Swimming Where Peaceful Waters Flow

Jen and Baby GabrielFor as long as I can remember, I have loved to swim. Being in the water summons a certain kind of peace and harmony between body and soul that, for me, can be difficult to find in a world filled with noise and distraction. And, as a competitive triathlete, I wanted to share that love with our son, Gabriel.

Throughout my first pregnancy almost three years ago, I swam lengths in YMCA pools with my "co-pilot" to strengthen my muscles and calm my ever-growing list of fears. Little did I know that I would never be ready for pregnancy complications that brought Gabriel into our scared and unprepared lives two months early.

After intense hemorrhaging, being hospitalized on strict bed rest, an emergency c-section, and 23 exhausting days and nights in the NICU, I was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder and postpartum anxiety. Every weird hiccup or different sleeping position had me convinced that my baby boy was going to die, and that I would be to blame. I constantly thought, “I couldn't keep him safe during pregnancy; how could I keep him safe now?”

So we went back to the water.

Jen and Gabriel at swimming lessons at North Boroughs YMCAI enrolled him in swimming lessons at the North Boroughs YMCA. And for six weeks he learned how to reach for floaty crabs and kick his feet to the tune of "Wheels on the Bus," while I saw, firsthand, that new adventures with him could be fun, not fatal.

He jumped into the water. I caught him. He was really brave. And, I guess, so was I. I am happy to report that we just celebrated Gabriel’s second birthday with ice cream cake, a parrot painting at the Aviary, and chicken fingers dipped in ketchup (his favorite meal).

As a Brighton Heights neighbor, YMCA member, board volunteer, annual campaign donor, first-time mom, and trauma survivor, I am forever grateful that the YMCA gave me a chance to find my peace again alongside my favorite miracle and co-pilot. It's amazing what a community indoor pool can give back to you on a Saturday morning…freedom.

Support of the North Boroughs YMCA branch not only impacts programming like senior outreach, after-school initiatives, and swimming lesson subsidies, it also impacts an individual’s sense of security. Thank you for believing in a mission that can literally save people’s lives. It did for me.

Locations: North Boroughs Y
Category: Swimming Lessons