Two weeks ago, I took Baby Girl to Swim Babies class for the first time. I had the highest of hopes and expectations, and when we got in the pool, she seemed to live up to all of them. She smiled, she laughed, she splashed at the water.
Then halfway through class, she had a meltdown.
A real, honest to goodness, if-we-do-this-for-another-30-seconds-we'll-both-explode meltdown. She was screaming at the top of her lungs, tears running down her face. I practically sprinted out of the pool. I walked the deck. I took her in the locker room and nursed her. She calmed down a little, but as soon as we got back near the pool, she started crying.
She was still crying when, in the locker room after class, I was trying to get us both dressed. How to get dressed while holding a wet, squirmy, screaming baby? If anyone knows, please share.
She was still crying when we walked out of the locker room.
"It happens," said the instructor. "She's doing fine. You just keep trying."
Thankfully, as soon as we got in the car she fell asleep. She slept the whole way home, and when we got here, I brought her upstairs in her carseat and let her sleep in the kitchen while I emptied out our pool bag. I threw the towels in the wash, and was about to wash our suits out in the sink when I realized her suit was gone.
Her very first bathing suit, which she'd only worn once, and which I had no pictures in. Then I had a meltdown.
First, I sat down on the kitchen floor and cried. Then I did something very unlike me. I sprang to action. I threw my sleeping baby in the car and drove the 20 minutes back to the pool, not sure I'd even be able to get back in, let alone find the suit. I drove faster than I should have, balancing my panic about losing the suit with the caution my sleeping baby girl provided. I held my breath at every red light.
But it was there. On the bench where I'd fought to get a diaper on her. It was such a relief I couldn't even describe it.
That day was such an adrenaline nightmare for me, I haven't been able to write about it until today.
Today, we went back for our second swimming lesson. I was filled with dread, certain it would be miserable. As I eased into the water, Baby Girl started to whimper. This time, she wasn't nearly so sure. She clung to me. She whined a little. I hugged her tight, and just went slow.
Then about 10 minutes into class, we learned the back stroke. I put her head on my shoulder and my arm under her back, and I held my breath.
Baby Girl looked around at the other babies. She kicked her feet. And she stopped fussing.
And at the end of class, as I lifted her up and down from the water, she looked me in the eye and smiled softly at me, as if to say, "I understand, mom. It's fun, really. I'm going to be okay."
Me too, Baby Girl. Me too.