All of you moms out there may remember the doctor’s advice to continue exercising as you normally would throughout pregnancy- as long as the activity is not high risk/high impact. And most of us walked away and carried on with our yoga, running, swimming, and other low risk routine activities. Jaqualine Fort is an exception. At 31 weeks pregnant, this momma took living an active lifestyle to a whole new playing field – shredding it up in the wake of a high speed motorboat…
“Homemade sunblock, check! Groceries to eat healthy this weekend, check! Car filled up with gas check! XL life vest to fit over belly, check! Some Vita Coco for the road trip, check! So all I need is my hubby to get home from work and we will be off to the Florida Wake Surf Championship.”
Just another day in the life of Featured Mom Jaqualine Fort – globally ranked professional wakesurfer, naturalist, happy wife and first-time expectant momma of a baby boy. Here’s our interview with this awesome mom-to-be!
So you’re originally from Connecticut. How did you land in Florida?
From the age I knew what Florida was, I knew I would move here! The first time I even got to visit Florida was when I was 18 years old, and I ended up moving here after one semester at the University of Connecticut. I only attended Uconn because one of the sports I did in high school was Track and Field, and I was ranked top 10 in New England for a 3 events. I was mainly a jumper (high, long, and triple jump) but also did short sprints. Uconn was division 1 and recruited me, but after one semester the team was “under/poorly coached” and I was fed up with the snow and the cold! I decided that I NEEDED to be in FL and couldn’t wait any longer. I knew I would surf… I just didn’t know I would become a pro athlete in wakesurfing!
What led you to this high-paced sport?
My high school boyfriend wakeboarded and introduced me to the world of watersports behind a boat! Though I wakeboarded some, I preferred to spend my turns carving up and down the wake. Eventually his family invested in a wakesurf board and I WAS HOOKED!!! When I moved from CT, my skills included just dropping the rope. Two years after I moved here, I met our friend Scott who owns a boat that is when I became fully invested and obsessed with the sport.
Wakesurfing, being in the sun and water, and on a boat is how I de-stress. It is what I look forward to all week! Through all of College (B.S. and M.A.) I worked a full time job and busted my butt in school. But no matter what was going on…boat days were untouchable!! In addition to wakesurfing being amazing for me emotionally and physically I also was motivated to continue riding and competing while pregnant to make a statement I guess.
A statement to my competitors that although I am pregnant, do not count me out! I have been a top rider in the pro level for 6 years, I was not going to risk being forgotten or replaced.
I think I also wanted to make a statement to my family and women in general who have shared such a negative opinion/outlook on pregnancy. Life does not have to stop when you are pregnant or when you have babies. You can still be and need to be you! Every week I had to adjust my riding to my growing belly and energy level, but I still did what I loved and I know my baby is happy when I am happy. I am always safe and have gotten the approval of my midwives so I continue to do as much as my body can handle!
Wakesurfing would be considered a pretty high risk sport for most expecting moms. Have you received any push-back from outsiders on your decision to keep at it while carrying? If so, how do you respond?
I have had a few people express concern, mostly due to the lack of knowledge of the sport. All I have had to really explain is that when wakesurfing, the boat is only going 10-12 mph so a fall feels equivalent to jumping in a pool. And because I have been doing it for 6 years, I know how to fall and protect belly. Plus I always adjust how I ride to how my body feels. I also let them know that all my midwives have approved and told me to just listen to my body. I haven’t had anyone continue to question me after that. Now at contests, I make many of the men nervous! They are not sure how to handle it because they just want to go into protection mode. At the last contest, during my run (turn) they had 2 jet skis follow behind me, just in case. And the judges kept begging me to stop trying things. The judges are also friends and people I have known for 6 years in the sport so I know they are just worried. I choose to feel cared for and loved by their concern. Most women have been so supportive and encouraging to keep on going and just listen to when my body says its had enough.
You must have some great wakesurfing stories. Give us the good stuff.
Like I mentioned, wakesurfing is stress relief for me and something I have been passionate about for many years! I have also surfed with the same friend, who is like a father figure to me, and so I therefore feel very safe on the boat. I used to bring potential boyfriends on the boat to weed them out! I figured if they were boring or weren’t any fun on a boat, I would know quickly that there was no need for a second date, and because I was on the boat, I would have a great time regardless. One day, I had a friend who wanted to set me up with this guy who was a semi-pro volleyball player who loves the beach and the water. Though I had never been set up before I agreed as long as she brought him on the boat.
This guy is now my husband – Ellis Fort! We totally hit it off that day and set up a lunch date for later in the week – which we never made it to because met up the next evening and talked ALL NIGHT!! Within 7 days he told me that he loved me, and my reply was “if you asked me to marry you today, I would say yes”. We got married one year later and have now been married for 3.5 years and are expecting our son next month! Ellis began wakesurfing when we met and just began competing professionally this year. Sharing this passion with him has been wonderful, and he is the most amazing husband!
How has pregnancy impacted your marriage?
The combination of having such a good pregnancy and the fact that it’s hard for men to comprehend what’s really going on, it has taken a while to feel “real”. He has been so protective of me and the baby as well as supportive and involved in many discussions about how we want to raise our son. He has been an amazing partner in big decisions such as vaccinations, breast feeding, and finances. I think that this pregnancy has had the biggest impact on our sex life. A fluctuating sex drive has been challenging but my husband has been exceptional and understanding. While he is counting down the days until I am back to myself, he is so loving and supportive.
My husband and I both have very strong beliefs about maintaining as natural a lifestyle as possible. This has kept us seeking out information constantly and choosing to surround ourselves with people that have the same mindset. We have chosen to deliver at a birthing center that does not even offer pain medication for delivery, with midwives that are confident and knowledgeable about how strong a women’s body is and that it can handle bringing a baby into this world. We have just finished our research about vaccinations and are now seeking a pediatrician that will support our decision to not vaccinate, not use medications as an initial treatment, and to not circumcise our son. Because of our beliefs, we have also decided that it is best for me to stay home with our son so I can breastfeed as well as keep him out of daycare. This is a sacrifice that we planned for and that we find necessary and so worth it.
Is it true that you are currently on bed rest?
I was on bed rest for a few days and now am trying to match activity with an equal amount of rest. The week before our baby shower, my husband had the week off so we used the whole time to clean, cook, do yard work, decorate, and shop for house items. I overdid it a bit. I felt okay but was just having too many braxton hicks contractions. After rest and adjusting how much I do in one day I feel much better. I still plan on surfing for a few minutes this weekend… it will just be my allotted activity for the whole day.
What other hobbies and interests do you have outside of wakesurfing?
My other hobbies and interests include ocean surfing, exercising (running and weightlifting though its been minimal during this pregnancy), and playing beach volleyball with my hubby. I also LOVE crafts! I love to sew, paint, scrapbook, and being creative in any way possible! My latest ventures have been making lots of baby things including cloth diapers, cloth wipes, a diaper bag, a ring sling, and wall art for baby’s room.)
Do you have any mom or expecting mom friends?
I have 2 friends who are expecting! They are due after me but it’s nice that they don’t tire of the endless baby talk! I also have a few friends and a family member that have young kids so we will be able to have play dates. One couple specifically has two young kids and are raising them like we want to raise ours. They have been super supportive and offered lots of support after baby arrives.
What are your plans for after the baby is born?
I will be a stay at home mom until we have a family member or close friend that we trust to babysit, then I will go back to work part time. I am a speech and language pathologist so there are positions that have flexible schedules. We want kids close together… I am a twin and my husband and his brother are 18 months apart. We love and cherish the relationship between siblings who are close in age. Though we are in for a world of chaos that we cannot possibly understand until our baby arrives, we are striving for close pregnancies. Taking care of our son and next baby, and keeping them out of daycare is definitely our priority, and is worth the sacrifice of my income.
My advice would be to eat as healthy as possible and try not to use pregnancy as a reason to indulge. Stay as active as your body will allow and listen to it when you need rest. Pregnancy can be amazing when you take care of yourself and your baby:) Oh, and research everything you can!
Updated Photo/Video – Below, Jaqualine still shredding it up at 38 weeks pregnant (that’s full-term)!
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