In a pandemic, being in a small pool in Kilmainham feels like being on holiday

We both loved the baby swim class and it was great connecting with other parents

It’s harder to get into a baby swim class in Dublin than it is to get into Schitt’s Creek. (Five episodes should do it. Persevere. It’s worth it.) You find a website where you’ve to click on a link to get a call back from someone who will take your details to send you an email on some unspecified future date, which will contain a link on which you have to click so that you can be added to a wait list.

And so on and so forth until one day I finally got a mail to say that we were in!

I’d been cynical about the price of these classes (expensive), but set my cynicism aside as I was happy just to be going somewhere. And my cynicism managed to stay aside until I was required to buy €43 worth of specialised nappies, an essential water toy (which turned out to be a ball) and a “woggle” (I’ll let you Google Images that one yourself).

The two of us set off on our latest adventure on foot – all the way down to the end (start?) of the North Circular Road. And as the road bended round towards the Phoenix Park, I had an epiphany: "Oh this road is circular – I get that now!" (Tune in next week where I write about my trip to Dublin 12 where I finally appreciate the length of a long mile).


I was following Google Maps (which I usually trust unquestionably) but one place it will let you down is on accessibility. They don't take into account obstacles such as bollards or cobbles or narrow footpaths and on this occasion, the suggested walking route brought me to the top of a very large set of steps, leading down to Islandbridge. A set of steps so long that I couldn't see the end, where waiting for me was a turnstyle exit through which the buggy could not fit.

Deprived of outings

Unaware of this at the precipice (and short on time), I banged the buggy and its sleeping occupant down each and every step right down to the bottom. By that point, there was no way I was going back up. I wouldn’t have been able to even if I wanted to. So I disassembled the buggy into two parts, setting the baby in her seat down on the ground while I folded up the frame and stopped a passing runner to help me carry it over the rails before I squeezed through with the baby (still in her seat) overhead.

We eventually reached our destination and I realised that (through a combination of parenthood and pandemic) I am so deprived of outings, that being in a small hotel pool in Kilmainham felt like being on holiday. My silly little, free, hotel leisure centre swimhat didn't even take away from it. And, oh, if the babies weren't the cutest little things, all kitted out in their gear, looking like they were about to swim the English Channel.

But then I remembered the required specialised nappy and how all the email correspondence basically began: “Hello – double bag your baby with two nappies including one of our special nappies”. In fairness to them, it could not have been clearer that they didn’t want us to poo in their pool. But given leaks occur in general life at least a few times a week, I started to wonder how effective this special nappy could really be? Six babies, 10 half-hour lessons. That’s a lot of babies and a lot of time – I doubted the odds were in our favour. They said the nappy was special, not magic.

I found myself weighing up whether it would be worse if my baby were to be the leaker or someone else’s. A new entry in the Would You Rather game: would you rather be stood in a pool with your own baby’s s**t (and all the mortification that that entails) or stood in a pool with the faeces of another child, safe in the smug knowledge that your double-bagging technique had worked. I decided I’d probably go for option B.

Once that hypothetical dilemma was sorted in my mind, I absolutely loved the class. I loved how my baby looked at me the whole time and how you can’t bring a phone into a pool so you can’t constantly lift it as though you’ve got a nervous tick – to take a picture or to just check something, but you forget why you took it out and you check something else until you get bored and put it down, and then you remember what you’d meant to check and pick it up again so that you are on it 100 per cent of the time and wonder do you ever even look back at your own adoring baby or is her vision of your face constantly obscured by a 15cm x 7cm black rectangle of distraction.

Meek smile

Though we didn’t get to really chat because of the strict no-hanging-around policy, I enjoyed connecting with other parents by simply seeing them and their babies and remembering that other people do exist and they’re probably going through all the same things you’re going through, and you hope they’re doing well and you know they are doing great, and look at us aren’t we all doing great! At least I hope they took all that in from my prolonged eye contact which was accompanied by a meek smile and zero actual words.

I was having such a good time that I didn’t even mind when the absolute worst part of any parent and baby class rolled round (worse than having to get down on the floor, which thankfully is not an option in a lovely comfy pool): the grown-adults-singing-nursery-rhymes together part.

My advice for this part of whatever baby class you find yourself in is: when you're singing Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, think to yourself (or even say out loud if you really want to make friends): "I love Mozart's early stuff". Close your eyes and I promise you, with the dying strains of "How I WON-DER what you AAAAARE", you'll feel like you're in the National Concert Hall.

Pandemic Pregnancy
Part 1: This is all getting a bit Angela's Ashes
Part 2: We got bad news at the first baby scan
Part 3: What's the oldest woman you've delivered?
Part 4: Not yet telling your colleagues about the baby
Part 5: It turns out, I do miss my husband
Part 6: Asking if the baby had magically appeared
Part 7: Apprehensive about having a second child 
Part 8: I'm living for my monthly maternity check-ups
Part 9: We decide we'll take a little holiday
Part 10: Maternity leave during lockdown has advantages
Part 11: I bat away suggestions for coping with labour
Part 12: 'Natural' is great if the birth is going well
Part 13: My baby is big, so I'm going to be induced
Part 14: I was with epidural and it was glorious
Part 15: I just wanted to sleep for 10 hours
Part 16: Sometimes I feel trapped under the baby
Part 17: Time to head back into the real world
Part 18: Our toddler has adapted far too well
Part 19: Locate a small baby and strap it to yourself
Part 20: A lot of Marys on the road to Kerry
Part 21: A small pool in Kilmainham