Hiking the Grouse Grind with a 15+ Pound Baby Strapped to my Chest

Kristine Sostar McLellan

Even as my car pulled into the parking lot at the base of the mountain, I still wasn't really sure what I was doing. But I had recently lamented to a another friend that what I really missed in my life since having kids was hiking. We used to do dog-friendly hikes like Lynn Headwaters, followed by some pizza and wine at Via Tevere, almost every summer weekend.

But with my first baby the task had seemed daunting. What if she got hungry? What if she needed a diaper change? I was too scared to do it.

So now, with my oldest in daycare and $25 already paid for the hike I signed our dog up for when I first decided this was a good idea (Grouse Grind is sadly not dog-friendly), this was my opportunity: I was doing the Grouse Grind, all alone, with a big ol' baby strapped to my chest.

This is your new norm - so find a way to get out there and do the things you once loved.

Some people say your first child is the biggest life change you'll experience. And in many ways, that's true. There will never be anything like your first time becoming a parent. The fear, the anxiety, the clumsiness...

Then, once you begin to formulate a bit of routine, perhaps get some sleep, you have to contend with the new reality of being confined to your home each evening by about 7pm for bedtime. In many ways, your freedom is gone.

Or, if you're onto your second kiddo, you realize that two against two somehow leaves Team Parent outnumbered. Suddenly your brief reprieve is taking care of just one kid. 

In a typical scene where I have both kids, I find myself in the middle of the Messiest Living Room Ever™ with actual spilt milk all over me, younger baby crying because he literally needs something right now, older baby crying because she has fallen face first off the couch onto the floor and her feet are still dangling in the air, and I genuinely don't know which fire to put out first.

So, yeah, when Liam takes Fionn for a walk and I sit at the park on a bench having a snack with Rowan, that is child's play.

The point is, it doesn't really matter what your parenting situation is: it's hard and it's different from anything you've ever done before. If you don't find time to do the things you love to do, albeit a little differently (Fionn and I did not share a carafe of red wine over a Neapolitan after the fact), years will fly by.

There are no trophies for pushing yourself beyond your capabilities postpartum.

Okay, I'd be lying if I said I didn't relish the recognition just a little bit. Basically everyone along the way was a great cheerleader, and it truly did help me keep going. I mean, I'm not going to say that I agree with the one individual who told me I was their "hero" except that, yes, I do fancy myself a hero now and the only reason I would do the Grouse Grind with my giant baby again is for the praise.

But I am three months postpartum with my second baby in so many years. It's safe to say I am not in the greatest shape of my life and the Grouse Grind is challenging at the best of times.

Going up that mountain with my baby was a literal exercise in accepting where I am right now because it took me a long fucking time. Honestly, it was a little embarrassing. The young and old alike were passing me and I just stayed focused on the ground beneath my feet.

But this is where my body is now. And your body may not be ready to hit the elliptical at three months postpartum, or you may have been climbing crazy mountains six weeks in. It doesn't matter. What matters most is being true to your body's signals, and honouring them.

Because when you do, it will feel great. I not only pushed myself into a physical challenge (that I was ready for), but I did with Fionn, this time around, something I had been too scared to do when Rowan was this age.

I'm pretty sure there is a metaphor about parenting and climbing mountains in here somewhere.


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