223. Her First Swimming Lesson

Today is the birthday of the only person I’ve known in my life who was born in a bathtub.  April Marie Opsvig.  She certainly made a clean entrance.

It happened on a Friday thirteen years ago. My granddaughters Sonja, age 9, Erica 8, and the twins Natalie and Joy Opsvig age 5, had come early the night before to spend the weekend at grandpa and grandma’s house.

The reason the kiddies happened to be with us on a school day was carefully explained to me by their mother – my daughter Teresa. Teresa was very, very pregnant at the time. According to her meticulous explanation – because the baby was due practically any minute – she and my son-in-law Eric wanted to get some work done in the yard while they still had time. And maybe do a little shopping.

“Goodie”, I said, “Great idea, Teresa.”

Very soon after the call, Eric arrived to drop off the four little dollies, and he left immediately to go tend to the “yard work.”

The children were having their usual grandmother-inspired healthful and educational experiences scarfing down Pudding Pops, staying up till all hours, and watching illegally-copied Pretty Pony movies. I believe there was also a lot of finger painting going down on paper plates for one of our reely big Art Contests.

The next day was more of the same. Breakfast time with the little Opsvigs always consisted of dishing up the cereal and fruit, buttering the toast and pouring the juice. And then ten minutes later, scraping it all into the garbage. Except for Pudding Pops, an occasional partial Happy Meal, or some birthday cake, I have never seen the Opsvig children eat anything, and I will always wonder how they sustain life. I think it must be attributed to a walnut or possibly a Top Ramen noodle they may have consumed a week ago.

Later in the afternoon on Friday, the phone rang. It was Eric, calling to reveal the shocking truth. The truth was that they had cleared the house of the children in order to make room for the arrival of two mid-wives and the secret home delivery of their fifth baby girl – April Marie.

“Yikes!” I sputtered, horrified. “You had the baby AT HOME? On purpose? With mid-wives?”

“Well, yes”, said Eric, carefully. “We thought it was better if you didn’t know about it in advance.”

“Call an ambulance”, I screamed. “Is my daughter bleeding to death? Is the baby turning blue?”

“No, everybody is fine”. said Eric, calmly. “I’ll bring the phone to Teresa so you can talk to her as soon as she gets out of the tub.”

“WHAT’S SHE DOING IN THE TUB?”, I yelled, picturing the overflowing pool of blood therein.

“Well, the mid-wives felt she’d be the most relaxed in the Jacuzzi”, he explained, “So that’s where we delivered the baby.”

“You. Had. The. Baby. In. A. Bathtub?” I managed to ask, while frantically trying to remember what number you dial to call the police. It’s scenes like this that unjustly give mothers-in-law a bad name.

In spite of her medieval and uncivilized arrival on earth, April has managed to grow up to be an almost normal child. I say “almost” because, like all my grandchildren, she is definitely Above Average. She’s an A student in 7th grade at Twin Falls Middle School in North Bend, Washington.

Almost everything April likes to do revolves around art, writing poetry and reading, I’m so glad she wants to be an artist when she grows up and not a mid-wife. She loves hanging out with her sisters, especially Joy who makes her laugh really hard.

April has a cat cleverly named Kitty, and a German Shepherd dog named Indiana Jones. ( I guess “Washington Jones” just doesn’t cut it in North Bend.)


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Names do matter. When April was about 5 years old, she had a little friend named Asia. One day, she complained to Teresa, “Mommy, Asia is named after a country, but I’m only named after a month!”

Listen, kid, count your blessings. You don’t know how close you came to being named Bubbles.

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2 Responses to 223. Her First Swimming Lesson

  1. Gretchen Covey says:

    Happy Birthday April Marie!

    What a lovely story of your birth! How fun that it was a secret between you, your mom and dad!

    I’m inspired by your love for family and animals. You are kind, caring and gentle soul. I’m so thankful that you are a member of our extended family. You bring a sensitivity and depth to our relationships.

    Have a wonderful day. You are a beautiful person with a tender heart.

  2. Linda says:

    April Marie, what a pretty name and beauty you are. Happy Birthday!

    When Pat said baby’s first swim lesson, it took me back to my venture with my first one. I had read that babies were great swimmers and loved the water. I researched how young and what to do. I signed up for my first daughter’s swim lesson at the West Seattle Y when she was three months old. I also read that you can start babies at one month, dunking their heads under water in the tub or their bath for a second or two so they get used to the feeling. Well, since I had been a life guard and knew CPR, I decided I would try it out. Then came the time for the first dunk. Boy was I nervous and felt like I was going to drown her. It amazed me that she lived through it. The secret is to blow in their face so they catch their breath. She actually did not mind it at all and I felt much more relaxed about her first swim lesson.
    If you want to know more, the first lesson is to teach a baby to swim to the side and then to crawl out. Both of my daughers learned to swim before they could walk.
    Funny story. When we were in Hawaii where three of us adults were standing by the pool, my barely two year old daughter came out to the pool and jumped in by herself. She loved the water. I saw she was swimming to the side. A woman who had just arrived saw how non-chalant we all were, as we had seen my daughter do this several times. She rushed over, grabbed her by the wrist and pulled her out. The woman mumbled something to us, my daughter looked at her and turned around and jumped back into the pool. I don’t remember seeing the woman again to explain that she knew how to swim. If only the woman had looked at the perpetual smile on her face, she might have gotten a clue. Today, as an adult, she still swims with a smile on her face.

    I’m glad it is not raining today so you do not have to feel you need to put on flippers with all the wet spring! Happy Birthday again.

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