In climbing and many outdoor pursuits, it is well known that there are, actually, three types of fun. Type 1 fun is the classic, smiling, happy, laughing, good times for all, fun. Type 2 fun can be painful, but you end up with a smile on your face. I think loosing skin in Vedauwoo and biking up Horsetooth mountain both fall into this category.
Type 3 fun, well, that’s a whole different animal. As Fitz Cahall once put it: “This is the epic. The suffer fest. This is collarbone breaking, giardia-getting, soaked-to-the-bone, carnage. If it sounds horrible, that’s because it probably is.”
I would like to posit: making babies is Type 3 Fun.
The most extreme sufferfest ever
So, you think your week in a snow cave in Patagonia was bad? Try throwing up every day for four months. Your legs and back are aching after your 20 mile slog out of the back country? Yeah, I’ve got a small person pressing and kicking against my spine and ribs, and it’s only going to get worse over the next three months. Feeling hungry after a week on a big wall? My Hunger has morphed into an all-encompasing demon, and it never rests or relents. I have even named it: Eddy. Eddy, my appetite, is my new constant companion. He makes most of my decisions for me these days, and not all of them are good.
Yes, I know pregnancy is a wonderful, joyful, hormone-fueled happyfest for many women. I’ve heard some ladies say they felt a little tired and had some heartburn, and that was it! This is much like some climbs that can be done in good conditions, with good route finding and good luck, and be perfectly wonderful days. Those same climbs, when the weather blows in, when the party gets off route, when a sling snaps and you watch your rack tumble into the abyss below, become a new and utterly excruciating experience.
If the stars align, you might have a perfectly happy pregnancy. You might barely notice the tiny life growing in your uterus. If, however, you’re like me (short, and possibly carrying a reptilian alien) then come prepared for pain.
What’s rough right now makes for great stories later
If it’s so bad, why call it fun at all? How can Type 3 fun even be on the fun scale? The surprising thing is, the worse your Type 3 fun is now, the better off you’ll be in the future. True suffering makes for epic tales around a bonfire, or, in my case, a babyshower. These are the stories that last forever, and the experiences that mark our souls, that change who we are and how we see the world.
A day out at the crag might leave you feeling warm and fuzzy for a while, but those memories fade, sadly. However, the limp you acquired on the sixth day of that adventure race might just last you a lifetime. A hard pregnancy lets you test the boundaries of what you can give up, of the aspects of your body and your life that you will lay down for the health and happiness of a loved one. It teaches you about sacrifice, selflessness, and devotion to a goal.
Plus, when you stop to vomit on the side of the trail and then just keep walking, everybody knows you’re a badass.
Want to compare scars?
One of the best parts of an epic climb is the clarity that you find afterwards. It puts life into perspective, and you learn what your real priorities are. It teaches you your limits as a human, and you may find yourself capable of greater things than you ever expected. This is Type 3 fun. And making babies fits squarely into this definition. It’s not something I’d do very often, but it’s something that I’m very glad I did.
And yeah, my episiotomy scar will trump your broken ankle any day of the week.