Yesterday was Toby's final Aquababies lesson (sniff). He started swimming with Aquababies almost exactly two years ago, he had his first lesson when he was 15 weeks and 5 days old and he loved it.
We've had 'bumps' along the way, periods of time where separation anxiety has sneaked into the pool with us and made some of the activities tricky, periods of time where we've had to miss lessons due to illness and questioned if the money (and to be frank, the lessons are pricey) could be better spent elsewhere but on the whole it's been an amazing two years of great fun!
No matter what else a week has held in store for us, we've always known that for half an hour on a Wednesday/Thursday (we switched days recently) we will have true quality time, not thinking about anything other than Toby and how much fun we're having with him. At first the lessons were exclusively a "Mummy and Toby" thing but when i was pregnant with Rudy and perpetually ill with one thing or another Chris stepped in and became one of the few "swimming Daddies" at Aquababies for a while, and then of course when i gave birth, i had to stay on dry land for a few weeks so once again he stepped up to the mark and donned his hawaiian print swim-shorts!
Toby's confidence in the water has increased massively, something i think we take for granted in a way, as it's not until i hear tales of other toddlers screaming and refusing to get into their hotel swimming pools on family holidays that i realise how fortunate we are to have been able to provide him with the opportunity to get used to the water and not see it as something to be scared of, from such an early age. A lot of what they teach in the lessons is from a water-safety standpoint, like breath-holding on submersion and finding and pulling themselves up on the side of the pool for example.
We're not in the habit of allowing Toby to wander free near the edge of ponds and lakes as a general rule anyway to be honest, but i do get some comfort from knowing that if he were to unexpectedly fall into some water, he would have a better chance of not panicking and making the situation worse, as a result of his time at Aquababies.
We were intended to give up his lessons last summer. The lessons are always held in small hydrotherapy pools, the one we go to is in a special school for children with disabilities, and so there are the usual half-term holidays and long breaks over summer and Christmas. When we broke up for the summer last year i was well into my pregnancy with Rudy and it seemed like the natural time to stop, we discussed it and decided there was no point rebooking for the September term as i'd be too heavily pregnant to take him anymore and Chris couldn't guarantee to always be available to take him, and anyway then the baby would be due and we'd likely miss a few weeks which would be a waste of money etc etc...
But Toby was enjoying the lessons SO much at that point and in the end our hearts won over our heads and we rebooked thinking we'd figure out the logistics later, and of course we did. It turned out swimming when heavily pregnant is actually a delight! I came to look forward to our Aquababies lesson every week so i could submerge my increasingly cumbersome form into some deliciously warm water which for 30 minutes made me feel as floaty light as a feather and also meant that i could do everything i usually could with Toby- hug and squeeze him, tickle him, throw him up in the air, just as i'd always done but could no longer do on dry land due to being so big and so worried about the delicate little thing in my tummy. It was definitely a good move to rebook for an extra term. But then of course, came crunch time. It was November, we were now a family of four, we'd put Rudy's name down on the waiting list to start Aquababies lessons, in the meantime could we squeeze one more term in with Toby before his brother started? Well, it turns out, yes, we could. We had to switch days to Thursdays, which i admit has made this term slightly more hassle and slightly less enjoyable than our previous ones, as Thursday is Toby's one day in nursery, so with Aquababies tagged on the end of it, it became our busiest day... but i still think it has been worthwhile. Toby hasn't enjoyed the lessons any less despite them being straight after a busy day in nursery, and now that the time has finally come for him to finish swimming with Aquababies, at least i can hand on heart say we kept going with it for as long as we possibly could- he finished yesterday, we have a break of one week and then Rudy starts his Aquababies adventures the following week!
There's no way on earth we could logistically, or financially manage to have them both doing lessons at the same time and although it makes me a little sad that Toby's Aquababies days are behind him now, it's going to be exciting starting the journey all over again with my new little guy. I also think it's going to be nice for me and Rudy to have that special one-on-one time together in the pool just exclusively focusing on each other, as being the 2nd baby he hasn't really had much of that yet.
We're still planning to take Toby swimming as much as possible as he absolutely loves it and anyway it would be a shame for him to lose the skills and confidence he's built up over the past couple of years. It isn't going to be easy to do though as it's going to mean all four of us making the time to go together as a family and i expect i'll need to get the boys some little wetsuits too, as we've been spoiled swimming in our lovely warm pool, so any of the regular pools we'll go to are going to be a bit of a shock i think!
So it's a little bittersweet but Chris and i have said all along we want to be fair, and give both our boys the same opportunities where possible, so it's Rudy's turn now.
We have loads and loads of swimming photos, including some amazing ones from an underwater photo shoot Toby had in October but they're not on the laptop unfortunately, so i've just found a handful of others i'd like to share :)