The Swimmer

September 26, 2007

The first time that you do it, it’s like taking a long jump off of a short pier into unfamiliar waters.

Maybe it was something that you always wanted to do. Maybe you were enticed by the sight of all those other swimmers, out there in the water, swimming toward distant shores. Maybe you got too close to the end of the pier, and slipped. Somehow, you got in that water, and when you did, you didn’t know what to expect.

You didn’t know what to expect, and so you were surprised by how quickly the current moved, by how turbulent the waters could be, by how hard the waves pushed. But you put your head down, and swam and swam and swam toward the far-off shore, and sometimes you even enjoyed the cool of the water and the feeling that you had become, somehow, another being, another species, and the sweet freedom of just bobbing along when the waters were still, of taking the journey slowly, even as you yearned for its end.

And then you arrived, at your once-far-off shore, and you were new and life was new and you looked back across the waters and couldn’t believe how far you’d come, how distant was that pier.

You can’t even remember what it felt like to take that leap, what it felt like to hit that water.

But you do remember the long, long swim, and how it was sometimes dark and cold and turbulent and frightening. And so it took you a long time to jump back in. If you really did jump, that is. You were pretty close to the edge, so close that the jump was inevitable, but still. Maybe you slipped.

Now you’re in the water, and you know exactly what the long swim ahead feels like, you know all about the waves and the current and the cold and the fear and you’re scared. Happy, too, of course, and excited, to be pursuing this adventure again. But still, scared.

You take a deep breath, and plunge ahead. The shore awaits.

A shore worth reaching.

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    Mimi September 26, 2007 at 4:04 pm

    Nice. It’s true that the distance travelled is a far one. And so you’ve not jumped off the same pier: you’re different now and in a different place. And the swim will be different. Still wet, I imagine, but different :-)

    I can hardly wait to hear about it.

    Kate September 26, 2007 at 4:26 pm

    congrats! Kittenpie just alerted me to your news. And um yah, I kinda know exactly what you mean about diving in again. (pregnant again too – sweet jesus, what have we done???)

    ewe are here September 26, 2007 at 4:52 pm


    And from my perspective, it’s definitely a shore worth reaching. I can’t even describe the incredible feeling I get watching my two wee ones together.

    karla September 26, 2007 at 4:55 pm

    One word.


    kittenpie September 26, 2007 at 5:54 pm

    I know exactly what you mean, because as we are working on making that jump, as I watch my best friend with her new baby, I wonder if I’m really ready for it to start all over again after having gotten through the parts that are the hardest for me. I fully expect to be terrified if I manage to fall off the pier!

    Anonymous September 26, 2007 at 6:18 pm

    The water imagery – paradoxically, life affirming but also life threatening.

    No one writes with so much awe of water, of dams, of the romance of water in an arid landscape, as Joan Didion.

    Thank you for rekindling this remembrance of her essay “At the Dam” in “The White Album.”

    ali September 26, 2007 at 6:40 pm

    most definitely a shore worth reaching. great post, HBM :)

    anniemom September 26, 2007 at 7:16 pm

    Ok, so now I want to get pregnant again.


    Gabriella September 26, 2007 at 7:17 pm

    Oh such a wonderful post. I keep reading all around me about women taking the plunge and I wonder too if I should or not. I think I’m a little too unsure yet…but I can’t wait to read your exciting journey that’s beginning again.

    b*babbler September 26, 2007 at 7:43 pm

    Exquisitely written. I can’t wait to read all about your journey.

    Rebecca September 26, 2007 at 8:01 pm

    I’m diving in for the first time. I look forward to reading about your second.

    Julie Pippert September 26, 2007 at 8:03 pm

    Ummm so for the really, really slow among us (me???) this is…about your second pregnancy, second child…right?

    Yes, okay…well, then!

    Great post! Very lovely comparison.

    Using My Words

    Mrs. Chicky September 26, 2007 at 8:10 pm

    Uh huh.


    Say it, sistah.

    Veronica Mitchell September 26, 2007 at 8:11 pm


    We were just saying today how happy we are that are girls are so close together in age. They play so joyously together.

    Kyla September 26, 2007 at 8:54 pm

    It is well worth the swim. Most definitely.

    Liz September 26, 2007 at 9:24 pm

    Yeah, what SHE said.

    Great post, C!

    crazymumma September 26, 2007 at 9:32 pm

    Sooooo. How old will Wondergirl be when numero 2 is born?

    This is so much fun! (squeals with girly excitement jumping up and down)

    Heather September 26, 2007 at 9:36 pm

    Beautifully written. It is scary to think that you will not have all your attention for your first child…but they gain so much more from their sibling(s) that we could never give them.

    I also think about when I’m not around. In my fantasy, they’ll still have each other.

    Jenifer September 26, 2007 at 9:37 pm

    Lovely, lovely images. I feel like I am floating.

    Wishing you lots of buoys to grasp when needed.

    Jezer September 26, 2007 at 9:53 pm

    What a great analogy, even to this resolute landlubber. I hope things are going smoothly.

    ozma September 26, 2007 at 10:08 pm

    Congratulations. It can be some current. It takes courage but what joy.

    Jenifer September 26, 2007 at 10:31 pm

    Definitely worth it… This is the third time I fell in…. (well fourth if you count the one time I didn;t reach the other shore.)

    Anyways, you’re supposed to use the buddy system when you swim right? Glad I found another to journey with me !!!

    zellmer September 26, 2007 at 10:33 pm

    congrats! can’t wait to hear all about it.

    Lisa b September 26, 2007 at 10:50 pm

    Waaay easier the second time.
    Only because you know you will make it to the other side.

    Mom101 September 26, 2007 at 11:18 pm

    I’m sorry, I’m just dying to title this entry “Ode to Sperm”

    chelle September 26, 2007 at 11:47 pm

    Parenting is a beautiful thing. You have worded it so magically.

    painted maypole September 27, 2007 at 12:21 am

    there’s a picture today on my blog with my daughter jumping into a pool. Hooray for you for jumping in again. It’s so worth the swim!

    mothergoosemouse September 27, 2007 at 12:33 am

    This time, I brought along a kickboard. Highly recommend it.

    kgirl September 27, 2007 at 8:36 am

    nicely said. and you’ll be swimming alongside lots of friends, and we can all stay afloat together.

    Mama V September 27, 2007 at 9:24 am

    In tears… I only wish I could express myself as eloquently as you do!
    Just last night, my oldest (now almost 9!) found my journal from when I was in my last few months of pregnancy with him and his first year… we sat and read it together… laughed, cried… such a special time! Cherish it!

    appleseed September 27, 2007 at 9:44 am

    Wow! Pass the kleenex!

    Tracey September 27, 2007 at 10:16 am

    And even more amazing is that the current and water temperature will be completely different, so that even though you think you know what to expect? Yeah, you find out you’re in the Indian ocean this time, instead of the Atlantic.

    Trenches of Mommyhood September 27, 2007 at 10:17 am

    Beautiful. And so well worth the leap of faith.

    Janet September 27, 2007 at 1:42 pm

    When I saw the title of this post, I so thought it was going to be about sperm. :)

    Reading this evoked so many images for me. You reach the shore, chest heaving, arms aching, and a newborn is placed into them needing you like nobody has ever needed you before; except your toddler, of course.

    Despite several jumps, and the related challenges, the water still looks deliciously inviting to me, at times.

    pgoodness September 27, 2007 at 3:00 pm

    Lovely analogy, this swimming and reaching shore. Congrats again to you all.

    mamalamadingdong September 27, 2007 at 3:04 pm

    oh how exciting!!! i can’t wait to see how adorable this one will be!!!

    Lawyer Mama September 27, 2007 at 5:08 pm

    Oh yes. The second time was a slip for me, but scary nonetheless.

    Just keep moving and keep your head above water. You have lots of people swimming with you.

    Mimi aka pz5wjj September 27, 2007 at 7:02 pm

    That was truly beautiful!

    Rest assured, at this stage, your toes are just tickling the water. The real swim comes in about 8 ish months from now… And the water keeps getting deeper, but you just keep treading and swimming until you reach the other side — or find a life boat someplace in the middle!

    jenn September 27, 2007 at 7:45 pm

    beautiful, beautiful – happy swimming :)

    nomotherearth September 27, 2007 at 10:47 pm

    I know exactly how you feel. Sometimes I wonder why I would elect to do all this work just to reach the other shore. Thanks for reminding me of the end goal. Sometimes I find it hard to keep that in sight. It is worth it, isn’t it?

    Nichole September 27, 2007 at 10:52 pm

    Oh my goodness! Congratulations!

    Fizz September 28, 2007 at 5:45 am

    Congratulations! I’m finally delurking after lots of reading… What a beautiful post. THEY are both lucky to have such a ‘bad mother’ as you.

    Anonymous September 28, 2007 at 1:51 pm

    I do not think we are ready for another one yet, but took a test today on the advice of the nurse at my ob/gyn’s office.

    I was disappointed when it came back negative. I’m nuts!!! :)

    This makes me want to jump again. I really am nuts.

    Mardougrrl September 28, 2007 at 9:48 pm

    I am SOOO happy for you! Congratulations…you make pretty babies. ;)

    petite gourmand September 30, 2007 at 7:36 pm

    so so beautiful~nice pic to match the sentiments.

    and congratulations bty.

    mo-wo October 2, 2007 at 1:17 am

    I have thought about your ode here a lot. I keep trying to put it into words. But of course it will be different for you.

    So I hestitate.

    It is hard you know. Don’t count of me to sugar coat. What you do know, perhaps… it that you are making a choice to make two people risk their feelings on each other, and they are each your children. It is so much easier to make your child get along with and in the world… than it is ever to make a love-one love and be loved by a love-one.

    It is hard to have either feel the pain for even one moment of learning to love. That is really the only part that is legitimately hard.

    I also don’t write it because I am not totally lucid on the topic.

    Stu October 2, 2007 at 12:39 pm

    Your thoughtful analogy has been nominated by one of our readers (at GNMParents) for Hot Stuff Of The Week. Congrats, and good luck in the voting!

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