When I first met Zach I realised that most of my preparations were flawed. I hadn’t known that he would wiggle and cry so much. I must admit that my confidence was rocked.
When Zach was born I was working away every week, so after a week’s paternity leave I was only spending time with him on Saturdays and Sundays. Lora, my wife, was a first-time mum and was learning how to manage with a little one, so it seemed easier to default to her than to take the lead. I had always been a swimmer and felt most at home in, on or under the water, and I wanted Zach to share this love. With the rest of our antenatal class we booked onto a baby swim course. When the day came I was quite nervous. Lora changed Zach, gave him to me on the poolside and off we went.
When I talk to people about this I use words like ‘lightning bolt’ and ‘epiphany’. It was fantastic. Zach loved the water: he was all smiles and giggles. For half an hour on a Saturday I was in sole control. I learned how to hold him and soothe him when he cried. As the weeks went on I became more and more comfortable with my abilities. A few months later Lora was in need of some down time so we decided I should take Zach by myself. The nerves were there again but I had a lot more faith in myself. After that I started regularly taking Zach on my own. It became our time. Other dads in our group were coming on their own as well; we would have a swim, have a coffee and brag about how well we were coping.
Now, three years later, Sunday morning is our time. In this time a lot has changed. My lightning bolt has stayed with me, and with Lora’s backing I opened AquaBabies Wiltshire. I love getting in the pool every day and hopefully giving the parents who bring their babies the same feeling I had with Zach. ‘Bonding’ is a word used very often. Not only did I bond with Zach in the pool but it was also the place where I fell in love with my boy.
Eddie Dawson lives in Chippenham with Lora and Zach and at the time this issue went to print, was running AquaBabies Wiltshire.
Photo for illustration, and is not of the author.
First published in Issue 30 of JUNO. Accurate at the time this issue went to print.