Ellie loves water. She loves the splash table outside during the summer, she loves racing to our dog’s water bowl before I can catch her, she unfortunately also loves racing to the toilet before I can catch her but our new closed bathroom door policy should solve that dilemma. Bath time is most likely her favorite time of day. She crawls to the tub and screams and jumps until I put her in. While in the bath she splashes and laughs, glittering eyes and fountains of water. In the fall I signed us up for a baby swimming class starting in February at our local rec center. I have been so excited about this class. Prior to heart surgery our doctor felt the chlorine would be too strong for her lungs and after heart surgery I was worried about her sensitive skin and the healing of her incision, so this class is Ellie’s first time in a pool. On the way to our first class this morning I sang her songs about swimming and could barely contain my excitement. While waiting with the other parents I grew a little apprehensive of being in a typical class, Ellie was much older than the other kids but looked the same size or smaller. A mother was walking her 9 month old around the pool deck telling us how she started crawling stairs two months ago (a task Ellie just recently mastered, which on a side note, is absolutely amazing and we are beyond proud of her). When it was time for class we all got in the pool and something occurred which I had not expected, Ellie was terrified. She clung to me with a strength I actually didn’t know she had. She let loose quiet shrills that actually quivered as her grasp grew tighter. I tried to get her to splash thinking it would help, but only made her more fearful. This was a new moment for me, Ellie isn’t afraid of anything. She had vaccines last week and didn’t even cry. She attempted to fling herself off our king sized bed the other night as her laughter erupted. The majority of the class Ellie clung to my neck and I sang the songs and cheered her on (halfway sort of enjoying some very stellar hugs). Towards the end, she loosened her grasp slightly and even let me kick her legs a little. The last few minutes of class we all sat on the stairs leading to the pool and sang a song familiar to Ellie. She sat on my lap and looked at the other children. She splashed her hand a little and looked at me, and then I saw that glitter in her eyes and she started to laugh. She laughed so loud and so pure that the other children started laughing and then the parents. I was gazing at my brave girl so I couldn’t see, but I imagine the rest of the people in the pool were laughing as well. I expect her apprehension towards the pool will lessen over time as she gets use to it. But my brave girl has been conquering struggles her whole life. She will handle this as she always has, with a smile that shines from her heart and inspires everyone around her, especially me.
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