03 November 2012

10 things that are hard to do when you're a mom

Hi darling Milla.

It's Mom. 

We had an interesting (read: tiring) morning at (godawful) Cresta and so I'm a little grumpy. Here, just to make myself feel better, is a list of 10 things that are hard to do when you're a mom:
  1. Try on an outfit in YDE, if your kid is with you. The pram doesn’t fit into any of the change rooms, and if there’s a wheelchair-friendly change room it’s either locked or used for storage.
  2. Pop into the quick-shop at the petrol station when there's a sleeping child in the car.
  3. Move easily from floor to floor in a shopping mall, without heading to one or other remote corner for the lifts. Prams are not escalator-friendly. Or, rather, escalators are not pram-friendly.
  4. Push a trolley, if it isn’t the one with the baby thingy on top. Because, if you’re pushing the trolley, who’s gonna push the pram?
  5. Not be grateful that the screaming kid in the parking lot isn’t yours. This time.
  6. Explain to your toddler why she can have juice but she can’t have a sip of your Tab/wine/gin and tonic/[insert toddler-inappropriate drink here].
  7. Not justify your pineapple hair, biscuity pants, crumb-laden car or scribble-filled moleskine with the ubiquitous ‘I’m a mom’.
  8. Remember to turn off Mister Maker when the baby leaves the room, so that you don’t land up absently watching it/get too lazy to find the remote she’s hidden somewhere in the lounge.
  9. Not make yourself feel better about your (my) five extras kilos by calling it (yes, 18 months later) ‘baby weight’ and dismissing it wholesale with, ‘Oh well. I’ve had a child.’ [So has Heidi Klum. Four times.]
  10. Resist the temptation to make your child watch America’s Next Top Model with you because a) it’s 5am, b) there’s no sex or violence in it and c) you can’t watch Jog the Frog’s action songs again without killing someone.
But this morning you said, 'Love you Mommy.' Who needs YDE, the quick-shop or a 6-pack?

Love Mom x

23 July 2012

Our favourite things - July 2012

Hi Milla.

It's Mom.

Odd choice for a one-year-old
I have justified (to myself) the fact that I've not blogged in two months by referring (myself) to all the talking we now do in person. 

You have a lot to say. In so many different, amazing words. And I've been concentrating every second of spare time on those conversations. So there you have it: my excuse.

But I love this meme. So, let's do it again:

Favourite expression
Yours: 'Naughty boya' (referring to Reacher the Cat, your friend Amber and just about anyone else.)
Mine: 'This kid is a flipping genius.' (Yep, I'm one of *those* annoying moms.)

Favourite piece/s of clothing
Yours: Handbags (mine), boots (yours)
You even eat the green bit.
Mine: Headbands (I'm getting lazier as I age, and refusing to 'do' my hair for work)

Favourite hobbies
Yours: Reading
Mine: Reading, mindless TV-watching, Pinterest

Favourite drink
Yours: 'Dooce', sparkling water, anything out of a grown-up glass
Mine: Coffee. Strong. Black. 

Favourite food
Yours: 'MATO!' (tomatoes; this is not just bordering on obsession - it's full-grown fanaticism)
Mine: Pizza (I'm going through an I'll-eat-anything-fattening-so-bugger-my-rapidly-increasing-waistline phase)

Favourite snack
Where's Mr Hada?
Yours: You say 'nack' a lot (you have my appetite, and Dad's): matoes, sugarsnap peas, coco pops, 'stawbys'
Mine: Crap (see Favourite food above)

Favourite apps
Yours: Old MacDonald from Kids' Song Collection
Mine: Pinterest, Gautrain, Standard Bank, Discovery

Favourite TV shows
Yours: Lazytown? (Whatever you were watching at Raphy and Ben's house on Saturday)
Mine: Downton Abbey (yep, again)

Little curly-top, aka your 'jewfro'
Worst activity
Yours: Having your hair dried - either manually or with the hairdryer
Mine: Admin. Invoicing. Filing. 

Latest discoveries
Yours: 'No biting; only kithing'.
Mine: That unpolished nails are actually quite cool

Latest achievement
Yours: Where do I start? Talking. The stairs. 'Reading'. Packing things away.
Mine: Discovering that I love motherhood more than ever and more than I ever thought possible

Favourite place in the house
Yours: In the garden. Hands down. Looking for 'hadas', 'ehplanes', woowoos' and 'beds' (birds)
Mine: In my bed. Ideally, alone. Minus flailing octopus. And sometimes, minus Dad.

Favourite toys
Yours: Any 'mote' (remote), any 'aybet' (iPad)
Mine: My magic mouse

I love you. To distraction. 

Love Mom x

08 May 2012

The Night of the Long Knives

Hi Milla.

It's Mom.

Shit - you are cute. You've just (thanks for nothing, Yaya) started shaking your head and saying 'No, no'. Gawd help us all. And despite the fact that I am sick as a dog, with long knives in my infected throat, you kept me up all night as I tried vainly not to breathe my lergy-ridden germs on you. But I still love you.

This (Tsingy Nature Reserve, Madagascar) is exactly how my throat feels.
New words (in addition to 'No'):

1. Peeping
2. Amal (animal)
3. Opa (Gerald)
4. Tatabyebye
5. Wow!
6. Hey?

You loved our (very brief) sojourn in the bush last weekend, especially watching the elephants from the deck and going on your first game drive - or 'kiddie ramble' as Ranger Brett called it. You also made up for not-so-wonderful behaviour on the drive home by being an angel the whole way there.

So that's something. I guess.

You, gazing at the ellie at our water hole.
The ellie, avoiding eye contact with you.
Be-hatted and well-behaved on the Land Rover.
You didn't blink when the lion roared. But you pointed and said, 'Woowoo'.
I know this angle makes your head look big. But it isn't in real life. Okay, it is. But so is mine. We're a shop-in-the-men's-section hat pair, you 'n me.

This weekend we also learned that you are very easily soothed, regardless of the size of or motivation for the tantrum, by an iPhone. Any iPhone. I'm proud to say that Blackberrys don't do it for you. But woe betide us all when your skills extend beyond pushing the Home button to de-activating the key lock.

And there's one final lesson I learned from you this week: you're a real little Aries.

I usually don't believe in this hunka-runka astrological tomfoolery, but Natasha - my niece - is an Aries and boy, does she know her own mind. When she was little and she was told to eat her dinner or leave the table, she'd get up and leave the table. If it was the naughty corner or peas, she'd take the naughty corner.

So, a few nights ago, we're in the bath and you're repeatedly yanking your penguin bath toy thingy off the wall and throwing it (water and all) onto the floor and bathmat. I'm getting increasingly gatvol and eventually, I say, 'Right - that's it. No more penguin for you. Say tata, penguin. Penguin's gone!' And you smile disarmingly at me, turn around and merrily wave tata to the penguin. Bloody hell. The nerve.

I love you.

Love Mom x

28 April 2012

Why I feel utterly let down tonight

Hi Milla.

It's Mom.

You're one year and twenty-six days old today (I checked my iCal) and, bizarrely, I've been feeling increasingly sad about my birth experience. Yes, you were the ultimate outcome and yes, you are my life's greatest joy and most beautiful, brilliant achievement - but the few hours before you arrived were among the most traumatic I've ever had. And I need to think it through by writing it.

So, please bear with me.

1. I feel let down by my antenatal teacher and her posse of lactation and other specialists. 

Dad and I took the classes so seriously and, at the time, they made me feel so much more prepared for what was coming. I even wrote to Tina Otte afterwards, to thank her. (Not to mention dubbing her 'Tina the Terrific' in this very blog, which now makes me want to howl with pain...)

How scared I was. How blind. How desperate for any knowledge at all. And how wrong of her, and the industry at large, to never once tell me that no lessons could prepare me. To look me in the eye and say: 'These are my opinions. They aren't the rules. And no matter what you hear, the only thing you can be prepared for is how unprepared you both are. And that's fine. Do what works.'

I lapped up the breast-feeding propaganda and the natural birth pressure. I decided that drugs wouldn't be part of my 'birth plan'. Nor would forceps, vacuums or anything else 'unnatural'. I was ready to do battle with the clinic sisters over formula top-ups. I had my birthing ball pumped up. And I silently judged every other expecting mom who told me of her scheduled Caesar and/or her intention not to breast-feed.

Tina, you told me that everyone can breast-feed. That's a lie. Not everyone can. And the fact that I couldn't, because my small breasts and little breast tissue meant unbelievably low milk volumes, made me feel abnormal and damaged. It made me struggle and battle and half kill myself to pump 10 measly millilitres of milk a night, when I should have been holding my baby instead.

2. I feel let down by my gynecologist, who I referred to in Feb 2011 as 'Jivvy the Genius'

We'd worked so hard, Dad and I, to build a rapport with Boris Jivkov - starting with leaving my old gynae because Boris had a reputation for being pro-natural birth and the old guy was a Caesar king. We even put up with the 90-120 minute waits in Boris's reception area, every time, because he had such a great manner and seemed to care so much and really talked to us. Both of us.

But all that means nothing when your gynae makes holiday plans for the weekend before your scheduled induction and doesn't tell you. Or doesn't get his staff to tell you. Or doesn't get the midwives he recommended you use to tell you.

It means nothing because, when you do go into labour, two nights before the induction, and you fail to progress after 10 hours, and your baby turns to face up, and an emergency C-section is needed, and you're rushed into theatre sobbing at the loss of your imagined birth experience and stoned out of your mind on the pethidine that you should never have agreed to take, you see a glowering face there that you don't recognise, and she doesn't recognise you either, because she's Dr Bothner, a locum, and she is in a real hurry to get your CS done so that she can get to a bar mitzvah, and she's never seen you before, and still hasn't, a year later, because she never made eye contact. Not once. Not even when she snapped off her gloves and fucked off.

Boris, how wrong of you not to get Sandy or Reggie to give me a call - or actually, bugger it, to give me a call yourself - to let me know that you'd be going away and that, if you happened not to be in town if I did go into spontaneous labour, you had a plan. And the plan's name was Dr Bothner.

3. I feel let down my my midwife, who fell asleep during my labour. And who hurt me. 

This little element of the story begins with a friend of mine. Let's call her C. She fell pregnant a few weeks after I did, and - around 13 weeks into her pregnancy - began calling me for advice. One of my first tips was to use Boris. She did. One of his first tips to her was one of the same he'd given me: if you want a natural birth, use a midwife. He recommended a few, but I chose Marilyn Sher - his preferred one.

And so did C.

C went into labour a few weeks early, which happened to be the night before I did. And the result of that was that, by the time I phoned my midwife to tell her labour had started, she'd already been up for 12 hours with C - helping to deliver, via vaginal birth, a beautiful and tiny little girl. Marilyn had a few hours of sleep, and met us at the Parklane, where she subjected me to the most excruciating agony in the form of an internal exam, that I remember now as far, far worse than the contractions at their very worst.

But then, she kept leaving the room. In fairness, my progress was slow. I dilated only one centimetre in four hours. And after the two epidurals failed and the pethidine was administered, I was in and out of consciousness. But Dad had to keep going out to find her - and waking her up to see to me. I felt abandoned even then, in my state.

Baby girl...

I'm so sorry to harp on about what an ordeal this whole thing was, when you are what came from it. When you make it so worth it. But I am only now beginning to realise that it has traumatised me so severely that I feel sick to my stomach at the idea of going through it again.

And that makes me very sad. Because if the people I trusted so blindly to be on my side; the 'team' Dad and I were so smug about, had really been there for me, everything may have been different.

I may still have had the emergency Caesar, but I'd have felt less of a failure for it, and I'd have given up on the battle to breast-feed much, much sooner, and I'd have been less shocked by the strange OB, and I'd have felt supported and cared for by my midwife and maybe I might not have had such severe post-natal depression.

And I think the reason I'm thinking about all of this now is because I'm writing for Living & Loving, about things like hypnobirthing, and I'm hearing and reading the birth stories of people who describe theirs as 'beautiful'. And I'm meeting moms with three and four children, and wondering, 'How could anyone go through birth more than once?' And tonight my heart feels bent and slightly broken.

But I love you. You are worth it. I love you. And tomorrow when we see each other again, you'll smile at me and my heart will feel better. Just like it does every day.

Love Mom x

20 April 2012

Our favourite things - April 2012

I'm borrowing this blog meme from Tanya of Dear Max. I love it.

Hi Milla.

It's Mom.

You're a year and 18 days old today. It's bloody freezing outside. And, in the 30 minute gap I have before your first Clamber Club class, I'm gonna record some of our favorite things right now.

Favourite expression
Yours: 'There' (yes, still)
Mine: If I'm being honest, it's probably 'F**k'. But there's also a lot of 'Are you with me?'

Favourite piece/s of clothing
Yours: Socks and shoes - mine, Dad's, yours, those belonging to strangers
Mine: Scarves

Giving Amber a wagon ride
Favourite hobbies
Yours: 'Riding' your pink bike and reading Playtime Peekaboo
Mine: Pilates, walking with Auntie Mon and Amber, reading

Favourite drink
Yours: Whatever we're drinking
Mine: Is that really a question? Gin and (sugar-free) tonic.

Favourite food
Yours: Chicken viennas, peas, rice. Okay, whatever we're eating.
Mine: Sashimi, carpaccio, tartare

Favourite snack
Yours: Fruit
Mine: Fruit

Favourite apps
Yours: Moobaa
Mine: Camera+, Flipboard, Fancy

Favourite TV shows
Yours: You're not very into TV, but... Mythbusters? And Bananas in Pyjamas and McBoing Boing.
Mine: Downton Abbey (and, if I'm being honest, CSI Las Vegas)

Worst activity
Yours: Having someone else brush your teeth (you like doing it yourself)
Mine: VAT returns - and sometimes, fighting with you about your teeth

Reacher, and the lesser-spotted Dallas
Latest discoveries
Yours: That Reacher's fur is lovely to stroke when drinking your night-time bottie
Mine: Classic FM, coral lipstick, apple-flavoured fizz pops (the extra-large ones)

Latest achievement
Yours: Mastering the On/Off button on the iPhone
Mine: Being 3.2kg from my goal weight - after a year of being a greedy hog

Favourite place in the house
Yours: In front of the poster on my office door
Mine: In the bath, in 'the beed, the beed, the jolly beed' and in the office

Favourite toys
Yours: The blocks from your wagon, your talking caterpillar and Dad's Apple TV remote
Mine: At the moment, my GHD. Before that, 'our' iPhone. Always, 'our' Kindle.

I love you.

Love Mom x

15 April 2012

A photo finish - April

This is the most delicious car seat I've ever eaten.

If you're happy and you know it...

Mom, Mom - make the woowoo come here!

Yes? Is there something I can help you with?

Dad, why in hell does my T-shirt say 'Dude'?

I've taken my sweet time, but now I lurv Hello Kitty.

Hoo boy - the deliciousness...

Hello, my darling Milla.

It's Mom.

What a whirlwind the last few months have been.

You're growing like a little beanstalk (I guess that makes Dad the grumpy giant and me...um...Jack...?) and getting more adorable by the second.

And, so I don't forget anything...

Some milestones:

1. Running (No, not walking. Running. At speed.)

2. Saying 'good girl', 'Lolo' (Lourancia), 'Yaya', 'cock-cock' (as in -a-doodle-doo), 'moo', 'more', and a few other things - but not flippin' 'Mama'; at least, not when looking at me. May I remind you, dear girl, that I was in agonising labour for 10 HOURS? Can you say 'Mama'? Please?

3. Putting things into the right-shaped holes

4. Fetching and carrying

5. Going upstairs by foot and not on all fours, if someone holds your hand

6. Hugging

7. Kissing - kind of, with your mouth wide open and in an 'I'm-trying-hard-to-eat-you' kind of way

8. Saying hello and bye-bye

9. Putting your head down when you're tired

10. Playing alone in your cot in the mornings (Thank you, thank you, thank you, Auntie Tanzy, for telling Mom to put toys and a sippy cup in your cot overnight!)

And a bonus one: Eating funny things like olives, squid heads, naartjie peel, marrows, edamame, and - bleccchhh, I can barely type this without gagging; whose friggin' child are you? - chopped liver.

Your birthday

Your first birthday was a huge success. You loved your amazing rubber duck cake from Auntie Vanessa, you were spoiled with beautiful (and educational) gifts, and everyone made a huge fuss.

Also, Mommy and Daddy survived the first year! So we all had cause to celebrate. Pics to follow, for posterity.

Life in general

Mommy and Daddy are good. A bit stressed about all sorts of things and a lot tired, but plodding on and making the most...

1. The big house is:

a) looking utterly magnificent,
b) making Mom and Dad remember why they fell in love with it in the first place,
c) no longer costing billions now that the renovations are done and it's been rented out for a year and
d) as secure as the Reserve Bank, so in the running for potential occupation by us - yes, after all that - in a year's time.

2. The cluster is still home: snug, cosy, friendly, sunny and happy. We love it here. I realised today how very unhappy Dad and I were in the old place, and what a difference it makes to feel completely at peace in your home.

I also realised that the coming winter doesn't scare me as much as the last one. Dad says that this is because I'm not depressed this time round, and he's mostly right, but even the PND twinges I've been having lately are bearable - in this house.

3. I like threes, so I feel obliged to add one more life-in-general item, even tho' my back aches (you're damn cute, but damn heavy), I have work to do, and it's 8.45pm. So let's leave it there, shall we?

May you have wonderful birthdays that are as memorable and special as Yaya always ensured that mine were, and may you work hard to make your loved ones' birthdays special too.

I love you.

Love Mom x