I have had this longstanding fantasy where I am a swimmer. Somehow the logistics and the schedule and the swimsuit and the stars align and I am able to go swimming on a regular basis for exercise. Add to this fantasy all the stories you hear about pregnant women finding relief in the pool and I was especially excited to see if I could manage this feat during this pregnancy now that the schedule seems like it could be possible. I have spent more than four years pregnant and never found my way into a swimming pool. Until this past Monday.
My sister's neighborhood has a pool and she mercifully invited the entire crew to go swimming with her kids. I found a swimsuit that I could passably wear with my Big Giant Belly* and packed all the children off to the pool.
After getting everyone sunscreened and into the water, I had to figure out how to safely get myself into the pool. The kids were all playing on this side of the pool, but the stairs were on that side of the pool. I didn't trust myself to just plop myself into the water so I decided to walk over to the stairs and then walk/float back over to where all the children were.
Now this isn't an Olympic style pool or even one you might see at a rec center. This is what you might call a hotel style pool. It is a rounded off rectangle with the deepest part in the center of the long side of the rectangle. The two short sides of the rectangle are 3 feet deep that increase to four feet and then hit five entire feet of depth in the center. Since I am about 5'2'', I knew I could walk most of the way and then just float across the five foot center.
I slowly descend into the water and feel the entirely odd feeling of a baby kicking on the inside while the water presses against the outside. I begin walking through the three foot section of pool. Then I get to the four foot section and begin that little water hop thing to keep my head above the water. Then the water is too deep for me to retain contact with the bottom of the pool so I take one last hop and try to propel myself into a float. And nothing happens. I sink like a rock.
"That's weird," I think to myself and try again. And once again, the muscles do not engage. I push myself backwards and try to tread water. I can't. My muscles seem to have lost all memory of buoyancy. I went swimming last summer. I could float then. Something about my distended belly and the strange sensations of the water made my body revolt against the idea of floating in water.
I quickly reassess and decide to sheepishly do the wall hanging scoot of shame where I cling to the side of the pool and scoot myself past the "deep" end. I realize I am now an old lady in need of a pool noodle floatie. I regain my footing on the other side of the dreaded deep and find myself a pool noodle to hang on since I cannot trust my own muscles to work.
We all spend most of an hour playing in the three to four foot area of the pool. Marian was thrilled with the back float she accomplished by throwing her body backwards over her ring float and thrashing her legs and arms about wildly. I helped the other children with a few other activities, but mostly I tootled around on my old lady noodle trying not to sink.
The time came to get out of the pool. I once again had to traverse the deep section. I didn't even try to float myself over it. I probably should have after spending so much time acclimating to the feeling of being underwater. I just did the wall scoot of shame going the other direction.
I arrived at the steps and slowly pulled myself out of the water. I then had one of the strangest feeling I have ever encountered in my entire life. I can only describe it as what an astronaut might experience coming back to earth. The full force of gravity came to bear on me. I could hardly move. I stood there standing, dripping at the edge of the pool trying to find the ability to walk. All of my limbs felt weighted down like lead. I slowly shuffled back across the pool, passing a table full of teenagers on the way (Hurrah!), my feet barely clearing the ground to propel me forward. It was the very definition of ridiculous to behold. Then, after a few minutes, the feeling passed and I could walk around normally. Well as normal as possible in these days of the Big Giant Belly.
So that's my swimming while pregnant experience. Should I attempt this folly again?
*Big Giant Belly is Marian's official name for my current girth.