Monthly Archives: October 2009

A Plethora of Firsts

Ameli has really been enjoying many firsts the last couple of days!  Isn’t it sad, in its own way, that we can experience so many new things in such a short space of time, and yet we don’t remember any of the emotions we felt at these experiences? Imagine the awe involved in moving from the confines of the womb to the clear blue skies of the great outdoors, or the sensation of hot and cold after the steady temperateness of their internal world? How could that not fill you with awe? And yet we don’t remember any of it! Is it any wonder that babies sleep so much, what with everything they have to process from the moment they’re born? It would exhaust the best of us!

kyra on the bus

First time on a bus

This morning,  Ameli had her first trip on a bus. She was a very unhappy, possibly hungry little girl, but I had a schedule to keep to get her to the embassy, so decided to feed her on the bus.  She whimpered in her extra special ‘sorry for myself’ voice until the big red bus pulled up. Then she stared, wide eyed for the entire 30 minute journey, totally disinterested in milk or mommy, at all the people and the beeping door!

Upon arrival at Trafalgar Square she promptly fell asleep against Mommy’s chest as we walked towards our destination and just as promptly woke up the moment we stopped to stand in line for our turn. Fortunately I had expressed some milk in to a bottle, which she devoured with her champion appetite!  Twenty minutes of queuing later, Ameli’s first time on South African soil (albeit there was no actual soil anywhere on the marble flooring) was rather short lived, as it turned out that Martin also had to sign the forms they handed me at the front desk.  So, back to the bus stop and back on the bus and Ameli again was so excited by this bus business I couldn’t even persuade her to sleep!

Back home, I quickly made a pudding I’d promised a friend for her birthday, and then, having changed my little lady out of a nappy explosion in to a very pretty dress that I myself wore as a child, piled Ameli in to the car. This is her first time wearing a dress, and I thought she

DSCN2348

Smiling in my pretty dress

looked ever so pretty. We drove to one of the other sites of my old workplace, (where my friend still works) and she screamed all the way. I promised her that we would just drop off the pudding and go back home so she could catch up on the sleep she so obviously needed after the morning’s exertions and excitements.  I got out the car, picked her up, at which point she stopped crying and decided I wouldn’t need her nappy bag.  Well, this is one of those less pleasant firsts that as humans we all experience at some point or other, and I’m just pleased it happened on breast milk.  Ameli made a funny sound, sort of like a gulp and a gag and a squeal all at once, and then threw up in not one, not two, but three large fountain -like spurts.  All the way down her pretty dress, my blue blouse, my neck and back.  So there I was in the parking lot of my old work trying to clean myself with a muslin, and yanking out wet wipe after wet wipe to clean her up. Of course, by now she’s crying again, because really, who likes lying in the front seat of a car, covered in their own vomit?

Well, I managed to get us both to some state of respectability and took her inside where she was fawned over, fussed over and I just nodded and smiled when person after person told me how precious and cute and well behaved, quiet and dainty my squawking, screaming, vomiting little girl is!

She’s finally asleep and I am going to have a shower. I think I still have baby sick in my ear.

One-armed wonder woman

People have always moaned ceaselessly about how time consuming having a child is, and people will continue to do so until, well, evolution grows us a third arm, really.  New mothers, or mothers of more than one child are generally recognisable by the haggard, frazzled, frantic look in the eye, the remnants of old nail polish, the packhorse-worthy collection of bags, carrycots and random toys over their shoulders, hair that no longer sees the ideal 100 strokes a day, and if they’re really organised, hastily applied mascara and lipstick (probably skew as a result of those bags weighing down one side of the body).
People have also always insinuated that new mothers learn pretty quickly.  Well, let me attest to that.  In the three weeks my beautiful baby girl has graced us with her presence, I have learnt that:

– Poo can be yellow, green, mustardy or stringy (oh and then there’s meconium – the black tar)

– Poo can stain baby grows and sofa cushions alike

– Poo can run down a baby’s leg faster than you can grab a muslin cloth

– Changing a nappy is like a personal challenge to see how fast it can be dirtied again

– Having a belly the size of a ping pong ball (table tennis ball) means you get gut wrenchingly, raise the roof with my screams, why does no body love me, starving – often.

– Baby clothes take as long to dry in wet climates as adult clothes and just cause they’re small and cute doesn’t mean they don’t fill up a whole washing line

– You can attach a machine to your breast to get milk out, whilst simultaneously reading a book and checking emails

– You learn to check emails at the same time as doing many other things really quickly, or you just forget about the emails.

– Pumping your breast is not sexy. It doesn’t make you feel like the pretty girl your hubby married. You feel more like a cow

– You still love the pump though, cause it means hubby can feed baby while you sleep a little.

and so on and so forth.
There are also many new skills you develop very quickly with parenthood:
– Like going to the toilet, one armed (the other holding baby in mid air)

-  Having a shower, one armed (the other, along with the frozen half of your body aiming away from the water)

– Washing your hair, one armed (see above for the whereabouts of the other arm)

– Typing, one armed (the other keeping your baby’s head aimed firmly at a nipple)

– Writing, one armed (as above)

– Applying makeup, one armed (the other holding the baby, whilst trying desperately not to poke anything out)

and my personal favourite, driving really slowly, one armed (while the other acts as an impromptu dummy for shrieking infant.)

 

Yes, my range of skills has increased dramatically. If I was ever to lose an arm, I would survive – so long as I didn’t have a baby.

Ameli at three weeks

Ameli at three weeks

snoozing with mommy

Snoozing with Mommy

Life, with child – physically speaking

I’ve heard some rough descriptions of what ‘things’ feel like after childbirth, and I’ll admit, I was either very well prepared, very lucky or it just wasn’t as bad as I expected. True, I felt like I was walking around with a golf ball lodged in my you know what for a few days, and I had a little grazing (thank you EPI-NO) which caused things to sting a bit when I peed, but other than that it wasn’t all that bad.

Wearing Ameli in a carrier

Wearing Ameli in a carrier

I had a herb bath the next day, using Lavender, Calendula (Marigold), Rosemary Leaves and fresh garlic in a muslin cloth and soaking in that for a while, and I think that had a big impact on the healing process. I also pretty much stopped bleeding four days later. Of course, I then walked around Frome for six hours carrying Ameli, and when I got in the shower on Saturday, I had this sudden gush of blood and clots – note to self… there’s a reason they say take it easy!

The first couple of days you usually produce a substance called colostrum, which has loads of antibodies and good stuff for the baby. Within a few days (it took two for me) the milk ‘comes in’ and a whole new world of adventure begins! Many women really struggle with breastfeeding, so I’m not going to make light of it, it is hard work, and takes a lot more effort and dedication than mixing a bottle of formula does. The baby also has to eat a lot more frequently because breastmilk is digested faster than formula is, so when a new mom tells you that having a baby is a full time job, she’s not kidding – in a 24 hour period, I can easily spend 7 hours with Ameli latched on. Throw in nappy changes and you’re looking at an 8 hour day, for a whole lot less pay! (The only real ‘pay’ is that breastfeeding can burn up to 500 calories per day, so you’re literally being a couch potato and burning the same calories as you would have done ice skating 9 miles in an hour [or running 5 miles in the same time]) Here’s a tip they don’t tell you if you go in for a caesarean or anything similar – babies that latch on to the breast within the first hour have much less problems breastfeeding than those that don’t.  Something in the reflexes of that first hour makes the baby most susceptible to a decent latch, and they lose that after the first hour. Oh, and where pain medication has been used, babies may struggle to latch on during that hour too, as they are still ‘out of it’ from the meds.

Anyway, back to me – my milk came in on day two, and I’m pleased to say that contrary to family history, I had no problem with supply. My mom had planned on bringing some medicine with from South Africa that increases milk supply, but had forgotten in the end. It’s just as well, because I’d have preferred not to – anyway, there are plenty of natural things you can take to increase breast milk, such as blessed thistle, nettle and fenugreek, which I’ve done once to great effect. I have been quite lucky. In the first two weeks I’ve not had any nipple pain, or other breast related issues.

I have lost 12kg since the day I went in to labour. Of course, about 9 of those were gone by the time I went to sleep, but the further 3 would be compliments of those 500 calories per day, I assume. I’m really looking forward to getting back in to yoga though, and a couple of other exercises, but I’m abiding by the four week rule, specifically since my club won’t let me exercise till four weeks have passed. I am looking forward to getting some blood pumping through my system again though!

Two things changed immediately after giving birth. Firstly, my PSD pretty much disappeared, and I was able to get up out of bed like a normal person, rather than doing a humpty dumpty rolling impression, and my appetite returned to normal. Before pregnancy, I loved meat, fish and green vegetables, and I do again now, but during pregnancy I couldn’t stomach any of it! A salad would make me gag, fish turned my stomach, and so on, but not any more! I have my favourite foods back, thank heavens!

The major thing that people complain about during the first weeks or months of their new baby’ s life is the tiredness. Although I agree the constant late feeds is exhausting, I must admit that there has been some relief for me from the almost hourly trips to the loo. At least I now get to sleep up to four or five straight hours sometimes. It’s been a great relief.

So what else has changed? Well, I don’t go out any less than I used to, and I don’t see my friends any less than I have in the past. I still have internet time, and writing time. Sometimes things take a whole lot longer to do than they used to, because I have to put them aside to feed Ameli, but for the most part – I’d say things are more or less the same. It is still my life, but now, with child.

Beauty, captured

Beauty, captured

Perfect Feet

Perfect Feet

Life, with child – emotionally speaking

The last two weeks have been… surreal. I can’t think of any other way to describe it, really.

The first week passed in a strange sort of haze.  We went to sleep around 06:00 the day Ameli was born, and I slept with her next to me on one side, Martin on the other. I woke up around 10:00 and lay staring at my little girl for a while. It didn’t seem real, yet it seemed the most natural and obvious thing in my life.  I couldn’t begin to break down the week that followed. I know that Martin was wonderful with his daughter, and I know that my parents were so supportive. I know that meals appeared in front of me a number of times a day and that I’ve never had so many emails and text messages in one week, yet I don’t think I’ve replied to half of them, cause I don’t remember who I’ve contacted or not.  I know that we bathed Ameli in a baby bath on day three (leaving the vernix on her to protect her skin as long as possible) and that having my mom around to help with the practicalities was the biggest blessing to us.  When we were exhausted and just needed more sleep we were able to hand Ameli to my folks and they looked after her, they made sure we ate, had clean clothes and bedding and didn’t have to think about dishes.

My sister and her boyfriend were with us for Ameli’s first three days, and they were amazing with her. Deshaine went shopping for some ‘girlie’ clothes on the Monday and Ameli’s been wearing them most of the time – just as well as everything else we had was way too big for her!

Holding on to Oupa

Holding on to Oupa

I still find myself staring at her, just watching her sleep. Or holding her hand, and just holding it. I can’t believe, sometimes , the beautiful baby we made.

The most amazing thing for me has been how natural everything has been. I was worried, before her birth, that I wouldn’t know what to do with her and there’s still a lot I’m totally lost in, but there’s so much that has come naturally. When she cries, I have a pretty good idea of why and I can fix it, I know how to hold her, change her, look after her, and it’s not been an effort. From the first time I held her, I’ve known her. That’s a beautiful thing. There are practical things, like swaddling, that I needed help with, but there’s a deeper level to this parenting thing and that, to me, came naturally.

I also can’t believe that anyone can do this alone. Good heavens. Having a young baby is hard work! She sleeps really well during the day, but even if she sleeps for a few hours, I seem to have no time for anything else.  It’s washing baby clothes, or washing the baby or expressing milk or feeding and it’s a never ending cycle! No sooner has she fed than she needs changing, and so it goes. I’m really lucky to have Martin at home a lot at the moment, as at least I can have a shower, or make a cup of coffee. Yesterday Martin was out for the day and it was only at 18:00 that I realised I hadn’t been to the loo since just after waking up!

I don’t know how single or very young parents do it. I take my hat off to them because they are stronger people than I am.  That said, I love this little girl.

Kangaroo Care - Skin to Skin

Kangaroo Care - Skin to Skin

Every now and then though, I feel totally awed. I sometimes feel completely bowled over by her, she’s so amazing, a whole person in a tiny body, and I’m knocked out by how much I love her.  It struck me today that biology is amazing, and the whole of human creation, Divine. As a busy, intelligent woman, pre baby, it makes sense to me that logically speaking, spending five or six hours a day breastfeeding could become a boring and frustrating activity, yet feeding releases the ‘love hormone’ oxytocin, so that I spend most of that time just stroking or looking at my daughter, feeling the awe, and falling deeper and deeper in love with her.

Someone asked me how my life has changed, and although apart from not going to work I don’t really feel that anything has changed, I guess the truth is everything has changed, because I barely recall a life before Ameli.  In fact, Martin was looking for some money and I told him to look in my handbag. He came back with the cash and said “I guess you know life has changed forever when you carry a nappy in your handbag.” It’s true, I suppose. And it’s totally worth it. When her eyes meet mine, when her hand grips my finger, when she falls asleep on my chest, when she cries and picking her up soothes her… it’s worth it. Totally.

Birthday Poem for Aneli – My baby's eyes

Ameli - 1st minute

Ameli – 1st minute

You looked up and in to my eyes

And in that moment

My whole world changed

Time stood still,

And sped up

I saw your first steps, words, bruise

I saw your first day of school

Your first kiss, tears, disappointment

Your first love, graduation, wedding

I saw your first home away from ours

And your first baby.

I saw a future unfold with unspeakable joys

in which my heart would ache,

My heart would break,

And my love for you would never fade.

I blinked and saw you again, looking up at me

With those beautiful eyes, in full acceptance,

Full appreciation, full love – staring up at me

Unconditionally loving me, as my eyes unconditionally love you back.

You changed me

My hopes, my dreams, my life

By simply looking up at me

And knowing who I am.

WEEK 40 – DAY BY DAY

MONDAY

So, 40 weeks came and went, and baby Button James not only didn’t show, but didn’t even pretend to be interested! Not a twinge or a flutter other than ordinary ‘I’m comfy in here’ kicks and moves.

I went to Greenwich with my mom and dad to walk around a bit, hopefully get things moving and get the action going – it’s almost the end of September, and it’s almost my 30th, and I’d love this little one to grace us with his/her presence before then. Mom and Dad spent the afternoon walking from Greenwich to the London Eye (a very long walk) but I went to Sainsbury’s to buy some groceries.  While there I had a rather strong abdominal pain, and thought this might be it, but it quickly passed and the nervous looking young guy ahead of me in the queue offered to carry my bags to the car for me.  He did look relieved when I said I was okay!

I arrived home and spent the rest of the afternoon napping, and Martin joined me. It was great to spend the afternoon lying in my husband’s arms as dappled sunlight filtered through the half drawn blinds. It felt peaceful, and relaxed.

TUESDAY

My favourite midwife, Zainab, arrived this morning for my final check. I’m technically now Due + 1, so and she feels that everything is fine, so much so that she has said that she’d really like to be present at our birth due to our relaxed and confident attitude! That was quite encouraging to hear at this stage of the game!

The baby is now 3/5ths engaged, so has definitely moved further down than last week, but there’s been no other signs.

Dad has made us a lovely curry for dinner, spicy enough to get my nose running but not, it seems spicy enough for Button to make an appearance.

WEDNESDAY

Okay Button!  Your crib is ready, beding washed, car seat clean and ready to be installed, nappy bag packed, clothes all dried and hung up and a stash of nappies ready for use.  The birth box is packed and the pool is in the kitchen ready and waiting.  Batteries are charged, cameras are ready, and there’s a blank tape in the video camera.  Really, all that’s missing now is any sign whatsoever that you’re on your way!  Your  aunty Deshaine is arriving in London today and really, most of my world is waiting with bated breath for any information on you.  We are all ready baby.  Daddy and I are waiting.

THURSDAY

Well, no September baby for us! Today is the 1st of October, and I’ve not had a twinge even. I am starting to feel a bit worried about my post date appointment at the hospital on Monday.  I really don’t want to have to go to the hospital, have a sweep, an induction or any other intervention, as interventions are proven to lead to other interventions and to more painful labours.  And let’s face it, who wants a more painful labour?  I was two weeks late, and my mom had to be induced. My sister was three and a half weeks late, and born on holiday in a different city!  This does not bode well for those who came from all over the world to see my baby!  I know being anxious doesn’t really help matters, and certainly won’t encourage the baby to be born, but still… I can’t help feeling a little bit concerned.

Deshaine joined us today and we went to the Horniman museum. It was a lovely autumn day in London. The sun shone and we

My visiting family

My visiting family

strolled the museum and aquarium and walked around the garden where there were still some remnants of summer in the beautiful floral displays. A cup of hot chocolate and some rich chocolate cake later we returned home, where Dad made some good ol’ fashioned Vetkoek.  They were delicious and it was great spending time with at least half of my family. It’s unusual enough having us all in one room.

Tomorrow I turn 30.  Well, there’s one thing I didn’t get to do by the time I was 30, and that was become a mom. Oh well. Maybe tomorrow.

FRIDAY

I’m officially 30, and I’m pleased to say I’m totally okay with it. Everyone always frets about thirty, but it holds no fears for me.  How can it when I face the most beautiful time of my life, and it’s coming so soon!

40 + 4 weeks pregnant, my tiny sister almost fades away

40 + 4 weeks pregnant, my tiny sister almost fades away

I had a terrible night’s sleep, waking three times to have something for heartburn, twice to go to the toilet and then from 3am, I woke up on and off with contractions. I know that early labour  contractions are just for ‘practice’ so I aimed to try to sleep through them. I didn’t quite achieve it, as I did wake up with each one, but it wasn’t so painful and I was able to go back to sleep.  At 8.30 I woke up and went to the bathroom again. There I had the bloody show which I was quite excited about as I thought I’d missed it with one of my night time bathroom trips.  I was quite excited, and had to share the news with Martin and my folks.

As it is my birthday, and I’m not desperate to share the day, I decided to take it very easy and spend it on the sofa.  I did so, and found the contractions ebbed and flowed depending on how active I was.

We had a lovely pizza dinner, and Martin bought a gorgeous Thornton’s birthday cake which we enjoyed before I had a long hot bath.  During labour, before the water’s break, it’s really useful to have a bath to determine whether it’s false labour or true labour. In false labour, the warm water will make the contractions go away, but in true labour, they will continue. Mine continued, so I am of the opinion that Button should be joining us sometime tomorrow or Sunday!  How exciting!

I lay in the bath listening to the Hypnobabies – Come Out Baby MP3, and felt so totally relaxed and calm that even the rushes of contractions weren’t too bad. While I was bathing, Martin and the family jumped in to the kitchen converting it from family kitchen in to sterile birthing environment. The kitchen trolley is now a resuscitation table, the counters are clean and ready. All my herbal medicines are laid out ready for use, and candles are spread out.  The video camera is set up, the midwives’ light and mirror in place and the birthpool is in the centre of the room, ready for my signal.

I feel really blessed to have such a fantastic support network around us at the moment. Sometimes it’s a bit overwhelming having so many people in the house, but honestly, my mom, dad and sister have really made this week so much more bearable by filling our home with peace and love and togetherness.

We prayed together this evening, and now everyone is in bed, and I’m about to go to sleep.  Tomorrow I might become a mommy, Martin a daddy and us together, a family. That’s a spectacular thought, and we are ready baby. We are ready and waiting for you.

Week 39 – Still just waiting and preparing, waiting and preparing

A midwife, Agnes, came early on Tuesday and didn’t stay long. She is entirely happy with the baby’s movement, heart rate and position, happy with my protein levels and blood pressure, and happy with my positive attitude. She had a look around the house to see where the birth pool would stand, which she was happy with, and with the proximity of somewhere to be ‘land based’ for the delivery of the placenta. Overall, it would be fair to say, she was happy. Apparently the baby’s head is 2/5ths engaged, which means our Button has started the journey down the birth canal, and it’s now just a matter of waiting to see what happens. There are no estimates on time, and no guarantees of anything by any time.
My parents are arriving on Saturday, so it would be good if Button stayed put for a few days. They are coming a long way – the least we can do is wait for them!
For now we are just waiting. As we approach ‘term’ (which is forty weeks) the wait does feel longer. A lot of people talk about being ‘ready’ for the pregnancy to end about now, but it’s not quite like that for me. With the baby moving down my PSD is getting progressively worse, and my bladder requires more frequent emptying, especially at night, but apart from that I’ve not been in too much discomfort. Although I’m not in a hurry for the pregnancy to end, I am really keen on meeting my baby. I wonder what he or she will be like, and I wonder how this new presence is going to change our lives. I’m nervous and excited and really looking forward o meeting my little one.
So this week we’ve really hit on ‘nesting’. Martin’s been working like a Trojan, just to get the house in shape, all the spare bits and pieces out of the way and as much ready as we can. We’ve spent so much time preparing now, it’s hard not to become impatient waiting for our baby’s arrival.

Till later,
Luschka

Visit Us On TwitterVisit Us On FacebookVisit Us On Google PlusVisit Us On Pinterest