Thursday, May 27, 2010

My budding photographer... a parent we don't need many excuses to be proud! So this is my brag book for today. This last weekend (yes I know it's already some time ago....) we went to Butterfly World in Stellenbosch. Tristan has been bugging us to go, so finally off we went. I decided to give him a camera to take pictures of everything he saw...even if I say so myself, what a brilliant idea! He just loved it and I have to say I couldn't believe it when I saw the have to admit he does have a brilliant eye - ok, ok I might be a bit biased, I'm prepared to admit that! We have an old camera that we don't use anymore and so this is his camera - although there are still very strict rules around looking after it, and if he abuses it, we take it away. He's learnt really quickly how to look after it, and just absolutely loves taking pictures. The morning was a hit - we (hubby and I) were lead around and shown all the animals! It was awesome! Bless him, I am so proud!

Next time you go somewhere give them a camera, if they are of course old enough and it can be played with. Enjoy the pics and definitely Butterfly World is worth it - they've done quite a bit to it and extended it, fantastic.

Enjoy your day!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

What if you can't breastfeed? Are you a failure as a mother?

This is a subject that is particularly close to my heart. When I was pregnant I bought everything that was going to help me to breastfeed and had the mental attitude of 'do or die'. It was drummed into me from early on in my pregnancy that there simply is no alternative to breast feeding and you will do it. That was fine, but it did scare me a little bit. What if I can't? So off I packed myself to breastfeeding classes and read all the literature to try and help me. I was ready. Come birth day I was excited at the prospect of bonding with my child in this way. Tristan was born by C-section for a number of health reasons and in all honesty it was quite a traumatic experience from start to finish. I was in a teaching hospital in London and after the 6th time of trying to get the spinal block in, they finally called a senior attending medical person - who need I say got it in first time. I was in huge amounts of pain due to a condition called symphysis pubis dysfunction so this whole debacle was like torture. I lay down and they started prepping me, with yelps coming from my corner, I can feel everything. No, rubbish they said - and carried on. Eventually I think it sunk in that I really could feel everything. So up I went again and on the 8th go I was finally ready. By this time, nearly 2 hours later, I was absolutely exhausted and quite literally not a very happy bunny!

Amid much pulling and a huge amount of blood loss (2 litres) Tristan finally came out. He was perfect! As they brought him to me, my blood pressure dropped so low that I started convulsing and kinda passed out. I never held my little one. Lots of doctors, all of a sudden, and lots of drugs later, and finally I came round! Then I really saw him! He was the most stunning little boy I'd ever seen, healthy, gorgeous and pink and just perfect! I got to hold him, albeit through a haze of goodness knows what! But he was there finally and all melted as I looked at this little thing that had been a part of me for so long.

I was taken through to High Care and I just lay with Tristan for so long. He really wasn't interested in feeding, but at least he was close to me and on my breast.

Eventually he started rooting, which was unbelievable to see - he's telling me he's hungry! I would put him to the breast and he would just not latch. I had so much milk flow, it was unbelievable. Eventually I got nipple shields to try and help the situation along. It was starting to get a bit desperate had been 2 days since the birth and Tristan would just not latch. I was not calm and collected as everyone kept telling me to be. At one stage I had 4 nurses around me - one clutching at my breast, one holding Tristan's arms down, one holding his hands down and one pushing his head to my breast. That did not feel good! The more everyone told me to relax the more I couldn't relax, and the more Tristan must have felt it. He was by this time quite angry, and he was hungry. He was getting more angry as each hour went by.

My hubby was in a state - he just couldn't take seeing all of this. It was now 3 days and Tristan hadn't fed at all. My hubby asked the nurses when we made a decision to perhaps give him a bottle or what we do about the situation. The answer was plain and simply that we don't make the decision - we keep trying until I get it right.

That night my 'angel' came to me - that's what I call her anyway. She was the most gentle soul I have ever met. She just spoke to me calmly and spoke to Tristan calmly. She told me not to worry and just to lie with him and to stop 'trying' to breastfeed. So we just lay there and we bonded and I finally fell asleep like that as did Tristan. He didn't breastfeed but at least we weren't in a state. It was heavenly. Day 4 now and still no feeding. I was pumping until the cows came home and my breasts were so sore it was unbelievable. At this point Tristan's blood sugar was so low and he had lost nearly 20% of his original body weight. I was in a state! All I could think was 'I've failed as a mother, I can't even feed my child the way God intended!' and that's all that everyone was making me feel, like I was a failure.

Eventually a paed came to see us and said that something had to be done. I needed to keep trying to breastfeed and they would send a specialist breastfeeding nurse to come and help me. They were all flummoxed, why would he just not latch, especially with the nipple shields. The night of day 4 and my 'angel' came into see me and was horrified about what was happening. Tristan's blood glucose was dropping all the time. I felt like I couldn't make a decision about bottle feeding as that would seal the deal that I was a failure. Eventually the nurse took Tristan from me and asked me to sleep for a while. Fitfully I slept a little bit all the while fretting about my little boy. The next morning before the morning shift came on, my angel came and said to me that she thinks that it would be wise to at least give Tristan some of my milk from a bottle, just to try and give him some strength to try to breastfeed. I agreed and we fed him colostrum from the bottle. This little boy was so hungry that he absolutely gobbled like there was no tomorrow. He drank so quickly that he actually threw everything up - but he had some more and finally we had a slightly calmer baby.

I eventually decided that I'd had enough. At each feed I would offer him the breast, and would let him try and latch on both breasts, but if I was unsuccessful I would feed him my milk from a bottle. The peace descended immediately and let me tell you my child was a guzzler. After 5 weeks like this and expressing like mad, I eventually gave up. I was tired, impatient and had run out of ideas of how to get him to breastfeed. Make no mistake, I still feel that breastfeeding is without doubt the best thing for babies, but for me I just didn't know where to draw the line and make a decision. Tristan started to thrive and quickly put on all his weight again and then some more. He could not stop feeding and to this day still eats like a horse.

I found the whole experience rather traumatic and felt like I had no support from any medical professionals, and on top of it felt like I'd failed as a mother. But eventually we settled into family life and my little one was bottle fed. I started to get over the feeling of dissappointment and failure and just got on with being the best mom I knew how to be, without the breast.

Ultimately for me the story is about choice, and doing what eventually works for you. You are no worse a mom if you can't breastfeed, but please persevere as much as you can, without compromising yourself too much on the way. Breastfeeding is not always easy, and try and get the right professionals and personality to help you and show you calmly how to do it. I am not a failure as a mother due to the fact that I couldn't breastfeed and if you have problems like this or experience something similar, you are also not a failure. Try, try, try again and breast is best but in some rare instances it doesn't work and try not to beat yourself up about it too much. Enjoy being a mom, and if I have any advice about trying, it really is to try and relax and not put too much pressure on yourself. Ultimately I think our circumstances weren't ideal for breastfeeding and I think Tristan associated my breast with force, and didn't like that!

Happy breastfeeding moms!!!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Being a child again...the parents I mean!

This is one of the best parts of being a parent - you can behave like a child and not worry about what you look like!!!!! This weekend was seriously one of the best weekends I've had in ages and that's because I actually let my hair down and just had fun with my lo. It was a big help that we had no rain in Cape Town - woo hoo! In my household we have an eternal battle of the weather - some of us love the rain, and others of us love the sun. Give me sun anyday so that I can be outdoors and enjoy everything that Cape Town has to offer!
So on Saturday we were out and about and went to one of my favourite places in the Northern Suburbs - Stodels nursery. It's free, its fun and quite relaxing for the adults. They've got awesome jungle gyms, climbing frames, swings, jumping castles, animals to feed and sand art. And we sit and relax with a good cup of coffee while Tristan runs around and gets rid of some of that huge amount of energy - my life's mission to make sure that T is tired by the end of the day!!!!
After a stunning morning out with my family we headed home for lunch and then pottered around the house. I then proceeded to be creative, and myself and T got out all the gear to make puppets! OK, I have to admit to these being some of the strangest puppets I've ever seen, but we both still had fun. I used old socks, stuff I had in my art box and my 'still never used scrapbooking box!' I really thought I'd be a scrapbooker, but I just can't seem to get the motivation together to do it all - it just seems a bit longwinded! Oh well perhaps next year!
Sunday morning was an awesome lazy start and then as it was such a stunning day off we headed to a wine farm called Zevenwacht near Kuils River. The wine farm was driven by a desire to find some much needed wine on a Sunday, and also to get outside for a bit in a really nice place. I've never been to this wine farm, and trust me I've been to a lot, but it was really awesome I have to say. Gorgeous surroundings with a lake, braai areas, jungle gym and stunning gardens. We walked around for ages, and collected all the red autumn leaves, monkey apples and goodness knows what else we could find. I was finally relaxed due to the fact I had wine in hand (!!!!!!) so we just enjoyed. I will definitely be going back to this place in Summer - I've loaded a couple of pics so you can see what it looks like.

Then off home and lunch. A bit of a Sunday afternoon laze for the family and then Tristan and I decided to play. I LOVE music as does T so I thought what about a bit of mad dancing around the living room. A fantastic 80's disc was chosen by T and off we went! There was mom, child and dog dancing happening in our living room and boy we must have looked such a treat to our neighbours - in fact I had the music so loud that I closed all the windows and doors to avoid getting stopped. All the instruments were having their turn in the spotlight and so were we. You forget how great it feels to sometimes just let your hair down, do whatever you feel like and just have some serious fun!

My weekend was great and the best part of it all - it only cost me the price of a bottle of wine! We saw some of our stunning Cape Town and just enjoyed the rest! Here's to a good week and lots of fun moving forward!

Until next time!


Friday, May 14, 2010 child's the bully!

Perhaps bullying is too strong a word for what I'm trying to get across, but certainly the fear or worry that your child in nursery school could be running a rampant hive of terrorist activity against other children can send a cold fear and sense of dread through your bones! I've read so much about children being bullied or hurt but not all that much about if your own child is the one being avoided like the plague due to his or her antics. This article is about the glorious joy of hindsight!

I remember when my little one was about 18 months old in a nursery school in the UK, and almost every day he used to come home with massive bite marks on his back, sometimes 2 or 3 in the same day. That feeling that my child was being hurt invoked a sense of protection that I didn't know I even had in me - and to be honest with you, it consumed my every waking moment, thinking, worrying and wondering what I was going to do about it. In the UK biting is taken very seriously, and for lots of reasons the 'biter's' name is never given to the 'bitee's' parents - so in essence you know your child is being bitten, but you have no idea who the culprit is (unless of course your child tells you!) In a lot of ways I agree with this approach as the parents of that child aren't ousted or the child isn't treated any differently either. However, I was secure in the knowledge that the school were handling it. Now that I have a couple of years behind me, with glorious hindsight, I understand now that in fact I didn't need to do anything about it, plot my revenge or have wasted so much energy on it. In essence it happens. I'm not condoning by any stretch of the imagination that children should sustain injuries at school, or that there shouldn't be consequences for behaviour like this, however, I now realise that when children are at this kind of age, and older, it does happen and I think its how you deal with it that can make your life easier and teach your children something.

But now I would like to turn the tables a bit and think about the scenario where your child is the one that is doing a bit of moonlighting as a torturer. How does it affect you? Are you the parents that are frowned upon, your child that is not invited to the parties or that everyone avoids? I unfortunately have been in the situation recently where my little one has in fact been hurting a couple of children at school. That is not to say that he is always the instigator or that there is something wrong with him, but I've learnt a lot, and hopefully this can help a couple of people think about how to deal with it.

One thing to always remember is that children are impulsive by nature and can also get frustrated and don't know how to express themselves, so can lash out. Its about using the experiences as learnings to teach your children about life and how to deal with situations in the correct way. I mean most of us adults don't go around biting or smacking people as they've upset us!!! Well hopefully not anyway! I think it's also important to try and not blame the parents or the children in instances like this - there is often a reason for the behaviour. In my humble opinion it can often have a lot to do with TV, and unfortunately in our household that has been a lot to do with the problem most recently. Our family has been through a lot, with me being slightly incapacitated due to 4 back ops, my husband having to pick up all the slack and our little one has been watching too much TV and also probably not getting enough attention due to circumstances!

The following are my tips on handling this type of behaviour:
Try and understand the full situation.

Try not to blame yourself too much or to feel embarassed.

Listen to the teachers opinions about what is going on with your child.

If your child is old enough to talk, give them the opportunity to tell you in their words what happened, and listen.

Try and look at the situation objectively and be honest with yourself about what could be contributing to the situation at home. Try to not make assumptions either way that your child is not guilty or guilty as charged.

If they are guilty as charged, make sure that there are consequences for the behaviour.

Communication with the school and teachers is absolutely vital!

Try and give your child different scenarios of how to alternatively deal with the situation i.e. Ok, little Johnny kicked you, but what could you have done instead of hitting him back? Could you have told the teacher? Could you have shouted loud that he shouldn't have done that? Could you have walked away? Go through the different scenarious with them until you think they've found one that they feel comfortable with and keep reinforcing.

Be consistent. There is a great quote that says 'Children are unpredictable. You never know what inconsistency they're going to catch you in next. ~Franklin P. Jones

If you think there is a problem, please seek professional advice. Listen to your instincts - a mom normally knows deep down what is going on!

And my last word - always try and put yourself in somebody else's shoes, try and understand, listen and most of all always let your children know that you love them, even if you don't like their behaviour. Often love and attention is the thing that is needed the most.

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Losing my second self...

...and when I say second self, I mean the additional 'person' I seem to have gained around my tummy, legs, arms in fact all over my body. This 'person' came and attached itself to my body whilst I was busy scoffing pancakes in my pregnancy - but where did it come from, seriously? After I gave birth, I kinda got attached to my second self, and it was a bit of a comfort really to protect me from the world and my seriously sleep deprived body. Sure, it didn't make me want to socialise or take care of myself, or make me feel good in any way, it just hung around, and I carried on feeding this other person...isn't that what you're meant to do? But, it was still my comfort.
So, I carried on wearing preggie clothes - included was this really 'attractive' pair of tracksuit pants that made me look even larger than life than I really was! I had a little bundle of joy, was now a mom, so I didn't really have to worry about myself - right? My most important mission in life was to ensure that I tried to keep my son alive and healthy - up until this point I hadn't been able to keep a plant alive, so I really worried about my success in the child arena. Luckily I seemed to take better care of my little one than I did of my plants. So it was all ok. It just seemed somewhere along the way I forgot to take care of myself. And you might be shocked to know that it has taken me some time to realise that I need to take care of myself - I say whispering, in fact a couple of years! OK the secret,s out, I was by no stretch of the imagination a 'Yummy Mummy'.
I gave birth to my little one in the UK, and there is an organisation there called the National Childbirth Trust. It is very well known and essentially you have antenatal classes with moms to be in the same area, with similar interests and at a very similar stage of pregnancy. It's a really good system, and to be honest these ladies were my support system of note and we all became really close. However, my second self was well and truly comfortable in my body, and was there for the long haul at this stage. I remember looking at all these gorgeous women who looked like they'd stepped out of a celebrity magazine just weeks after their births and they were all slim. If you've ever carried extra weight, you might understand what I'm about to explain - everytime we would say hello and hug each other, I used to feel like this huge giant hugging elves. Let me make this clear, I wasn't huge, I was just a lot bigger than them!
But you must have guessed by now that I've clearly come to my senses and realised that it's time for me to claw my way back into the world and finally tell that other 'person' to stop hanging around me - it's not all that good for my image after all!
So after numerous attempts at loads of different 'diets' I pulled myself towards myself and decided to join Weigh-Less - it was time to start taking care of myself. It has taken me 12 weeks and a back operation in between, but I've lost 10kg - I'm really proud of myself. For the first time in years I feel like going out, I feel like socialising and I feel like I look good.
It's so easy to gain weight in a pregnancy, and it really is not easy to get it off afterwards. So my small bit of advice to you, is try and take care of yourself, everything in moderation and exercise. I also really believe that Weigh-Less is such a great way of life - it's easy, you don't have to eat differently to your family and it somehow just sticks! The recipes that I've learnt are great for my hubby and my little one and I've become a bit more creative in the kitchen. Always remember though that if you are starting a new exercise plan, eating plan or anything similar, especially in pregnancy, please make sure to always check with your doctor.
Here's to my new self - just the one of me!!!!

Friday, May 7, 2010

What to do this weekend...Mothers Day weekend

Hi everyone,

Last week in my post I think I had lost the ability to count and said my top 10 places only listing 6!!! Hmmmmm, perhaps need to sit with my little one and learn to count again. I'm not sure what the weather is meant to be doing this weekend, but hopefully we see a little bit of sunshine. I've come up with a couple of things to do and also some rainy day suggestions for this weekend if we land up being kept indoors all weekend. Of course its Mothers Day, so moms enjoy your day and kids and dads, spoil the most special lady in your lives!!!!!! I always feel so bad saying I don't want anything, so decided to change my mind and ask for something this year - I've been reading books by Stieg Larsson, they are absolutely fantastic, and am now ready for the third book. I think I'll be allocating Dad this weekend to do all the work and I'll kick back with my new book...hmmmmm!

Ok so what to do this weekend...

1. Every Saturday there is a market at Willowbridge - the Slow Foodmarket, which is just wonderful. It's from 9am to 3pm - but beware money spending alert! Go with a full purse! In the centre there are wonderful places to have coffee and lunch as well.

2. Tomorrow is the Annual 'Mommy and Me Walk'. This is for such a good cause - the St Joseph's Home for chronically ill children. It's hosted by Heart 104.9 FM and Toys R Us and takes place at Canal Walk. Visit for further information and support this great cause. Pre-registration is today, so get moving!

3. The Scratch Patch at V&A - search for gemstones. Great outing. Check out for further information. Also in Simonstown.

4. Childrens Theatre at Delvera Wine Farm - Stellenbosch. Every Sunday from 11am children get taken on a magical fairytale ride! This Sunday is Red Riding Hood and the Wolf. Tickets for kiddies are R40. Loads for the whole family to do at the wine farm. As its Mothers Day please check availability 021 884 4352.

5. Go Karting - let the kids go wild either at Canal Walk or Grand West.

6. Ice Skating at Grand West with a beginners rink!

7. Ride the Blue Train at Mouille Point and if you're up for it play a game of Putt Putt.

8. If you want to go out for a bite to eat, then check out which has reviews on places to go eat.

That about sums up my ideas for going out this weekend. I'll post my game ideas a bit later as well.

Have a great Mothers Day moms and have a fantastic weekend.