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Water Therapy

Is water healing for everyone? Probably not so much for folks who don't swim or who have had bad experiences in the water, but would those whose lives rarely deal with water (in real deserts, perhaps)... would a warm bath or a water birth appeal to them?

My bones ache from the cocci. Specifically, my upper body's bones. My arms. It hurts so much to move them, as if I had rotator cuff injuries on both arms, but I know it isn't so because I've had MRIs on them and nothing shows. For a few months, I am able to put one arm behind my back and scratch and then for another few months, I can do it with the other. Right now, I cannot pull my dress down from around my waist without pain that nearly takes me to my knees.

When the cocci makes my arms weak in the forward motions, I make sure the midwife with me knows that if a mom is going to deliver standing, that she will be catching. I don't want to take a chance having my arms give out at the wrong time. It's never been a problem or an issue and my moms know this. I would never consider, EVER, asking a mom to change positions to accommondate me. It seems absurd to do so.

So, knowing that with the dietary modifications necessary to fix my growing cholesterol problem (laugh Don't you like how I make this more medical than social?), I will have to find some sort of movement that doesn't crumple my aching body, I turned, once again, to going to the Y.

If I could, I would live in the water. Pondering all these years, I still don't think I would have wanted to birth in the water, but I can't put my finger on why. Floaties, maybe? Not sure. (I have serious anal issues, best discussed another day.) (The anal issues are my own - other women's floaties never even phase me... poop is definitely a non-issue when it comes to others.)

But, I love, love, love the water.

After the gastric bypass, I was too embarrassed to get in a suit because of the enormous amount of sagging skin I had. It was hysterical that I would swim every single day at 350 pounds, but at 200, I couldn't bring myself to walk from the side of the pool to the water. It sounds ridiculous now, but it made perfect sense then. Someday, I'll share those sagging skin pics so you will understand better why I was so embarrassed. And now, because of the cocci, I can't ever have skin removal surgery. Flabby skin is just a part of who I am.

When I got into the water after a three-year hiatus, I slid into an old lover's embrace. Rolling, turning, flowing through the water, I remembered her and she was delicious. Floating, I could feel the burning sun on my face and my body feeling the soothing chill below. Easily, I slipped into the stroke, stroke, breathe; stroke, stroke, breathe; stroke, stroke, breathe rhythm my lungs remember from decades of practice.

Water is my yoga. With Tai Chi-like movements, my flesh swirls slowly through ripples of liquid that, by its very nature, slows me (and my mind) down. Water is my meditation.

Or rather, swimming through water is my meditation.

Last year, I joined the Y and within a few weeks, the pain in my bones and joints became unbearable and I stopped going. I nearly fainted trying to do the breast stroke because the pain in my inner thigh and hips was excruciating. Breast and back are my best strokes and suddenly, I couldn't do them anymore.

Waiting for the pain to subside, I did nothing but get fatter and unhealthier. I can wait no more.

I went to a water aerobics class yesterday geared towards those with arthritis and other chronic pain. Making allowances for my arms (that are the pain now... my legs are perfectly fine), I breast-kicked and flutter-kicked all over that pool. I loved the feeling of freedom! The feeling of memories flooding my brain - from learning to swim at the lake to teaching swim classes to kids to lifeguarding to swimming when I couldn't walk for 3 years... and even to when I stopped swimming.

I've lived within an hour of an ocean 98% of my life, yet I cannot swim in the ocean. I'm not sure if it's because I know how filthy they are (I know what people do in there and have watched those oil spills and beach clean-up scenes on tv) or because I can't see the bottom. I don't even like our giant hot tub all that much.

I need the cold, chemically pristine, fake blue of an Olympic-sized pool, black veins of tile keeping me in line as I stroke, stroke, breathe; stroke, stroke, breathe; stroke, stroke, breathe.

Is water this healing for everyone? Do you, too, slip into water and find release?

I'm going to go again this morning before a day of prenatals. The smell of chlorine on my skin is as intoxicating as White Shoulders.

I'm finding my way.

One stroke at a time.

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Reader Comments (7)

I discovered your blog last week and have been fascinated by your posts/photos.

My last baby (baby #7) was born at home in a birthing tub. I love water - floating in a cool lake on a hot day is one of my most favorite activities. However, in labor, I'm not sure it provided all that much relaxation. But who knows, this baby was my only posterior baby and was 13 lb 3 oz. So maybe it did take the edge off a little. email me at homejewel at gmail dot com if you'd like to read the birth story with pics.

I wish I would have tried a water birth with previous births (vertex and 10-11 pound babies) so that I could have had a better comparison.

July 8, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterHomeJewel

I think more should be said about hydrotherapy for chronic pain. I'm glad you brought this up.


this is a great thing getting into the water to move glad you thought of it-
I love water too and labored in water but wanted to get out when birth came- stood up and got out of the tub both home births- and of course I got out when I went to the hospital... couldn't say why it was just a very strong feeling I had- and went with it.

I am counting on you taking care of yourself -- for purely selfish reasons- there just aren't that many blogs by frank midwives--
take care anon S

July 8, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

oh, as much as I want to dislike chlorine, your comment about the smell of it being as intoxicating as perfume was right on. :)

i do love swimming.

July 9, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterSage Femme

HomeJewel: Your blog is great, too! Are you a quiverful mom?

I am STUNNED at your birthing abilities! YOU GO GIRL! And you look 28 years old! How do you do it all? Do you UC? Or have a midwife whose jaw is still on the floor from 5 months ago?

(I haven't read deeply in your blog yet, so I apologize if the answers are in there; I will surely delve!)

I also never used water during labor. Hmmm... I did shower a few times with my home birth, but mostly so the tears wouldn't scare the attendants. *kinda kidding*

Thanks for jumping in the blog! I'm glad you're here.

Hannah: I stretched a LOT in the pool today. I hurt so much when I started and just was very gentle and very purposeful and stretched enough to swim a few awkward laps. It was great!

How do I write more about hydrotherapy?

Anon S: Thanks for caring that I take care of myself. :) I am feelng so much better since WW and swimming.

A frank midwife? I love it!

Sage Femme: (Are you PH-P?) I'm glad you, too, like chlorine! I would love to hate it, too, but it's more than just a smell of chemicals. It's the smell of my childhood, my adolescence... of times when I am weightless and safe and cool.

So funny, thinking of these things.

July 9, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterNavelgazing Midwife

I wouldn't consider us a true "quiverful" family. We prayerfully consider each pregnancy and I tell you after the last big baby, I don't know if my body can physically handle another one and I feel old.

I actually had 3 midwives attend the birth and they were glad to have the extra help because of the baby's glucose problems and I was having a bit of a time recovering.

This baby was definitely the biggest baby the midwives had seen (2 of the midwives have about 25 yrs of experience).

Send me an e-mail at homejewel at gmail dot com and I'll send you the link for the birth story :)

July 9, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterHomeJewel

You can make the simplest element sound so divine. I haven't been in the water in years (aside frommy births)....maybe it is time to give it a go again.
I am glad you are so happy swimming....keep at it.

July 12, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

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