Sunday, June 20, 2010

If You Build It. . .

Saturday marked a monumental day for climbers in Atlanta: the opening of Stone Summit (now the nation's largest climbing gym). Never before has a climbing gym brought together the climbing community like it did on Saturday. Old schoolers (who I have not seen in a gym as long as I've known them) and new schoolers roped up together and explored the new air-conditioned crag in downtown. The canyon has been wet for weeks and the temp reached 93 degrees with 90% humidity: the result- hundreds of native climbers showing up as the doors opened to the public for the first time. It was Christmas for climbers.

Prana was there for the occasion with a table of posters, hats, chalkbags, etc- and a raffle for a $200 shopping spree. The hats went to adoring Prana fans, the chalkbags to newbies and kiddos that did not already have one, and the posters to EVERYONE. I even had a couple of grandmas come by the table and grab a couple of Sharma posters for their walls: classic!

All in all- the opening could not have gone any better. I was even able to rope up for an hour to show that pregnant ladies can still crush. And all the fears that lead up to the event (the intimidation factor of the enormous walls would keep people from climbing, the giant monster-mega gym would turn away the old schoolers, the gym would be too packed to climb) were all diffused within hours of the doors opening. Over the course of the day, at least a hundred people topped the main wall, all the crowds diffused throughout the facility and I never saw anyone even waiting for a route, and it was a total reunion for the climbing community. I am so excited for this gym and what it means for the future of our up-and-coming youth climbers. With any luck, Atlanta will be seeing some World Cup action in the next couple of years!

Lonely walls await their adoring fans

Moments before doors opening
This gym eats crowds for breakfast!

Monday, June 7, 2010


I have been waiting for months to share this news with the world- and now it's time! At only 15 weeks pregnant, I can't even begin to explain how much my life has changed and I can only imagine how much more it will change with the months ahead. I need to start at the beginning of this amazing story because I think it's certainly one worth telling.

I've always known I wanted to have children and part of the reason I fell in love with Kenneth was because I knew how great of a father he would be one day. The 'if' I wanted to have kids was always a given, but the 'when' was a whole lot trickier. I work in a neonatal intensive care unit and constantly have very real reminders of what can go wrong during childbirth and during fetal growth/development. I knew that I didn't want to wait long enough to be considered high risk just because of my age. At 28 years old, with a solid marriage and a home that we've finished remodeling, it was time to think about the 'when. I stopped taking birth control pills in December (having been on them for the past 10 years) to get regular again so that we could start trying for a family later in 2010.

By April I was terribly worried because I had not had a period after 4 months off the pill so I went to see my primary care doctor. I had talked to other female athletes and they warned me that conception would probably take a long time. My doctor seemed more concerned than I expected. She was concerned about my body weight (even though my BMI is right in the middle of what it's supposed to be) and ordered a bunch of lab work, letting me know that she would call with the results in a week.

The next Monday while I was working, I got the worst call I could imagine. It was my doctor calling to tell me that the labwork was strongly suggestive of ovarian failure- translation: you can never have children. I was devastated and had to find some other nurses to watch my patients while I went in the hallway to continue my phone conversation with my doctor. "Are you sure?" "What could have caused this?" "What do I do now?" She said that my hormone levels were undetectable- below what even a man's should be- and she wanted me to see a specialist as soon as possible. Anorexia and cancer were possible causes that she suggested. My diet is great and my calorie intake maybe a little too good- 'could I be dying'? She also let me know that ovarian failure was irreversible and even if everything else checked out, I would probably have to go on hormone replacement therapy.

I was pretty hysterical that day and did all the irrational bargaining in my mind: I would give my right arm to have a baby with Kenneth. Maybe I would rather it be cancer if the ovarian failure might then be reversible with treatment. Would my marriage survive this? All these years, that deep love that I feel for my husband has included our unborn children- would it just hurt too bad if that could not be? Could I continue to work in the NICU?

I made an appointment at an OBGYN office that was willing to take the 'ovarian failure' referral for that Friday. It was the longest week ever. I still had to go to work and get through my shifts because I didn't know what the future would bring and knew I had to save my time off in case I required hospitalization. I couldn't look at Kenneth without tearing up and when I went in to work I would request the sickest patient so that I would be too busy to think about what was going on inside my own body. I did have one day off before the appointment which I spent scavenging the internet and picking up the labwork results from my doctor's office. There was a glimmer of hope as I combed through my medical file. Not all hormone levels were measured- only the brain hormones that are responsible for sending the signal to the ovaries to ovulate. To me, the labwork did not seem consistent with ovarian failure from my research, but something did seem very off.

Kenneth and I were waiting in the parking lot that Friday when the doctor's office opened- wounded and scared of what the day would bring, but still holding on to some hope that somehow my doctor had just made a mistake and that we would be able to have a baby someday. We met Dr. Street and she asked us a lot of questions and read through all the referral paperwork. She could not believe that the doctor had not done a pregnancy test. I didn't think there was anyway that I could be pregnant because I had taken a test to rule that out a month or so earlier. She seemed unconcerned that my FSH/LH were so suppressed and wanted to do an ultrasound. That ultrasound was the first time we saw our baby's heartbeat. "Not only can you have children, but you're going to soon!" The doctor measured the head to rump and estimated the due date. "How does December 4th sound to you?" Kenneth and I (already in stunned joy) stared at each other in amazement. December 4th is my birthday. With tears of joy, I promised myself that I would never take this for granted and would give this baby all the love in the world. As far as I'm concerned, this baby is a miracle.

That was at 6wks and now I am well in to my second trimester. I'm still climbing, but my harness is getting pretty snug. I'm sticking to routes only and will start bouldering again after this baby is safely on the outside. More to come soon!