Abigail Sims

I have always felt an overwhelming peace at the springs. I didn’t know that my adoration for the place could be any stronger until I spent a summer there while pregnant.

I have always felt an overwhelming peace at the springs. My partner Alex says that it’s my “happy place.” I swim there throughout the seasons, day or night. I didn’t know that my adoration for the place could be any stronger until I spent a summer there while pregnant. The pregnancy was quite a surprise, and though it was welcomed, it required the nurturing of a new mindset. In the early days of the first trimester, I battled depression and fear. At the time, I was living on Trailside Drive, just a short walk away from the water. I remember thinking about how I used to ride my bike to the springs and wondered if I would ever be able to do that again. I began to say goodbye to the bike rides, the four in the morning dips after a night out, and sitting with friends on the hill from sunup to sunset. I found it difficult to see past the next few weeks and months. Even though it was “winter” I would walk down to the water with tears in my eyes. The springs calmed me and with time I began to feel excited to share this place with my unborn child.

Summer got hotter and I got bigger. Alex got me a baby pool and hosed me off with in the backyard on those stifling days. But nothing compared to the icy abyss and I made my way there almost every day. I wondered if the life inside of me could sense our weightless in the water. I enjoyed wearing my bikini even though I couldn’t see the bottom piece anymore! People stared at me .It is so interesting how pregnancy almost demands attention. I felt like a goddess as I waddled around the pool. People smiled every so slightly as I passed, a different kind of smile that I had never seen and no longer see. One day while walking down to the entrance I crossed paths with a woman who stopped and shook my hand. She said that she swam so much while pregnant that everyone joked that she would give birth in the springs!

One night I convinced Alex to go to free swim with me. It was so beautiful, as always, the bright lights cascading off the tiny waves and the black water shining on each other’s faces. We spent many nights that summer stressing over the future and it was so freeing to be there together. I have been to many, many free swims. But that was one of the best.

I had a perfect pregnancy. No complications. Minimal sickness. I was able to continue working full time as a paramedic until the week of my due date. The one minor issue was moderate back pain, which was always just a nuisance. The one thing that offered complete relief was a float or swim in the springs. I loved it. I sighed with relief as I let myself sink in. I stopped working a few days before the due date and grew increasingly impatient. I wanted to meet this tiny person. I cleaned as much as I could possibly clean. I tried to rest. I ate. There was nothing left to do but swim. Swim, swim, swim. I remember my last evening at the springs so very well. The sun was setting and the most beautiful pink. The grackles calling. Cicadas. The xylophone echoing from the Zilker playground. I knew it could be my last swim for a very long time. Though my mind was usually racing about how labor could go, or what could go wrong, or if it was a boy or a girl, or if I packed my bag correctly, I was completely present during that particular swim. wept, overcome with gratitude but also mourning my last lone swim in the magic waters. My last swim as just me. I got out and sort of said goodbye. I left and finally felt ready for what would come just the next day.

Even in the hospital I held our sweet baby girl and thought of all of the adventures we would embark on. Everything I had to show her. And on the first of this year, we got to dip her tiny toes into the springs. And guess what? She loves them too.