Tag Archives: baby

The next 8 weeks

IMG_3396

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

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Not just 4 a kid

I’ve mentioned it before, a couple of times, because I feel so strongly about it: we moms have to stick together. But more than that, we have to support each other. I belong to quite a few mother’s groups on Facebook and I’m horrified to see how quick-to-judge some moms are. I think for the most part, we’re all just trying to do the best we can with what we have. Sometimes it turns out the way want; sometimes not so much. Having said that, I’m also fortunate to have some very supportive mom friends and wonderful women in my network. Which brings me to this post that I’m sharing with you. I’d like to tell you about Ally Cohen and http://www.4akid.co.za.

 

Ally and her gorgeous children

Ally and her gorgeous children

Ally is the mom of two gorgeous children, and founder of the 4 a Kid website. Ally has, since 2007, established sole agency and sole agreements with companies all over the world and sells a variety of child and baby safety products. Ally has won a number of awards and appeared on various television programmes and in numerous baby magazines. All this while still being a mom! You see – we can have it all!

Ally says her mission is to make sure child safety products are available and affordable to parents across the country because it’s every parents’ obligation to ensure the safety of their child. And I couldn’t agree more. Our little ones rely on us to make sure they’re looked after and that’s where Ally’s website can help us.

I could spend ages browsing this site – there are so many great products including strollers, clothing, pregnancy products, toys and educational activities. It took me a while, but I managed to find my top three favourite products.

 

Car seat strap

Car seat strap

I love the car seat strap clip that has clips on either side of it and attaches to each baby seat strap to stop you mini Houdini from escaping. This product appeals to me right now because, no sooner are we out the driveway than Holly has whipped her arms out from the straps of her chair.

Holly's hair

Holly’s hair after a nap!

 

The Knot Genie Detangle Brush is also great. Holly has such fine hair that gets super knotty at the blink of an eye. This detangler works a treat at getting the knots out without any tears.

Baby Cubes

Baby Cubes – for freezing baby food

 

And last, but not least, are these Baby Cubes. When my little girls first started on solids I would spend every Sunday afternoon making and mushing veggies for her meals for the coming week. It was always a struggle to find enough containers to freeze her portions in. These are great for that.

 

If you’re looking for a particular baby product or children’s product, safety or otherwise, pop on over to www.4akid.co and check out the wide range of products available.

 

A quiet lunch in toddler Mordor

Birthday lunch

Today The other day we went out for lunch for my Mister’s birthday. Gone are the late nights of dancing and drinking cocktails with funny names and little fruity garnishes, as too are the boozy afternoons sipping a chilled Pinot Grigio in the cool shade in the gardens of posh restaurants. Now we select an eatery based on the quality of children’s entertainment first, then the quality of food. Usually, actually almost never, you can’t have both. And very often it’s neither.

Jumping castle

This year the restaurant got off to a winning start by messing up our booking for 12 people. How does one mess up a booking? You don’t write it down. Anyhoo. We made a plan and moved some furniture around to accommodate ourselves and we got on with it. Because that’s what we do as parents, isn’t it? We make do. At our table every person, barring one single female friend and one single brother-in-law, had children – either their own or borrowed (one couple was babysitting a sister’s baba).

I always feel sorry for people at restaurants who don’t have children. Yes, you read me right. I feel sorry for people who don’t have all manner of activities spread over the table, wine glasses lined up almost forgotten and out of reach in the middle of the table, a variety of half-sucked, semi-chewed dishes adorning the table, and the shrill sounds of ‘Mommy! Icy cream!’ echoing through the air. Why do I feel sorry for them? Because you have to put up with our children doing all of this.

As parents, we’re used to:

Messy kids!

  • having spaghetti bolognaise spilled all over our white button-down shirts and once-pretty skirts
  • the table being sticky, wet and decorated with soggy tissues, questionably stained wet-wipes and long forgotten Barney juice boxes
  • being climbed on as if we were human-shaped, flesh-coloured jungle gyms (or, as Holly likes to yell: CASTLES – as in jumping castle)
  • having conversations that sound like this:

Parent: So, how’s your sister doing? PUT THAT KNIFE DOWN BEFORE YOU STAB
YOURSELF. Give me my wine. What were you saying?
Friend: (ever so slightly taken aback) Uhm… which sister?
Parent: The one who was seeing that guy she met at th… I SAID NO! YOU ARE NOT HAVING
OYSTERS FOR LUNCH. YOU WON”T EAT THEM.
Friend: My sister, the only one, is married. To another woman.
Parent: Oh! When did they get marrieee… GET YOU DIRTY FEET OFF THE TABLE! YOU’RE
NOT AT HOME!
Friend: Four years ago.
Parent: Right. Now I remember. And you? How’s James? OH FOR GOODNESS SAKE! PUT
YOUR PANTS BACK ON!
Friend: My husband left me a year ago to become a rodeo clown. I thought you kn…
 Parent: I’ll be right back – she’s trying to lick that cat again!

Does any of this look familiar? This is why I feel sorry for my friends who’ve come to enjoy a ‘peaceful’, ‘relaxing’ lunch. We know that there’s no such thing as a peaceful lunch when there are children around. Each family, encamped at their overflowing tables, is just trying to keep their own little Mordor contained within in allotted restaurant space. Children, in varying stages of undress are running in all directions screaming, their parents looking on blankly with glazed-over eyes.

If you recognise yourself in this picture as the parent of a toddler or young child, I raise my glass to you in camaraderie, strength and acknowledgement of the hours of lost sleep you’ve suffered. And I say cheers to the joyous, ongoing celebration that we’re blessed to have these amazing creatures called children in our lives. If you’re one of the friends of parents – I apologise on our behalf for the wet sleeve of your gorgeous new top from Zara, the tomato sauce stain on your still-blue jeans, and the hours of lost conversation

Splish splash I was taking a bath

showerRob a bakery? Follow your teenage children? Sneak into a pricey restaurant and scoff all the food for free? No. If I had an invisibility cloak I’d have a nice long shower or bath by myself. Yes. You read correctly and no, I’m not drunk. I would just like a little time to myself to wash my hair with adult shampoo and not Johnson & Johnson’s Top to Toe No More Tears soap. Maybe I could even put on a hair treatment (gasp) and use a peppermint body scrub. Ahh. Bliss.

Holly_NovI love Holly dearly. My life only really took on  real meaning when she was born and I can’t imagine not having her with me as much as possible. Except that I would love to shower without feeling like a, what shall I call them, like a window display model in the red light district in Amsterdam.

Lately, my gorgeous baby has taken to observing me showering while she ‘brushes her teeth’ (chews her toothbrush). Our shower door is not frosted so I feel a little vulnerable and exposed. Especially when my Mister, bless his heart and little cotton socks, follows Holly in to make sure she’s safe, not eating toilet paper and giving me a little space. Ironically, I end up with my whole family watching me shave my legs.

So, as I rinse the foam from my eyes, invariably I’ll look up to find Mister, Holly and, Idumbe the dog (who wandered in to see if we were eating yoghurt without her) packed into our tiny en-suite watching me shower.

Apart from a solo shower, if I had an invisibility cloak, I’d cover myself from top to toe (like the baby wash) and follow Holly around the garden as she chats so beautifully to herself, Jimmy the dog, her plastic truck, the flowers and the water in the swimming pool.

And, if I could have another magical apparatus, I’d like a device to translate what Holly is saying so that I could be part of her never-ending excitement and wonder at the world.

chucklesBut mostly I’d like an invisibility cloak. For showering and bathing. And then maybe I’ll slip it on and watch some really trashy TV on the Style Network while I smash a big bag of Chuckles into my mouth.

Ooh baby baby it’s a wild world

Pic from torahschool.wordpress.com

Pic from torahschool.wordpress.com

Work is tough. Our hours are long and often we get stuck in a rut, doing the same thing over and over again (Groundhog Day with Bill Murray comes to mind). Especially at this time of year – it feels like we’re stumbling, arms thrust out in front of us zombie-like, to some imagined finish line where things will magically improve. But often they don’t. Often it’s just more of what we’ve been doing the whole year, just at a more frenetic pace.

Holly waterSo I had a look for the happiest person I know, and that’s my daughter Holly. Even when she face plants at high speed she manages to dust herself off (albeit after a few minutes of blood-curdling screaming) and carry on chasing the leaves. In fact, almost all toddlers are ridiculously happy. There’s a lot we can learn from them. This is a conversation between a good friend of mine, Emmi, and her ridiculously cute and smart little boy, Richard:

Emmi: what do birds eat?
Rich: trees
Emmi: and what do crocodiles eat?
Rich: water
(and my two favourites)
Emmi: and how about lions? what do they eat?
Rich: special grass
Emmi: what do pigs eat?
Rich: money (that would be thanks to the piggy bank on the kitchen counter)

Little children don’t know ‘I don’t know’, and they don’t care what others think of them. And, other lessons I’ve learnt from my baby are:

  • It’s ok to stop what you’re doing when you hear music (even bad doof doof music) and dance like the world is watching and cheering you on.
  • It’s ok to grab your dolls as you walk past, give them to mama and dada and get them to join in ‘dudu-ing’ them with you. And it’s ok to expect that they will.
  • It’s ok to shout really loudly, right from your belly, when you’re excited. In fact, you should.
  • When you’re happy, run. Run until you fall down. Then get up and run some more.
  • When you see something you like, take it. Pick it up and show it to everyone to share your amazement.
  • Get right in there with the things you love. Climb on them, hold, squeeze them, throw them.
  • Don’t be scared to imitate those you admire. Emulate them but make sure they’re good people doing good things first.
  • Outside is best. Always. Even in the rain. And water feels amazing.
  • Eat only when you’re hungry. And stop eating when you’re full. Even if it tastes good.
  • Tell people exactly what you think and how you feel. Don’t make them guess your feelings.
  • Explore. Press all the buttons and see what they do. If they make a scary noise, call until someone (mom) comes to help.
  • Play in the bath. Get out all your toys. Splash, laugh and shout – it’s so much fun!
Pic from lajollamom.com

Pic from lajollamom.com

We need to have more fun with our lives. They’re not going to get any easier or any better just because it’s nearing the end of the year. You’ll have to make it better and easier and more fun. But that’s the easy part. Just pretend your a toddler ( minus the tantrums) and you’re there.

Mama Thembu’s getting married today

2007 - At a 'P Party'

2007 – At a ‘P Party’

A decade is a really long time. In a decade:

  • Legwarmers went from über-cool to oh-my-God-I-can’t-believe-I-wore those.
  • Billy Ray Cyrus went from rocking to ‘Who’s that?’.
  • Fondues went from the height of chic to let’s-just-hide-it-under-the-stairs.
  • Hummers were so hot, and then so not, before a decade was out.
  • Lazer disks crashed and burned.
  • Cell phones went from brick-sized to pebble-sized.
  • I stayed married.
2008 - A 21st at Albisini Dam

2008 – A 21st at Albisini Dam

Yes, this month is my 10-year wedding anniversary. My Mister and I have been married since 2003 – I was just a little 23-year old chicken and he was just a little 30-year boy. What did we know? Well, apparently we know enough to stay married for 10 years! Yes, I know that sounds really arrogant, but I believe this is a milestone to be proud of, so I’ll ride the wave while I can. And, while it’s ‘just’ our 10-year anniversary, we’ve been together for 16 years. So I am very proud of us.

Let me tell you a little bit about our wedding. I don’t think I’ve ever been a conventional type of person. Sometimes I’ve even gone out of me way to do just the opposite because I felt like being otherwise. So, for the big day, I researched different wedding ceremony traditions and either completely excluded those I didn’t like, or changed them in a way that suited our personalities a little better. My poor mother was mortified. But I think I do that regularly – mortify her.

Here are some of the traditions I discovered and didn’t like (they may or may not be true, but the interweb said they were true):

Bachelor’s and bachelorette parties

I told my Mister-to-be how I felt about the message these parties sent. They’re a celebration, or rather a mourning, of the end of an old life and the beginning of a new, less exciting life. By the time we were married we had been together for six years – nothing was changing; there WAS no old and new life. Also, I felt it was offensive that one would want a party that says, ‘Ooh, my life was fun. Now’s it’s going to be crap. Let me get drunk’. Don’t you find that just a little insulting?

The wearing of veils

Women wore veils in the days where arranged marriages were far more commonplace. The veils were there to hide the bride’s face until the ‘I dos’ had been said and the groom couldn’t back out. This little tit-bit of info offended my sensibilities, so I refused to wear a veil.

Father giving away the bride

This one was a really simple decision to make:  I do not, have never and will never BELONG to anyone. Therefore, I was no-one’s to give away in the first place. I asked my brother to ‘escort’ me down the aisle in case I tripped on my train and so I wouldn’t get lonely.

Seeing each other before the wedding

I don’t know what this is all about – I think it’s similar to the wearing a veil story – but I needed to see my Mister before the ceremony. I was so overwhelmed and freaked out and no one could calm me down, so I insisted someone fetch him to come and chat with me as I got ready.

2013 - A wedding in Cape Town

2013 – A wedding in Cape Town

Despite these potential wedding pitfalls, and me breaking tradition, and Mister seeing my face, we made it through the ceremony, the reception (just barely), the morning after (when South Africa was playing Australia in the Rugby World Cup), the honeymoon, the anti-climax after the honeymoon and the subsequent 9 years and 48 weeks that included the birth of a gorgeous little girl. Well done, Mister. I love you and thanks for putting up with mortifying me.

2013 - with our amazing baba

2013 – with our amazing baba

If you’re celebrating something this month, grab a copy of the October issue of Essentials magazine and read our feature on the top road-trip routes in South Africa – what a fab way to celebrate with loved ones!

Time to whine

 

I’ve just recently started doing Pilates. I decided that I needed to do something that was just for me, with no expectations from anyone else and no accountability to anyone except myself. I also decided that if I were to avoid going completely bat$&/# crazy, a la Britney Spears circa 2007, I’d have to be able to take one or two hours a week off from being a mommy, wife, food and copy editor, sister, daughter, friend… In other words, I had to take time just to be Simone.

 

Waterkloof Sauvignon Blanc

Waterkloof Sauvignon Blanc

It was either Pilates or drink a bottle of wine on a regular basis (more on that in the September issue of Essentials – Wine time) but, because I hear exercise is good for you, I thought I’d give Pilates a bash. I really should have gone with the wine! While I  do love my time to myself, without my delicious and amazing baby climbing my leg or smearing butternut in my hair, Pilates is difficult! These are my top four reasons why I find it to be challenging:

* I have no balance so I fall over with astounding ease. A little like a drunken stork on a medicine ball

* My body has become so accustomed to being in a seated-in-front-of-the-computer shape that I’m almost like a human lower case ‘h’

* I cannot reach my toes. In fact, I can barely reach my knees…

* Despite carrying a 10kg 14-month-old around for what seems like 23 hours a day, I’m actually embarrassingly weak

 

But I’m determined to work at it and get better. I will get stronger. I will improve my balance. I will locate my knees and toes. I will continue to spend a couple of hours  a week away from my responsibilities. And dammit, I will come home from my Pilates class and enjoy a glass or two of wine.