Weightlessness

There comes a time late in pregnancy when it is clear that the being inside is more like an invading alien than anything else. Jenny signed up to get weekly pregnancy updates via email; the messages always give a comparison between the size of the fetus and a piece of fruit. It’s a terrible comparison–Moonbeam is not as benign as the honeydew that served as this week’s comparison. He doesn’t just kick; he pushes and presses with knees and elbows, trying to expand his space. Right now it looks like he’s trying to escape via her bellybutton.

Pregnancy during summer must be unbearable. There are some consolations that make it a little bit easier. For one thing, we no longer live in Texas, so we know that the heat isn’t as bad as it could be. In Texas, a blast furnace greets you every time you open the door, no matter what time of day. Here, we get respite in the morning and evening.

Second, we have a community swimming pool. Jenny found a cute swimsuit and at first worried that she wouldn’t use it, but she’s already gotten her money’s worth. The pool isn’t usually very busy–it wasn’t tonight–but it did have three pregnant women relaxing in it.

While Jenny and Moonbeam were enjoying the feeling of weightlessness, Elena was making some important swimming discoveries. By holding a noodle under her arms she could keep her head above water, and as soon as she was doing that, she figured out that she could propel herself in whatever direction she wanted just by kicking a little bit. As soon as she started doing that, she didn’t need me holding onto her anymore. She made it all the way across the pool to Jenny. For a brief moment she thought she didn’t even need the noodle, but I wouldn’t let her follow through on that idea.

Later on we went the shallow area near the stairs and practiced kicking. We were lying on our backs and holding the stairs, making the biggest kick splashes we could. Elena has strong legs–her kicks sent waves all the way to the other corner of the pool.

With all of these good pre-swimming skills Elena is acquiring, we want her to be comfortable holding her breath and going underwater, but she still isn’t a big fan of the idea. She usually agrees, albeit reluctantly, to one dunking, and knows to hold her breath, but loudly objects to further practice. I think we made some progress on that front when I showed her how to pinch her nose, and after that she was more willing to partially submerge her face.

We’ve been working on swimming quite a bit, and these advances are exactly the things we hoped Elena would figure out. At the beginning of the summer Jenny and her friend Lauren tried to find swim lessons that their husbands could take daughters to together. They didn’t find any good options, so Lauren acquired a pool for their house; it’s about two feet deep and ten feet across. We try to go over there for swim time once a week, which is always lots of fun for Elena and Saiorse. At our last visit, Elena realized she could float horizontally if she used two noodles. That’s what gave her the confidence to try floating with one noodle in deeper water today. I’m holding out hope that she’ll be able to swim-float without the noodle by the end of the summer.

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