This past Sunday my parents had a family birthday BBQ at their house 45 minutes north of LA. Mike and I were so sore on Sunday morning from the trapeze that we wondered how we could possibly stand the drive out to their house. Then Mike remembered the pool – ah, cool and glorious, with a spa & jets. It helped motivate us to get our tired rears in gear.
Maddie’s health is finally at a place where we felt comfortable taking her into the pool for the first time. She was just put on a new asthma medication (Singulair) and we should expect to see results in about two weeks. Her doctor was required by law to tell us that Singulair has been (allegedly) linked to suicide in adults. So far, Maddie hasn’t been locking herself in her room, writing hate poetry in her journal, but we’re keeping all our tiny nooses away from her just the same. Keep your fingers crossed that the Singulair works.
By the time Mike and I got to my parents’ house and got settled, it was about Maddie’s nap time. For some reason, I decided this would be the perfect time to take her swimming. I really don’t know what I was thinking. I got her dressed in her little bikini (which was OF COURSE too big for her. They don’t make bathing suits in Newborn Size. GROW Maddie!), and then it was sunscreen time. I discovered something totally awesome when I was applying Maddie’s sunscreen – she is insanely ticklish. When I would rub the lotion into her legs, she would laugh to the point of hysterics. Since she was already wearing I diaper, I didn’t see a problem with torturing tickling her until she peed. Her laugh is the greatest thing.
Considering she was already tired, and then worn out from laughing, she did great in the pool. She didn’t really splash like she does in the bath, but she had a smile on her face whenever her hand wasn’t in her mouth.
This is the first and last time you will see a picture of me in a bikini.
So here’s my question – how old does she have to be for swim lessons? This is California, she’s going to be around pools constantly. I’d like her to have some mad swimming skillz as soon as possible.
Today, my friend Jackie! got her fourth opinion on her brain tumor, and it was the best news we’ve heard by FAR. The other three opinions she’d received were all variations of the same prognosis: the tumor couldn’t be entirely removed, and her life expectancy was seven to ten years. Those doctors thought Jackie! should “wait and see” while keeping her quality of life. Today’s doc (McDreamy!) had a completely different diagnosis. He wants to go in and remove the whole tumor. It might mean removing part of her right frontal lobe, but because she’s right-handed McDreamy says that her more dominant left brain will compensate. There are, of course, risks involved with brain surgery, but McDreamy thinks that there is a good chance she could live another decade – or multiple decades. We are all so relieved to finally have some real hope to cling to. Her surgery should be scheduled sometime in the next couple of weeks.
Jackie! is tackling this all with her trademark humor. McDreamy didn’t really know what to make of the laughing, joking Jackie! Family. When Jackie! asked him if he could remove the part of her brain that controls appetite, he thought she was serious. I guess he doesn’t get such positive people in his office every day. She’s also planning on holding a head shaving party complete with mohawks and hair dye. And, lest you think that purty hair is going to waste, it isn’t – Jackie! is donating it to Locks of Love. Damn, Jackie! Way to make the rest of us look bad!
Backpacking Dad says:
We started Erin on swim lessons twice weekly at 10 weeks old. I think our pool would have gone as early as 8 weeks.
At 14 months now she’s not a swimmer, but I am definitely unafraid to let her go under for a few seconds on her own, or hang on to the edge of the pool. All she needs to break the surface on her own now is some upper body strength and the realization that her arms do some of the work.
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Anna Marie says:
wow – Jackie! is definitely the kind of friend everyone wants. you two are lucky to have each other.
As for swim lessons, I think doctors are weird about inner ear issues until about 18 months which is when we plan to start Emmie. Thomas’s will have to wait until his PT thinks he’s ready. But like you, we are around water constantly and it makes me nervous.
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Singulair ROCKS for ASTHMA.. my 5 year old has been on it now since she was 2 symptoms have been well controlled. For the pool we found a great floatie with a roof on it to provide shade & my 7 month old loves hanging in it (after nap) & splashing!
We started our daughter on swim lessons at 3 months (she’s now almost 9 months) and she responded really well. She’s not exactly swimming around like that baby in the Blue Lagoon (oh, Christopher Atkins, whatever happened to you?), but she does enjoy splashing while mommy holds her.
And YAY for Jackie!
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Jackie is so kick ass! I’m so certain that her humor and zest for life helped them make the decision to want to operate on her. With someone who can manage to be up beat even in that situation, how could they not want to do everything they possibly could for her? I’m so happy for you all that there is now a direction in which to head. We’re all still pulling for her!
As far as swimming goes. I’m glad she enjoyed herself, the pictures were adorable. My best friend’s son is in a swim class. I think most of the children are around 18 months, but there is one baby in there that is very young. I would guess around 6 or 7 months. I don’t know the official stance on this, though.
I have friends who take their baby to the pool already at three months for some special baby swimming program (the mother is in the pool, too). Although the baby doesn’t really swim, he is certainly enjoying the water.
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Ms. Moon says:
I don’t think you should rush with those baby swimming lessons. Sometimes they give people an exaggerated and unfounded sense of safety concerning their children and water. It’s not like she’s going to find herself alone in a pool suddenly any time soon.
And as to Jackie! How lucky you are to have a friend like her! There is so much about the human brain they’re just beginning to learn. Go with the best prognosis and BELIEVE it! You have seen medical science defied and proven wrong by a strong spirit before.
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I took my oldest to mom and me swim classes when she was 9 months old-18 months old, but didn’t start actual swim lessons until she was about 3 or 4. My youngest started about 3 or 4 but we didn’t have much luck. My mom ended up teaching her to swim over the summer in her backyard pool.
GREAT news on Jackie! She sounds like a great lady!
cindy w says:
What everybody else said – you can start taking swim lessons when they’re itty-bitty, but I don’t think they really “learn” to swim until they’re at least 4 or so.
So glad that Jackie! got some good news. That’s fantastic. My mom shaved her head a few months ago when she started chemo. She just puts on some big funky earrings and she looks totally adorable.
wow.. jackie! sounds amazing. Jackie you rock.
Looks like your birthday week was amazing. I am so happy you had a great bday- after the year you’ve been through- you deserve it.
moosh in indy. says:
I’m almost tempted to shave my head with her.
moosh in indy.s last blog post..Wii’s kinda snarky. I’s snarky right back.
Jackie is the kind of awesomebrave that you usually only come across in fiction and weepy girl movies. I am super impressed that you are both that awesome and exist on the same plane of reality.
My son is 27-months-old and we live in Florida and my mom has a pool and he still can’t swim. But it’s a goal this summer. So far the problem is that if you get his face wet he leaves his eyes closed indefinitely while yelling ARGGHHH! ARGHHHH!!!! over and over. Which is hilarious but not conducive to swimming.
…maybe I’ve just made a good argument for baby swim lessons.
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Our first started swim lessons at 6 months, although it was more of a water familiarity class rather than Breast Stroke technique. He loved it. (The second got jipped and is just starting at two. Second children get the shaft, man.)
Rock on Jackie!! It’s awesome that she is keeping her humor through this! Keep on updating us!
And you look fantabulous in that bikini from what I can see! ugh. jealous over here. Going to my in laws this weekend with a pool and am trying to find a way to lose 10 in 24 hours…. hmmmm….. know anyone with the stomach flu?
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As a former swim instructor at your H.S. alma mater, I would say that as long as the doc oks her being in the water, you can start mommy/daddy and me classes this summer.
For all the kids I taught, I will say that ones who were introduced to water the earliest, esp. putting zee head under zee water, did the best down the road. In my semi-professional opinion, waiting until they are toddlers just makes it harder for them to progress for a variety of reasons and you will spend more money on lessons as they will have to repeat the same level more times before moving on.
stay strong, jackie!
Your daughter is a doll! Loved the picture in the pink outfit.
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Anissa M says:
First let me tell you how insanely jealous I am of THAT camera setup!
Secondly, my youngest had swim lessons at 6 months, when he had what we felt was total head control we rolled with it. My other two were just pitched in the water and we hoped they came back up before the ice melted in our cocktails.
Third, I hope you’ll pas on our many best wishes for Jackie! We have gone through many treatments with our daughter, and we do know for a fact (it’s all scientific and stuff) that her positive spirit, her laughter in the face of the disease, the support of family and friends will make the journey easier (note, I did not say EASY). There are many days when smiles and laughs are much too precious and rare, but those are the moments they are most vital. We’ll be keeping her in prayer for strength, faith and peace with it ALL.
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Baby B says:
The face Maddie is making in that first picture is classic. “Uh, Mom, this is totally not my size. And, wait, where do you think we’re going? I’m going to get in the water? In this tent? No way, Jose.”
Clearly her appearance was not on her mind in the second picture. She’s all “WOOHOO!” She’s a clearly SoCal girl. Love it.
Still sending positive thoughts Jackie!’s way.
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Black Hockey Jesus says:
I’m sorry but Maddie’s face is not screaming “Tickle Me”. The longer you parent, you’ll pick up on these cues. I’m here to help.
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Cate O'Malley says:
Singulair works crazy good. I take it and most days, it’s almost like I don’t have asthma. M old obgyn wouldn’t let me take it when I was pregnant, but my new one did, which is good since going off it made a huge difference.
Love reading about Maddie since we have one of our own (born in February). I bought her her first bathing suit at Carters. I think it’s a 6 month size and fits her well – hope that helps!
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It’s awesome to hear such good news about Maddie and Jackie!
Alexandra started swim lessons at about 6 months- you know those ones with the parent in with them? She totallydigs it. “Swimming and singing? Holy baby shot, my two favorite things”. Only problem is that she is so thrilled, she keeps her mouth open the whole time-even when she goes underwater.
Totally fun to do it with them.
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Hey Heather—- I came across your website from a website I am addicted to (thisyounghouse) actually I guess they posted another website- started reading that- and that website listed you as a winner of some blog contest. I started reading from todays date… then went back to the very first blog and have read (consequently since– like 4 this afternoon until midnight now) It’s ok- I’m a teacher and have nothing else going on right now… so I’m able to do this. I can’t wait to get caught up on everything that has happened to you and your family. (and jackie) You’re in my thoughts and prayers…. but while I have you here— is there an easier way to go from blog to blog (I looke dut can’t find a “newer” button– I’ve been clicking on archives- then clicking on the next one.)