Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Swimmy Lessons, Ears, and The Big W

What an odd summer this has been. Rain on most days until recently, temperatures hovering in the 70s and 80s despite the heat wave across the rest of the country. It has only been the past week or so that we actually have reached our summer norm: endless heat, sticky humidity, with seemingly no end in sight. I remember last summer our city performed rolling blackouts across town to decrease the electricity usage. It was also the year we had to replace our ailing air conditioner.

In the spirit of summer, I signed Anja and me up for Baby and Me swimming lessons in June. Every Friday we would eat breakfast, put on our swimsuits, and drive to the nearby swim school. There were six baby-mommy combos (well, one was actually a baby-nanny combo) in our class taught by Coach Don. Two of the other babies were born the same month as Anja, one of which appeared to be half of Anja's size. Small baby, meet my big baby. Coach Don provided us with all kinds of water toys and songs while we worked on floating, blowing bubbles, hanging on to the side of the pool, jumping off the side of the pool, and the ultimate goal of going underwater for a couple of seconds. There was even a little slide for me to heave my nearly 30-pound child up onto, then help her slide down. Anja hated the first class. HATED. She cried through the whole class. Cried so much that we couldn't even participate. We sat on the steps going into the pool and watched all the action from there. She wasn't especially thrilled with the second class either. She cried for about half the class, then either decided that this was OK or surrendered to the fact that we weren't leaving and tried to enjoy herself a little bit. That was when the baby with his nanny started to cry.

Anja stopped crying, thankfully. In fact, she laughed and smiled her way through every class thereafter. Loved the slide, loved crawling on the top step, loved swimming in the inflatable inner tube, loved everything. I was supposed to be modeling how to blow bubbles and put her underwater, but I never could put her under the water because her mouth was open with laughter every time. She really grew to enjoy it, and I did too. She liked the other babies, I liked the other mommies (the nanny was really nice too), and we both liked the water.


Poor Anja started her bout with ear infections a little bit before her first birthday. Two infections back to back, followed by another a few weeks later. When we started swimming lessons, I really thought we were done with the battle with the ears. When she went to her 15-month well baby exam, the doctor said her ears looked fine. So I was a little confused when strange-looking wax started coming out of her ears a couple of days later, followed by an ear ache a couple of days after that. The verdict: more ear infections AND a perforated ear drum.

To make a long story short, Anja had tubes placed in her ears last week. The ENT is a nice man who tries to win her over with stickers and lollipops, but she hates him for holding her down and looking in her ears. The ENT seems way smarter than the pipsqueak pediatrician who said her ears looked "fine" just three weeks ago (Think Rachael Ray with a stethoscope. I'll keep most of my opinions about her to myself for now but just trust we won't be seeing her again. Buh bye. Add her to the list with the nurse practitioner who told me that homeopathic teething tablets were poison. Buh bye to her too).

Needless to say, Anja's ear problems have put a halt to our swimming lessons. Which makes me quite sad. I think about the other babies in our class sometimes. After our last class, we had lunch with another mom and baby. This mom had three daughters and had been constantly breastfeeding children for about eight or nine years and said she was desperate the wean the youngest one so she could get her boob lift. I laughed and tried to imagine breastfeeding children for that long. Lately, I kick myself for having weaned Anja at all, knowing that we could have avoided this whole ear infection saga if she still had a little boob juice. I think about the little boy with his nanny, who cried through every class after the first one. He got so mad, his little face got all red. Either Dad or Grandma would come to class and watch and he would cry and reach for them. I think Coach Don finally suggested to the nanny that she come with baby boy alone. They weren't at the last class we attended. I plan to go to the swim school soon to see if they will work a deal with me considering the circumstances of our absences. We will be back.

And in response to every body's question "Is she walking yet??" Well, sort of. She will take four or five little steps at a time, and the sperm donor and I kind of pass her back and forth to get her to practice. She walks like a zombie with her arms stretched out in front of her. I can picture her saying "I want to eat your brains!!" She likes to stand in the grass and take a few steps. On the Fourth of July, she fell down and went boom trying to stand up on her own and busted her lip open. I think that shot her confidence. She'll get it soon. She has significantly more poundage on her than most babies her age and I think that makes walking a little more challenging. She would also rather sit around and look at books. She may not walk very well yet, but she knows lots of words. She is my mini-me.

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