Happy Birthday Isa-Bubbles …

It’s a big day for me today, Isabelle turns one.  Well she turns one at 16h25 to be exact.

This whole week I have been reflecting on the fact that one year ago I had this little person inside me and she was moving around and how much I miss that closeness.  You can’t explain to someone unless they have had a baby moving around them – how miraculous it is, how strange and how fantastic all at the same time.

I have spent much of this week holding my hand on my lower abdomen just remembering those moments and missing them terribly.

I also take this opportunity to reflect over the year and how much has changed from last June 2009 to now.

I was facing the c-section that I was quite afraid of.. it went fine.

I was very nervous about staying in a general ward, I really wanted a private room, but we could not afford it … but it was fine, just something more I fretted about.

I was worried about how we would cope financially with the four months of unemployment … but Kennith made a plan, and it was fine.  Sure it was a financial hill we had to overcome, but it was fine.

I was worried about how I would fare at home on maternity leave – well there was something worth worrying about.  I did not fare well at all actually.

Once the initial week or three passed I really started to feel frustrated and unhappy being at home.  I am like duck out of water at home, and really do not know what to do with myself.

The days gaped before me – they were black, empty and dark – and terrifying!!

I got stressed and anxious with the dawn of each day.  I took that stress out on Kennith the minute he walked in the door.

I felt totally lost and a drift at home with a new born baby.  It was not as if I had nothing to do. I had the other two kids who had school and all of that, I had my freelance work, and of course I wanted to spend the quality time with Isabelle.  The problem was that it just did not feel comfortable, it just did not feel nice!

I felt this pressure that I was meant to be fulfilled and happy being at home and gazing at my baby, which I dearly wanted and clearly adored.

But then I realised that I was not fulfilled, I was not happy – I was unhappy and concerned that maybe there is something wrong with you.  Why was it not enough to be at home and with my new born baby?  Why could I not cope with what seemed to come second nature to thousands of women each day – what the hell was wrong with me!!

At some point I started to feel a little out of control – actually a lot out of control.  Isabelle was also a crying clinging new born, and I felt I was permanently holding her and rocking her to keep her quiet – which I found exhausting and stressful.  I do have space issues, and find the constant touching of anyone – children as well – very stressful after a certain period of time.

I did start to fantasize about hurting her.  The fantasies usually involved me flinging her across a room, and the quiet and peace I may experience as she was moving through the air.

I did realise that once she hit the immovable object of the wall and slid to hit the ground, the quiet and peace would no longer exist and I would then be faced with another set of problems.

I know I should not be so honest about what I was thinking and what I was feeling, but that is really how I felt.  I thought about it several times a day.  When I started thinking about smothering her as that would be a good way to get peace and quiet – I realized what ever I was doing was not working.  I did not want to get all hysterical, but the alarm bells were clear to me, and I was still able to hold it together.  Waiting to see if it got worse might not be the best solution in this regard.

I found a psychiatrist and could get an appointment the following day.  I went over for a visit and a few meds, and just being there made me feel better.

I realized that maybe it was not her that I was not coping with, it was the fact that I was at home and that is what I could not deal with.

I contacted my employer and asked if I could come back early – they all but came to fetch me, which I am deeply grateful and forever indebted to them  for.  I went back on a part day flexi-arrangement basis and it did more for me than all the medication and psychiatrist visits in the world.

I was able to nip home during the day at about 11h00 to breastfeed Isabelle and spend an hour with her.  I would leave work and get home in time to feed her again before 17h00.  I realized how much I absolute loved and adored her – and how much being away from her made me better and  a more caring, affection and better mother to her.

Of course I am embarrassed and very sad that I could not be happier with her at home.  That she was not enough to keep me there, I really wish I could stay at home with her, but I couldn’t and can’t.

I am a better, more stable, more sane mother going to work each day.  Sure I worry about my children, and I miss them.  Especially Isabelle, I miss her smell, her soft squishy skin, her gummy smile, but right now I know the best I can do for me and them, is to pack them up in the morning and for me to go to work.

But today is my baby’s birthday and I am looking forward to getting home and helping her blow out her first candle on her first cake!  I love that little girl more than I can ever express!!

Daddy’s Girl by Margie Orford

I read this brilliant book the other day, and I published the review on www.moomie.co.za – but it really as a good book so I thought I would put the review up on my blog as well.

The main character in Daddy’s Girl is Dr. Clare Hart.  Clare is a profiler, who consults when police needing to understand the motives and characteristics of criminals in order to identify patterns of behavior.  She assists in narrowing the search in finding either the perpetrators or the victims before they turn up dead. Her specialty is crimes that involve children.

Clare is approached by the very intense character of Captain Riedwaan Faizal who is with Cape Town’s elite Gang Unit – he is a man in a desperate situation.  He is tough and streetwise — his marriage has crumbled and his wife intends to emigrate to Canada with their only daughter.    All these personal issues become pertinent to the weaving of this story.

Clare quickly becomes involved with him and assisting to solve his ordeal. (I do not want to give away too much of the story.)

Cape Town comes to life as it’s own character in this book.  It is messy, colourful and feels dangerously familiar.  The streets and descriptions of the locations of the crimes are familiar and if you have lived or ever lived in Cape Town, adds an authenticity to the story and the characters.

The story is fast paced, it is ugly and grim.  If you have children it will strike at your core.  The backdrop is the poverty on the Cape Flats, the 27’s and powerful men who cross the line between politics and crime syndicates, and control the city.

Your heart cries for the young girls, their families and the crushing poverty that forces them to make some dire decisions.

I cursed this story in the beginning.  I was reading 3 – 4 pages a day, and would keep putting it down, as it was just too much to bear.  I realized that this book is a bit like a plaster – you need to brace yourself and just get through the pain quickly.

This book is engrossing – it is disturbing, sobering, and makes you aware that there are things happening on your doorstep that we do not realise, and would rather not know about.  As dark and frightening as Daddy’s Girl is, you cannot deny how good it is, and what a brilliant author Margie Orford has proven herself to be.

A gripping, soul-exhausting but totally brilliant read!

Run Forrest Run …

In an attempt to get any semblance of fitness/good health I decided to join Adventure Boot Camp last year.

I had been lamenting my rather large wobbly bits for some time.  It was only made worse by Georgia constantly telling me that she “loved her big fat mommy..!”  I was pondering the rather state of affairs while driving home, and then a little person handed me an ABC pamphlet at our set of robots.

I never take pamphlets and I never leave my window open, so somehow this hander-out-of-pamphlets managed to evade my ignoring her and my security measures to keep the outside world well … outside.

I gazed at the orange and black pamphlet and  took this as a sign from the universe.  I promptly signed up the next day on-line, it was pretty easy, not so painful and very efficient.

There is nothing quite like signing up for an exercise program, you immediately feel fit and better – you almost don’t need to go to the classes.  Well that has been my experience with both Health and Racquet/Planet Fitness.  Sign up, pay the money and then never go, but strangely feel more healthy some how by just having the card in your wallet.

When I decide to do something the first thing I need to do is go shopping.  So I bought some weights, a yoga mat, and some really nice pants – a little tight all over – you know the camel-toe variety.  But it is Adventure Boot Camp, so let’s live a little.

I realized that in the warm up stage that I had under-estimated how unfit I was.  I was exhausted and mumbling uncontrollably and that was just in the warm up leg of the event.   I was breastfeeding at the time, and my breasts were responding to my crying.  So I had tight pants and wet circles on my breasts …  it was all a bit disconcerting.

Any the way, it turned out that ABC was really good.  The first two weeks required me to seek assistance when squatting on the toilet as I was unable to sit or stand unaided, but after that things did start to look up or at least less like I would need a daily suppository for the muscle pain.

It is a great 60 minutes. You do more than you thought you were able to, learn to swear like a sailor under your breath and insult the instructors mother without any guilt or remorse.

I am not a happy clappy person, so I tended to not get all “yay, whoop-whoop” about the whole thing – I like to suffer in silence.  So even though the instructor was really high-end happy, I think she soon realized that she need not try to sell that shit to me, because I wasn’t buying!

I did three Adventure Boot Camps, and though each one was “moer” hard –usually in the first week I stand there and wonder what the hell am I doing, there is a bag of Chuckles and a box of wine that needs my company more than this crap.  But I endured and was able to see drastic fitness level improvements.  I had bugger-all weight loss, but the pasta and wine gorging might be to blame.

At the last boot camp I realized – more than usual – that I run like a wounded buffalo who is slightly blind in the right eye.

I am really heavy, and really thump when I hit the ground.  I throw my weight from side to side, which does not assist me when I am trying to propel myself forwards.

I also breath like I should be on life support.   This would all be deemed as normal in my world, but when a girl who weighs 50 kilograms comes sweeping past me and her body is aerodynamically designed and she seems to glide over the tar, it really takes all of me not to put my foot out and trip her up!

After one more demeaning class I spoke to the instructor and indicated that my inability to run was really the sole reason for all the problems in my life.  She listened attentively, and made all the right sounds and suggested I join Walk/Run for Life.

My instructor is great.  But she is such a bubbly happy people person, that she does not quite recognize others who do not have good people skills.  The fact that she had paired us off in groups earlier in the class and I had screamed at my “partner” and used some unsavoury tones when referring to her brain capacity to count correctly might have been the first clue that I should work alone and maybe introducing me to another group might not be the thing.

I tried to remind her of this fact without bursting her bubble of happiness and peace to all. Irini gave it some thought and put me in touch with a coach/trainer.

So me and my new BFF got together two weeks ago for a little run.  We walked for quite a long time and then ran for three minutes.  Without using the cliché of  “I thought I was going to die…” which is so often over-used, but not in this case.  I really thought I was going to die.  I could barely breath and it was just awful.

At that point I thought well that proves that maybe I should take up ping-pong or another endevour but this running thing is clearly not for me.

My runner guys said something very profound: “I have met many people who thought they could not run, but I have never met someone who can’t run!”

My tah-dah moment right there.

My upbeat coach/trainer guy showed me a few easy steps and suddenly I could breath while running – hell I even held a conversation – I generally uttered short sentences with few syllables, but it was more than I had ever achieved before.

Last night we ran 3 sets of 5 minutes each. I was fine, I could breath. I even looked up and around while doing it – I have never done that before.  My calves felt like they were seizing and I was going to fall to the pavement flaying, but other than that it was really good – even when he said,”okay stop” I thought wow, I feel better than I thought.

I feel such a sense of achievement … I wanted to scream … I am running , I am running!!

But then I realized that no one really cared, and no one else was going to be impressed that I had just for 5 minutes (times three sessions) without passing out.

I can’t remember the last time I felt so chuffed with myself.  This is huge for me.  When I close my eyes and go to sleep at night I see myself running … how bizarre is that.

More bizarrely I bought a Runner’s World Magazine this morning – it is right under the large Bar One I bought as a reward for running.  I will read it as soon as I finish my chocolate.