Saturday, July 12, 2008

Stupid Lady in the Lake

Besides the excitement of Gillian's first tooth coming out yesterday, Ben and I took the kiddos to the lake. We have a lake right up the road from us that the kids and I had been to before, but Ben had yet to visit. It was lovely. The water was comfortable and the sand was fun for the kids. Ben and I spent most of our time there sitting in waist high water, digging in the ground beneath us for perfectly smooth, flat rocks to skip.

There was a section that was roped off that boats were prohibited from entering. It was meant to be the safe place for swimmers. There was even a lifeguard posted up in his glamourized high chair. I wanted to go deeper and do flips and and spins in the water. When I'm pregnant, there are not a lot of positions that I can get into comfortably unless I'm in the water. So I try to swim as often as possible.

Hubby and I took the kiddos out past where they could stand with their little heads above the water and held on to them as we each took turns doing handstands and frontward and backwards flips. At the lake in Texas that we used to visit, I would often swim out to the edge of the roped off portion, grab the rope and lift it so everyone knew I'd actually reached it, and then swim back. So I really, really wanted to do that again. I let Ben go first so he'd be more willing to watch the kiddos for me when I went, and he only made it halfway to the edge before returning to us. In my head, I was giggling a bit at him. He warned me that it is farther away than it seems and since I'm pregnant, I need to take it easy. 'No problem,' I told him as I headed out, fully intending to reach that blasted edge no matter what.

I started off strong, hoping that it impressed hubby and the kiddos. In fact, I could hear Ben telling them how strong I looked and letting them know that THAT was the way real swimming looked like. I was invigorated by it. About halfway to the edge, I had to remind myself that I was in a lake and not the ocean, because my fear of drowning was starting to take over, and I began praying that sharks wouldn't grab at my legs and pull me under. (I never said my fear was rational - just that it's a very real part of my life. The only nightmares I have these days involve drowning of some sort. I had one just two days ago that woke me up entirely too early, and I just couldn't calm down long enough to go back to sleep.) I was even praying that harmless, little fish wouldn't bump into me because I knew I would have freaked out.

The water was pretty deep at this point, so I knew I'd have to work to stay afloat. I did reach the edge, grabbed the rope and pulled it up so that my kids could see that I'd reached it. Then I turned around. The distance to my children and my husband seemed like a thousand miles. I started to panic. My muscles were sore and stiff, and my lungs were getting hot and tight. I was worried. I couldn't calm down my thoughts long enough to realize that I could catch my breath and regain some strength and resolve if I just flipped over onto my back and floated for a minute or two. All I could think of was that I had to swim back to where I could put my feet on solid ground. Ben was holding both our kids in water too deep for them, so I knew he couldn't help me. If I would have had the strength, I would have cried out for him to alert the lifeguard to come help me. But I couldn't wave my arms or whisper much less yell for help. I was so weak. I kept berating myself for having pushed myself this far. I kept thinking that I wasn't getting enough oxygen to little Jack or myself and that I would pass out soon and just sink without any crazy movements that would've alerted the lifeguard to my struggle. I kept wondering if this is what it would feel like if I were stranded out in the ocean. At what point do you give up on rescue and just let yourself sink? (Do you see the insanity of my fear? I am seriously nutzo!)

After several minutes of panic and doggy paddling, I made it close enough to Ben that he was able to say, "I think you can stand there." I haven't heard more precious words in years. I put my feet down and lo and behold, there was the soft, squishy algae-covered rocks and sand I was counting on. I was relieved, but I knew I wasn't out of the woods just yet. I kept walking right on past my family. I couldn't yet speak. All I could do was suck as much air as I could into my lungs. There was a loud wheeze to my breathing, and it concerned Ben, as did the look of crazed panic in my eyes as I got closer and closer to him. As I walked past him without really looking at him, he asked me to nod my head if I was ok. I did nod, but it's only because I didn't want to scare the kids and knew that I'd be able to sit in shallower water soon. As soon as I could, I found a place to plant my behind and regain my strength. I felt sooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo stupid. I was mad at myself. I knew I was a fool. I couldn't believe that I would be too weak for such a short swim, but I certainly was.

So if you're like me (stubborn as a mule, but with no physical ability to back up your visions of grandeure), don't go swimming too far out in the lake this summer. Especially at an elevation that you're not used to. Especially if you're pregnant and your body just can't do the same things that you're used to it doing. Especially if your spouse can't physically help you because he's keeping your two children above water. And especially if those two kiddos are going to be forced to Watch You Act Like A Blooming Fool!!

Here are the kiddos playing with the sand.

My little worker bee.

and this picture I took because I am a mean, mean ol' hag who didn't want to be the only one looking pregnant in my photos. :)

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