Friday, August 6, 2010

Water safety and sinking like a stone.

Even though today is Friday, this is a serious post.  I'll make up for it later with cute baby photos or something equally saccharin.  I promise.

Early last week the news carried a story about a man who drowned while saving his three year old nephew from a pond where they were swimming.  I immediately wondered why someone who wasn't a swimmer would try saving someone else from the water.

How naive I was.

Jack and I have been taking a baby swim class at the YMCA. I thought it would be a fun thing to do, and I hoped that he'd enjoy the water (as opposed to screaming in terror and being angry at me for a full day, as he did the first time I put his little feet in his kiddie pool).  He has really been a trooper through the whole class so far - he kicks and paddles like a champ, and he has even gone underwater without a single, solitary waaah.

Dan calls him our little Navy Seal.
Jack with some broad who has no business being in a swimsuit.

As for me, I'll be honest: I'm not doing so great.  I was fine for all of the fun and games part - I can do the pool version of "The Wheels on the Bus" like I'm auditioning for Idol, but last Saturday we had a lesson on safely towing a baby out of deep water.

I couldn't do it. I sank like a damn stone.

The first lesson was a sort of backfloat, with baby in our arms, over our chest.  The idea is, obviously, to keep baby's head above water at all times, and ideally, to keep your own head above water most of the time.  I couldn't do it.  I kicked a few times and down I went, stopping just short of Jack going under with me.  As you may imagine, he was not a fan of that experiment.

The next lesson involved a scissor kick while having the baby straddle your hip.  Again, I was underwater in a matter of seconds.  By now Jack was sensing my frustration and getting himself worked up too.  He wasn't crying, but he was very squirmy which did not help matters at all.

The third alternative was to place baby on your back, holding one of his arms over your shoulder, leaving both legs and one arm to swim.  I couldn't even safely put Jack on my back.  It just wasn't happening.  And by this time, he was mad.  I was frustrated.  We were done.

The only thing I could do was tread water for a short period.  But that's only going to help in a rescue situation if there's something there to rescue me and Jack in a matter of moments.

You'd think it wouldn't be so hard to swim with a baby, but I found it impossible. And that worries me.  All I can do at this point is keep trying, keep practicing and of course practice water safety above all else.  Here's a great resource for child and infant water safety.  I still need to learn infant CPR - I have no excuse for not knowing that.  Moms and dads - all caregivers and potential caregivers - pledge to yourselves to take a class.  We'll all be better people for having done so.

One thing I will never take for granted is the difficulty involved in a rescue situation.  I hope I'll never need to experience that firsthand.



Grumpy White Devil said...

You have an extra 20 plus pounds of squirmy child on you - that's why you sink like a stone. If you were Pam Anderson, you would have enhanced flotation capability. Be happy you have higher muscle density to work with.

A large part of your sinking issue is you are tense, and that means your muscles are tight and dense.

Floating is doable if you are relaxed, but you are in pretty good trim, so you have to work at staying in motion in the water.

Can you float without your little guy on you? If you can't , adding the extra weight of a small life you are responsible for will not make floating any easier!

Don't be so hard on yourself! Also, buy PFD's for yourself and the little guy, if water activities are on the calendar.

Teach him to swim, yes. Leaving the swim as the ONLY water safety method, not so much. Personal flotation devices, good basic plan.

Melanie said...

Relax, don't be so hard on yourself. Keep up the lessons, you'll both get it down. We never took or take any lessons. We do however have a pool and I'm back there everyday with my 4 kids. My eldest just refuses to swim, which (uggghhh!!!) Is difficult. he's 8, my eldest daughter 5, then my 3yr old, and my 1yr old. One adult, 4 kids....It's so diffucilt to teach them to swim by myself, I know it's frustrating, but am glad at least that now when they go underwater they aren't panicking. That's one thing down, now I just need to get them kicking AND moving their arms at the same
First aid classes ontop of the CPR, I get them done every year. I even bought a Baby CPR kit so I can teach my oldest. It may grab you by the heart and squeeze at the very thought of needing to put the lessons to work one day, but man..Knowing you can do it, wins out in the end! Good luck!

Lilo said...

Kudos to you for doing the lessons. Many people dont. Just remember that Jack is already far better off than he would have been if you werent getting him acquainted with H2O. Like a previous comment, make sure you both have good life jackets so when you are out of the swimming class atmosphere you can have fun in the water safely. Hang in there! And have confidence! Jack knows you would never let anything happen to him. :)

Oh, and if you taught your Mustang to swim, then you can teach Jack to too. ;)

Ruby said...

Hi following from BLOGGY MOMS! have a great weekend.