On Sabbatical in Sandton Gets a Makeover

I have been wanting to give this blog an extreme makeover for some time now, but every time I tried, the scary back-end of WordPress kicked my butt. Finally, I decided to get help from an expert who does not consider herself an expert but who knows WAAAAAY more than I do. Thanks to a crash course over lunch last week from the gorgeous Blair, I (we) managed to overhaul the look and feel of On Sabbatical in Sandton. I would’ve announced this last week, but Blair and I were baffled by some font issue which my genius friend Richard (one of those clever people who can read and write code) managed to fix. Thanks, Rich! When you want a pretty blog, it’s clearly not what you know, but who you know…

The part of the new look I’m most excited about is the part at the top right hand side of the home page, where you can enter your e-mail address to receive new blog posts via e-mail. Personally, I only manage to follow blogs if I get them direct to my Inbox, so I was dying to add this feature in case any of my readers are exactly like me in that sense.

But now, on to even more exciting things. Like shoes. Check out these super sexy red puppies I picked up at an open day in Bryanston last week:

Melissa Shoes

The picture barely does them justice. They have a tiny little peep toe in the front, where admirers of the shoes can just, at a certain angle, catch a glimpse of the wearer’s latest pedicure. I’ve yet to test them out on a shopping run, but am hoping that because they’re wedges, they’ll hold up more than the 4 minutes I can last in stilettos. Will report back…

On the dieting front, I’ve pretty much stuck to the Food Fascist’s eating plan for six out of the last seven days, so we’ll see what the Weight Watcher’s scale says on Tuesday. This, however, is what The Princess thinks of the regime:

Weight Watchers book gets restructured by The Princess

Speaking of The Princess, we’ve just started looking around at playschools for her for next year. I can’t frigging believe it but the playschool down the road is FULL and I’m enquiring seven months in advance. I know for primary schools, you need to put your kids name down when the little spermatozoids start swimming, but frick, this is frigging playschool, for goodness sake and it sounds like we should have put down an unconfirmed name for her there while I was pregnant. So now I have to start looking further afield… I went to see one playschool a few kilometres away last week and I confess that I actually burst into tears at the sight of two little, holding hands with their little, uber miniature Barbie backpacks on their backs, walking hesitantly into the school gate as their mommy dropped them off. I just can’t believe that might be my baby next year!

Anyhoo, I need to sign off now. I ate all my food allowance in sushi at 5pm this eve (The Husband tried to steal one of my california rolls that I’d painstakingly counted out – he nearly got a chopstick in his eyeball for that) and I’m now basically starving, so I need to get to bed before The Husband’s 400g Toblerone attacks me and shoves its creamy self down my throat.

PS: If you love my red Melissa Shoes, check out their Facebook page (Melissa Shoes South Africa) or click here to find out how to get yourself a pair.

The Princess & Her Playgrounds

The Father Figure has made friends with the six year old daughter of the owners of his favourite coffee shop in Prince Albert. Her name is Katie. The other day, Katie came bounding over to show him her new pet hamster.

“Where’s his friend, Katie?” the Father Figure wanted to know.

“He doesn’t have one,” replied Katie. “He’s a loner.”

The point of this very sweet story is that we had a resident mouse whom I’m really hoping was a loner too… About a week ago, I thought I spied something scurrying around in the garage. A few days later, the sight of a dark mouse against the kitchen’s cream, travertine, could not be disputed. The Pied Piper was called in and that afternoon, our housekeeper reported a twitching, whimpering Mickey, behind the fridge. Mickey duly went in search of water outside and so, kindly passed on in the garden, but I am just holding thumbs that he operated alone…

Last week was a week of home maintenance and besides getting pest control, I also booked a household carpet clean. Clint, the owner of the business saw our giant canvas of The Princess in the living room and said:

“She’s gorgeous! You’re so lucky to have a little girl. I only have boys.”

“How many?” I politely asked.

I was expecting an answer of two, perhaps three.

“Five,” came the reply.

Wow! Five children!

“We really tried for a girl.”

No kidding, Clint!

“And how old are your boys?” I asked.

“Eight, seven, six, five and three.”

Wow, wow and wow again. Apparently, at one stage he could fit all five of them in a trolley and was somewhat of a celebrity in his native suburb of Boksburg. Not surprising!

Naturally, a few hours after Superman with Five Kids had transformed all our carpets, The Princess decided to crouch down and have a wee. I have warned The Husband that he needs to be pronto about putting her nappy on when she gets out of the bath, but he says she’s so funny to watch, running around naked and showing off in her birthday suit. So, it was really only a matter of time before we had a weeing episode after the bath.

This past long weekend, The Husband went off to Mpumalanga to ride in a four-day stage race and so The Mother Figure flew up to keep The Princess & I company. Over the the past five days, we have been discovering playgrounds across Jozi. At thirteen months and walking, it’s such an exciting time seeing her beginning to climb and slide and crawl through tunnels. Here’s where we’ve been and what we though of each of them:

Mushroom Farm Park (bordered by Daisy & Linden Roads in central Sandton):

Only a few weeks ago, an afternoon visit to Mushroom Farm Park (behind the Radisson Hotel, where the unsightly Hyandai balloon is parked) was not all that eventful. Now, since she’s grown in confidence, she crawls through the swinging barrel and has an absolute ball with the other kids in the giant sandpit. Mushroom Farm is a lovely, central spot with a pristine playground and feels very safe in the afternoons and at weekends when it always seems to be busy. A coffee shop for the mommies would be nice, though. Not a bad idea to take along a bucket and spade and/or a ball/ and or a scooter/ car etc.

Grand Central & other spots on the Melrose Arch piazza

On Friday afternoon, The Mother Figure and I took The Princess and her Barbie car to Grand Central on the Melrose Arch piazza. There are usually plenty of other kids zooming around there on various forms of transport and you do need to look out for speeding older kids. The road is also deceptively close, but far enough that if your child sticks more towards the centre of the piazza and you keep an eye out, you could dash after them if they started heading in that direction. The Princess ran into a crawling little boy from her Clamber Club class who was most interested in her Barbie car, as was another little girl there. The Princess was having absolutely none of it and guide her pink pride and joy with her life, swatting away and violently shouting at, anyone who came near it. Sharing is not caring, at thirteen months!

The Garden Shop nursery in Bryanston

This is a good spot for the entertainment of plant-loving grannies, as well as toddlers. There are heaps and heaps of jungle gyms and sandpits. The only snag is that only one section of the playground is next to the coffee shop and there are so many pathways amongst the flowers to explore, it’s very tempting for little ones who’ve just become mobile, to run amok, so be sure you are energised before heading out there.

Delta Park‘s playground in Victory Park

This is HEAVEN for toddlers and parents of toddlers. We went with friends for a picnic on Sunday afternoon and it was very busy, but there was still more than enough space for everyone. The ideal is to set up camp near the playground, which we’ll definitely do next time. Besides the fact that there is a ton of play equipment, what’s also great is that there are little mini slides and other things for babas who have only just started walking and climbing. The Princess had an absolute ball. She couldn’t get enough of the baby slide and I think just loved the excitement of being surrounded by so many kids having so much fun. At one point, we were standing at the top of the slide behind a seated kid who must have been at least five years old. He was taking ages to slide down because he was waiting for his mother to come over and watch him. The Princess thought this absolute nonsense so she decided to push him. Luckily the weight of her little 10kg body can’t budge a five year old, else we would’ve hand one irate older kid on our hands.

Bambanani Restaurant in Mellville

If Bambanani hadn’t come so highly recommended, I think I would have continued to avoid Mellville for the next seven years. It feels like an area that used to be cool and trendy when you were partying until all hours in your twenties, but in the light of day, in your thirties, it looks…er… less cool. Once inside Bambanani, however, you forget that you’re in dodgy Mellville. We went straight to the play area at the back of the restaurant. The Princess thought she’d died and gone to heaven. Baby slides, toys, mats, baths of balls, things to climb, dolls’ houses, you name it. What I love about Bambanani’s play area is that it’s totally enclosed so you feel as though your child is safe and you can relax, without worrying that they’ll wander off. There are also numerous, wonderful childminders who are on hand to help, while you eat, sip your cappuccino or glass of wine. We didn’t eat but I’ve also heard that the food is actually good – very unusual for a kiddie spot. I just wish it wasn’t so far from Sandton although it’s definitely worth the drive.

Serendipity in Rosebank

The Princess’ very runny nose stopped us from heading to Serendipity yesterday. The last time we went there, The Princess was only ten months old, so I am dying to see how she responds to all the play equipment when we head there tomorrow.

And that, dear readers, sums up our action-packed girls weekend. More fabulous playspots will be added to the list as and when The Princess and I discover them.

Natalie xxx

Wall Art & Hump Back…er…Whales?

I came across a curious sight just in front of me during a Zumba class the other day. It was a clothing label on the backside of a woman working out in front of me, right in my line of vision. Even as we bopped up and down to impossibly wiggly Brazilian moves, I was able to make out the words:

“HUMP BACK”

Someone needs to tell the developers of that brand that unless one looks like Elle McPherson, one can feel just a teensy bit self-conscious of one’s body in the gym – the place where one would be likely to be wearing one’s Hump Back gym gear. I mean, if anyone said to me…

“Quick! Complete the phrase: hump back… what?”

…I don’t know about you but I’d be really hard-pressed not to say “whale!” Exactly what you want to feel like in a pair of butt hugging, spandex, work out pants.

Speaking of gym, I am working up the nerve to enroll The Princess in the baby care centre at Virgin Active, for those long Saturday mornings and early afternoons when I am a cycling widow. I don’t imagine it’s going to go down at all well with The Princess so that’s why I haven’t yet plucked up the courage to do it, but I’m working on it internally…

Speaking of The Princess, I know this is not only shallow but also cheesy… but I am constantly in awe of how exquisite she is. Sigh. And I’m not the only one. On Thursday, at Clamber Club, a great big 10 month old boy bounded over to her on all fours. She was one of four girls in the group and this “little” (he looks like a mini rugby prop and weighs in at a whopping 12kg at only 10 months) made a bee-line for The Princess. Catching up with him, his mommy whispered to me that he’d gone for the prettiest of all the girls. Double sigh. The pride… I know beauty is only skin deep etc, etc, but there’s something about porcelain skinned babies and their big smiles. Or perhaps there’s something about one’s own baby. Possibly, it’s the latter, but I’m going to soak it up for now anyway. I’m going to sound about 90 years old now, but when I see teenagers, I often marvel at how so many of them make themselves oh-so hideous with their badly dyed hair and their bad, bad, bad outfits. It makes me feel very much entitled to stare at my beautiful, peaches-and-cream baby in her frilly pink and white outfits for the time being.

On another topic, I am by no means an Arts & Crafts Mom, so you won’t find too many pics of beautiful Etsy-inspired handmade baby items on this blog. I admire anyone who has the time, skill and above all, the creativity for these things. For those moms like me who can’t create themselves, there is a wonderful decor aid out there for us: vinyl wall art.

I ordered the wall art for The Princess’ nursery on-line, from Lara, the owner of Cape Town-based Pink and Posh. Here’s what it looked like on her wall:

Unfortunately, I didn’t manage to stick down the fine lines of the bird cages perfectly – I should have asked one of my artsy, crafty friends for help. You need lots of attention to detail and you can’t be impatient when it comes to wall art with thin, dainty lines. If you’re like me and have messy cupboards, you’re super impatient you have no attention to detail, go for thicker, more solid wall art options. Like this design which I successfully stuck to The Princess’ other wall, also from Pink and Posh:

And these butterflies which I recently picked up from The Flower Spot/ The Party Spot in Woodmead to replace the finicky, bird cage wall art which I ruined:

 

So, these are my artsy/ crafty tips for the week… or maybe the month.

And now, for the words that only a South African stay-at-home mom would ever say: “Yay, yay, it’s MONDAY!” (i.e. a clean home and assistance with child-care).

A Liebster Blog Award…Thanks Blairadise

Yesterday I got a comment from Blair, the fabulous author of Blairadise, to say that she was “spreading some bloggy love” and that she’d given On Sabbatical in Sandton a Liebster Blog Award.

Awesome! Thanks, Blair. Before I say more about the award, let me tell you more about Blair and Blairadise.

Blair is an American girl from North Carolina who fell in love with an Afrikaans boy from Pretoria. They got married and had a baby who was born two days after my birthday and who is two months and one day older than The Princess. I love following her blog, Blairadise, to hear about what’s going on in their lives (Pretoria is so close to Jozi and yet SO far). But besides telling her readers what’s happening in her little family, Blair is also an insatiable, self-confessed Internet-aholic. I aspire to be like her when I grow up. Blair finds EVERYTHING on-line. She shops, she browses, she wins competitions, she gets decor ideas, she downloads party packs. She is my internet hero. My excuse is that in 1996 when I was 17, stuck at boarding school in George and literally didn’t know how to turn on a computer let alone access the internet, Blair would’ve been 14, exposed to the internet boom in the States and the rise of on-line stores and was therefore able to grow up as an internet shopper. I want to be part of the on-line shopping boom, I just feel overwhelmed, don’t know how and don’t know where to begin. But Blair is helping.

For example, I learnt from her that J Crew has started to ship globally and that they’re shipping for free for one month until 30 April – that’s free shipping, free returns and duty free shopping! How cool is that for us, poor deprived shoppers at the southern most tip of Africa? I feel like buying something JUST because the shipping is free. Mind you, we’ll probably be slapped with import duties on this side, so beware of that…

Anyway, back to The Liebster Blog Award and spreading the bloggy love to my top five blog reads.

1. Growing On Up

A superbly written blog about a twenty-something South African girl who recently moved to the concrete jungle where dreams are made: New York City. She is growing on up, looking for adventures, lurve, career satisfaction and drinking a fair amount of New York cocktails in between. A younger version of Carrie Bradshaw, really.

2. Truffle Licker

Also a fantastic writer who’s very funny and totally my kind of writing humour. “Dark Horse” (the author’s nom de plume) moved back to Jozi from London. She’s also a twenty-something girl looking for lurve in between cocktails wine and shopping. She’s a private school Jozi girl who doesn’t leave the Parks and tells it like it is. The sad news is that she hasn’t written a post for millions of months and this is my attempt to get her to get back on the horse, Dark Horse! But go and read her posts that do exist from beginning to end for a really good, witty, intelligent laugh.

3. The Friendly Tour

This is the story of a thirty-something Belgian girl who has got it together to live out the dreams that so many of us have, but never manage to actualise: to quit our jobs, pack a 12kg backpack and travel around the world for twelve whole months. (And not to shop along the way – no space in the backpack! This may have been the hardest part for me…) You will either need to read the language of Voltaire to follow this blog, or you can simply click on the British flag for Google to translate her posts into English. Her world tour ends in mid-May…

4. One of the Boys

I came across this blog when I was perusing the finalist blogs in the SA’s Best Mommy Blogger competition last year. It’s written by a Jozi mom who is an impressively regular blogger, who organises Jozi blogger meet-up’s and who seems to achieve an amazing amount despite working and raising two boys. Lots of baby-related give-aways and handy information for moms and the site layout and pictures always look gorgeous. She has just over 1,000 followers and the Liebster Award is supposed to be reserved for blogs with fewer than 200 but I saw many fellow Liebster bestowers broke that rule once, so I’m breaking it here…

For the fifth winner of the Liebster Award from me, please comment and suggest any great blogs that you know with fewer than 200 followers…

For the winners, heere’s how the Liebster Award works:

The Rules:

1. Link back to the person who gave it to you.

2. Post the award on your blog for all to see!

3. Give the award to 5 of your favorite bloggers (with 200 followers or less).

4. Leave a comment on your chosen blogs to let them know that they have been given the Liebster Blog award.

Thanks again, Blair, for the award 🙂

Up-date on the Month of March

Apologies, dear readers, for my prolonged absence from the Blogosphere. Things have been rather busy for the past month.

After returning from Cape Town at the end of February, I had a teeny tiny taste of what life as a full-time, working mom, might be like. The Best Friend invited me to a very impressive two-day conference that she had conceptualised and was hosting in Jozi. I have to say, it was fun to wake up in the morning and peruse my usually untouched wardrobe of beautiful shirts and suits from a bygone era. To meticulously insert lady-links and to pick out a pair of shiny heels and to feel super chic and ready for the day. Of course, my day had officially begun three hours earlier at 5am and so as I was getting ready to leave at 8am, it felt close to lunch-time. Happily, staying awake to listen to conference speeches and staying awake to entertain a small child require similar amounts of caffeine and so I remain well practised in this respect. Of course, when one is a stay at home mom, leaving one’s child for two whole days from 8am to 5pm brings with it all manner of feelings of guilt, to the extent that, on the second day, I nipped back home for an hour for a session of play with The Princess.

My brief return to the world of “work” (sort of) was followed by an two week return to the world of French. My Belgian host sister arrived in mid-March as part of the pen-ultimate leg of her one year around-the-world tour which began in Mexico in May 2011 and which will end in the Ivory Coast in May this year.

Her sojourn in Jozi led us to many historical sites – many of which I have been meaning to visit for years but have just never got to: Liliesleaf Museum in Rivonia, the Apartheid Museum, Constitution Hill & the Constitutional Court and a guided tour of Soweto. This was interspersed by visits to Parkhurst, 44 Stanley, Melrose Arch, 70 Juta and the Neighbourgoods Market. Ages ago, my Parkhurst friend recommended a great “guide” to Jozi sites and life, when we were breakfasting at Nice: “Spaces & Places: Johannesburg” by Gerald Garner. The author covers all the cute little neighbourhood/ homely spots worth visiting in the “Village Life” section (from Parkhurst to Craighall Park to Greenside to Linden), he covers a fortune to be discovered in the Urban Life section, especially when it comes to the CBD and “Braamies” and then also does a great synopsis on what’s should be visited in terms of struggle heritage. I think my host sister and I – often with The Princess in tow – did a fairly good job of experiencing Jozi in 10 days, if his book is anything to go by, although of course, there is way more we could have seen and done.

On Human Rights Day, we headed off to Clarens in the Free State, to explore a bit of the rest of the country and so that The Husband could cycle himself silly. We stayed 1.2km away from the edge of the common in the middle of the main street of Clarens. Here’s where our newly acquired Phil & Ted’s jogger came in handy. It has only been jogging once since its acquisition six weeks ago, but with Clarens’ dirt roads, we found an additional reason to justify its existence.

The Princess went on her first hike in the Golden Gate National Park not far from Clarens, safely esconsed inside her Baby Bjorn carrier on The Husband’s chest. The next day we visited a “replica” of a Basotho village – a tourist destination inside the park. We arrived at lunch time so we decided to brave the traditional menu at the restaurant. I convinced my host sister to try vetkoek for the first time, by offering to split a safer option of a toasted cheese and ham. The Husband’s idea of eating exotic food is ordering Italian so he also went for a toasted sarmie. Honestly, I haven’t eaten a toasted sandwich this tasty in about 20 years. I have distant childhood memories of yummy, greasy toasted sarmies where I guess the bread is basically fried and the cheese is oozing out of the corners, but whatever I’ve had in the last decade has tended to be rather dry and bland. Well, the Basotho Cultural Village Restaurant makes ’em like they used to – worth a visit just for that. And if you’re more adventurous you can drink home brewed beer from a calabash with the advisor to the Chief of the village.

On our final day in Clarens, I suggested that we meet The Husband at the end of his cycle in Fouriesburg. I had never heard of the place but my host sister’s Lonely Planet mentioned it, citing numerous old stone buildings. In hindsight, I think that’s all the Lonely Planet said about Fouriesburg because, well, there really is nothing else to mention. However, I would like to object against any mention of the place whatsoever because it really is a one-horse town with no redeeming features. We were forced to wait there for The Husband – I had bargained on at least an hour of “visiting time”, ten minutes of which we’d managed to deplete by filling up with petrol. For the remaining 50 minutes, we installed ourselves in the garden of a local pub. As there was no-one in sight to order coffee from, I ventured inside. “Inside” consisted of an enormous bar counter populated by white men in long, khaki socks, against the back drop of an old South African flag. The flag was autographed in numerous places but I didn’t get a chance to figure out by whom because I was the only female in the joint and to say that the old farts were looking on leacherously, would be polite. When I enquired about coffees from the owner surveying his territory whilst smoking a cigarette behind the bar, he looked thoroughly peeved that I deigned to interrupt his rugby game to actually try and patronise his establishment. In short, not my favourite town and we quickly changed our plans and headed back to Clarens for lunch.

At the end of my host sister’s two week stay in Jozi, we were joined by her wonderful parents who had hosted me in their home in Belgium for six months in 1997 and who, along with their three daughters, painstakingly taught me to speak French, took me to fascinating and beautiful places and made my stay in their country and home absolutely unforgettable. Now, fifeen years later I could finally “host” them and their charming relatives, if only for one night, on the day of The Princess’ first birthday.

The story of The Princess starting to walk and turning one, will be a story for another blog. In the meantime, happy holidays as the Americans would say and I will check in again after the long weekend.

xxx Natalie

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.

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