Friday, December 03, 2010

Day 18* → Your views on gay marriage.

*of this

Oh and how badly is this one going to go down.
*ducks and braces herself for virtual onslaught of fruit in various stages of decay being thrown at her head*

I've been dreading this topic because my views are not PC and the internet is notorious for vicious anonymous attacks. But then, I suppose it is good to be challenged on such things and for me to have to actual explore what I believe.

I think that this topic is a bit narrow. For the most part I don't think gay marriage is what the issue is about.

It's kind of like everyone tuning the pope about having an issue with contraception. They moan because he is against condoms, they say that his stance contributes to the spread of Aids. What they fail to mention is that the pope also is against sex outside of marriage, promiscuity, etc. If they take his full message then the spread of Aids shouldn't be a result of his stance. (please let's not start a catholic bashing session here, I am not against contraception myself and there's much that I don't necessarily agree with in catholicism, but that is besides the point. the point here is about logic or the lack thereof).

Wow... this really is such a loaded topic. I'm a bit unsure where to start.

My hesitation is this:
In short, I'm not for gay marriage and so I suppose I am against it. But if I left it there, with no context, I'd be grossly misrepresenting myself and my faith.

I believe that homosexuality is sin. I also believe that premarital sex is sin. I believe that lying is sin, that slander is sin, that self righteousness is sin. Obviously I sin too, although I try not to.

The bible doesn't talk much about degrees of sin, but to me one of the most repugnant of all sins is hypocrisy.

I am not going to judge a gay couple, or a couple who are sleeping together outside of marriage, unless they call themselves christian. Does that sound a bit weird? I'll try explain.

Synonymous with being a christian is striving toward a biblical standard for your life, Christ-likeness. It is both an awesome privilege to be able to call yourself christian and a weighty responsibility.

In the bible there is an example of a woman caught in adultery. Jesus' famous response to the crowd who are preparing to stone her is "he who is without sin should cast the first stone". The crowd sheepishly disperses. THEN He goes to the women and tells her to leave her life of sin.

The point is that Jesus is against us judging others, but he is ALSO against her life of sin and tells her to leave it.

The biblical exception is among believers. Believers are expected to keep one another accountable.

“If your brother or sister sins, go and point out their fault, just between the
two of you. If they listen to you, you have won them over. But if they will not
listen, take one or two others along, so that ‘every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.’If they still refuse to listen, tell it to the church; and if they refuse to listen even to the church, treat them as you would a pagan or a tax collector." (Matthew 18:15 - 18)

I wonder if that sounds controlling, scary, overbearing to you? Actually I see this as one of the gifts of being part of a church community. I couldn't handle being surrounded by a bunch of "Yes-men". Instead I'm surrounded by people who hold me true to my beliefs and values, rather than to my emotions. Emotions are short term and can be fickle - there could, for example, be a colleague of mine who makes me feel special. Perhaps at this time I am feeling particularly down on myself and TheBand is busy, stressed, overlooking me, or whatever. And so I respond to the colleague because he fulfils an emotional need at that time and voila. Disaster.

In such a case I have no doubt that I have plenty of friends who would call me on it before anything had happened and hopefully spare me from a disastrous situation and the same goes for The Band. He is surrounded by people who value us and our marriage and hold us to our vows.

If a christian were to tell me she was gay I'd have to discourage her from pursuing that lifestyle in the same way that I can't agree with my christian friends living with their boyfriends. The reason is that it is hypocritical. You choose to strive toward a biblical standard for your life or you don't. You are christian or you aren't. We all get to choose.

If a non-christian is gay or lives with their boyfriend I have no place to judge because they are not purporting to live by any other standard.

EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEESH I hope I've explained this right.

Thursday, December 02, 2010

Day 17* → A book you’ve read that changed your views on something.

*Of this

(thanks to Lotus07 for the kick up the butt to get back to this meme! :)

After Sophia's death I was floundering. Floundering in my faith. Floundering to find peace. Floundering with where she is now. Floundering with whether I'd ever see her again.

Two books opened my eyes and brought me much peace.

The first is I'll hold you in heaven by Dr Jack Hayford.

It's a little book and a quick read and basically looks at the theology of baby loss and baby salvation. I was astounded at how much the bible actually has to say in this regard. For one thing it explains from a very practical perspective why a child is a 'person' with a soul from the moment of conception. So many who have really early miscarriages - like as in they test positive this morning and bleed that evening - don't understand why it still shakes them so profoundly. I believe that this is the reason. Whether your baby was a few days along or many months along that baby is a person with an eternal life before them. In heaven they'll be whole. In both cases PARENTS have lost children.

It's a beautiful book and the first thing I recommend to anyone who has lost a child - whether through stillbirth, miscarriage, infant death or abortion.

The other book is called Heaven by Randy Alcorn. It's fascinating. I've never been one of those who's wished the second coming would hurry up. Before reading this book I always thought Heaven sounded... well... boring. I don't want to sing all day, and what's with the no marriage deal? What about The Guv and Phoebe? Where do they go? And my family? Will I know them there? Will I be bored? Most importantly, how does my daughter now spend her days?

Alcorn paints a picture of Heaven which is so refreshing and appealing. His point is that we were created with Heaven in mind. We are eternal beings. Heaven is home for us. Therefore it's not going to be some dull and boring place, it'll be inspiring and invigorating and awesome. It will be like the world we're in, minus all the horros, illness, sadness, tragedy, sin and so on. He believes that in Heaven we'll have physical bodies again, that we will recognise and live with our families.
Anyway, long story short, it is the first time that I've been excited about the physical place (yep!) of Heaven.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Dear Mrs Squirrel

You know those annoying moms? The ones who are super over protective of their kids? The ones who think their kid can do no wrong? Those deluded women who make us grit out teeth in embarassed annoyance? Ya... Let me never judge them again. I'm not quite as bad as that, but what I DO know is that feeling. That physical reaction that happens when someone insults or threatens your child in any way.

A few things have happened since Tandi's arrival. One was someone kissing her while they had a fever blister (what the hell were they thinking... you know how dangerous that can be for a baby?), one was someone saying she wasn't beautiful and one was someone insulting her outfit rather nastily (seriously! Why??).

In all cases these were people who actually love my child. They are not bad people and given some distance and some deep breaths I can admit that they weren't meaning to be as thoughtless, nasty or silly as I felt that they were.

My point is not about what happened. My point is about my reaction to what happened.

To the baffled men out there and to the future moms I thought you should know that this is why I have newfound sympathy or even (shudder) empathy for those annoying moms we all secretly roll our eyes at. When any of these things (or similar situations) occur this is what happens to a mom:

Your throat tightens in a nauseating, sickening kind of way. Your pulse quickens. Adrenaline pumps through your body. You fight to maintain a socially acceptable outward demeanor but inside you are throttling the person Ally MacBeal style. You feel as if the entire world is an evil place and as if you will never be able to forgive that person. If you had hackles (maybe some really hairy women do??) they would rise. Like a cat who senses something dodgy or dangerous nearby, your hair would rise all down your spine (again, that is if you have a hairy spine!) It is a PHYSICAL thing. Emotion-wise you want to wrap your child in your arms, covering them and protecting them from that person. You want to get your child safely away from the situation. And you very very much want to cry.

Now perhaps I should have started this post by assuring you that in real life I am a very calm, even-tempered, rational pacifist. I really and truly am. This is something which is pure instinct and actually I don't think it has too much to do with me having lost a daughter. I think it would be this way regardless.

And so, Mrs Squirrel, I wanted to let you know that when I saw these pics of you today there was no judgement on my part. Nope. I thought: You go girl!

We're not so different, you and I.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Day 16* → Someone or something you definitely could live without.

* of this

There's plenty that I can and do live without:
alcohol and caffeine (while pregnant), meat (since I was 14), a TV (since we've been married) but the thing I really want to live without today is our builder. Hiss, crackle, tense shoulders, sigh.

The Band is in Madagascar til next week (sob) so I have to manage the builders who are putting up a wall at The New House. By ten this morning I had been to the train station twice, to Benbel hardware store twice, to the brickplace once and to The New House FOUR times.

Disorganised people I can handle. I have patience for that sort of thing. What I can't handle is being spoken to like I'm an idiot, presumably on the basis that I'm a woman.

On my THIRD trip to the house this morning (after waiting for one builder who was 40min late without warning, apology or explanation, making me miss gym and leave my screaming hungry child ....insert a longer, more detailed vent here) I was told "we need spoons"

"Spoons? Why do you need spoons?"

Confer in Xhosa. Annoyed and amused by this silly little woman.
"Spoons! Don't you know what's spoons?"

"Spoons? Spoons?? OOOOH. Spons. A sponge?"

Confer in Xhosa. Annoyed and amused by this silly little woman.
"Yes!" (annoyed, exasperated).

(sigh) "Fine, what sort of sponge? Seeing as you 3 are simply lying on the grass does someone want to come with and run in?"

Confer in Xhosa. Annoyed and amused by this silly little woman.
"A spoons. Just buy a spoons".

Tight smile/grimace and off I went to buy the flippen sponge.

Dear Builder,
I am not your PA, your secretary, your chaffeur or your personal slave. GET ORGANISED. I, believe it or not, have my own job. You're employed by ME!

(rant. rave. breathe in and out. address tension headache)

Friday, November 12, 2010

Day 15* → Something or someone you couldn’t live without, because you’ve tried living without it.

* what?

This one is easy peezy lemon squeezy because I'm currently trying to live without it:

My phone.

I have been the very happy owner (friend? adorer?) of an iPhone for about a year. So very very much more than a phone. It is (was - sob - more on that later):
* my camera and my photo album - filled with pics of my pregnancy and captured memories of Tandia
* my iPod
* my 24/7 access to social networking - Facebook & Twitter in particular
* my record of what side and when last I breastfed
* my gaming portal for those boring times of breastfeeding somewhere in a room while everyone else socialises
* my chat interface (via WhatsApp) with plenty of friends and family
* my GPS
* my exercise training programme
* my recipe book
and so very much more.

And then alas. On Wednesday, getting back from gym holding gym towel and phone, a dog jumped up to yank my towel from my hand and the phone went flying and smashed on the paving.


But it looked fine. No cracks or anything. Alas, there was some internal bleeding - the LCD screen to be precise. Overs cadovers.

Wednesday was a long and torturous day - I kept the phone on as I could still receive calls, but the message tone kept beeping and I couldn't read the messages and it gave me a burning feeling in my stomach. (I later discovered that much of that was TheBand sending me random SMSes and WhatsApps to mess with me - ah yes, this is love).

Thursday I was loaned a Nokia. Never have I hated a phone quite so much.
The boredom. The annoying pain of trying to compose an SMS. The complete lack of logic - it took TheBand and I an age to find the photos on the phone and even then we had to ask someone how. This phone leaves us feeling like our parents in the face of baffling, overwhelming technology, except that a Nokia can scarcely be called technology. Haha I really am such a snob!! (and all the Nokia owners hissed and resolved to visit this blog never again).

And then.
I know!!

If you are even remotely interested in phones or gadgets of any sort (well not ANY sort) check out - such an accessible awesome site. Besides, they're giving me a phone!!!

too stoked.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Day 14* → A hero that has let you down. (letter)

By now I'm sure this needs no explanation, but here it is for the slow learners :)

Dear Body

I thought I would never forgive you. I don't know if I have or if I'm in the process of it or what.

You let me down and I hate you for it. You didn't do what you were designed to do. Over and over people and the books (in their singsong know-it-all tone) say "The safest place for a baby is in their mom's womb". Bullshit. I did all the right things. I cut out caffeine and alcohol and I did moderate exercise with a trainer specialising in pregnancy exercise. I ate healthily and I took my vitamins.

Sophia was perfect. She was about a week ahead of schedule throughout. Everything looked good all the way through. I appeared to "glow" in pregnancy. And then.

And then what? What happened, Body, why the fuck did you decide to stop doing your job? What was it in you that suddenly, randomly decided to disconnect placenta from womb? Life supply from baby cradle? How useless is a body that can't provide for it's most important, most treasured occupant?

I remember so clearly showering the day after Sophia was born. I stood there, leaned against the wall. Awkward. Drip in my arm. Spent. Crying. Hating you. Looking down at your swollen breasts, your disgusting floppy, marked, empty stomach. Repelled. Failure. Standing in a pool of blood.

And yet.

And yet even as I type this Tandia is "plugged in". She is feeding from you, from me, as I write.

In some ways you redeemed yourself by bringing her safely into this world. You provide for her in a way that no one else can. You have kept her safe and healthy and you continue to do so. You are even worse for wear after this pregnancy. Stomach even softer. Angry marks on my sides - as if I've had an unfortunate encounter with The Guv. But this time all these marks of motherhood leave me a little in awe of you, because they are no longer only signs of death and failure, but of life.

You let me down and, so very very much worse, you let her down. I'm sorry that I haven't forgiven you yet. I'm not sure when I'll get there. But I am also exceptionally grateful to you. Unforgiveness and gratitude run parallel.

And so, Body, thank you for the gift of protection and provision for Tandi, but oh how I wish you would have also given it to Sophia.


Dear readers:
As you'll know, I don't swear. I think it's coarse and unbecoming of a lady and it's not who I am (yes, yes, I've been called prissy more than once!) but this is how I felt writing this. These are the words I honestly spoke in my head and so, given the choice between tarnishing my blog with vulgar words or with dishonesty/misrepresentation, I chose the former.

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Day 13 → A band or artist that has gotten you through some tough ass days. (write a letter.)

*I'm busy with a 30 day meme, read all about it

Nah. I'm going to edit this topic bearing in mind that later on in this meme I am compiling a playlist for someone, so I won't double up on those songs.
The new topic is songs which have spoken to particular times in your life.

Well I'm glad you asked :)

1. Sistas are doing it for themselves - no idea - someone Motownish I'm guessing.
Yep! Through some miscommunication, I unintentionally ended up hitchhiking ALONE through Botswana, cell phone less and not entirely sure of where I was meant to be going. I took a few lucky guesses, survived on one little box of eat sum mors, and loved every second of it. In my head I was singing that line on repeat. What an awesomely exhilarating adventure.

2. This year's love - David Gray
This song played in my head throughout my second pregnancy.
"This year's love had better last. Heaven knows it's high time. I've been waiting on my own too long."
It's a slow, beautiful, gentle song. But I almost sang it (to myself) half angrily, half threateningly. I guess God may have wanted to ask "This year's love had better last Or What?" but God is exceedingly tolerant of me :)

3. Music and Lights - some SA band
"Sipping on a cold fanta piney, this is how I make my living: ga rhymy!"
This song was somehow big on SA radio a couple of years back. The Band and I thought it was hysterical and sang along to the parts we knew. It's got happy road trip memories for me.

4. Crowded House - the whole of the Recurring Dream album
On our awesome Africa Trip the 4 of us played this CD day in and day out. Good times :)

Friday, November 05, 2010

Day 12* → Something you never get compliments on.

*I'm busy with a 30 day meme. Read more here.

My green fingers.

I kill plants. I really do. I don't mean to. I'm a bunny hugger, after all. But they are forever dying on my watch. It's pretty flippen depressing.
Exhibit A:

Exhibit B:

Exhibit C:

Now fear not. It's not ALL bad news. My most recent 3 plant additions are alive and thriving (AGAINST ALL ODDS)

This orchard was given to me by my MIL when she came to the Cape to meet Tandia. In my head I screamed "noooooooo! Why would you do that to me?? Why would you give me a finicky, pricey plant to care for. Is a newborn child not enough responsibility???" I had visions of me having to go out and purchase a new replacement orchard every time they came to visit. But look. It's thriving. Buds and everything. No idea how. Some snarky person mentioned that orchards thrive under stressed conditions. hmph.

The succulent. You can't go wrong with a succulent. They need basically no attention. This sits in Tandia's room and survives all on its own with pretty much no help from me (the way a plant SHOULD be).

Our newest plant is a tree. A congratulatory gift from our estate agent on the purchase of our new house. Gorgeous and in mint condition as you can see, but then it's only been subjected to my "care" (and I use the term generously!) for about 2 weeks now, so ya. Although a tree in a pot is really an odd concept if you think about it, at least I can give it a hug whenever I forget to take packets with to the shop.

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Day 11* → Something people seem to compliment you the most on.

*I'm doing a 30 day meme (ok it's taking a bit longer than that!!) read about it here.

My writing. Ok, it's embarassing to say that here, on my writing portal, but there you have it. It's probably the one thing I receive the most compliments on. That and my entertaining facbook statuses but that's just because none of my facebook friends are on Twitter and so they don't realise that that's where I get them from :)

Anyway, I mentioned in a recent post that I've always wanted to write a book. Cliche, yes, but true. It's one of those things that goes on the life list for One Day When I Have Time. Has anyone ever ever reached That Day?

Didn't think so.

And so, bravely, foolishly, excitingly, yesterday I signed up for NaNoWriMo.

I have pledged to write a novel in a month. Crazy, no?
I am really excited about it though. Truth be told, I need a bit of pressure to get my A into G and so voila. NaNoWriMo is just the thing I need.

Hold me to it, hassle me, ask me for updates, k?

PS In case you were worried that November would be a boring month for me, in addition to writing a 50 000 word novel, I'm going to be Bandless for 10 days while he's in Madagascar. Also, I will be organising a baby shower for a friend AND starting up a small charity. True story! But that's for another post :)

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Day 10* → Someone you need to let go, or wish you didn’t know.

I'm busy with a 30 day meme. Read about it here.

I have no really poisonous people in my life. The most poisonous person in my life is me. Not at all the time, not even often, but sometimes I can be my own worst enemy. So the person I wish I didn't know is lazy caz, insecure caz, envious caz, bitter caz, scared caz, mean caz.

That all being said, I don't want to construct something simply because it's the prescribed title of a post and so, in the efforts of honesty (a beeeg value of this blog) let me just say that for the most part I like who I am - particularly post-Sophia me. There's room for improvement, always, and I'm working on it, most of the time.

Cop out? Hope not. Just honest.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Day 09* → Someone you didn’t want to let go, but just drifted.

I'm busy with a 30 day meme. Read more about it here.

When I was a young'un, my oldest brother (12 years my senior) had a serious girlfriend named Jacqui. She was ten years older than me and, considering I am the 4th child with 3 older brothers, she was my hero.

I must have only been about 7 when she came into our lives. She soon became part of the family. There all the time. Early on in their relationship, her younger sister committed suicide. She wasn't just Greg's girlfriend, she was our older sister. I remember when, as a little one, I'd be upset and run to my room in tears, it was Jacqui who would come and console me. I remember how excited she was when I started my period - to her it was an event worthy of flowers and a facial. When I had sleepovers as a 12 or 13 year old all my friends would be so excited for Jacqui to give us manicures and pedicures. She was a profound part of my life for 10 years. 10 hugely formative years. She was there through puberty. She was there through my mom's cancer and chemo. She was there through my childhood. Even today I can see certain parts of my handwriting mimic her handwriting. She was my hero.

And then.

Greg and Jacqui got engaged and moved to Durban. Oblivious me. There were signs which you only see in retrospect.

She ended it. She was in a relationship with her boss, who she subsequently married.
She went from being my hero to being public enemy number 1 in our family. But that's silly. There are, of course, 2 sides to every story.

Anyway, the impact was rather devastating to 14 or 15 year old me. I didn't get why their incompatability should mean that I had to lose a sister. Just like that Jacqui was out of our lives and we never heard from her.

I've seen her only twice in the 14 or so years since and I still miss her. I don't miss Greg and her as a couple, I miss her as my big sister.

In big moments I often wonder where she is and if she knows. Her mom is still in East London and worked at my gran's retirement centre so I have no doubt she's been kept up to date with the major things.

When I'm interviewed on TV or radio for Earth Hour I wonder if she recognises my voice all these years later. I wonder if she knows my new surname. I wonder if she knows about Sophia and I wonder if she longs to meet Tandia. I've no doubt she cried when Noon died. I guess, at the end of it all, the little girl in me wants my childhood hero to be proud of me.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Day 08* → Someone who made your life hell, or treated you badly.

*I'm busy with a 30 day meme. Read more about it here.

D'you know, I really can't think of anyone.

Obviously people have given me a hard time along the way, but they haven't had enough of an impact that I want to give them space in my blog. It just seems a bit doff. I'm going to dig around in my brain for people who made me feel bad about myself and then I'm going to rehash the situation and possibly feel that way all over again and worse, tarnish my lovely blog with bitter memories of people who didn't have that much impact to begin with. Pass.

(That's not to say that anyone who has done this post is lame. Not at all. Rather that my particular examples are lame and not worth sharing.)

Monday, October 25, 2010

Day 07* → Someone who has made your life worth living.

*I'm busy with a 30 day meme. Read more about it here.

The Band.

The Band who walked just behind me when we hiked all those years ago so that as we went up the hills he could subtly lift my backpack and make it easier for me but without me or anyone else realising he was doing it.

The Band who can never remember the words, rhythm or tune of any song, but gives improvising a good go.

The Band who wrote me poems and songs to win my heart.

The Band who, at the height of a fever, once told me he felt like a boiled baboon.

The Band who sees the potential in everybody and will give anyone a chance.

The Band who is my fiercest competition when it comes to any game. But as team mates we're unbeatable.

The Band who is so dam cute with children.

The Band who is my best friend.

The Band whose dance moves are less Patrick Swaze and more Wall-E malfunctioning.

The Band whose gran gave him one of those very gold very croc pleather catalogue watches for his birthday and so he wore it all weekend over his jersey using any excuse possible to draw attention to his bling.

The Band who will always challenge me beyond my comfort zone and inspire me to expect more of myself.

The Band who cried on his knees after Sophia was born.

The Band who comes up with fascinating ways to entertain and sooth Tandi - from the laughing song, to the mobile throne, to the flying suit, to the sleep train.

The Band who I want to grow old with, playing fierce backgammon tournaments on a porch somewhere by the sea.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Day 06* → Something you hope you never have to do.

*I'm busy with a 30 day meme. Read more about it here.

Oh come on man. How about some nice light and fluffy post topics. sheesh.

I've already done the most horrific thing I can imagine - I have collected my daughter's ashes from the crematorium.

If I had to cast the scene in the movie, it would have been much as it was: a bleak, overcast, windy day. Crematorium on the outskirts of George. It was, in a word, bleak. Grey. A grey, bleak day.

I hope and pray I never ever have to do that again.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Day 05* → Something you hope to do in your life

*I'm busy with a 30 day meme. Read more about it here.

I want to write a book. Yes, yes, I know. Not particularly original. But it's a long time dream of mine. A book that's written beautifully, wittily, inspiringly. A book that leaves readers touched. Changed.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Day 04* → Something you have to forgive someone for.

*I'm busy with a 30 day meme. Read more about it here.

I've become quite a sensitive soul. I'm easily hurt these days when it comes to all things children and pregnancy. So sensitive, in fact, that I even get offended on behalf of others... for example when people curl their lips at the thought of the imposition of having children I want to strangle them because I know of the heartache of my friends fighting the infertility war.

Anyway, if I'm harbouring unforgiveness, it's generally around that general topic. Ussually I get over things with time. And so what comes to mind is something which happened this weekend. It was a telephone conversation with a family member who was speaking about a photo of Tandia.

Her: I showed it to my friends and I was telling them that, you know, she may not be a beautiful baby, but she is very cute.
Me: WHAT???? excuse me. Are you saying my child is not beautiful??
Her: umm well I think I'm saying it wrong. She doesn't look like your typical baby. She looks wise. Like she understands everything going on around her.
Me: Yes, I can agree with that, but seriously? You don't think she's beautiful???

I thought I'd be over it by the next morning. I wasn't. I woke up FUMING.

WHO SAYS THAT? Now let's all be honest for a sec here. There are some butt ugly babies out there. No doubt about that. But you NEVER actually SAY IT. ESPECIALLY not to the baby's mom. And in any case, Tandia is sure as hell not one of them. I have strangers coming to tell me that she is one of the most beautiful babies they've ever seen.

Why does this upset me so much? Well it's some healthy mama bear defensiveness coming out. And that's fine and even feels good. But it's also to do with 2 other, more sensitive things. It's to do with my previous post, for one thing. I can't quite put into words exactly how it relates, but you can figure it out for yourself, I'm sure. And it's also to do with the fact that I've never felt pretty. I've always felt mildly insecure about my looks. Some of that, perhaps, is inherited and it's not something that I want to pass on to Tandia. I want her to have a very good self image. We constantly tell her how much we love her. How beautiful she is. How precious she is. From the start I want her to have confidence in these things. There are far too many women walking around feeling bad about themselves for no good reason. I don't want that for my little girl.

Anyway, there is now tension between this person and myself. We haven't really spoken since. All it takes is "I'm sorry, that was not a nice thing to say". But I don't really think that's going to happen. Forgiveness is my duty, but a simple apology would make it a helluva lot easier!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Day 03* → Something you have to forgive yourself for.

*I'm busy with a 30 day meme. Read more about it here.

Ugh. This is the one I've been dreading. At least it's near the start of this meme so I can get it over with.

The thing I "have to" forgive myself for, and probably (or even definitely) never will, is not checking up on the lack of movement in those last days of my pregnancy with Sophia. You all know the story by now. Pain on the Friday night... then days of things being different. I dismissed it as her having dropped and therefore less movement which is what the books tell you. But there was a gnawing feeling and I ignored it. I didn't want to be an imposition. Stupid stupid vein me.

The day we arrived in Plett we took a drive to see where the hospital was, just in case I went into labour. I remember peering through that window and thinking "maybe I should just find someone to do a quick ultrasound for peace of mind" but I squashed the thought. That would be pricey and paranoid and besides, the first trimester is the risky one, there's no real need. Stupid stupid naive me.

Could I have saved her? No. I don't believe for a second that I could have. We were foretold of her death a week before. Placental abruption can be very quick. I believe that my little girl died on that Friday night. 28 August. Only hours after my last doctor's appointment. And so, if I couldn't have saved her, what's the point of the regret? I guess it's about dignity. It's about the bruising and hurt her little body had endured by the time she was born. I will perhaps never talk about it in detail, but my beautiful, precious daughter was marked by death. Each extra day taking its toll. And so, if I could do things differently I would have gone to the hospital that Friday night (it wasn't even a consideration!!! didn't occur to me AT ALL!) and birthed her then. She would still have looked as she should have. Perfect. My angel baby. I know there are reasons, there are pros. If I'd done that, she'd not have been born in Plett. I wouldn't have had the incredible support and brilliant (all things considered) experience that I did, in a hospital all to myself. It would have been a lot harder on ME. Perhaps I wouldn't have as much peace as I do if the experience hadn't been what it was. But for her... if I hadn't taken so long...if I had listened to my gut... she'd have the dignity of being born whole.

In Heaven though she is whole and beautiful and happy and it's only there that I'll finally be able to forgive myself for this.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Day 02* → Something you love about yourself

*I'm busy with a 30 day meme. Read more about it here

Can I change it to what I love about my life? that's easy... but no, that is not the topic.

What an arb topic. Seriously.

Fine then. I love my nose :) I do - I think it suits me :)haha. What else? I love my cheesy sense of humour and the groans it results in from those around me. At least I think I'm funny - even if no one else does!

I love that I love to read and write.

I love my maternal instincts and I love myself as a mom, if that makes sense. I think, despite never having changed a single nappy before Tandia's arrival and having no experience of babies, that I'm a natural. I feel at home with her and have done from day one. I love that sense of confidence in myself as her mom.

I also love the perspective I have gained from Sophia - the way she has changed me and grown me and matured me. The empathy I now have. The way trivial issies are seen for what they are.

I keep wanting to refer to some "we's" - to the things I love about The Band & I as a couple, but alas that is off topic. As it is I was probably only meant to say one thing and I'm digressing big time as I always do.

The End

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Day 01* → Something you hate about yourself

*I'm busy with a 30 day meme. Read more about it here.

Ok, I know that it's a bit of a trend to hate this or that about oneself - especially as a woman - but I don't hate a part of myself nor do I hate the sum of the collective parts (ok, fine, I just wanted to say "sum of the collected parts" - I'm cool like that!)I think that what immediately comes to mind under such a title is physical attributes. Am I supposed to list all my physical flaws here? Or does it refer to something deeper - lifelong regrets, personality uglies.

No, I can't say that I'm kept up at night dreaming of plastic surgery or bashing my head on the wall for stupid things said and done. But of course I can recognise where there is room for improvement and of course I have regrets.

So now that I've toned down the topic to "Places where there is room for improvement in you" I'll try address the topic.

On the shallow side I'm obviously carrying the weight of two pregnancies in quick succession and the changed body shape as a result. There are angry little lines where there never were before. I suddenly have chunky arms, a mean little caesar scar and so on. I'm working on improving what I can though - I meet with my personal torturer, er, I mean trainer thrice a week and hopefully that which can be improved will be. The scars and marks I mind less so. They are reminders. Badges of grief and badges of honour. Being able to carry a child must certainly be one of our greatest gifts and privileges and these marks are reminders of that - I'm grateful for them. Ha! Just reread that last sentence. Dam I'm cheesy. But it is true!

In terms of personality improvements... well I need to learn to think before I speak and to consider the feelings of others. I can say that it is pretty much never my express intention to hurt people, but I can do this inadvertantly (if not hurt them, then make them feel silly) by joking or teasing with the best intentions but without considering that people have different levels of tolerance, of sensitivity and simply that everyone is going through their own battles and we will never know someone's context completely. And so I want to learn to consider others in all that I say, but not to become paralysed by that - I like teasing people and joking with them (in a respectful way) because (done right) it brings people out of their shell, it pulls a few laughs and in a way it makes people feel special.

I'm told by The Band that I'm not good at apologising. I'm not sure if I agree with that actually... I think I'm good at apologising for the bigger things, but for smaller things, not so much. A hypothetical example (in reality we gave up refilling the fridge water months ago):

Me: SHMOO! You didn't fill up the fridge water again!
Him: Actually you were the last one to use it...
Me: No I wasn't...
Him: Yes - remember you had a glass with breakfast?
Me: Oh.... mumble mumble mumble
Him: (haughty tone) I accept your apology!
Me: (stubborn tone) I didn't apologise (sulks).

Where do you see room for improvement in your life?

A cure to bloggers block

Most of the Twitterverse and the Blogosphere (wow I'm a geek!!) are busy with this meme and I thought it would be a good cure to my writer's block and also probably just a healthy exercise in introspection (which I've been avoiding for the past month!)

The idea is that over 30 days you stick to a list of blog topics. Topics designed to get you thinking about who you are and where you're at. A bit of stocktaking, if you will. Before I even start, let me say that this may or may not happen within 30 calendar days. I am unlikely to crank up the laptop on a Sunday, but you never know.

Here it is:
Day 01 → Something you hate about yourself
Day 02 → Something you love about yourself
Day 03 → Something you have to forgive yourself for.
Day 04 → Something you have to forgive someone for.
Day 05 → Something you hope to do in your life.
Day 06 → Something you hope you never have to do.
Day 07 → Someone who has made your life worth living.
Day 08 → Someone who made your life hell, or treated you badly.
Day 09 → Someone you didn’t want to let go, but just drifted.
Day 10 → Someone you need to let go, or wish you didn’t know.
Day 11 → Something people seem to compliment you the most on.
Day 12 → Something you never get compliments on.
Day 13 → A band or artist that has gotten you through some tough ass days. (write a letter.)
Day 14 → A hero that has let you down. (letter)
Day 15 → Something or someone you couldn’t live without, because you’ve tried living without it.
Day 16 → Someone or something you definitely could live without.
Day 17 → A book you’ve read that changed your views on something.
Day 18 → Your views on gay marriage.
Day 19 → What do you think of religion? Or what do you think of politics?
Day 20 → Your views on drugs and alcohol.
Day 21 → (scenario) Your best friend is in a car accident and you two got into a fight an hour before. What do you do?
Day 22 → Something you wish you hadn’t done in your life.
Day 23 → Something you wish you had done in your life.
Day 24 → Make a playlist to someone, and explain why you chose all the songs. (Just post the titles and artists and letter)
Day 25 → The reason you believe you’re still alive today.
Day 26 → Have you ever thought about giving up on life? If so, when and why?
Day 27 → What’s the best thing going for you right now?
Day 28 → What if you were pregnant or got someone pregnant, what would you do?
Day 29 → Something you hope to change about yourself. And why.
Day 30 → A letter to yourself, tell yourself EVERYTHING you love about yourself

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Life with Tandi

Tandia (pronounced "tun-dee-uh" for those who still aren't sure) is an unusual name and it still does not yet just roll off the tongue - not that it doesn't suit her. It suits her perfectly and I love it, but truth be told I don't use it often. Most often she's my shnugglepuff, Little Miss Stinkleton or Snortleby (her very hungry cry is peppered with unladylike snorts which have The Band and I in hysterics!)

Life with Tandia is precious. It's an incredible thing when others are vying for her attention and yet her eyes follow mine alone. The gratitude and love and "chosenness" I feel in those moments - as if the star quarterback has asked ME to the prom :)

We are realising more and more that we've got an easy baby as babies go. As soon as I stopped waking her for feeds (around 3 weeks) she began sleeping for 6 hour stretches at night. She sleeps easily and without fuss. She's little, but is growing faster than her predicted growth curve, so no problems there. She's healthy and strong and has her dad and I wrapped around her tiny little pinky.

When she smiles we can't help but smile back - even if it's 4:30 and she's supposed to be sleeping.

It's amazing what we'll do for a smile. I guess any parents among you will know exactly what i mean. Those first few smiles - Well The Band and I were harmonising nasal "hallo, halloooo, halloooooooo" (in true Wielie Waalie kouse vorm). Our voices go higher and higher and our actions grow larger and larger.

She's THREE MONTHS ALREADY. Can you believe that? which means about 100 baths. And yet I adore bathing her. It doesn't get tired. It's still a privilege. A treat. A dream come true. A prayer granted. I adore this little girl and savour her. I am trying to take it all in. Trying to imprint special moments and memories on my heart.

And spoilt! Me and her both. WOW we have been blessed. So many luxuries have been given as gifts. One friend did a photoshoot for us free (see these), another did 5 week infant massage course for us. LOVED THAT! Another friend of mine is doing personal training with me, also free. Crazy how blessed we are. People are STILL arriving with gifts, 3 months down the line.

Celebrating Sophia

The Band and I spent Sophia's birthday weekend in Hermanus which was great. We went out for a quiet dinner and each got to spend some time alone by the sea. That evening we opened a special bottle of wine which we'd bought in Plett just days before Everything Happened. When we bought it back then we had planned to celebrate her birth with it. It was a quiet, peaceful time away, but the contrast to what a 1 year old's birthday should have been were glaring.

On the Sunday we invited local family and one or two close friends around and had birthday cake and champagne. I think this will become an annual tradition.

I guess one may have expected a princess cake or something, but this is what I felt would have epitomised Sophia.

In my mind's eye she's being pushed on a tree swing or she's playing in a tree house. She's adventurous and playful and laughs a lot. She loves being outdoors. And so the tree.

It was a good time. Good to have people speak of her. If only a little bit and even if rather awkwardly. Her name was spoken and that meant something.

Ke nako. It is time.

to blog again.

I've long been out of blogging action. Not because I've had nothing to say. Not because I've had no time. It's more just been that I've not wanted to spend my last few weeks of maternity leave glued to a computer - plenty of time for that when work starts again NEXT WEEK. (le sigh!)

And so, two updates up ahead... Sophia's birthday (more than a month later!) and life with Tandia. Coming up!

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Celebrating life

I have lost my writing mojo for now. I still need to write about Sophia's birthday party and post some pics of that but I just don't have the energy right now. Don't be worried, I am fine, promise. Just feeling very "surface"... I don't want to say superficial - it's not that. It's more that for right now I am simply living day to day.

A few pics from our newborn shoot a few weeks ago....

Saturday, September 04, 2010

You, me and the deep blue sea

I'm sitting on the rocks, huge waves smashing and sea mist cooling my face and my feet. Do you remember the last time we did this? At the Wild Coast last April. Such a beautiful day - just me and you and a random friendly dog that decided to join us on our walk.

I loved that day. I sat there knowing that next time I sat on the rocks you'd be sitting right beside me. I so wish that were true.

Today my experience is tainted. The sea is the same, but these rocks are different. I can see awful insects & weird creatures scuttling in the shadows. They're hideous and quick and I feel unsafe and exposed.

But the sea! The sea is glorious! Majestic! Awesome! Powerful! Strong! Cool, fresh, aquamarine and fluffy, foamy, blinding white. The sea is beauty.

The creatures on the rocks creep closer. I want to leave, to escape them. But in leaving them I leave the sea and the sea is you and the rocks are me.

Friday, September 03, 2010


Another long day of labour and then finally there you were. Even after 2 days I felt unready. They handed you to me. You were beautiful and still and ours.

Today should be about balloons and cake, presents and your little-girl-giggles. About a dress with bows and streaks of icing on your face. About flings chips and little friends and countless photos and proud parents.
About you - in all your childish wonder and unbridled joy.

Instead it is quiet.

Happy birthday my precious girl. I wish we were celebrating it together.
Sophia, your mommy loves you with all her heart.

Thursday, September 02, 2010

2 September

I woke up early - maybe 5:30. Not sure but it was dark still. I hopped to the bathroom, flipped the light and looked down. Bright red blood gushing out of me.

I called Stef and told him. "bright red is bad, the book said so."

He called our antenatal teacher. She told him to get me to the hospital.

Still firmly in denial I argued that I should eat first (???) but he was havibg none of it.

On the way there I put on an adrenaline pumping song - dance, dance by fall out boy. I was still weirdly chipper.

Went to the plett mediclinic through to the maternity ward. The sisters were too nice. They were stalling. I started to feel nervous. The midwife arrived. She was far too nice. Trying to find baby's heartbeat but nothing. From that first attempt i think i knew. Then she thought she may have.

My mouth was bone dry. No water for me in case they had to do a Caesar.

The obgyn arrived. Hooked up the sonar. Politely, almost educationally as if I was a student there to learn she pointed and said "this is where we would expect to see the heartbeat but you can see there is no movement".

The doctors version of "your baby is dead. Your life will never ever be the same."

A million thoughts go through your head in that moment - for one the absolute bittersweetness of having what I already knew confirmed: I was carrying a little girl - as I knew I was -I had dreamt of her so often. The feeling of "naturally this would happen. It was all too good to be true. The bubble was bound to burst", the feeling of "thank God for Stef. Thank God I have him in my life and we will go through this together".

I wanted to tell my dad. I think he was the only person I actually told - after that day the whole world seemed to know.

"Dad, they say my baby's dead."

I can't remember what he said except that they'd leave EL straight away and be in plett asap.

The doctor urged me to have a Caesar. I didn't want to. I really didn't want to. She agreed to try the induction but as soon as she felt any risk she'd do a Caesar.

The midwife understood and was determined to help me go natural. In retrospect it was as if they were unintentionally playing good cop bad cop and giving me something to focus on and work towards.

I remember the midwife hugging me and telling me "don't worry - I won't leave you. I'm not going anywhere." I remember thinking how futile that was and yet appreciating that that was the one thing this woman could do for me in this darkest hour and being deeply touched.

They started with the induction drips and the midwife used every other natural method she could think of from massaging reflexology points on my ankles to giving me natural medicines.

Once my folks arrived my dad walked me up and down the hospital hallway late into that night, steering my drip a we walked.

I'm not sure if they drugged me but in spite of the contractions I slept that night.

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

de ja vu

A friend visited this morning. While she was here some flowers were delivered. From my parents. Saying they are thinking of us this week. With those flowers came the end of the illusion that I'm fine and this is just another week. With those flowers the return (with a vengeance) of the old familiar nausea. With those flowers a time warp back to one year ago.

I sucked it up and pretended to listen to my friend. Relieved when she left at last.

A year ago we went through to Knysna for lunch, to a place called Cornuttis. It is gorgeous. Right by the Knysna Heads. I remember some older people chatting to us, asking if this was our first. We smiled naively, innocently, proudly.

I remember being anxious for the pregnancy to be over. I was missing my baby - since she had "dropped" on the Friday night she hardly moved at all, and when she did it was totally different. Very slow and soft. Or so I thought.

For some reason I don't have bad memories of Plett, as in I don't dread going to Plett - even though that's where we were that week. But Knysna. I think of the place and I feel ill. There was just an under current in that day of such dread and doom.

WOW I was in such denial. Idiot. Oblivious. I wonder if I will ever forgive myself for not realising, or admitting. Probably not.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

A painful night one year on

Throughout last night I kept waking in pain. My stomach felt like I'd been punched. It felt bruised and really sore. No other symptoms, just that. This morning, when it was more or less at its worst, I realised that a year ago today, on 28 August, it was the beginning of the end.

My last day of work before starting my maternity leave. It was obviously quite a busy day, but I remember a meeting with our PR agency. I was hauling them over the coals about non-delivery and trying to be very firm, but all the while wanting to smile because Sophia was kicking and dancing like crazy and you could see it from the outside. In retrospect I wonder now if she wasn't perhaps already in distress.

I left work a little early and fetched The Band for my doctor's appointment. The doc had tried to cancel, but I'd insisted on keeping the appointment because we were due to leave the next day for a week in Plett. He was rushed and running late. He measured my circumference, felt my belly, and was done. I wonder now, if he may have picked something up with a scan. They say he probably wouldn't have, but who knows? Spots on the placenta, raised fetal heartbeat. Those things would have shown.

Back to the car which had broken down outside the doctor's rooms (which are at the hospital). The Band eventually had to call a mechanic to come tow the car. It kills me that we were Right There. If there had been some kind of sign or warning we were right at the hospital for ages, but there wasnt.

It was a busy evening. Waiting at the mechanics for a while, then off to show face at a farewell. Not sure, but I think I started to feel quite tired there. Then we went to the mall. Whenever we go on holiday we each buy a book and a cd. In the CD shop I suddenly was overcome by this overwhelming feeling of emptiness and sadness. It was so strange. My lower back started to ache. I went to sit a while. The sadness had no logic and so I put on a happy face, but it was there. A horrible feeling.
I wonder at that now. Was it premonition? Had she already died and my body knew it?

Home, bed. Ow. Back ache. So sore. Like period pain in my back but bad. At about 4am I lay in the bath for ages, just topping up the hot water inbetween. I checked my pregnancy book and it said that back ache was one of the early signs of labour - baba could arrive within the next week or two! On that happy note I was quite positive about it. Mildly excited even. Little did I know that somewhere during that night Sophia had died.

By the next morning the pain had eased to tolerable. The Band helped me pack, hot water bottle was positioned on my back and we left for Plett. By the time we arrived at Beacon Isle the pain had gone.

I wonder now, at this time, whether the pain in my stomach, which believe me is very real, is coincidence or somehow psychological.

I am now bracing myself for the days of reliving that are ahead.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

the inevitable topic

The Band and I went for dinner the other night. Casual chatting. Something about a little boy. Then a conversation something along the lines of:
Me: Hopefully the next one is a little boy and then the factory can close.
Him: What? you can't just say that!
Me: well...
Him: We always said 3 kids.
Me: yes, and we've had two!
Him: Yes, but you know what I mean.
Both: let's not talk about this right now

But it upset me. Quite a lot. In retrospect, he's right. It's not something you just say without a decent discussion. I'm not even sure if I mean it or not. But what got me so shaken was two-fold: the thought of going through the terror of another pregnancy, let alone another two, and the realisation that he actually really doesn't know how hard it was for me.

Pregnancy was HARD. TERRIFYING. Worth it? obviously. That goes without saying. And always and forever it is not something I take for granted. I am grateful.

But I am also tired. 2 long pregnancies. A year and a half (more actually) of watching what I eat, drink, do. My body has been through a lot. It is stretched and reshaped. The fear... wow. The nightmares. Months and months made up of moments of sheer sickening terror. I can't tell you how different I feel without the constant fear companion. I have joy too and grief of course, but that nasty, suffocating fear is gone and I don't welcome it back!

In reality, in time, perhaps I'd consider another two pregnancies. But I think I need The Band to realise how much this has cost me. How I held my breath throughout. In real life I put on a brave face, I guess, and I'm sure it's my fault he doesn't really know. I've seen that with family as well - my mom for example - I really think a lot of them think I'm all fixed up now, because I'm not forthcoming with where I'm at (not in real life at least) and if they don't ask, I don't say.

I would definitely be open to one more. Not for me - I feel like Sophia in heaven and Tandia here are enough right now, though that could well change - but for her. I want her to have siblings and family. I want her to have nieces and nephews some day. I want her to have companion(s) when we go on family holidays. All that.

But two?

Two would mean me having FOUR pregnancies. That is A LOT on any woman. Then add to it that they will be high risk pregnancies, that I will be scared. It's big.

I think it's also just far too soon to even contemplate. I am still too worn out from the past year and a half. I think that I need time.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Happy Birthday Noon!


91 years old today and no doubt, if you were here, you'd STILL look longingly at big trees and state "that would be a good tree for climbing".

So here we are. Your birthday again.

A bit of an update from my side. Of course there's big news since I last wrote...
Your great granddaughter was born a month ago. She is SO SO precious. Of course I am going to be biased but she really is a gorgeous thing....
exhibit A:

Such a sweet temperament too. She was 4 weeks early and so the books predicted we'd have a few extra battles and her development would be a little delayed, but we've had none of that. She is an absolute pleasure.

Of course Stef is convinced she is a genius. I bet you'd agree. You two are shameless in your bias towards those you love. Love that that about you.

Ah Noon, I wish you were here. I wish you could see her. Actually, I wish I could see you seeing her. Everytime my mom sees her (at this stage via Skype - you'd be amazed by skype!) she melts. My mom is no softy so it's special to see. You would melt Noon. BIG TIME! There would be plenty of tears and you'd assure me that they are happy tears.

I can't tell you how it comforts me to know that you're with Sophia. I bet you wish you could see me seeing her.

Shoh... what a situation we find ourselves in. You there, me here. You with Sophia, me with Tandia. One day Noon, some day, we are going to have such a reunion, the four of us. Can't tell you how I long for that.

Meantime, give my girl a big big love from me...there are no words... and Phoebs too!
Love you.

Pick me! Pick me!

In case you missed the MASSIVE button on the right hand side, I'd appreciate it if you took a sec to click it and nominate me for the 2010 South African Blog Awards.

I've never really looked into this stuff (hell, I only figured out how to set up Google Reader a couple of days ago - after 4 years of blogging) but what the hell?

If you like my blog please click and nominate it - I guess I'd fit into the "personal blog" category or possibly the "parenting" one.

Ok enough self promotion. I'm starting to feel like a pimp.

Saturday, August 07, 2010

Changing Lanes

*Spoiler alert for LOST fans*
In a recent episode of LOST, some of the survivers are in a submarine and there is an explosion and it starts filling with water. Sun's leg is stuck. The others leave, but her husband stays to save her. They realise he can't get her unstuck. She begs him to leave, he refuses. He'd rather spend their last moments together and die together. Beautiful. Romantic. But tragic. Especially tragic coz they have a daughter who just became an orphan.

A friend of mine was raped as a teenager. Someone broke into their home - their safe place, their refuge - and raped her. She told me that after that she'd sometimes go walking late at night. Almost shaking a fist at life and daring it to throw something else bad her way.

It sounds so silly, but I can relate. After Sophia died I felt that same angry rebellion. Rather than live in fear of something happening you almost want to dare it to, to face things head on. Sure, in my case that never went much further than driving faster and without a seatbelt (yes, yes, mock me if you must) but the sentiment was there. I may have been truly reckless with myself were it not for the realisation that that would be incredibly unfair and selfish to The Band and my family.

Anyway, yesterday I left The Kernel with The Band and popped to the shops. I was interested at how cautious I was. Not simply with my own driving - I'm a safe driver by nature, but even with other cars - the situations that were out of my control. I was literally praying for my safety and protection. Not in a fearful, panicked way. Just in a simple "please keep me safe" kind of way.

My dad is like that. He takes good care of himself, exercises, watches his cholestrol, because he knows we need him. He is the glue, the stability, the anchor of our family and he recognises this and cares for himself. It is the kindest thing he can do for us. The greatest gift he can give us.

My daughter needs me. I need to be ok, to be safe, to be healthy so I can look after her and that's a good realisation and responsibility to have.

The Wunderkind

4 weeks ago today Tandia AKA The Kernel was born. I am so glad I am home, comfy on my couch typing this, rather than in a hospital bed drugged and in pain. I am so glad we've had the blessing of 4 extra weeks with her. She is an absolute delight.

The past 4 weeks have passed in something of a blur. It's strange how slowly time can pass when you're pregnant and fearful and every day you feel like you're a ticking time bomb. But now, since she is here I would happily press some sort of slow motion setting and savour these moments for longer.

The Band and I can stare at her for ages - in the same way you can be mesmerised staring at a fire. And (from my side anyway) it's not even staring at her and dreaming of everything she might become... it's simply staring at her and taking in all that she is: beauty, seriousness, contentment, wide-eyed wonder, the cutest sneezes, absolute trust.

The Band is, of course, convinced that she is a child prodigy. This is because I read somewhere that it would be a couple of months before she should be able to have enough control of her hands to find her mouth with them, but she regularly sucks her hands. He now sings the "wunderkind" song to her... "are you a little wunderkind? wunderkind! wunderkind!" (repeat infinitely) It's very cute.

She's still a teensy thing. She's weighing in at 2.7 now and still very much in her premmie clothing. I keep looking at items of newborn stuff thinking "this is small, it should fit her" and then holding it up to her and seeing that it's a good 5 - 10cm too long still.

None of the annoying horror stories have come to pass. It is very rare that we have a bad night. For the most part she wakes up once a night for a feed. Not bad going at all. There's plenty of trial and error but we really are just enjoying the journey.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Body views

After Sophia died I was left with this broken body... after giving birth you have that miff dodgy stomach for a week or two, then they'd given me stuff to stop milk production but there was still colostrum and whatnot. Plus there was the bleeding. All in all I felt this massive sense of defeat. My body depressed me. After all, my body had failed me in the worst possible way.

After Tandia's arrival things are much the same (except the milk story - my cup doth overflow!) but now I look at my body in awe. I am amazed at this little perfect person who is here safe and sound. I am amazed that I can provide for her on demand. There's a sense of triumph and gratitude now where before there was only loathing and failure.

It's a weird thing to walk with Tandia. Before, some people avoided eye contact. Others did the sympathetic, awkward head tilt. Now people, even strangers, just have massive gushy smiles when they see me. In a way I want to hide from it, but really they are admiring my little girl and that's as it should be.

And how would I look at me if I was not me? (get your heads around THAT one! :) )
I think it would have to be a mixture - sadness and gushy joy. The two aren't mutually exclusive.

Right now, as I type this, Tandia is fast asleep on the couch next to me. Teensy little dummy bobbing in and out every now and then. Squeaky little noises here and there. Head rising and falling ever so slightly with each breath. And I feel a quiet peace.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Double helix

So in about grade 10 we all learnt about the double helix structure of DNA: two parallel strands spiralling upwards with the odd ladder rung between them. Our biology teached had a model of DNA on his desk and every year on the anniversary of the discovery of DNA by Watson and Crick he'd bounce the model from left to write and sing a few lines of Happy Birthday. It was pretty special.

A double helix is where my emotions are.

I am filled with joy, gratitude and a heart set to explode from love, especially in moments like this:

When my gran died she left me a book in which she'd recorded her proud gran moments - times in my and my brothers lives that were precious memories for her. On one of the pages she writes "Every time a new grand child is born your heart swells even bigger to make space for more love. You can actually feel it happen". When I bathed Tandia last night I felt that happening.

But at the same time, running parallel to this time of unbelievable precious beauty, I'm perhaps sadder than I've been all year. Not only is this time a reminder of all I have missed with Sophia, but I think while pregnant I was so consumed with fear that there was less space for raw grief.

At church yesterday the pastor said something along the lines of "thank God for his kindness toward you" and at once the familiar lump was back in my throat. God has been indescribably kind to me (just see the pic above!) but still - in the same moment that the placenta ripped from the uterus lining, my child, my daughter, was forever ripped from this world and from me, her mom. And yes, I use the word 'ripped' because it feels that violent.

The weekends are good. I am happy when I'm around people and when TheBand is around. But many week days are not. Especially the mornings. Especially today.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Beyond the birth

How do you name a person - another living being. It's such a responsibility and going in to theatre we still hadn't decided. When they told me they were going to have to put me under, they sent The Band outside (I guess so he wouldn't have to see them shoving a pipe down my throat) - they had asked what our name options were and I had told them, with The Band outside I said to them "ok it sucks that I have to go under, but while i'm out you guys can convince The Band on the name I want!"

Apparently they did...

Her name is Tandia Ella (Tandia is pronounced "Tun-dee-uh" with the emphasis on the "dee"). He'd been concerned that Tandia was too ethnic or something, but I've loved the name for years. The two meanings I found were "much loved one" and "prayer"... fitting!!! And now of course, it's hard to imagine her as anything else.

Tandia weighed 2.43 at birth and is a teensy little thing and so so beautiful.

For the first 4 days I didn't sleep... I couldn't. I wasn't even tired. I just wanted to take it all in. I guess I was just on such a high of relief and gratitude.

It's been great to be home... we've had family til tonight so it has been busy, and I'm looking forward to redefining normal now that it's just us.

We're pretty much doing all the "wrong" things in terms of breastfeeding (kind of going with whatever's comfortable rather than the specific positioning the nurses encourage) and sleep - my best is to sleep with her on my chest, else she's on a wedge in our bed. But we have a very content little baby and we're pretty content too so I guess it's working for us!

It's amazing how you get a sense of a baby's character in the womb... it's really accurate. I felt that Tandia would be a bit of a more serious child. Very content. Very sweet and very gentle. A wise little thing. This is really how she comes accross.

That makes me think of Sophia - how I felt I knew her, I did.

Since being home there have been more and more sore moments. I referred to The Kernel as Sophia by mistake. That hurt. Then for some reason my bath really set me off. I had so looked forward to my first post-caesar bath which I was finally allowed to have on Friday night.

The Band filled it with bubbles and dimmed the lights and put on some music for me. I don't know what it was. Perhaps it was the first time I was bathing "alone" for a very long time. No one in my belly. It just made me ache for Sophia. Tandia was never particularly excited about the bath when I was pregnant. But Sophia used to love baths - she'd kick about plenty from the moment I was in the water. Baths were always our time.

Since Friday night I've had a growing ache. An increasing hollow sadness. It's a strange place to be - a mixture of pure joy and relief and awe and reverence and gratitude on the one side and a deep, aching, gaping loneliness and longing on the other.

How I wish Sophia was here to share all this with us. To welcome her little sister into the world. Having our beautiful daughter here with us does not solve it. It doesn't stop us missing our firstborn. In some ways it makes me miss Sophia even more.

And then came The Kernel

It's true what they say about time disappearing once baby arrives. It's unbelievable. Anyway, bla bla, that's my way of apologising for taking so ridiculously long to write this post.

We arrived at the hospital last Thursday night and they began the induction. I had contractions through the night and much of Friday, but by Friday evening they were slowing down. The doc tried to induce again but by Saturday morning the contractions had stopped. Time for Plan B - a caesar.

Very last bump pic - 36 weeks 1 day

So in we went.

McBand in his scrubs.

I guess I kind of thought that I had earned this idyllic birth experience after everything, but alas, twas not to be... We went into theatre and there was a nice vibe in the team. They started the spinal block and were about to get going when the anaesthetist (THANKFULLY!) saw me grimace when they did something... something I shouldn't have felt. The spinal hadn't worked. bugger. He tried again... nada.
That is not what you want to hear when you're bracing yourself for surgery. Only option was to put me under general anaesthetic. CRAP!

I guess the good thing is that I didn't have much time to think about it. Apparently I had the foresight to tell them that I wanted someone to tell me exactly what had happened the second I woke up... (as we were walking in to theatre the one sister was saying that The Kernel would DEFINITELY have to spend time in NICU etc etc - real little optimist that lady!)

Anyway, next thing I awoke to someone congratulating me and telling me that The Kernel is perfect and healthy and breathing like a champ! I of course started crying - they tried to console me til I explained that those were not sad tears!! Those were the tears of relief of 8 months of fear!

The clock in front of me read 11:30 - we'd gone in to theatre at 10.

I felt so drugged and my stomach and throat were so so sore. They wheeled me through to my room and on the way I caught a glimpse of a topless Band snuggling a little bundle. He brought the bundle to my room and this is what he brought me...

In many ways that moment I'd waited so long for is a blur. I remember being amazed at how light she was and how beautiful. I remember realising that she knew me and I knew her. I remember feeling so drugged and thinking "I should be upset about the way it happened - about the anaethetist's bugger up, about the fact that I only met her an hour and a half after she'd been born" but feeling an overwhelming sense of "I couldn't care less how it happened, she is safe!!!" Relief. Pure relief. Like breathing for the first time in 8 months. Like quenching a thirst that has reached desperate frantic proportions. All else fades. Little else matters. She is here and safe and healthy and perfect.

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

We're just about there

I can't believe the day is just about to dawn. Everyone says to me "already?? Wow it's gone fast!" HA! People forget that they only heard at 12 weeks. Also it's fast if you're not living in fear and worry. No... I can't say it's gone fast. This pregnancy has fone from one milestone to the next. We've tried to celebrate each one, to consciously unguard our hearts. This pregnancy has been the hardest thing I've ever done, but it has also probably saved my life. Sounds melodramatic, but the promise of new hope, the joy of pregnancy that you simply can not dampen, has no doubt saved my sanity, maintained some joie de vivre in me. I am entirely, indescribably grateful to have this baby on board.

But I ramble.

Yesterday and today I had my steroid shots. Ow. I've been wide awake since 3.30am - not worrying, not stressing, just awake. Asked the nurse about it today and she says it's a side effect from the shot. Lovely! Hoping for a better night's sleep tonight!

So tomorrow, in I go. 5pm I go to hospital and they will start the induction soon after. By Friday morning the doc will pretty much know if natural is going to happen, if not it'll be a caesar.

It occurred to me yesterday that my only prayer has been for a healthy, living child. It seems greedy to ask for any more. But that's a bit silly, isn't it. God is not a Father who wants to give his kids the bare minimum. With that in mind, here's what I'm praying for... those of you who do, please could you join me in this?

1. A healthy little baby girl (oh and my health too)
2. No need for her to spend time in NICU
3. The induction to take fast so I can avoid a caesar (unfortunately if I have a caesar I'll never be able to go natural again - they can't induce if you've had a caesar. Also with The Kernel being so small she is going to need a lot of love and care from me and I want to be in top form to be able to provide that for her)
4. A fairly quick labour

Those are absolutely in order of priority and number one is the only one that really matters, the rest would be great of course, but to have my baby born safe and healthy will be everything to me.

In the last couple of days I've had so many blog comments, twitter comments, FB messages, smses and phone calls of people all over sending their support, their love, their prayers. It has meant so much. People are incredible. Thanks to all of you for caring so much. I am taking my computer to hospital and as soon as possible I will update you all and post pics. Otherwise, follow me on twitter - that's the easiest for me as it's straight from the phone.

Adios for now :)

Monday, July 05, 2010

The Nursery

Well the nursery is all done at last so here is the long overdue photoshoot:

Thursday, July 01, 2010

We're nearly there

Time is somehow passing by against all odds. I guess the world cup helps (I wonder if there is any girl in the country who's watched as much soccer as me! I'm really quite into it and will probably have to blow vuvuzelas to put the Kernel to sleep when she's born!). I've somehow been busy with a million little things - final touches on the nursery (hoping to be done by Saturday in which case there will be a MASSIVE photo shoot at long last!) and, in the midst of all the baby preparation, we have made an offer on a house. Ya - apparently we don't like to keep things simple and timing is not our gift! Anyway bla bla bla it is exciting and all that, but it's not really top of mind for me at the moment. We will hear back from the bank in the next week or so and then we'll know if we've got it in which case I'll tell you all about it.

The Band and I had the official Names Talk the other day. We chatted through a bunch of names and eventually pretty much decided though we'll only decide for sure sure when she's born. The Band said to me he'd thought very little about names and perhaps it was because he is protecting himself in case something happens. That was quite hectic. He is always the strong, rational one. The optimist. The voice of reason. It was hectic to hear a little about his fears. I've seen it in other people too (though none of them would admit it I'm sure). My mom would sing to Sophia and wanted to feel her kick and all that. She bought heaps of clothes and stuff for her, but with The Kernel she's done none of that. I think she is guarding her heart as well. A few of my friends are the same. Even my CEO said to me "we will celebrate when she is here". Some people refer vaguely to "the situation" I am in and can't even say "pregnancy" or "baby". They skirt around the topic when it comes to me.

How does that make me feel? Firstly bear in mind it's all subtle of course. I guess it makes me feel sad. Sad for The Kernel. Poor little thing. She's done nothing wrong and yet people are guarding their hearts from her. Of course I understand it completely - you'll remember in the early months I did the same thing until I came to a point where I was strong enough to consciously decide to celebrate her because she deserves it and because even if the worst happened I'd never regret loving her, just as I have never wished that I loved Sophia less so that it could have hurt less. I guess it's just another sad reality of pregnancy after loss: people guard their hearts.

On the positive side I have had a handful of friends who've taken it upon themselves to celebrate with me and sometimes in spite of me. My one friend drops off a wrapped present in my postbox every Friday morning to celebrate another week of pregnancy. How awesome is that? The gifts have ranged from bath toys to babygrows to matching mom and daughter bangles to edible treats and so on. Another friend of mine who I work with talks to The Kernel every time she sees me. She's gunning to be favourite "aunt". People like this have helped stir my excitement and I've needed that.

Yesterday was our final scan. The Kernel now weighs a little over 2kg meaning she'll probably weigh about 2.2 at birth. I'm really hoping and praying she weighs at least that much coz babies still lose weight and I don't think a baby can go home if they weigh less than 2. Anyway we have the cutest premmie outfits and nappies all ready for her - even the newborn stuff looks hefalumpish in comparison!

On Tuesday and Wednesday I will have steroid shots and on Thursday evening I will go into the hospital (can't wait - will feel much safer when I'm there!) and we'll get the induction going so that by Friday morning we should know whether natural will be possible or if we have to go for a caesar.

I can't believe this time next week I'll be just about to drive to the hospital. I don't even know unpregnant Caz anymore. And what of the mourning? What of the moment when I no longer have to keep it together coz I have a baby on board? Is there a massive dark hole ahead of me? Am I the most prime candidate for postnatal depression ever? Or will The Kernel bring such healing and joy that the mourning will continue gently as it has been? My friends who've been through this - a child after losing one - have had such varied experiences. All I know is that I can't wait to hold this little girl. Good luck to The Band, my folks and any other visitors... they will be very lucky if they get a chance to hold her... maybe if I need to pee but that may just be it! :)