Can I give you some pregnancy advise?

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If I look back over my pregnancies, I think the one thing I can remember is that I loved being pregnant.  I loved knowing I was pregnant, I loved the feeling when you could feel the baby there – I really loved being pregnant.

{I am not suggesting I did not have the back pain, rectal piles, hormone overload, puking and all the other symptoms which often go hand in hand with your uterus expanding)

Each of my three pregnancies was so vastly different to each other, and I was in such a different “space” with each of them, I can barely compare them to each other.

If I had to impart a single wisdom about pregnancy, having a baby and having a newborn it is that “your experience is unique, and you do what works for you…”

When I had Connor, it was the easiest pregnancy imaginable.  I had practically no symptoms of pregnancy barring a stomach.  I could not understand what pregnant women complained about.  I had an elective c-section, and sailed through that.

At the time I thought I had it all taped, and was the spiritual point of knowledge on pregnancy and newborn babies.

Then I was pregnant with Georgia.  I was pregnant from October 2004.  From October I was sick.  Deathly sick.  I did not take Gaviscon, so much as I drank it with a bendy straw.  I felt terrible, exhausted and frayed the entire way through the pregnancy.  By June 2005 I was weeping, nearly every day …. and it was not in happiness.

I was sick with every lurking going.

On two occasions I SPED to my OBGYN and arrived crying, without an appointment, because I was convinced by baby was dead.

I became obsessed with the idea of having a VBAC, and ran around for about five months trying to find a midwife who would partner with me, at the same time trying to circumvennt my OBGYN because she was pro-second-c-sections.

The entire period of the pregnancy was horrific, and I seldom sat back and thought “Man I am loving this pregnancy!”  I did often cry on the way back from work, after an exhausting day wondering how I could get myself out of this rather desperate situation.

Second baby, and I was humbled by the entire experience.  I realised I was out of my depth both during the pregnancy and standing with a newborn and a 3 1/2 year old, and trying to figure out how I seriously was going to survive this lot.

Fast forward a few years and I was pregnant with Isabelle.

I was clearly older, and less fit than I had been before.  If you asked me what I remember most about that pregnancy, I would say it was how worried I was.

I kept thinking something was wrong, she was not moving and there was really nothing I could do to control what was going on inside me.

I bought an electronic doppler, and lived for the moment I could lie on my bed, with 1/2 tube of KY and listen to the beat of my child’s heart.  It would give me a respite from the worry that something was wrong – I was convinced that with two healthy children, I could not expect a healthy third … the fate of the universe just did not work that way.

I was stressed that I was over 35 and risking a pregnancy, so that just added to the permutations of things I could and did worry about.

The pregnancy was hard on my body.  From 4 months I ached – my back and legs were killing me. I was convinced I would go for my monthly OBGYN check up and he was going to tell me I was 45 centimeters dilated, because that was how I felt – my uterus felt like it was permanently on its way out.

By the time that “my day arrived” I was mentally in avoidance.

I convinced myself it was not happening.  On the drive to the hospital I asked Kennith to go to a mall -I thought if I wandered around a bit and bought pointless things it woulld buy me a bit of time, to keep this mummery farce that I was not having a baby today.

I went into the c-section petrified! Everything anyone ever said to me that could go wrong, was going to go wrong that day (in my head!)

I was petrified.

At one point I was begging Kennith (in quiet whispers so as not to upset anyone) that he needed to stop them (the surgeon) as I was not ready and something was going to go wrong.  I could see the reflection in the theater lights, and I was convinced I could feel every cut and pull.  I was so scared. I thought I was going to die, and the baby was going to be cut.

Of course nothing went wrong, everything was fine (barring a small incident in post op).

The point after all of this gumph is that no two pregnancies are the same, and no individual is the same.

My three experiences have humbled me to realise that there is no way I can offer advise to anyone, as each of my pregnancies were so vastly different.  When it comes down to it, your experience is unique to you, and you alone.

I must seriously confess that one of the few benefits to having three pregnancies, is that the moment some well meaning person offered advise, I could say “it’s okay, this is my third …. I’ve got it …. really now fk off so I can drink my 1 glass of wine I am allowed per day”

Does anyone LISTEN to a pregnant woman?

Getting pregnant is stressful.  Am I pregnant?  Is my period late? Is it too early to take a pee on the stick test?  What if I am pregnant, I once walked through the wine section at Pick ‘n Pay, maybe that would have harmed the baby?

And so the mental psychotic conversation starts and pretty much remains in place for how ever long you are “trying” to fall pregnant for.

Assuming you want to be pregnant, there is about 67 seconds when you see two blue lines on your pregnancy test, and you are elated.

You are high fiving yourself in the bathroom, and you are really happy.

Your hand is urine soaked as you had to hold it in your urine stream, whilst trying to balance precariously, but a positive pregnancy test (assuming you are not 12 years old, or you are doing that one child per man you have dated thing) is truly a moment of divine happiness.

It really is just  that moment in time when you feel like you have conquered the world, and eaten a fat-free triple-chocolate cake that actually made you lose weight!

Then you worry.  Worry becomes you constant companion.  Sometimes he brings along anxiety and a full stress-screaming-like-a-banshee.

You worry because now you need to book at the OGBYN and you worry about whether there will be a heart beat and whether everything will be fine.  So though you are elated, the happiness is singed by a feeling of doom and anxiety. And worry.

At the OBGYN when you see the thumpa-thumpa-thumpa heart beat you are joyously happy again.  But only until you climb back in the car in the parking area, as you are back to worrying about the next thing, and thinking that four weeks between OBGYN visits and the scan is tortuously long.  And you have not even got out of the hospital parking lot yet.

What if I miscarry?

What if something I am doing injures the baby?

What if I decide to name the baby Whitney or Barnabus and my child is mercilessly beaten up at school?

What if the fact that I am worrying leads to a higher risk of there being something wrong, everyone tells me to not be so stressed — but now I am worrying about worrying!

At certain times in your pregnancy (granted only in your first) you feel like you are carrying “the holy one” – everyone fawns over you and when you walk in to a room, you can see people’s features soften and usually someone offers you a seat.  Or a foot rub.  Or unnecessary advice.

I met a divine woman this weekend I had met once before whilst she was pregnant, Nicole.  When I saw Nicole that first time, I thought yikes she looks uncomfortable and she was only about 6 months along then.

Nicole told me all about the last few weeks of pregnancy and the eventual early delivery of Lucas. {I am ad libbing the story, so if you would like to hear the full unedited version, I can hook you up with Nicole, who tells a good story by the way.}

I think the thing that stuck with me after listening to her story, is that she KNEW something was off, and no one listened no matter how many times she put her hand up and said “something is wrong here….”

Things did not feel right, and she kept telling anyone who would listen that “something wasn’t right.”  Everyone patted her on the hand and said things like “now now, dear, you need a lie down and you will feel better when you wake up…”

In the end the fact that she had been leaking amniotic fluid for some time, and clearly going in to full labour way before the baby was ready to come in to the world, did eventually get some attention!

Why must one be on the verge of your baby’s head crowning, and a pool of amniotic fluid collecting whilst you stand in the “10 items or less” queue at Woolworths, before someone takes you seriously?

Nicole finally got to her doctor, and they performed an emergency delivery.  Several weeks following the uhm, difficult emergency birth, her OBGYN confided in her that had she arrived 10 minutes later her uterus would probably have perforated and there was a good chance they would not have been able to save her or the baby.

It made me go cold.

And I think the part that made me purse my lips in a non-attractive way, is that pregnant women are generally just not listened to.  They usually feel too embarrassed to say anything is wrong, partly because when you have a 3 – 4 kilogram person lodged between their diaphragm and bladder and EVERYTHING pretty much feels wrong.

I am not sure of the solution – my only advise to anyone pregnant is to treat your pregnancy as YOUR pregnancy.

Be cautious about advise from do-gooders, and to listen to your body.  If there is a something that does not feel right, don’t take a census to see if everyone agrees.  Make an appointment and get someone with a stethoscope and some KY Jelly (preferably with a medical qualification) to take a look at you.

Insist they find the thing that is making you uncomfortable.  Not going because you do not want to bother your doctor, or be demanding is stupid.

I would rather pay for 10 unnecessary OGBYN visits with scans than have something go wrong, and kick myself that I did not LISTEN to my body earlier.

Congratulations Nicole and Simon on the beautiful Lucas – who my girls are already fawning over!

{With all three children I did more OBGYN visits than necessary.  Georgia’s was definitely the most physically stressful – I had thought she had died in utero on more than occasion. I had arrived at my then OBGYN hysterical – on several occasions. Hysterical and having a loud crying jag does get you squeezed in between visits really fast.  With Isabelle my stress levels were so high I rented one of those electronic doppler things ….but I still stressed}

Wear Your Heart on your Stomach …love the idea ….

I thought more about the post yesterday after it was posted than before I pushed “publish.”

Partly due to some of the comments I received, and this link that Jess and Julz sent on to me.

It got me thinking, I’d love to have a good photo of me and my scar so that I can look at it and think of it fondly rather than in distress like I do at the moment.

I think of it as ugly and want it to go away – but I love the idea that we look at it as “wearing our hearts on our stomachs.”

Really love that concept.  I had a little mind paradigm shift there.

I would love to do some black and white photos of c-section scars or birth scars.

I would like to get a few moms into a studio and take some studio pics that they can have and also I can have in a gallery.

I think it would be even better to wait for better weather and do it outside in a private garden.

I am not 100% clear in my head of how to do them yet.  I figure I can work it out.  I want it to be something you would keep and cherish, rather than hide in the back of your underwear drawer.

If you are in Cape Town, feel like getting na.k.ed or partly clad in a studio or outdoors – and want to do this drop me a note.  My email address is along the side bar, or leave a comment and I will contact you.

I am thinking if I have 3 – 5 woman, I can rent a studio for 2 – 3 hours, if the ladies are keen to chip in to cover the cost of the studio, I will sort out the rest.

We can do wine and photography — I find that is not always the worst combination.

Drop me a note if you are interested in the idea.

If you do not want to do it with anyone else, drop me a note and we can see what we can do.

Or if you have a suggestion to improve on this idea.  I am not sure when I will do it, but it is running around in my head.

Here is Georgia’s birth on 20 June 2005 – first cut and final dab …. look away if you are squeamish …

<seriously – look away, stop scrolling ….>

Last warning.

Otherwise, have a good weekend. Happy Friday everyone!!

Dirty little secrets mothers keep …

Dirty little secrets mothers keep …

I had someone comment on my blog recently which took me to her blog, and it in turn led me to a section of her blog which was cleverly referred to as “Dirty Little Secrets” where moms/parents had posted stuff …

You know the stuff you think, but do not say in public for fear of being beaten up, or child services arrive at your door step, or for what ever else it is that you fear happening.

There are some corkers on this site.

I thought I would grab a few that stood out for me – then I realized that there were more than just a few that resonated with me …..I am starting to think my multiple personality disorder went along and posted some of these comments.

  • I resent my kids. I feel like I could have done so much better for myself.
  • No one told me how lonely motherhood is….
  • Occasionally I wonder what sort of injury it would take for me to have a stay in hospital as a kind of guilt free holiday.
  • On the outside I am a happily married wife and mother. On the inside I am lesbian plotting to leave my husband when the time is right after get his help paying for my school.
  • I used to love life and feel proud about myself…now I’m sad every day and feel like a failure…I look at my marriage and I think “Do I have to be in this relationship for my children’s sake?”. I love my sons but being a Mom is very tiring and I never feel that I did a good job, unlike when I used to work and felt accomplished and successful. Back in those days when I was single, all I wanted was a husband and a family to make me whole. If this is what I wanted how come I’m not happy…
  • I think I want another baby, only to distract me from the two kids I already have! Probably not the best reason to have a third child.
  • I tell my kids to go away more often than I tell them I love them.
  • I cry in the shower so no one else can hear or see me
  • I look forward to when my husband goes on deployments and work ups because I have one less person to take care of. It’s like he is my 3rd child and I am starting to resent him for it.
  • Sometimes I hide in my walk in closet just for a few minutes of quiet and no one can find me.
  • I feel guilty all the time.
  • I want to leave and take a break from my husband, but I have nowhere else to go. How pathetic is that?
  • I used to be nice too. I used to like sex.
  • If I had known what kind of father my husband would be, we would not have a child. We will not be having a second. Between doing 95% of the parenting by myself, and getting almost no sleep or time to myself, I physically and mentally cannot endure this again.
  • That I want to just sleep. Sleep for an entire day. To just do nothing. I feel like I haven’t slept in 20 months.
  • I keep a container full of M&Ms hidden for just me…that’s right-ALL FOR MYSELF! (It seems like that is the only thing I get to myself). 
  • I love my 2 children but, very often, when they wake up in the morning I’m thinking “When will bedtime come?”
  • I really hate that my husband has he own life and just go’s and can do what he wants and I have to always stay home with the kids or take them with me.
  • I fill up every wipe box in the house to the top and tell my husband we are out of wipes and I need to go buy another package just so I can take “quick” trip to the store by myself.

I think the reality is that there are a lot of sad moms out there who do a fabulous job of putting up a happy face.

I really feel it might be easier if we were all a bit more honest with each other, then maybe newer moms or soon to be moms, would not feel this overriding pressure to “live up to the expectation of motherhood” that we create. 

There is this perception that motherhood is easy, natural, instinctive and well just lovely, and for some, well, it isn’t.

Women really make it hard for women. <sigh>

Why didn’t anyone tell me?

I have this friend who I love dearly – she really is one of my best friends.

There is about a 7 year age difference between us – she is younger than me.  We get on like a house on fire, and she makes me laugh so much that it makes my soul smile.  She is one of the most beautiful and vibrant people I know.

She got married about four years ago and had a baby recently.

I recall chatting to her when she was pregnant.  There were several moments where I really wanted to “bring her down” and discuss the “someone should tell you the reality of pregnancy, birth and the thereafter…” but I felt she was so happy and optimistic, and maybe it would be different for her …. maybe. 

I decided to leave it, and only tell her something if she asked specifically.

She knew I chatted on forums and she knew I wrote a blog because I found all things motherhood a challenge. For me it was lonely and I did not really have someone who was telling me the “real stuff” or again maybe I was not listening.

At the time my biggest lament was “why did no one tell me that it was going to be like this….”

But that being said,  I was not going to be a downer on someone else’s rather happy parade. 

If they are all excited and optimistic about it, and prefer not to hear, then I am quite happy to smile pleasantly and let them remain happy.

She kept saying “I know it will be hard but thousands of women do it and I will be fine…”

And though I really felt I wanted to put my hand up and go “I really need to tell you what you are letting yourself in for ..” I resisted and instead opted  to take the high road and say little or nothing. 

<I really had to chew the inside of my cheek, as saying nothing is not part of my natural makeup.>

Fekn hell.

She had a natural birth that included screaming, tearing, baby getting stuck at the shoulder, baby being suctioned, OBGYN screaming (screaming) I NEED HELP HERE, OGBYN doing purl-plain-purl-plain to put her back together again, and and and …. (listen, I think she is a super hero for making it through, really, I might have stood up and said “Okay that is about as far as I am going here – someone give me gas or general anasthetic, and someone get this frikkn baby out …. because I am done!!”)

When I visited her later on “birth day” she had that far-away look like when someone sees something horrific.  It was as if she had survived something huge, but had seen the dark side and was now had a haunted look about her.

But we laughed and I patted her hand, and listened to her talk about her going home and how that was going to be …and I patted her hand a bit more, because she did not appear to be worried.

Again I felt an overriding urge to go “er…….” but I didn’t.  She seemed happy, she seemed confident, and that was enough to keep me quiet, and for hells sake she had just been through Hades.

She got home and unfortunately that is really where the fun started.

Baby is struggling to latch, she is stressed and upset and clearly not sleeping, and is making nearly daily trips to the clinic – I really really feel sorry for her.  When I speak to her I can feel her pain, and I want to cry with her.

Why can I feel her pain?  Because I was there.

And so were most (if not all) first time mothers. 

We have lived that hell of arriving home with your new born.   You are about 5km from that Linus blanket that is the nurses red button, and suddenly that sleepy little fresh smelling baby is screaming and you do not have a clue how to cope.  You are hormonally overloaded, your body is exhausted and nothing is working like it says it will in the books.

Nothing.

She is trying to breastfeed and its fkn difficult and it is not working.  But she has all this pressure that she must and she is weeping and wondering if it makes her a bad mother if she does not breastfeed!

Oh my heavens, my heart bleeds for her. I wish I could tell her that it will be better tomorrow, but we all know that first 6 – 8 weeks is like a slow ride to Danté’s hell without coins to pay the ferryman to get out of it.

And then she says: “Why did no one tell me that it was going to be like this…?” with a sort of hysterical note in her voice.

I love this girl – I really do!!

The short answer is, no one tells you because no one listens.

Everyone thinks that they are going to have this miracle pregnancy and this “soft light and roses” birth, followed by  the new little family skipping off into the sunset.  It is all going to be heaven and soft milky baby burps from here on in.

As sorry as I do feel for her – and I do – part of me smiles – not because I am a mean person – and quite possibly because I am – but because sh&t we all go through this, and I remember it, not fondly, I just remember it.

<but I do hope for her that this 6 weeks passes quickly, she regains her sanity and that this is a small bump on her road with her new baby …. I really do>

Gawd help you if you try to tell a pregnant first time mom about the “big bad world” because she will raise her perfectly plucked eyebrow and place her left hand – so you can see the glint of her wedding ring –  gently onto her perfect bump, and tell you in no uncertain terms that you are sorely mistaken, she has this under control.

And that is why when I see a really happy pregnant first time mom, I smile, take a really large sip of my Chenin Blanc, lean over and go: “So how’s it all going?” with a slightly evil glint in my eye.

Is there a right age to be a parent ….

Is there a right age to have a child?  Is there a right age to decide to be a parent?

Is there an age where you feel okay, I am ready, I am ready to step into the abyss and see where it takes me?

<I am discounting when someone falls pregnant by ‘accident’ as that is no longer a decision to have a child, that is ‘we are having a child, let’s make some decisions that go with it” – that situation is different and though has merit, is not the decision where one sits and goes “am I ready to think about having a child”>

I am not sure that there is any “right” age to agree to have kids, but at the same time I do not think there is a wrong age.  I do think however there is an “unwise” age.

For instance I think making a decision to have children when your age ends with the word “teen” is probably an unwise age.  I personally would not trust a “teen” to order me a take away meal and get it right and bring me change, so odds are I might not think they were “wise” enough to raise a child.

Don’t get me wrong, I fully understand that a “teen” has the plumbing and understands the mechanism of how to become parents.  My dog can have sex and produce a litter every year or so, it does not take a genius to actually become a parent, the genius (the sweat and the tears) is the ability to BE a parent.

<I am excluding good as my idea of good and Martha Stewart’s idea of good might vary on this>

I wasn’t ready to think about being a parent when I was in my twenties.  At the same time I was also not picturing white weddings and white picket fences.  It just was not how my mind’s eye was working.

However Kennith was ready and had been ready from about 35 seconds after we met. I am not sure it was me that inspired a sense of producing off spring, it was more the fact that he wanted off spring and I was there.

He did not pressure me, but he did indicate that his future included small replicas of our DNA, or at worst his DNA.

My tack was to say “maybe next year” – knowing full that next year would never come, and if it did, then we could have the same conversation. A little like Ground Hog Day.

But time moved on and at 28 we had the same conversation we had been having for a few years.  I was happy with our little lot in life, and could not imagine adding a child to the mix.

However in this particular conversation (held at the Spur – how symbolic is that of where we would be spending many many future meals) I realised that “next year” was never going to come for me.

It just was never going to come.  And I think at that point he knew.  He might have been suspicious before, but I think at that moment he knew.

I felt that if I stuck to my resolve of not wanting children then odds are that I risked Kennith leaving me.  I wondered if I would stick to my resolve and “see what happened” – but the truth was I was too afraid to see “where this went.”

I was too chicken to see if he left me …. because what if he did?

I decided instead to opt for the lesser known road of deciding that the idea of kids no longer revolted me – sure I was not exactly running into the light in ecstasy –  but maybe there was a slither of hope that it might not be as bad as I had thought.

Based on that fantastic decision-making model we decided to “try.”  Well Kennith decided to try, I decided to no longer fight the inevitable.

I had Connor when I was 29.

Do I think I was too young or too old?  Neither.

I was scared sh&tless, I was in over my head, and I had no idea what was going on.  I was in over my head and I felt like I was drowning most of the time.  I was unprepared, totally lost, totally not ready and when I think back now I feel very sorry for me actually.

But – and here is the but – I had 29 years of life experience under my belt.  I had spent six years with Kennith cohabitation and fighting over who is going to change the toilet roll, and whose turn it was to do the passer-by dishes.  I was reasonably mature, I lived a reasonable stable life, and I had my sh&t together.

I thought at the time I knew me, and I knew him.

But the reality is that when you throw a 3.25 kg wrinkled baby into the mix, you realise it is a bit like being on “the weakest link” – you sort of know the answers, but get really scared when the lights flash at you and all but forget your name, and then to add to it some git is going to write your name on a whiteboard and out for being the weakest link.

It was all pretty grim stuff.

I had my second child at 32 and thought I did not feel like I knew exactly what was going on, I definitely felt a bit less worried and anxious.

I had my third child at 36 – and I definitely felt less “deer in the headlights.”

But I am not sure if it is an age thing or an experience thing.  I am 38 now and I feel like I have “nearly” got this parenting thing down pat.  I have not quite got it, but man, I am close!

I think there are people who are couples/singles who decide to become parents in their mid-twenties, even their early twenties.  They might even find they are a bit pregnant, rush off and get married and then commit to this life at what ever age. Some how most of them do make a go at it.

Would I have coped?  Probably not.  I barely cope now.

I realise this is the point where I should wax lyrically about what a joy children are, and how I would not change anything for the world ….I know this is that part.

Freaking hell ….

 

I do think it is one of those situations where I am spread too thin and feel a little bit all over the show.

Trying to be good about keeping the blog up and alive is sometimes hard work.

I love blogging, but I prefer to write when I feel like it rather than when I have to.  The problem with “feeling like it” is that you sort of need to be in the zone, which right now I am not right now – the result is that I start posts and get a few paragraphs in and then lose the steam … and they lie there forlorn staring and me, begging to be finished. 

I need to still write the article for the magazine, so need to get into the head space for that (again a bigger deal for me than for them no doubt).

I need to still clean out my bag – as I get so frustrated every time I have to find something in there.

Today I got myself into a total tizz looking for keys, inside my bag.  After about 10 minutes of going ape-shit because I could not find my keys inside my stupid bag …. I then discovered them lying next to my laptop, on my desk ….. where I put them this morning …….so I would not have to scratch in my bag …. to find them.

I heard a radio article this afternoon as I got in the car, and the bloke was talking about being a responsible parent and that the best thing you could do for your child, was give them the gift of time.

I thought it was the gift of life, but I have been mistaken before.

Darryl, the presenter, went on to explain that you needed the time to sit and just listen to your child and hear what they have to say.

Which of course makes me feel all the more guilty as I really lack patience and often cut them off with a screeching: “just get to the point already…” ………….I mean seriously, how much crap must I actually listen to before you get to the part where you say what you need to!!

But on the more sane hand …..

I am really enjoying the photography part and the other blog.  

But that again takes a lot of work and of course more of my attention away from being able to listen to my children and even Kennith.  Trying to balance life and my hobby is challenging, and I have barely got started.

I am not a super-good photographer or even super-average, so I find the shoots quite stressful because I want to ensure that the “client” gets some good shots and I do not fek it all up.  I really get to be a totally stressed cabbage on the day.

Once the shoot is over, I am always excited to see the images – and more often than not I am more excited than depressed – probably because I expect so little ….. so that’s a good thing, low expectations and all, very hard to be disappointed if you start really low …… right?

I have been doing shoots outside which is much more difficult and requires more technical aptitude than shooting in a studio. 

There is shifting light, and usually a giant sun in the sky which is either creeping in to the shot, or creates such heavy lights and darks that it becomes almost impossible to get a good shot.  And  I am trying to take photographs of a child (and keep them unposed) so said child is running around like they are on E or something and that just adds to the chaos – I am thinking about taking along a little tranquiliser … not sure if it is for me or the children …. or the parents.

But that being said, I am really enjoying it and learning more each week. 

Could I do this for a living?  I am not sure, and I think there are too many people trying to carve a living out of it – so for now it is a hobby that I really enjoy, and let’s see how it goes moving forward.

On Saturday one my the friends, whom I hold most dear, Judith, agreed to let me do some maternity/pregnancy shots with her and her husband, Alistair.

Her baby Benjamin was due on the 25 March, and last week her GYNE said that the baby’s head had engaged and that he couldn’t even measure the head, which meant that it appeared that birth was imminent.

I was excited for her and disappointed that Benjamin might arrive and make the maternity part of the shoot a thing of the past.  (yes I realise how self-absorbed I am…)

But he hung in there and Judith and Alistair and I frolicked around in 39 degree heat to take some photographs.  It was so hot it was unbelievable.

I loved photographing her.

Sure I took a long time and took nearly a thousand photos, but there were so many nuances of her that I could see through the lens that I wanted to capture, that I ended up taking much too many.

Part of it was also that we were chatting and laughing in so many of the photos, that the results involved open mouths and silly faces, and some of my feet because I was laughing instead of focussing.

It was great.

Judith had her Benjamin this morning – and she said that she started going in to labour on Sunday midday.

She got through labour and by the time she asked for the epidural, they said “er, it is a bit late for that!” and then she panicked.

I put it down to her good manners.  She did not want to be rude by asking and thought she might just wait until they offered.  There is a lesson there regarding drugs and pain relief.

So my hero and deliciously gorgeous friend Judith got through labour on her ace, without so much as a headache tablet – how cool is she?  Very cool, much cooler than me.

I went to visit her earlier today and got to see Benjamin who was all of 7 hours old.  It is funny how new born babies make me cry.  They just do.

But I was so happy and overwhelmed for Judith, that she  had survived her day, and had pushed this guy out of her nether regions.

Of course I got to lie on her hospital bed as we were screaming with laughter as she was recanting the tales of the “labour ward” – I love the fact that motherhood has not changed her …. much……yet.

While there, the nurse came in to ask if she wanted to be part of the “bath demonstration” today or tomorrow.  Jude thought about it and opted for tomorrow. 

For those who are not familiar, basically the “bath demonstration” is when all the moms who have just had babies go and sit around – usually with very pained expressions on their faces – in the nursery area of the Maternity Ward and watch how the Matron bathes a baby with absolute skill and does it in about 7 minutes.

You then get to repeat the procedure.  Problem is that your muscles are exhausted, you are highly emotional and you have a tiny wriggly person who you are afraid of breaking.

So you go through this process and it is awful.  You pretty much spend 45 – 60 minutes trying to bath and dress this baby.  By the time you are finished, you are so traumatised and exhausted and feel like such a pathetic mother that you need an ante-depressant and someone to pat you on your hand.

The problem is that you compare yourself to the Matron, who does this with about the same feeling as you do to change a toilet roll.

Anyway I made that mistake when I had Connor. 

Unfortunately I also did it on day 4 or what ever and I was seriously in a case of “baby blues” or affectionately called the “warm up to full blown depression” and I tried to bath this little wrinkled child and dry him, and get the nappy on and the special outfit I had chosen.

By the time Kennith arrived to collect me, he might as well have put me into the wheel chair and pushed me from Maternity straight to the Psychiatric wing.

By Georgia I learnt my lesson, and asked them if they could just bath her – for all three days I was there.  I figured I would learn when I got home.

With Isabelle, well clearly they stopped asking at that point!  But they did ask to use her as the “demonstration baby”  – even better.

So my wisdom that I imparted to Judes today was to ring for the nurse a bit later and say “please can you bath my baby, I had him this morning and he has not had a wash…” and then proceed to ask them to do it each day.  I said that if they looked at her like “well honey you need to learn” she should just tell them that her mom is a widwife and staying with them, and she will have plenty of time to learn at home.

Judith, welcome, welcome to this little band of demented people who call themselves mothers – here we are – some of us more sane than others.

If you thought life was a bit strange before, wait until you can sit and discuss the colour of your child’s faeces over dinner, and think nothing of it!  There are even forums that chat about this.

It’s a brave new world chick, it’s a brave new world and welcome to it.

You have already set the bar high by going through what must be one of the hardest test of endurance without drugs (albeit not by your own choice) – and chick you survived.

But I did like the way you said…”next time straight c-section!”

 

And the hits just keep coming …..

I have a very simple theory to prevent yourself being pummelled to death with a doughnut.  It has worked well for me over the years, and I am about to impart it to you ….. so prepare yourself.

It goes like this: “Never EVER ask if someone is pregnant, or when they are due.  Unless YOU HAVE SEEN a fetal baby scan photo that the person has shown you in the last hour.  Alternatively if you have actually seen a head crowning between that woman’s legs.  I personally think the head crowning is a much safer measure”

Those are the only sure fire indicators that a woman might/may well be pregnant – and unless you see one, either or both of these indicators, NEVER ASK IF SOMEONE IS PREGNANT.

Just don’t.

The problem is if you ask, and the answer is no, well then you are screwed.  There is actually just no way to recover, and that person will hate you FOR.E.VER and E.VE.R!!

Even if they say “no it is okay, I get it all the time” it is not fine, and they will hate you and you are a chop!

I have had a few corkers in my time:-

1.  I was at Tech and first day in a lecture, put up my hand and asked the lecturer when she goes on maternity leave will there be someone filling in for her ….. she then explained to me that she was not pregnant and had a little bloating.

You know that moment when you realise that no matter what you do in a course, you are going to just not do well.

<and since then I have never asked another soul if they are pregnant – that was my moment of learning>

2.  I went to a business dinner with Kennith and some suppliers from the East a few years back – I think it was in 2007.  Dinner was going famously, until one of the guests leaned over and asked me when I was due.

The problem is that I did not quite hear her and had to ask again.  By that point, I had heard her, the entire table had heard her and so too had the parking guard out  in the parking area.   I was mortified!

And really cheesed off.  It was not because I was overweight, it was because of the shirt I chose that was clearly a bit too flowy ….. that must be it ……….that shirt found it’s way to the dustbin pronto.

3.  Kennith’s cousin’s dad also asked me if I was pregnant and I think that was around 2008.  He is a small man and at the time was lying on a low couch watching television – I used the excuse that his perceptive of vanishing points was all wonky, because he was lying down.

Of course I did want to kick him in the nuts as well, but I didn’t – he is sort of loosely family!

4.  Then my latest and greatest was we were in Johannesburg last month and on the Gautrain on our way to the stadium for the U2 concert.  Train was pretty full, and a guy offered me his seat.

I thought nice guy – well he did not offer me his seat as much as he offered to scoot over and sit really close to his mate and make space for me.  I thought it was my charming personality and the slight sway I had in my step from the bottle and a half of wine at lunch.

So I thanked him for his manners and queried why he was kind enough to offer a space to me and not to the other girls on the train ….. he said something about ‘someone in your condition’….and I thought ‘well, yes I have been drinking, but it is not like I have to drive the train…..’ and then the penny dropped.   I think the penny did not drop as much as I heard Kennith giggling …… and then the penny sort of echo’d into the tin that is my brain.

Someone with more principles would have kneed him in the scrotum and stumbled off all offended, but I accepted I had a seat …. and proceeded to really think about my waistline a bit and whether I really should have eaten that full portion of ribs for lunch ……

Anyway, so all in all, I am not exactly riding the wave of good vibes right now ….. I do really think that I am going to have a total sense of humour failure quite soon what with my age and my pregnancy and all.

Maybe not everyone is the cookie cutter mommy …..

I have mentioned that I chat on Moomie – it is basically a forum geared towards  moms or moms to be, or moms trying to be moms or freaks who like to listen to moms talk about nappies and cracked nipples.

I didn’t switch on to chatting on forums until about 15 months ago, and it is this place where people chat about just about everything.

I really wish I had done it earlier, it is so much cheaper than therapy. 

You get to emotionally vomit about stuff that you want to speak about.  The bizarre (or not so bizarre depending on your vantage point) thing is that what you say – what you have aching say/reveal – will resonate with someone and they will go “yes, me too, me too!”

And then you get to sigh and go, thank g&wd I am not totally out of my tree.

Forums are great for that – they give me that “space” I need to often discuss something that has been bubbling inside for ages, and sometimes just saying it out loud to a group who understands is so affirming – which might explain why Alcoholics Anonymous works so well.

For me I do not really have someone to sit and chat to about how I struggle with motherhood or children as my friends do not have kids.  Of course my friends can pat me on the shoulder, pour me a glass of wine and nod sagely while I go off and spittle forms on my chin – and I am so blessed that they do that for me (and often supply the wine as part of the arrangement).

Even with the best intentions, they cannot REALLY understand my rants and at the same time, they cannot rant back with me about the same subject – which is really what you need to remind you that you are not going certifiably crazy.

I do wish I had cottoned on to forums sooner.  It really would have saved my medical aid bills a ton.  And I might have spent a lot less time screaming at Kennith for something that probably was not his fault in the first place.

Recently someone brought up the subject of mother and baby magazines and what we buy and read.  My problem with mother and baby magazines is generally – and I say this with the utmost respect for publishers, editors and journalists – that they are actually sh*t.

Everything about them is so “saccharine sweet” and politically correct.  The moms all look like they have spent two hours with a hairdryer and a makeup artist, and have that Mona Lisa blissful smile as they stare into the lens – with their left hand on their lap – so you can see their wedding ring.

They are all so darn happy and rosy cheeked that unfortunately it does not nothing for me, and makes me feel even more awkward.  I want real moms saying what they really feel – and that is why forums are so great (and blogs actually!)

The mommy and baby articles are lackluster at the best of days, and it just feels like the same sad information being rehashed.  There is nothing that I feel I can sink my teeth in to or go “wow never looked at it like that”. 

The highlight, for me, tends to be the back pages where the advertiser are.  That is pretty much the extent of my interest in these magazines.

Any the who.  Someone on the forum wanted to know what would encourage us to buy a magazine. 

I realized this was a rather pointless activity as articles that would interest me would alienate half the population, and unfortunately only attract advertisers who were promoting wine, strippers, cheap dinners out and photography gear.

However that being said, these are the kind of articles I would like to see written by distinguished investigative journalists without the aid of stock photography, and copy and paste from google (I had originally posted a similiar list on Moomie):

Article 1

I want his sperm, but then I would prefer it if he did not come near me again for the next 3 – 12 months.

Article 2
Why reasoning with a pregnant woman is a total waste of time.  And other tips for survival aimed at partners/husbands.

Article 3
Why advertisers guilt moms into buying sh*t they do not need. Tips on how to see that crap is still crap, even if it is painted pink or blue.

Article 4
How much sh*t should I put up with from my mother in law until I tell her to shove off? 52 tips like this, one for each week.

Article 5

Why are so many sh*tty creches allowed to trade? We discover the real truth behind these hell holes and speak to parents who have no option to leave their kids there.

Article 6

Crap Pay = Crap Nannies.  Why you get what you pay for – Eve vs Madam.

Article 7

Why exactly has the employer not been forced to pay maternity benefits – and how do woman actually cope with 4 months of unemployment when they need the money the most and they do not have a financially contributing partner? We do an in-depth investigation of this issue, and how it affects women today.

Article 8

Research into Men being able to carry babies put on hold – until the question on maternity benefits paid by UIF has been resolved.  Stunning expose!

Article 9

10 reasons why it is okay to hate your husband as he sleeps and expects you to wake up 6 times during the night. Free couple counseling voucher included with this issue.

Article 10

I love my husband, but why is he acting like a special needs person and seems to have no clue how to do ANYTHING correctly. Tests husbands can take to see if they are acting like a total moron, pencil is included so they do not have to ask you where the pencils are kept.

Article 11

Tips on how to deal with the pushy nurse in the maternity section of your hospital. Written by 2nd or 3rd time moms who have this concept waxed.

Article 12

Signs that you are losing your mind – and it is okay because other moms are also crying in the bathroom at 2am – they just don’t tell you.  Secret photos included.

Article 13

Lies moms tell!  Why they continue the stereotype that all moms are happy fulfilled creatures, and why there is a small group who disagree, and are not afraid to speak out.

Article 14

How to prepare a fun snack of Flings, Oros and day old toast for your toddler. Recipes included.

Article 15

25 tips on how to tell people to p*ss off when they stop you to give you advise, when you have not asked for it.

Article 16
How to choose the birthing method that works for you.  And how to tell people who keep trying to “correct” you to f*ck right off.

Article 17

Medical Aidsthe love-hate relationship with Moms. Exposed!!

Article 18

The Secret of how to actually sleep when your baby sleeps – the myth uncovered. Next month we look at the Loch Ness Monster, another phenomenon people talk about but no one has ever seen.

Article 19

Moms who give up on losing weight, and decide instead to embrace their bodies, drink wine and embrace a bag of Chuckles at the same time as flicking the bird at the moms who are slightly obsessive. Diet not included!

Article 20

How to leave your child in the care of a carer/babysitter/husband without any guilt …. and more tips to surviving the first three months.

Article 21

How not to roll your eyes at a new mom when you hear them gushing during their pregnancy.  When this is all they talk about – while you actually want to slap some sense into them, but instead smile sweetly and say “how lovely!”

Article 22

How to get your partner to realise that you will kill him if he dares to approach you sexually within the first 6 – 12 weeks. You will make the first move when you are ready. Win a taser (with a special LCD light – so you can find it if you drop it in the bedroom) to use on your partner if he comes near you.

Article 23

How not to stress when your baby is not eating/drinking like other babiesit is okay, babies do not read the charts, they do what they want and everyone gets there eventually.

Article 24

Why Mother and Baby Groups are for the insane …. and how to get yourself out of themPart 1 of the Cult Group Series.

Article 25

Believe it or not, you make a wonderful pregnancy person but we do not want to see every f*kn moment on Facebook or Twitter …. really!! How to interact with people and survive 45 minutes without discussing your children or your pregnancy … Part 1 of a series of 5 of how to break this frustrating habit.

Article 26

How not to feel guilty because you might not bond with your baby immediately.  Moms show you how to “fake it ‘til you make it” in the first 6 weeks, when you feel absolutely no connection at all.

Article 27

Breast feeding is wonderful – but it is not actually the Alpha and the Omega.  Lists of Mensa members who were not breastfed as babies and are okay today.  Bill Gates and Robert Murdoch reveal all.

Article 28

The newer the mom, the bigger the pram …. and other interesting observations made by our roving reporter.

Article 30

Stay at Home Moms and Working Moms finally agree on a Truce.  Thabo Mbeki very happy with outcome of peace talks.

Article 31

Resident Psychologist answers: Why it is okay to love your baby, but not like them all the time.  This question answered, and others posed by readers.

Okay I am going to stop now, as you can see, I could/would just go on forever at this rate!

Throwing the baby out with the bath water …

I did this post back in June for http://www.moomie.co.za and I must confess to feeling quite proud of this piece.  I like the ones that are real and honest, and this was one of those.

I totally forgot about the post, and then this morning Nayeela asked me for a copy, so thanks Nayeela for reminding me about this post.  I hope those who have read it on moomie will forgive me and not mind re-reading it.

I’ve often wondered why we do not tell new moms about the hell that follows once they arrive home with their new baby.

There seems to be this unwritten law that we should not scare them too much.  Or possibly it is that they will not believe it until it starts to happen to them.  Of late I have started to believe the latter.

The hell I am referring to is the emotional trauma and the screaming that you and your partner/husband/supplier of sperm/supporter of pregnancy/nearest and dearest will go through around week six to eight of your new baby being home.

It might start on day one, it might not start for several weeks, but it will start (insert Dr Evil’s laugh here).

Pregnancy is much like your honeymoon. The two of you are aglow with the wonders of what your loins have done. You have affirmed your lineage will continue. Your partner is elated that his sperm has proved to be virile, you are a bask in the glow of pregnancy.

You feel that you have single-handedly saved the entire human race.  Here in your uterus sits the off-spring that could find a cure of cancer or at the very least a system for not losing the remote control on the couch.

Ah it is glorious heady stuff.  You are invincible, you are pregnant.

Your energies are focused on the birth of the baby.  Where partner will stand, who will hold the camera, whether you will ask for some homeopathic meds or sell you soul for one prick of the anesthetist’s epidural needle.   From about month five every waking (and sleeping moment) is  consumed with all this planning.

You have various scenarios in your mind, but the one that stands out for you, is that picture of you, the picture of the perfect you.  You, still wearing mascara, and a touch of lip-gloss, cuddling your bundle, while your partner stares at you longing as if you are the original mother mary.

Intoxicating  days these.

You survive child-birth.  You survive the medical staff and you make it home.  You are smiling and coo’ing and everyone has agreed that this is the sweetest baby ever to bless the earth.

You and your partner are so pleased with yourselves right now.  You might even cure leprosy later on in the afternoon, nothing is beyond you right now.

The visitors go home, the medication and euphoria starts to wear off.  You are starting to ache.

You really love your baby, but have deciced that you no longer love your baby between 2 and 6am.  You are sleep deprived, your nipples feel like you have been cast in a low-budget porn movie, you are not feeling your best as you have been in your bathrobe since last Monday.

Brushing your teeth has become the highlight of your day – you do not even try to floss, as really there is not enough time and this often requires two hands, which you seldom have the luxury of right now.

Partner kisses you on the forehead and skips off to work.  At some point you stand there – usually in the middle of the kitchen, still in your grubby bathrobe, and ask yourself  “What exactly happened here … this is not how I pictured it…and why is that shmuck not with me in this?”

You can’t say it out loud as the baby has finally fallen asleep and you need to sort of rock him to-and-fro, to-and-fro or he is going to start screaming again, but you think it.  Yes, you think it, and think it and think it.

You now glance over at the kitchen clock and start counting the hours down for husband (you have dropped the dear part) to come home.  By the time he arrives home, you pretty much shove the baby into his arms, scream at him about being late.

Then scream at him about something unrelated and stomp off in a furore.  You are waiting for baby to start crying, because now husband can get an earful of what you have had to put up with all day …

But nothing … you listen … and there is nothing.  So you sneak quietly down to the lounge … and there he is … baby propped on his shoulder … not a care in the world … he has a beer in the other hand and he is watching Super Sport … and looks at you like: “ This isn’t hard, what are you complaining about!”

This is where the cracks start.

Late at night as you wake to go and feed the baby you look over at your partner who is fast asleep and you wonder if you can stab him the shoulder with a fork!  You know you can, but you wonder if you can do deep tissue damage with just one fork stab, or whether you will need to do it numerous times.

Partner does not move while you feed, burp, and quiet baby.  You shlepp down the passage, put baby down and return to bed.  Right now the warm-even breathing of your partner is making you so angry you want to smother him.  Instead you roll over, being sure to jab him with your elbow in his back and then you eventually doze off.  Only to be awoken 5 minutes later by baby who needs to feed…..

You repeat the cycle, each time hating your partner for the fact that he has undisturbed sleep.

Next morning you wake up and he is getting ready for work.  He smiles at you, all happy, as if he has let you sleep in – never mind that in total since 1am, you have had about 45 minutes sleep.  He gets his clean clothes on, kisses you on the forehead (because you have not brushed your teeth) and goes off to work.

And now your mild dislike has turned to hate.

It is actually his fault that this has all happened, and now he gets to go to work, talk to adults, surf Facebook and drink hot cups of coffee all day.  You hate him for every hour he is away.  The problem is when he drags his sorry arse in the door after work, you hate him for every hour he is home as well.

He has no idea what you go through, he does not realise that you have been crying for 6 hour straight.  He has no idea that you are so exhausted right now, you would swap places with a vagrant to get some sleep.

He has no idea that what is happening to you now does not gel with the picture you had in your head of this entire process. You love your baby – but right now, you really do not love being with him.

The right thing to say is that “this is the best thing in the world…” but maybe it isn’t.  Maybe it is really hard and maybe you are really struggling.  The thing you can’t understand is that no one has really told you how difficult it is going to be, and now you are really struggling.

Your partner does not understand, actually he has no clue what is going on. You are angry and upset and the person who is going to take the brunt of it is the poor sap who comes whistling through the front door at about 17h30 each day.

You start fighting with him because he goes to work.  You fight with him because he is at work.  You fight with him because he is at home.  You fight with him because he can’t change the baby the way you want him to do it.   You fight with him because he does not know which babygrower to use … well basically you fight with him because he exists (don’t even start with me about the fact that he has to breath so damn loud!).

Husband is starting to wonder if this having a baby was such a good idea, and at some point will make a statement of the sort.

This will be a bit like throwing gasoline on a fire, and you will unfortunately start saying some things you wish you had not said.  He is so annoyed as he does not know his wife anymore, and instead has this hormone soaked creature to deal with, so he will retaliate with something else, and you will have a come back which is akin to kicking him in the gonads.

And from there the situation will turn ugly.

But believe it or not  ….  you eventually start to get saner and realise that you (and him) are living through what feels like the apocalypse.  It does take a while before you realise that you and your partner are actually in this together.  You need to rely and lean on each other to get through this, rather than taking pot shots at each other as you run across the minefield.

You also start to wonder “why do couples who are in distress think having a baby is going to bring them closer?” when good sense tells us that a baby is the most strain you can subject on a relationship.

Don’t worry I wonder the same thing.

When my friends, who are young and in-love, have baby-showers I really want to give them vouchers for sessions of couple counseling.  Unfortunately decorum gets the better of me, and I buy them bibs and baby shoes like everyone else, and try not make them feel less invincible than they do right then.

Nothing to do but have a little bitch ….

You know when you just have a “I feel really shite and I should have just stayed home” day. I was fine physically, but for some reason I felt like I was on the verge of having a total break with reality sort of day, you know the kind?

Please tell me you do, so I do not feel like a total freak of nature.

I do realize that I am way past sounding like the crazy cat lady – but I am not sure how far past.  My friend suggested it was possibly all the hype pre-wedding and then the stuff after.  And add my stuff now. She felt I was just a little emotionally-strained and well, she did not want to say sensitive and emotional, but I knew where she was going.

Quite possibly.

This entire weekend, I just felt flat, and removed from everything.

I think part of it is the rather somber conversation Kennith and I had on Friday night.

In one conversation I realized that this may well spell the end of my surrogacy/possibly fourth child/adoption and any plans that require the purchase of maternity wear and booties.

I realized I am sounding a bit unhinged.

I woke up this morning at 03h40 so by the time I got to work I was totally destroyed.  I am one of those people who needs eight hours sleep, else does not function and starts to experience a bit of a strain.

At office – feeling all sad and flat – I am in an open plan office, and I face my entire team while I work.  So I figured I will just have a quiet little cry there at my monitor and carry on working … you know, as you do.  Sad, but productive.

Fortunately every time someone looked at me and they start to frown at the state of my face – I just said “insomnia” and they nodded sagely, and then give me a little look of sympathy.

Of course that did not explain the raccoon-mascara rings on my face, but bless my colleagues for just ignoring me and getting on with their day.

On the stranger side, Kennith had a s.e.x. dream, that included me and chutney … listen I don’t even make this stuff up … the Mrs Balls’ variety.  He even texted me today asking if he should stop and pick up some chutney … and they say I am having a break with reality <sigh>!

Super Human …

This morning there was a brilliant show on BBC Knowledge called Superhuman.

Clearly a series – and hosted by the same bloke who does “Child of our Times” – also a brilliant BBC documentary.

I missed the beginning of the show, and have never caught the series, but within 30 seconds I was hooked.

When I came in it was all about these parents and how they were going for IVF.  This was the first time I had caught the show, and it really was very interesting.

One couple had had a previous child with cystic fibrosis, and had gone through a horrific experience.   In wanting to fall pregnant the second time, they wanted to genetically test the embis to check if they in fact carried this trait.

They then implanted a pre-tested embi back that did not have cf, so the couple went on to have a healthy son. (I am simplifying the process here as I is simple folk)

The second couple were Jon and Alice, and they called themselves everyone’s favourite aunt and uncle.

They are THAT couple who are dying to have kids but are being th-warped at every turn.  They are the couple that would make great parents, but by some stupid set of circumstances, they are knocking their respective heads against a brick wall.

It seemed to have something to do with when the fertilised egg started to divide.  Alice had an enzyme that caused the embi to not divide equally and eventually the embi would start to disintegrate. (Again I am simplifying it here considerably.)

The reason I am telling you this tale of woe, is Kennith and I are lying in bed watching this while Isabelle (13 months) is bouncing around on our bed.  She is at that bounce around stage – where every now and then she tries to throw herself off the bed, and the only thing keeping her anchored is either me or Kennith holding her leg.

I glanced over at Kennith while we are watching the show, and realised how truly sad he was for these couples on the show.

I could actually see the disappointment on his face when Jon and Alice’s procedure was not successful, and he groaned out loud for them.

I often say that Kennith is a good egg.

The fact that he can look at this situation as a man, and could really grieve for a couple he does not know, made me go all warm and mushy for him.

He could have sat there and scratched his balls   (as you do first thing in the morning), and played games on his iphone.  But he sat and watched the show and showed real emotion for these people who are trying to have a baby of their own.

He is a good egg that Kennith is.

<of course then the show said that in the time we have been watching this show, I have lost three eggs, while Kennith has produced about 20 000 sperm – Kennith then asked me if I had anywhere to put the sperm … sigh>

Some days I should just keep my mouth shut …

I have mentioned the fact that I have been thinking about surrogacy for some time and some of the background to that.

I discussed it with Kennith.  In reality he would prefer it if I did not pursue it. However he accepts that if the need/want in me is so strong  (I realise I sound like the short balding guy from Star Wars), he will support me.  However he wants to be sure that I proceed with caution and as little risk to me as possible.

Kennith feels I will fail the psychological analysis.  Sadly I agree with him.  That is probably where I will tick all the wrong blocks, and be overwhelmed with all the what if’s and starting blabbing on uncontrollably and crying and they will write “unsatisfactory” on their form.

I contacted some agencies.  I have been turned down due to the fact that I have had three c-sections, which puts me into a high/higher risk according to their “tick a block” list (sorry to sound a bit bitter, I’m also not feeling very well and struggling with insomnia, so I am not such a happy camper today).

Someone I met through a forum contacted me and said that she was dealing with a set of intended parents who were Johannesburg based.  They had a Cape Town based egg donor and would I be interested in speaking to them about the possibility of acting as a surrogate.

I was meant to meet with a couple this Friday, as they were going to be in Cape Town. It was really just a meet and greet, and to see what their expectations were and whether it aligned with what mine were – and maybe whether we potentially could see us working together.

I was really excited that finally there was some “progress” and someone wanted to talk about my uterus.  Go little uterus!!

Unfortunately they have not confirmed the appointment.  So I take it to mean that either they have cooled to me, or cooled to the idea, or there is possibly something else happening which they have not made me aware of.  I am quite disappointed actually.

Yesterday a private social worker contacted me – she was referred to me by a contact through my blog, who had acted as a surrogate before.

I spoke to the social worker and she was really great.  We had a lengthy discussion and I explained that I appear to be an “untouchable” based on my three c-sections – I wanted to blurt that out right at the start, so she knew what she was dealing with before she got too excited.

I also explained that I had gone to my OBGYN on Tuesday and he had confirmed that there was no pre-existing condition to exclude me from embarking on a 4th or even a 5th pregnancy.  He is a very cautious (and very experienced) OBGYN, so counseled me at length on the potential risks that I may face and we discussed the idea of surrogacy at length.

Strangely his comments were “Why do it?  You have nothing to prove.  It is not like you are doing it for a friend/sister/cousin – it would be for a stranger. Why would you want to do it?”

I really can’t argue with him – I do not know what my motivation is, so it is difficult to quantify or qualify it to someone else, let alone myself.  I just want to – and really that is it in a nutshell.

Maybe it is the simple act of charity.  Maybe it is the liberal ingestion of too much wine.

What if I get to do this, and for me it does not seem that huge in comparison to what other people have to endure to have a baby.

I am not naive enough to not comprehend that there are inherent risks.   I think I am fairly well read and well informed even for a novice.  I am not saying any pregnancy is easy.  Any pregnancy or procedure does carry a certain measure of risk – I do get that, I know stuff about this and do comprehend the risks.

Sure I prefer not to think of myself as dead, or with a ruptured uterus, but I understand that this is a possible outcome – which cannot be ascertained at the outset (as with any pregnancy).

I also grasp that there are potentially huge psychological costs and other factors at play here that may affect me, my family and my children in ways I cannot begin to  comprehend – I hear and understand that too.

That being said, if pregnancy is (relatively) easy for me and I am able to make peace with the baby I am carrying not being mine genetically, and I am willing to go through this to give a couple something they cannot have any other way, then why would I not consider it.

Imagine the power of that play it forward?

At least let me go through the process to see if it is something I can do.  I think I am a bit puzzled at people’s reaction.  They almost have a look of revulsion on their faces that I would consider this.  They start edging away from me in a she-has-leprosy sort of manner.

Is this  not what charity is about, the showing generosity of spirit to your fellow man/woman?

If you can do something to assist someone, why should you not?  And what is more generous that giving someone something that they yearn for more than life itself?

Why must we agree to nod and go “ag shame” but then walk away, why can’t we assist if we can and we feel strongly about it?

Last  night the subject came up in book/wine club – obviously I brought it up, it is not something that comes up by accident.

I realise that maybe I skate on the thin ice where angels fear to tread.  But my thinking is that everyone in bookclub is a mom, and  must understand the fierce love they have for their child and thus be able to make the leap of who it must feel to be that someone who is desperate for a child of their own, and who has literally moved heaven and earth to try to get there.

Maybe if they comprehend that, maybe they can empathise with how desperate it must be for someone not to experience that – through no fault of their own.

Being denied that basic human right and need – the right to procreate because of a stupid roll of the stupid dice.  Having the odds stacked against them which really seems so unfair beyond any measure of my comprehension.

At the same time I am not seeking approval from others.  I welcome healthy debate and am open to the idea that someone may have an opinion that makes me go, “shewie, never thought of that.”

I nearly sh*t in my pants when one of the girls made a statement first basically saying that infertiles need to “just relax” things will happen.

Listen, I am not an infertile, but even I took offense to that.

I nearly pooped a bit in my beige knickers right there!!

Of course years of fertility treatment, injection in the arse, the abdomen, being probed and proded, miscarriages, BFN and all the tears, clearly were in vain – they should have just relaxed.  I wish someone had told them before – wow, sometimes the answer is the simple one (insert sarcastic smiley face here!)

Then there was another comment basically saying that well if it is not meant to be, there must be a reason that God does not mean it to be (insert WTF smiley face here!)

If I had not actually had bits of poo escape from my anus before that, I think some did now!

I sat looking across the room at someone who has three healthy children, who knows how that feels to have your own children.

Who for all intense purposes is a lovely, warm, caring, loving person who lives what I would assume to be a good life and cares for others in the world. But here she sits and actually thinks that if you have unfortunate ovaries, or a uterus that just is not playing along, or your partner has unlucky sperm, you should just sit back and go “Oh well, God meant this to be, so there you are!”

Then does that mean God means it to be when a 12 year old girl is gang raped in a township on her way home from school, falls pregnant and decides to go into labour in the toilet and throw the baby in the dustbin, because she is so terrified and does not know what other choices she has?

Because if God meant that to be, then I think we all need to sit down and have a little talk.

People are so quick to use this blanket phrase of “things happen for a reason” and “it is God’s will” – I am not denying that many people love a bit of cliché to get then through troubled times, but seriously!

But I digress as my adrenaline level climbs.

The bottom line is, for now I think surrogacy is huge.  If I can I would like to act as a surrogate.

I spoke to the social worker and she said she would take my case to the Ethics Committee that meet in the first week of August.  They, it appears, have the final say.

If they say no, then well that is that, and I should just happily skip off in to the sunset and say something profound.  Odds are I won’t and I will be upset, but there is not much more I can do than I have done.

If they say yes, then I would have to first go to a nominated doctor who would do an exam and make a decision as to physically whether I would be approved to be considered to be a possible surrogate.  Of course at that point I would still have to go through the interviews and psychological screening and anything could happen there.

On the other hand, the ethics committee (I actually have no idea who they are – I am just saying it like I am familiar with them) really makes the decision as to whether I am a possible/potential/maybe candidate.

So there we are, now you know!

Shape of a Mother ….

I found this great website called the Shape of a Mother.  It’s my private little addiction.  I pop along to this site and read the blog updates and look at the images.

The idea of it is that the author/owner of the blog noticed a mom with a babe, and when the mom’s shirt lifted by accident she realized this very healthy and toned looking mom also was sitting with extra skin hanging around her belly.  Yes, I realise it could also have been me – you probably thought the same thing.

The blog owner had this epiphany that the post-pregnancy body has become one of our society’s greatest secrets.

What we are exposed to is the female form airbrushed perfectly.  I used to work for the company that did the pre-press work on Shape, Fit Pregnancy and Swimsuit Magazine – all those girls were airbrushed to an inch of her life.

I would have loved to nab the pre-air-brushed photos and smuggle them out there for the world to see.  I am not denying that the models are beautiful and can really fill out a swimsuit, but you must know they have pimples, and stretch marks and cellulite and marks under their arms like no one’s business.

If you look at yourself in the mirror and it differs from these images that we are bombarded with all day – you tend to opt to wear a bigger shirt, start layering a little more, and hide your body as much as you can. Well that is what I do at any rate.

We talk openly about our sagging or flattened boobs, our wobbly thighs, our expanses of cellulite, our hanging tums and our stretch marks, but god-forbid anyone sees them.

So this very clever woman created this excellent website where women of all ages, shapes, sizes and nationalities can share images of their bodies so it will no longer be secret.   Almost like a blog, but populated by visitors.

To quote directly from her website: “So we can finally see what women really look like sans airbrushes and plastic surgery.

I think it would be nothing short of amazing if a few of our hearts are healed, or if we begin to cherish our new bodies which have done so much for the human race. What if the next generation grows up knowing how normal our bodies are? How truly awesome would that be?”

http://theshapeofamother.com/ even has categories marked Belly, Breasts, Cesareans, Child Loss, Infertility, Inspirational, Plus-Sized, Postpartum, Pregnant, Twins, Triplets and VBAC.

It really is a wonderful website and the women are real, and we recognize these bodies as our own.  Women write in honest terms about how their bodies have changed, and the photos are taken sans great lighting and often without good photographic techniques, so it is real flab, butt-cracks and cellulite.

While I celebrate these women, and nod along to all the comments, I can barely look at myself in the bathroom mirror when I get undressed to shower or bath.

When I sit in the bath with Isabelle, I feel ill that my stomach sort of rolls over and rests itself on my upper thigh while I play with her.

Last night I looked down at my c-section scar and got a bit of a fright as it looked big and really red and ugly –  but I was drinking a glass of wine, and there was a candle, so the lighting and my perception was a bit off.  But I had this immediate feeling of revulsion and sat up in a panic to re-examine it.  It was still a scar, still red, yugh, but maybe not totally revolting, okay well maybe just mildly so.

I used to be okay with my body – I was not out there pole dancing or anything, but I would put on a costume when it was hot, and go for a swim.   I would not scream “look at me, look at me” but I could get myself in a swimsuit and a pair or shorts when the weather demanded it.

Now I crinch at the thought of pouring myself into my swimsuit, even when at home just with Kennith and the kids.  It is not about them seeing me, it is about me seeing me.

I hide from myself.  I dress and undress quickly, so I do not have to witness the white blubbery me. I hate the fact that I used to weight 50kg, and used to hate being skinny.  Now I would drink 5 days of gloop a day, and 7 tons of laxatives to get back to 50kg.

My body is different and I really do not like it.

I know I should be thankful that this body has been good to me.  It is seldom sick, it can stand up to quite a bit.  It carried three healthy children through three healthy pregnancies.  It was strong enough to get through three c-sections, it healed well, and did not let me stay in too much pain.

It let me breastfeed without any problems.  When I did not want to breastfeed it made the milk just go away.  It let me get through bouts of depression without totally giving out on me.  My skin has stretched to make room for these children and the growing me, and it has done it with eloquence and grace, and done me the favour of doing it without one stretch mark (I know, I am shocked too).

I should laud it and praise it, instead I despise it.

I am embarrassed.

I am angry.

I am scared that this is now who I am.  What I see in the mirror does not match who I see in my head.

I have contributed to it’s demise.  It did not get here without the help of a several bowls of delicious pasta, bags of divine Woolworths Chuckles and several litres of wonderful wine.  I am the reason this body is the way it is, and that makes me very angry.

I huff and puff my way through boot camp and hate being there.  Every gasp and gag is fueled by anger.  I do not want to be this fat, cellulite, scarred person – I want to be svelt and 20 years old (but I would like to keep my mature mind …)

There I am flicking through these images of women being real on shape of a mother, and still I am hiding behind my baggy black shirt.  Why does this bother me more today than it did yesterday?

Today I am trying on wedding dresses in front of strangers.  That means my body is going to be on display – as you cannot get into these dresses without help.  That means I am going to be trying to corset myself up into a dress that is going to make my fat roll over the top and my hips putting a bit of strain on the stitching.

Another day, in another place, I can post about who I love my body, or even like it – but not today.

Have you seen my perineum?

I belong to a forum that generally chats about mommy related issues.  Sometimes they speak about driver’s licences and domestic workers wages, but that no doubt, is another story for another day.

The one very contentious subject which keeps coming up is the vaginal birth versus a c-section birth.  This one gets the guns smoking in no time.

No matter how the question is posed, or the reason for the start of the thread – and there are literally dozens –  it always ends up the same way.  Someone says something stupid, and then someone wants to give them a cyber-space bitch slap.

The conclusion that always seems to be formed is that c-section moms are judged for having c-sections – no matter how subtle the judgement.  I am not an overly sensitive person and I to tend to tread where angels fear to go and all that, but I have noted that the more threads I read, the more apparent this feeling.

The reason for why you have chosen a c-section is always prodded, like there is something wrong with you and you need to defend yourself.

The c-section moms often explain the trauma of the birth process that they have been through.  The risk to the baby.  They make it clear, that they did not choose this route, but ended up having to have an emergency c-section.  Usually they are bashfully apologizing “I tried natural but ….” I can almost hear the desperation in their voices.  Pleading not to be shunned by the vaginal-birth crowd.

There are a minority – at last count two – but no doubt more who just have not commented who elected to have a c-section.

We have no history of complications.  We chose not to go through a trial of labour.  We consciously elected to have c-sections as our choice of birth method.

It was not chosen because we are “too posh to push” – it was chosen as a healthy method of bringing our baby into the world – alive – without limited (if any) risk to him or her.

At 8 weeks pregnant – first scan, I looked at my OBGYN and said “I’d like to have a c-section.” He said “okey-dokey” or something of that nature, and that was the end of the conversation.

I felt no pressure to defend my choice with him, and the choice felt very natural to me.   We had the birth date set, and then the questions (almost accusations) started.

Some of my family thought there was something wrong with me.  Why would  I choose to have such a hideous invasive surgery done when I had a healthy v-jay just waiting to spring into action.

I felt quite strongly that for me, this was the safest route.  The only risk I could ascertain would be carried by me – the mom.  My baby – barring other complications – would come out of the birth process, pretty much risk free, subject to the correct EDD calculation (early c-sections clearly have their problems, but that is another subject).

I had Connor more than 8 years ago, and then I knew very few people who had experienced a c-section through choice – most were emergency or medically advised.

I had researched the topic and weighed up the pro’s and con’s of a vaginal birth versus a c-section.   I was open to either at the beginning of my research.

As I looked and delved in to the subject, the decision to opt for a c-section had fewer risks for my child.  There was also a good chance that my perineum would continue to separate my wee area from my poo area for eternity – which a vaginal birth could not guarantee, and listed as a possibly complication.

I had unfortunately read one too many reports of women who were experiencing serious problems in their nether regions following a vaginal births.  I realized that it was not everyone, but there was a risk of trauma to my perineum tearing which did fill me with a bit of concern.  Sure there are good tears – aren’t there always, but it was the bad ones that did raise my eyebrow a bit!  Again, nothing could be guaranteed it was more wait and see decision making.

One of the main motivators for my final decision was the control aspect – the one that tipped the scales shall we say.  I knew where it was going to be, I knew who would be there, I knew pretty much everything that was going to happen on that day.

The option with a vaginal birth is that there were a lot of “let’s wait and see how it goes” answers to my queries.  Not having a list to tick off causes me huge anxiety, and stress.  I need a list and I need a pretty ink pen to tick things off – that is the way I am programmed.

As time has gone by and I have gone through the process three times, the feeling of “attack” by the vaginal birth crowd is becoming more apparent.  There really is a feeling of two camps on this issue.  You are either for the one and against the other.  There does not seem to be much in the way of fence-sitting on this subject.

Things started to bother me – as I became a little more jaded and maybe a little crabbier, and maybe a little more inclined not to suffer fools.

Vaginal birth was always referred to as “natural” while c-section was well, just a c-section.   By one being natural, surely it would make the other “unnatural” …

The vaginal set seemed to laud the fact that they did not take drugs for the pain or preferred not to take any pain relief. They were really proud of it, and sort of announced it to all and sundry, like a Girl Guide equivalent of pain endurance.

I have yet to hear a vaginal birth mom say “listen it was so much fun, no pain, it was brilliant – my fanny feels great after that!

At the end of the day they do admit that squeezing a +3 kilogram mass out  of your v-jay-jay, no matter how cute the mass is, can get pretty sore.  Even once the endorphins have worked their way out of your system, it is still pretty sore.

The labour preceding the actual pushing seems to be excruciating too, and I have seen many women lose thier sense of humour during the 12 – 36 hours of gritting thier teeth through that.  They are always quick to say “it was all worth it.”

So why no drugs? And why is it a badge of honour to not take drugs or some pain relief?

There are a lot of things which are “natural” which are not good for you.  Naturally occurring elements such as arsenic, mercury, lead, and cadmium are toxic in various concentrations to both plants and animals.   No one seems to have a problem with avoiding those at all costs even though they are natural.

As humans there is stuff that happens to our bodies that are natural – teeth rot, we lose vision, we develop a bit of Alzheimer’s, we might even develop a bit of leprosy or gangrene if left out in the Amazon for too long.  Rabies is pretty natural too last time I checked.

Medical advances has given us some wonderful options to prevent us going through all this rather excruciating trauma.  Either taking anti-biotics (not natural) or having operations (not natural) to relieve us of this pain, or even to make our lives better seems to be the way to go, judging by the amount of time we spend at doctor’s offices.

And here is the rub for me …..

We do let medicine intervene in lots of things that make us feel better, or reduce our pain.  But why – oh why – do women insists on going through child birth, which no one disagrees is really painful, without medication, and then announce it like it is a badge of honour that they let their fanny stretch to all time size without asking for pain relief!

If that same women went to the dentist and had a filling or root canal work done and opted to not have medication and then proudly announced it afterwards.  Her family and all her friends would view her as a freak and have her committed to the nearest psychological observation clinic post-haste.

But all this birth and no drugs viewed as natural – puts all this pressure on soon to be moms to think that this is what they must aim for, anything less is well just not good enough.

I realize I am not being as eloquent as I should regarding this subject, but it is one of those things that baffles my mind, so I am just having a little vent here.

But tune in later as no doubt I will have a similar vent at a later date.

Before I was a mommy…

I saw this line on a blog recently and it really made me sit back and ponder what there was before I was a mommy.   I would acknowledge the blog, but did not bookmark it, so I apologise for that.

I know I existed and was happy in my childlessness.  I recall the free and easy manner I would go for a shower – on the drop of a hat.  Spend a  few hours lying in the bath reading a good book.  I would even go to the toilet by myself – and finish what I needed to do …. oh the good old days.

I had time to sit and stare into the distance. I could and would wander around stores uninterrupted.  I could go out late at night and not worry what time I was going to wake up the next morning.  I could sleep late and if I wanted to go and have an afternoon sleep.  I ate my meals in peace.  I would even decide on the spur of the moment to drop in at a corner shop for a loaf of bread and some milk, and it would be easy and non-complicated.

I really can remember the “before” part.  The “after” part has become a bit hazy with the fury at which it has evolved.  Some days I feel like I am starring in an episode of 24.  Sidebar:  I really would like to have Jack Bauer skill set – when he stares at someone and his eye twitches, assume that person has less than 15 minutes to live.  Imagine if you had that as your super power! But I digress. 

I know that you can never wish to go back to a “before mom” stage as that would mean you are then wishing for your kids not to exist, and well that sort of behavior is only condoned for a few people – Mr and Mrs Hitler Snr for instance.  So it really is socially improper to ever voice that longing.

I have been a mom for just over 8 years, and I really have no idea what I am doing.  Like no idea – still!  I keep thinking that there has been a terrible mix up and some how I have appeared in some one else’s life and mine is going along in another direction without kids and blissfully unaware.

Here are some of my thoughts around

Before I was a Mommy…

… I never thought I had any sort of maternal instinct. The idea of a small person coming near me would fill me with dread.  Never held a baby, babysat only once and it was a frightening evening – for all concerned.

…. I knew I never wanted to have children. (How’s that working out for you then?)

.…  I had no empathy for mothers who worked and were struggling to balance the two.  I would get really annoyed and wonder why these women could just not balance their lives.

…. I thought I had a handle on how to juggle home, work and all things relationship.  Throwing a baby into that mix, has showed me that I am totally fallible.

…. I could look at a child who was abandoned or in need, and it would not affect me.  Now I see all these children as someone’s son and daughter and I always seem my children in them.  It makes me so deeply sad and my soul bleeds.

… I had not factored in how much puke and baby poo would actually become part of my day, and somehow it would be considered normal.  I often end up with poo under my finger nails, and it does not bother me as much as I thought it would.

…. I did not realize that some days I would be so busy that brushing my teeth, combing  my hair and getting out my jammies would feel like a luxury activity.

….I didn’t understand that no matter how much you try not to be like your parents – part of you is wired to behave just like them.  It’s not always a good thing, and takes a great deal of self-control and awareness to break the cycle.

…. I did not appreciate how easy it was to get in a car, start the engine and drive away.  Now if I can get everyone in, buckled up and not have to return to the house three times for shoes, underpants and my cell phone, I am making a fast get away.

…. I did not realize how something so miraculous and life changing can be treated as such a pedestrian event.  To have and raise a child is awe-inspiring and is often taken for granted.

… I did not realize how much guilt I would feel.  It starts when that baby is in the womb and never stops. 

… I did not realize how having a baby would make me question who I was and how I fitted in to society and really make me ask the question  “who am I?”

… I did not realize that I could look at another human being and literally feel my heart swell.  I think we love our partners/husbands/significant others and we love them dearly, but when you are lying there at night with your soft baby in your arms and feeling that weight of them sleeping, your soul turns to jam.

The one about the Anesthetist …..

I deal with things well if I am given time to digest them and work them over in my mind.  I can pretty much do anything given the time to mentally prepare.  I however do not react well to being put on the spot.  For this reason and this reason alone, the odds of me winning “The Weakest Link” are remote at the best.

While pregnant with my third child, I really enjoyed the pregnancy – or shall I say I lived in the moment through the pregnancy. I enjoyed each week and the development and the changes in me.  Sure there were parts were I felt pretty grim, and I am sure bitched and moaned because I was so sore, but I lived the experience.

The experience I shunned was the birth.  I had experienced two elective c-sections and they were both fine, there really was no problem.  It was an odd experience in terms of feeling the sensations, but not feeling the pain, but overall it was a good experience.  For some strange reason, I decided that I would not mentally deal with the birth the third time around. I would keep blocking it out and deciding than I would deal with it later.

I was busy planning, and organizing and all of that, but decided that when I went on maternity leave – before I had the baby – I would spend a few days allowing myself to think about it and deal with it.  Well, it seemed I didn’t.

Even on the day I was going to hospital – I spent my time planning and organizing what would happen with the house and the kids in my absence.  I just took no cognizance of how they were going to get her out and that process.

Even at the hospital in my “gown that opens the wrong way” I quietly sat there talking to Kennith about other things.  They came along and took my blood pressure and gave me a little tranquiliser – bless – and still I put it totally out of my mind.

Wheeling me down the passage to the theatre, started to set off little alarms in my head, as my body was going “er brain, you have not mentioned this part ….. we are getting a little concerned here…er brain, BRAIN are you even there??”

Right up to pre-op I was lying on the trolley bed and trying not to deal with what was going to be the inevitable proc ess, slowly, slowly the panic started to set in.  I was trying to look really calm and relaxed as I had Kennith there and my friend Dave who was going to do some photos.

I think the final straw the broke the camel’s back was the anesthetist.  You know how they come over and reassure you, and tell you it’s all going to be fine.  Not this guy.  He came over and asked a few questions, which I duly answered.  Then he started to explain to me all the things that could go wrong – including the fact that a spinal block doesn’t always work.

It pretty much had a similar effect to police firing bullets into a crowd in the hope of calming them!  Do you think at Riot Control 101 – there is a class where the lecturer does role play where they police fire bullets into a crowd and they calmly go and take their seats??

After the anesthetist left, my sanity seemed to leave the room at the same time.  They wheeled me in and then they prep you for the spinal block, so it is you, anesthetist guy and anesthetist nurse person.  By some act of mercy, my OBGYN came in to the surgery and asked if he could stay there and then he held my hand and let me cling to him while they jabbed a giant needle into my spinal coloumn.

Any semblance of restraint and comfort left me about then – things start to move swiftly once that is done and you have lost feeling in your legs.  They lie you down, pop up that screen, and suddenly a large group of theatre people enter the room and everyone starts doing things.  Moving trays, wiping me with iodine, putting blue/green sheets everywhere and just being busy productive people.

My anesthetist guy suddenly became my best friend, as he was the guy who single handedly was going to be responsible for me not feeling pain!

I started to panic – like really panic.  Kennith was holding my hand, or I was grabbing his arm – I can’t recall now.  But I just recall being panicked.  I felt like something was going to go terribly wrong – what I am not sure, but I did not feel ready for them to do anything.  My heart rate picked up and the anesthetist guy gave me an oxygen mask and tried to bring my heart rate down.

I was telling Kennith to make them stop.  Kennith looked over the curtain and explained that they had gone a bit far, and they sort of had to finish.  I was so anxious and just wanted to sit up and go “Ookaai everyone, let’s stop, take a breath, calm ourselves and talk a bit ………….” Clearly none of that was happening, what was happening was they were cutting through what felt like my entire body, and then the pulling started.

The not-so-funny-part was I know this part, I am well verses in this, I’ve been there, got the t-shirt and went back to get the commemorative silver spoon.  But because my little brain had not decided to deal with this and had instead packed this issue in a box, and kicked it under the bed, I was in full fledged panic mode.

It really was one of the more terrifying experiences of my life.  There was nothing about the procedure that was bad, I had just chosen not to deal with it and prepare myself to go through it. It is strange how your mind is such a strong controlling force when you experience something, and has a direct effect on how you experience that moment.

Lesson learnt:   Stop procrastinating and deal with your stuff – I was going to say shit, but decided not to – for your own sanity.

The one about one starfish and surprises …..

My mom called me last week and told me that the lady who works for her twice a week, found out she was 7 ½ months pregnant! My mom was astounded – less so than Alice no doubt. My mom had been amazed that Alice had not known.

Alice (a different Alice from my friend Alice referred to from time to time in these posts) said that she had been ill for some time. Had been battling with blood pressure issues, and a few other health issues. She spent three days in hospital about a month ago and had been going to doctors for a few months due to all the problems she was experiencing.

She is in her early thirties, has a three year old daughter and is in no way dim-witted. She said that her illness had masked the symptoms, and there really weren’t much in the way of symptoms even when she thought back and looked over the period. She has put on a bit of weight, but who hasn’t? She had been spotting each month, so there was no reason for her to think she was pregnant as she thought that it was her period.

My initial response was “How can you not know you are pregnant? I mean how mentally slow must you be?” I really kept running this through my mind, and everyone I spoke to had the same reaction.

Earlier this week I was on a blog site and stumbled across an article that was written about a woman in the States – Tina (can’t recall her surname and forgot to bookmark the site). She was regaling a story of a woman who was experiencing a particular heavy period and after extreme cramping, made her way to the nearby hospital – only to pop out a baby.

She was more surprised that the staff who were attending to her as she had no idea she was pregnant.

At the end of the blog, people had written their comments and many had either experienced something similar or knew someone who had been surprised by a baby. Tina herself has responded. She started her comment with “I’m not a stupid person ….” And explained that she had two children, was carrying a bit of weight, and also had experienced what she thought were periods, so there was no reason for her to think she might be pregnant.

To add to the story, she has some sort of ovarian issue where she could not have more children, so at no point had she realized she was pregnant. I wish I had bookmarked the page to refer back to it, but I tried to look for it this morning without any luck.

Anyway, back to Alice. My heart really goes out to her. Can you imagine having 4 weeks to prepare for a baby?

To add to Alice’s situation her husband had abandoned her a few months earlier, which adds to the financial strain of her coping with her daughter and making ends meet. It turns out he was of the abusive sort, so she was not exactly crying at his departure.

Her story really struck a chord (or is it cord?) with me – and I decided to assist her financially and materially as much as I could. I have bought her some baby things, and I had quite a lot of things that I could pass on to her. This week my mom and I are buying her a cot and some friends that have recently had boys are generously giving their baby boy things for me to pass on to Alice.

I get overwhelmed by the fact that there so many people in need. You really do not know where to start. It is like standing in a sea of despair, where the onslaught is so great. However by taking this one tiny step forward to help Alice and her son, it feels like I am doing something.

It’s not a lot in the bigger picture of all those who need something, but it will hopefully make a difference to this one mom and this one little boy. If Alice knows that someone cares and her situation is just a little less bleak, she will have more energy to care for her son, more reserves to face the challenges that await any new mother, and hopefully be able to feel less afraid.

It reminds me of that fable/tale where the little boy is walking along the shoreline and there are thousands of star fish that have been washed ashore. He is walking and throwing them back one at a time. A man walking by, comments on the fact that are so many and really what difference is this boy going to make by throwing one or two back. The boy picks up a starfish and throws it back and goes: “I made a difference to that one….”

It’s a good message – though I might have dubbed it up by my paraphrasing, but you might get the gist.

Woman worry, Men play Poker ….

I am really not sure if it is a design flaw or just a fantastic trick of nature that makes women worry and fret about everything —– e v e r y t h i n g!!

During pregnancy I was worried from the get go. I was worried that I would not fall pregnant, worried that I could not fall pregnant, worried when I fell pregnant, worried that there would be something wrong at the 8 week scan, worried that I was doing something wrong and I had caused it, worried that I should do more, worried that I should do less, worried that work would not want me, worried that work was giving me too much, worried that I would not be able to work, oh, I can go on and on and on …..

I asked Kennith often if he was worried – I think we like to have people who share our ideals of worrying ourselves into an early grave.

This would usually be as I was working myself through yet another book on babies and pregnancy. Kennith would pause while watching what ever show he was engrossed in, glance over and go: “Not really, you have done it twice before, you know what you are doing…” and then go back to his show without so much as a concern in the world.

I decided to worry a bit more as he was not worrying enough.

I left a booklet lying around that dealt with pending fatherhood. It really was a very short booklet – clearly the writer knew better than to invest too much time into this endevour.  I would not require much in the way of time or effort for Kennith to read it – even just glance through it and note the key points.

I left it near the toilet, as I felt he could page through it there as I had left it next to his bed for ages and it went untouched. That did not work either.

In the end I read the book and read him the salient points. Kennith has done his MBA (My favourite joke: How do you know if someone has done an MBA? Don’t worry they will tell you.) and likes me to read stuff and then give him the executive summary.

I was astounded that we were about to embark on this our third child and he just was not reading or looking up anything. I had joined three sites that gave me weekly updates on my baby’s development.

I had purchased six books dealing with all aspects of pregnancy and birth (bearing in mind I was going to have a c-section did sort of make this a moot point, but I could be trapped in the wilds, and may have needed to deliver this baby with the help of a potato peeler and a glass of wine, so I wanted to be prepared.)

Every night I would pore over yet another pregnancy book – either about development or what I should be doing or not doing. I would then compare them and so it would go on.

I must confess the one book I really enjoyed, and would only allow myself to read a chapter each Friday was The Rough Guide to Pregnancy and Birth by Kaz Cooke. It is basically a chapter for each week of development and really tracks the author’s pregnancy – more or less with a bit of ad-libbing to cheer it up. It really was my little reward each week – loved it.

Pregnancy, birth and new born babies are just so scarey. Now if I was going to be travelling somewhere or even get a dog of a particular breed, I would take the time to read up a bit and familiarize myself with what is going to be happening. This does not seem to affect Kennith’s world.

I must say in his defense, that when he started playing Poker he read quite a few book, spent hours on the Internet playing low-level sort of games, and organized his mates to come over and eat pizza and play a bit so he could get the hang of it.

I am not trying to draw comparisons between Kennith’s commitment to his pursuit of Poker and his research into children- from-his-loins arriving in the world, but there you have it.

I think as woman if you are going to have an alien take over your body, it might be a good thing to read a little about the subject so you do not look so shocked and stunned when you get to the OBGYN and he starts putting KY jelly on an internal scanning device!!

Can’t hear a heart beat —- panic

My way of dealing with a problem is to google it to death, and then to throw money at it.  After the several thousand rand I have spent on psychiatrists and psychologists trying to get them to understand me and explain me to me – I have realized that at the end of the day, when the lights are off and everyone is asleep, I know me best.  Just to clarify, I know me best, but I still don’t know why I do half the cr&p I do, and think the thoughts I do.

I started to get stressed during my third pregnancy and realized there really was no logical way to reason with me.  Kennith had tried several times, and had now chosen to lie there and continue flicking through channels and he ignored me. He realized that logical arguments supported by pie charts may not be the thing that was going to break through to me when I was this far gone down the river of illogical.

I had read the baby books to the point where I could quote them, and I am not sure if they were helping or adding to my general apprehension. I am not sure exactly what I was stressed about other than everything.  I was just worried that somehow my walking, breathing, eating and existing was somehow going to damage this child.

I decided that I was going to get a heart rate monitor and listen to my baby’s heart beat.  Sure the fact that he/she had a heart beat may not tell me she had 10 fingers and 10 toes, and whether the bean would qualify for MENSA, but a regular heart beat was a good place to start.

I also realized that if I popped in to my OBGYN every time I had a panic – my medical aid and I would soon part company under very strained circumstances.  I gave it some thought and gave it a google – as you do – and realized one can obtain hand-held dopplers through which you can hear your baby’s heart beat in the comfort of your own home.

Now I did not really need to be sold up on this one.  I did a bit of reading to see what the general consensus was in terms of the possibility that they would cause damage to the fetus, and it all seemed to be rather non-consequential.

Further looking brought me right back to the lovely ladies at www.fertilitree.com and heavens-still-my-anxiety but they had a Doppler one could rent. I ordered it via the web and tah-dah it arrived.  Of course I tried to use it as soon as I picked it up at the post office.  I pulled up my shirt and stuck it on my tummy.  There was nothing – you should have seen me panic then!!

But it seems, like many things, it works best with a generous slap of KY jelly – to act as a conductor or what ever.  So there I was at home, on my bed, with about a litre of KY spread across my belly and trying to find a heart beat.

The relief when you hear the duff-duff-duff-duff is indescribable.  I decided to do it every second day for a no more than a minute – and it made me feel so much better.  Kennith just grumbled that it was really noisy, did not seem to work and there was only so long that he could sit on the bed next to me and coo about how great it was.

I spoke to the OBGYN as I did not want my baby over-exposed to anything, and he assured me that it was fine, I could listen for as long as I liked when ever I liked.  If it made me feel better, then great.

That’s the kind of advise I was looking for.   Pregnancy is really stressful, there is so much to worry about both real and more imaginary. I realize there is very little you can do to change anything.  So what is going to happen is going to happen irrelevant to what you do or don’t do – but for me, if I felt I was doing something – at least it would ease some of the stress.

Hearing my baby’s heart beat each day when I got home from work, was definitely a stress ease for me, if only for a little.