Wednesday 7 September 2011


One of the things I was looking forward to with my new baby was baby swimming lessons. I love to swim, its the only physical activity I am remotely good at, and whilst I am no Dawn Fraser it is something I deeply enjoy. I have great memories of my dad teaching me to swim, and regular swimming lessons, firstly specific swimming sessions for children with asthma, and later general swimming. I loved it so much, learning new strokes, and the freedom I felt in the water.

I've never really felt bothered about my size in the water, and don't feel self concious in a costume, even though I am often the fattest at the pool! Until the day we took Joseph swimming, Sunday just gone.

Joseph is not used to the water. It was suggested by the neo natal outreach team to avoid swimming due to potential infection, due to Joseph's history of chronic lung disease. I never questioned this, as I felt it was wise, he had been on oxygen a long time and was still very small. I asked again at Joseph's one year corrected check up, but the consultant was reluctant to support it. So again I decided that it was best to be careful.

Now Joseph is over 2 corrected I think its time. He adored being in the paddling pool on holiday recently in Gorleston on Sea, and he enjoyed the seaside too, showing no fear as the waves crashed at his feet. So the pool in Ramsbottom would be a walk in the

We started well, in his lovely cozzie, and me in my nice one too, a boob tube style with a strap around the neck. Mistake number one. We took him into the pool and he looked quite excited as I put his floats on his arms. My husband took Joseph as I got in and passed him to me.

Well, that is where the trouble started, he started to cry and shout. I just assumed 10 minutes of shouting and he'd settle and enjoy it. Mistake number two. It didn't get better. My husband blamed me, as he normally does when things are going wrong, and said "pass him to me". Mistake number three. Joseph was welded to me. More specifically to my costume. Ya know, the boob tube style with one little strap. Hubby tugged, Joseph clung, I looked around to see a group of men positioned nicely near my left boob. Please, don't try to move Joseph, you will cause a scene, I yelled.

For a moment I lost it. Tears stung my eyes. My fault. Mistake number four. Don't go there. "If Joseph hadn't been prem, I could have taken him swimming as a baby and we wouldn't be here now, he'd be happy". This line of thought not helped by two nine month olds ducking and diving and giggling and having a bawl. But it's not my fault. I didn't cause the pre eclampsia, I listened to the doctors, none of this is my fault. Stop that thought now. 

So Joseph remained, like a baby possum stuck to me like glue. Have you ever seen the claws on a brushtail possum? They are very sharp. After 20 minutes they roped the shallow end off and threw in some lovely floats, pirate ships, winnie the poo, frogs. We sung and played with the floats. Joseph screamed and shouted. "No want mummy cuggles!" So we left. I was so looking forward to my shower. But no. More screaming as I tried to shower the two of us (we have only a bath at home).

But once in the changing room, my Joseph came back, laughing, giggling, throwing his shoes over the door of the changing room and giggling as I tried putting his shorts on. He was positively charming and bright and funny.

"Joseph, would you like to go swimming next week?" And his reply "Yes please mummy, more swim".

Go figure. Care to join us? Bring ear plugs.



  1. You don't have a shower at home? Well there goes the advice I had for you! The swimming teacher we used to go to said the reason kids freak out it the pool is because they can't touch the bottom - they're fine in the bath at home, they're fine in a paddling pool, but as soon as they're in deepish water they get terrified because the floating feeling is so foreign to them. Her advice (and according to others in our lessons it worked) was to stop bathing the child, and not to let them in the paddling/toddler/kiddy pool. Give them showers instead of baths so they're not getting to experience that safe, touch-the-bottom feeling in water. She said to try to take them to the pool twice a week minimum, even if they just went in for a few moments with you and basically train them through repeated small experiences of it to feel safe with you holding them in the water then gradually move onto them using floaties, kickboards, pool-noodles etc. She said while you're doing this to never let them re-experience the "safety" of the bath or toddler pool but once they're okay with the deep water then their "reward" after a swimming session could be the toddler pool (but not to let them go in the toddler pool before the deep one). Anyway, you could buy one of those little hand held shower things that attaches to the taps if you really wanted to try this method.

  2. That's great advice, only we can't do it! We have a water flow issue, the pressure is fine, but there's not enough water in our system. So if we try to use a handheld shower you either have to have a cold one or a boiling hot trickle, you can't run both hot and cold at the same time! We need to get a diagnostic plumber in, but haven't the budget at the moment. It would involve ripping out half the kitchen to expose the pipes!!!