I’ve had yet another many-months-long hiatus from the blog-o-sphere, but I’m back (back again!) for a life-update post! The past year has been such a challenging, unusual period for all of us; I partly blame the monotony and uncertainty of COVID-19 Lockdown-Life for my lack of motivation to write, but not writing or blogging was the least of my concerns as of late!
For myself and for so many of you, the past 6 -8 months have felt bleak and endlessly repetitive; memories are blurry and the months seems to just blend together. Before I started writing this post, it felt like nothing much happened and that the past several months were overall just bleh. And yes, lots of days were very, very bleh. But in retrospect, so many wonderful things happened. Some of these wonderful things were big and monumental, but most of them were the small joys that are so often easily overlooked and underappreciated; unexpected phone calls from a long-distance friend, good morning and good night texts from Ryan when he was at work, endless cuddles with the fur babies, hot and delicious pizza takeout, and the list goes on. I’ve come to realize that this kind of reflection is important to remember all the positives and put into perspective how much I have to be deeply, truly grateful for.
Summer and Fall 2020
Summer 2020 brought with it a brief return to normalcy, filled with lots of outdoor mountain adventures (some of which I wrote about including Mount Joffre and Ribbon Lake) and the ability to return to some regular hobbies and activities (at least for a little while before lockdown 2.0 began at the start of winter). Victoria and I had yet another Annual Friendventure – an epic backpacking trip in Skoki Valley that I’ll be sure to write about soon, and a separate escapade up to Castle Mountain Hut where we completed our first ever alpine rock ascent! There was a smattering of other weekend camping and mountain escapes with Ryan and other friends- and I love that staying in Canada for the summer gave me the opportunity to explore so many breathtaking areas and landscapes.
Ryan, Heidi (the hound) and I finally went on our honeymoon in the Fall as well! Our original trip to Italy in May was cancelled (for obvious reasons) and so we decided to instead embark on a 3 week road trip through B.C. in the fall when things were relatively open. We got to explore so many gorgeous plcaes like Tofino, Victoria and Squamish (which might warrant it’s own post later). We also met up with a number of relatives and friends as we hopped from town to town, and it was great to see old friends and family and catch up! We ate fresh oysters by the ocean, camped on the beach at Porteau Cove, hiked in old growth rainforests, got Ryan on a surfboard for the first time ever, and drank many delicious craft beers!
After we got back from our B.C. trip, things started going downhill for me personally. Days were getting shorter and colder, which affects my baseline mental state even in a good/normal year. I was struggling deeply with working from home and was feeling perpetually lonely and isolated as a result. This led to me having severe lack of motivation and purpose in my career and I felt utterly directionless whenever I thought about my future. Lockdowns started up again and the activities and things that I love to fill my time with – hanging out with friends, going climbing at the gym, training jiu-jitsu, dinners with the family – were one by one falling off the table. It wasn’t so much the lack of fun activities, but the lack of connection and relationship building with the people in my life that I love and care about. I’m honestly not trying to complain – because I know that so many of you and others in the world have had much larger and more serious problems as a result of COVID-19. However, I want to be open and honest about my state of mental health (or lack thereof) and normalize talking about how we really feel with each other. Wearing the “I’m Fine” mask doesn’t do anyone any favours. I would never want to diminish how my friends or family are feeling no matter how “small or insignificant” the problem may seem on the surface, because we all deal with things differently, and the love and support of those around us is what will carry us through these difficult times.
Winter wasn’t all doom and gloom though. In the middle of that cold, dark, depressing winter, just a few days before we would celebrate a small, quiet Christmas, Ryan and I had a really GIANT, super HAPPY thing happen! It was a big fat positive pregnancy test, and for the first time in months I cried tears of joy instead of tears of sadness. Having a baby and starting a family is something that we both wanted and planned for from the start of our relationship. Over the course of the year there were several negative pregnancy tests, a discussion with my family doctor about conceiving, and endless googling and research about how best to get pregnant. I naively thought “This is amazing! This baby-to-be will solve all my problems and erase all my sadness! Being pregnant and creating new life will give me new meaning and purpose!”
On one hand, getting pregnant was full of joy and excitement and gave me some motivation to create and dream of new plans for the future, but like everything in life, there are ups and downs. The next couple months were fraught with terrible morning sickness (why they call it morning sickness I have no idea, because I felt sick pretty much all day long), vomiting, fatigue, cry sessions, and a generally low state that I kept describing as “not feeling like myself” or feeling like “a hollow shell of my true self”. I was frustrated with how my body felt weaker than normal, my energy levels were always low, and my mind was foggy and tired.
On the days that I felt more energetic, I had some wonderful adventures which helped break up the monotony of the cold winter. I was still able to get out cross country skiing several times, enjoyed a few spectacular days backcountry skiing in fresh powder, and even took an ice climbing course! I’m so grateful that despite Covid lockdowns and adjusting to early pregnancy symptoms, I was able to safely do a variety of outdoor social activities with my friends!
Rejoice! Spring has arrived! Along with the warmer, longer and sunnier days, I also entered my second trimester of pregnancy. My nausea dramatically reduced (not completely, but a couple times a week sure beats feeling crummy on a daily basis), and baby has been growing healthy and strong! My mood has done a complete 180 in the past several weeks and there have been only a handful of days where I haven’t felt truly happy and content which I am so incredibly grateful for! Getting outside for walks on the daily with the pooch, having outdoor campfires with friends, getting out for some mini adventures (early season easy hikes and spring skiing) and even getting back to working a couple days a week in the office have all be gamechangers for my physical and mental health.
In the middle of the winter when I was feeling really low my therapist asked me to to reflect on and create a vision for how I want to look back on my pregnancy in the future. When these 9 or 10 months have passed by, do I want to look back and remember my pregnancy as a time of perpetual nausea and crying and days spent sulking on my couch? Or do I want to remember this as an incredible time when my body was growing and nurturing a human being – my future child? A time when I can admire and appreciate the incredible things my body is capable of doing, and a time that I got to deepen my relationship and grow in love with my husband? Of course there are still bleh, crummy days, but as I mentioned at the start of this post, it was about changing my mindset to focus on being grateful and learning to notice and appreciate of all the goodness and abundance in my life. Sometimes you have to know and be in the darkness before you can appreciate the light.