Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Life without a buoy

Posted by Amy Baranski

Yesterday I took a nooner at Medgar Evers and jumped into the Aqua Jog class. My headband fell off immediately.

Equally stressed about my hair getting in my face during class and littering in the pool I urgently dove down (with a flotation belt harnessed around my torso), opened my eyes in the chlorinated water and blindly grasped for my head band.

I actually got it.

When I bobbed to the surface a few wrinkled faces looked concernedly at me. I almost said, "I'm OK," but sloughed it off and faced the instructor.

I saw another pregnant lady in class! 

But instead of introducing myself like a normal person I just kept glancing over at her during class to exchange a kind of knowing look. I can be such a nerd. She seemed my age, and appeared to be in her third trimester. Introducing myself after class in the shower just seemed awkward, so I pulled a Seattle and didn't say anything.

The teacher made us work hard.

Should I be so surprised? I'm at the pool to improve my cardiovascular strength and endurance during this pregnancy, but man, aqua jog sprinting pumps your heart like mad and makes you feel like an insane doggy-paddler. Except you're not doggy-paddling your moving your legs in a jogging motion.

The woman next to me turned and muttered "this is completely futile." It sort of felt that way, but then I realized we made it halfway through the deep end. The instructor gave us ten seconds to rest, then made us turn around and sprint again.

Aqua jog may confuse lap swimmers.

As we sprinted toward the deep end a very muscular lap swimmer rested between lamps and watched our class. I flashed him the biggest smile I could that was supposed to read: I know I look like I'm in aqua jog but I could totally lap swim. I told my blog readers I would and I'm going to do it. This is just my warm up. He looked through me. Puzzled.

I've never had a leg cramp before.

At the end of class I unbuckled my belt and ditched my weights. After two pridefully earnest breast-strokes to the middle of the pool my right calf spontaneously contracted in a painful leg cramp. I cried out. No one heard me. I kicked and pulled water with my left side and sidestroked my right arm to the edge of the pool. I tried not to move my right leg. It throbbed.

In my daze I pulled a Costanza and cut in front of a senior lady to climb the ladder out the pool. The pressure of my foot against the steps provided immediate relief. For a split second during the leg cramp I reached into the water to touch my muscle. It felt rock hard and I thought: damn that's a sexy leg. How can I be so vain during times of distress?

I was on my own. 

When the belt came off I immediately sensed the distance to the pool floor seven feet below. It was just me--two arms and two legs kicking and pulling to stay alive.

It hit me almost as suddenly as the leg cramp: our own resilience and buoyancy is strengthened in unexpected ways at unpredictable times.

Giving birth this year will bring about one of the greatest responsibilities of my life--keeping someone else afloat and teaching them how to swim and cope with the unexpected seizures of life that bring us to our knees sometimes. With the echo of my leg cramp still attached to my calf I keep telling myself, no matter what happens during the next several months, or the months after that: just float.


Melissa Baumgart said...

LOVE it! Just float. I'll totally use that at your birth. ;)
You're awesome!

Mmmmmatt said...

Great post......float.