When the River is Too High, I Choose You: Guest Post, Melina Coogan

Today’s guest post is from a friend who began as a blog reader.  A couple years ago, I followed a comment she left on my blog and found her blog, The Wilder Coast.  I’ve been reading her words ever since.  Melina Coogan lives a different life than mine–she is a brave adventurer who travels the country, sleeps under the stars and breathes air from much higher altitudes.  She writes raw and honest accounts of her life and adventures on her blog, peeling back layers in her stories to expose feelings not everyone is brave enough to admit.  She is as kind as she is funny.  But what I love most about discovering Melina?  It’s reiterated this truth that continues to emerge through blogging, through meeting new people, through life–that beyond the differences we first see in each other, there are so many things that connect us as women, as writers, as readers and as humans searching to find more purpose in life.

It’s my hope that this blog always celebrates differences and respectfully welcomes readers who share different viewpoints or walk different paths.  I’ve been excited to read each of these guest posts–learning more about our differences as women and yet, in doing so, understanding more about what connects us.

Not all readers here are mamas, whether they’ve made a purposeful choice for that journey or not.  Some women dream of being moms and some are fulfilled and happy without kids.  Either way, together we celebrate community and find ways to meaningfully live out our one wild and precious life.  Melina’s essay provides a great window into another walk of life, and I’m honored to have her voice as part of Enjoying the Small Things. 


When the River is Too High, I Choose You
by Melina Coogan

I bring it up carefully, casually, over beers at the ski lodge, or on the long car ride back home from a day of climbing. It’s the fourth date, maybe the fifth. Maybe I’ve kissed him, maybe I haven’t.

“So….do you want kids?”

His answer will invariably be the same. A laugh, a surprised look, a generally affable but detached approach. “Ahh….sure. I guess that would be fun. Someday.”

I nod, and take a sip of beer, or reach down and play with the car radio, and wait for him to return the question. And then I lie. I lie like a friggin’ rug:

“Oh, you know, I think so.” Here I pause reflectively. “I’m pretty sure I do. I mean, it’s getting a little rough, the world, the economy, but I think I do.” Pause, look out the window, keep the pace slow and steady, voice even. “Either way, it won’t be for a long time.”

The point of this exercise is to appear casual. Appear like you’ve got a head on your shoulders, like you’re so extremely involved with your current life that you’ve barely given your future children a second thought. Above all else: do not appear needy. Do not send him running for the door. They scare so easily, these men. These days. In my city. In my world.

I’ve chosen a strange world, an underworld. We get up at four in the morning and head into the mountains.


We climb all summer long; sleep on hanging platforms a thousand feet up, we prize adventure over comfort, danger over routine. We push the limits and sometimes the limits break; I’ve attended over a dozen funerals.

The river life, the climbing life, the skiing life- it’s my existence, my obsession, the only life I’ve ever really known. But there’s a certain mania, a narcissism, a grandiose belief in your own self-importance and infallibility that you must possess in order to gain access into this world.


That mania, that egocentricity would have to evaporate in an instant if we had children. We know that. And so my friends, my partners in adventure, we don’t have kids. They are somewhere out there in the future, if, shrug, we even make it to the future.

So here’s my secret. I want to have a baby. I want to be mama. Desperately.

I’ve dreamt about having babies since I was three. I can picture exactly what they will look like, smell like, sound like. I’ve felt their warmth, their weight in my arms. I’ve named my daughter. I’ve named my son. Sometimes I feel like they’re already here, waiting in the wings, whispering for me to be careful, take it easy, turn back early, the conditions are getting dangerous, the river is too high. We’re just around the corner, they whisper, holding my face in their invisible hands. Please hold out for us.


From the outside, it might look like there is no room in my life for children. I’m almost 28, I live in a little apartment with three jobs and a dog. I write until the odd hours of the morning, chase spring flows and heavy snows. I am heady with my own freedom, electrified and alive at the bottom of each difficult rapid. I’ve had frostbite, hypothermia, severe burns, near drownings and entrapment and in between those, a million moments of triumph and soaring joy and northern lights over an empty snowfield. I love the life I’ve chosen for myself.


But I’d change it all in a heartbeat; I’d throw the breaks and switch rails. I’ve done a good job of making these years of little responsibility count, and I’m ready to move on. I’m ready to be needed, and necessary. To be a protector.

There is room in my life for children. It’s the space below my rib cage, and it’s hollow, and it’s excruciating. I can’t talk myself out of it. This is a longing way, way beneath tissue, in a realm beyond sense and economic calculations. This blueprint of love is hard wired into me. It sets me apart from the adventurers and explorers and daredevils and you-only-live-oncers. It sets me apart, and so I hold my tongue. I pretend that it’s casual, an afterthought, because I don’t want to be left out or left behind. That person who might make those future children possible? I don’t want to scare him away.

My best friend’s sweet baby, Ella

Maybe it’s the first date, maybe it’s the fifth. I want this man to see me for what I am: a writer, a climber, a roommate, a friend. I want him to appreciate my active, wholehearted, self-made life. I want him to see me skiing at first light, charting out the next tour, pouring over maps and the avalanche rose.

But one of these days, I hope there comes a person who recognizes both light and shadow, who sees what nobody else sees: the anticipation, the excitement, the absolutely indescribable love that waits just behind the curtain. I want him to see it, and recognize it. I want him to take a step closer, his hand around my waist, and tell me that one thing I’ve been dying to hear.

“I see what you’ve been waiting your whole life for. I’ve been waiting, too.”


Melina Coogan is a very happy, accident prone twenty-eight-year-old writer and storyteller living in Seattle. She chronicles a life of extreme adventure and hearty attempts at romance on her blog, The Wilder Coast. To this day she has survived drowning, freezing, entrapment, and more bafflingly commitment-phobic rock climbing boys than she can count. She has written for Soulpancake, Outside Online, and various outdoor magazines.



Leave a Comment
  1. this is so beautifully written. i found Melina’s blog several months ago, great to see it here on another blog i love!

  2. I love Melina’s story. I too am a follower of hers. I pray she finds a a happy medium, of doing what she loves & having her some sweet, sweet babies.

  3. Oh wow. She is awesome! I love how she writes and she is living a life I only ever dare to dream about. I’m a scaredy cat who likes the comfort of my couch and tv remote.
    With all my heart I hope she gets what she so deeply desires…children.
    I remember that feeling. That indescribable need to have them grow inside you and then to have them in your arms. It didn’t hit me til I was 31, but it hit fast and hard!

    I’m going to be following this amazing women on her journey.
    Thank you so much, Kelle for introducing Melina to me xx

  4. I too am a reader of The Wilder Coast, which I found through one of Kelle’s posts a few months ago.

    Melina’s life is so different from mine but I love reading about all her wild, crazy adventures.

    What I love even more is that she is a woman, just like I am. And I connect well with her vulnerability.

    I think this piece is one of her best yet. Raw and wide, wide open. Thank you Kelle. Thank you Melina!

  5. I was not a follower of Melina’s before, but now will be.

  6. So achingly beautiful. I know that longing. If I had been able, I probably would have had ten kids by now. But it wasn’t meant to be & hard as I try, I can’t say I’ve fully come to terms with it. I hope your dream comes true, Melina.
    I love your writing. Take care.

  7. Excited to check her out. When we first got married we didn’t want kids. We were babies ourselves I guess. I prayed God would change my heart and put that desire to be a momma in my heart…and He did. It came a little slower for my Honey though…but it worked out.

  8. I absolutely love this. You’ve given a voice to so many women I know.


  9. So beautiful. All the very best luck, love and light to you!

  10. LOVE this! Melina, I hope you are reading the comments here… I love what you have written because I can exactly relate.

    Our lives are different but similar in their craziness – I just turned 30, and I am in medical school… the training is intense, the hours are crazy, the last thing you want to do is look to anyone else like you’re not tough enough to do it…. I’m single, and the only thing in the world I want other than to be a doctor is to have a family. And good god is it tough to meet someone nice, let alone someone to whom you might actually be able to admit that, YES, I want babies, and YES, having a family is VERY important to me, and YES, I think about it all the time.

    Haven’t figured it out, but holding out hope, for both of us! :)

  11. What gorgeous words and pictures. Thank you for introducing me to Melina, Kelle – I will be reading. xox

  12. Really beautiful! What a life, something I could never do but envy as well!

  13. So beautiful. All the very best luck for you

  14. “It’s the space below my rib cage, and it’s hollow, and it’s excruciating….” These words made my heart ache because I feel this too. I have been dreaming, waiting, trying, and losing. I hope someday we will both have this space filled. Thank you for your words.

  15. I am echoing all other sentiments before me- beautifully written and soul stirring, too. What a beautiful life you lead and what awesome stories you will have to pass down to your children :)

  16. Beautiful post!!! It is JUST what I needed to hear today. Sending you lots of hugs.



  17. Wow. I read this and then I re read it a few more times. This resinated on a deep heart level. Kelle, thank you so much for introducing us to Melinda. I am eager to go to her space and read more from her.

  18. Such a beautiful entry. I thoroughly enjoyed that … more than I thought I would.

  19. Oh Melina how I love thee.

  20. Love this girl, thank you for sharing your space with her.

  21. Thanks for continuing to share the writing love, Kelle.

    And, oh Melina, I feel you. I was just saying to some friends last week, how I think I act pretty normal compared to how I feel inside, so deeply longing to have a child. It’s a constant desire that permeates all the other contentment in my life. I’m single–just missing the guy for me. I’m hopeful and strong and patient beyond my years, and somedays it’s harder than others. Our day will come, mama. Your sense of adventure is inspiring and someone is going to see the real you and not want to let it go. Hugs!

    bundlesofbliss (on IG)

  22. Melina…I love this post. I had that same longing from the time I was a little girl. I was always certain that I would be a mother and now I am. I love that I always knew and never questioned it even once. You will be an amazing mother…I can just tell.

  23. Pardon my French, but holy shit is this a beautiful piece of writing. Thank you, Melina, for being brave enough to share it, and Kelle, for allowing her to do so with us.

  24. Maybe you should expand your search for Mr. Right beyond the “rock climbing boys.” They sound fun, but as you said, ego-centric. Not exactly husband/father material. There are plenty of men out there that will love you and that want a family. You just have to go outside your comfort zone. Be adventurous in love and you might be surprised.

  25. Melina and I had the same secret. My husband did too and it took us 4 years to admit it to eachother and start our family. Some of those men could feel the same. Follow your Love and you never know where it will take you :)

  26. Wow – that was a really amazing and insightful piece. I admire you for recognising what’s inside yourself (with all it’s conflicting priorities/loves/goals) and for putting it out there.
    I’ve read enough bios of mountaineers to know you are so right about the narcisism that seems to spur on this brave/fearless/adventurous kind of life. But you’ll use all those qualities in parenthood as well – might take an amazing like-minded man to see it too (for himself!) but I pray you’ll find one.
    Thanks for sharing.


  27. Kelle, it’s really great that you shine a spotlight on other writers on your blog. Congrats on your newest addition, Dash. What a cutie! I’m excited to read about your adventures raising a little boy. Although I don’t have kids yet, I feel like I know so much from you about raising little girls. I’ve followed your blog since I was in college and you’ve affected the way I hope to parent my children someday. Thanks for the daily and weekly glimpses into your life and the lives of your precious littles! You’re a freakin’ awesome momma!

  28. What a nice post. Your day will come and it will be magical.

  29. Nice post Melina!!! I love your words! And although I already follow you I can’t wait for you to find that perfect guy and for you to become a MaMa!!!! You live such an awesome life and will be such a wonderful Mom!!! Keep on keeping on!!!

  30. I hear you sister Melina, when I decided that I wanted a baby it was an all consuming need. Not a desire, a NEED I tell you. Like realizing you’ve been missing an arm your whole life when your 22. Unfortunately, the journey to a family has not been an easy one for me. Struggles with infertility, pregnancy loss, money, and fertility medication takes a toll. I am happy to say I have an amazing 3 year old boy now who is the light of my world and am currently pregnant again. Don’t give up girl.

  31. I get it. I totally get it. I spent 4 years as a whitewater rafting and backpacking guide in the Rockies. That was years ago, and now I am a wife and mommy to 6 and 4 yo pumpkins, and a foster mom to a 1 yo treasure. And sometimes I ache for the river and the mountains. I still guide in my dreams and can visualize rapids I haven’t actually touched in years. And sometimes my suburban life seems so plain compared to my Rockies life, but my babies. Oh, my babies! I wouldn’t trade 3 lifetimes of adrenaline, excitement and untouched wild beauty for these loves of mine.

  32. Cheering for you, Melina!

  33. Beautifully written. I love that you’ve shared these women with us, Kelle.

  34. So touching. I think you’re brave to say what you did, and you said it beautifully. Can’t wait to read your blog and at some point hear that you’ve found just what you’re looking for :).

  35. Kelle, thank you for sharing this blogger. Ahhhhhhh! I love. Melinda is quirky and adventurous and I love.

    – Erin

  36. I just – I have no words. LOVE THIS.

  37. Her writing was beautiful.

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  39. This is beyond beautiful. Proof that no matter what kind of woman you are, God has planted the desire for precious little ones in EVERY girl’s heart. Keep holding out till He brings you the man who will bless you with lots of littles!!! Wonderful post.

  40. I already follow Melina on the Wilder coast. Love this piece – totally relate. I lived with my climber boy for 7 yrs then married him despite the fact he open and honestly said he never wanted children. I convinced myself that neither did I despite that deep down urge nagging at me. When I was 37 he asked what I thought about him climbing Everest – he knew he didn’t need my permission to climb but it costs a lot and had financial implications for us both. Without a second thought I supported him. On the flight to Tibet I jokingly said that if he climbed Everest then I could have a baby. Laughing he said that seemed a fair deal. When I reminded him 18 months later he hesitantly agreed to try for a baby ( I know he thought that at 39 my odds of having a baby were slim. )Lucky for us I became pregnant easily and now we have a fantastic 6 yr old girl. While he doesn’t want more kids he adores our girl and has no regrets. The adventures haven’t stopped , but they have changed – ski trips in Japan and rock climbing in Thailand have been possible provided you accept that the pace will be slow and for eg you may only get 1 or 2 ski runs a day. I hope you find a partner that can see the possibility of both outdoor adventure and kids as compatible – good luck and have fun.

  41. I’ve never commented before, but I read. Often, actually. But I’m new to the blog reading world so I stay quiet. Congrats on your new little boy, Kelle! You have an amazing family and I love your words.

    Two parts of Melina’s writing made me pause and just whisper “yes”. I don’t go on dangerous adventures and I’ll never climb a mountain because I’m a giant wuss. I admire and am fascinated by people who do though because it sounds breathtaking and inspiring. But I’m a teacher…my grand adventure is in the classroom and I love it. It really is grand on every scale, working with those kids. But this: “It’s the space below my rib cage, and it’s hollow, and it’s excruciating. I can’t talk myself out of it.” This I get. Because I’m 23 and have felt that space since I was 3. I’m somebody’s mama. My daughter has a name…my son, too. Their weight is real and I can feel them. My heart beats for someone who isn’t here yet. But, like Melina, I play it casual. Because mama talk still scares my friends and those oh-so-easy to scare boys. And because I have PCOS, so this becoming a mama thing? Probably won’t happen so easily and that’s excruciating.

    I am so in love with the life I’ve made and I’m happy. But it’s so amazing to have someone put into words exactly how I feel and what I pray everyday a man will someday say to me, “I see what you’ve been waiting your whole life for. I’ve been waiting, too.”

    I’m not a blogger and my words aren’t great, so thank you, Melina, for expressing what you feel so beautifully. And thank you, Kelle, for featuring her! I look forward to reading and commenting more!

  42. Congrats on letting the Truth be the Truth.
    It’s a win, win.
    The truth is what will draw the right one to you.
    I had just the opposite feelings about being a mom. I told my soon to be husband I never wanted kids.
    I was deathly afraid I would massively mess up a child’s life. I had huge anger issues. He loved me even though he did want kids one day. He prayed for me and my struggles. Six years after we were married (and many counseling sessions later) I hear that still small voice in my heart saying “You can do this, you can be a mother.”. We now have two children I love dearly. I am still flawed but I am in a much healthier place. I can actually say I think I am a pretty good mom.
    I prayed God would send me a best friend. I was thinking a gal pal. Six months later I met the man who walked by my side, who always rooted for me when no one else would and who is the father of my children. We have been married for 17 years this year.

  43. What a fantastic post. I feel like I’ve been spending my days trying to figure out what kind of timing makes the most sense for our life. I can’t and can wait to be a mother. It’s an internal struggle. Should I be doing more now? Should we be spending our days chasing the sun? But then again, is there ever really a ‘right’ timing? Does it happen or do we make it happen? So many questions… :)

  44. As another 20-something waiting in the wings until the day she can be a mommy, while pursuing other dreams- and sometimes sadly wondering if the “Mom” dream will ever happen- I really connected with Melina’s post. It felt so good to read those words, connecting with her desire, recognizing my own inside of it, and knowing that I am not the only one who knows my babies are somewhere inside of me, waiting for me just as desperately as I wait for them. Thank you for the honesty, Melina, for showing us that side of yourself. I think it resonated with many of Kelle’s readers who, like me, yearn for the day when we too can post pictures of babies and toddlers and adventurous kids of our own.

  45. well, that was really good. I like her. I like you, Melina. going to find more of you to read 😉

  46. Awwh I love Melina and her blog :) It’s been so fun to follow her and insta-stalk her these past months. I had no idea she was interested in being a mother. That is so wonderful and exciting. Go Melina!

  47. What a gift this piece was! I’ve loved reading the comments, too, and realizing that I’m not the only one who feels this way. Discovering the concept of ambivalence has been weirdly comforting to me – knowing that I can feel many things at once – being fully content in my single life while simultaneously desiring a family. I love that you think of your children as already existing – I do, too. And seriously, our kids will be so lucky, simply for the fact that they were so longed for and wanted.

  48. I love to read your stories Melina! This one is particularly touching! I deeply wish you find that man that will recognize that light and shadow in you!

  49. What an amazing post..I literally got goosebumps…such a phenomenal writer!

  50. Kelle – you gave us the gift of linking to Melina’s blog long ago. I read it end to end. Melina – you have a gift for words. A gift in living with UBER spirit. You are powerful… seems to me that your life will be as you hope it to be. You’ve won half the battle, you KNOW your true NORTH! Follow your heart, you’ll know when and to whom to tell your dream. Just be sure not to wait too long. I’m far beyond childbearing years. I was MOSTLY sure that I didn’t have motherly hopes/pangs. I probably did not listen to my true self. I live a whole and happy life…
    yet, sometimes there comes that nagging “what if”. You don’t seem to live a “can’t do” life… have NO REGRETS!

  51. Wow. This was really . . . beautiful.

  52. This is beautiful! Melina, your words are so real and honest and good.

  53. Oh my, I love this! What a beautiful heart she has. Thanks for pointing out yet another must read blog.

  54. Oh Melina, so glad to meet you! We adventure in Alaska with our kids (not as crazy now, but to share it and get them going is so, so good!): as they grow, they get bigger adventures. Looking forward to reading more ~

  55. I Love Melina’s blog, she’s pretty funny and I love seeing all her adventures.

  56. Needed to read this. She’s amazing and has a beautiful heart. Being a single gal, who also desperately desires to be a mama someday, I am RIGHT there with her – it’s so refreshing to read her perspective. I love reading mama blogs and those who are walking out this dream fulfilled :) But how sweet it is to know I’m not along in the waiting and longing.


  57. I’ve been following her blog for a while now but I think this is the best post I’ve ever read from her.

    We are all so different but so similar at the same time x

  58. Melina
    What a heartfelt, raw post, how brave for sharing, thank you!{{}}
    I do pray you meet your man, and have those babies:):)

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  61. Melina this is amazing. I love your blog – found it a few months ago. I understand your journey and had a similar journey in my earlier years – and I know the boys you speak of. Now I am a mama of two, and it is wonderful, but enjoy your adventures now! The babies will come when they are ready : )

  62. Melina, you are going to be such a sweet momma.


  63. Beautiful writing and pictures. Enjoy this special time. Your next wild adventure called motherhood will be here before you know it.(and it is awesome) All things happen at the right time, sometimes when you least expect it and with someone you may never expect. (I agree with some of the other comments, maybe your future love is not a rock climber?? Maybe he is a book worm? You never know?) Enjoy it all, it seems like you are having fun and living life to the fullest.
    Have fun.

  64. Your story moved me to tears. What a beautiful person you are, Melina! I hope the little kids that are waiting for you to be their mamma will turn up soon :-) Sometimes it will be harder than climbing or skiing, but every minute will be worth it. I know it will.

  65. Awesome! :)

  66. This is lovely and achy at once, Melina. Your kids will be lucky little ones when they come along and will have so many adventures with you for a mom!

  67. Love that you are taking time for yourself and family. Love that you are featuring other writers. Magnificent, you. Phyl

  68. Omg! This is beautiful.

  69. Wow, that was a couple of hours well spent! I love this & her blog. We could not be more different, I don’t think; I can’t think of a circumstance or amount of money that could convince me to go on such wild adventures! So it sure was nice to experience them from the point of view of someone so lovely. (from the warm comfort of my bedroom, haha!)

    What amazing tales you’ve got to tell those babies, Melina.

    ps, I’m rooting for Will… 😉

  70. I love Melina’s blog! Like you, I love to read about her life because it is so different from mine. However, I think we are more alike than different. I hope you find your man, so you can have your babies. I understand that yearning very well : ) I imagine it would be harder when all the men you know are such adventurers. Having children does require settling down to some extent. But that right guy is out there, you just need to find him!

  71. Oh, Melina. What a beautiful, gut-wrenching piece. God-speed towards the adventures that await you around the bend– whether that is rapids or babies or both. xo

  72. Kelle, I am an avid follower of your’s. I, like Melina, am a 20-something without children but for whatever reason find myself drawn to your blog, your family, your lifestyle. You have opened my heart up to these little future babies I never have thought about. Keep writing, your wonderful!

  73. A recent new follower to Melina’s blog (I believe from a previous post of Kelle’s!)

    I love her blog, I love this post – as different as women all are, we’re still the same!

  74. I want Melina to know that I was her. Maybe not quite so extreme but still an adventurer, married to another adventurer- living in the Rockies, skiing, rockclimbing, hiking, etc, with friends without kids at 27. By 28, we were separated and I thought my dreams of motherhood were gone. By 29 I met the MAN I was meant to spend my life with and by my 30th birthday- I was 7 months pregnant.
    Dreams come true, sister. Don’t stop believing!

  75. I am deeply moved by this piece. I follow your blog, Kelle, and I’m constantly inspired by your lifestyle and your deep love for those precious babies of yours. But I find myself in a similar situation to Melina. I’m happily married, but experiencing extreme financial difficulties, legal struggles, unemployment, and the ugly beast, drug addiction. I say my situation is similar because I do not know how the babies that I dream of, that I have named, that I know by their sweet spirits already, will be possible at this stage in my life. It’s a heartbreaking and devastating thought that motherhood may not be a feasible option given our circumstances. But Melina’s words give me hope that the clouds could part and purpose for this undying love could very well be found.

  76. I, too, always wanted to be a mama. So many of the women in their 20s commenting here remind me of myself. When I was 16 I was told I’d never have kids. This rocked my world because I was the kid who always heard “You’ll be such a great mom!” because I always had a baby on my hip growing up. Wanting to be a mother, worrying that too much time was passing, ending relationships because I didn’t see them leading towards kids, talking to a guy friend about maybe having a baby with him. . . .all along choosing to believe in my body, that we would do it. That it felt to much a part of me to not ever happen. I’m pregnant with twins right now, after one round of IVF. The amount of grief and fear that poured out of me when my husband and I actually started the process was immense. To have wanted something and believed something for so long and to finally be really trying. . . terrifying. I still can’t believe it, but I’m starting to.

  77. Beautiful writing. I led a similar life of adventure and dating men who “weren’t ready yet.” When I was 33, I got clear and decided that I would only date men who wanted to get married and have children. It didn’t matter how great the guy was, if we didn’t want the same things, then he wasn’t right for me. Two months later (and one “test guy” to make sure I was serious…and I was, I didn’t even kiss him), I met my husband and we now have two boys. Good luck. I hope you find your lobster soon. :)

  78. Life changing. That’s how I feel about this.

  79. I love her words here. She so eloquently speaks what so many of us have experienced or are experiencing – that deep down, innate, raw desire for a child. No doubt about it, she’s a momma. She just hasn’t met her baby yet.

  80. This is so bizarre. I am currently in a life that is filled with ATVing, boating, fishing (summer and winter), snowmobiling, motorcycling, hunting, and just an overall bearing sense of powersports and adventure (and 70 days away from graduating law school). My wonderful boyfriend of three years makes it clear he does not want children (and with 22 nieces/nephews, it’s understandable). But as much as I love the adventurous life I partake in right now, I am terrified of the minute that the longing for children overwhelms me. It is tolerable now – I am satisfied without children, but at 45, 50, 55, will I still enjoy having gone ATVing instead of raising another beautiful person?

  81. Goosebumps. What amazing writing! Thanks so much for sharing this with us Kelle and Melina. :)

  82. While I have zero experience in the adventurous life you speak of, you wrote from my own heart. Thank you for writing this and I am sending all the good energy toward you to make this dream a reality for you.

  83. WOW WOW WOW!!! what a blog! new follower, right here!! :)

  84. This is off the charts awesome!!! I’m a climber and a mama, so I get this. I like the idea that both can exist, instead of one stops and the other starts.

    Also, my climber and real life friend just started dating a hardcore climber and this post is pretty on spot with her feelings. We’ve been texting like crazy since this posted.

  85. Hey Melina-

    I’ve been reading your blog for a while and love the escape it gives me eating lunch during a hard day at work. I enjoy adventure too, but not quite to your level. Having children is an adventure all its own. It may take a few years, but before you know it, you’re sharing your old adventures with your kids and its awesome. Seeing your child ski alone for the first time or repel off of a wall they just climbed fills you with pride (and a bit of fear too!). Just showing them new places and new things in nature gives you a whole new perspective. The adventure doesn’t have to stop when you have kids. You might just have to take it easy for a few short years. Hope you find a great guy that has the same dreams you have!

  86. I loved this post. I have a wonderful guy for Melina, but he just happens to live in Nashville. My brother is 41 and is an avid cyclist/bike racer (in addition to having a “real job”. All the women he meets are all cyclists as well, and none are interested in kids at this stage. He is older than most and ready to settle down but has trouble meeting someone who is at the right stage. So I say this to give her hope that there are men out there, and maybe they won’t cop to it on the first (or fifth date), but they do want kids.

    And if she’s ever in Nashville, holler at me. I swear he’s cute (all my friends say so).

  87. great day that melina girl can write

    “this blueprint of love is hardwired into me.”

    can’t wait to see her as a mama.
    her future baby is so very lucky.

  88. “We’re just around the corner, they whisper, holding my face in their invisible hands. Please hold out for us.”

    That is heart-stoppingly beautiful.

  89. I absolutely love your blog, thank you so much for sharing & the pictures are awesome! I look forward to your future entries!! Xx :)

  90. Damn, Melina! Well-written and beautiful. I’ve followed your blog for a while. I’ve always loved it, but you’ve been killing it lately. Just wanted to say so.
    I felt like you were calling me out in this post. I’ve had the same exact conversations with the same bearded mountain boys. I did finally find one that shares my desire for freedom and adventure and for family life. We plan on spending the rest of our lives trying to figure out how to balance it.

  91. Beautifully honest. I remember that longing to become a mother. It yearned in me and I listened. I do hope that the other half comes along to share in that dream. More powerful and adventurous than any mountain climbing, river rapid or physical triumph…is the one of motherhood. It tests and challenges in the best way possible. Loved this.

  92. Thanks Kelle, Thanks Melina. Love it.

  93. This made me weep. The shock of finding my exact feelings so beautifully written so I could make sense of them was wonderful. Thank you so much for sharing.

  94. Wow!

  95. I’m almost 25. My adventures are grad school and carving out a gorgeous, cozy small town life for myself… and identify so much with every word.

  96. This sounds like where my daughter wasa few years ago. She married a person so like herself except he didn’t want children. I think she convinced herself that she didn’t either. Something changed and she changed his mind. Now they have to. He is always saying how he is so glad that she changed his mind. I fell like I am reading her story.

  97. I have been a reader for a couple of years now, and I was about to stop reading when I read this beautifully written story. I almost immediately felt my heart leap outside of me!

    I am 27, I am married, I am a teacher, I have traveled far and wide, have made wishes and plans, and yet here I am stuck in the economic discrepancies of my life and my wishes.

    All I want in life is to be a mother. I wish I could drop everything in my life, just to see my babies. I feel like I have known them since always. I feel like they are waiting in some parallel reality. We have names picked out, I have read everything under the sun about being a mother, pregnancy, teenage life, you name it.

    I swear I can almost see them and feel them. I know their scent, and their softness. I can foresee and feel the tears of joy once I have them in my arms. My heart aches thinking about it -a sweet and warm ache.

  98. Whoa…goosebumps all over! I hope Melina finds the man that allows her to be her wild self…along with the mother within, who wants to love and nurture little ones of her own!

  99. I loved reading this–so inspiring. Your writing is beautiful.

    Kelle, your writing is beautiful as well. I just recently found your blog and it’s amazing to me how similar we are. Love that I’ve found two new blogs to follow and be inspired by! Thanks to you both xox


  100. Oh my…this is seriously one of the most beautiful things I’ve read on a blog. Or maybe period. I love the honesty. Love. Thank you for sharing your heart with us. (I’m wondering how many of your partners in adventure secretly have these same feelings? Would be interesting to know!)

  101. So beautifully written.

  102. If I could tell Melina just one thing it would be to take the same risks with her personal truths as she does with her life. Stop worrying about scaring a man away and just put it out there. One day he will be an emotionally available person who embraces and celebrates your truth, your secret, one that has no shame attached to it. “I’d love to have a baby, I’d love to start a family, someday soon.” There, I said it for you and the world kept rocking on. If he runs, oh well, he wasn’t the right nan, maybe the next one will be. Be who you are. A woman who both is happy and enjoying her life, and a woman who is totally enthused about future motherhood.

  103. This was so beautifully, honestly written. Thank you. I’m in your age bracket, but married, and I tell people all the time I’m “on the fence about kids” because it seems like the right thing to say at this stage of my life. I’m with you girl, I’m ready to be needed <3

    You’re going to be an amazing mom!

  104. At the risk of sounding REALLY dramatic, this ripped my heart out and squished it around. I feel just the same way, always have. I’m 32 and recently single b/c my ex didn’t want children–or at least was unwilling to commit to having children someday. It’s taboo to admit you want kids, as a woman, because that’s too *needy*, or some crap. I’m with you, Melina! (just in Portland) :)

  105. Tears. So beautiful. I’m not inclined to adventure, I’m more of a homebody/road trip taker, but at almost 27 I feel the same longing not only the excruciating desire to be a mother but the excruciating desire to be loved by someone who wants as much and has been waiting as long as I have to make those dreams come true. Thank you for sharing your heart!

  106. I met my love when I was 16. We never parted ways, ever, and were married at 22. Our son came into our lives when we were 24. Then we got pregnant a second time, and I carried our baby girl for 20 weeks, and then we lost her. Your words may speak of what you have yet to know, but I can tell you that you are destined to be a Mama, a loving wonderful Mama. Your words could not have had me in more tears as they reflect the pain I’m currently dealing with. Some women just have it, the Mama bone, and clearly you do. And I know that you will have the chance to feel the beauty of a child, which I can assure you is grander then any mountain. I should know, I’m not quite the adventurer you are but I am completely and helplessly in love with Rocky Mountains and they have guided me through much pain and love on long hikes. Nothing is more magical then my man carrying our son on his back as we hike and our wee one sings to the birds. Your babies are just beyond the sunset and hopefully the rest of mine are there keeping them company.

  107. LOVE

    Sometimes I feel like they’re already here, waiting in the wings, whispering for me to be careful, take it easy, turn back early, the conditions are getting dangerous, the river is too high. We’re just around the corner, they whisper, holding my face in their invisible hands. Please hold out for us.

    And you, too.


  108. This is beautiful and stirring and true, Melina

  109. Melina, You and I share the same heart. This truly sounds like it was written for me! Amazing!

  110. I’m astonished I haven’t seen Melinda’s blog before (or, met her in the climbing gym, for that matter — but I guess I’m climbing less than I used to, and Seattle’s a big place).

    Melinda: follow your heart; follow your nose; follow your path. When I was 28, I was positive I would not have kids, less than happily married, and three years into climbing, an activity that literally changed my life in innumerable ways.

    By 32, I was divorced, working a “day job” half time and climbing & writing the other half the time, and living it my way. (And dating climbers that never seemed to pan out for a variety of reasons you likely know intimately, and slowing accepting the realization that it wasn’t that I didn’t want kids; I just knew I would not have kids with my ex).

    By 34, I accepted that perhaps it wouldn’t be on my timeline, but someday, I’d find love. I had a vision in my head of being a little old stooped over arthritic grey-haired old lady, shuffling my slippers into the cafeteria at the old folks home, my eyes locking on a little stooped over grey-haired old man across the room — love at first sight. And instead of sadness, that vision brought me great comfort.

    A year later, I walked into a crowded conference room at work and my eyes landed on the love of my life. His shirtsleeves were rolled up, his forearms muscled, his body under that button down shirt unmistakably lean… he looked like a climber. Months later, we actually met — and he’d been a climber years before; and now, two years later, in addition to being my partner in life, he’s my partner in adventure, in climbing, in raising our new addition (an already beloved rescue puppy) and — when and if we’re ready and it’s in the cards — he’ll be my partner in raising kids. And if that’s not in the cards for us, he’ll be my partner in crime corrupting our nieces and nephews … helping them tie their first figure eights and learn how to poop outside and all that important stuff that those of us who live lives of adventure have a duty to share.

    Live it well, sister. Thanks for sharing your story, and best of luck.

    -Sara Grace :)

  111. Dear Melina,

    Your story resonates deeply with me. I’m, too, 28 years old. I’m accident prone. A writer. I used to work in exciting places, doing exciting work. Frostbite, hospital visits, Northern Lights, the works. I don’t “hardcore climb”, but apart from that your words sound very familiar.

    Except: unlike you I didn’t use to want to have children. I’d never been around them, didn’t really know what to do with them and my partner wasn’t wanting any either. “Maybe when I’m thirty or something,” I used to say, thinking that thirty was a looong way away.

    But all of that changed one day when I found out I had a health issue which could – if I were so unlucky – keep me from having children later in life.

    I’d never considered that – that children didn’t just “come when I wanted them to”. Suddenly I was reading through forums of desperate women wanting to get pregnant, wanting it really REALLY bad, and I asked myself “Could I, one day, be one of those women? Really?” And then it gradually dawned on me that actually… I did want children. Not, like, now – but if worse came to worst, I was willing to do it just so that I wouldn’t have to miss out later in life.

    And then it just went upside down, all of it. I loved my partner, but I had to be honest with him. If he came round by, say, 35 and we then tried for children with not much luck – I knew I would’ve resented him for the rest of my life, and we really didn’t want that. And he, on the other hand, didn’t want to resent me for the children we were having when he wasn’t wanting any and so long story short, we parted, amicably. We loved each other, we had one last long night of love and then we went separate ways. We’re still friends =), but we’re not partners. And another man I met later next year during overseas travels is now my husband.

    He was made known pretty much from day one that I wasn’t interested in a relationship unless I could see a father of my children somewhere down the road, and he took it in his stride. If anything, he was relieved to be facing such ruthless openess =). And about a year later, I was pregnant.

    Do I regret any of those choices? No. But I do miss my freedom, a lot.

    I get to go on little trips every now and again, mostly up local hills and doing a bit of bodyboarding on the local beach. Nothing, really, compared to the stuff I used to do before. And some evenings I quite literally ache for the life I’m not having.

    But then I remind myself that all of it is only temporary and if Universe keeps me around for a while longer, one day I’ll get to go on decent trips again. For the moment though I find little pleasures in hearing little feet running down the hallway and seeing a contented yawn when I’m laying him down in his bed in the evening. I love my son. I love my husband. But I do ache for the life I’m not having.

    I found your blog a while ago. It’s… joyful, in a way life is joyful, and I’m really happy to read this piece written by you. I hope it all goes very, very well for you and whilst I’m here and you’re there, I’ll live a little more through your works. Thank you.


  112. Hi. To everybody who has left a comment, and since this was a week ago I’m sure you won’t be checking here, but still.

    I read each response….many times over. I soaked up all the offered sentiments of connection, compassion, empathy, support, and love.

    If there was way for me to return all those things to each of you individually, I would!

    Thank you for taking the time to read, to comment, to reach out. A wholehearted thank you from me. “Life changing” is how I’d describe this whole experience of writing for ETST and becoming instantly connected with so many of you.

    I hope I can give back, and pay it forward, by continuing to go on and write honestly about this stuff. Did you know, I was so nervous to publish this that I didn’t even show any of my friends….at least for a few days, until the comments rolled in and I realized that maybe it was okay to be feeling, thinking, writing, sharing about this stuff.

    And of course, Thanks to Kelle. I’m soaring, girl.


  113. Melina,

    First there is desire and intention. If you follow that like you have all your outdoor adventures, it will lead you, in some way, in some form, to motherhood.

    In gratitude for your sharing,

  114. This story is beautifully written by you.Thanks for sharing Melina’s adventurous story with us through this blog.

  115. Melinda –

    You’re such a beautiful, raw writer. I commend your ability to be so vulnerable. This piece is deep and heartfelt and shows another dimension of your adventurous life – life lived now and in the future. My favorite moment was how they are waiting in the wings, telling you to be careful.

    I promise you when that day comes, it’s another life changing adventure that you cannot fathom; but is the most powerful ride on an untamed current of joy and love. You too will discover that sometimes words will not express the richness of it all. And I hope in your fashion, it happens by accident. :)


  116. FIrst, Loved this! Ah those adventures….though not the same, mine were first class, around the world circumnavigating the globe in 6 weeks adrenaline rushes with my love and excitement of a different kind…but the same feelings were under the surface….always. Discounted babies when dating…but oh, they were there. Really, all I ever wanted was to be a mom. And then I was 28, then 32, then 35, then 38…and the night of my 39th birthday after another failed first date and the demise of a long term relationship, I made an appointment with the fertility specialist for my own modern family miracle, because you see, the man did not show though Lord knows I tried, and the desire was there and time was ticking. And I surrendered the results and 6 years later, I am mom to two amazing little boys and our own little amazing modern family. I sometimes think about that girl that flew around the world first class and at the best dinners and stayed in the swankiest hotels…but hands down, the best decision I ever made was having these babies. It does not look like I thought it would, but it is fulfilling, fun, hard, exhausting and I would not trade it for anything. The world will still be there later. Good luck on your search, but don’t lose the dream and the best part is I get to get old with really really “no regrets”. You are an amazing writer. Thanks for your raw honesty….

  117. Beautifully written…this is my favorite part: “There is room in my life for children. It’s the space below my rib cage, and it’s hollow, and it’s excruciating.”

  118. This comment has been removed by the author.

  119. Kelle, I’ve been following your blog for the last few years, and how serendipitous that you’ve posted Melina’s story that resonates so deeply with my soul. I am also almost 28 an avid climber and grappling with the fact that I’m single, and independent and love it. Yet…. I so often cuddle all my friends kids and so desperately find myself longing to be a mama, which, as a single girl, sometimes can feel like you’re a special brand of crazypants and something you have to keep as a secret. Thank you for giving another beautiful spirit to follow :)

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