Hiking with a baby
Life with a Baby

The Most Important Thing I Have Learned When Hiking with a Baby

Fake it ’til you make it!”, said my manager to me at my first desk job after college, as he left for two a two-week vacation during my first month at the office.

Fake it ’til you make it

I worked at a tiny eye clinic and my job required me to know how to do it all: prepare charts, understand insurance, repair glasses, order frames and lenses, take pictures of people’s retinas, administer vision tests on large, expensive machines, give eye drops, teach people how to use contact lenses for the first time, take payments, enter billing information, manage the phones, inventory frames, etc.

As a 21-year-old, fresh out of school and never having worked a quote-on-quote, “real job”, let alone a healthcare based job where people were entrusting their EYEBALLS to me, I was terrified. I had barely been there and suddenly was going to be the sole person to know how to do all the things this job entailed. I had the help of my co-worker to ask questions (there were three of us total, not counting our doctors), but she was just as unsure as me of operating the camera that takes photos of people’s retinas as well.

The moment came pretty quickly when the doctor had ordered photos and it was ON. I took a deep breath as my shaking hands grabbed the chart on its’ clipboard, called the patient’s name to please follow me, and led them down the hall into the room where the photos would be taken.

Sample of the photos of retinas I would take

The machine required a very steady hand to control the joystick as it zoomed in on the patient’s retina. Before this moment, I had only ever taken a successful photo with my manager hovering over my shoulder and guiding me each step of the way. But, this time, I was on my own, and dammit, was I going to do it on my first try! “Fake it til you make it!”, kept running through my head. And I kid you not, less than 10 seconds later, I had BOTH eyeballs done and beautiful crisp images loaded up for the doctor! After this, I was flying high and so confident that the two weeks without my manager was actually fun. I wasn’t scared to do things on my own and learned so much in this time.

“Fake it til you make it” has stuck with me through all the jobs I have had since. It truly cemented its meaning on that day taking photos, and it gave me the confidence I needed to hold my head up and take on any challenge that came my way. I have used this advice through job interviews, important meetings, dealing with difficult people and somehow it has never failed me.

My most current ‘job’ as a mom, has been no exception to this rule. Since even before my son was born, I was faking it ’til I made it all the time! It seems though you have to because there is no standard step-by-step manual on how to navigate pregnancy, labor, or motherhood. Sure, there are a million resources out there, but how do you know what is going to work best for you?

I love ingesting Youtube videos, blog posts, and Facebook group discussions on how to do all things that need to be done in the mommy world: how to breastfeed, how to exclusively pump, how to get your baby on a sleep schedule, etc, but when it comes down to it, there is no one-size-fits-all. You can read how to do something all day long, but the application is up to you.

I have found that learning my job as a ‘mom’ is more of a trial by fire situation. I ‘fake it ’til I make it’ every day. And what’s the harm in that? I win some, I lose some, but I always walk away from the success or failure having learned something new.

Maybe it’s that I am stubborn, maybe to a fault, and want to figure things out on my own, but unsolicited advice just makes me mad. I would much rather try things on my own and fall flat on my face, get up and dust myself off and try again, than have someone telling me the way to do things. It can be scary!

Hiking with a Baby

I remember when I wanted to take my son hiking for the first time. So many worries initially popped into my head, “what if he becomes sad or mad and we have miles back to the car?”, “How will be the best way to feed him on the go?”, “How will I manage to squat and pee while wearing my baby on my chest?”, and the list goes on. But, I pushed those worries aside and decided the benefits would outweigh the fears. I packed my bag well, planned as best I could for a successful day, and hoped for the best.

Jake’s first hike with his auntie, grandma and grandma’s dog, Buster.

As the morning of the hike began, I had a start time set with my hiking buddies, my mom and sister, and my son and I were working hard to get started on time. We were all packed, good to go, loaded up in the car seat for our five-minute drive (I am so fortunate to live five minutes away from a gorgeous mountain trailhead) and my son WENT TO SLEEP. “Now what?!”, I panicked. I knew my son was tired and clearly needed a nap, but we had a plan, and I was going to stick with it. I parked the car, got my carrier all ready to go, and pulled my sleeping baby from his cozy seat into a cool misty morning. To my surprise, he was so happy to be outside! He loved the hike! He was enjoying playing with leaves that I would hand him and was giggling as we started our climb up the mountain.

Jake’s first hike

I believe that faking the confidence it took to do something that could potentially go very wrong, gave my son the confidence to enjoy the ride. I know he can read my energy and my energy was telling him that was a happy time and an adventure (although in my mind, I was still panicking about him needing a nap). If I had been coddling him and telling him sorry for waking him, I don’t think he would have had the right attitude to do the hike. Faking it ’til we made it worked for us all the way through our two-hour hike! My little man had a blast and took a long and hard nap afterward.

Every baby is so unique and individual that the only way to do things is to have confidence in what we try and learn from it each time. And if we don’t know something, just fake it ’til you make it!