My new title: Working mom

I went back to work this week. Well last week really, but my weeks all still roll into one along with my days, and actually… where has 2016 gone? On Tuesday and all week, I had messages of support from friends around the world, on twitter, facebook and every other way people could contact me flood in. Everyone sent me ‘strongs’ – which itself begs the question when did we invent new verbs? – but they sent me those, and wished me well on my first day back to work. They said I’d cry, and that I’d be ok. That it’d be over in no time and I can be back with my baby.

And how was my first day back?

It was freaking awesome.

Mothers everywhere are rolling their eyes (or, perhaps they’re silently nodding to themselves, while avoiding eye contact with anyone else at the risk of being judged). Well judge me all you want. My first day, and first week back at work was amazing. It could have been the heels, the dress and the makeup, (it certainly wasn’t the traffic) but I’m going to pretend I’m a little deeper than that and say it was the coffee.

I didn’t cry (back at it with that Ice Queen label) and I only checked our cameras (yes, we have cameras) twice the whole day (don’t ask me about the rest of the week). The worst part of the day was driving in horrendous traffic. That part about my old life I didn’t miss.

Am I cold? How could I possibly have enjoyed being away from my little girl?

Come come. Lets be real. Its not about enjoying not being with her, but rather – enjoying being me again. I’m not a mother at work. I’m just me. I don’t forget about my baby girl in the same way I don’t forget about my husband while I’m at work. I’m just doing what I’ve done for many years. I work. I do it because I enjoy it (and it pays the bills, except when you’re on unpaid maternity leave, then it doesn’t pay the bills that well. A great idea at the time. At the time).

And so no, my answer is no to all the people who asked me ‘was it hard?’ No. It wasn’t hard to go back to work. I like work and I like working. And mothering is sometimes a damn lot harder than work is. But don’t get me wrong, its not easier to be at work than it is to be at home. They’re both full time (full on) roles. And I think all mothers will agree that if we could be two versions of ourselves, we would be. One that could stay at home, and one that could be at work. One that could be me, for me. And one that could be me, dedicated purely to my girl and my husband. I want to be both but I also want a money tree, and a 36 hour day with at least 12 hours of straight uninterrupted sleep. But we can’t have all that we want so for now we have to be ok with a little bit of balance, and a whole lot of team work. We’re going to do the best we can, to offer Elle the best of us both, while ensuring we both remain true to ourselves.

Raise your eyebrows, and subtly suggest again that I stop working, or talk amongst yourselves about how I love my day job, or how surprised you are that I wanted to be a mom so much, but now I’m working on my career again. My love for my little girl and desire to be the best mom I can doesn’t end because I work. In fact, it amplifies the morals and values that I want to teach her about money, respect and success as a woman, while also making those three hours a day with her (yes, I know its so little) so so important. And yes, the novelty of heels and meetings may wear off and I’m sure I’m in for some challenging days ahead as I try to balance a career and a child, but for now… Damn it feels good in heels.

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The 50/50 chance

As today is Throwback Thursday, a social media made actual thing, it’s natural for me to think back… or as the name instructs – throwback. So I throwback to last year. It was around this time in 2015 that I fell pregnant. Apparently a little weekend off the grid can do wonders.

But as my little miracle lies sleeping this afternoon at exactly 14 weeks old, my throwback today is actually a sad one. Maybe its today’s not so sunny weather. Maybe its because she was around 14 weeks in my tummy when it happened, but today, and often, I can’t help but think of the day that she was given a 50/50 chance.

Discovering I was pregnant was truly overwhelming. We had given up even imagining that it would actually happen. But when it did, we told a few close friends and family in excitement and did the required and waited for our big scan before we made the ‘big announcement’. I had baked cookies, muffins and a cake for the office. I had planned the group whatsapp message to our friends. All we needed was the ok from the doc. We had had 6 scans already – weekly from 6 weeks due to our fertility history, so we were fairly confident week 13’s scan would be fine.

Instead… that doctor gave us a 50/50 chance of a healthy baby. That’s a 1 in 2 chance that she’d be unhealthy. She prepared us for the very worst as she ran additional tests and checked, and rechecked our baby’s heart. Recalling that day, what was to be our big announcement day, my body goes a little numb and I feel lightheaded. My heart aches and my eyes sting again. It truly was the worst day of our lives. So much excitement turned into so much gut-wrenching disappointment in anticipation of a horrible outcome.

When I talk of Elle as a little miracle, she is in so many ways. Odds of 1 in 2, really aren’t favourable but after three days of what can only be described as an emotional hell while we waited, we received a call that told us the opposite of what we’d been preparing for. She was going to be ok.

And while Elle has a special heart that may look (and perhaps work?) a little differently to yours or mine – she is here. She is perfect. And she kicked those crappy odds’ butt.

I wouldn’t say the 6 months that followed that phone call were easy and that the health of my baby wasn’t on my mind every single day.  The day she was born and also her 6 week checkup have all been challenging with this tiny baby and her tiny little organs, but she is here. She is smiling. She is our daughter.

Elle Charlotte, you are destined for great things my baby girl. You were strong enough to hold on when the others didn’t. Strong enough to defy odds, even before you were born. I’m so excited to see how you’re going to be strong enough to tackle the adventures of life!

How to baby

I’m writing this post for you, dear reader (from Canada, Australia, the UK and SA – yes, I see my stats and know who you are!) but mostly for myself. If I’m lucky (crazy/stupid) enough to fall pregnant again and survive those (hellishly long) 9 months before welcoming a small pink baby human into the world again, there are some things I need to make a note of to recall when the time comes.

How to baby:
Firstly – you will lose your shit. At yourself, your husband, even your new baby. It’ll be a moment. Or many moments. Your sanity returns… to a degree.

What happens in the night, stays in the night. Words spoken, thoughts thunk. We’re all tired and all go a bit loopy at 5am when we haven’t yet slept.

At some point in those early days at home you will cry.
Cry because the miracle is here, and that it’s yours. Cry because it’s yours for the rest of your life and that is a massive responsibility. Cry because it’s your problem to try and settle it and you don’t think you can. Cry. Without a because.

If the baby doesn’t want to feed – tickle his/her cheek, massage his/her hands or undress the baby. This undressing technique may land up in tears (baby’s) so approach with caution.

Nappies. You will change more nappies than you can ever imagine. You will be an expert nappy changer. Stock up with more nappies than you think you’ll need. It probably still won’t be enough.

You will smell like milk. Your baby will smell like milk. The couch will smell like milk.
You may also smell like curry. I’m not sure why.

The White noise app. Just keep it downloaded on your phone.

Infacol, Apollo-kol, Colic Calm, Telemant. Whatever you use, the winding in the first few weeks is a bitch. Remember the tap is light, slightly to their side and on the nappy line. It will eventually come out. When they’re like 10 weeks old… just keep tapping.

Give them the damn Bennetts. Every new mom battles the Bennetts guilt battle. But.. Happy baby, happy mom. Start again tomorrow. Give them the Bennetts tonight.

Nipple cream. You don’t (contrary to what you think on day 4) need to keep a tube of nipple cream in every room of the house. You do stop needing it. But before you stop, you will cry from pain. It too, shall pass.
Blooms nipple cream is the only one. You too shall promote it to any listening new mom as it is that miraculous.

Nighttime feeds. A valuable nugget of advice I received about 5 weeks into this (but that has since changed my life!) is – don’t change their nappy at the night time feeds!
A) it’ll wake them up. Then you have to settle them again. (some basic logic in that one I guess.. and that I clearly was lacking between week 0 and week 5) – unless ofcourse you need to wake them to feed them and 2) They eventually learn not to poop in the night so its a bit of training too.

These three tips compliments of my paediatrician.

3, 6, 9, 12 – day or night. Feed them on these hours. Just until they’re back at their birth weight again.
Feed for 10 minutes a side. Burp in between.
It is not an open buffet. Their sleep is as important as their feeds. If they fuss, or spit up, they miss out. They need to go back to sleep until they’re at their birth weight.

Limit your guests. It’ll save you from exhaustion. It’ll save your baby from overstimulation.

Let your baby sleep in its own cot from as early as possible. (Preparing for onslaught of co-sleeping moms here. I guess its personal choice).

You are not a human pacifier. If you behave like one, you’ll need nipple cream in every room!
Just give them a dummy. You know you’re going to land up doing it in a few weeks anyway. Leave it too long they may never take it. Then you’ll be more sorry than if you’d given it to them in the early days. You seldom see a 6 year old running around with a dummy. You’ll wean them off it. Eventually. (Theory yet to be proven)

A Nurture One cushion will be the best purchase you make. Just trust any mom who has owned one. (this tip isn’t sponsored)

Purchases – do them all pre-baby. I am 10 weeks down and still don’t have a cot mobile or a nappy bag. There is NO time nor headspace once the baby arrives to buy things. Unless they’re online.

Online shopping. Download the apps, and get comfortable with shopping online. A pram, no matter how fancy, doesn’t make grocery shopping an easy task.

Freezer Meals. Just do it. Make them yourself, order them in. Arrange it before you have the baby. You don’t need more baby clothes or flowers from friends. You need food. (ok, you do actually need flowers. More on that later).

Finally. The antenatal whatsapp group. Handy sometimes, annoying most times. Every baby is different and comparison will be the thief of any joy you have.

The pregnancy weight gain (and loss)

*3 weeks post partum*
Today I wore a pair of jeans from before. Before I had a baby. Before I was pregnant.

It took 9 months to grow a human and 3 weeks to shrink it. I kept my jeans on for one outing of a little over an hour and then came home to change back into fat pants (also known as joggers in the fashion world). The jeans fit. They just weren’t very comfortable. But we take our wins where we get them.

*7 weeks post partum*
Because as it goes, with a newborn and with Instagram scrolling, I’m finishing this blog post 7 weeks post partum. And 4 weeks on since I started it. Its not that I battled to find the words to explain myself, but rather… well, Instagram.

Unfortunately that miraculous shrinking that took place after 3 weeks stopped there. 12,5kgs up – I’m 8,5kgs down with a stubborn 4 to go. And by stubborn I mean, thank God I’m not another 9kgs up as I have definitely left my eating well habit back in September 2015.

Everyone (most people) know I have a small obsession with weight. No one else’s, just my own. I weigh myself every day. Twice a day actually (close your mouth). I suppose its an obsession with the scale really. Yep, I don’t even step on the scale after a shower as wet hair weighs more than dry hair. A theory I have never actually proven but it makes sense no? This doesn’t mean I have an eating disorder. Quite the contrary really. I have no self discipline to have an eating disorder and I like food (all the food, the bad food) too much. I just like to know what I weigh. Every day. Twice a day.

I weighed myself every day during my pregnancy. And I watched, with great trepidation, as I approached and exceeded numbers that I had ever been before nor imagined I’d ever be. Yes past that dreaded first year syndrome weight, and into the next ten of kgs. Luckily, and I really mean luckily as I wasn’t exactly careful, it stopped there and didn’t reach into another ten. It was frightening seeing those figures on the scale. But not frightening enough to stop eating scones for lunch. Woolies take my money – just take it.

I didn’t gym during my pregnancy. Well, I did. I sat on the exercise bike in trimester 2. Trimester one was rough, emotionally and physically, and by trimester 3 I was just feeling enormous and uncomfortable. I yoga’d, but lets be honest that was just a peaceful hour of stretching more than a workout. I’ve never really understood Savasana (I’m not a real yogi) but when you’re pregnant. Its a great cuddle with a pillow on the floor while noone judges.

Being a new mom is difficult, for so many reasons we’ve all read and heard about – sleep deprivation, incessant crying, 3 hour cycles of Groundhog Day. But no one talks about, or takes as seriously as me clearly, is what the hell to eat!

So you finally give birth and yay! You can eat sushi and drink ALL THE WINE. Except you can’t. Well you can on the sushi and possibly you could on the wine too, but you don’t because that’s stupid with the incessant crying and the sleep deprivation.

What no one tells you is all the things you can’t eat. Chocolate, tomatoes, dairy (DAIRY? I mean, dairy!!), coffee (coffee? Yes. I haven’t had a cup of caffeine in 6 weeks + 4 days. If I’d known life after pregnancy would be this, the morning of my labour I would’ve had a coffee instead of a hot chocolate. What was I thinking? Oh wait, I was in labour and I probably had some ill logic that chocolate would make me feel better). I didn’t even finish it.

So between feeding, burping, changing, and instagram stalking, there are little functioning hours in the day to eat. Or to eat real food. So there are rusks. And there are biscuits. And there are handfuls of milo cereal (no milk. That dairy thing. Clearly I ignored the chocolate thing). And after your mom visits, there is also millionaire shortbread (she makes the best kind!) Before you know it it’s 3pm and you’re only changing out of your PJs to prove to your husband who’ll be home in 3 hours that you did. Lunch? Agg I’ll just have another rusk then.

I’ve lived on jungle juice (juice that’s packed with sugar and rehydrate that really just keeps a new mom ticking over and functioning because she hasn’t seen caffeine in weeks!) and biscuits for the past 40 days.

While I certainly wasn’t careful on my pregnancy weight gain up, I’ve been disgustingly bad on the way down. But now shit is real. I still fit into those pre-baby jeans…but I wobble. My boobs are remarkably large (I scoff in the face of my pregnant self, as she has nothing on my new mom self!) and I haven’t swiped my card at the gym since about March. Yes I know I had my baby 3 months later in June, but some people are better at that exercising shit than others. I am an other.

I have no idea how to successfully shed the extra kilos and convince my body it prefers muscles that work to rusks. And I have little idea how I’m going to possibly consider eating meals at lunch time. I even miss the chicken salad poison that I could get at the office canteen. Poison it was but at least it was ready to eat.

The scale may drop in kilos but let’s be honest, thin skin has nothing on toned skin. Which isn’t a saying like brown fat looks better than white fat (which it does and I really can’t wait for summer so that I can bask in the sun and at least bronze up this postpartum belly that remained untanned during the summer of 2015 thanks to baby human growing inside that was light sensitive – according to google.)

So I may be bronzed in 6 months time, but that isn’t really a plan to post-partum myself to health (yes I know post-partum isn’t a verb). I’ve pondered this a while (as its now 9 weeks since our baby human joined us) and my natural inclination would be to juice detox and then hit up Kayla’s workout. But according to doc I still have a few weeks to go before I do any core training (something about muscles weaving back together) and I can’t imagine functioning with a newborn on a juice detox. I recall the struggle well. I think it’d be easier to drink ALL THE WINE instead.

So, for now I’ll have another rusk with a cup of tea (only made to dunk the rusk into. Its rooibos and its black) and look at pictures of my former self in my former life, with smaller boobs (hips and waist) and get back to you once I have a plan.

 

 

40 weeks of pregnancy

Remember when your mom told you that if you made that face and the wind changed direction, it’d stay that way forever? That’s what being 40 weeks pregnant is like. 

I am stuck like this forever.

I know that’s irrational and highly unlikely, but unless you have been pregnant for 40 weeks, you have no idea how the perpetual cycle of day-by-day feels.

It is insanely intense.

Everybody is messaging you, every day asking you how you are? Or any news? How many different ways can I answer – I’m hanging in there (I’ve cried twice and its only 10am), I’m tired (I’m pretty sure I may have cut someone off in a roundabout earlier and may have caused and accident), I feel like I’m going to pop (literally can hear the fibres of my once toned ish stomach ripping apart). The only positive out of this whole carrying-to-term experience is that I’ve been giving my previous body credit for being more toned and in shape than I ever actually saw while I had it. The ‘I’m so fat woes’ really should never have been and I’ve made many a silent promise into the mirror that should I not have fucked my stomach muscles forever and return to the state I was in before I will never disrespect my body with negative thoughts and comments as I did for most of my adult existence to date. (Not including varsity days as clearly then I gave zero fucks.)

40 full weeks of being pregnant. 

The longest pregnancy of my life (obviously as it’s the only one) and the most pregnant I’ve ever been (again – an obvious statement).

I have never been more ready for the baby to come than right now. 

Maternity holiday… ahem, leave

What even is work? What are meetings? What are deadlines? What is traffic?

Yes! Desired outcome accomplished. Now what?

I went on maternity leave at 37 weeks. It wasn’t to have a holiday, even though some may think it was. It was due to discomfort and lack of wardrobe options in my life. There was also traffic, work pressure and baby’s growth (or lack thereof). Mostly it was because I was convinced that baby would arrive early, and I desperately wanted to get my toes done, my hair done, and the baby’s room finished… to be ‘ready’. Officially.  There was also some wanting to get emotionally and mentally ready for this whole ‘becoming a mom’ thing. But it was more about the pedicure.

So…  my toes are done, my hair is done and the baby’s room (like a lot of our house) is ‘almost’ done.

And now… I’m waiting. 39 weeks and waiting.

Maternity leave, the pre-baby part which I suppose to most of my office (and friends and family) is seen as a holiday, is however, far from holiday. I mean sure yes – I’m doing… nothing. I’m sleeping in, watching series and shopping at Cavendish… so it sounds like a holiday. It sounds like paid leave to sit around, not think about work and chill. In essence, it would be a really divine holiday. If, you know, I wasn’t a waddling whale with sore hips, painful braxton hicks contractions and if I had something to wear every day (in black).

Getting out of bed, which as I’m sure you’re all aware someone at 39 weeks pregnant does about 7 times a night, is – exhausting. Walking between the parking lot (via a lift) and Cavendish, is – exhausting. Carrying a somewhat rather light basket around the food section of Woolies – you guessed it, effing exhausting. Yesterday, after sitting with foils in for 20 mins (chilled), I needed to ‘make my way to the basin’ where I looked at the reclined chair in despair. How was I supposed to ease myself backwards into that chair? Or worse still – how was I going to get out of it? This maternity holiday, is – exhausting.

And I know, new moms (and old moms) will tell me that this part is the easy part because once baby arrives, my life will be upside down and I’ll be surviving on so little sleep I won’t know what day of the week it is, but really. For now – shut up because anything must be better than this!

I’m waiting for my baby’s arrival. Every movement, every moment, I’m wondering if its the start of labour. I’m trying to be patient about it, while I keep eating blocks of chocolate to ensure baby keeps moving (and because I like chocolate and I’m on holiday and I’m already a whale so let me eat the damn chocolate, ok?). I’m trying to remember that the longer they’re inside, the healthier they’ll be outside (but by the stories it sounds like no matter whether they come at 37 or 41 weeks – either way it isn’t easy!!). I’m trying to ‘enjoy this time out’ with no work, no baby, no husband around.

Besides waddling around, only getting out of bed past 9am and eating Milo cereal for lunch, I am grateful for the time off. The me-time. The time to look at the pile of ‘paper I need to file’ and sit down at my laptop and skype my work-wife instead.
The time to create headspace for our miracle baby. The headspace that really bounces between two thoughts – ‘Get this baba out of me’ and ‘I’m not ready yet’. Also includes ‘I’m so screwed’ and ‘when last did baby move’. In fact ‘when last did baby move’ tops the pile of (four) thoughts.

Thoughts. Thinking. Which in itself is exhausting, the constructing of sentences I mean – I’ve actually just opted out of talking lately or if I do engage in a conversation, I take a nap afterwards.

Or perhaps its just the exhaustion from walking from Seattle Coffee to Woolies.

 

Yes, I did a Maternity Shoot

When you spend 5 years on the sidelines of life, praying for the day that you too may be able to relish in the joys of falling pregnant – you can’t help but think about the things you’ll do, or won’t do, during your 9 months if it ever arrives.

Upload ultrasound pics to facebook – no chance.
Cheesy (or very creative) way to announce that you’re expecting – absolutely.
Status updates that include bump pictures showing the growth of my belly to everyone I have ever encountered and is now my fb buddy – preferably not.
Not moan, still socialise, wear heels, not lose focus on my career, not pig out on chocolates, eat sensibly, exercise – yes yes, all of the above.

So, being pregnant hasn’t really gone according to my preconceived ideas. I’ve gained weight, eaten an insane amount of chocolate, and the reality is – every day I moan… to anyone who will listen.

But, while I may be all aches and pains and what am I going to wear today – this is our miracle pregnancy, and while it has also thrown all sorts of unexpected curve balls at us, we may only get to do it once! So I want to do EVERYTHING to remember it and to be present in it.

With this thought, documenting it was, and has been, important to us. The weekly bump picture (not shared anywhere as mostly taken in my knickers) is the most I actually managed (keeping a diary just didn’t happen). I also figured I’d do preggie bellies, but I still haven’t started that. And with two weeks to go – it is unlikely.

But one thing I knew I wanted to do was a Maternity photo shoot.

Ok, not this kind of maternity shoot.

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Drapes. WHY?
Or this kind of shoot.

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Too much naked.Too much studio. Too much black and white. WHY?
So basically, I just wanted some photos  where I happen to be pregnant and not in a wedding dress. Not that I was ever pregnant AND in a wedding dress. (Calm down mom!) But the last set of photos we had together – I was a) skinny AF b) in a white dress and c) it was our wedding day.

A maternity shoot may be cheesy, (see above), and may be costly (hello money-making market of having a baby – similar to weddings, but different) but while I didn’t upload any of those 4D scan type pics to fb, and only really sent them to people when asked – something about being able to capture a moment of baby inside, before baby is outside – always appealed to me.

Finding a photographer isn’t difficult – there are so many in Cape Town who do ‘couple shoots’ – deciding between them is the challenge, as the prices and quality can vary. As do the styles.

I was making no progress and running out of available weekends before I was too huge to fit into anything (current state!) and then it was decided for us. We won an Instagram competition (simply like, comment and tag a friend) from my brother-in-law and his wife’s wedding photographer – Maree at Natural Light Photography. A unique opportunity to be photographed in film (really, who film photos these days? Its an art!) and as a prize – meaning without needing to choose between it, and the baby monitor (which I still haven’t bought!)

While we felt as awkward as we did on our wedding day – with whispers between us of “What are we supposed to be doing?” – the photos are a beautiful reminder that we have a real baby human on its way. One that is all miracle and all timing. While there is a lot to moan about during pregnancy – the photos will always be a reminder of everything we’ve been through. All the tears, all the joys, the entire journey to this point. That we made it, despite never thinking we would. Knowing our life is about to change, after accepting that it wouldn’t.

And as cheesy as maternity pics may be – this time in our life was totally worth capturing.

Maternity shoot.jpg

So while I didn’t wear a grecian dress with a flower crown, and half way through realised that I look like I need the loo the way I keep holding the bottom of my bump so changed into a colour blocked tight dress, which wasn’t entirely thought through given I’m no Chrissy Teigan, and unless you are – you shouldn’t be in tight anything of colour when you’re pregnant – it is what it is. Indie played her part in the pics – mostly running around looking for squirrels.

And thanks to Maree, we have these pics to be grateful for.