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Water Safety at Goldfish Swim School of Ann Arbor

This Water Safety post is brought to you by Goldfish Swim School.  While I was provided lessons in exchange for this review, all opinions are 100% my own.

Hi readers!  How have you been?  We’re enjoying the last little bit of summer here, almost 90 degrees all week.

Most pools here close after Labor day, but we’re still in the water every weekend!  Isla has been in classes at Goldfish Swim School for almost 2 months now, so I wanted to share a little update.

All ready for class to start!

When we started her in swim lessons at 8 months old, I wasn’t sure how much she would really pick up.  I am pleasantly surprised at what’s she’s learned so far, she’s made some great progress in the last 7 weeks.

Last week was WATER safety week at GSS – which is a big deal in our house if you read my last Goldfish post.  Even though the outdoor pools have closed, water safety is a year-round issue!

Bubbles, Water Safety Awareness

Source: Goldfish Swim School

The WATER acronym stands for:

Wear your life jacket!

Act. Throw! Don’t go.

Take swimming lessons.

Educate, learn swim safety skills.

Respect, play it cool and follow the rules.

“Mini 1” WATER Safety Awareness

In our class we focused on staying within an arm’s length of baby when they are in the bathtub (or near any body of water, really), and practicing conditioning, floating, holding on to the edge of the pool, and climbing out.

She was in the water with daddy this last week, while I cheered them on.  It’s such great bonding time with her during class, so we alternate who gets to go in every week.

Chasing Bubbles!

On my “out of the pool” days, I often leave with sore cheeks from smiling so hard watching them in the water together.  She’s learning a ton, and having fun with her dad at the same time.  It’s precious.

Conditioning is so much fun!

I have noticed that while Isla is still completely unafraid of the water, she has a newfound respect for it.  She’s learning to take a breath and hold it before she goes underwater, so now there’s no more swallowing and choking when she’s taken for dips under the surface.

Bouncing: great practice for holding on to the side of the pool.

I’ve seen her practice this in the bathtub as well.  Little lady has been pulling up to standing in the tub, and sometimes falls back into the water.  I’m right there to make sure she’s okay, but I’ll watch for a second (seriously, like .02 seconds) to see how she handles the situation, and she’ll usually make sure she rights herself first.  Sometimes tears follow, but it’s amazing to watch her focus on making sure she is safe and can breathe before she gets upset.

She’s also started to float on her back, on her own – that’s her default position, and one of the best skills she’s learned thus far.  The babies are learning that if they fall into a body of water, the first thing to do is to flip yourself on your back so you can breathe.

Like a little baby otter.

Now when we’re in the pool with her, she tries to sprawl out on her back and float. It’s amazing to watch, and hilarious when we’re supposed to be doing something else.

At the end of the class, Isla earned her WATER safety guard ribbon!  I love these little milestones – it’s still so much fun for us to watch her progress.

So excited for her Water Safety ribbon!

I’m thrilled with how far she’s come.  I definitely feel like these lessons have been invaluable for her safety as well as for our peace of mind.  We love our Saturday mornings in the pool with her!

If you’re looking for swim lessons for your water babies (or big kids), you can find a local Goldfish Swim School at their center locator, and more information below:

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Have you had an awesome experience at Goldfish Swim School?  Would love to hear your stories in the comments!

Family Pregnancy/Baby

Goldfish Swim School of Ann Arbor – First Lesson Recap

This post is brought to you by Goldfish Swim School.  While I was provided lessons in exchange for this review, all opinions are 100% my own.

Isla is turning 9 months old this week.  Our laid back, easy going baby has turned into a super mobile, energetic little monster!  I wrote recently about how she visited Lake Michigan with us, and went swimming in a pool for the first time.

Since then, we’ve gotten a little kiddie pool set up at home and she loves it.  If it is full and she sees it, she squirms and squeals until we get her in.

This is Bubbles, the Mascot at Goldfish Swim School.

It’s amazing to see her having fun and being so fearless.  But as a mother, having a baby with no knowledge of the dangers water can pose strikes an unbelievable amount of fear into me.  Water safety is so important, and we wanted to teach our little one early.

So we got her signed up at Goldfish Swim School of Ann Arbor, and were excited to get started!  It’s just a 15 minute drive from where we live in Chelsea, and well worth it.  We recently had her first 30 minute lesson.  Registration was a breeze!

Goldfish offers numerous classes based on age – from 4 months all the way up to 12 years old.  Isla is in the “Mini 1” class, which goes from ages 4-15 months.

There were 2 other babies in the pool with us on Saturday, and 2 instructors – so we really felt like we got some great 1-on-1 time with each teacher.  They were so good with the babies, making sure that safety and fun were the top priorities.

The instructors were amazing! So interactive and cheerful.

The Mini classes are a gentle introduction to the water, where Isla is starting to learn the basics of swimming and water safety.  They also keep the pool at a very comfortable 90 degrees – it feels just like bathwater!  I love the idea that we’re easing her into this, at her own pace.

Conditioning! Getting her used to having water on her shoulders and head.

I got in the pool with her, while daddy watched and cheered us on.  Isla worked on the basic swim stroke, floating on her back, getting used to having water on her head/face, and even a few quick dips under the water!  It’s so amazing how intuitive babies are, and how they reflexively know to blow bubbles and stop inhaling when they’re under water.

Practicing floating. She’s not so sure about this skill yet.

Isla was a little hesitant, but that’s why it’s great we’ll be coming back every week – so we can work on these skills and build on them so she can be safe and confident in the water.

I have to give a special shout out to the staff.  They were so friendly, helpful in getting us checked in, and letting us know where to go.  At the end of our lesson we realized that our car battery had died, and one of the staff members went out of their way to find us and ask if we needed help.  That is sometimes hard to come by in those situations, so thank you!

At the end of our lesson we left with an adorable little baby swag bag, and smiles on our faces.  If you’re looking for swim lessons for your water babies (or big kids), you can find a local Goldfish Swim School at their center locator, and more information below:

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See you next week, Bubbles!

Can’t wait to share with you how our little Goldfish progresses through her next few months of classes!

Have you had an awesome experience at Goldfish Swim School?  Would love to hear your stories in the comments!


Family Pregnancy/Baby

Birth Announcement, Blog Plans, and a Whole New Year

Happy New Year, everyone!  Thank you to everyone who commented or reached out about Isla’s Birth Story – I’m glad you enjoyed reading it.  I hope the first week of 2017 has been good for you.  Our week has mostly consisted of feedings, baths, and diaper changes, and (finally) putting together Isla’s Birth Announcement.

How stinkin’ cute is she?! Source: Tiny Prints

Jeremy and I both got whatever cold virus was going around during the holidays, and we were going crazy trying not to get the baby sick.  Thankfully, she never caught what we had.  This time of year is so hard to have a little one, with all of the illnesses that tend to spread like wildfire!  Thank goodness for Sambucol..

I go back to work in just a few weeks, and while I’m looking forward to getting back on a schedule during the week and having adult conversations, I’ll definitely miss this little face.  She’s 6 weeks old and smiling a ton, cooing (the cutest!), and just yesterday figured out that she has hands!  Great job, tiny lady!  It’s crazy how we have to learn every.little.thing when we’re born.

We’re easing back into normal life and making plans for the new year.  We have a million and one projects planned for the house this year, and a few that we’ve finished that will be posted soon.  Post in the comments if there are any DIY projects you’d like to see this year.  Stay tuned, and Happy New Year!


Isla Grace’s Birth Story

I finally had some time to write this out – warning: it is long!  When I was pregnant I loved reading others’ birth stories, and was totally engrossed in even the most minute details of the experiences, so I am sharing my own story with that in mind.

2 weeks before Isla was born, I had a little bit of a scare.  I went in for a routine prenatal with my midwife, and things turned very serious very quickly.  Normally these appointments were a lot of talking about how things were going, listening to baby’s heartbeat, and getting measurements.  I’d been measuring small which led to us having to get a growth scan at the end of October, and it turned out to be fine.  At this appointment though, I’d lost 4 pounds and was measuring even smaller than my previous appointments.  My midwife decided to do a quick ultrasound to make sure that I had enough amniotic fluid left, but couldn’t find much.  Her demeanor changed very quickly from happy/laid back, to really concerned.  She told me to go to triage right away, and that if I did have low amniotic fluid, I would have to be induced.  Cue the panic and tears from me – but after a few hours of monitoring and an ultrasound, they found that everything was okay.  However, the whole experience left me feeling really anxious, and pressured to get the baby out naturally before something could go wrong.  Induction in my mind meant throwing my entire birth plan out the window because I just didn’t think I could handle a medically-induced labor without pain meds.

1 week before she was born, I woke up before work feeling really ill/crampy.  I felt so “off” that I actually stayed home from work because I wasn’t sure if it was the start of early labor.  I’d had a few days of symptoms that could be labor, but nothing ever really kicked off.  It got to the point over the next week where I’d have what felt like real contractions, and I would just tell myself “it’s all LIES!  You’ll be pregnant forever!”.  A few days before she was born, I’d reached the point where when anyone would ask how I was feeling, the kindest response I could come up with was “still pregnant”.  There was a lot of anxiety surrounding when and how labor would start, and I know Jeremy would feel it too…because anytime I would call him, even just to see how his day was going, he would answer the phone with a little bit of fear in his voice.

The Tuesday before Thanksgiving, I worked a full day.  I’d been feeling really tired all day, that just seemed to get worse as the day went on.  I’d also been having what felt like minor contractions, but I ignored them because I figured it was just my body faking me out again.  I seriously felt like I could fall asleep on my drive home, but was fighting it – so I decided to go for a walk once I got home.  I had to stop running a few weeks before this just because it was too uncomfortable, so my new routine was to go for a brisk walk while listening to The Birth Hour podcast.  It was so cold outside!  I really had to bundle up for my 45 minute walk, and pushed myself to walk fast to get my blood flowing and wake myself up.  When I got home, I was feeling much better and got ready to make dinner.  I started the stove, and my water broke.

Like I said in my last post, I knew exactly what it was when it happened.  It was so uncontrollable that I started laughing before I called Jeremy to tell him that this was it!  He got home, we ate dinner, and then called triage and our doula to let them know.  We decided to wait out the next few hours at home since my contractions hadn’t started, and I didn’t want to go to the hospital too early.  I double checked the hospital bag, Jeremy loaded the car with everything we needed, and then I headed to bed around 10:30.  It was definitely not a restful sleep because I knew what was coming, and I was scared.  I was woken up at 2 am by a contraction, climbed out of bed and went downstairs to let Jeremy keep sleeping, and work through them on my own.  They were coming about 7 minutes apart, and after 45 minutes I realized that they were mild enough that I could probably try sleeping through them on the couch.  I knew I was probably in for at least 12 hours of labor, and needed to conserve my energy – thankfully, I was able to go back to sleep while my body did the work.

At 6am, I was woken up by a contraction too painful to sleep through.  When I was pregnant, I had a lot of Braxton Hicks contractions, which made me wonder if I would really KNOW when I was experiencing the real thing.  Trust me, you know.  Our goal was to labor at home as long as possible, but since I was GBS positive, I had to get to the hospital to get my first dose of antibiotics by 10am, so we headed to the hospital at 9:30 – totally in disbelief the entire time.  When we got to triage they confirmed my water broke, and admitted us.  The nurse said that we were lucky since there was only one tub room left since “everyone decided to have a baby today!”.  Before they moved us from triage to our room, we decided to take our last picture as a family of two.

8 hours in and so tired. Little did we know we had another 22 hours to go.

Once we settled into our room and met our nursing team, I participated in a virtual reality study for their anesthesiology team.  I basically spent 10 minutes working through contractions on my own, followed by working through contractions while “swimming with manatees” through a VR headset.  It was definitely distracting!

Shortly after this, my contractions really started picking up.  They were about 4 minutes apart, and getting painful enough that I couldn’t talk through them anymore, so we called our doula Cara to have her come meet us.  I started crying as soon as we made the call because it was all suddenly feeling very real.  Cara was there pretty quickly, and was amazing at helping me talk through what I was feeling which helped me to calm down and find my focus again.

The next 5 hours went by in a blur, the contractions never got closer together than 3 minutes, but they were really painful.  So painful, that I thought I might be nearing transition.  I was surprised by how vocal I was during those contractions, a long, low sound was the only thing I could do to feel like I could get through them.  It was surprising how good it felt when they ended!  I asked the midwife to check my progress at this point, but to only share the number with Cara and Jeremy.  I was having trouble coping with the pain and was worried if I wasn’t as dilated as I thought I was, I would get discouraged and want to give up.  I found out later that I was at 6 cm and about to enter transition!

I was offered the tub to labor in, and even though I was afraid to change positions because of the pain, I did it.  Cara warned me that often what happens in the tub is that you get a little bit of a break from the contractions, but when they return they can be more painful than they were before you got in.  I’m so glad she told me this, because it is exactly what happened – and I even had some contractions that came one on top of another, so it would be a few minutes before I’d get a real break.  I was in the tub for two hours (with an antibiotic break after one hour), but it only felt like 20 minutes.  At this point I knew I was in transition because I felt like I was losing control of my coping skills, I’d lost all track of time, and was feeling trapped in my body.  It was scary, but I had Jeremy and Cara talking me through it which prevented me from panicking.

The tub was feeling uncomfortable, so I decided to get out – and this is when things started going a little crazy.  My blood sugar was crashing, so I was eating runner’s goo when I was coherent enough.  I couldn’t walk without help because I wasn’t able to get a real break in between contractions anymore, and when one would hit I would have to hit the floor on all fours.  Once I got back to the bed, the contractions were unbearable and my body started involuntarily pushing at the peak.

Everyone got concerned at this point, so the midwife checked me again and I was only at 8 cm – bad news to be pushing when you’re not fully dilated, so I knew I might be in trouble at this point.  I spent the next two hours working through the contractions and trying to breathe through the urge to push (this felt impossible), and towards the end of those hours I started asking for an epidural.  We decided when I was pregnant that if I absolutely knew I wanted pain medication, to use the code word “Murphy”.  This was because I thought I might reach a point where I’d say I wanted an epidural, but wouldn’t be serious about it.  The code word meant I was serious.  But, I’d also asked for a little bit of push back from Jeremy and Cara to be 100% sure that I wanted it – so they spent another hour helping me through contractions until I begged to be checked again and found out I had been stuck at 8 cm that ENTIRE time.  At this point the contractions were on top of each other and I couldn’t keep myself from pushing – I was exhausted and in so much pain.

Just then, the baby’s heart rate dropped and the rest of the team rushed into the room.  They put an oxygen mask on my face, and put a scalp monitor on the baby – and it all happened so quickly, during a 5 minute long series of contractions (yes, really).  My arms were flailing, screaming at the top of my lungs “please help me!  I need Murphy!  I need Murphy! I’m scared!”.  I vaguely remember seeing the look on Jeremy’s face, tears in his eyes, looking shattered at how powerless he was to help me.  He says now that it was pretty traumatizing to see me like that.  I had completely lost all control and ability to cope with the situation, and it wasn’t my finest moment.  But, I know now that I was handling it the best that I could.  Once the baby’s heart rate was back to normal, things settled a bit and the midwife agreed that an epidural was the best decision.  I ended up getting the epidural after almost 22 hours of labor.  The pain relief was so immediate that I told the anesthesiologist that I loved her.  I remember her response being “yeah, we’re pretty popular around here!”.  I’ve never been more thankful.

The midwife checked me an hour later and I was completely dilated!  So the plan now was to get some sleep, and let my body push the baby as far down as it could, until I felt the urge to push again.  I spent the next 4 hours in and out of sleep, waiting for the sensation to hit me, but it never did.  I was getting some pretty intense low back pain though, so we called the midwife in at 5am who checked me to find that the baby was at a +2 station (basically about to crown!).  She flipped all the lights on, and said “this is it, we’re going to have a baby!”  I remember feeling a big sense of relief, and determination even though I had no energy.

I started pushing at 5:15 in the morning, but was making very slow progress.  We found out later that Isla’s hand was next to her face the entire time, which is what got me stuck in transition, and also why she wasn’t coming out as quickly as she should have.  After 3 hours of pushing (which felt like 45 minutes), she finally came out!  She was warm, and slippery, but she had a super short umbilical cord so they could only put her on my belly.  We waited a few minutes for the cord to stop pulsating before Jeremy could cut it.  They finally were able to move her up to my chest, and I was able to get a look at her face.  Jeremy and I were both ugly face crying the entire time.  Isla was so alert, and let us know right away (by sucking on her tiny fingers) that she was hungry!

It was a completely overwhelming experience, and nothing like I expected.  Even though I wanted to get through it without medication, I’m really proud of how long I stuck with it, and feel that getting the epidural was probably my best chance of avoiding an emergency c-section with the situation we were in.

Isla will be a month old this week (how is that possible?!), and these last 4 weeks have been a blur.  New parenthood is tough, but we’re slowly getting the hang of things and finding a routine again.  We love this little lady so much.

Thanks for reading!