Her Birth Day

I would love to lie and say the past year has been nothing short of perfection and that motherhood met my expectations. 

But the truth is, while there have been great times, it’s also been hard. A year ago, I could never have imagined the change a child could bring to not only my life, but to me as a person. There have been times this year, I have felt like a stranger losing so much of myself to give to this small human, and to still feel it’s not enough. I sit here tonight, and I wonder how I managed those first few days, weeks even. I wonder how on earth I knew what to do. I don’t recall preparing for it. I don’t think you can really. They said it, but until it happens you can’t understand it. I can barely understand it now. 

Your natural instinct of mothering. 

And you just DO. You look after, care for, and love this small person more than anything in the world and you just do. I feel overwhelmed by that. That natural instinct of love. It catches you a little off guard. 

Elle fell asleep in my arms tonight, something she doesn’t do often (she takes after me that way – not a big cuddler), and I held her. I held her because now she is one. She has already lived a full year of life. A year we’ll never get back. She’ll never be smaller than she is right now again. And while it was so tough, this first year, and she challenged me, it was also insurmountably special. It was everything I never knew it would be. It went fast. It also went slowly. But now it’s gone. And she’s one and no longer a baby. 

She wore skinny jeans and a grey jumper today and I saw her as a little girl, my little girl, but a little girl and not my baby. It makes me both happy and sad. It’s not likely I’ll have another baby, and while I don’t want to press pause or any other cliche, I just want to be. 

So I held her as she slept, this little one year old of mine. This special miracle. This disruptor, challenger, feisty dancer. I held her because I still can. And I treasured her heart beating against mine as it is my greatest gift – her Birth Day. 

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I’m now a mom-car owner

Cars. I’m one of those girls who love them. Probably not as much as some guys, but more than a lot of girls. I like driving. I like diesel. I like cars with a bit of power (even if I don’t like speed). I’m a fan of torque and I know my KW. (sorta. Don’t test me on that).

I also love my golf. Have always loved my golf(s). I’ve driven a citi, a 4, 5, 5 tdi and now my 6 tdi. But… I always pegged getting a bigger mom car on when i became a… Ahem… Mom (fancy that?)

So it’s time. Now that I’m a mom. Now that that box is officially ticked. It’s time.

There are plenty of mom cars… Or SUVs… to choose from. They look good. All of them. Even previous cars that you’d swear were just for farmers now look stylish enough to park in Constantia village. But how do they driiiive? I needed to find out before commencing the search on getting a good deal (oh did I mention this change of car needed to be cost effective in order to fulfil other things that a mom has. Or hasn’t. Like money).

We started here. Because great days start with (who am I kidding?… ALL days start with) a coffee. Also, who knew bootleggers were in Tokai? They’re slowly taking over the world… or Cape Town at least!
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First stop: Nissan (we are driven).

The new xtrail. It’s less of a box than the old one… and honestly the one I had my heart most set on.

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It has 7 seats, and weirdly doesn’t sound like a tractor. Personally I think its fairly good looking. But… the 2 litre doesn’t come in diesel and the diesel doesn’t come in automatic and basically, I’m not driving another manual car in traffic again. Have you seen my left thigh from all that clutch control?

We drove along main road (where else can you find every single one of the dealerships in South Africa in a single stretch), our next stop was at Kia.

Sportage 2014, 2016, 2017. We drove them all.

Well, I didn’t drive the 2017. But I looked at it. Personally – I think its a bit Porche looking, but not in a good way. But look, I didn’t like the look of the Golf 5 when it came out and I was all about that 4. That clearly changed, so I’m sure my feelings on the new Sportage will change in time too.

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2014, or the 2016 model. They’re the same.
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The porsche wanna be. Or the 2017 Model.

The 2016 and the 2014 both drove well (…well enough for my standards anyway). They were nice, and I could see myself in them (especially the 2016 model. Except that it was blue. And I don’t do blue cars. Its a weird me thing. We could’ve found it in another colour though).

After KIA, a detour (or the realisation that not everything is in main road) saw us at the Ford dealership in town. Where, before the fires and the now zero worth vehicles became a thing, a sales lady put me off the KUGA for life. I couldn’t even consider it past her rude, snotty behaviour towards us. And I’m so glad she was rude otherwise… 😐

Interestingly the Kuga was also blue. I really do have a thing against blue.

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Its LIT

We kinda then by accident popped in to Land Rover. Just to.. you know, see.

And kinda sat in one of these and dreamt a little dream. The boot was too small… otherwise….!!!!

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One day when I’m no longer a mom to a baby in a pram

Tried to find out about one of these

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which are apparently like hens teeth… so….: no.

The Toyota showroom has some steelcapped boots photographed on the wall. It should’ve told us everything, but yet we still drove the Rav4. Unlike the nissan x-trail that’s changed its shape and has become a bit more luxe, the RAV4 is made like a bakkie and still feels like a bakkie.

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The facelift, is just a facelift

Next we test drove the surprisingly gorgeous CX-5. Surprising, because the last Mazda I knew was a 3-2-3, and this was a far cry from that. It was very… Mercedez-ish. Without that pricetag (we drove the Mercedez A-series as well and thank heavens for its tiny boot otherwise… )

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The surprise contender

The extras on the Mazda is what killed it for me (and what pushed the price up). Leather, diesel, automatic. But then some weird limitations – like if you have a diesel automatic, you don’t have PDC (or reverse camera or one of those anyway). Either way it sounded like a bum deal.

We also visited Subaru and drove the outlander. No wait, the Forrester. Agg… we drove something that was big and I was getting a bit over it.

Our shortlist was the KIA. And possibly the Mazda.We didn’t even get to the Tucson, or IX35. Or the Tiguan (even though I’m all VW for life and all). We also never got to Jeeps or Volvos (because… ka-ching).

But none of it mattered as we drove in Durbanville one weekend and literally and unintentionally looked in at a no-name-brand dealership on Durban road. We eyed a beautiful beast. One that we (I) had never, and thought I would never, consider.

And then we bought it.

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Because: German Engineering

I’m now the owner of a Mom-car. An Audi Q5. His name is Tendai. The Beast.

**None of these images are the actual cars we looked at because I’m not weird and up for photographing at every dealership we visit. 
** disclaimer. The decision making to finally get this car took about 3 months. I like cars. I don’t like decisions. 

Those memories

Someone once called me an elephant. Apparently, he wasn’t calling me it in reference to my size or weight (although me and those damn body issues), apparently it was to do with my memory. Apparently he had a point.

Those damn memories.

I’m not talking about the good ones – you know; the i do’s or Foo fighters concerts. I’m talking about those other ones. The ones that manifest as flashes. The haunting ones. 

The grand entrance you make at some boy you fancy’s res at 2am after lots of tequila, the dance off at your year end party, the inappropriate text message or phone call that you can’t take back, the time you drove drunk through a road block, the moment you hear your baby may not be healthy. The spine tingle, the overwhelming nausea that those memories, those haunting memories deliver in an instant. The ones you cant seem to rid yourself of – even after it’s been years. All it takes is one song, one picture, one drive by, and you’re right there in the memory that haunts you.

One year has passed now, I still get that small chill when I think of how different things may have been, and I thank God for how are they are. 

But those memories… never seem to leave the backs of my eyelids. 

I’m eating carbs. Ask me how many fucks I give

Zero. I give zero fucks about my carbs.
I also haven’t gone to gym in 6 weeks. Zero fucks.

This is the most bizarre feeling in the world. I’ve never felt this way. Ever. I’m the girl who admitted to weighing myself twice a day, every damn day. And now. Now I’m eating carbs. I’m eating sugar. And I’m doing it and I actually couldn’t care. Life right now, is challenging. I’m working again, I’m wife-ing, I’m mom-ming and yes I know countless women before me have done these things simultaneously and had possibly more on their plate, but this is the first time I’m doing them and it’s fucking hard. So I actually don’t need to add being painful about what I eat to that mix. 

Liberated? No, I don’t feel freedom about not being ridiculously strict about my food consumption but I don’t feel guilty either. I’m trying to be the best I can be right now which means that having the energy to be on play mode for two hours when I get home after sitting in traffic for an hour after a full and long day at the office means that I may just need to have a slice of toast or an easy to snack on rusk. Cramming a full day into two hours less at the office, just to be able to leave in time to sit on M3 for fekking ages to get home in time for nanny, means that if lunch can be made quickly and consumed even quicker if it’s made of carbs, I’m not gonna be fussy. And if this means that my mombod is going to take me into 2017, then so be it because right now… Zero fucks given. 

Time out at the Ginkgo Petite Spa at The Andros

The scent in a spa is probably what I love most and as I step into the Ginkgo Spa at the Andros Boutique Hotel, I’m instantly relaxed.

This massage is long overdue. I’m in the final month of my maternity leave now and it’s a little treat for myself I’ve been craving.

I found this little spa, aptly named a Petite spa as it is just that, via the Entertainer. That little app has been a miracle at introducing me to new places and also at getting my toes done at half the price during unpaid maternity leave days. On a corner in Claremont, the Andros Hotel is home to the spa. Unfortunately I didn’t get to trawl or even spy the hotel facilities as the spa is really separate, with its own parking and entrance, which is a pity as I looooove a bit of luxury – even if I’m just walking through the foyer and lusting over the decor.

I booked via email – always a win in my books as although I may love to talk, and love to socialise, I have a problem picking up the phone. My sister would be surprised at this statement as apparently I jeopardised many a relationship in our youth as I hogged the phone deterring her potential boyfriends. Times have changed, and thank heavens for whatsapp, email and twitter now. Any arrangements I can make via these channels trumps.

I was welcomed with a chai tea and biscotti, and that heavenly spa scent. The one that even though I’ve bought every oil at Rain and Body Shop, I just can’t recreate in my own home.

I was shown to my treatment room, just off the reception room, which was also… petite. So petite in fact I didn’t quite know where to put my things. There’s no dressing room locker with gown and those awkward spa slippers here. Unfortunately this petite spa seemed to be a little less day spa than I had imagined for my self-awarded treat. But it didn’t disappoint.

While I may not have had a gown, I’m always pleased when the towels to ‘cover yourself with this towel’ are new, soft, and luxurious which gratefully the Ginkgo was. It is beyond me how some places think stiff, faded and fraying towels are acceptable.

My therapist didnt ask me what pressure I was after but got straight to work and it was perfect. I had opted for the Elixir massage over the Swedish for no reason other than I never understand what exactly a Swedish massage is supposed to be. She explained afterwards that Swedish is more flowing, and the Elixir was more focussed and tailored. *I cast my mind back to Egypt and my first ‘Swedish massage’ and shudder. Another story for another day perhaps*

Music sets the tone for everything in life and so it sometimes surprises me the music that spas and therapists opt for, especially those that don’t play the standard spa tink-alink (you know what I mean) music. Sometimes it’s the same three songs, on repeat. Sometimes it’s famous movie soundtracks, by panpipes. Today was one of those days where I wondered if they bought this cd on a 3 for 2 special. Luckily the massage was really good and distracted me, and in fairness I’d rather have lyrics than the same three songs on repeat.

As the spa is small and the treatment rooms are off the reception room, it also means there’s no chill out room for your tea or water afterwards – a luxury which is exactly that, like the gown, but at least I was still offered water afterwards which is more than some other places.

The experience was restful and the massage fantastic. While I could have happily whiled away my day (or at least another hour) in a spa wearing a gown and slippers, the Petite Gingko isn’t really that kind of place. But what it lacks in spa-ness it really does make up for in polite and well trained therapists and excellent treatments, if my massage was anything to go by, and the overall feeling of being very welcome.

Plus. There’s that whole book by email thing.

Mom guilt

I had a moment today. The house was quiet (Mark was out for a run with our first child) and I sat with our first born, in a pod on our patio, gently swinging and looking out at our garden. I love our home. And I’m so excited that one day Elle (first born) will get to run around with Indie (first child – she’s a dog in case you missed that) in this house and garden.

But as I sat swinging, with my sleeping bebe I realised in two months time I’m going to be paying someone else to sit in this swing with her.

And so the mom guilt set in.

I was warned about mom guilt. From the moment you give birth (by c section, which isn’t a real birth as some say – even referred to as an easy option by those same ‘some’) the mom guilt sets in. Give up breast feeding? Mom guilt. Go back to work? There it is again. Work late? Girls dinners out? Weekend away without kids? Mom guilt written all over those things.

I don’t want to pay someone else to rock my child to sleep and soothe her when she cries. I have waited a long time for my baby, to see her smile, hold her hand, help her take her first step. And I want to be there for those things. But there’s a chance, a good chance, I’m going to miss some things.
Going back to work is a non-negotiable for me. There’s the whole… well, financial thing. Living in this house that I love means that FNB loves monthly payments. But there’s also the whole career thing. I’ve built a career over a the years with some hard work. I studied a degree, I started at the bottom, I read, researched and absorbed (absorb still) all I can from mentors and industry leaders. And when I couldn’t be a mom, I accepted my career as my thing. It, in part, is what I do. Who I am. What I’ve worked hard for for many years. It stimulates me, challenges me and captivates me. It’s not something I want to give up.

As I rocked my baby and imagined the person (that I haven’t hired yet) who will be sitting in my place in two months time I couldn’t help but cry. I don’t want to go back to work just to pay someone else to do this. But I’m not. I’m going back to work to pay for so much more. To give her this home, an education in a good school and also around the world as we travel with our baby girl to beautiful places and show her our favourite cities or discover new ones with her. I’m going back to work so that she can admire her mom for being an equal, contributing to the household, and to teach her that women can succeed in the workplace as much as men can.

Hopefully all that mom guilt is worth it in the long term.

2 June 2016

On the 2nd of June 2016,  after 4 years, 9 months, 40 weeks and 2 days of waiting we welcomed our miracle into the world. A baby girl – Elle Charlotte Hawkins.

I’ve wanted to write about that incredible day since it happened, but not only has life been a bit busy these past 12 weeks, its also pretty hard to describe the day and all the days since.

A year ago (almost to the day as I write this) I finally bid farewell to a child I may never know. We had struggled to fall pregnant, had tested our relationship with each other and with others. We had drawn apart and had some difficult conversations and had drawn back together again. We had closed the door (to an extent. It was more like a sliding door) on a future that had little people in it. And then, by spontaneous surprise, we fell pregnant.

On 1 June I spent 2 hours at Pick n Pay aimlessly wondering around aisles buying ingredients. I had a scone for lunch at Woolies and went home and baked a chocolate cake. I sealed my fate if you are to believe old wives’ tales. At 2.30am, on the morning of 2 June 2016 our little baby decided it was time. Of course, not immediately. We only went to hospital around 7.30 (after first stopping in at O’ways for a coffee/hot chocolate) and that hospital bag that had been packed (except for my slippers) since 36 weeks almost didn’t come with us – I was so sure we’d be sent home to wait.

With a dropping heart rate and a baby that didn’t fancy engaging, an unplanned and somewhat unprepared for (especially on my part) transfer to an operating theatre commenced. I’ve never seen people move so fast, prepping me (and Mark) for surgery. All the while I still hadn’t quite wrapped my head around the fact that we’d be parents by lunchtime.

I think I entered a trance somewhere around the point where they said the c-section had been booked for 10.20. I remember it all – being wheeled to the theatre, the room, the view (the fact that it had one way glass). My doctor gently guiding me through what would happen, Mark – waiting in the corner with his camera ready to photograph it all, while looking a little emotional. The anaesthetist, the pain of the needle, losing feeling in my legs and… smiling. I remember smiling to know that I finally would no longer be pregnant, and we’d finally have a baby. I remember it, but its equally a blur.

The details of the surgery are ours, but the moment they held our baby up was simply breathtaking. Our doctor told us our baby was a girl and Mark whispered in my ear  “its a girl Kimmie. Its our daughter”. For all the drugs and the emotion of the day (and there were plenty), this moment is crystal. Its a moment I hope that I can remember forever. Its the exact moment we really became mom and dad. We had a baby girl.

3 days in hospital passed in a blur. It was a quiet, relaxing time in a way. We limited guests and were mostly just the three of us (except for the 16 nurses that came in every half an hour to inject/blood pressure/feed/check baby/check me). We even had sushi and champagne. (We’ve had a lot of sushi and champagne in the past 12 weeks).

12 weeks since that day have also passed in a blur. She has grown. She smiles. She coos and ‘talks’ and plays with toys. But in the same way as the day she was born, when seeing her face took my breath away and Mark’s words ‘its our daughter’ brought me to tears, I’m often found with a child in my arms and those same tears streaming down my face at how lucky I am. How I had given up on ever having this moment, or all the moments, and now here it is.

On 2 June 2016, we were blessed with the greatest gift you can get as a couple. In years to come we may be celebrating her birthday, but it is Mark and I that will celebrate the gift we received. Our marriage was tried, tested and solidified in preparation for our future as mom and dad. She waited until the timing was just right to come to us. She held on when the doctors didn’t think she would. She truly is a miracle. And what a wonderful miracle she is.