Sunday, January 29, 2017

the final post

Saying goodbye is hard.

This is why it's taken me months to do so. But last night I realised that I need to make it official.

I'm hanging up my hat on Peas On Toast after twelve years.
I have dragged my heels, as this blog has done so many things for me. It wouldn't be right to just up and leave without some sort of eulogy for the place that has been my creative outlet for the better part of my 20s and 30s.

Back in 2005, when writing thoughts on the Internet was relatively unknown, I loved that I could share all the things with five people who didn't know me. It caught on, and suddenly it took me to the dizzying heights of Z-grade Internet celebrity status in South Africa; something quite bizarre and unexpected; it gave me a platform I never knew was possible. As a result of of this little blog, I can attribute it to helping me get a book deal with a major publisher, help me get a job at a wonderful company that I would never have dreamed of previously, got me freelance work, my own column, and most importantly, throughout it, served as a place I could write about my daily trials and tribulations and feed my own creativity, no matter what was going on in the world and in my life.

I have so much to be thankful for, and am so grateful for the readers that have popped by daily, weekly and monthly. I have also met some incredible people directly and indirectly because of my blog.

But it's also time to face facts. My life has changed. I don't have much to say at the moment. I am a mum, and how my brain works, has changed. Parenting, for me, is made up of brief, little moments, all bunched together, haphazardly. This just doesn't serve the creative outlet I need right now. I just don't know how to write currently, to be honest. While I sadly lamented this massive missing piece of me recently, I know that it will return. And for the moment, there are other ways I can share and piece together the chaos that is my life at the moment. I am on Instagram, so please do find me there if you are interested.

This platform has taken me through hugely transitional phases of life; starting with the trivial and run-of-the-mill (heart breaks, moves, travels, marriage, parenting, children, etc) to the more serious and less common (losing a child, having twins, immigration, etc). I will leave it just as it is. Pink and unformatted, unedited, just as my life is. Maybe it'll still be here in a few years, and maybe it won't.

To date, I have written a mind-boggling 2211 posts. I've had 20691 profile views and 1,126,000 pageviews. It's not a fuckton, but it's enough for me. The reason I have banged away at this for so long is because it forces me to write, find structure in chaos, be an outlet for frustrations and revelations. After my small peak in popularity, I continued to do it for years and I am so glad I did. It serves as a document, small section of history for the most transitional stages of my life.

For my children: you'll find a lot of swearing and bad things in here. By no means does this mean you can do it too. I'm still your mother. And I love you more than words, pictures or thoughts could ever express. You might find this one day, and you may be strangely amused or entertained, you may even be horrified or appalled. I had a lot to learn. You will too.

You (three) are everything my life has led up to - anything beyond the achievement of having you is small fry. Having you healthy, happy and loved is all I want for you, Sebastian and Florence.

So this is me, signing off. I'll be back. And I'm still floating around on social media, because there are moments in life that are meant to be shared. I am so proud of you both.

Thanks for everything, interwebs.

Peas On Toast


Friday, December 09, 2016

'tis the season

Wow. To think I stuck blogging on this guy for almost 11 years, and now I kind of drift in and out every 8 decades.

Kids. Life. I'm in full survival mode still, and on days when I have the time or energy to brush my hair, put on a wash, while tending to my hatchlings, then I do that rather.

One thing I have noticed lately, is a spate of mums coming out about Post Natal Depression. Perhaps I've noticed it because that's what I 'have.' Either way, it's extremely comforting to know that some of the most successful, perfect mums out there have troubles too.

I explained to my husband that on my current drugs, I don't feel especially happy, but I don't feel especially sad either. You're kind of just sitting on the midline. It doesn't solve everything, and you still have to work through it all, but I do feel stronger and more self-assured in general.

Post Natal knocks your confidence. It knocks you a bit sideways, in that you feel like you can't cope, hate your situation, and you descend into this hole where you don't want go out, feel inadequate, and that you're a bad mum, all the things. No inclination to do anything. Each person experiences different things, and one thing I will say is that I did connect with Florence instantly. I loved her, and missed Sebastian terribly during those early days - I never didn't want my children, circumstances. My heart feels fuller than it has in a long time, and my little family is my world. I just didn't/don't think I'm up for the task. The huge task of raising them properly, ensuring they get the best opportunities, endless love, good manners, healthy food. After not being able to breastfeed, I felt like I couldn't provide. That this was the downhill slide into being a bad mother. I really did.

I've relaxed a lot since those early days, and let a lot of things slide that I don't bother to fight battles on. You can't fight everything, you have to choose your battles and make the most of what you have, while just trying your best. Sometimes my best is giving Sebastian ten Time Outs because he is behaving badly, or he bit Florence's fingers again, and I lose my shit and then feel pangs of guilt for hours afterwards. There are some gruesomely bad days, when everything goes wrong, everyone is sick, or I just feel like I cannot deal with this right now. I just want to run away.

I feel like that on many days. Then every now and then I'll come back after a long day and think, "Wow. I'm so proud of my little rug rats. I have to have done something right so far. Right? Right?!"

Motherhood is a crazy tough gig. There are plates flying everywhere, and you have to catch them all. Sometimes they fall, all at once. But if there's one thing I've really learnt, is that everyone has their shit. Everyone.
You have to really remind yourselves sometimes, as you scroll through beautifully filtered photos on Insta and endless smiling pictures, that it's only a tiny slice of the whole story. Social media can really pull you down if you let it.

Everyone has their hardships, sometimes you have to dig deep, but you can bet, anyone with kids:
1) has days they struggle and wonder if they made the right decision
2) sometimes wants to run away
3) have relationship problems with friends, family, husbands - kids change dynamics with almost everyone you know. Many take strain.
4) doubt if they're cut for the job
5) is exhausted

We're not in the Victorian times anymore, where a village helped to raise your children. Where we weren't all dispersed far and wide from our families across the globe, where school is expensive, and at least if you live in a place like the UK, you just don't have help. You gotta do it all. And while it's super fulfilling, it is full on.

But no one is an island, and making and meeting some lovely new friends in our new town has really helped. I went in thinking I was going to keep my options open; not to judge any books by covers, be completely myself, be honest about how I find motherhood, and be a completely open book. In turn, I have met some wonderful people I probably never would've crossed paths with before. Other mums who I can be open with, while equally taking delight in our little people, together.

It also goes without saying that my Brit really steps up when the chips are down. He is amazing with his children, and has been my number one support. It's hard, but we are making more effort to reconnect after a busy week where we pass each other like ships in the night tending to our list of responsibilities each day. He has a genuinely golden heart.

Tomorrow we fly to South Africa for a month, and I am both excited and fearful. All of us (being my family) under one roof can get slightly dysfunctional, but at the same time I can't wait to present Florence to her Grandad for the first time, and have Sebby look for birds with his grandparents, and be doted upon by them.

They are my pride and joy. I am so incredibly lucky.

 Packed and ready to go - Sebastian's little Gruffalo Trunki
 Florence, my little rainbow
Sebastian, my hero

Thursday, November 10, 2016

conversations with a 2.5 year old

Time to fire up this old bad boy again.

Conversations with my 2 year old, as a start.
I am having a lot of fun with Sebastian these days, as his vocabulary is exploding and he is beginning to challenge things, asking questions and expressing himself.

Some conversations are fantastically hilarious; others are fantastically mundane and repetitive. Believe me, you repeat shit day in day out. All the time. To the point where you can predict exactly how your next conversations will go. You can be twelve steps ahead without even having to think, (which is a bonus, really.)

Just this week:

"Mummay? Mummay?"
"Yes Sebastian, I am downstairs."
"I am HERE."
"MUMMAY. Are you downstairs?"
"I am downstairs."
"MUMMAY? Are you downstairs Mummay?"

"Do you need to go to the potty Sebastian?"
"No. Don't need pottay."
"Are you sure?"
"No don't need pottay."
"Do you need a pooh?"
"No don't need a pooh. Need a wee."
"OK, let's go to the potty then."
"No, don't need pottay."

 [Five seconds later]

"Mummay! I have a pooey nappay!"
"And why didn't you tell me so we could go to the pottay?"
"No, don't need pottay."

"Have you finished your supper Sebastian?"
[Four years later]
"You havent' finished your supper, I had better eat it."
"Well, no pudding until you've finished."
"I want pudding!"
"You have to eat your cucumber/broccoli/beetroot first. Then you can have pudding."
"I want pudding!"
"No pudding. Right, mummy's going to eat your cucumbers."
"NO MINE. I eat dem."
"Are you finished yet?"
[Repeat ad infinitum.]

"Fwonce [Florence] is crying Mummay, go and swaddle Fwonce."
"OK I'll be just a minute."
"I coming too Mummay."
"You wait here Sebby, otherwise she will wake up."

"Look Mummay, it's a robin."
"And why is it a robin?"
"Because it's got a red breast."
"That's right my boy, well done. And what is that bird?"
"It's a sruss.[thrush]
"Is it? I thought it was a crow."
"No it's not a crow, it's a sruss."
"OK then."
"No it's a crow."
"OK it's a crow."

"I had sweet dreams Mummay."
"That's good my boy, what did you dream about?"
"Oh that's nice. And what did Woof [his current obsession/carries everywhere soft toy] dream about?"
"He dreamt about dinosaurs. And birds. And cars."
"Oh wow.
"No, he didn't sleep very well. He didn't have sweet dreams."
"He dreamt about sand."

Addressing Florence:
"Where's your dummay little girl?"
"I don't think she needs it right now my boy."
"OK, I put it in the tray."
"Thank you, that's very helpful."
"Fwonce is tickling may."
"Is she?"
"Yes, Fwonce you are tickling may. I love you Fwonce."

"Mummay, are you changing Fwonce's nappay?"
"Yes, my boy."
"Has she done a little pooh?"
"I think so, yes."
"Oh look, she has pooh all over her willay."
"Florence doesn't have a willy my boy. Florence is a girl, so she has a ....[fuck, what should I call it? Why haven't i thought this through?]
"Fwonce has a foo. And you have a foo. And I have a foo."
"No, you're a boy so you have a willy."
"I have a willy and you have a willy."
"No, you and daddy are boys, so you both have a willy. Florence and Mummy are girls, so we have a foo."

"Mummay, how old are for you?"
"How old am I? I am 36."
"And how old am for me?"
"You are two."
"No I three."
"No you're two. You turn three in March." [gulp]
"And how old are for Fwonce?"
"She is four months."
"No she is ten weeks."

"Daddy's gone to work."
"That's right, he will be home later my boy."
"Did he go in the aeroplane?"
"No, he goes to work on the train."
"Granny went on the aeroplane. To Africa."
"That's right. And we are going on the aeroplane to South Africa for?"
"For Father Christmas."
"For Christmas, yes. And if you're a good boy, Father Christmas will visit."
"I not naughty boy. I a cheekay monkay."
"Yes, you're my cheeky little monkey."
"I want Father Christmas."
"He only comes at Christmas time."
"He give me toys."
"Yes, if you're a good boy."

And finally....

"What are you Sebastian?"
"I a twin."
"Yes. Who is your twin sister?"
"Molly. She lives in heaven."

 My world.

 "I funnay, Mummay."
 Little Bird. She is my bird or my worm. Seb is my monkey.
 "Look, Mummay, Fwonce is a ghost! She likes it Mummay!"

Monday, October 17, 2016

fourth trimester done

So. how are we?

For the most part, just fine. The fourth trimester is officially over. Florence is just over 3 months now, and is gurgling, smiling, interacting, pudging up - generally being absolutely fucking beautiful when she isn't crying or not sleeping. I am enjoying her immensely.

It is much easier second time round, [once the fourth trimester is over.] You are much more relaxed, and you do trust your own instincts and not everyone else's unsolicited and [mostly stupid actually] advice. I am enjoying being with Florence and Sebastian, albeit am more exhausted than the most exhausted person, who is at his most exhausted.

Still on the Zoloft. It fixes most things, but it doesn't make other people better. You just get a higher tolerance for them.

I have learnt to compartmentalise - in fact, I learnt this years ago, that when one aspect of my life is spectacularly bad, I can more or less stuff it in a box for a few hours, completely ignore it, and focus on the other good 80%. This has definitely led me in good stead. And especially when it comes to having children. When you don't have enough time to focus on anything for longer than two minutes, so you're forced to compartmentalise and put it out of your brain. It's the best way to survive anything. Trust me.

Well, I'm doing that. With a few things lately. Choosing to box up and ignore.
 And focus on me and my children.

I have made a few mum friends now. I've kept this door wide open, and befriended a bunch of new mums in the area. Who knows if we have much in common beyond our children, but who cares? Right now it's all about connecting with someone who smiles, has kids my children's ages, has a vague sense of humour, and is willing to go on playdates and grab a coffee, or maybe even a cheeky glass of wine in the future. It's made life around here much more bearable.

I've also joined a few groups and baby classes, so my calendar is full. Pretty much always. With local stuff.

Florence is now pretty much exclusively on on formula. I've kept one last precious bag of milk in the freezer for her to have when she has her last set of MMR jabs, then that's it.
I try not to think about this too much. This formula bottle thing that haunts me so. Because it makes me sad. So I also try and push this out of my mind and focus on the fact that she is a healthy, fed, happy little baby.

Our house renovations are almost finished. The painting, fixing up, furniture-buying phase anyway. I'll post some pictures soon. Throwing myself into making my nest comfortable and lovely has been so much fun. Even if that's a stupid thing to focus on.

I've been out on a few girls night too! Involving wine and everything. With people who have kids, and people who don't. Which means I can talk politics, decor and news, too.

 My precious little angel. Obsessed with hair bows. I put a new one in her hair everyday!
 Precious siblings. My absolute world.
 Exploring the Kent countryside with a little friend.
 Running amuck on the nature trails of Kent.
 Some of my favourite daily moments are rocking her to sleep in her nursery.
 My happy girl.
 Heavenly big blue eyes.
My sproglets.

Monday, September 19, 2016

the new lens

So I've been on Zoloft for two weeks.

Seratonin-reuptakers FTW.

It hasn't been a picnic; the side-effects of anti-depressants aren't amazing. Nausea pretty much all day long, upset stomach, dry mouth, the shakes and dizziness. But for the first time, these have started to subside and there's just a very subtle change that appears to be happening.

When I think about things, things that would usually overwhelm me, or cause me anxiety (ie: everything), the world just seems a tiny bit softer and lighter. Things that I'd ordinarily react badly to, I'm far more chilled out about. I haven't woken up and suddenly everything is bright and sunshiny and beautiful (far from it - suddenly it's autumn here), but there is a definite shift, and I am starting to feel a lot more myself again.

'Myself' being someone who has the ability to laugh at shit, and be less uptight about everything.

This award-winning book-writing blogger (hey, that was me once!), sums PND up excellently. I love her. 

Florence is also 10 weeks. She is starting to settle easier, is chubbing out (so I get to squeeze her little legs and kiss those soft, fat cheeks), and doesn't mind lying down somewhere for 2 minutes (that's her record) that isn't my arms. I am fully aware that this is the last time I'll be doing this.

The Ugly Volvo (another amazing book-writing blogger whom I love) sums this up very well too. So I am now starting to really embrace the fact that my little baby is going to be the last little baby I have. I nestle in her hair, I allow her to lie on my chest for longer than necessary, I am trying to live for every moment with her where possible.

I've joined a baby class. It's the same sensory class I did with Sebastian, and it's bought back lots of memories. I am sad that he is no longer a baby I can do this with - go figure. I hope to meet some mums there, although my self-esteem isn't helluva great right now. I don't like the look of myself in a mirror, and I am not sure what to say to these mothers who are shiny, and spritely and skinny and local.
I'll get there. I'm not as anxious or worried about it as I was last week.

I'm an outgoing introvert, so this will take time.

One thing I am fucking terrified about: the Brit is going to Singapore tomorrow for a week for work. A week. I don't know how I'll logistically manage drop offs and pick-ups to Sebby's nursery, and not sure how I'll manage doing everything for that long before dying from exhaustion.

Maybe I'll surprise myself.

I'm trying to think of it like an athlete thinks about their next triathlon. Preparation is key; do your best.

We'll see.

It was my birthday last week. I am now officially on the wrong side of 35. (Although I insist 40 is going to be great. My kids will be old and sufficient enough to dress themselves, and I foresee a lot more freedom and sleep in my future.)

The Brit was wonderful, and treated me to spa treatments for an afternoon, lunch away, a gourmet feast which he made at home, and a beautiful necklace. It certainly helped, as one doesn't exactly feel 'birthdayee' when they're tending to children and babies all day, and one day rolls into the next.)

My little bird.

 Getting beautifully chubby (could eat her for breakfast)
My boykie officially in his big boy bed!

Saturday, September 03, 2016

seeing through the darkness

I'm treading water. Sometimes a wave will knock me sideways and I splutter for air; but mostly it feels like the big waves, the tsunamis, have cleared for now.

Mum left a couple of weeks ago, and for about that long, it didn't feel like we sat down once. If we weren't juggling our baby while simultaneously preparing a meal for our toddler, or washing something while soothing cries, I was steralising bottles and washing my face at the same time.

It's been thoroughly mental.

A few things have dominoed over this time:
1) superhuman multi-tasking skills;
2) food poisoning (the Brit and I, three days after my mum left, rendering us half-dying and trying to do all the above while lying horizontal while emitting fluids from both ends);
3) the above knocking the wheels off breastfeeding completely, which threw me into what has now been diagnosed as post-natal depression;
4) establishing "systems" and routines to cope with everything.

The first point is something I'll pat myself and the Brit on the back for. Together we have managed to tumble our way through to Flo now being almost 8 weeks, where she is now crying less, sleeping a bit more, feeds stretching to almost 4 hourly. While tending to Sebastian's life, while the poor little chap battles through potty training, and therefore, peeing and poohing everywhere/on things.

We seem to mostly have a handle on this now. It's full-on-full-go all day, everyday, but by the end of of the day when they are both tucked in and sleeping, we can even enjoy a glass of wine and watch Stranger Things on Netflix like other normal people. I can brush my hair sometimes. I can wipe vomit from my trousers before I leave the house. I can leave the house!

Point 2. Don't get food poisoning when you have a newborn and a toddler. Honestly, besides thinking we were going to die - delirious, aching, vomiting, the whole hog - I had to get up to breastfeed Flo every three hours, while also checking on Seb who I hoped wasn't turning the gas on downstairs as we groaned and yacked in bed upstairs. To his credit, the little guy mostly got on with things, while running in every little while to say, "Mummy, Daddy poorly!" He knew. Bless him.

The problem with food poisoning, or any affliction, is that Florence had just started breastfeeding properly. Latching, drinking, not fussing and crying so much at every feed. This knocked it all out again, and I also got the beginnings of mastitis in my (then) engorged boob, so after a few bottle feeds I was back at square one all over again. She just doesn't like feeding from my boobs.

I was too tired to go down the feeding-her-with-a-tube thing again, so here we are: bottle feeding. I express about 5 times a day to at least give her breast milk for most of the day, while she is on formula at night.

I steralise about 8 000 bottles a day, and this is where the "system" comes in and my trying to be organised, amongst the chaos.

Not being able to breastfeed has hit me tremendously hard. After all the trying and succeeding in the beginning, only to fail now, it launched me into a depression I didn't think was possible. In my logical mind, I know my baby is happier and fuller on bottles, and we are generally less stressed. However I am so sad I can't breastfeed her. I never thought I'd feel so cut up about it, but here we are. She rejected me, not the other way around. So I should just go with it. But with all the pressure and subliminal messaging (and ease and convenience) of breastfeeding, I really feel like a sub-optimal mother.

I'm finally getting over myself, but it's taken some time. I have cried and cried and I feel down as fuck. Post Natal Depression, or PND, affects 1 in 10 in the UK. And apparently, I am now one of them. I am taking this on the chin and I'm going to sort it out. Starting Monday, depending on what the doctor prescribes me. Anxiety, constant worry, and just general sadness is what I have become; and I don't want to feel like this anymore.

That said, there are three small things I've discovered that can make and break a day when you have a new baby in the house. Three things that make the survival easier. Because that's what it is; it's survival, until you start to see that light at 12-15 weeks.

1) Go for a walk/leave the house once a day.
2) Make time for a bath/something just for you. It restores everything.
3) If you can get a nap, in between it all, you've bonused out.

An excellent day is if you can do all three in one day. Most days I get to do one or two of these things. A daytime nap is rare; sometimes I may steal 10 minutes because I am slumped on the couch with her on my chest and I fall asleep while sitting.

But one or two of these a day, is good innings. This is what I'm telling myself.

I have also made a new friend; someone I vaguely know through another friend - a Saffa who is also a mum. This is terribly exciting, and the familiarity of having someone around who is from the same background but who also lives in this town, is just wonderful.
I've also had a few friends come and visit, whisk me out for some wine, and helped me get an hour's break to put the world to rights.

I still feel anxiety at an unprecedented scale. But I can see a small twinkling of light at the end of what feels like a dark and unrelenting tunnel.

I love them so much. I look at my beautiful children and still cannot believe they're mine. Florence is smiling, and Sebastian is saying adorable things like "Ooh, I'm balarmed!" (Alarmed). He has also acclimatised to having a new little person in the house, and his tantrums are less.

It's going to be OK.
 My blue-eyed baba.
 Sebastian 0; yoghurt 1.
 Smiling for mama

Sleeping in his sister's moses basket. Because he's a baby too.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

one month on

This Friday, Flo will be one month old.

Has it gone quickly? Yes, of course it has. Have the days that roll into nights that roll into days that roll into more nights and then more days, gone quickly? Not a fuck.

I've single-handedly [husband helped too, to be fair] trained my daughter to feed from a tube, while sucking on my finger, therefore training her to like my nipple again. No bottles, and helping to 'outgrow' this tongue tie that they think she has. But not 'serious' enough for the snip.

Basically, it's been balls, but I have got there in the end with her now exclusively breastfeeding. Where's my medal. No, come on, WHERE'S MY MEDAL PLEASE? With all the pressure (subliminal as it is - it is never direct pressure, oh no, it's always little chirps like, "Breast is best!' and 'It's your choice, of course it is, formula is fine,' with a not a helluva ultra-convincing grimace, but there you go), there must be some kind of ACCOLADE I get for persevering like a motherfucker here?

(Yes yes yes, I know breast is best. I fed Sebastian a la boob for 6 months, and I can only hope I can feed Flo for as long as my udders allow - God knows I'm expressing after most feeds to keep the old supply banging away...)

Anyway, thanks everyone for your lovely comments, advice and support on the below post; desperate times. As someone so correctly told me, "The difference between hope and desperation is a night's sleep." Well, I still haven't had a 'night's' sleep in four weeks, but I feel like we are all coping better and getting into our groove.

That's until my mum leaves in 10 days, and then the apple cart is probably going to veer off the road and hit a tree, apples running amuck about the place. With me running after them, two children on my hip, not having brushed my hair in five days.

We have ventured to the park again a few times (the one where I had a fight with a chav about whether her precocious 8 year old son who had kicked a ball into the side of my head, was lying about the fact that I said "Ferfucksakes" to him.*)

 Anyway, here are some adorable pictures of my offspring, because even amongst the chaos, they're mine though.
 He loves her, really.

 That was an explosive one...
Now. I should probably join some mum's groups and get out there soon and make some friends...and get to know this area a bit. My confidence is pretty darn low right now, so this may take some time...

*I almost said it, but willed myself to stop with my throbbing ear. He then accused me of swearing while I said he should damn well apologise, and then his mother intervened and said, "Oy. OY. Didju just swear at me son?" No I bloody didn't, but you should teach your son some MANNERS and apologise for kicking this ball into my pip. While my breasts are leaking milk down my dress.

Friday, July 29, 2016


The honeymoon period is well and truly over. This comes to you from deep in the trenches. It's brutal.

I am so sleep deprived, I tried to put on Florence's babygrow in the middle of a breastfeeding clinic yesterday, thinking it was my own shirt. It took a good 40 seconds to register that it wasn't mine.

She isn't latching on or feeding properly, and by first assessment, tells me she has Tongue Tie. In order to see how bad the Tongue Tie is, no teats allowed for a week and have given me these miniscule little tubes to feed her with.

I have to express every feed.
She hates my boobs.
She still isn't up to her birth weight.
Sebastian has also decided that while he lives his sister, he loathes us. And has become 'that' child - smacking us, throwing his milk all over the floor, tantrums, basically anything for attention, even if it is negative attention.

I have a cold.

I have the baby blues. I miss Clapham and a neighbourhood I know. When I do venture out, all I seem to see are weirdo's and chavs (have we made a massive massive mistake?)

I had an altercation with one at the local park a few days ago and never want to go back.

I want to pack it all in.

I have to decide whether Flo has a small op on her tongue, or just turn to bottle feeding and hope it outgrows itself.

While feverishly trying to read up on how to deal with my toddler who hates that he isn't the centre of our world anymore. I feel so hurt and sad for him, and am trying to give him undivided attention when I'm not feeding/changing a nappy/rocking to sleep.

Flo is luckily a lot more placid than Sebastian, and for now, doesn't mind being put down to sleep for a few hours. Please dear God may that not change.

Life with two children is HARD. Especially if things aren't going as planned.

Crikey. When does it start getting better again? Someone tell me things start to look up in a few weeks. Nevermind the three hourly feeds, but how will we do this on our own when my mum leaves?

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

florence's birth story

Well, Flo is just over a week old and I've come up for some air.

My whole experience of this birth and this baby has been so, so different from when I had my twins.

Starting from the beginning.

This is me. At 38 + 6 weeks. About to go into labour. Good thing I'd finished washing my hair, unlike last time.

I started feeling a bit crampy, a bit weird, and just 'ready' the night before I was due to go in for my planned c-section. By 3am, I was on the phone to the hospital because I was pretty certain labour had started.

(My husband: "No it hasn't. You're fine." You're arguing with a woman who is in labour about not being in labour? Have you learnt nothing?)

By 5am, we were in the car roaring to hospital, as I was having contractions every 5 minutes, and things were starting to escalate.

I was strangely calm with the pain this time. When I was induced last time, it all came on so quickly and painfully, there wasn't time to get into any kind of Zone.
There were a few of us booked in sequentially for sections, and they shoved me to top of the queue once they'd seen I was dilating fast and a contraction was now coming every 30 seconds.

Should I have continued and gone natural/vaginal birth? I didn't think my pelvic floor was up for it, and by now, I was fully signed on to have my section. So off I went to theatre.
This time I wasn't rushed in there on a stretcher at 2am. I put my scrubs on, and was walked there, suddenly highly emotional, scared and all the feelings, so walked through the ward sobbing as they led me and the Brit towards the same room I had my twins extracted.

I bawled and bawled and they had to calm me down between that and the contractions.
I had such a lovely aneasthetist - Caroline - who told me she had had four c-sections, had done four years at Groote Schuur and another hospital in South Africa, and was generally amazing.
"This must be hard for you," she said, after administering my spinal tap, rendering me numb from the tits down.
"This is where you had Sebastian and Molly, wasn't it."
She had read all my notes and all the fine print. She probably didn't need to know my twins names, but she did. What a difference that made.

They even put some Magic FM on for me. So we could bring Florence into the world to a background accompaniment of one of the Bee Gees hits. Pure class.

                                                                I woke up like this.

We were excited this time round, not excited and terrified and sad. They pulled her out and showed me, and it was the best feeling in the world to see her for the first time. Like her brother and other sister, she has a shock of thick brown hair, and while she looks a lot like Sebastian, she looked most like Molly with her pointier nose. Even so, she was different - she was unique all unto herself.

A really nice weight, at 3.58kilos, and an excellent Apgar rating. We were ecstatic. They lay her on my chest, and I got to know her while she gripped my fingers with her little hands.

I wasn't knackered this time, having not had to undergo 18 hours of labour. I was itchy as all fuck, as one of the side affects of the anaesthetic was an itch, and mine had game. They had to give me an antihistamine for that, as I was starting to look a little scratched, after pawing away at my face and arms.

Florence also managed to latch on a lot easier than Seb. Being three weeks older than Seb at birth made a huge difference in terms of her sucking reflex and strength. Poor little Seb was so small and weak; breastfeeding the first few weeks was a harrowing experience. Flo has thus far been really easy on that front.

I could have tea and toast after a few hours, and the Brit bought me some of Chelsea's finest sushi.

But possibly the best thing about this experience was being able to go home 36 hours after having her. Last time I was stuck in hospital for another week, (and a week prior), so I went a bit mental/nearly had a breakdown by the time they released us from there.

It made me realise how small, frail and poorly my little Seb actually was when he was born. On antibiotics, needing heart and brain scans, having rounded feet from being cramped in the womb with another little soul. The repeated jaundice and needing to sit under lamps. The low birth weight. It all seemed endless and helpless, and I had no idea what I was doing.

Hobbling around and recovering from major surgery is so much easier and nicer in the comfort of your own home. It's been bloody painful, I can't discount that. Getting in and out of bed is fucking sore, I am still on painkillers 8 days later, and it's not easy.
Florence has had a littlebit of jaundice, so has been sleepy and lost quite a bit of weight - but she is on a three hour eating plan and getting better without the need for lamps or hospital intervention thus far.

The heatwave hasn't helped the sleepiness - I have to feed her while wiping her down with cold wet wipes.

But she is a little dream. Sebastian just adores her. All he wants to do is hold "Baby Fwowence," and he goes up to her constantly, to stroke her hair and say, "It's OK,' if she starts to cry. He is so doting, and it makes my heart burst.

                                           Meeting his sister for the first time...

I'm so lucky and grateful to have my mama here to help though. Ay yay yay. Sebastian still needs [more] attention than ever, and he has found a best friend in his granny. They have such a sweet little relationship, and he now calls for her in the mornings - not for the Brit or me! They have little conversations and she has helped me so much when it comes to meals and cleaning and passing me shit I can't reach because I'm flat on my back.

The sleep deprivation is something no new parent can get past, you just have to fight your way through it. And waking up every three hours is not pleasant. We're zonked. But again, perhaps it's because we are in our lovely new home, it's mid-summer, and we are not grieving this time - it's just not as bad.

She's still spanking, shiny new, so who knows what she will be like in a few days or few weeks. I don't want to jinx anything, but her first week has been relatively chilled.

PS: There's also a real sense of relief now. I won't ever need to have a c-section again. I have had three children; and with two extremely special miracles before me, my cup is full. I don't need anymore.

Friday, July 15, 2016

our spanking new addition

Wanted to introduce our beautiful new bundle.

World, meet Florence.

Florence Imogen.

Utterly smitten, exhausted and all the things. But with a heart so full, I'm fairly sure it may burst wide open.