Thinking & Feeling

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

Thursday, 25 December 2014

I didn't think they were coming this year...

But here they are.

The Christmas Elves of 2014!

Wednesday, 17 December 2014

One Plus Two

I really want to spend more time with my boys and connecting with them on their level, as they want to. Which means not on MY schedule or level or frequency but on theirs!

I need to not always be tired, rushed, stressed and impatient when dealing with them. I need to notice them. And love them for just who and what they are right now.
"A baby is born with a need to be loved - and never outgrows it." - Frank A. Clark  
I read this passage on Laura's blog this week-end and it reasonated so strongly with me that it made me really cry. It's EXACTLY how I felt all my life. My mom never made me feel loved, special, or wanted at all.... I realised all I can do now is make sure NOT to make my children feel the same about me...ever. I hope it's not too late!!!!
“Because she knew that something happened to you when your mother didn’t hold you close, or tell you all the time that you were the best thing ever, or even notice when you were home: a little part of you sealed over. You didn’t need her. You didn’t need anyone. And without even knowing you were doing it, you waited. You waited for anyone who got close to you to see something they didn’t like in you, something they hadn’t initially seen, and to grow cold and disappear, too, like so much sea mist. Because there had to be something wrong, didn’t there, if even your own mother didn’t really love you?”― Jojo Moyes, One Plus One

Wednesday, 3 December 2014

The day the mountain burned...

Cape Town gets very hot and dry in summer. Prety much a tinder-box actually. Yet people still flick their cigarettes around carelessly. 

Yesterday some moron did just so, without a second thought I am sure. However thanks to a critical mix of hot, dry and wind it was not just a case of careless littering, but rather gross neglegence, and arson actually.

The mountain rapidly went up in smoke, literally. I was driving home and saw a big brown billow of smoke come over the mountain behind Lion's Head. I actually almost called home to ask if they'd set A's house alight. Just a few minutes later I got a call to say the fire was indeed right there right by the house. What!?

The house is right at the top of Fresnaye and literally across the road from the mountain reserve which was on fire. The house actually has a fire hose. Which Quinn took out and 'hosed shit down' as he told me via whatsapp. Apparently the neighbours were doing the same. Thankfully the houses are not very flamable and there's not much garden or flamable stuff that side appart from the grass and bush across the road. So the fire stayed on the other side of the road.

It is a very narrow road though, 2 cars can barely pass, you have to stop manoever if anyone drives the other way while you are on it, and it is steep and has a sharp bend at the end. The fire was right at (and I think caused by the labourers at) the building site at the end of the road. So when I tired to get home there was just no way I could get there. The road was blocked by trucks, people, cars... A Lambourghini was making a swift get away when I arrived. There was no visisbility it was baking hot and so smokey too. I'd wanted to get home asap, get baby and boys and get the hell out of there, but I couldn't get anywhere near the house or within 3 roads actually.

I ended up going back down to Seapoint to watch from afar and went to a coffee shop and was chatting to Q on Whatsapp to keep up to date. He sent me photos and a running commentary. He said they could hear the fire crackling and roaring. They had closed themselves inside at that point and were ok. Although the house was full of smoke and ash.

I think every fire-truck in Cape Town was there and they had 2-3 choppers bringing water from the sea too, but they were being buffetted and thrown around in the wind, so I think it was quite dangerous...

The wind was something else. There are some stainless steel railings which were put around the pool for chil-proofing for the Thanksgiving dinner on the week-end. They are HEAVY. They were blown across the balcony, blew over and some blew into the pool!

It is so sad to see the damage on the mountian. And the poor firemen were there late late, and I saw some this morning too, so they maye have been monitoring it through the night.

It actually could have been a  lot worse. But it still makes me sad to think about the desctructiona nd decimation of such wonderful nature. I hope it rains soon so it can start to heal.

This was the smoke I saw on the way home.
The house is just down the other side of that mountian right in the smoke...
View image on Twitter

This is the view from the side of the house... hence why I was so worried...

Tuesday, 2 December 2014

Would you do this..?

As per my last post, every year (for the past 4 years at least) A and another American friend arranges and host a Thanksgiving dinner for family and friends and especially any American 'strays' in Cape Town on the day.

It is usually like 50-60 people. So quite a thing to plan, coordinate and stage. It's a really fun, social event, even though it's a bit mad trying to wrangle all the people and get them fed and drinks filled and all the dishes and clean-up etc.

So it's very hustle-bustle and noisy.

Last year this couple (friend of one of the other Americans) brought their DOG. It's a big pavement-special rescue dog. I was a bit WTF? They said the dog was 5-months old and had just been sterilised and they didn't want to leave it alone. Fine, whatever. After about 30 mins it was clearly not working out though. The house is on the side of a mountain with the small garden 4 stories down... so the woman took the dog home and left her hubby to stay for the rest of the event.

This year I was in charge of planning and co-ordinating, and they got invited again and would you believe they brought the dog again?! As a result the kids were all running away screaming when it arrived, we couldn't put any hors d'oeuvres on the tables, the dog was rushing around just about knocking things over and was probably freaked out to be there actually... and we have a CAT!

Is it just me, or do you also think it is highly inappropriate to bring a fully grown rambunctious dog to a big dinner party?

I mean kids were invited, but even then most parents checked that it was ok to bring them first, and we arranged a nanny to be available to ensure they were ok, since it's not a very child friendly home (yet).

We had to make a plan to get the dog down into the garden and barricade it there to keep it away so as not freak out the kids, eat the food and knock things over etc.

They said it seemed to be fine that they brought her last year so they thought they'd bring her this year! Wow. Ok.

Next year the invite will state 'NO DOGS'!

Would YOU take your dog to a stranger's home if you'd been invited to an event there???

Monday, 1 December 2014

Thanksgiving 2014

So this past Saturday was the annual Cape Town Thanksgiving Feast, the 3rd I have been involved with now. It is usually organised and co-ordinated by a group of 3 Americans. A and his friends K & C. All three had babies in August though (all conceived around Thanksgiving last year actually!) and K has now moved back to the states. So this year there was A and C. C decided coordinating Thanksgiving was more than she could manage this year. A really wanted it to go ahead though, as he feels we all have much to be thankful for this year - he is right - and he of course wanted a chance to show off his pride and joy, baby N!

So despite me having ALSO just had a baby, going back to work at a new job, fixing up and renting out my house, the boys writing exams, and having my sister convalescing with us after an op, and various other house guests etc etc, it somehow befell on me to be in charge of co-ordinating the Thanksgiving feast this year. YIKES. We did at least agree to have a more sensible and manageable group size limited to about 30-35 people rather than the usual 50-60.

To say the last month has been hectically busy would be an understatement.

But everything culminated on Saturday when I got the tenant in my house and then the big fest followed later in the afternoon.

It was a fabulously fun, festive, merry, event filled with friends and loved ones, with no less than 3 turkeys, loads of salads, breads, green bean casserole, pecan topped candied sweet potatoes, potato bake, apple pie, chocolate brownies and ice-cream etc. Even though it was a late lunch I think our last guests left at about 11pm. I would consider that a great success.

As has become traditional A gives a speech to the assembled crowd explaining the origins of Thanksgiving and then the floor is opened to allow anyone who wishes to the chance to publicly express their thanks for whatever they feel compelled to. 

This year I feel so very thankful and so I did a thorough giving of thanks as per below.

I quite quite emotional about it actually.

It was a wonderful day and such a fantastic celebration and reminder of just how much we have and how good life is.
Displaying Thanksgiving 2014.jpg
"In daily life we must see that it is not happiness that makes us grateful, but gratefulness that makes us happy."

“There is always something to be thankful for!”

I have much to be happy and thankful for especially this year!

I dubbed this year my year of 40, as I turned 40 this year, and had the most amazing 40-week pregnancy and birth journey starting exactly a year ago and resulting in the little miracle who is exactly 3-months old today.

I am thankful for having had the chance to have another pregnancy and birth, which was just how I’d dreamed it would be. The birth was phenomenal and everything I ever wished for. I couldn't have planned it any better and I wouldn't change anything about it. It was perfect and so special and meaningful to me. My birth experiences have been profound highlights in my life and they have given me that which I am most grateful for…

I am thankful for, my precious, wonderful, beautiful boys. They all bring me joy, fun, laughter, love and happiness. They are my life’s work and I hope they will grow up with fond memories of me and their childhoods.
- Quinn & Griffin I know it has been quite a tough year for you, with a lot of changes and challenges as you are both growing up, and finding yourselves and your place in the world. And also because of the journey I placed us on. Thank-you for being patient, supportive and so very helpful to me. I love you.
- Baby Nathaniel (or Thor) who is the sweetest, easiest and baby. I never thought I would get to be involved closely with him, and didn’t even think I would want to go through the new-born phase again, but what a blessing and privilege it has been. I have enjoyed everything about him.
I am thankful for, A. Who has been truly amazing and remarkable. He is so kind and generous in a multitude of ways, and has given me the opportunity to see and experience wondrous things. To travel and have adventures in amazing places and meet incredible people. It has been an amazing journey, and it has been a real privilege and treat to experience someone so mature, aware and easy to get along with. It’s thanks to him that I get to experience the life adventure I am on now. Which has been bigger and better than I imagined. A is a very relaxed and natural dad, and it has been wonderful to see him adapt to parenthood so easily and seamlessly. I knew he would be a good dad, and I knew he deserved to be a dad, but I didn’t expect that he would take to it so quite so fast and expertly. He is an inspiration in many ways.

Life is good. I am truly thankful!

Monday, 24 November 2014

But that's not all...

In addition to the things in the last 'Monday monday' post:
- I had to wear a breastpad as a pantyliner this morning because I couldn't find a pantyliner.
- I didn't wear breastpads, and then 'forgot' aout going to express while wrking until I realised I had anice wet patch forming on my shirt! Thankfully it is dark coloured so not too visible!
- On going down to express about 3 people I walk with saw me going into the darkened doctor's office, closing and locking the door. They don't know I express so I can only imagine what they thing I was doing in there! ;)
- Then while I was expressing - nearing the end thank goodness - the doctor arrived and tried to open the door. So I had pumpus interuptis and had to cut the session short and scuttle out. 9I am supposed to check to make sure there are no imminent appointment before using the room, but today I just dashed in when I saw i was free).

Oh and the car I borrowed has NO petrol left so I need to find a garage asap before I can go home.


Monday monday.

What could possibly go wrong..?

Let's see, this morning:
- My alarm did not go off. And I have 2! One on my cell phone and one a really effective alarm which is normally set waaay early - a 3 month-old baby! I can not believe that BOTH didn't work today!?
- I had not one but TWO flat tyres on my car. I did a massive clean out of my house (it's being rented out for a few months) which took all week-end. It's also had some repair and maintenance work done in the past 2 weeks. As a result the driveway is FULL of rubbish and crap. I had to drive over a small plank. I guess it had nails in it!? BUGGER. Thankfully I was able to grab A's car and wasn't too late in the end. But I will still need to sort that out later. Of course today is the day I was back on duty with taking the boys to school - they have been using a transport service since baby was born up till now.... Aii.
- I locked my account at work when I tried to login.
- None of the main vendor on the project at work's staff as not rocked up today. I smell a contract negotiation stale-mate - yikes...
- That's to the house clean out all week-end I had no week-end. I am exhausted still. And starting tomorrow A has people staying every nights for about 2 weeks, sometimes several people at the same time. It's going to be interesting. I do hope all these people do not expect that I will cater for and serve them, cos um not gonna happen!

Other than that it's been a great day so far! :)

Thursday, 20 November 2014

Buzzing around!

Why have I been so quiet recently?

I AM BUSY! Busy, busy, BUSY.

Last week I was in an adrenalin rushed-panic lurching from one thing to the next. I was buggered and not very happy by the week-end. To say I was overwhelmed was an understatement. But already this week I feel clamer and more in control again, so why have I been so busy you might wonder..?

I have actually been a bit manic in the past week or 2. Thankfully A is calm and unflappable and doesn't seem to have been too affected by my state of panic and hysteria in the past weeks. In his words 'everything will be ok'. But OMG there has just been TOO much on the go!!!

- I started a new job last Monday, It's a 30km, +-45min commute, and it's a fairly hectic position. No one here knows I have had a baby, so I have to pretend to be functional, calm and well rested HAHAHAA. Plus I have to sneak off to go express milk. I am only managing to do that once a day though. We'll have to supplement with formula because I am just not going to be able to keep up with the demand sadly. But so be it. 
- It was Griffin's 13th birthday last week and I had to do a party for him, and get and send stuff for school, and took him out for dinner and arange a gift and make a fuss over him etc. I think I pulled it off and he was thrilled with his go-karting party, and hand-me-down laptop from me.
- It's exams for both boys this week. Say no more!
- A's long-standing domestic (X) who was lined up to be nanny from the beginng of November had a stroke in mid-Oct!!!!! She seems ok and to be on the mend now but was off for 3-4 weeks and is still weak and tired. We have a friend of hers helping out now, and have had to get used to her, not sure if she is the best, but at least there's someone to help out for now...
- Then we decided to rent my house out for Dec & Jan. But some things needed fixing first so this week and last the kitchen was being refreshed and painting being done etc etc, and I have to clean, organise and move stuff out any spare moment I have. Still have loads to do. The tenants want to move on the same day as ...
- The American Thankgiving feast which A hosts every year and which I am somehow in charge of co-ordinating this year!? There'll be about 30 people over, for the feast and about 3 families staying over for the week-end from out of town.
- My sister is having an op next Wed and staying with us for 2 nights to recuperate.

- I have finally put Quinn on Ritalin, as he was just all over the place and driving me mad, and clashing with me constantly. I think it is helping a bit. But all I can say is that babies are easy. Tiring but easy. Teenagers are much more challenging! Oi. He is either awesome or hair-pullingly maddening.

- And then there's the usual end of year stuff (presents, parties etc) which is fun but somehow makes you really busy and rushed.

I told A the other day that up to now I have been 'off' (on maternity leave) and just going with the flow but the sudden realisation of having EVERYTHING be different: house, job, body, time, routine, freedom etc etc was a bit of a freak-out and overwhelmed me.

Otherwise everything has been calm fine and dandy. 

Seriously though, well it all sounds mad, it's all just stuff, and mostly good stuff. I have nothing to complain about. Life is good. I just wish it was calmer, and I had more time and attention to give everything.... and some time to relax and just BE!

So basically all is well and job seems to be good so far. I am trying to get to grips with all the various threads and understand what's going on and it seems to be coming together nicely.

Wednesday, 19 November 2014

Things that have made me sad in the past few weeks:

Things that have made me sad in the past few weeks:
- A 13-year old grade 7 boy (and a prefect) in our school committed suicide 3 weeks ago. It is too much to even think about. How does a parent even begin to deal with that. His younger brother in Griffins grade was the one who found him. How does a 12 year old begin to deal with that!? I can barely think about it... but it is on my mind constantly because it is rumoured this boy was ADHD and on medication and questions around whether that was principal cause or at least contributing factor.

- My own boy Q is not performing well at school anymore and I find myself clashing with him , and pressurising him. He has now also had him diagnosed as ADHD and is trialling medication. How much should I push and cajole him when I KNOW he has so much potential? Do I just leave him to slide downhill and concede to his assertions that 'school is not his thing', or do I insist he get his shit together and apply himself and achieve in some form or other? It's really hard to know if he is just LAZY or actually can't cope, or organise his thoughts and responsibilities himself. It is so so difficult and I fear I am losing the special bind I have always had with my boy. These 14-16 years are certainly not easy and I do hope it gets better. I want to have that fun and easy going relationship with him again!

- Our dear, precious, sweet and quirky doggie Roxy is gone. :( She has been missing for nearly 3 weeks now, and I don't think she is coming back. A has had a range of workmen in and out in the past few weeks. Electricians, plumbers, handymen, movers, gardeners etc etc fixing up the house etc. They constantly leave the doors and gates open. Roxy LOVED going out to the street side because that's where the nature trail and all the excitement is. She was very friendly so would happy walk with someone else, but didn't run away. So would usually stay nearby and/or come back after a walk-about. She had 2x tags with my phone number on them and one of them had the address (A got it as he was worried she'd get lost). So usually if she got as far as a few houses away we'd get a call and would retrieve her.  The day before A had been worried about her slipping out with all the chaos so he locked her out on the balcony. Shame, she looked so sad out there missing out on the action and attention. The next day he forgot to do it. So when I got home he told me she was gone and apologised. None of us were worried though and we fully expected a call at any minute... But no one has called. All I can think is that she went onto the trail and got bitten by a snake - there are puff adders here. A was initially worried that she even go out there at all (and even wanted to get Puff Adder anti-venom in case) as she investigates everything and would stick her nose into any hole, and right into a snake given half a chance. I told him not to stress and was sure it would be fine. (Aside apparently she got bitten on the nose by a spider when he was seeing the midwives out after baby N was born as a spider jumped out the car and she stuck her nose into it and it bit her.) Seems he may have been right. He feels awful and responsible for it, but honestly anyone could have been the one who let her get out as she has slunk out on all of our watches recently. The last few months of her life were probably the best, as she had so many walks and so much attention and got to frolic and gallivant on the trails, dig in the dirt, investigate holes, chase Guinea fowl and generally just have a swell old time. A even installed a doggie-door for her (she didn't even have one at our house). I am having to accept that she is  gone now. Bye sweet Roxy. Our first ever doggie. You were weird and cute and so obedient (apart from your adventurous sprint). We miss you!
- Being back at work. I am enjoying it and I do love working, but it's been sad having to go and leave behind that wonderfully precious time that is revelling in newborn-ness. I am grateful to have got the opportunity, but sad that it's over.

- I am sad that life is so rushed and that I don't feel I have enough time and attention to go around. I want to be more calm and present. I'll get there.

Life is good, but these things have made me feel a bit sad recently...

Sunday, 5 October 2014

Baby Nathaniel's First Weeks - in pictures

Baby Nathaniel is now 5 weeks old. Here is a series of photos showing his life and progress over the past 5 weeks since his birth.

Week 1

Week 2

Week 3

Week 4 and 5
He is such a sweet little poppet and it is a real treat to see him growing and progressing. Him and his dad are doing so well too!

Tuesday, 23 September 2014

So I am not super-woman...

Ok, not that I ever think I am 'super-woman' or super-anything... but I guess I just always think and expect to be able to do whatever I want to, when I want to....

I have been sick since Friday. Even though I kept going with all sorts of event and activities (including a 50th party, 3-yo bd party) until after lunch-time on Sunday, when I finally crashed.

We still don't know what it is, but definitely seems to be some kind of horrible virus. The symptoms are just like you see when people have malaria in movies. Super hot and dripping with sweat at times, to the point that I soak the bed at night, and then FREEZING cold and shivering and teeth chattering and unable to warm myself up. And a persistent headache - since Friday. But nothing else is wrong, no breast pain (so not mastitis), no smelly discharge (so not a uterine infection), no spots bites or rashes, no aches & pains, no snot, nothing. It's very weird.

Apparently it's most likely do to my resilience being low. I haven't been sick in AGES. I didn't even take any time off while I was pregnant, or take a single sick-day the whole of last year. But I have been quite ill 3 times now in just the past 6 weeks or so. So it seems it's likely to be latent stress from the whole job thing and then not getting (or taking) a break since the birth and just being go-go-go. (dealing with what happened and then all the job hunting, interviews and stuff in the past 3 weeks since right after birth, and then over doing it a bit physically too). :(

So I have been told to STOP now for a while and rest properly, and let my body build some defences again.

At the moment walking to the kitchen to make tea feels like almost too much effort. LOL. So I am listening and allowing myself to just lie in bed and read and watch crappy TV, and even NAP for a bit.... 

So ja, the time after birth is for RESTING. Who knew? ;)

Thursday, 11 September 2014

Short Video of Nathaniel's Birth

Well the birth of his head anyway.

If anyone is interested... It's not very graphic at all.

The video is not public, so is only accessible with the link and is not searchable.

My hope is that it is inspirational to someone and shows that while birth is intense and not EASY it is really not that traumatic or scary either. My doula business byline was 'Birthing without Fear' and I truly believe it makes a world of a difference to the experience of birth when you are prepared and confident and are not afraid of it.

Monday, 8 September 2014

Baby N's Bris

Baby N's Bris was on Friday morning. I am generally against circumcision. But A is Jewish and it was his choice to make and so he chose to go ahead with it...

I had met with Rabbi Greg (who is a wonderful kind and caring man, and whose wife is a doula who I have met) and he'd explained the whole process and ceremony to me to put my mind at ease. We also met with the doctor a few days before to get a briefing from him and so he could examine Baby N in advance and make sure all was good.

Apparently the parents don't usually watch - especially not the mothers. But while I was opposed to the idea I was not hostile to it and my attitude was that I did not want to be complicit or facilitate it, but that I would be supportive and comforting as needed.

In the end I was needed to assist to bring baby N downstairs since the official person who was meant to present baby was a bit wobbly on the stairs. So I found myself in the throng of things and positioned myself next to Griff and right at the helm of the action pretty much.

It was not pleasant to watch (but I did) but was actually less traumatic than I expected, and the ceremonial community/cultural part was admittedly quite dignified and special.

I did cry as it was being performed, I just couldn't help the tears rolling down my cheeks. My father came down from Pretoria and was the 'Sandak/Sandek'* or person who holds the baby. He felt very honoured and privileged to have been invited and included. A wanted him there to acknowledge the link with my family, and also because none of his family could be there (they are all in the states and his dad is quite old and sight impaired now). Else it would have been his own father in the role.

A doctor performed the actual procedure - and administered a local anaesthetic first - and we used panando drops and emla cream too.

I let the boys stay to be there and they went to school after 9am. Quinn was around before and then disappeared to his room and then came back after. Poor Griff stood and watched the whole thing. I think he felt emotional more than squeamish and did get a bit pale. He wasn't happy about the blood.

After it was over I got some photos taken with me and the 3 boys. Q was holding N and after a while he got niggly so I said, 'Ok Quinn let me take him I think he wants to feed. ' To which Griffin chirped 'No I think he wants his skin back'. The photographer nearly fell over he was so amused and shocked.

I expected it to be horrendous, but I am glad it wasn't. A seemed more upset and a bit rattled afterwards and I think he felt a bit guilty about it.

At least it is done now.

*Sandek (Hebrew: סנדק, "companion of child") is the term for a person honored at a Jewish brit milah (circumcision) ceremony, traditionally either by holding the baby boy on the knees or thighs while the mohel performs the brit milah or by handing the baby to the mohel.[1] The origin of the term has been attributed to a derivation from the Greek sunteknos (syn meaning plus and tekno meaning chlid), which means "companion of child.[2]

* Sandak - Holds baby during bris. This is the highest honor at Bris, the sandak is equated to a kohen burning incense offering in the Bies HaMikdash. Holds baby during bris.

Some of the photos taken at the Bris (by Sam Squire-Howe of Twinkle Star Photography)

All 3 boys and I.

Quinn with Nathaniel after his bris.

Sunday, 31 August 2014

Saturday, 30 August 2014

Baby N's Birth Story!

Nathaniel's Birth Story.

I had always dreamed of having one more labour and birth experience. After training as a doula, and supporting other women through their labour and births, and having had my own wonderful birth experiences I was compelled to do it one more time. I always said I'd love to wait to go into labour naturally and have a home water-birth. That was, for me, the pinnacle birth experience.

As a single mom (for the past 6+ years though) having another child was not something I wanted or needed.

After 2+ years of discussions, deliberations and planning though I decided to carry a baby as a 'surrogate' for A. Who wanted a baby of his own. And so I embarked on this journey of a life-time. Me to have the pregnancy and birth I always dreamed of, and him to get his baby.

It was an incredible journey and one I feel so privileged to have been given the opportunity to travel. I also turned 40 this year and so I called this year, 'my year of 40' to commemorate my age and the 40-week life-changing project I was part of.

The pregnancy went very smoothly with no issues at all beyond the usual morning sickness and heartburn unpleasantness. But I stayed active, fit and healthy throughout doing yoga, walking, doing POP FIT pregnancy classes etc. I also reconnected with the 'birthing world' attending the Midwifery & Birth Conference, a fabulous antenatal retreat, and reading and watching anything birth related I could get my hands on.

I really enjoyed savouring the special and unique time that is pregnancy. Enjoying that feeling of being 'full'. Full of life, full of spirit and soul, and just 'whole'. That's the only way I can describe how I feel when I am pregnant. 

I finished working at 38.5 weeks, and the boys, pets and I moved over to A's house thereafter to settle into the birth space for the last few weeks. Since we were planning a home birth at A's house. So we needed to be 'at home' there.

40 weeks came and went with no sign of labour or a baby... and then 41 weeks came and went.

I was starting to feel a bit impatient for the big event to happen. And even though I knew it would, it was frustrating not knowing whether there were still hours, days or weeks to go. It was also annoying having constant inquiries and demands from all and sundry about where was the baby already and could I hurry up please!?

But despite staying up and active as much as possible, including going to the gym and walking at pace and incline for 40+minutes almost every day in the last 2 weeks, and bouncing on the birth ball every evening. Nothing definite was happening. I knew things were nudging in the right direction but there was no sign of labour yet.

On Thursday 28 Aug at 41 weeks +1 day I went to sleep just after 23:00, having tried the most well known natural induction method *nudge nudge, wink wink*. I was aware of contractions a few times in the next few hours, but that was normal, I'd often feel braxton-hicks contractions during the night, esp after intercourse. These did seem a bit more intense though. I dozed in between though. After a while it seemed like they were coming quite regularly and were also feeling fairly strong. After lying quietly feeling them coming in a rhythm I decided to turn on my phone and see what the time was and also to time the contractions to see if there was a rhythm to them. It was 01:45. They were between 3-5 mins apart lasting 45-75 seconds or so.

After timing for 20-25 minutes I started to suspect this might be IT, also I was finding lying in bed not the most comfortable position, so I got up quietly. I timed some more in the bathroom and while wandering around upstairs and was fairly sure this was the real deal.

I went downstairs to make tea. I also thought about maybe making brownies or something to pass the time. I thought we could do that after I woke A. I didn't want to wake him too soon though so I left him to sleep and sipped my lemon & honey tea while posting on-line that I 'may be in labour' at 02:40.

At 03:10 I posted again that I wasn't sure whether to call the 'birth team' since I was contracting every 3 mins for about 1 min, fairly intensely. At this point I had to stand up, and breathe through each contraction, but was still in denial that it was full-on labour. I thought there'd still be many hours ahead...

An on-line friend said something like, 'Those are good contractions, and I think you know it. Tell the team.'. That was the validation I needed that this WAS real labour (remember both my boys were gel-induced and took 8 hours of slowly building labour to birth).

I went upstairs and carried on labouring there, by now having to really concentrate and breathe through contractions. I got my trusty stress balls to squeeze through the peak of each contraction (I always recommend this to people, it's great to be able to squeeze a ball and channel any tension into that so you can keep the rest of your body relaxed) and found the best way to labour was standing. Swaying hips, or leaning forward onto something and sort of bounce-squatting through them, or pacing around. A heard me low-moaning through some contractions and got up. He asked whether it was time to call 'the team'. I still wasn't sure (!? denial much?), but said, 'I think so...' since they were all between 45 mins and 2-hours drive away. So the midwives and photographer were called at about 3:40 or so. I spoke to my mid-wife Marianne (in between contractions) and I think I sounded calm and fine, so I think she suspected there was still good time too, because she decided to take a shower before heading over.

Contractions were coming every 2-3 mins lasting over a min at this point. I started feeling cold and shivery, and then my bowels worked. and then had to go vomit in the bathroom. (In retrospect, hello transition!). Meanwhile I was still thinking I had hours to go...

After a while the contractions felt pretty intense and sore with hardly a break in between. I was still calm and in control but felt I needed a change. No other position felt better though. I decided I wanted to be in the bath, even if it was perhaps a bit soon so we ran the bath. 

A was great at calling the team, and tried to offer support and assistance to me, but as I suspected I 'go inside myself' when I labour, so I was fairly uncommunicative and was quietly inwardly focused and just breathing and low-moaning when I needed to. He was very good at just being quietly there with me without distracting me or seeming unsettled or panicked at all. 

I think I got into the bath at about 04:15 or so. The water was great, it really works for me. It slowed things down a little so I could catch my breath and center myself and changed the feeling from pain to pressure... A made himself some tea and came to sit next to the bath. We were trying to decide which essential oils to use, and he was looking them up on his ipad...

After 20-30 mins in the water, the contractions started to get really strong again and and the pressure down low was intense. I said 'I think I need to push soon,...'and next thing I was pushing!

It's amazing how while pushing is intensely focused hard work it feels so empowering, because before that you are 'coping', just trying to stay calm, relaxed and focused through contractions. Basically trying to keep yourself out of the way so they can do the work, whereas when you are pushing you suddenly become the active driver and are in control doing it. Even though the urge and impulse are automatic.

I wasn't sure I should be pushing though. I mean I had no idea how dilated I was! I felt inside and there was the sac and head just a few centimeters inside me. I decided if it was already all the way down there it must be good to push!

His head moved down with each push and with in just 2 or 3 he was crowning. With the next contraction the 'ring of fire started'. So while my body impulse was just to PUSH, I remembered that I had wanted to hold back and 'breathe' baby out this time, giving myself a chance to stretch more slowly and be less likely to tear. So I tried not to push and panted and breathed. I remember saying 'holy crap' and 'this baby is coming now' at this point.

I applied counter pressure with my hands where the burning was the worst and the head slowly eased out into my hands. I remember saying to A 'the head is out!.. but it's ok'. I felt pretty calm and in control, and wanted to make sure he wasn't panicking or thinking anything was wrong. I asked him to take a photo. It was pretty weird looking down and seeing a head coming out of me!

I tried to feel which way his head was facing but I couldn't feel his face. I think he was face down or slightly facing the left... 

I pushed again with the next 2-3 contractions but the shoulders weren't quite coming. I wasn't sure how long would be ok to wait and keep trying, or whether I needed to get up and out the bath and get re-positioned and to get him out fast.

I decided to give a hearty push with the next contraction and pulled his head gently and with that his shoulder eased out and then the other came too and he slipped out into my hands. In his sac. I have no idea when the waters broke but I think it was as his head was born, as the rest of his body was still in the sac. I peeled it off him and brought him to the surface of the water. I felt his neck and the cord was wrapped around it, so I slipped it off his head.

His head was a bit purple, but his body was quite white. He was very still and quiet and not breathing immediately so I patted and rubbed him until he responded. It took a minute or 2 for him to really wake up. I still felt calm and in control and like I knew what I was doing, but I was still holding my breath waiting for him to visibly breathe and 'wake up'. I think we were both very relieved when he did splutter and start breathing! It was only then that it occurred to me that we should check the time. It was about 05:00am, so we estimate he was born at about 04:57am.

I stayed in the bath with baby held close and covered with cloths to keep him warm. It was very calm and peaceful just felt right.

So I had an spontaneous unassisted home water birth!!! 

A was calm and quietly and gently supportive, watching but giving me space to do my thing uninterrupted and with no fear or panic. It was really amazing. Beyond even what I had imagined. I could not think of a better birth experience actually.

I remember the phone ringing just after he was born. It was the midwife who was a bit lost en-route. I heard A say 'Um, Marianne, this baby is here already...'. He had to direct her and the assistant midwife Debbie, and photographer to the house and go down to let them in, while I was able to just lie there and soak up those wonderful first few minutes gazing at a baby you have just birthed which is unlike any other experience ever. 

Once Marianne arrived she calmly and efficiently assisted with the placenta delivery, which was quick and easy. A then got the chance to cut the cord and finally got to take and properly meet his long awaited baby. 

I got out the bath and we went to lie on the bed to get checked over. I didn't tear this time (YAY), but I was a little tender, so I think there was a minor 'skid mark' but other wise it really was a pretty easy, quick and uneventful birth.

Baby Nathaniel was checked over and found to be all in good shape. Born at 04:57 on Friday 29 August 2014. Weighing just shy of 4kgs, 53.5cm long and head circumference of 35.5cm.

What an incredible journey and experience. I am so blessed and grateful to have been included in this.

There is a short video of his birth here.

Monday, 11 August 2014

So I am now officially unemployed...

For a while.

I was meant to only be taking 6-weeks off work when this baby came, with a couple of half-day weeks either side to transition in and out.

But sadly the wheels of corporate fate turned and this time I was the victim.

I was completely gob-smacked and blind-sided by it and neither my team 'Team Awesome' nor I could believe it. Despite us questioning, pleading, imploring it seems there was nothing to be done about it. So despite being an award winning manager and team at department, division and group level I am now out, of one of the best jobs I have ever had.


But sadly Friday was my last day and I have to face the fact that I no longer work there and am not just on 'maternity Leave' now. SO the big and daunting job hunt starts now - but I can't realistically start anything new before November so I am trying not to stress about it and just rest and prepare for the pending birth about 10 days to go now!!! - and once baby is here and I am recovered and active again I'll start to look for something new.

In the mean time my Awesome Team remained awesome in the weeks leading up to my departure, staying supportive, funny, encouraging and incorrigibly edgy as only they can be.


They are really phenomenal!

Last Friday I was invited to a braai. It was one of my Test Lead's birthday so she invited me to her birthday braai...

Except when I got there it was not her birthday braai. My whole team and some other work friends were there and they put on an awesome party for me, as only my team can. Heaps of food, music, a chocolate fountain and a huge delicious red velvet cake etc. It was amazing and I was so surprised and bowled over by it all.

They also got me a beautiful silver locket with my initials engraved on the back, chocolates and a little booklet which they had all written notes and doodles in for me. They also got a canvas printed for me!

This is the cake and canvas:
Team Awesome being Awesome-md.jpg

I am going to miss them so much!!!

(As for the rest of the management team they remain pretty mum and are apparently shutting people down and playing dumb when anyone asks questions. Nice guys, real nice! I am not sure I will ever know what REALLY happened, but I suspect it was part of a bigger corporate restructure plan playing out.)

Love this photo of my big boy

Who is not so much of a boy anymore...

This was on the 3-day snow hike he did with scouts in the holidays...
And this one for fun - he is in the purple top:

Friday, 18 July 2014

Then & Now

38 weeks with Griffin in 2001 vs 34 weeks now....

Jane 38 Weeks Pregnant  kgHYjDrGBOoSyVJ9tIYdHURBnJHgIVO7_lg.jpg

Monday, 14 July 2014

Maternity Shoot

So I did a maternity photo shoot on Saturday. It was not a proper 'official' professional shoot, since a friend of mine did it and he is not a pro, it's just hobby he has been experimenting with. But I think he is damned good and I have really liked the photos of his I have seen in the past year or so. We did hire a studio and good lens, and I got someone to make me up a bit though...

I am not a natural model, and in fact I have never even had a real photoshoot before. I didn't even hire a photographer for my wedding (way back when) and just got a friend to take snaps. So it is not something I have any experience or knowledge of at all. But I knew I wanted to do this as it is definitely, my LAST pregnancy ever. I have very few pregnancy photos for my previous pregnancies, and I kind of regret that. Also this time the pregnancy and birth are 'mine', but the parenting journey is not, so I want to cherish and remember this part of this very special journey I am on. I know I am going to cherish these memories and I wanted photographic reminders of it.

I spent a lot of time googling images of maternity shoots and for the most part I didn't really like them. I didn't want anything cheesy or too saccharine lovey-dovey, or the diffused lighting, lace and bows and ruffles so many of them have. Not to say the 'classic' maternity photos are not pretty, but they just didn't feel like ME. I wanted to do something authentic to me, who I am, what I am doing, and that show me as real and natural. I found I was most drawn to the black and white nude shots, especially the ones focusing on contrasts, lines, shapes, light and shadows.

Looking at all our local maternity photographer's sites, no one captured exactly what I was going for. So I contacted Joey. I used to work with him years ago. He has taken some stunning shots in the past few years, some quite edgy and boudoir-esque, and often of drop-dead gorgeous models (I think subconsciously I was hoping he could make me look like one of them HAHAHA). He had never done anything like what I was looking for in terms of lighting, and had not done any maternity shoots, but was open to giving it a try.

A was keen to be involved too - it is his baby after-all - and so we set it up, and decided to just do it and see what happened.

On the day I was a bit late getting to the studio (I was home getting make-up and hair done by the gorgeous and lovely Michelle), and A and Joey were at the studio getting it set up. There was a booking clash, so when we got there we thought we had very little time. So instead of arriving and being awkward and shy as I had expected, there was barely time for a hello, before I was told, "Get your clothes off and get in here!". So instead of warming up with some clothed shots it was straight into the black room and the nudes. Weird that worked well as I just had to drop my guard and go with it immediately. Also because the room was dark (except for when the flashes and lights lit up) I didn't even feel that exposed.

So all the nudes were done first and then I got dressed and when to the white room for the clothed ones.

 Note they are not yet edited or retouched at all. We still need to chose a few for post-processing and 'polishing'. These are a few that I have cropped and tweaked myself quickly - scars, stretch-marks, cellulite and all! 

The shoot was done at 34.5 weeks, and as you can see I am not that tiny at all. Something about my in the mirror selfies is a bit deceptive... Also in some of these they were telling me to try to accentuate my belly, so I was literally letting it all hang out...

Maternity Photos 1.jpg
Maternity Photos 2.jpg