my Mandela day 2015

Nelson Mandela. Who doesn’t know his name? July 18th has become known as ‘Mandela Day’, and this year the company that I work for decided to make a contribution towards this initiative.

This morning, we made our way to the Masimbonge Old Age Service Centre in Hammarsdale, KZN, South Africa.

Wow.

Just wow.

It’s a very small centre, caring for around 20-25 elderly, handicapped and disabled members of their community. The looks on their faces when we brought in box after box, bag after bag of food stuffs, blankets and even a counter top stove, had me very close to tears. These are people who barely make it through each month, but their doors are always open. It was a truly humbling experience, one that I hope to have again soon.

We split into different groups; cleaning teams, cooking teams and painting teams. I ended up being a part of both the cleaning and painting teams, and I loved every minute of it! If only we’d had a week or so, we could have repainted the outside of their buildings properly; scraped off all of the old paint, put primer and filler, and then painted over it, but as we only had a few hours, we filled the holes where we could, and gave the building a mini face-lift, in the form of 2 new coats of much needed paint. The occupants of the centre came out whilst we were busy, and entertained us with songs and dancing, and all I could do was smile, smile and smile. Their appreciation and (in all honesty) shock was extremely humbling; it grounded me and showed me that I really do have so much to be grateful for.

All in all, it was a wonderful morning and afternoon, and I’m so very happy that I was able to contribute and give back to the community, even if only in a small way.

G

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the best is yet to come

On the 30th of August, L and I will be celebrating 12 years together. On the 28th of September, we will be celebrating 6 years of marriage.

The best is yet to come.

We have been through quite a bit in our almost 12 years together; 1 miscarriage, 7 car accidents, 2 break-ups, numerous fights, several divorce threats, 2 pregnancies and 3 children.

The best is yet to come.

We’ve survived retrenchment, legal action from creditors, low-life car dealerships, dodgy jobs and dodgier landlords.

The best is yet to come.

We’ve suffered through the heartbreaking loss of our pets, felt the joy of a rescue, and the loss of friends.

The best is yet to come.

We’ve sat in silence, laughed in abundance, and slammed the phone down on each other too many times to recall.

The best is yet to come.

We have been through an incredible amount of life together, so much of it negative but that has only made us stronger, more united as a couple.

The best is indeed, yet to come.

G

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questions i’ve been asked since becoming a twin mom

Becoming a ‘new mommy’ for the second time round, I thought that I would be prepared for the onslaught of people who would stare, smile and ask questions.

Boy was I wrong.

Below, are just some of the questions that I’ve had thrown at me over the past 5 months:

1. Are they twins?
No. The hospital had a buy 1 get 1 free special, so I took them up on it.

2. I’ve always wanted twins; it must be so amazing!
Yes. Being woken up 6-8 times during the night/morning because either 1 or the other, or if I’m really lucky BOTH babies decide to wake up is what I always wanted to happen to me. Sleep, totally over rated.

3. Did you have them naturally?
At first I thought the lady was asking me if I had a natural birth, and then I clicked. Seriously, wtf?! What a personal question; what if I had conceived them via IVF or surrogate? What if I had been trying for years, and had suffered miscarriages or still births like some of my friends have? I was so taken aback by this questions, that I plastered a fake smile on my face and stated yes, yes they were. I didn’t have a sarcastic, witty comeback for this one.

4. They must be such hard work hey?
No, actually they change their own nappies, dress themselves, feed themselves and even help make supper some nights.

5. Are they a boy and girl?
Hmmm, let’s see; the baby dressed in BLUE is drinking out of a BLUE bottle, and the baby dressed in PINK is drinking out of a PINK bottle. Honestly, I don’t know hey.

6. Do twins run in the family? You’re so blessed!
Yes, twins do run in my family. Yes, I am blessed.

7. Did you breastfeed them? Are you breastfeeding them? That must be such hard work!
Again strange-person-whom-I’ve-never-seen-before-and-most-likely-never-will-again, what a personal question! Yes, no and yes. At this point I normally throw in a gross story involving breast milk, vomiting and a pillow case. ‘Cause you know, you asked!

8. Did you have them naturally?
Ok, this time around the question actually reads right but again, what a personal question! What does it matter to you if I had them naturally or not? And then when I say no, I see the look of smugness on your face, or the mild shaking of your head. Not that I have to justify my actions to you, a total stranger, but I’m quite glad that my vajayjay doesn’t look like an over-stretched piece of leather. Oh you had a natural birth with your singleton? Then you MUST know exactly what it’s like to have a natural birth with multiples. Naturally.

9. Are they identical?
I just… I mean… *sigh* No, they’re fraternal twins, non-identical. The fact that they’re a boy and a girl, that wasn’t obvious enough I suppose.

10. Are you sure they aren’t identical? They look so alike!
Is there a non-sarcastic reply to this question?! The fact that they are brother and sister might have something to do with them looking alike… I’m not 100% certain, but I’m fairly positive.

But quite honestly, the one thing that really and absolutely makes me see red, is when complete and utter strangers come up to me, and think that it’s ok to touch my babies. Whether it be on their heads, arms or legs, wtf? Yes, you seem like a sweet little granny but I don’t know where your hands have been! And even if you’ve just sterilised your entire body, DON’T TOUCH MY BABIES!

Even the twins are like, seriously?!

Even the twins are like, seriously?!

How about I come up to you, and start pawing away at your body? It honestly just makes me want to sit at home and never go out, because people just do not respect personal space and boundaries, especially when you have twins. It feels like people have never ever seen 2 babies and 1 mother before!

Yes, babies bring out the gooey parts of people, and even I enjoy looking at other people’s little ones, but that’s just it, I look, don’t touch. If someone asks if I’d like to hold their baby, different story.

Babies are awesome; twins are awesome. Babies are hard work; twins are hard work. I have battled with my twins; it took some serious adjustment on my part. Yes, I’m severely sleep deprived, my hair hasn’t seen a straightener in months, and I live in jeans and takkies. But I love my babies; it’s been 5 months of laughing, crying, sleep deprivation, happiness and love, and whilst 1 night’s uninterrupted sleep would be so appreciated, it’s all a part of the journey called parenthood. I’ve had baby poo under my nails, smeared on my cheek (still trying to figure that one out) and my current record for t-shirt changes for myself in 1 night, is 6. I’ve held a crying baby for over 2 hours, unable to soothe her, until she passed out from the sheer exhaustion. I’ve sat in bed at 2am with both babies cooing and babbling for over 3 hours, because they weren’t tired. I’ve watched my husband and eldest daughter sleep, whilst trying to soothe both babies at 4am. I’ve had one baby fight the bottle, whilst the other downed it so fast, he vomited it all up 2 minutes later. I’ve had the babies fight sleep until 5:55am and then miraculously fall asleep, all whilst I fight sleep as I need to get up for work, but have been awake since 3am with them.

Yes I’m a twin mom. No we aren’t a freak show.

Please stop treating us like one!

G

why i took the kiddie lock off of my car doors

In the news these days, there is at least one story involving violence against children, whether it be assault, abuse, rape, murder, or a hijacking. But every. single. day. After reading the horrific story about little Taegrin Morris (warning, very graphic descriptions in this article) last year, it has stayed with me. It has weighed heavily on my heart, my eyes filling with tears whenever I think about it. I don’t know how his parents have stayed as strong as they have.

Last week I took the kiddie lock off of the back passenger door where M-L sits. When she first discovered the door handle, and how to undo her car seat belt at about 18 months old, I immediately put the kiddie lock on. Now whilst I understand that Taegrin didn’t die because he couldn’t open the door, the reason that I took it off, was because if I were to ever find myself in the situation whereby I was being hijacked with my children in the car, I know that M-L can get herself out of her booster seat and the car. With the kiddie lock on, she would be able to undo her safety belt on her booster seat, but then be stuck in the car. What good is that? She is almost 6 years old now, and understands that she mustn’t open the door whilst the car is moving and even stopped. When we go shopping etc, she waits for me to either say that she can get out of the car, or for me to go around to her side, open the door and let her out. I need to know that if I am ever in such an awful, dangerous situation, that M-L can get out, can get to safety. As it is, it scares me to even think that I might be in a situation like that with all 3 of my children in the car with me, 2 of which are still in full on baby seats. But sadly it is something that I must think about, be prepared for.

So with the angels watching over me and my family whilst we travel on our South African roads, I am at peace with my decision.

G

i really did want to push

I read a blog post yesterday that got me to thinking about my 2 pregnancies and subsequent births. Both were planned c-sections, but that was never the original plan.

When I fell pregnant with M-L in February 2009, the plan was a natural birth. I wasn’t on a medical aid, and natural birth is far cheaper than a c-section, plus the recovery time is quicker as well. Then we found out that my OBGYN had moved 200km away which kinda freaked me out, as no one wants to go into labour, pile into the car and then have to drive for a good 1.5hrs to get to the hospital. But, hey, it was doable and being a first pregnancy labour should last a while, right? Anyway, fast forward 5 months, and something was wrong. DOWN THERE. Now I’m not one for doctor’s, but when I’m pregnant I get paranoid. So off I went to the GP, who upon examining me, kicked my mom out of the room (that’s never a good sign) and gently asked how many sexual partners I’d been with recently.

I’m sorry, what?!

I had contracted an STD, genital herpes to be exact. I have never felt dirtier or more disgusted with myself, ever. Through a mixture of snot and tears, I told the GP that I’d only been with my husband (for the past 6 years anyway) and how did this happen?! Apparently this does happen in pregnancies, and it’s more common than a lot of women will admit to. Being pregnant, I couldn’t go on the antibiotics that are normally prescribed, so I was sent home for a week’s bed rest (if you’ve ever had this condition, you’ll know why – ow :( ) and life continued on as normal. At my next check-up with the OBGYN I told him what had happened, and that’s when he told me that a natural birth was pretty much out of the window. Heartbroken doesn’t even begin to describe it.

If a woman gives birth naturally whilst experiencing an ‘outbreak’, it is very dangerous for her baby, as if any of the blood is ingested by the baby, this can result in blindness as well as the baby now having the herpes simplex, and if you still opt for a natural birth, then your baby has to have a nasty injection once born, to combat any of the herpes nasties that will be harmful to him/her. I couldn’t do that to M-L; why should she have to suffer unnecessarily as well as have the risk of blindness, when there was another alternative? So, the husband and I decided, along with the OBGYN that a planned c-section was the safest way to go.

Before we found out that I was pregnant with twins last year, we discussed a natural birth with my OBGYN. I told him of my ‘condition’, and he said that there shouldn’t be any issues, and that many women have natural births after c-sections and that we’ll just monitor my ‘condition’. I was excited; this way my opportunity to experience labour, and to ‘push’. I firmly believe that a lot of my postpartum depression that I experienced with M-L, was attributed to the fact that I didn’t experience labour. I believe that labour is the body’s way of both mentally and physically preparing a woman not only for birth, but for becoming a mother. I walked into hospital, heavily pregnant, and walked out the next day in pain, with a baby. The bond wasn’t there. The connect wasn’t there. I was excited; I imagined me waking up the husband in the middle of the night, excitedly exclaiming that my water had broken and that we had to go to the hospital, you know, all movie-drama like. But alas, that wasn’t to be, as a few minutes after that discussion, we discovered that there was an extra invader in my belly. As much as a woman can birth twins naturally, my OBGYN didn’t want to take any chances, and said that he wanted to deliver them via c-section. Pop went that bubble.

I don’t feel any less of a woman because I’ve birthed my 3 children via c-section, but I do feel judged by some of my friends (and even random strangers) who have had natural births, like I have taken the easy way out. But I can assure you, there is nothing easy about a c-section. It’s scary, it’s painful and it’s not something that I’ve jumped into. It’s major surgery, and the time that could have been spent cuddling my newborn/s, washing bottles, folding baby clothes etc, was spent trying to get out of bed faster than a tortoise walking a meter without crying out in pain. And the postpartum bleeding after a c-section is no less than if you had a natural birth; I was shocked after my first c-section that I was bleeding, and so much, and for so long! So many woman think that you don’t after a c-section; believe me, you DO! After a c-section you aren’t allowed to drive for 6 weeks; a natural birth allows a woman to drive pretty much the same day, depending on what went on DOWN THERE. With a natural birth, things tend to shrink down to their ‘normal’ size relatively quickly (there is no normal size after pregnancy, I know) whereas with a c-section it takes so. much. longer. Being wheeled into the theater, drip in your wrist, catheter up your who-ha, having to schooch your big, heavy pregnant body over onto the operating table, having to somehow bend your body in half (impossible with a big ass tummy in the way) and then having to try and breathe through the needle being inserted into your lower back for the epidural, are all wonderfully soothing things that a woman looks forward to, right before bringing her child/children into this world. Right before her stomach is sliced open, her insides mooshed around, air filling every nook and cranny (air that she’ll know about for weeks after the birth) and a pressure unlike she’s every experienced before, all before welcoming her child into the world. Also with a c-section, the time spent with your newborn right after birth is not like the time spent after a natural birth. Because you now have to lie in theater for another 30-45mins (sometimes even longer) whilst your doctor stitches you back together, your baby is whisked away to the nursery, where the first bath is given, the first feed and you’re lying in theater, missing it all.

I wanted to push. I wanted to do that, be a ‘real woman’, whatever that is. But I couldn’t, and I’m ok with that. I have 3 beautiful, healthy children who are no worse off because their mommy didn’t give birth to them ‘like a real woman should have’. My mom had all 3 of us naturally, and I applaud her for that. Just like I applaud every other woman who has had a natural birth. Just like I applaud every other woman who has had a c-section. I applaud every woman that gives birth, whichever way she does so. I wish women would stop ‘comparing’ births; what matters is that your child is here, healthy and perfect, whether born naturally or via c-section.

Yes I wanted to push.

But I didn’t, and that’s ok.

G