A New Level of Ditsyness

One of the things I miss most about home when I’m overseas or in a very, small, very godforsaken South African town, is skinny cappuccinos. So when we got back to Jozi  in early Jan, I set about grabbing one whenever I was out. Slowly but surely, however, I realised that they were making me feel sick.

After a coffee meeting with The Princess and a friend at Tashas, one morning, I was having my hair trimmed with a new hairdresser in my local centre. At one point when he was mid-sentence, I felt so nauseous that, without even thinking to apologize, I dug in my handbag for some remaining bits of crackerbread I’d been carrying around for The Princess. I then caught a glimpse of the hairdresser in the mirror. He was looking at me somewhat strangely.

I suppose it’s not every day he sees women foraging in their handbags for Snackbread crumbs. Plus I had told him that I was on a mission to lose 10kg. He probably thought I’d been starving myself for days and finally gave in to the urge to devour dry crackers.

I did put him out of his misery and explained that I suspected the strong coffee in cappuccinos was making me nauseous. He said many of his colleagues had been experiencing similar symptons and they also suspected it was the coffee.

The next day, I had an attack of morning hunger unlike any I’d ever experienced – at least that’s what it felt like. Despite really, really wanting to stick to my Weight Watchers points, at about 10:30am, after a proper, wholesome, balanced breakfast, I had to race downstairs to shovel food into my mouth. Weight Watchers went out of the window as I devoured a carb-rich sandwich replete with cheese, ham, mayo and mustard. Mmmmm.

The next morning The Princess and I were up at some ungodly hour. The kind of hour when you REALLY need coffee. And within half an hour I was lying on the couch, trying to keep an eye on The Princess but overwhelmed with nausea.

I wanted camaraderie and sympathy so I sms’ed my friend Mandy, whose little boy is 2 months older than The Princess. She’d empathise with not being able to drink coffee at 5 in the morning. And it wouldn’t be rude to sms her at 6 in the morning as she’d almost certainly be awake.

As soon as I hit “send”, I realised she’d immediately suspect that I was pregnant. I smiled to myself. There was no way. I was on the Pill and I’d used it for years and years as a very successful method of birth control. I honestly believed that the 5% failure rate was for ditsy chicks who popped The Pill sporadically and expected it to work. That was not me.

By 8am, The Princess was down for her morning nap and I was in the bathroom washing my face when I suddenly felt so ravenous I thought I might actually kill for food. That’s when I thought that maybe, just maybe, I should take a pregnancy test. I’d seen one in the cupboard a few weeks ago that I’d bought when I suspected I was pregnant with The Princess. And so, I duly removed it from the cupboard and re-read the instructions before putting it to use.

Oh my God! Two red lines appeared before I had even replaced the cap, whereas the instructions said to replace the cap and wait FIVE MINUTES. This hadn’t even been five seconds. I then replaced the cap and stared at this stick for what felt like hours.

Nothing.

No change.

Still two red lines.

I remembered this to be the positive result we’d had when we’d found out I was pregnant with The Princess but I checked the instructions anyway. Yip – two red lines equals “preggers”.

Oh. My. Goodness.

Someone had once told me that these home tests can give false negatives but they can’t give false positives. I realised this person wasn’t a medical professional and that it could be B.S but still… I was convinced I must be pregnant. Nausea from the same coffee ritual I’d been on for SO long, being ravenous in the morning… it all made sense.

But I was on the frigging pill! What the hell? Okay, yes, perhaps I was a bit more scatty about taking it than I had been before I became a mother – one just has SO much more time when you only have to really look after yourself. And there had been those overnight flights to the Seychelles where I’d forgotten to take it until 2 days later… Jeez. This was all way too scary.

Plus there was no reaching The Husband who was out on an epic cycle training session. (To give you an indication, I think I reached him after 11 missed calls and three hours.) So I had to go through my full blown panic alone.

I started calculating the age gap. If I was two weeks pregnant, then I had another 38 weeks to go which meant the baby would be here around early October. And Margie, our night nurse was starting with Nicky’s second baby at the beginning of June… last time they had her for four months… June, July, August, September… okay, Margie MIGHT just be free for the new baby.

Phew.

Should I call her now? No, wait, let me confirm. Phone our GP. Phone goes to voicemail – it’s obviously not his Saturday on duty. Phone the practice. Only opening at 9:30. That’s nearly 90 minutes. I can’t wait that long to confirm. Phone Lancet’s 24 hour lab at the Morningside Clinic. How long for the results of a pregnancy test? 30 minutes. Perfect. Natalie, get to Lancet asap.

Sh*t.

Can’t.

The Princess is still sleeping.

Waiting for her to wake up is torture.

Mind racing.

So how old will she be when her sibling arrives in October 2012? 18 months. Gulp. Better than Glamour Girl’s 16 month gap but still…

Jeez, how could this happen to me? I am SUCH a planner. I’d taken heed of all those cautionary tales of women going off the Pill in preparation for a pregnancy in 6-12 months time and then falling pregnant that night or whatever.

Not me. No ways. I never did that. I waited and waited and procrastinated and did tests and checks and did so many “last” overseas trips before I eventually went off The Pill, knowing that it could happen immediately, you could just never know for sure. When the breastfeeding consultant tried to tell me that I needn’t use contraception if breastfeeding exclusively, I had no idea I’d never get anywhere close to exclusive breastfeeding but I totally ignored her advice. I was back on The Pill asap. I wanted to at least be able to plan a minimum gap.

Finally, finally, The Princess wakes up and we get to Lancet. There is the longest queue in the world – obviously. I’ve now passed from hyperventilation to decorating the new nursery… I can’t believe this has happened but perhaps it’s meant to be and I at least have 38 weeks to prepare myself. I’m sort of coping with the idea.

The Husband calls. He’s talking in code because he doesn’t want his cycling partner to get wind of the possibility that I might be expecting. I don’t tell him that in my state of absolute hysteria Mandy called and I blurted out everything to her. Plus I had to tell The Best Friend who was up from Cape Town that we wouldn’t make our coffee date at 10 because I was checking if I was pregnant. She completely understood and encouraged me to “get clarity” immediately but added that if the home test was positive, I was definitely pregnant. Thanks, Doc.

After what seemed like hours, but possibly only half an hour later, I was called to get blood taken. I then had to wait another 40 minutes or so for the results. The “what if it isn’t positive?” question did cross my mind but I decided it was totally impossible.

Imagine my surprise then when the dude handed me the result and it was… negative. I was completely thrown. I thought it was a mistake. There was, of course, a disclaimer stating that in very early pregnancy an erroneous negative result was possible. I thought the test must be wrong, but if I didn’t trust a blood test, what could I trust?

I’d spent the morning devouring endless slices of toast caked in butter and cheese, safe in the knowledge that there was a perfectly normal physiological explanation for my ostensible hunger and resultant feeding frenzy.

I’d gone from not being pregnant at 6am to be shockingly and surprisingly pregnant at 8am to being shockingly and surprisingly not actually pregnant at 10am.

It was all too much for my stress levels and I spent the rest of the day wanting to knock back pizza, sushi and wine, but, at the same time, trying not to.

I was still somewhat convinced I was pregnant, but my rational side knew that it was very unlikely to be the case. Obviously I was just looking for an excuse to eat more. Cr*p!

Just to be sure, I got The Husband to buy some more home pregnancy tests. I did one on Sunday morning and it came up negative.

Hmmm.

Something wasn’t adding up…

Perhaps the “positive” test was expired. The instructions said to check the “use by” date on the foil packaging. I couldn’t remember any foil packaging but then again, I was in a bit of a state when it suddenly dawned on me that I should take a pregnancy test. I’d probably thrown it away in a rush.

A search of the bathroom bin revealed no foil packaging. I hadn’t emptied the bin that weekend, nor had The Husband.

Double hmmm.

By Monday morning I realised I most certainly wasn’t pregnant and that was when the truth slowly started to dawn on me…

When I was wondering whether I could be pregnant with The Princess in 2010, I was pretty sure I had bought only two pregnancy tests: the first hadn’t give any result at all and I’d had to bin it and then there’d been the second one – the positive one announcing The Princess’ arrival. And the “current” positive test did look rather faded. Those lines weren’t quite the same rich reddish-pink hue they had been a year and a half ago…

Moral of the story: don’t keep positive pregnancy tests in your bathroom cupboard as souvenirs.

The good news: I can still try to plan the ideal gap between The Princess and her sibling. The bad news: I have reached a new level of ditsy-ness I really didn’t think I was capable of. They say you get preggy brain when you’re expecting but then you give birth to your brain 9 months later. Maybe I should’ve had a caesar. Maybe they would’ve found it because sometimes I think my brain is still stuck in the birth canal.

But phew – back to normal. Now to eat as much seared tuna and sushi as I can stomach just before I really am pregnant with Number Two.

Birthday Mommy

On Wednesday 25 January, I turned 33. I like the number 25 and I’m really glad I was born in January. It meant that my mom could convince the powers that be, back in the early eighties, that I was ready for Sub A at the age of five because I would practically be 6 for the entire year. This in turn meant that I had an “extra” year after high school, the way I see it, which I personally think is great.

Actually celebrating one’s birthday in January, however, can be a bit shite. Who feels like planning a party right after the hectic chaos of the Christmas holidays? Everyone’s feeling fat, vowing never to drink again and pretty much flat broke, counting the days till pay-day. When I first started working (and actually well into my career, I’m afraid), I had almost always spent my entire salary WAY before pay-day on 25 January, so I could never plan birthday drinks the weekend before my birthday. No doubt most of my mates would’ve been in the same position and no-one would’ve rocked up anyway.

This year, the thought of dealing with guest lists, party planning and chasing after RSVP’s was more than I could bear so I figured that, at the last minute, I’d say “hey, anyone who’s free and keen, come and join me for birthday drinks.” And, honestly, besides my huge 30th birthday bash, it was one of my favourite birthday gatherings. Someone suggested the Fire & Ice Hotel in Melrose Arch. I’ve literally been either pregnant or mommying a young baby since the day the place opened so I’ve never set foot inside, but oh my greatness, what a fabulous bar and outside drinks area! There was a 150-person function going on at the same time, so we were treated to a DJ and a rather annoying super, sexy Vanessa Mae-esque violinist in hot pants. Rather annoying to the girls, that is. To the guys – just fab, I’m sure. From our particular vantage point, her head was being chopped off by an umbrella, so we could only see these really, really long, (and yes, really, really hot) legs and this tiny teeny pair of hot pants. But that is besides the point – the point is, the vibe was great, the venue was amazing – I highly recommend it.

The fact that the drinks start time was 6:30pm was also a treat – I would never, normally arrange any evening plans before 7:30 because 5pm to 7pm is non-negotiable Princess Time: supper; play; bath; play; “read” (for 2 seconds before she attempts to destroy the book); bed time. So meeting up at 6:30 made me feel like I was still a sophisticated career girl, flying in from the office for post work drinks in her super sexy heels and ultra chic. Sigh. I remember those days fondly…

OBVIOUSLY I wouldn’t trade being told “Natalie, we need to work on your visibility management” (Seriously? Visibility manage my butt!) with the freedom to do my own thing and be with The Princess whenever I want. I totally realise how lucky I am to have the option to work or not. But I do miss the clothes 🙂 I still have an entire cupboardful of suits and shirts that I just can’t bring myself to turf…

Anyway, so had a fabulous birthday, celebrating the very arbitrary age of 33: an impromptu breakfast with The Husband & The Princess at Tashas, a lovely lunch with two mommy friends AND The Husband who took time off work to come and talk baby with us, followed by said drinks with a handful of friends. I vowed I would not throw name that evening and would act like the mature adult I am supposed to be at the age of 33. And I actually achieved that goal. However, Ronnie, our fabulous waiter was just WAY too attentive to the birthday girl and wouldn’t let my glass of sparkling wine ever, ever go empty. Which was lovely at the time but the next morning, needless to say…aaaaaaaaaaaargh… I felt like doggy doo 🙁

And it was The Princess’ first Clamber Club lesson that morning, so I had to be bright-eyed and bushy tailed. I thought Clamber Club meant babas clambering all over fun obstacles outdoors. Who knew that it actually entails sitting on a mat while the teacher clangs and bangs pots and pans? Not ideal when you’re coping with a post birthday hangover and a 10 month old who does NOT want to sit on Mommy’s lap to clap handies. Fortunately, the head-splitting mat experience ended and we were allowed outside for coffee while the babas had free reign on another mat full of items to interest them.
All in all, my first birthday as a Mommy was great. Now to planning The Princess’ first birthday bash at the end of March…

How Exercise Works in our Family

Years ago, I had a colleague and friend who was studying accounting part-time. She was in her early twenties at the time, already had an undergrad. degree and loved a good party. God knows why she signed up for 8am Saturday classes at Wits, but she did. On the day she got her results for a really important exam, I asked her how things had gone, in an effort to be supportive.
“I got 20%,” she replied.
I wasn’t too sure how to respond. I think I said I was really sorry or something, but I remember her next words very clearly.
“Oh no,” she said. “I’m not upset. What I found really impressive is that I actually knew 20% of my work!”
This is PRECISELY how I felt when I got a very kind, very courteous e-mail from Discovery Vitality recently, informing me that my discounted Discovery gym membership “might end if you do not go to the gym more often”. (The rules state that in order to maintain one’s discounted membership, one must use the gym at least 24 times in a rolling twelve month period.) The e-mail informed me that I had “only” used the gym 20 times since 1 February 2011.
Seriously? I have been to the gym 20 times in the last 11 months? I was super impressed to hear that.
Discovery Vitality, however, was not too impressed. They are going to cancel my gym membership if I don’t use the gym four times in the month of January. Very kind of them to warn me, I thought. I do want to avoid the “once off” activation fee. I say “once off” with a hint of irony because I have paid this activation fee of R645 many, many times over the years, by not going to gym the requisite number of minimum times, thereby losing my membership and having to start again.
Full of New Year’s resolutions, I have already visited the gym three times in the last two weeks and I need to go at least once in the next week for my membership to be safe. Completely feasible. And then I just need to make sure I go at least twice a month from February onwards and my membership will be safe as houses. Easy!
I love walking. Outside, though – not on the treadmill. I love seeing how fast I can possibly go at a pace I can maintain. I feel good, I don’t feel like a can’t breathe or I’m going to die which is often the case when I run. The Husband, however, is proper athlete. His idea of a decent week of training will be 12 to 20 hours of cycling. My idea of an extremely good exercise week means exercising 4 or 5 times, for 35minutes if you’re running, else 45-60 minutes for everything else. On the odd occasion since The Princess’ birth he has agreed on a light walk around our suburb. This is normally my time to exercise so I like to give it horns, walking with the stroller. He, on the other hand, has typically just rode about 100km the day before and wants to meander, stop to chat, pause to reflect and just generally take an age to cover the smallest amount of ground. Because what’s the point of walking fast, right? Walking isn’t real exercise for real men.
So you can imagine my surprise when he suggested a walk around Emmarentia with The Princess this Sunday. Perhaps surprise is the wrong word. Perhaps I was more suspicious of his motives. So I said:
“Sure, but you have to actually wake up before she’s due for her morning nap at 8am, we have to actually go to Emmarentia and we have to walk at a decent pace.”
He says he agrees to all those conditions except the last. He has “never understood the point of walking at a decent pacing.” I think, “Fine, we can meander. At least we’ll be out as a little family in the fresh air. I won’t get a workout but who cares?”
Sunday morning rolls around. The Princess and I are up at 5:15. Saturday was Margie, our night nurse’s night off, and The Husband complained he couldn’t sleep with the crackling of the baby monitor. So I am amazed when I wake him at 7 and he’s still committed to our walk – he’s groggy and underslept but he’s committed and excited, even. We’ve borrowed our neighbour’s Mamalove baby jogger with super thick wheels. It looks like it can tackle almost any terrain. I’m dressed for a gentle meander and, as we start walking, it turns out to be a lot hotter than the overcast skies suggest.
Not 300m into a slow, Sunday stroll The Husband starts running uphill pushing The Princess in the jogger. I am mentally unprepared for a run, but I play along. A pattern develops: The Husband will start running. I can’t keep up so eventually he has to start walking or he’ll lose me. In time, I catch up to him, and, relieved, start walking, at which point he promptly starts running again. I’m exhausted. We end up doing 6km like this. I manage only because he does allow us to do some walking in between for me to catch my breath, now and again.
So much for a slow walk! We are both sweating like pigs at the end and I’m also puffing like the big, bad wolf.
The Husband is on an endorphine high. He wants to do it again next week. And every Sunday after that. I should have known the exercise bug was biting him when we stopped at Vida in Greenside to get him a coffee before we started our “walk”. We ran into a friend who’d just completed a 5km run and who was about to climb into her car with her Vida breakfast wares. The Husband invites her to join us. She declines. I tell her to ignore him and say that I’ve never understood a double exercise day. Seriously, I think one set of exercise per day deserves a medal. The Husband disagrees. He looks our friend in the eye and says to her: “It’s during the second set that the real gains will be felt.”
She looks at him as though he’s gone mad. I mean, she’s just run 5km, for God’s sake! I can read her mind. She’s thinking, “the only frigging gains I want to feel right now are the ones from my Vida croissant, buddy!”
And that, dear friends, is my life with an exercise freak.

Home Sweet Home

The Husband, The Princess and I returned home for good, so to speak, ten days ago, after rather a long holiday involving:

– 5 nights in Cape Town

– 12 nights in Hermanus

– 2 nights back home

– 1 night on a plane

– 6 nights in the Seychelles

Rather a hectic itinerary for a 9-month old. Although she continuously amazes us by how tough she is, our poor little Princess picked up not one, but two, bacterial tummy bugs, almost certainly thanks to our travels. After 8 and a half months of near perfect health, she contracted a tonsil infection in Cape Town in mid-December, which led to a recommended course of antibiotics. And then, barely three weeks later, she started another dose of antibiotics to kill the salmonella and ecoli she picked up in the Seychelles.

Note to selves: babies aren’t meant to be dragged around the country and the world!

Of course, I realise kids pick up all sorts of bugs by simply going to the supermarket down the road, but we definitely want to try to minimise The Princess’ exposure to tons and tons of air travel in the next while. She’ll have plenty of time to clock up her air miles later on in life.

Although… come to think of it… you don’t want to breed such well travelled kids that they turn into ungrateful, well-travelled teens. Like the bratty South African 13 year-old The Husband overheard shouting at his dad from the side of the pool at our 4 star resort in the Seychelles:

“Hey! Dad! Why aren’t we staying at a 5 star place?”

“Are you kidding me you spoilt little brat? You’re in paradise (30m away from him was one of the most amazing beaches I’ve ever seen) and that’s what you have to say for yourself?”

I’m glad I didn’t personally overhear the little critter because I may well have been sorely tempted to give him a piece of my mind. I know, know… OPK’s (other people’s kids)… don’t get involved, etc etc. But there’s a very good reason I say I wouldn’t have trusted myself not to say anything had I overheard him… Before I learnt that he considered his luxury overseas vacation to be sub-standard, I witnessed a scene involving this little brat that literally made my blood boil. It went like this:

I was minding my own business relaxing by the pool with The Husband and The Princess when a kiddy pool war broke out between this 13-year old South African kid and his younger SA entourage and a set of three French kids. God knows who started what and who had it in for who and why. All I knew is that I was overhearing these revolting kids threatening to hurt one another, hit one another, issue ” I’ll-throw-him-with-a-ball” threats against one another. Maybe just normal kids stuff but it seemed overly violent if you ask me and the bottom line was, it was seriously disturbing my pool peace.

Luckily for me, I spied a very clear sign saying that children under 12 in the pool must be supervised by adults. After confirming that the uber-bronzed male model and his uber sexy girlfriend lying next to us had not spawned any of these brats, I felt it safe to enquire about the respective ages of each member of the French-South African warring party. As I suspected, only the “5 star” kid was technically allowed in the pool, since he was the only one who was over the age of 12.

In my best French, I told the French kids that if I witnessed anymore fighting, I would get the authorities to haul them out of the pool, given that their parents were nowhere to be seen. I was so annoyed by their bratty behaviour that my “best French” saw me stuttering and stammering for words, but luckily they seemed to get the message and I think were too shocked at being brought to book, that they weren’t able to mock my grammatical errors. When I turned to the Saffer kids to issue the same threat, Mr 5 Star had all sorts of lame comebacks, like “he started it!” (finger pointing at the French ring-leader half his age). But he also quickly realised that I meant business and that there was a real possibility all the under-age kids would be kicked out of the pool and he be left alone, with no-one to wage war with.

I can’t even sit back, sigh and say to myself that at least I’ll one day be spared breaking up violent, international, pool noodle bashing flights, because The Princess is a little girl, because one of the six kids was a ten year-old girl and she looked far from innocent. I guess it’s very easy to point fingers when it comes to OPK’s but I’m sure that some kind of karma must be awaiting me someday.

In the meantime, The Princess remains a little angel with a feisty streak when she doesn’t get her way. It’s still very, very adorable right now. Fortunately, she seems to be over her bout with bugs and seems very happy to be back home, in her own cot, with all that’s familiar in her little world, around her.

Next milestone will be her first birthday at the end of March. Of course, she won’t care too much about the bash itself but for her proud parents, it’s a momentous occasion so some party planning will need to commence soon…

Old Age, Skin Peels & Bubbly

The Husband, The Princess and I arrived in Cape Town on Sunday night and spent yesterday meeting up with old friends from the Cape Town phase of our lives. Two of The Husband’s friends had also recently celebrated their 40th birthdays and The Husband and these two friends had all experienced turning 40 as “nothing to celebrate – we’re just getting older”. Fortunately, they got over themselves and ended up celebrating in various ways to mark the occasion.

Although you think you know everything and your mother knows nothing when you’re growing up, my mother had certain mini mantras that she liked to remind me. Two of these related to growing older. One was: “You can’t put an old head on young shoulders” and the other was: “Youth is beauty”. Although I rolled my eyes at these statements throughout my childhood and teenage years, deep down I somehow knew she was right. And her words have stayed with me.

I don’t know if this is the reason I don’t mind getting older as much as other people claim they are horrified by it. Don’t get me wrong, I completely fear my body and mind failing me in my eighties or whatever, but for now, I am young, I feel young and I don’t see every birthday as a step closer to – God forbid – “getting old”.

One thing that totally horrifies me – and I am going to sound like I am completely contradicting myself now – is the wrinkles around my eyes. I think the reason I so loathe them is that they seemed to appear overnight. And that was seven years ago. I was only 26 and I had never, ever in my life attempted to tan my face. (This was also thanks to one of my mother’s mantras: “your face is your fortune”. Of course, I’m still waiting for that multi-million dollar Ford modelling contract that would make my mother’s mantra come true…).

Anyway, one day, I caught a glimpse of myself in a mirror whilst I was smiling or laughing and there they were: huge, obvious crease lines. And I repeat, I was only 26. So, a few years ago I asked my dermatologist if there was anything I could do about this. I trusted that he would not be fooled by some modern claim that was actually B.S. because he had told me that there was honestly nothing that science had come up with to date to prevent stretchmarks – literally, no cream or potion on the market could actually do what it claimed when it came to stretchmarks. So when I brought up the wrinkles question, I nearly fell off my chair when he casually replied “botox”. I really thought botox was for “those other people” who lie on sunbeds and don’t think they’re harming their skin. I never, EVER expected my dermatologist (who practically cured my life-long struggle with eczema and whom I consider to be some sort of demi-God) to recommend botox. The truth is, he wasn’t really recommending it, he was simply telling me that if the wrinkles around my eyes bothered me that much, there was actually something I could do about it.

I can’t claim that I have yet had the courage to book a botox session but I what I have come to realise is that it’s a hell of alot more mainstream than I ever thought it was and that millions of women are doing something about their wrinkles, whilst I just moan about mine.

I have, however, learnt about something that’s apparently alot gentler than botox: skin peels. I’m told that one of the benefits of skin peels is that they “reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles”. Sounds good to me, although I’m sure this is old news to most thirty-something girls who are in the know about these types of things. If you’re one of those girls and you’re based in Jozi, I recently heard about a skin peel special from one of my high school friends. Basically, if you try a peel at R550 and you fall in love with the results and go on to buy a series of five peels, you only pay R2,200 for the five peels, instead of the normal R2,750. That means a saving of R550 which can buy you six bottles of Krone Borealis bubbly currently on special at Woolworths for 89.95. How cool is that for a girlie Christmas pressie to self?

For details on the Linksfield plastic surgery practice running the skin peel special, click on this link:

www.drdoucas.co.za

Party Mommy

I officially feel like a student again. Why? Because I have just waxed my own legs. The only difference between now and my student days is that I can afford Veet strips, whereas before I had to rely on good old Mandy's Wax. You'll know exactly what I mean if you've ever had the misfortune of having to wax your own legs.

 

The reason I'm waxing my own legs is also one of the reasons I haven't been blogging in the last month and a bit. The Father Figure fell ill in early October and has been in various hospitals dotted around the Western Cape. Tomorrow, The Princess, her nanny and I, will make our way to George while The Husband is in London for work, so that I can go and visit my dad. Hence, I am missing my wax appointment on Monday and hence the return to studentdom.

 

Although it is still early days in terms of The Father Figure's overall recovery, he is out of danger, thankfully. And one thing this whole ordeal has taught me is that he is way, way tougher and stronger than I ever gave him credit for. Turns out he's a fighter! It is very scary confronting the reality that your parents are not immortal but I suppose it makes one realise that our time with our parents is right here, right now. I read an autobiography by a recovered alcoholic, Alice King, a few years ago. Although she was still a fully-fledged alcoholic when she lost her father, she describes how she coped well with his death, despite being very, very close to him. She put it all down to the fact that she "had no unfinished business" with him. Isn't that great? I can't say I would have felt the same way had my dad not pulled through and so I feel very, very fortunate to have been given a chance to work on any "unfinished business" between us.

 

One piece of business that my dad's illness put paid to, was my half marathon goals. I would love to lay the blame at The Father Figure's feet, but that would be grossly unfair. The truth is, I probably would have clung to any old excuse to get out of my self-imposed running commitments. Whilst I feel I am living proof that anyone with two working legs can run if they put their minds to it, the fact of the matter is that I am just not a runner. I find it incredibly hard, incredibly painful, incredibly uncomfortable. Not to mention the mental anguish I put myself through before hitting the road.

 

Instead, The Princess and I have become serious walkers. Walking with a baby really is a win-win situation: the baby sleeps, you get exercise, the baby gets fresh air, you get out of the house. There are just advantages all round. On weekends, I sometimes bump into my neighbour going for a run with his two and a half year old daughter in a jogger. Now he's a really, really good athlete but recently he confessed to me that running with a jogger is approximately twice as hard as running without one. That is just not something someone like me can cope with.

 

So while the Irene half marathon was taking place two weekends ago, The Husband, The Princess and I were enjoying a lazy day out at a Latin themed picnic. Way more fun than running 21km! As for the Surfers Marathon in East London in Feb next year that I made such a big noise about on a previous blog… well, apparently it's physiologically not good to run it. Something about all that uneven sand and what it does to your joints etc… Anyhoo, it sounds VERY dangerous and I, for one, am not about to take those kinds of unnecessary risks with my body. So I will either be drinking a glass of wine and congratulating myself on my prudence or I'll fly to East London and walk the route with my half-sister.

 

On the weight loss front, I've been more successful than on the running front. I'm a few hundred grams away from my lowest weight in the months leading up to my pregnancy. That does not mean I'm near my goal weight, it simply means I "only" have those 10 kilograms to lose that I've been trying to shed since Std 8. But at least it's 10kg once again and not 17kg, which is what I was facing in July this year, after a winter at home with a newborn baby and finding friendship in food.

 

And so it was, 7kg lighter, that I managed to squeeze myself into an LBD from 1999 for The Husband's 40th birthday party the other day. It literally was a little black number from the late nineties. I remember the date well, because it was The Husband's first Christmas present to me in the year we started dating. In my defence, it is a fairly timeless black dress, so it seemed okay to dust off the cobwebs and whip it on, twelve years later.

 

What also seemed okay at the time, was to drink my body weight in sparkling wine. In fact, that probably would have been fine, had there not also been some shooters enjoyed with another "new" mom, who has also barely left the house after dark in the past 8 months.

 

After my pregnancy, my first reconciliation with champagne came when The Princess was about three or four weeks old. I was not coping. I was being advised by a rather fascist breastfeeding consultant who had me on a three hourly expressing regime around the clock. I was seeing her every other day out of desperation and every time she came around, it seemed I had yet again done something wrong. It was either "your baby's not getting enough sleep!" or "your baby's starving!" or something indicating what a failed, first time parent I was proving to be. So, after I'd decided I'd had enough of this woman, I called for the help of the woman who had taken the ante-natal classes I'd been to at the Morningside Clinic. She was also a qualified Sister, but one who wore make-up. In short, my kind of girl. Her parting words to The Husband and I were:

 

"Right, here's what you're going to do now. It's Friday night and your nanny's on duty. You need to go out for dinner, order a bottle of champagne and celebrate the birth of your baby."

 

My protests about alcohol being bad for milk production were tut tutted and dismissed with the words: "Nonsense! Champagne makes milk!"

 

I was pretty sure that was an old wives' tale and basically, just too good to be true, but who was I to argue with a fully qualified Sister?

 

The long and short is that we were both so exhausted we were out for dinner for about 45 minutes flat. I downed as much French champagne as I could physically stomach – can't let the good stuff go to waste – and then proceeded to pass out on our bed while my bath overflowed. So much for Party Mommy.

 

Now, nearly eight months later, I was determined to party all night at The Husband's 40th. Needless to say, the road to hell is paved with good intentions and I woke up at 6am the next morning with a headache from hell, still wearing my party dress from 1999. The bad news was that I couldn't quite remember how or when I'd crawled into bed but the good news was that The Princess' nanny was there and so I rolled over and went back to sleep again.

 

Party Mommy might be out of practice, but at least she's back on the horse and getting in gear for the festive season…

Back on the Blogosphere

It's been over two months since my last post. Initially, I didn't post anything because after we returned from our holiday in France, it felt like nothing really happened. And I mean this in a good way. We got back in early September to the beginning of Spring in Joburg. To me, though, the advent of Spring in Jozi has always felt a bit like the beginning of summer. The weather usually shifts in to the kind of weather where you can suddenly do summery, outdoor things.


And so The Princess and got back into our rhythm of going for walks, going for coffee at Tasha's, sitting in the garden on a picnic blanket surrounded by her toys. The Princess learnt to sit in France and suddenly a whole new phase began. She also had her very first taste of solids at about five and a half months. This took the form of a picnic in the garden, with The Princess in her Bumbo seat as I hadn't yet purchased a high chair. The Husband especially came home from work at lunch time and fed her her first few mouthfuls of pureed butternut. She ate fairly well but did seem a little confused by the whole affair. It felt as though she was looking at us going: what is this stuff and what must I do with it?


I also stopped breastfeeding just before going onto solids. I never did blog about my nightmare early experiences with breastfeeding. I think it must be the most wonderful thing when it works well, but The Princess and I didn't quite take to it like ducks to water. As a result, she always had to be topped up with formula. I eventually came to accept what the Sister at my Baby Clinic told me: "Some girls are milk cows and some girls are meat cows." I'm not too sure what a meat cow girl produces, but I'm either that or I'm neither because I certainly didn't prove to be a milk cow. Topping up did have its advantages, though. No matter how hard I tried to get my head around it, I was just never one for breastfeeding in public. I do now understand how hard it would be not to breastfeed in public if you're breastfeeding exclusively, so I'm not against it on principle, but I just never quite felt comfortable with it. Topping up meant that we could go for lunches with The Princess on the weekends, take a bottle and The Husband could proudly feed her while we chatted to our friends. Topping up also meant that I could run errands or go shopping and leave The Princess at home with her nanny and if I skipped one breastfeed once in a while, it was no big deal. I certainly never had enough milk for any major discomfort to arise from skipping a feed.


When The Princess was about to turn seven months a few weeks ago, a friend called to ask if I would mind speaking to a colleague of hers who was battling with breastfeeding. I called her up and began by congratulating her on her son who was a week old. She, in turn, congratulated me and wanted to know how old The Princess was. When I replied that she was almost seven months, she said, "Ah! I can't wait for my son to be seven months!" Of course, in hindsight, the precious newborn phase where they curl up in the nook of your neck and sleep like little angels, passes by so quickly that one shouldn't wish this time away. But I remember feeling exactly the same way. For the first three to four months at least, I would look at mothers with babies older than The Princess. They'd be pushing them around Sandton City with the babies strapped into the built-in baby seats on the top of trolleys and the mothers would look so serene, that I could only put this down to an older, and therefore easier and less needy, baby. I think I probably even thought this about babies who were the same age or maybe even younger than The Princess, but I had to find some sort of explanation for the constant inner panic that I felt – probably for the first five to six months.


Of course, now I realise that it's one's age as a new mother, rather than one's baby's age, that helps to introduce some calm after many months. I'm sure there are many exceptions and that some women take to motherhood with very little anxiety or stress. But I suspect that most women take some kind of strain as first time mothers and that this only improves with time.

Friday Night Folly

Jeez. There should be a law against mothers going out past 10pm. The Husband is away on business and has been since last week Wednesday, so I thought I’d be less lonely and like less of a loser if I accepted a theatre invitation for Friday night. Who knew the show would only end at 11pm? That in itself should be illegal – it’s way past my bedtime. And then one of my favourite school friends who lives in Stellies was up for the weekend and SPECIALLY drove out to Monte Casino from the West Rand to come and say hi. So of course I had to have a drink with her and her hubby after the show. Which took me to midnight which meant that I got to bed at 12:30am. I don’t think I’ve been up that late since New Year’s Eve in Umhlanga and that was eight months ago.
 
Needless to say Saturday was a total debacle. And I was alone with The Princess. My grand plan was to breastfeed her at our usual time of 6am, then top her up around 7ish, have breakfast with her in her pouch and then settle down for our morning snooze. I thought I’d treat her (and myself) by putting her in our bed for her nap. The problem was, she didn’t seem to see this as a treat. I think she saw our bed as some sort of giant play-gym but without any overhead mobiles – BORING! As a result, she lay there chatting, gurgling and moaning with absolutely no intention of going to sleep. A quick bit of arm rocking fortunately caused her to nod off and I gently set her back down on the pillows. It worked! Phew. She then slept next to me for what my watch said was an hour but what to me felt like about 30 seconds. NOT the two hour morning marathon kip she very occasionally treats me to! Once she was awake and in full chat-mode, it was time to officially get up and out of my pj’s. When I’m alone with The Princess, I regard simple tasks like getting dressed and putting on make-up as achievements. Eating breakfast or lunch ranks up there amongst those achievements. During these tasks, she’s either sitting on my chest in her baby carrier, or lying on her play gym somewhere within my sight. But on Saturday I was so completely finished I think I fell asleep lying under her play gym with her. I could hear her baby-talk somewhere in my dreams…Luckily she didn’t choose that moment to practise rolling over – a milestone she has achieved on a few isolated occasions but something she does very seldom. I have to say that seeing your baby roll over for the first time is probably one of the most exciting things I’ve experienced during her little life. There’s something just so incredible about it. You can’t quite believe this little creature can hoist herself right over and turn around like that. I guess her first steps will be truly incredible one day but for now rolling over is super exciting. It’s made even more exciting by the fact that she reserves the spectacle for special occasions.
 
I managed a further nap during the 2pm breastfeed and I think The Princess must have drifted off as well because we were both pretty immobile for about an hour. After that I felt genuinely refreshed and the memory of my burning the midnight oil the night before was finally fading. While I loaded The Princess into her baby carrier for a 5km walk around the hood, The Husband and The Sister were cycling up a storm in England’s Peak District. I got the official stats a little later and I have to say that they are both mad:
 
– 125km ridden
– 4 falls from the poor little Sister
– 1 hysterical crying fit (by the poor little Sister)
– 1 patient brother-in-law, thrilled to have a convert and partner-in-crime to share in his cycling obsession
 
These two now plan to puff and pant their way up and down mountain passes on our holiday in the south of France. The Princess and I, meanwhile, will be strolling into the local village of Fayence, stopping in at the boulangerie to pick up a baguette or two, strolling home and waiting for these two psychos to come back from their ride and devour the local produce. On that note, Weight Watchers is still in the picture, although I am most cheesed off at having strictly counted points and calories for five out of the last six days (and only deviating slightly on the one "bad" day) and not having lost a single gram in the past week. So I'm sitting at a total loss of 3.2kg in 4 weeks, which is fine but I'm still 1.3kg short of my manicure and pedicure incentive. I may just move the goalposts though – I really should have fabulous, bright pink toes to be poolside in the south of France, n'est-ce pas?

Visa Stress

My gosh, I don't think I've been this stressed since I had a proper job. And that was over two years ago. I'm talking about applying for Schengen visas. Who knew it could be SO stressful? I didn't know, since I have the good fortune of being in possession of both an SA and an EU passport. Thanks, Dad, for being born in the snow in the midst of World War II. It has been immensely valuable for my overseas travel. But now I no longer have to worry about yours truly alone. Now there's The Princess and she needs a visa to travel to Europe. As does her nanny.
 
After sleepless nights worrying about missing documentation and how to get it, the time came this afternoon for The Princess' appointment with the visa peeps. The call centre told me I didn't need to bring in my 4 month old baby, but their website said otherwise and I wasn't taking any chances. So off we went. When we arrived, I strapped her into her Baby Bjorn pouch on my chest, facing outwards – she LOVES looking at different people, she's absolutely fascinated. We arrived in the reception area with our stack of documents and a sample of blood (well, almost – it certainly felt that way) and the ladies at reception went absolutely BESERK over The Princess. They started coo-ing and ah-ing and exclaiming and talking in baby voices. And right on cue, The Princess flashed them a HUGE celebrity smile. Of course, she had her back to me so I couldn't see her smile, but I was willing her to be nice to these people who held our holiday fate in their hands. Fortunately, she knew exactly what to do because the next thing the ladies were beside themselves:
 
"She just SMILED! Oh my goodness!"
 
That's my girl! The Princess had lightened the mood and made such a good impression that the rest of the process went so smoothly. Now all we have to do is hold thumbs that the "7-15 working days" they need to process the application is more like 7-10 working days because we only have 11 working days until we fly…
 
As for The Princess' nanny, her appointment is tomorrow and we can only hope that the visa powers-that-be look kindly on her application…
 
On the dreaded weight front, I managed to survive another 7 days of eating about half of what I normally pack away and it has paid off. I nipped into Weight Watchers today to be weighed and I've managed to drop 0.8kg. So that's 2.8kg in total and still tons more to go but it's a start. Another 1.6kg and then I will have earned my first incentive: a manicure and a pedicure. I am really looking forward to it and so are my toes.
 
Besides my stomach, my toes are probably the part of my body that are the worst off from pregnancy and post childbirth. All that swelling in my feet eventually gave rise (quite literally) to ingrown toenails. Charming. I went to see a podiatrist who told me that they may "never go away". That will only mean there will be about 30 beautiful, dainty, pointy pairs of shoes in my closet that I will never, ever be able to wear again. It's too heartbreaking to think about. This is the same podiatrist who tortured me so badly while trying to cut my toenail that I screamed blue murder because of the pain. When I asked him to please stop, he said the following:
 
"Stop it. You're getting yourself worked up for nothing."
 
I wanted to jump up, grab his giant pair of toe clippers and show him just what "nothing" felt like. And then he had the nerve to phone his receptionist while I was busy paying, to check if anyone in his waiting room had heard my screaming. I wish they had. That would teach him to torture his patients.
 
Anyway, let's hope that in 10 working days time, I'll be collecting two times French visas, be 1.6kg lighter and be getting my toes painted a suitably summery colour for poolside lounging in Provence. Can't wait!

The Runaway Guy Again

So yesterday was Day 7 of Weight Watchers. Which meant it was time to be weighed. Never a pleasant experience. As promised, I arrived with my post-pedicure flop flops weighing all of 30g or something. Not wearing my 400g takkies from the week before would mean an instant weight “loss” of 0.4kg. In addition to those 400g, I am pleased to announce that I lost an additional 2kg. Now to keep up the motivation for the next 10-15kg. Dear God, that’s the equivalent of a three year old toddler that I have to lose. Deep breath. One day at a time, 100 grams at a time…

The good news is that instead of being allowed to eat 20 points worth of food per day, I get to eat 26 points per day because I am partially breastfeeding. (I never did manage to breastfeed exclusively). If I were breastfeeding exclusively, I’d get to eat a whopping 32 points! The way the points work, is that the more you weigh, the more points you get to eat, even though you have more lard to lose. I think it has something to do with the fact that the fatter you are, the more energy you burn to do the same task as a lighter person, so therefore, the more food you can metabolise. At 26 points, I am consuming the same amount of points as a person of 140kg or more! Shows how much you need to eat while you breastfeed. But also, it shows how many points I’m going to have to give up when I’m not breastfeeding. Eek! Every point is precious to me right now!

After the Weight Watchers weigh-in, I was swanning around Hyde Park in search of a skinny cappuccino fix, when I saw the man in the picture below:

Yip, none other than old David-John of “runaway” make-up fame (see poster above). You may remember him from a previous blog:

http://www.onsabbaticalinsandton.com/runaway-make-up-with-david-john/

This time, however, I saw him IN THE FLESH as I walked past his make-up stand in Hyde Park. And I have to say, he is scarier in person than he is on his poster. His enormous brush cut is still very much intact and I’m pretty sure he was wearing make-up. And not just a touch of blemish stick. I’m talking about a whole faceful of the stuff. It kind of made me want to…er… run away. Haha.

Good old David-John. What would Hyde Park do without him?

Besides running into scary make-up men and counting out Weight Watchers points, The Princess and I have been pretty much holed up indoors this week. I have a nasty cold, cough etc and just as I was patting myself on the back for breastfeeding, thinking how it totally has protected my baby from all my winter ailments, The Princess started coughing. Thankfully, she is still her usual happy little self, so it can’t be too serious, but we’re heading off to the doc tomorrow anyway.

Counting the days until summer…

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