they didn’t know.. that since you’re used to the sport, your body is acclimated to its physical demands. So long you listen to your body and you’re not suffering from any pre-existing health conditions or in a high risk pregnancy, insyAllah, it is perfectly OK to continue on.
On happier notes, I did manage to maintain my routine as much as I could since recovering from horrid fatigue of the first trimester. The first trimester was pretty bad unlike when I was with Daisy I’m amazed that I managed to go through Lombok at all. And I feel so thankful I took up hiking before I got knocked up because without it, I won’t be able to maintain my sanity and go outdoors. I have only been climbing in the safety and controlled environment of the gym, and I am already counting the days to chalk up and touch granite again. Climbing pregnant has changed my outlook on how to approach climbing as not being too strength oriented. And even though I’ve been climbing for almost 3 years, its just like learning how to climb again this time around. Funny, because the routes I used for warm-ups before has transformed into my project (hard) routes nowadays. But I realized if there’s anytime not to push through something, it’s while pregnant. Before, I’ve always said that I climb for the fun of it, when truthfully deep down inside I always strive for harder routes so I don’t stuck climbing the same thing everytime. Now, I honestly am just climbing for fun of the movement and enjoying the sport for a different reason – to sweat off a little and avoid the patheticalness of feeling disabled to do anything as most people would prefer me to, as if pregnancy is a sickness that women just need sit down and do the old fashioned pigging out day and night.
However, I know though, my days on the walls are numbered. Very soon enough I will have to hang my rock shoes and harness until the time is right to return. I thought the process of letting go will be easy when the maternal side of me outshine every other aspect that I believe make me who I am. Letting go the only thing that makes me feel strong and capable, the love of using my muscle and mind on tall cliffs and the love of exhaustion at the end of a long climbing day won’t truly be easy. But now that I’m pretty slow after 6 kilo gained, I know my body soon will give in. Pregnancy for one is truly a humbling experience, that no matter how tough you think you are, you can’t deny the fragility of life that’s growing inside of you. I can only pray that Allah prolongs my health and energy to keep on going with things that give me so much pleasure, and protect me when I am on it.
And although I will feel an overbearing reluctancy to let it all go, right now, I am just overwhelmed with appreciation and emotion and a sense that life and love are the most powerful things in the world, which I never want to take for granted. As I’m writing this, I’m feeling the tiniest kicks in my belly. As much as I’m excited to resume life and more adventures after delivery, I am just as stoked to actually do that with the little guy that is inside of me.