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I wrote letters to my twins from pregnancy to five years old. They show how hard it is to 'have it all.'

Majka Burhardt   

I wrote letters to my twins from pregnancy to five years old. They show how hard it is to 'have it all.'
  • Majka Burhardt is one of the world's top professional ice climbers, and also runs a climate justice organization.
  • Burhardt gave birth to twins in 2016, and wrote real-time letters to them throughout her pregnancy and postpartum.

Majka Burhardt is one of the world's top professional ice climbers and the Founder and Executive Director of Legado, a movement co-creating climate justice with Indigenous people around the world.

In her epistolary memoir, "More," Burhardt shares a series of real-time letters to her twins as she raised them from birth to age 5 years old. At the time the excerpt below was written, Burhardt was on tour for showings of her documentary film, Namuli, with two four-month-olds, raising money for Legado, and trying to solve a dwindling milk supply in a sticky public bathroom.

November 3, 2016

Audio Journal | Four Months Old

This morning I sat on a god-knows-why-it's-sticky public-bathroom floor in the Minneapolis-Saint Paul Airport with my syncopated nipples spraying milk from their ducts. This, apparently, is your mom getting back "out there." This is being on a film tour, together — the thing of greatness I planned when you were in my belly.

Greatness last night was me at a fundraising dinner, milk leaking through my blouse while I tried to solicit support and new donors, only to be inundated by ideas about how to grow cedar trees more sustainably — never mind that there are no cedar trees where Legado works.

Greatness this morning was my hands-free pumping setup so I could simultaneously pump and email the Africa lead for our primary funder about when to meet the director of the Global Environmental Fund next week in DC.

Greatness, or desperation, was deciding to pump extra while watching my next Tuesday — five days away — get stacked with meetings, panic slowly growing in my belly as I realized I hadn't brought enough frozen milk to buffer all of these subsequent days away from you on this two-country, four-state tour. The only one who can solve that is me, so I turned the pump on high and hoped your grandma was still rocking you and keeping you asleep in the stroller outside the airport bathroom, on leg two en route to Canada, so I could increase my milk supply enough to make this whole deranged plan work.

Greatness was triggering the explosive-liquids wand during the third level of the Minneapolis security screening with the milk I had just pumped — then being asked if I'd rather relinquish the milk or undergo further testing, to which I said, while thinking of the meeting with the director of the Global Environmental Fund and all of the people on Mount Namuli in Mozambique who could benefit from their support, "No, I will not relinquish those five ounces, which represent one-eighth of the food my children need today, and which allow me to try and make a difference both in the larger world and in their world as a mom."

Oh, and it's your dad's birthday today. He's in New York State climbing with his best friend. Just him. Just them. No babies.

Greatness would be me feeling genuinely supportive of this in just a fraction of the spirit of my original offer. It was not as if he was going to come on the film tour with me anyway. That was never on the table. That was never something I even asked.

From "More: Life on the Edge of Adventure and Motherhood," by Majka Buhardt. Copyright © 2023 by the author and reprinted by permission of Pegasus Books.


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