Couple treks across the USA, stopping to have a baby along the way

When Amanda Autrey and Kolton Rackham began walking across the country in May last year, they were a young couple from Utah setting out on "a journey of healing and self-discovery."

Five months later, the trip took an unexpected turn when Autrey, 27, discovered she was pregnant — causing them to rethink whether walking across America was the best decision for an expecting family.

"It was scary because all the things that I had anxiety about before … all of a sudden that was a whole different thing with a little one," Autrey said.

Two days after they found out the news, they found inspiration to keep going from a video at the Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center in Nebraska. It mentioned Sacagawea was pregnant and gave birth while on the expedition.

"Amanda got a little emotional," said Rackham, 24. "We realized that we are walking through towns, and if Sacagawea could do it through the wilderness … and all of the wonderful support we had been getting, we felt that maybe it was possible for us, too."

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Onyx Wolfric Rackham was born after almost a year on the road in Parma, Idaho. He came into the world April 19, weighing 6 pounds, 3.5 ounces.

"He's our biggest souvenir," Autrey said.

In 15 months, Autrey and Rackham covered 10 states from Tybee Island, Georgia, to Newport, Oregon, during what they called their "2918 Miles" journey. They had planned for four or five months.

The walk, which ended Monday, also served as an opportunity for the pair to raise $5,500 for suicide prevention and the Make-A-Wish Foundation.

They often dressed as characters from "Little Red Riding Hood" to grab attention, which helped them spread awareness and find places to stay.

Rackham said he had trouble keeping up with Autrey initially, but that changed in Missouri, where she kept asking to take a break. "In my head, I was like 'what the heck is going on?'" Rackham said. "She was in the first trimester."

After learning Autrey was pregnant, they walked fewer miles each day. They spent more time networking to find shelter. They packed more food, and because of pregnancy cravings — included more salty snacks. Autrey went to bed early while Rackham stayed up chatting with their host family.

"My biggest concern was, having never been pregnant before, how my body would handle growing a life and continuing the walk." Autrey said. "I knew that people sometimes would sometimes have miscarriages due to stress or exertion, and I was walking across America, not knowing, necessarily, where I was going to sleep that night. That was a whole other level of fear, knowing I had a little one on the way, a life that was mine to take care of."

During the second trimester, Autrey had more energy, hardly any body pain and was able to walk further daily. "The biggest challenge was getting enough sleep, getting hydrated and getting food," she said.

They talked with midwives along the way and were prepared to have the baby at any moment — perhaps even near the roadside.

As luck would have it, they were staying with a retired midwife when Autrey gave birth.

It was "completely divine timing," Autrey said. "We were relieved there was someone there that knew more than we did. It was comforting."

They were "very conflicted" on whether to keep going after the birth. Instead of quitting, they rested for four nights. After all, Onyx is named after a "healing stone meant to overcome fear," Autrey said.

Along the way, the couple spoke at a few schools, met with Make-A-Wish kids and volunteered. They helped four families move. Autrey talked about suicide prevention and her struggles with suicidal thoughts.

One thing Onyx is sure to take away from the trip is a sense of adventure, Autrey said.

"He's going to want to explore, she said. "It is so much better for kids to be outside than inside."

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