An unexpected pregnancy side effect: fear of bears.

Here’s an unexpected side effect of pregnancy: I think it has increased my fear of bears.

I love camping, hiking, and backpacking, but I have a deep and irrational fear of bears. I may be the only person in Washington State that camps with bear spray. I won’t go backpacking in areas with grizzlies unless I’m with at least four other people.

I can usually manage my fear, but I’ve spent more than a few sleepless hours listening intently for bears. In my half-asleep brain, the sound of gentle waves on the shore of a lake turns into a thirsty bear lapping up water, and the sound of a windy night turns into a bear rattling the tent. My husband is used to me abruptly sitting upright in our tent, grabbing his arm, and whispering “there’s definitely a bear out there!”

Anyway, two weekends have passed since I found out I’m pregnant. We planned to go snow camping both weekends but we were rained out both times. I’ve been bummed about the rainy weather but also, in a secret part of my soul, relieved. When I imagine being in our tent at night in the middle of the North Cascades I feel a new sort of alarm. How bad is it going to be when I have an actual child and not just an embryo? We’re on again this weekend, so hopefully I can conquer this new uneasiness.

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