Skiing Pregnant, Part 1. (aka Bread and Breathing)
Last August, I flew to Chile to ski and coach like I have for the past 13 years in a row. Same as always--pack up all the ski gear when it's a hundred degrees out and make Jim promise to pick and freeze as many tomatoes as he can out of the garden--except this time I had a little secret. I was two months pregnant. Physically, I felt more tired but otherwise mostly normal. My mind, however, swirled with thoughts of excitement, change, and uncertainty. I had so many questions. What am I supposed to eat and not eat? Why doesn't coffee sound good to me right now? Will I feel differently about skiing? How hard can I charge and will I want to charge? Am I still going to be myself now that it's not just me in here? And how the heck am I supposed to hide being pregnant for 18, very social days?
As I dozed off on the rainy drive from the airport to Chillan with a kind friend of a friend, we chatted in broken English and Spanish, and his calm, typical Chilean demeanor helped ease my uncaffeinated mind. Arriving at the resort and heading out for a few afternoon ski runs couldn't have felt better. Just being outside in the heavy, wet snow, on skis, helped me breathe a huge sigh of relief. I could feel my shoulders sink with acceptance and relaxation after those first few runs. The familiar physical sensations worked like a key in a lock to the normal, calm part of my brain. "Right," I thought, "This is what I do. This is who I am." Knowing I still loved skiing just as much as ever--one question down, many to go--helped me focus outward on coaching and enjoying the mountains. And every time the future-panic welled up inside me, I focused on breathing. Take a deep breath in, look around at where I am, let the breath out, and smile. Repeat.
As each subsequent question popped up over the course of the week, I sometimes could figure out answers and sometimes not. As for what to eat, well, the book I'd read on the plane down basically forbade the entire buffet of foods (ceviche! raw vegetables! cold cuts!) on offer with terrifying consequences if I, say, ate the wrong piece of cheese. I focused on soup, bread and butter. It was surprisingly delicious, kept me going energy-wise just fine, and I didn't get scurvy or anything, much to my surprise. Answer number 2--do what I can with what I have, and sometimes the most basic things, like bread and butter, can be exactly what I want and need, even if all the books would have me believe otherwise
To really test my questioning, hazy mind, it was looking like the weather would cooperate and I would be heading out filming with the Warren Miller crew during the last few days of my trip. In the helicopter.
I was nervous, high in the Andes, dropping in on huge runs with my precious cargo. Sage and Ian, the other skiers, were sending it. I just worked on taking deep breaths, as deep as the 13,000 ft. high air would allow, and doing the straightforward, bread-and-butter lines. Dropping in and making the familiar movements reassured me that even though we were about to unleash a fresh human into our lives, I still loved skiing and the mountains just as much, and I would still be able to be myself.
Barely any shots from the heli days made the movie, but the most important thing to me was that we stayed safe and it was a giant step in helping me learn that bread and butter--and lots of deep breaths--can go a long way during a time of huge change.
Every time I need reminding of that (or when we run out of bread) I try to carve out a few minutes to bake some bread. The art and the process of it--feeling for the perfect dough, kneading it, and then taking the final product out of the oven and inhaling the fresh-baked air--promotes calm and breathing no matter what is going on in life.
My favorite bread recipe is right here.