Thinking & Feeling

“The world is a tragedy to those who feel, but a comedy to those who think.” Horace Walpole

Thursday, 28 December 2006

Birth Buddies is born

Well I have put together a site for my newly hatched doula service (birth companion) venture.


Please take a look and give me feedback. Any comments or criticism or suggestions are very welcome.

If you know anyone in or around Cape Town that would like to hire a doula, call me!


What is a doula?
A birth doula is a trained labor support person who provides emotional and physical support to a laboring woman and her partner. While she is not a medical professional, she can offer a wide range of comfort measures during labor - from massage to aromatherapy to continuous reassurance and coping techniques.

Women supported by a doula during labor have been shown to have:

50% reduction of caesarean rate
25% shorter labor
60% reduction in epidural requests
30% reduction in analgesia use
40% reduction in forceps delivery

My Celebrity Look-Alikes

I nicked this idea from Dave, who uploaded his Celeb look-alikes on flickr.

For thoroughness I decided to try running it several times with different pictures. 3 were pictures taken when I was done up and about to go out, and the last was of me bedraggled wet-haired and just showered, so no make up or other disguises or enhancements.

The results are below (click image for larger view) ...

I have Annie Lennox, Cheryl Tweedy (?) and Julianne Moore twice

Eliza Dushku with 78% on one photo.

Interesting! ( and I just realised that most of the women I look like are (well) over 40... NICE! (not))

So now I know who to look up when they make a film of my life ;P

Ok, so let's see yours then!

Tuesday, 26 December 2006

Christmas Daze

Well Christmas came and went and a good time was had by all.

We decided this year to stay at home for the day and to make it just a day for our own family. We woke up when we wanted to and had no fixed schedule or responsibilities for the day other than what we wanted to make of it. Luverly.

After a cup of coffee and cuddling in bed we all went through to the lounge to see what Father Christmas had brought us.

The boys were understandably excited by the pile of tempting loot under the tree. They soon got into the business of opening their presents and were thrilled with everything they got from boxer shorts, swim suits, goggles, through to the larger gifts like cricket set, bow and arrow pool set, meccano set etc.

I am really glad to see how grateful and appreciative they were, and they have no issues with what the other one got, and whether they have the same or even the same number of gifts. Well done boys!

Richard got a Diesel watch, 2 large silver Buddhist inspired mantle piece ornaments, a bicycle helmet and cycling gloves from me, and 4 P.S chocoates from the boys.

I got lacy undies, black suspender stockings, a watch, several CDs and some beautiful sparkley crystal bracklets.

Quinn was thrilled with his Meccano Crazy Inventor set, and said several times 'this is really cool', 'I like this', 'Wow this is quite NICE'. We spent a good portion of the day building it and I was amazed at how it held Quinn's attention and how much of the construction he was able to do. Some of it is pretty fiddly and tricky and he got a good fine motor work out twiddling the bolts and nuts etc. I also found out that he is pretty practically and mechanically minded as I was reading the plan and he pointed out a few times that I had made a subtle mistake and or found easier ways of doing what I was doing - like when I tried to very awkwardly screw into a tight corner he mentioned it would be easer to put the screw driver through the hole on the top and point it straight down to the screw I was inserting. D'oh! We built on a nd off through the day and eventually had to send him to bed at 10:30pm when he was half asleep but still wanted to finish it.

There was a lot of swimming throughout the day, although I avoided the sun altogether because my Christmas Eve sun burn is pretty bad, and is still very sore 3 days later :(

Richard spent much of Christmas Day cooking up a storm. He is a confirmed carnivore, and althought there were only to be 4 of us for lunch we had to have a smoked pork roast, big stuffed chicken and ANOTHER chicken, this was rounded off with loads of roast potatoes, and sweet potatoes and butternut, and I made gravy and a salad. I felt bad that we could have fed a small African country on all the food we had... but once I tasted it I forgot about my guilt, because it was delicious.

After lunch we lay around recovering and wishing it wasn't so hot, and we weren't so full. As soon as we started to feel human again and were able to roll off the couch we looked at each other and said, 'Pudding!' and started on the Christmas pudding and custard. It was delicious. I LOVE Christmas pudding, and you only get to have it once a year but - Arrgh!

Yesterday I decided to go to gym to stay out of the sun and move some of the artery lining I had accumulated the day before. Strangely (or maybe logically?) I had a lot of energy and ran nearly 10km on the treadmill and then we did some weights. Later in the afternoon/evening we went Ice Skating and I skated for close to 2 hours until I was really tired and at risk of falling. We went home gorged ourselves again on left overs and now it's today.

So far so good. This is the life.

More pics on Flickr

Sunday, 24 December 2006

Merry Christmas

Well it's 5 minutes to Midnight on Christmas Eve...

I have neither written a Christmas letter nor sent out cards this year... oh well. At least all the gifts are bought and wrapped and under the tree. (The poor tree has dried out a lot in the heat and dryness that is Cape Town at the moment. It still smells nice though.)

Since I got off work on Friday afternoon, we have been to see the Christmas lights and night market on Adderley Street. Where we bought a beaded parrot to go in our outside thatched gazebo. Pictured below.
We have braved the throngs and did our Christmas food shopping in Constantia Mall, I am sure we don't have half of what we need, but the only way to come out of an experience like that with some sanity is to go with the follow and not expect to achieve much. We do have a smpoked pork roast and lovely free-range sage-stuffed chicken so it's all good. Visited some friends. Spent some time in the Mayhem which is Canal Walk, it is quite fun being there when your shopping is already done and seeing the frantic people rushing around all flustered and impatient.

We went to Camps Bay beach beach. Where the boys acted like boys! Evidence pictured below!
We went to the Cricket club (me via a run) and played Cricket and had a picnic. We have swum several times each day, and lay out in the sun to dry - I am now horribly sunburned. Tsk tsk.

This evening we went to see Happy Feet, which was sweet. Father Christmases cookie and milk was set out, and it has been dutifully consumed, and now I am off to bed.

Merry Christmas everyone!

Friday, 22 December 2006

Watermelon Verskrik

So I may have mentioned that I am ever so slightly addicted to Watermelon?

From the first time they become freely available at the beginning of November till they go out of season sometime in January I virtually live on the stuff!

I easily go through a watermelon a week - all by myself, because I am the only one that eats it in my family. I take it to work for lunch, have it as a late night snack, a mid-afternoon snack, you name it. Our fridge is always full of watermelon.

Richard has noticed this over the past few years, and a couple of weeks ago I was presented with this gift.

Bangbroek Mountain

We went to see Bangbroek Mountain at On Broadway last night and it was BRILLIANT!

On Broadway is a lovely little Cabaret Dinner Theatre, I blogged about it before when we went to see Two to Tango.

I didn't have many expectations, but it sounded like it might be fun, and would be a good evening out, so we booked.

We met another couple there and got in the mood over several bottles of wine and a light meal. We had a table right in the front and to the side so we had a perfect view of the stage.

The show started and I was mesmerised by it, the production, direction, scripting, acting, singing and choreography was excellent, and having seen Brokeback Mountain the parody was really well done. I thoroughly enjoyed it. It helped that the actors were rather yummy, especially the one with the tight buns (the shirtless one pictured above). The singers are called The Cowletts, they are large black ladies, who are fabulously stylish and sassy.

The audience vote during interval as to whether they want the happy or sad ending. The audience (as usual apparently) chose the happy ending, despite me trying to get people to vote for the sad ending... Still the happy ending was fun and funny and I was not disappointed by it.

I really enjoy going to On Broadway. The shows are good, the venue is great, the food tasty, and it's all reasonably priced. What more could you want? I will definitely be back.

Here's someone's blog account of going to the show.

Here's a review:
BangBroek Mountain – A South African Musical About Camping

Ed's note: "BangBroek" -- translated literally from the Afrikaans means "scaredy pants" but the figurative meaning is 'coward'.

This hilarious musical parody of Brokeback Mountain has a funny South African twist and a complete absence of subtlety. The story follows the lives of two sixteen-year-old boys – Emmil (Grant Almirall) and Jacques (Marcel Meyers) – who meet at a Boy Scout ‘camp’ and fall in love. Every five years they reunite at the camp at Bangbroek Mountain and as their relationship becomes more intimate, they are faced with various dilemmas, including the decision whether or not to leave their wives and open a B&B. A unique feature of the show is that the audience gets to choose whether they want a happy or sad ending. Half-way through the second half, the votes are tallied and announced, and the ending proceeds according to the audience’s wishes.

Marcel Meyers puts on a convincing performance of a sensitive gay boy just reaching out for love and affection and Grant Almirall is fantastic as an awkward, unwilling male coming to terms with his own sexuality. The passage of time is marked effectively through the changes in the music (composed by Charl-Johan Lingenfelder) and outfits of The Cowletts -- a trio of divas who are sweet in the sixties, sport afros in the seventies and dance ‘the robot’ in the eighties.

Here is an interview with the writer-director Fred Abrahamse.

This is another review "Bangbroek Mountain "A Musical About Camping" is a riotous musical comedy revue that follows the life of two men who meet, as boys, at a Voortrekker Camp in the Bangbroek Mountains of South Africa in the mid 1960's. This hilarious musical revue follows their lives and their relationship from the ages of sixteen to their fifties; and their ultimate dream of building a bed and breakfast lodge in the Bangbroek Mountains. Brought to you by Fred Abrahamse and Charl--Johan Lingerfelder, the outrageous duo who gave you - AbbAtoir, Discovery and Bouncers; Bangbroek Mountain "A Musical About Camping" promises to be an equally uproarious evening of comedy and music at On Broadway. With all new original songs composed and arranged by Charl-Johann Lingerfelder backed by the powerful vocals of Three Tons Of Fun as The Cowlets, audiences are in for a side splitting evening of entertainment in this irreverent send up, featuring the comedy and vocal talents of the classically trained Marcel Meyer (Much Ado About Nothing and Hamlet) and Grant Almirall (Cats, Joseph and We Will Rock You). A unique part of this quirky musical is that the audience gets to choose the ending they want - the happy ending or the sad one. You'll never look at camping in the same way after seeing Bangbroek Mountain the Musical. "

And that ends my week on the gay scene!

Tuesday, 19 December 2006

More MCQP pics etc

I have been checking out the coverage of MCQP.

Here is a press article - a bit over critcal, but hey you can't please everyone.

The official MCQP picture gallery is here.

Complete with pics of FHM's Captain Beer!

The official Gay Pleasure picture gallery is here.

Here are a whole heap of pictures here- this is the last pic, work your way back from there. There are some lovely shots including THIS ONE of MichaelB my kata-box instructor! I was searching for him the whole night and never found him. He was wearing Quinn's rather small batman cape! We should have arranged a meeting place because assuming you are going to find someone in 10 000 people is a bit optimistic!

There are also some more nice shots here.

I also spoke to this guy, I thought those feathered eyelashes were just AWESOME!

I liked these Incredibles and these Spy Vs Spy and Cat in the Hats and Sponge Bob Square Pants' etc.

This and this is an idea of what the main dance area looked like.

Sunday, 17 December 2006

Em Cee Queue Pee

Yee Ha! MCQP was last night and it was a BLAST!

Everybody knows the MCQP party is the highlight of my year and the first thing booked into my social calendar. This was my 8th time attending and I think it was arguably the BEST ever.

It was again held at the fabulous Ratanga Junction, which is definitely the best venue to host this party, as it has great facilities, including good clean toilets, lots of bar areas and decent food vendors too, and most importantly it is sheltered from the inevitable gales of wind. There is also a good combination between in door and out door spaces so you can cool off and warm up as you need too, and there is always enough fresh air.

The theme this year was Comic Strip, and as usual Richard was in charge of costumes. We had already decided to incorporate my Camden market purchase from my London trip in January. It's not like I would ever have another occasion to wear it (outside of the house that is...). So it was decided we would be Nurse Barbie and GI Joe. Richard created some fun accessories and signs.

GI Joe was in camo gear, and had a few war wounds, and sported a sign reading 'War on Bush' on his back.

I had my shocking pink vinyl nurse outfit, white stockings, bustier with suspenders, clunky black buckled shoes (also quite Camdenesque but they were purchased locally and I seem to wear them to MCQP every year), and a sign reading " M*A*S*H Muff Area Shaved Hairless' !!!

We also decided that Barbie would just have to be blonde... oh my! The cringe worthy result shown. (Now you know why I had to put so much time in at the gym this past week or so!)

On the plus side I think I was pretty unrecognizable, even Richard said I didn't look like me. So I was able to role play a bit and go a bit mental in disguise.

We arrived at the venue at about 9pm, and as usual we had to make an entrance on a stage in front of the crowd and pose for photos. I find this a little nerve wracking, but it was fun too and a good few people cheered for us. Yay!

We stayed and watched the crowd and new arrivals for about an hour. As usual there were some amazing costumes and very creative ideas. Then we decided it was time to kick things up a notch and see where the action was. We walked around and found a dance floor we liked and danced there for a while. Then we found some friends and mixed with them a bit and then moved on to the main arena. That was pretty vibey so we danced there for quite a while.

After that we wheedled our way into the woman's only LUSH lounge. The dykey girl at the door would only let Richard in if he wasn't holding my hand (???). The LUSH lounge is basically all women DJs and generally only women allowed in, but the odd non-threatening and behaving man is allowed. Last year this was one of the best rooms to be, and there was a nice vibe again there this time. Although the nurse outfit was attracting more female attention that I needed, but it was all in good fun so it was cool. One girl came up to me and asked where I got my dress from and what label it was. It was nice to be able to say, 'Oh I bought it in London...'. But sadly it's no Gucci nor Dior!

We spent a lot of time dancing alternating between the main arena trancey area, the 80 room which is always a hit, the LUSH lounge and some time in a more main stream area and a more drum and bass area too.

The main arena also had live dance acts from mucho muscle men bump- and-grind dancers to the Cape City Ballet, who were a surprisingly big hit with the crowd. Roger Goode followed with an excellent set as usual.

At one stage we took a walk down to where the rides are and the Merry Go Round was running. We stood in line at go a turn to ride it. It was silly but really fun riding a musical merry go round with a bunch of grown adults all dressed like and acting like kids with sugar rushes at a birthday party. We took a few photos there but none of them came out very nicely unfortunately. Some more of my pics are here. Hopefully I'll find some on-line soon. We also bumped in the one and only Captain Beer from FHM. HE was wearing a bright pink satin Captain Beer outfit, instead of his usual black, and even as big and lardy as he is he manages to pull countless lithe and nubile babes wanting their picture taken with him.

All in all it was great fun, and it was weird but nice being a blonde for a night and getting a completely different reaction from people than I normally do. Countless people feigned fainting as I walked past and said, 'Oh I feel sick!'. So I should have taken a big rectal thermometer with me. LMAO.

We danced and danced until our feet ached and I was starving, so we ended up eating a chicken burger at about 2am. Then we went to the lower energy 80s (oldies) room where we had some slow dancing Frank Sinatra and Ertha Kitt to dance with exaggerated theatrical expression. Then there was a Frank Sinatraesque version of the Oasis song 'Wonderwall' which must be the Paul Anker swing version.

We final sat down in the Leather couched Admiral's Bar next door when what else but my very favorite 'Don't feel like Dancing' by the Scissor Sisters came on, so we had to leap up and dance to that too.

We finally decided it was time to call it a night and made our way home, getting in at around 4am... MCQP rocks!

Grade 1 Memories

These are Quinn's grade 1 work books. It is interesting to go through them and see the progression from the beginning to the end of the year. They learn a lot in Grade 1!

These are a few of the stories Quinn wrote in his story book.

Saturday, 16 December 2006

Quinn no cassanova!

I just overheard Quinn telling Griffin about an Angel which makes people love each other,

'and he is called Pukeid' *


Talk about being love sick!

(* Spoonerised Cupid, in case you don't get it!)

Friday, 15 December 2006

Techie Challenge

I want to put together a web site. I'd like a CMS type set-up so that it is easy to manage and update and organise etc. Also so that I can use templates instead of having to rely on my own very limited artistic skills.

So the first 2 which come to mind are:

Drupal and Joomla

I your own words tell me which of these I should choose (or another better option?) and why**.


** Note that while I may have an Ubuntu machine at home to work from, I will most likely need to use whcihever is chosen on a windows machine at least some of the time...


I am so bored I actually Googled the word 'bored'!!!

I took a spelling test - and got 43/50 twice! On 2 different tests. At least I am consistent.

I also found THIS way more amusing than I should have...

Most forums are near-dead at the moment too, so no entertainment value there, and I don't feel like trolling on them.

I keep checking for blog updates but they are not forthcoming. I have checked every blog I have bookmarked. Update your blogs with witty and entertaining banter. NOW!

I have also trawled flickr for new photos - add more photos people! Those from strangers are not as interesting, but I did find a nice Cape Town pool.

I have had too many cups of coffee, and eaten all the food I have...

Can I go home now?

1 step forward 2 steps back.

So MCQP is tomorrow night, and in an attempt to not look totally blobby and matronly next to the fabulous people who spend the whole year preparing for this auspicious occasion, I decided on Thursday last week that I should start my preparations.
  • So I did a v-fit toning class, followed by 2/3 of a kata-box class. Then on Saturday I ran to Claremont and back, taking a scenic route and popped into the Claremont gym for some arm weights.
  • On Sunday I hit Constantia gym and did 10km on the treadmill and a few arm weights.
  • Monday saw me galloping off 5km on the treadmill and then a hard core kata-box class, which wiped me out.
  • On Tuesday I ran to yoga and back and did 1.5 hours of yoga.
  • Wednesday was kata-boxing with hyper-Norman in Claremont.
  • and Thursday saw me doing 3.5km on the treadmill and then kata-box.
Shew! Notice that's over 3 kata-box classes in one week! Sounds great right?

Well here's the down side. when I exercise more I have 2 very annoying and counter productive side effects.
1) My appetite increases - I want to snack and nibble much more. It also doesn't help that I have been picnicking, and gone out to eat twice in the past week too.
2) I put on weight! Granted it is most likely muscle weight, but still. GAH!

Bloody buggery bliksem!

Today I will rest.

Tomorrow I will P.A.R.T.Y!

Perfect Family

Ok, I'll admit I am a little besotted with Angelina Jolie, I think she is fabulous - in all respects.

And OH MY GOD are they not the most gorgeous family EVAR!?

Wednesday, 13 December 2006

The Most Amazing Poepols!

As you all know Richard and I have become self confessed Corne and Twakkie (of The Most Amazing Show) groupies.

Let me see we firs saw them back in 2003, I think, when they were hosting their 'Breakfast Bonanza'. Then again when they had their TMAS TV show in South Africa last Dec/Jan, then we saw their T*M*A*S show at the Independent Armchair Theatre (where I got a signed poster) in Obs a few months ago, then we Corne (Louw Venter's) Best Man Solo Show, then we saw Twakkie (Rob Van Vuuren's) Electric JuJu solo show. AND we saw Corne & Twakkie hosting The Very Late Show at the Cape Town International Comedy Festival too.

Since then we have been spotting Rob of several TV ads (aQuelle flavoured water and some insurance thing I think, possibly Momentum), as well as on the Summer Games TV show on Saturday nights (which is pretty funny to watch).

Well Thursday night saw us back in our roles as groupies as we went off the see 'The Most Amazing show Live at the Baxter'. We had middle of the front row seats. Which resulted in Richard being abused and insulted a few times. They thankfully mostly left me alone. He was told he looked 'Kak' and 'like he was from star trek', but 'at least that face mullet look you have going actually works for you. It helps you to not look so kak, so keep it up guy'. LMAO.

They were their usual zany and over the top insane selves, and we were giggling maniacally at them, to the point where Louw was eventually giggling himself and had to really 'pull it tight'. to carry on. They really picked on a few people.

In the last half of the show we had to be part of a 'Love Captain' audience participation exercise. Our middle front row section had to get on stage. We then had to take off our shoes and swap them with the person next to us, and do some silly and funny things with them. Then everyone else go to sit down and we had to stay on stage. Then they brought out large (body-bag size and shape!) clear thick plastic bags. We were told to climb into these and sit down. We were told we were the 'poepols'. The lights were turned off and Corne and Twakkie then disappeared telling us that when the lights came on and the music started we had to start moving in any way we could, and not stop.

When the lights came up, Ultravox's Forever Young started playing, and we had to writhe and undulate and roll around on the stage. Corne and Twakkie appeared in theatrical stretchy cloth cage thingies and would flounce and leap about and occasionally enclose on of us in their outfits. It sounds really stupid, and I guess it was, but it was very funny at the time. And quite fun and surprisingly tiring! To think I got all dressed up only to writhe around on a dirty stage in a plastic bag! I mean really!

I can't wait to do it again sometime soon ;P

Tuesday, 12 December 2006

Quinn - Grade 1 in the bag

On the last day of school Quinn came home with his final Grade 1 report.

This is Quinn from the day he first tried on his school clothes in October last year, some what reluctantly, through proudly wearing his 'smart' winter uniform in July, all the way to being a clown dressing in November this year. See how much he grew... his shorts went from under his knees to well above them!

With Quinn being the very youngest in the school this year (even some of the new grade ones starting in January will be older than he is!), we knew it wouldn't be an easy year for him. He has battled a bit with listening and writing, but has done brilliantly at maths, reading, comprehension and speaking. Also he has made good progress from one term to the next, which shows that he has been able to keep up well. Most importantly he has enjoyed being at school, especially the large social circle which it brought, and participated well in all areas. He also managed to more than hold his own in the playground, even with much older boys at after-care where he competed strongly with 'tazos' and 'Yu-Gi-Oh' cards, being quite devious sometimes.

Quinn's final Grade 1 report is summarised below:

Mark Description 2 3 4
1 Not able to fullfill Learning Outcome 0 0 0
2 Able to fullfill Learning Outcome with basic support 3 1 2
3 Able to fullfill Learning Outcome 16 13 10
4 Learning Outcome Consistently Fullfilled at a high level 0 6 8

Quinn getting his certificate for 'Good Progress in Reading throughout the year' in November.

I am very proud of him!

Uncle Paul's Christmas Party

So Saturday was our annual pilgrimage to the Uncle Paul's Christmas party. It has become one of our (few) Christmas time traditions., this being the 4th time we have attended.

The first 2 times it was just Richard the kids and I, last year it was just a friend and our 4 kids, and this year we had 4 couples and 8 kids, so it was quite fun. I also bumped into an old friend (KathyP) and her family there. I haven't seen her for several years.

It is by no means the highlight of the adult social calendar, but it is magical for the kids (and more than bearable as an adult) and well worth going to. As well as being charitable. The format was the same as the other years - heck I think it's been exactly the same for all of the 50 years they have been hosting these parties!

The tractor ride it always fun and slightly nerve-wracking, and the arrival of Father Christmas and the 'faerie' and lighting the Christmas tree is always quite special. The boys know exactly what happens when and were very comfortable there. They both got water pistols from 'Father Christmas' this time. Quinn brought it to me and said, 'Next year can you, I mean can Father Christmas rather get me a pellet gun please?'.

It was a bit cold and windy at times, and the straw fight gave me a nice case of hay fever for 2 days afterwards, but we will be back again next year I am sure.....

Migraines - are from hell!

So the reason I will never be an Olympic athlete is because my body is not a sports car, it is more like a vintage Ford. Simple, reliable, easy to maintain, and idles perfectly smoothly - but don't push it! If you rev it too high, or run it too hard you'll blow a gasket.

The result is that I plod along, and do my fitness maintenance routine. I am fit and healthy and all is cool. But let me try to push hard to increase my fitness, or burn some extra kilojoules, and go beyond my body's screaming, 'Stop this nonsense and let me be' message, I will pay for it.

So at least I now know why I innately back off if I feel it getting too hard, and it's not about laziness, lack of willpower, or gumption. It's pure self-preservation.

Last night I blasted out a 5km run on the treadmill (peaking at almost 14km an hour for brief intervals!) and then did an intensive kata-box class. I was getting tired, but it was fun so I pushed through those messages telling me to slow down and back off. After all MCQP is days away so I was on a mission.

I drove home in a bit of a daze, and then had a too hot bath. I was rewarded with horror of all horrors a migraine.

Despite my best efforts at mental willpower, conscious breathing, and trying to stay calm and relaxed I could not get it to go away and the familiar headache, numb arms and other awful symptoms would not abate. GAH!!!!!!!

So today I have a head full of shards of glass and lights are too bright.

Something between over exertion, a very hot bath (blood pressure related?) and possibly hormones kicks these things off, and nothing is worth getting them. Next time I will have to listen to my body telling me to take it easy.

Wednesday, 6 December 2006

Do(ula)ing the right thing

So how many of you REALLY know me?

Who knows that pregnancies, birth and babies are my real passion and calling? Because they are!

I have no idea what set me along the path of Engineering and IT because my heart is really not in it. It does not resonate with me at all. Things Biological and Medical have always had the most appeal for me, starting with me being a St John's Ambulance cadet at just 7 years old, by far the youngest in our brigade (or whatever it was called). Aside: I remember being terribly embarrassed as I applied Vaseline to marathon runner's cramping quads during my community service hours LMAO! ... but I digress.

<- Yes this is me in all my glory at 38 weeks pregnant with Griffin. Yes I was HUGE.

I really should have studied medicine, but it didn't seem attainable for some reason, whereas it really could have been. My guidance teachers clearly gave me no guidance at all. Also I certainly didn't want to be a GP. No, I have always wanted to be an obstetrician. I LOVED being pregnant and really immersed myself in the experience. I studied up about it and knew everything that was happening, when and how. I prepared for birth by reading literally hundreds of birth stories so that I would know what was normal and what wasn't and what to expect. I couldn't get enough!

I am one of the few people I know who can actually say I enjoyed labouring and giving birth. That doesn't mean it wasn't hard, and it doesn't mean I would want to do it every day. But it's like running a race (or climbing a mountain I guess), you have to be sensible and prepare yourself well. It feels just awesome when you actually manage to do it!

I was not afraid. I knew what was happening. I understood it. I knew that my job was to surrender to it, to allow it to happen and not to fight it. I think I did it damn well. I am really proud of my pregnancies, labours and births. (Hey I have to be proud of *something* I have done).

A new-born water-birthed baby peacefully gazing at mommy ->
Note that natural mid-wife assisted birthed babies are usually calm and alert and don't cry much if at all after birth.

I had a private mid-wife assisting me for the birth of my sons. She was wonderful. She was calm, supportive and encouraging. She quietly and confidently stayed by my side and told me how great I was doing and how everything was prefect. Thinking back that was like an anchor for me and I never once felt fear when she was there. Even though she wasn't actually doing anything most of the time. And not to take anything away from the amazing job she did, but she did not deliver my babies, she facilitated ME birthing them.

But that's the point, a woman in labour just needs support and to feel safe, and to hear that all is well and that she doing ok. Given that nature takes over and does the rest. The more a labouring woman hears that she is doing well the stronger she gets and the more resilient she feels, and the more she believes in herself. For all those people (probably many men) who don't think they can do anything and are therefore not needed, you really can. Just being there and being caring and following the queues of what is needed at the time does make a major difference.
<-- Quinn at 2 days old

Anyway, ever since Quinn was born I have a had a dream to one day become a mid-wife. I wasn't sure if or when it would ever happen, but it has been inside me quietly since then. I still read birth stories and even look at birth photos often (not for the faint hearted!). I also frequent the pregnancy and parenting boards, when I get a chance, and answer questions and offer advice.

I was honoured and privileged to be requested to be with my sister Belinda for her labour as her (unqualified) doula last year. It was a wonderful experience for me, as up until then I had only ever been the one in labour and giving birth, and had no idea what it was like to be attending as a bystander. I thought maybe I would feel anxious and out of control, and find it difficult to deal with. But I didn't, I really loved that experience too. It was great to be with her and comfort her and support her and assure her when she felt she couldn't do it, by pointing out that she WAS already doing, and doing it perfectly.

I felt completely relaxed and knew she was safe and that everything was progressing as it should. So I was able to assure her and her husband that all was well, and I do think that helped them to relax and stay calm too. It is a very special experience, in which I am grateful to been included.

A new-born baby (it should be on Mommy's chest!) ->

Unfortunately the hospital she was at did not allow me to be present for the birth, but I stayed with her right up until transition and just before she started pushing. Around 7 hours or so. Belinda is extremely squeamish and had thought that she wouldn't be able to cope with anything other than a general anaesthetic c-section so I immensely proud of her that she laboured drug-free and gave birth naturally.

So what is the point of all this? Well I have recently found out about a local doula course, run by one of the renown mid-wife/childbirth educators and natural advocates in the country Irene Bourquin**. In fact I attended a pregnancy and birth workshop back in 1999 run by Sister Lillian and Irene Bourquin, when I was pregnant with Quinn, and I met my mid-wife Kate Christie there.

I have decided to sign up for Irene's next doula course which starts early next year. It is a 6-month program which includes, much theory, 4 practical workshops, attending a few births, and a written qualifying exam at the end. I have heard from Irene that not only are many of the local hospitals becoming more accepting and open to the idea of doulas and even welcoming them, after realising the benefits, but at least one medical aid will already cover the cost of doula services for the 'patient' - not that a birthing woman is a patient.

What is a doula?
A birth doula is a trained labor support person who provides emotional and physical support to a laboring woman and her partner. While she is not a medical professional, she can offer a wide range of comfort measures during labor - from massage to aromatherapy to continuous reassurance and coping techniques.

Women supported by a doula during labor have been shown to have:

50% reduction of cesarean rate
25% shorter labor
60% reduction in epidural requests
30% reduction in analgesia use
40% reduction in forceps delivery

I am excited that I will finally be embarking on the first step of my dream. We'll see where this journey takes me.

** Irene Bourquin
S.A. registered Nurse and Midwife, Internationally Certified Childbirth and Postnatal Educator. Author of ‘The New Practical Pregnancy and Birth Book’ (now in its 3rd edition). Irene has 25 years experience in the Childbirth and Parenting field. She is at present the Cape Town coordinator of the J & J doula training course.

Monday, 4 December 2006

Christmas time... mistletoe and whine...

It may be a bit early for some, but I have flu (still) and have felt like crap for nearly a week now, so plans of being out and about this week-end evaporated and so we stayed in all week-end long.

That's not strictly true we actually went out to a dinner/dance on Friday night. It was a Christmas in July party at Suikerbossie, which never happened in July and somehow got moved out to 1 Dec (I didn't really understand the logic either). We are friends with the DJ and so we are lucky enough to be invited along to these things. We get to entertain his wife (my friend) while he is busy DJing and we also serve as rent-a-crowd-get-the-party-started-rabble-rousers. The point is the paying crowd can be a bit old, staid and boring so we help to liven things up a bit. ;)

Perhaps I should have taken it a bit easier in my condition, but it was fun at the time and the gammon dinner was good too. The rest of the week-end's plans however went right out the window and I did not leave the house again until this morning when I went to work. Blah.

On Saturday morning we made our 'Christmas Cookies'. They are the usual biscuits we always make but somehow it has become a tradition in our family - which we have done for the past 4 or so years now. We make our cookies, and decorate them with cherries etc, and then make holes in some of them so that we can thread a string through them and hang them on our tree as Christmas decorations. We also make a special one for Father Christmas, which is left out for him with a glass of milk on Christmas Eve.

Since I had already tossed out the idea of going to gym or doing anything else useful on Saturday morning we immersed ourselves in our cookie making. I made 3 different version of the cookie dough, yellow, pink and chocolate chip, and we had sprinkles, chocolate chips and cherries for decorations.

We got quite creative and were doing teddies clothed in yellow shorts and red t-shirts and all sorts of swirled and patterned designs. It was fun. But the rest of the week-end entailed eating a lot of these cookies too. :/

<- One of the cookies on the tree.
After the cookie making exercise, I realised that December has started and so we needed to get our advent calendar sorted out. We have a lovely reusable one which I have been filling on the sly each year. This year I let the boys participate. So we raided our sweetie tin and placed 2 items in each pocket. Then I decided that since it is December and we were already in the Christmas spirit we could just as well put our Christmas tree up. Richard decided that our usual fake tree would just not do this year. So he disappeared for a while and came back with a locally sourced alien pine - pilfered from somewhere in the neighbourhood. ;) We are not sure if it will last until Christmas but it is potted in damp compost, so hopefully it won't dry out too quickly. The tree went up and got decorated by us all. We have quite a collection of nursery-school-crafted decorations now, and Quinn was begging me not to put some of his 'ugly' decorations, which he made when he was about 3 years old. I told him I would treasure them and use them proudly *every* year just to embarrass him. Evil mom that I am. ;)

We also did our usual Christmas Elves photo session, which was quite fun, including some which will be suitably embarrassing at Quinn 21st ;)

Apart from that I watched lots of TV, finished my book, played Rummy with the kids, knitted with Quinn, cleaned the pool and weeded the garden. That was the week-end, all finished.

Let's hope this god awful flu goes away now so I can do some more exciting stuff this week.

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