When we packed the car up today we were upbeat about taking our baby swimming for lesson number 12. All was well again (apart from my singing), and the memory of Amélie not enjoying the lessons is firmly in the past.
We had a nightmare day today hence this article was a little late going up. We had a bump in the car with the baby inside, which is a whole other article. All of us are fine though apart from stiff necks, so apologies for the delay in getting this up, and we will get a quick article up re: the crash.
We were a little late today but just in time to learn the new material. The instructor was good enough to give me a quick run down and let me go last so I could watch everyone else. What we did was to hold our babies under their arms like we do with the bouncing, and bounce around in a large circle singing the nursery rhyme 'a ring a ring O'roses'. When you get to the 'we all fall down' part we all stop, and one of the parents counts their baby in using 'name ... ready ... go'. They then dip under the water, face to face with their baby, until both are completely submerged. They then pop back up again for the next round.
We repeated this until everyone had one go each. We all had goggles on so we could maintain eye contact even under water. When it was my turn and I was counting Amélie in with 'Amélie .. Ready .. Go' and for the first time ever she looked right into my eyes when I said her name. At that split second I realised that I was going to repay this monumental moment between father and daughter by shoving her underwater. Eye to eye down we went into the water, when we came back up she wasn't the happy serene little girl who moments before was looking into my eyes with love. She looked agitated and was looking into my eyes with furrowed brow and an annoyed look.
There were no tears though, from her or any of the other babies. She didn't even need distracting or comforting. She likes the singing a lot, not mine but the rest of the mothers, and she likes the instructor who stands in the middle and she is always craning her neck to see her. She is smiling quite a lot now which didn't happen really at all for the first 10 or so lessons. I feel she is enjoying it much more now, I certainly am.
We did the big underwater swim where the instructor takes your baby and you see them swim towards you under the water while you are under wearing goggles. We also did most of the other routines we have learned along the way.
When Amélie is submerged, along with many of the other babies she doesn't come up and out of the water happy and calm. She may cough, and her face is contorted and she opens and closes her eyes a lot to get the water out before composing herself again. Having said that she treats it as no different to a sneeze, a cough, or hiccough.
I didn't want anyone to read these articles and think it was all sunlight and roses, and think their baby was somehow different or that they had done something terrible because their baby coughed or fought to catch their breath. After all they have just been holding their breath underwater, they are bound to take a few gasps and blinks when they come up. It's easy to feel you are being too rough and reckless with such young babies, but Amélie has been underwater about 30 times in her first 21 weeks of life and is thriving. She rarely cries, sleeps through the night, feeds well, and has yet to have any kind of illness
As you probably will have read Amélie was fine with her first few lessons before going through a stage where she really wasn't happy (only 2 or 3 lessons out of 20). To get back on track we had a few sessions at the local pool and I cut back on what I did with her, missing out many of the routines the rest of the babies were doing. It has worked like a charm there is no sign of her crying now and she loves it more than ever.
I now do pretty much everything the other babies do, this lesson though we did 2 moving underwater swims in a row. After the first I got the feeling Amélie was getting fed up, so rather than push my luck I skipped the second. Perhaps she would have been fine, perhaps not. I just don't want to risk setting her back. What I'm doing as there is no real lead from anyone else is using my best judgement.
Now back to the lesson, during holding onto the side practice Amélie is lifting herself up and putting her feet against the side of the pool. When I take my hands off hers she still can't hold on by herself. One or two of the other babies manage it though.
We did the 3 new moves we learned last week. The side holding swim position is really good, Amélie is more comfortable and she kicks her legs. The old swim position we still use for some routines, but it is well suited to very young babies (6-18 weeks old). This side holding swim position seems better for older bigger babies.
The other 2 moves we learned last week I found hard again. First of all moving backwards so low down in the water uses muscles I don't usually use so it's tiring. Additionally moving backwards and spinning 360 degrees now and again makes you dizzy. Lastly supporting your baby on your chest just isn't easy. I'm no giant but I'm 6 feet tall and the water is very shallow which makes it very awkward for me. I'm sure I'll figure it out though, if you want the low down on these techniques check this article
We have our next lesson in a weeks time and as always will be reporting back.