This time last year…

It’s 8:24pm on 15 February 2017. This time last year I was lumbering up and down in the TV room. Stopping every few minutes to lean over the couch, breathe through the pain and occasionally vomit into my thoughtfully positioned bucket. The contractions were getting quite rough, but I could still manage them (with the help of my Doula and the support of Roger).

I’ve been doing this a lot today, thinking about ‘This time last year’. It was a monumental day in our lives, in my life. I would soon be meeting my baby boy. My second child. Our last child. I’ve felt so emotional today. Fragile even, thinking back. Perhaps because I still have unresolved feelings about the way Eli’s birth went – not quite the way i had hoped. I will always have feelings about it.

He is the most content, joyful, intrepid and adventurous little thing I’ve met. If he’s not climbing up onto the coffee table, he’s crawling head first down a huge step or eating dirt at the bottom of the garden. I’ve lost count of the number of times he’s boofed his head… And I’ve lost count of the number of ways I’ve learnt to say ‘I love you’ to him.


Eli has an older sister, Holly, and when she was born I thought my heart would explode with the love and feelings it was meant to contain. Until I realised it didn’t need to, and shouldn’t, contain that love at all. The love in my heart needed to gush out and envelope my daughter and let her know a 100 times a day that she is the most loved little girl in the world. 


When I was pregnant with Eli I was terrified that I wouldn’t be able to love him as much as I love his sister. I needn’t have worried. Adding a child doesn’t mean love is halved. Rather it means your love doubles. In fact it more than doubles. Sometimes one child needs more love than the other. Instead of taking from one to give to the other, there’s always extra to give the one who needs an extra serving. And then there’s till more to give to the children of your friends.

In the year that’s passed since Eli decided four weeks early to join us earthside, our lives have been tipped upside down, on their sides and right way up again, a little dented, bruised, scraped and showing signs of wear. But signs of wear like a pair of hiking boots that now hug your feet and have molded themselves on the shape of your foot. Our lives have been irrevocably changed, but they finally feel like they fit.


We’re a family of four. A family. We fill a square table in a restaurant. We take up all the space available in an Uber. We’re a doubles game in tennis. But we’re more than that. We’re a family. And my children are more than just two little beings. They’ve moved themselves into my heart and taken up every free corner and space they could find. Just like what they’ve done in our house with their toys (and in my car with their crumbs).

In just over seven hours time, this time last year, Eli would be born. At 4:20am on Tuesday 16 February 2016. It was the most painful thing I’ve ever experienced in my life. I didn’t think I’d survive. I begged for mercy. I cried for Holly. I swore, using some choice words. I ‘lowed’ like a cow. I shouted. I moaned. I stopped breathing through the contractions and started swearing through them instead. I screamed like I was being tortured. But every single painful second of that labour was worth it. And I’d do it a thousand times over to have Eli again.


Wake up in the morning feelin’ like P Diddy

I wake up to a toothy, drooling grin about 2cm from my face. Ordinarily I’d scream and leg it out of there, but this morning I don’t. The grin belongs to my 9-month-old. How can I not smile at this…

Source: Wake up in the morning feelin’ like P Diddy

Wake up in the morning feelin’ like P Diddy


I wake up to a toothy, drooling grin about 2cm from my face. Ordinarily I’d scream and leg it out of there, but this morning I don’t. The grin belongs to my 9-month-old. How can I not smile at this gorgeousness? ‘Pad, pad, pad, pad, pad’. I hear my 4-year-old running into our bedroom from hers. I hoist her up into the bed. Sleep time is officially over. It’s 5:39am.

It’s a weekday so that means getting the 4-year-old ready for school; changing and entertaining the 9 month old until he is ready to sleep again at about 7:30; helping husband get out the house; and dressing myself into something marginally more respectable than a milk-stained nightie. Doesn’t sound too bad, does it? Riiiiiight…


Holly, our 4-year-old is gorgeous, she is bright, funny, brave, strong and amazing. She is also 4. So she has very specific ideas, a very strong will and enormous emotions. Getting her ready requires the strength to withstand a full-on assault to the senses for an hour. AN HOUR! You heard me. AN HOUR. This is how it goes…

Parent A: Holly baby, let’s go choose clothes.

Holly: Babeeeeeee Eli! I love you. You’re so cute.

Parent A (still in parent’s room): What would you like to wear today?

Holly: You’ve got such cute cheeks, baby Eli!

Parent A: Holly, do you want to wear a dress?

Holly: Baaa, baaaaa, black sheep heavy heavy wool! Upstairs downstairs one for the girl.

Parent B: Holly! Please get off your brother’s head and listen to you mother/father!

Holly: Daddy! What happens if, if, if, if uhm. What happens if, if, if the rain?

Parent A (falls for distraction): If the rain what, Holly?

Holly: Huh? What did you say?

Parent B: Come now Holly! Or there’s no vitamin this morning (sweet chewy vitamins)!

Holly: Oohhkaaaaya! But I want baby Elllllliiiiii. He’s so cute!

Parent B (drags a dawdling, flopping Holly and carries cute Eli to Holly’s room): Ok. Let’s choose leggings.

Holly: I don’t want leggings. I want a dress.

Parent B: You can have a dress but you need to wear leggings underneath.

Holly: Why?

Parent A (grits teeth): Because, like we’ve explained before, it’s to stop your panties from showing when you climb and play at school.

Holly: I want my Barbie ones.

Parent A: Here they are. What dress do you want? This grey one with cherries that you’ve only worn once?

Holly (tears welling up in eyes): No! No! I don’t like it. It doesn’t spin out.

Parent B: What about this long one with the giraffe? Or the pink striped one – this one spins out. Or the green one with the sleeves? Or the one with the ice creams?

Holly: I want my Elsa dress! *sings* Let it go! Let it go! Let it go! Let it go! Don’t hold me back anyhow!

Parent B: No. That’s a dress up and dress and you can’t wear it to school. We discussed this yesterday and the day before. And three times last week. And pretty much every other day since you got it.

Holly: I LOVE you mommy! When I grow up I want shoes like yours.

This continues for about 40 minutes. Eventually we’ve poured, mashed, tackled, squashed and wrestled her into a reasonably acceptable outfit. Look, it doesn’t match. She looks like a particularly gaudy Christmas tree. She’s wearing a tiara, socks and sandals, and ‘hand gloves’ but she’s friggin dressed, OK? And her hair is somewhat tamed and almost tidy.

Parent A and Parent B high-five one another as Parent B hauls Baby Eli out from under the bed. He grins happily, displaying the dust bunnies he’s been chewing on.


I’d continue through the teeth brushing (uuuhhhh! A fight every morning and every night. She knows we’re going to win but she still resists. Like a miniature Napolean), and the breakfast, and the walking out the door. But it’s pretty much more of the same: Calling for Baby Eli, singing nonsensical songs, asking random questions, and flopping.

I stand in the doorway with a baby on my hip (still in my milk-stained pyjamas) and watch the husband walk down the path with a skipping Holly tagging behind, I’m shattered. Done in. Finished. Then, Holly turns around, the sun rises above the tree line and a golden ray dances gently on her soft hair. She looks like an angel and it just about takes my breath away.

Holly: Goodbye Mommy! I love you more than all the leaves on the trees! Bye bye baby Eli!

Heart melted.



The first five months

And then he was five months old. Smiling, chatting, rolling over and learning to sit. The colic is gone along with the long nights of tears (mine). Just a few minutes ago we were in hospital, getting to know each other after nine months of waiting. Nine months of being closer than any other two people can be. And a few minutes before that I was feeling you kick my tummy from the inside and you were giving me the worst heartburn ever! People say time flies but I don’t think it’s more evident than when you have a baby. Except when you’re in labour. THAT time certainly does not fly. In fact, THAT time stands still.

These five months have been the most wonderful of my life this far. But they’ve also been the most difficult. When Charles Dickens said, ‘It was the best of times. It was the worst of times’ I’m pretty sure he was talking about the first five months of parenthood with two children. Indeed, A Tale of Two Cities was probably a metaphor about two children. (Come to think of it, the French Revolution was probably started by toddlers). I love my children so much it’s sometimes painful and I’m often in awe of the amount of love one heart can feel and express. But that doesn’t lesson the Armageddon that is my life. I am not in any way exaggerating. Ar ma geddon. Let me describe the mornings.

Alarm goes off at six. Husband turns it off. 6:45 husband hurls himself out of bed shouting, ‘It’s bloody 6:45!’ I respond, yelling, ‘Why the hell did you turn the alarm off?’ Mini argument ensues. Five minutes later he’s hurtling into the bathroom and I’m sprinting down the passage with brother Eli bouncing up and down in my arms to wake sister Holly and get her ready for school. This Herculean task brings me to my knees every morning (literally as I have to get shoes out the bottom drawer and figuratively because my four year old makes me cry from frustration):

Me: ‘Holly Baby! Wake up. It’s time for school’.
Eli: ‘Ggggggggg! Bluuuuhhhh!’
Me: ‘Do you want to wear a dress over your tracksuit pants?’ (Holly
goes nowhere without a dress.)
Eli: ‘Mmmmmmaaaaauuuuu!’
Me: *puts Eli on bed and begins to dress Holly under the covers*
Holly: ‘Noooo Mommy! I’m too tiiiiiyeeeeeerrrrd!’
Me: *grunting and sweating as I wrestle pants onto a seemingly drunk and definitely floppy child* ‘Yes well. That’s what happens when you go to bed at 10 at night’. (True story.)

Eventually the four year old Stalin is dressed. Albeit like a schizophrenic homeless princess. But she is dressed. Then there’s hair and teeth to brush. The teeth brushing takes place in whatever part of the house (or garden) she happens to be in. Watching  Peppa Pig? No problem. Doing a puzzle? Sure. Jumping on the trampoline? A little more tricky, but ok. We’ve learnt not to fight the shrinky. Not because she’s a spoilt brat who isn’t disciplined, but because we’ve chosen our battles and to develop her budding leadership skills. And because we have a five month old who cries when his sister cries. So in order to keep the peace at home, she tends to be allowed to push boundaries a little further than she used to.

And when the hair and teeth are brushed, the vitamins swallowed and the tears wiped away (mine), I kiss the husband and the four year old good bye and wave as they walk down the garden path. Then it’s my special time with the baby getting him ready before I walk the 1 metre to my office and start my day. Only to begin again the next morning… And so go the days of our lives.

The next 8 weeks


I’m in the fortunate situation that I have friends who have babies who are a few weeks and days younger than my own youngest baby, and a friend who birthed her boy just a few weeks after us. The benefits of this are numerous:
– friends who could commiserate with me during pregnancy
– friends who understood the massive ups and downs of pregnancy
– friends who shared similar values and beliefs during pregnancy
– moms who are now experiencing the same thing with their babies as I am
– moms who understand the flood of tears that follows a normal conversation
– friends who aren’t judging because they know the first rule of being a parent: Never judge another parent
– mom friends who just get it

I was chatting to one such mom friend on the way to lunch the other day. We’re both on maternity leave with little baby boys born just three days apart. We were talking about the stage of motherhood that people just don’t get and that people don’t usually talk about. That stage just following the honeymoon period, after 2 weeks. Where you’re beginning the mourning period. Honeymoon period? Mourning period? What, you’ve never heard of them? Let me explain.

The boys

The boys

Honeymoon period
That phase immediately following birth where you’ve been awarded society-sanctioned time to rest and recuperate following the ejection of a human from your own body (through whatever means necessary). This time is used to doze next to a sleepy (also recovering, recently ejected) baby, smelling the top of his head while pumping out liters of oxytocin. During this period there is little space available for any feelings other than euphoria. Moms have, after all, just met the person who has been closer to them than any other person ever will be (other than another baby). There is most certainly no time for guilt, loneliness, or isolation – these special feelings are reserved for the next phase.

The babymoon

The babymoon

Reality sets in
During this less magical, but no less overwhelming, phase the new mom begins to experience a myriad of other emotions. And often, during this time, there is much less support or perceived support than there was during the honeymoon phase. During those halcyon days immediately following birth, attention was rained down upon mom and baby. Calls to congratulate and offer support, advice and encouragement abounded. Friends and family visited. Neighbors sent meals. Then, a week or two passed and the world went on – seemingly unchanged, despite your and your immediate family’s life being turned upside down and inside our (and covered in breast milk and baby wee). The new mom is left alone to cope with a new life, huge overwhelming emotions, waves of rollercoastering hormones, confusing and conflicting emotions. And perhaps, overwhelming love for the new baby.

But there’s also the guilt. For doing and not doing so many things: lying in bed for hours trying to recover from birth, not being a ‘productive member of society’. But this guilt is unfounded actually. Think about why you DESERVE your maternity leave: you grew a human. In your own body, out of flesh and stuff. And, when that human was too big for your body, you birthed it. Are you paying attention ? You birthed a human from your body. You deserve a break.

I need more
If you’re anything like me, you enjoy your work. I love my job and find my work stimulating. I’ve really enjoyed my time exclusively bonding and baby mooning with my boy but I’m feeling now like I need more. Just a few hours work a day will do it. In fact, I’ve been to the office a couple of times in the past week or so and I’ve loved seeing my colleagues and hearing about how all the different projects are going. I don’t feel guilty about wanting to work. I believe it makes me a better mom because I’m more balanced. And I’m fortunate enough to have a boss who is happy to let me work as much as I need to.

What next?
I don’t know what will come next. I can only hope the colic will ease (that’s a whole other post on its own!), the cramps will be some less severe and that my little girl realises that her mommy and daddy don’t love her any less but somehow actually have fallen more in love with her since her brother was born. The newborn period is difficult. And we forget how difficult it is as our first little ones get older. But toddlerhood is also difficult. Something I’m trying to remind myself of every day is that parenthood in general is hard and I need to give myself a break. I’m not doing too badly. And nor are you.

Sister and brother

Sister and brother

A failed caesar


Eli William Bloom

Eli William Bloom

By Valentines night I STILL had not finished packing the bag I’d take to the birthing centre. I had the grey carry-on that we’d bought in NYC on the floor in our bedroom where I could trip over it constantly, but the only things I’d managed to pack, at 37 weeks, were four towels for my intended water birth.

I’m not sure if the procrastination was intentional or even if it was conscious. It may simply have been that I hate packing and I’m the (self-proclaimed) world’s worst packer. Whatever the reason, Sunday night arrived and the only things I had ready for birth were four grotty towels salvaged from the bottom of the linen cupboard.

I’m not entirely sure what it was that spurred me on to finish packing. But something did. Maybe it was the fact that Roger was at home and I could make him fetch things for me while I stared distractedly into the depths of my cupboard. Maybe I just knew it was time. Whatever the reason, by bedtime on Sunday my bag and toiletries to take to the birthing centre were ready to go. And I felt in charge!

During the night on Sunday I felt what I can only describe as pinching in my uterus. Like tiny angry little fingers pulling at the inside of my womb, perhaps warning me that the time was coming?

When I woke on Monday morning I mentioned it to my husband and went to the loo. There I discovered my mucus plug sitting in my panties and decided to message my midwife. She told me to bath and take two Panados to see if that helped. After my bath, things settled and I decided to carry on with my day. What else was I going to do?

I went to visit my friend Natasha who’d had her beautiful little boy, Troy, only two days before.

Every time I went to the toilet throughout the day I noticed more and more of a bloody show. I tried to get hold of my midwife and doula but, unbeknownst to me, our cellular service (non) provider was having problems providing us with the SMS service we pay for. Fortunately it wasn’t important or anything …

At about four that afternoon I noticed a dull period pain in my back and very slight contractions. I took two more Panados and went for a bath.

The bath didn’t help and the contractions continued. I downloaded a contraction timer and started trying to time them, but they were very irregular. I continued as they became more regular. I called my doula and she said she’d come over after we’d put our little one to bed. She arrived at 8pm or so.

By now the contractions were more regular, about three minutes apart and lasting about 45 seconds. I continued to work through them, though they were becoming more intense and I did have to stop and concentrate on my breathing. I walked around in the garden in the cool night air, and leaned over the couch when the pain was was worse, allowing my doula to massage me with her magic hands. She kept in contact with Sue, my midwife (who was in casualty due to a severe fall she’d had down the stairs – I wasn’t aware). At some point I was overcome by nausea and my labouring was interspersed with vomiting. I lay down in my bed for a while, trying to nap while the doula rubbed my back through each contraction.

At about 1am we decided to go through to Genesis. The drive there was the beginning of the horrendous pain! I no longer had my calm. experienced doula helping me breathe through the pain. I had my loving, concerned husband holding my hand through each contraction while simultaneously driving us on very bumpy, potholed roads to the birthing centre.

When we arrived I was shown through to my room. I was so relieved because I thought it would be all be under control now and I could just get on with birthing the baby as I had planned in my head: soft lights, caring people flipf flopfing around me, gently cooing kind words of encouragement as I breathed and huffed my little wonder from my body. Unfortunately that is not quite how it happened. In fact, nothing could be further from what really went down…

I entered the serene, softly lit room with its massive expanse of king sized bed waiting to gently enfold me in its comforting, experienced hug. As I lay down I was wracked by another horrible contraction. At this point my doula really was doing all she could do to keep me focused on breathing through the pain and reminding me not to let it get on top of me. An in-house midwife immediately took my blood pressure – 180/129. Not good. She tried again but the result was no different. We thought it might be a good idea to get me into water. And, when I say ‘we’, I mean my fantastic husband and team of carers. The only decision I was capable of making was: ‘Ahhhh! Agghhhh! Mmmmrrrrruuph!’

As I wallowed in the water between contractions I finally felt more comfortable. And then, ‘Pop!’ I felt my waters break with a gush. Before lowering myself to thrash and wallow in the water I’d given a urine sample. The results were not pleasing.

Quietly my doula said to me: ‘Simone. We have to get you out of the water and dressed. This is an emergency now!’

Shortly thereafter Sue arrived, leaned over the bed and said: ‘We have to get you to the hospital now. The risk of complications is too high to keep you here’. While I’d previously been adamant that there was no way I’d birth this baby at Garden City Clinic following my previous horrendous birthing experience in another hospital, I was only too happy to do what needed to be done. I trusted my team implicitly and knew that the safety of me and my baby was paramount.

It turns out there was protein in my urine and this, together with my exceptionally high blood pressure, put my at risk of developing eclampsia, which, according to Wikipedia may have the following çomplications: ‘aspiration pneumonia, cerebral hemorrhage, kidney failure, and cardiac arrest’.

We beat a hasty retreat back to the car park (read: I moaned and waddled my way slowly and loudly through contractions) only to discover my slightly preoccupied husband didn’t have enough petrol in the car to take me to hospital (he will never live this down…). So midwife Sue came to the rescue again and began unpacking her traveling kit from her car. I stood to the side wailing and intermittently swearing at everyone to ‘Just hurry the f$%k up!’

If you’ve ever tried to sit while having contractions, you’ll know it’s pretty damn impossible. So, there I was, kneeling on the backseat of my midwife’s car (with the never-more-appropriate registration plate that reads ‘Birth’) moaning, crying, grunting and swearing. Oh yes, and asking every kilometre, ‘Are we almost there?’ Sue drove like a Le Mann legend, pausing only briefly to check the safety of passing through red traffic lights. Please let it be known that in Johannesburg in and around Brixton, during the wee hours of the morning, NO ONE stops at traffic lights. Unless you’re looking to donate your car and belongings to the balaclava’d entrepreneurs who roam the dark empty streets with their pangas.

We reached the hospital in record time (I have no doubt) only to be stopped by a slumbering security guard and a malfunctioning boom. I used this as another opportunity to try out some particularly choice swear words while informing the guard I was in labour. As we arrived at the hospital entrance, more than one person, obviously unfamiliar with the female anatomy and the process of labour, tried to make me sit in a wheelchair. Quick question: why, WHY is the labour ward located at the furtherest point from the hospital entrance that’s physically possible? I called and begged for a gurney but apparently no one who works in the hospital has ever seen such an unusual apparatus. I walked, wailing like a banshee, hobbling from side to side, asking plaintively, ‘How much further?’ and stopping ever so often to dry heave over a dustbin.

We finally arrived at the labour ward and I was given a bed. My husband was promptly hauled away to fill in enough forms to wallpaper the inside and outside walls of The Mall of Africa. I’ll be forever grateful that my courageous and determined midwife was there with me in a room full of nurses intent on displaying zero compassion while not answering my questions, nor allaying my fears, and just generally treating me like a hysterical woman who was petrified for the life of her almost-born baby.

I was still 1 cm dilated when I arrived, as became evident after the least-gentle nurse molested me with the world’s biggest hand. Within the next two hours, while the sisters tried to locate an anesthetist, we waited for my gynae, and I was repeatedly ignored as I screamed for drugs/help/death, I managed to dilate 8cm. And the baby was ready to be born. He was not waiting for a Caesar of any kind. Sue leaned down and said: ‘Simone you are going to push this baby out. He’s ready’. I said, ‘No! I can’t. I can’t do it’. Sue looked my in the eyes with her steady, calm eyes and said: ‘Yes. You can’. So every time the delivery room nurses turned their backs to polish another instrument of torture and grin sadistically at each other (this may be my active imagination filling in the  blanks here),  I pushed. I pushed. I pushed.

With my pillar-of-strength husband by my side, urging me on and swearing I could do it and that I was in fact doing it, and my midwife coaching me through each push and each contraction I managed to keep pushing. And when I told her I couldn’t push anymore because my ass was going to explode, she promised me that this would in fact not happen and I pushed some more. As my kind, gentle and incredibly skilled gynae and midwife chatted gently between themselves and worked as an amazing team to birth my baby, my husband kept me believing that I wouldn’t die and I could birth our child. And then, I did.

My heart

My heart

My reasons for being

My reasons for being









It was without a doubt THE most incredibly painful and difficult thing I have ever done. I didn’t believe my body had the strength to do that. I still don’t believe I survived it and honestly don’t think I could ever do it again. But I’m exceptionally grateful to the unbelievable people in that delivery room, my husband, my midwife and my gynecologist who believed that I could and fought for me to birth our baby in the way I’d set my sights on.

How NOT to do online marketing

There’s an iconic South African brand that I follow on Facebook. I follow them for a number of reasons: the brand represents so much in terms of comfort (food) and growing up in South Africa and they have an interactive and engaging Facebook page. And I follow a lot of different brands because I enjoy learning from them.

South African products

This particular brand held a Valentine’s Day competition where, if you answered a question they posed, whoever gave the best answer could win a branded item. The prize wasn’t massive – in fact, it was really small. But there were over 150 responses to their question! And I was one of them – in my personal capacity. I was disproportionately thrilled when I won one of the prizes! Who doesn’t like to be acknowledged and made a winner?

This brand did a brilliant job creating interest and engagement with their Valentine’s Day campaign. They used images, questions, fun facts, tips – they did everything right. They managed to get people talking and interacting (which increases their organic reach on Facebook). I’m sure this campaign spread from social media in to real life too, and had people talking about it. It was that good.

Connecting on social networks

Overall I was really impressed from a professional point of view, and from a personal point of view as a consumer. And then, they let me down. After drawing me in, engaging with me, making me feel special by replying to my post, and choosing my response as a winning answer, they managed to undo all the hard work they’d done. They broke my personal and professional heart.

They (the Digital Agency who manages their online platforms) sent me an email with an attachment that I was asked to complete with all my details including my Identity Number (I think this may be a legal requirement in terms of the Consumer Protection Act). What an effective way of throwing a wet cloth over my excitement! And then, the content of the actual email.


It was a long, generic letter that they clearly use to communicate with all their online-giveaway winners. But it was impersonal and, to be quite honest, I felt used. They’d worked really hard to get my attention on Facebook, get me engaging with them and then… that’s it. The relationship ended. And the very worst thing was that they addressed me as ‘Dear Lucky Winner’ – I didn’t even have a name! I just feel that after going to all that trouble to engage with people and create a connection, it’s such a waste not to use their names, especially as it would have been so easy just to refer to the post and see what our names are.

This incident can teach us much about online engagement, which was why I chose to blog about it. Digital communication is such a dynamic field. Despite the constant updates, changes, revisions, progressions and additions, there are some rules that should always be followed:

  • It’s called social media – so be social! Connect with people; ask questions; answer them
  • Don’t automate your responses. You can’t create a connection by digitising responses. If people go to the effort of talking to you, talk back to them!
  • If you have a social media account, keep it active. Don’t create a Facebook page or Twitter profile and leave it dormant – rather don’t have the page at all
  • Do create social media pages! (All you competitors have them.) This is probably the first place people will look to connect with you. And then respond to them.
  • Keep you content fresh and relevant. Don’t be scared to share information with potential customers. You’re not giving your intellectual property away for free – you’re investing in relationships