The Mommy Journey

Step by step I grow as he grows

Apology and GIVEAWAY

I have been very bad at this blogging thing of late. I have had a million beginnings of thoughts but they never seem to get far enough to be a whole, blogworthy, thoughts. My little boy is growing, he will be SIX MONTHS OLD on Tuesday. I watch him grow and become more human every day.

blessing

Getting a Cohen's blessing

Someone shared an interesting thought with me. When your child reaches and passes a milestone it is difficult to remember when they were not doing it. Like flipping over, or chatting or giggling. You need to be reminded either by some one who doesn’t see your LO as often as you do or by digital media. Photographs really are the best way to see how much has changed.

Safta taking me up to the Rabbi

Safta taking me up to the Rabbi

Most of us have now got phones with cameras on them or digital cameras small enough to carry around everywhere. This generation of kids will be the first of the overly photographed and I can tell you that between myself and my mother my son will have no shortage of images of himself to see how he has grown and I will have no problem finding the right picture to show when I want to make him blush. With image capturing at our finger tips, very few precious moments go undocumented.

lion king

My Lion King moment

Saying that, there are times, events that need something more. A better camera and someone with the talent to use it. Some photographers excel at portrait shots, others work well in a studio. For some, wildlife is the order of the day and for others, like Neal Tosefsky, the magic comes in the moments.

ouch

My Saba felt more pain than I did

Neal really does have the eye and the trigger finger needed to capture the unforgettable and he really showed this off at my little boy’s Bris. From my father’s expression when the deed was being done to the happiness on my father in law’s face when he held his name sake.

oupa

Junior and Senior

So here is the exciting part, a chance to win with The Mommy Journey and Overexposed. Neal will come do a candid shoot at the event of your choosing. Be it as big as a 1st birthday party or as whimsical as “last day of summer” pool party. Give him free reign and you will find yourself bloody impressed when he delivers your CD full of edited images. Unfortunately, the prize can only be used in Cape Town.

To Enter:
1. Leave  a comment telling me about an awesome party you had that could have used a great photographer or an awesome party you are planning that needs to be captured.
2. Like Overexposed facebook page
3. For an extra entry, let the twitterverse know about this competition and be sure to include the hashtag #OverExposedMom

Bye bye

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Brag about it HERE

How many of us have proudly told a story about something or other our little ones have done only to be told to “shut up”. Most of the time it’s a little more polite but in essence that is how people react to a little pride in a little person. Whether it’s sleeping through or saying the first word ahead of “regular” milestones most people react in a negative way to your excitement. We get told “don’t ruin friendships with good babies” and in the end we tend to keep quiet and keep our stories to ourselves.

Well this is where it ends.

I invite everyone who wants to, whether your child is 6 months old and already walking or 26 years old and running a multi-global company or even if they are 7 and lost their first tooth to come and share it here. Beam with pride and get excited about it. You will not hear from me “sssh don’t say that too loud” or “they all balance out by the age of 2”. None of that deflating talk will be allowed. Fill your mommy (or daddy) sails with as much bragging as your heart desires.

My son is 20 weeks, I am brimming with pride because:
He sleeps through
He can roll around from back to front and front to back
He has started to figure out how to crawl
He is teething and handling it like a pro
He still loooooves breastfeeding (and so do I)
He loves to be loved by everyone and doesn’t fuss when other people hold him
He giggles but he also does full laughs, whole body shuddering laughs
He puts his hands out to be picked up
He puts his hands out when he sees me with one of his stuffed toys

I am sure there are more and I will add as he grows and I hope you all do the same. Here’s to our amazing children!

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Discipline – Leading on from advice

There are so many controversial topics when it comes to parenting and EVERYONE thinks that there way is the right way. One of the more hotly debated topics is “discipline”. To smack, not to smack, how to smack. With the introduction of “Super Nanny” and “World’s Worst Mum” and other shows of that nature, every person with DSTV has suddenly become an expert. Likewise, people who have used 1 method to raise their well behaved children believe that that must be the best way, never taking into account that their children and themselves are not the same as everyone else and that hindsight is 50/50.

I personally believe in spanking. There I said it. I don’t believe children should be taken over the knee the moment they transgress and smacked as hard as possible until they cry out in agony. Myself and Jack have discussed discipline for many years, it was something that for me was important to agree on. A solid front, which ever method you choose, is the most important thing when it comes to discipline.

In short, the way we would like to discipline our child (and possible future children) is with a combination of time-outs and physical discipline. The time-out being both for the child to understand why there is a consequence to their action AND for us, as the parent,s to calm down, to let the anger (or laughter) subside and to give the punishment in a calm and controlled way.

I have friends who have successfully disciplined their children in a non-impact way, I have friends and family who have successfully disciplined the children with spankings. There is no “one true way”. It boils down to your own beliefs AND how your children react. It is important to adjust punishments accordingly. If you have chosen to spank and your child’s response to it is “meh” and they take it, shrug and walk away…no lesson was learned and so it’s time to pick a different strategy.

My least favourite argument is “violence begets violence”. How many of you were raised with spankings? How many of you who answered yes are extremely violent people? My theory is like so: If a child knows that a smack hurts, will they be so quick to smack for fun? If a child is taught that a spanking is something you get when you have done something very wrong, will they be so quick to dish it out to their siblings or friends (or parents)? I don’t believe in just spanking, there is a lot of talking that happens around it. A child must know why they are receiving a punishment, just smacking them and expecting them to “just get it” is silly and will work just as well as having not punished them at all.

Currently, bleeding heart lobby groups are trying to get the government to legislate against spanking in the home. Firstly, government legislating into the home is a slippery slide nobody wants to get onto. Secondly, how would you police something like that? Lastly, their reasoning is to lower the rate of child abuse in the country, very noble but banning spanking from the home to curtail abuse is like stopping restaurants from serving alcohol to stop alcohol abuse.

The government does not need to BAN things, they need to EDUCATE and EMPOWER and that is exactly what you should do with your kids, however you choose to do it.

 

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Advice & Bullshit and how to tell them appart

I realise that by writing this blog post I am giving advice, the irony has not snuck past me. However I will tell you right here, right now. Take it or leave it. I will not check that you did what I said, I will not follow up and I will most definitely not question you if you ignore me.

Most often than not advice is given by well meaning people with good intentions and other such things that pave the road to trouble. The truth is that advice is like laying the foundation for a rollercoaster, a rollercoaster fo guilt trips:

Well meaning person: “You must not eat spicy food while you are pregnant”
You: “I just ate peri peri chicken and nothing happened”
Well meaning person: “You’ll see”

3 days, and many meals later
You: “ooo I have heartburn”
Well meaning person: “see I told you to stay away from the hot stuff, if you are suffering from heartburn iiiiimagine how your unborn child is feeling”

Now that example is a little silly but it does happen. It happens on more serious issues too. Breast feeding, which nappies you use, which bottle you feed with, if you go back to work or not, if you let your child cry, co-sleep, room share, who looks after your child, taking your child out in public, sterilising, sanitising, socialising…you get the idea.

So here is my little words of advice that you can choose to follow or not. All I can tell you is that they work, FOR ME and MY CHILD. That’s important, that’s why I used caps for them. Discuss things with your healthcare team too.

1. Don’t fetch the baboon from behind the mountain
Ignore the “what ifs” and work with what you have, don’t go looking for issues that may or may not happen. Educate yourself of possible incidents (do a first aid course, find out which formulas give constipation, learn massage techniques that relieve wind, etc) but don’t stress about them, enjoy the moment.

2. Let sleeping dogs and babies lie
If your baby is asleep they are fine. If they have fallen asleep with a full nappy, leave them, waking them up to change a nappy will result in a very long night. If it’s been 4 hours and they are still asleep, don’t wake them to feed them, let them sleep till they are hungry you just need to keep an eye on things like how alert they are when they ARE awake and if they are bright eyed and bushy tailed (and gaining weight) then they are eating enough. There are very few reasons to wake a sleeping child, give yourself that time to relax, you WILL need it.

3. Stressing stresses your baby, RELAX 
On  hot days, baby will feed more. When they are uncomfortable, they will cry. Some babies are more fussy than others. These are small facts. Breathe, don’t stress. Your baby feels your moods, if you stress, they stress. If you cannot calm down, hand the baby over to some one who is calm. Step outside, go for a run, have a glass of wine. When your head is clear, make the decision you NEED to make to make the stress less, do NOT feel guilty about that decision. Do NOT feel guilty about taking a time-out. Both you and your baby will be happier for it.

4. Get off the rollercoaster, you have nothing to feel guilty about
Feel free to show the guilt-tripper the door even if it’s you. All mothers feel it, we all understand why we do it. Find someone with a more logical point of you, have them hit you over the head repeatedly with said logical point of view until you get it.

5. Take it or leave it, the choice is yours
Advice that is. Mine, you’re mother’s, your grandmother’s, the random person on the street, that guy in the queue to get coffee judging you for drinking caffeine while pregnant, the waitress that glares at you when you are 8 months along and order a glass of wine. You like the advice, file it. If you don’t, nod and smile and ignore or tell them where to shove it.

In the end you do what works for you. Those things that bring about the magical moments.

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Husband, father, rock and fluffy blanket

Throughout my little flashback my husband wasn’t mentioned very often but it does not mean he wasn’t there. See he is a tourist guide, and not the Hylton Ross kind that can just call in another guide to take over a tour mid way. His clients are high end, they pay a lot of money to have him at their beck & call and so when he got the call that I was going in for surgery there was little he could do. They had just gotten onto the  Table Mountain Cableway heading up. Being with him as long as I have I know how it works, I know that he can’t just drop it all and come running. I also know that most of the people he has are decent and understanding but you get the few who have the attitude of “I don’t care, I am paying you to be mine for the day, your life does not matter” and there is no way of knowing which it is until you test it so he doesn’t. It turned out that these people were super friendly and as soon as they discovered what had happened cancelled the rest of their plans and had Jack take them to the airport so he could come be with me.

Jack & Bug on his 2nd day

He was by my side for every moment he could, he stayed till he had to leave and then went to go fetch the pram from the one set of friends out in Muizenberg then to fetch the crib from friends in mowbray, he cleaned the flat, he ran errands. He did not have a moment to himself the entire time I was in hospital. When he wasn’t with me he was BBM’ing me at every chance he had and making sure I was ok and checking what I needed for that evening when he came to see me. Then we would message each other, each on our own in our respective beds, missing each other. For me that was the most difficult part about staying in hospital, not having my husband by my side.

Jack & Bugs first nap together

The support has not stopped for a moment. From helping me to stay calm and level headed to helping me change him, burp him, shower him. There were nights (although very few) when JP would be unhappy and uncomfortable and would not settle, on those nights Jack would tell me to go to sleep and proceeded to calm JP down. If it took a minute or an hour it didn’t matter he left me to sleep and took care of the little man.

Having the job that he has also means that he is often at home when I go to work (I went back to work after 6 weeks) and so he looks after him on those days.  He keeps making comments on how beautiful he is and how well we did and how special he is.

I think this shoulder will always have a space for this boy

He has given me confidence to do stuff with our boy, taken him exploring, talking to him and teaching him. He is totally in love with him and is not shy to show it. From dancing around the flat to loosen the stubborn winds to passing out on the bed together, the 2 of them together makes my heart swell to unhealthy sizes.

Like the title says, rock and fluffy blanket. Jack is my strength when I cannot find my own, strong and firm. He is also my comforter, soft and gentle when I need it. A shoulder to cry on or to lift my burdens and the voice of reason when I am unsure. His confidence makes me confident and through him I think I have grown to be who I am today.

The miniature version of his dad

He is an incredible father and husband. I am so lucky to have him in my life and even luckier that he takes all my crap, my insecurities and my tantrums all in his stride and brings me back down to solid ground while still giving me the space I need to dream and grow. I feel he will probably do the same for our son (and when the time comes, his siblings) and when I look at them together I realise what love truly is.

ssshh Daddy is napping

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12 weeks later – looking back – last part

Part 2 here

The whole time the OB team was busy it felt a lot like I was just being pushed and prodded, there was no pain. Meanwhile, Dr Bailey the pediatrician chatted away to me, explaining what he will do once my baby comes out to make sure he didn’t get meconium in his lungs and then he will give him to me. He also took photos of the whole procedure. Dr B checked my drip, my mom held my hand and what ever happened on the other side of the cloth was a mystery (although I was tempted a few times to ask for a progress report).  All the tears, the fear and the disappointment melted away the minutes he made is first noise. He was held next to me by my mom (the drip in my arm was 22 gauge and bent too easily so I had to keep my arm still. Here was my little boy, outside of me, breathing and grunting (wet lungs).

Giggling like a mad woman again, this time just from happiness and relief

Giggling like a mad woman again, this time just from happiness and relief

Yes, 3 weeks early and still almost 4kg

I was kept in post-op for longer than I liked. Shivering and anxious to see my baby again. When they finally gave him to me I was suddenly scared. Nothing had gone to plan, now it was more than an hour after. They took too long to come fetch me and we missed the golden hour. Would he latch? Would I at least get to be the kind of mom who breastfeeds even if I wasn’t thek ind of mom who went through labour? My fears were unfounded, as if he had practiced he latched like a pro and I believe my relief was audible.

Camera was too slow but I lifted myself up to get comfy

The first night was hell. I couldn’t move my arm because of the drip, the spinal was taking an age to wear off and it was painful to move. I wanted to be supermom and keep him in the room with me, I gave in because there was no way I could look after him with one arm. The nurses were amazing and brought him to me when he was hungry. Dignity is something you leave at the door when you have that kind of surgery, from your catheter being emptied to getting a sponge bath (well more like a towel bath), you are incapable and as a result humbled. I have much respect for the nurses who do this for women like me.

Recovery seemed like hell, like it would take forever. I still wonder why people opt for C/sections. The pain, the immobility, the forced rest. All those things I did not enjoy but it was over quicker than I expected. I didn’t sit at home all day every day, I did not make a cocoon with just my baby and me. He and I were out in the world within a week and I really believe this was the reason for my quick recovery and for him being so calm and happy in public, in other people’s arms and out at night.

With Granny & Great Granny

While I still have pangs of disappointment over the event I do not have one ounce of regret. I have a happy, healthy little boy and I love being “Mommy”

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12 weeks later – looking back – Part 1

12 weeks ago today everything started, 19 days earlier than expected. The Saturday night before I felt weird, out of place in my own body and I had this niggly feeling that there was a leak, I was running to the bathroom every 30 minutes instead of every hour or so and this carried on while I was attempting to sleep. My heart raced a little and I tweeted my feelings. Most people told me to relax and that I would know for sure if it was time. The next day my mom told me that if I could hold it in it wasn’t my water. This coupled with “What to expect” informing me that only 15% of the time the water breaks before contractions start…remember that number, it comes up again.

I spent Sunday strolling around Canal Walk searching for pajamas, feeding bras and a bath mat. My mother, my gran and I left the shopping center empty handed, my gran and I ready to collapse from exhaustion. In the back of my mind the little voices were at it again “good Hila, walk more, it’s a great way to self induce”.

Hold on! I need to rewind to the Wednesday before for just a moment. I had been at my OB/Gyn for my now weekly appointment and we had found him engaged and my cervix at 2cm. Great, now we can continue with you having a greater understanding of the root of my mild paranoia.

The Sunday night was much like the Saturday only that, by the 5am pee run, I had managed to convince myself the it was just paranoia, that women on forums I was reading had been at 2cm for a while, one woman was stuck there for going on 4 weeks, what was I worried about and then…I got up. You know how “they” say Hollywood exaggerates? That water doesn’t woosh down between your legs like a dam breaking? That all that is for dramatic effect? Well “they” lie! It even SPLASHED. I started giggling like a mad woman. I giggled because of the drama of it, I giggled because I was right, I giggled because in the infancy of TheHusband and my relationship, at 5am I called him to come take me to the hospital for a tummy bug, I giggled because I was scared. Then I did the rational thing and got a pad and underwear, called my sister (TheConcierge) to come babysit me (TheHusband had to go work, he is a tourist guide so not exactly something you can take compassionate leave for) and called my boss to tell him I wouldn’t be able to come in.

I informed my Doula, who was in Sun City on conference and she told em to do exactly what I planned to do. Stay home and wait it out until you absolutely have to go to the hospital. I was overwelmed by the love and luck wishing on Twitter. Facebook too but Facebook is full of friends I had already and they are meant to be supportive, Twitter was full of friends I made only recently. I got up for some or other reason and again WOOSH. I went to go change my pad and noticed something slightly disturbing, there was a green tinge to the fluid coming out. I knew from ante natal classes that my baby was pooing in his swimming pool and the best thing to do was head to hospital to be monitored. So TheConcierge helped me down, the hospital bag already in her car (which I had been driving for a while since her steering wheel sat further back) and off we went, calling my mom, my dad, my Doula and my husband as we went. Still calm, still tweeting away, still grinning like a mad woman.

To be continued…

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All the gross things

At some point, every person thinks about what it would be like to change a nappy. For some it’s a moment of “HELL no” and for others it is a non event. My expectations were set to “gag”.  I watched How Dads Change Nappies and thought quietly to myself, while pointing and laughing with everyone else, “That’s gonna be me!” I can’t even pick up the Yorkie poo without gagging, and that stuff is dry.

Not only nappies, the idea of positing, or even projectile vomit scared me. I was praying to whoever will listen for a baby that didn’t do any of those things. I have a terrible gag reflex and it just takes one other person to throw up and it gets me going too. How was I going to deal with burping my baby if he posited. Drooling babies made me edgy too and not to mention that I have a little boy, being pee’d on was really not something I was looking forward to.

Then he arrived.

In the last 1o weeks I have been poo’d on, wee’d at (yes AT), vomited on and drooled on and you know I just don’t care. Nappy changing has not been a bed of roses but it’s poo, it’s not meant to be. One night feed he drank with such gusto and I thought it was so funny, the noises he was making, until I found myself coated in most of what he just ate, still warm. It just made me laugh more.

At the moment my favourite moments happen when changing his nappy. I get giggles and chattering, even full blown laughter while I wipe his bum. I don’t know why and I don’t ask too much. I just revel in the moments with my little boy. Bare bumed, with a wet wipe ready to stop the flow if he decided all we’re missing is a fountain.

I want to get him a babygrow that says “WARNING: Contents under high pressure”. If you had to see the kind of arches he manages at this age, I feel sorry for whoever enters into a peeing contest with him when he’s older. He dad keeps saying he is going to be a lot of trouble with the girls and make a lot of boys jealous.

So any soon to be, planning to be or about to be mom’s out there who worry about the gag reflex, the drool, the vomit. I can’t tell you not to worry, you will but know that on this subject I have grown most of all. No one talks about it and they should. It all happens, babies are the most basic of human machines and so you will just be happy it all works. Instead of embarrassment when a rip roaring fart rumbles from the baby chair you will cheer (especially after a long, sleepless night of tummy cramps) and instead of fear when a nappy gets filled you will giggle at the face of concentration and mischevious smile that appears just before.

Every action or event is part of my time with him and when you measure your time in weeks, every moment is like a lifetime. Enjoy all the lifetimes, even the gross ones 🙂

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A weekend of firsts, sunshine, magical moments and heart break

The last time I went away was the weekend before I gave birth. TheHusband is a tourist guide and was out in Hermanus for the weekend with a couple he was taking on the garden route. Not wanting to miss any time with him I packed my bag for the weekend and packed my hospital bag too. It was a glorious 3 days. I spent a large chunk of that weekend on my own as TheHusband had to tour with his guests but I loved every moment of quiet contemplation, watching the mommy whales teach the baby whales to wave their fins, and breach and spray.

That monday I packed my bags again and headed home, along the windy Clarence Drive, keeping the sea to my left, I stopped in Grodon’s Bay for Soft Serve and then home to pack my bags again to go stay with my parents while TheHusband was away. I had no idea that, around the same time I was enjoying my ice cream, a week later, I would be breastfeeding.

2 and a bit months later, we get to go away for the weekend again. This time up the West Coast to a private nature reserve. Now all 3 of us are together. TheHusband and I sharing a bed (in Hermanus we were sleeping in the hotel the company TheHusband worked for organised, they didn’t expect me to join so didn’t book a double room, we couldn’t even push the beds together)

Beach bug

Catching some rays

The Saturday we were blessed with beautiful weather but seeing as the majority of us are pasty geeks, we played boardgames until it was sunsafe and then headed down to the beach with a view of swimming a little in the ocean and then going up to the pool. 3 out of the 5 of us were crazy enough to even attempt going into the icey waters before we all headed back up to the pool. Meanwhile I had a moment. Feeling fat and flabby in my swimming costume. No one there with me was in peak condition, no one to compare to so I don’t know what prompted it. There are pictures that TheHusband refused to let me delete which I refuse to show anyone. I am keeping them for one reason, they are pictures of his fist time at the beach with mommy. I had a good cry before we went up to the pool.

What a beautiful day for the beach

While taking my beautiful boy for a swim was an incredible experience the not so fantastic part was the judgey teenage hipster (sounds like an indie band name) who sat and watched us, making comments they thought I couldn’t hear about parts of me they thought I wasn’t aware of. I was painfully aware of it all, the pasty, flabby thighs; the wobbly and still bloated belly; the wiggly arms. I was fragile and I just wanted to scream at them GO TO HELL, but I knew it would just add to their fodder.

My little boy enjoyed his time in the water, kicking his legs. Smilling and giggling threw shivers. I can see a future boy, blue lipped and shaking from cold, begging for “just 5 more minutes mom, pleeeeeeeeeeeaaaaaase”. Those sort of thoughts make my heart swell so much it pushes tears out my eyes. Parts of me can’t wait for my little baby to be a little boy and other parts want him to stay as he is, right now, forever. There is an ad on the radio at the moment for something, I am not sure what the product is, where a man talks about how much he loves his little girl and how he tells her he doesn’t want her to grow up and how she says, I’m sorry daddy but god will make me grow up. That ad made me go all warm and fuzzy and little sad.

Daddy and JP

The rest of the weekend involved more boardgaming, cooking (mostly done by me, since I prefer to cook than to clean) and sunday came a little grey and cool. I awoke to the sound of zebras whooping and my friend, sleeping upstairs, snoring. I felt like I was somewhere in the bushveld. Fed the bug, who really has been eating a lot during the day recently, thinking he may be growing a little. Went to explore the kitchen to see what I could feed the others with.

Then came the worst moment I have had since being told I would have to have an emergency C/section. Before I tell you please know that I am aware that these sorts of things will happen and that worse will occur but for now this stands as something that broke my heart. We were playing away, TheHusband was holding bug while taking his turn and the baby decided to shove backwards. Totally unexpected. TheHusband had his other hand full and baba went flying backwards. Momja skills kicked in and I somehow managed to stop him from hitting his head too hard on the table and guided him swiftly into the baby seat to avoid tumbling down to the floor. My heart stopped, he started to cry, I picked him up and held him so close, tears streaming down my face. Lesson learned.

So a weekend full of firsts, sunshine, magical moments and heartbreak. Perfect

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The first step

So I have a million things happening every day that fit into my journey of being a new mom. Some of them I share on twitter and facebook. Other’s are TMI and well I am not really the kind of person to force people to read those sorts of things.

So I started this blog. If TMI bothers you, look away, otherwise I hope you enjoy this journey with me.

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