The Only Thing I’ve Judged Another Parent For.

Driving back home from one of the best weekends I’ve had with my little family at our old family farm up at the Breede River, we decided to take the longer, scenic drive back through Robertson instead of our usual route back through Caledon. We weren’t even the tiniest bit phased by the toddler tunes on repeat blaring in the car, or the extra bit of traffic. We were just in our element.

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Dark crept upon us, and we made our way through the Hugenot Tunnel just after Worcester. Still happily chatting about exciting family events to come as well as our special weekend away; a sudden chill hit us as we saw a car that had recently drove over the edge and was smashed up. Added to the scene were emergency lights, and a crowd of people – paramedics, etc. One of my least favourite things to see, especially on a long, happy journey home.

Not even having a chance to get that visual out of my mind, I glance to the left on a road that one can drive 120km/hr and literally find myself taking a second look. My heart sinks, I feel my blood pressure rise at a rapid speed. A little girl younger than my own son – couldn’t have been older than two running back and forth on the back seat of her parents car, jumping forward between the driver and passenger seat. This sounds terrible, but I wanted to get out and just shake her parents. Didn’t they just see the accident? What if that was them? It could have been, and one day it could be!!!

I am shaking, and I feel sick even typing this. If they can afford to have a car, and if they can afford to put petrol into their car – they can afford to prioritize a car seat for their precious little girl! They can afford to protect their baby girl from an accident that can so easily happen. It doesn’t matter how good a driver you are, these things happen in a heartbeat!

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You know, I often find myself feeling anxious when we go on long trips, and we have a great car seat! I find myself nervous because I know that accidents happen, and my child is securely fastened in his car seat! I find myself praying throughout our long trips because I know that there could be someone who is texting or drunk and an accident can happen, and we spent thousands on a car seat for our son to protect him.

Yet, another parent, their childs life just as precious and fragile as my own child, couldn’t care less to take the precautions to potentially save their daughters life. One doesn’t even need to be educated to know! If you can drive a car, you are educated enough to work out that a child needs to be in a car seat! If you can drive a car, especially one like this family was in, YOU CAN AFFORD TO BUY A DECENT CAR SEAT! Your child’s life is far more valuable!!!

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I am not a judgmental person. And I will never put another parent into a situation where they feel like they are not good enough. Whether you formula feed or breastfeed, whether you had a natural birth or a c-section, you are good enough. Whether you rock your baby to sleep or let them fall asleep on their own, you’re perfect. BUT, the one thing that I will voice my incredibly strong opinion on is putting your child in a car seat! If you are reading this, and don’t and feel offended, or guilty – I’m sorry, but I’m not sorry.

Being a parent means that you need to do what is best for your kids. Sometimes having to invest in something like a car seat is just something that you need to do. Sometimes you have to let your child cry even when they don’t want to be in their car seat, or sometimes your already long trip means stopping an extra 10 times because your kid needs a break from their car seat. But, there are no excuses.

STRAP YOUR CHILD INTO A CAR SEAT.
EDUCATE YOURSELF.
EDUCATE OTHER PARENTS.
SPREAD THE WORD TO PARENTS TO BE!

I can’t express myself enough.

Do the right thing!

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That Postpartum Self-Image.

When you look at yourself in the mirror, with your pregnant belly or postpartum body staring back at you, how do you feel?

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Without even being entirely aware of it the majority of the time, and rather finding myself in a little bit of an emotional place in my life at times and then thinking back to life since falling pregnant up until now and sort of waking up to the fact that I’ve been feeling this particular way for much longer than I thought, rather than just going through stages of feeling like this.

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It is so challenging learning to love your body with all of the changes that have come with it since falling pregnant. It truly is something that I have struggled with more than I have even been aware of. I love my body for what it has allowed me to achieve. I love my body for blessing me with the opportunity to carry a baby, to birth a baby and to be mostly healthy. But, I also struggle on a daily basis with 100% loving what it now looks like.

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I sometimes find myself in a bit of a negative place. I get frustrated with myself for complaining to myself or to David about weight that I have gained, and then not doing anything about it. I get irritated with myself for getting my mind so set on eating better, and then failing. I get so cross with myself when I spend so much time trying to feed Olly healthy food, and then I give into a quick microwave meal because I’m just so exhausted at the end of a day.

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I find myself feeling overwhelmed, but know that I can so easily avoid that by just planning and preparing weekly meals for my entire family on a day that isn’t quite so overwhelming.

I know I’m totally normal. I know that every mom feels this way at some point or another, and I know that my body has been through uncountable changes, some that I will never truly understand since falling pregnant.

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And then… then I did this photo-shoot with Radiefa Peters from Radz Photography. I threw myself in the deep end by choosing two dresses that I wouldn’t usually choose purely because of how I feel about my body. I took the leap, I did it. And when I got my photos back, it was almost like something triggered in my brain for the very first time since I can remember. I felt beautiful. I looked at the photographs, and for the first time in a very long time, I liked what I saw. Not the story behind the photo, or how Olly looked – but I actually smiled when I zoomed in and looked and re-looked at myself in the photos.

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Not many people are capable of making somebody feel that way about themselves. And I also have to hand some of the credit over to Daff Kansley, the talented makeup artist who partly gave me the confidence to actually leave the house in the first place. And to Jody from Flock Fashion & Accessories for the beautiful wardrobe that you provided me with.

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Getting these images back, and seeing how happy I looked in the photos has just given me the desire I needed to get myself back in shape – to stick to my exercise routine, and to stick to preparing healthy meals for my family. Why? Because a healthy self-image creates a healthy, happy individual. And me being happy means that everybody who crosses my path will leave feeling happier too.

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You can follow the talented team behind these photos on Instagram here:

Radiefa Peters: @radzphotography_cpt
Daff Kansley: @thedrkansley_mua
Jody: @flock_it
One Modern Mom Blog: @onemodernmom

The Reality of A Happy Home.

I wish that the world explained to parents that there is more to life than a clean house. Look, I’m totally on board with keeping things hygienic, but when it comes to choosing between folding a mountain of laundry or saying ‘yes’ to playing with your kid, you’d think that as a parent, the answer would be an immediate ‘play with the kid’.

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However, social media and society tends to have the ability to leave us feeling as if a slightly disorganized home means that we are failing as mothers or even fathers. Apparently it means that we don’t at all have things under control. I’ve walked into the home of many a mother. When baby was very little, I would feel slightly guilty when arriving at another moms house. With everything in place, the glass coffee table freshly shined, and babies little play area totally organized, I DID feel as if I was doing something totally wrong. Was I lazy? Was there something wrong with me? Did I belong on the show ‘Hoarders’? Did someone forget to give me the memo?

But then, it was my turn to have a few moms over for tea. I spent hours the night before sorting, shining, polishing, vacuuming and setting up. I, too had the response from moms about how my life seemed so in order. I was flabbergasted. It was all a show!

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As moms, especially with younger kids, very few of us have our houses totally in order, (at least not done by ourselves). When I had a nanny that would come once a week, that was the only time that my home was remotely in order. With an incredibly busy toddler and four dogs as well as my partner, I’ve stopped apologizing to people saying, ‘I’m so sorry – excuse the mess’, because this mess means that although I may not have my home in order, I have a very happy child who has parents that take time to play with him. It means that he explores the house, and he PLAYS! It means that we invest our time in the moment, and it’s about the memories that we create with our child each day, rather than having a house that looks like it has fallen out of the pages of a magazine.

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Don’t get me wrong – our home is CLEAN – I make sure to use the hours that Olly is at playschool to get household chores done, and our home doesn’t look the way you’re most likely beginning to imagine it to look, but what I am trying to say is that IT IS OK to skip a day of laundry to take your kid on a special outing, to make yourself that cup of tea (and to drink it…while it’s hot) or to have a break by meeting your girlfriends for a glass of wine.

People are so quick to show off the positives in life. It’s time to create the awareness that life doesn’t have to seem perfect to the rest of the world. It’s time to stop pretending. Creating a happy environment for yourself and your family is all that matters at the end of the day.

— One Modern Mom

A 28-Hour Natural Birth – Lisa Harrison

Angela and myself decided that with Mother’s Day coming up, it would be a perfect opportunity to share our birth stories. With each being totally different to the next persons, I always love to hear about what other women experienced. Funnily enough, I have never really spoken about my birth story on my blog, and haven’t touched much on the topic to anybody other than close friends – for no other reason than I just never really knew quite where to begin. Perhaps I just thought that it never really stood out as nothing ‘unusual’ happened. But, each birth story is unique and just as important and precious as the next. So here’s mine. (How strange and emotional it is to take this walk back down memory lane.)

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I was diagnosed with PCos when I was 18 years old. I was warned that there was a very high possibility that I may never fall pregnant. But then God had a different plan for my life.

As a younger mom, giving birth a week after turning 22 – I didn’t have many friends who had previously given birth to sort of prepare myself. I had no clue what to expect, as none of us do as first time moms. I had my heart set on a natural birth and didn’t want to have any pain relief. Because of this, I decided I wanted to give birth in a place that wouldn’t allow me the option of an epidural. I did some research and had heard wonderful things about a local maternity home. Being a small, home styled place with only a couple of maternity wards sounded just like what I wanted. Knowing that my sons delivery would be handled by a professional midwife left me feeling 100% comfortable with my decision.

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On Monday 25th August 2014, I spent the day feeling uncomfortable. Nothing too unusual for being 40 weeks pregnant. I plodded around with a belly so big I felt as if I would topple over at any given moment. I recall so vividly going through to visit my mom. We went for a long walk on the beach, and I told her I felt so achy. Think menstrual cramps on day 1. That day came to an end, and Tuesday arrived. By 11am I was starting to feel a little lousy, but had a close girl friend over for tea. Hubby was at work, and I wanted a bit of company. We joked saying ‘imagine I was actually in labour’. Just before she left, I thought I should perhaps call my maternity home just to check if this were actually early stages of labour. The midwife was in a meeting, and I was told I would be called back. Nothing. As the day went on, I started feeling more and more cramps, and was starting to feel rather lousy. My friend went home and I called David to tell him how I was feeling. He asked if he should come home from work – and I told him that I was going to try and get some rest because I knew that I would wake up if things got further along (if it even was the real thing).

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I woke up from my nap, and decided to call David’s aunt, who used to be a midwife. I explained the way that I was feeling, which had definitely gotten worse since I lay down for my nap – however not unbearable – just really uncomfortable. She told me that she definitely thought that I was in early stages of labour and that I best just rest as I had a long day ahead of me.

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A bit unsure of what was happening, I decided to try and get some more rest. David got home from work, and I so clearly recall it being such a stormy evening. He made himself some supper and I remember him asking me if I wanted anything. I responded with ‘No, I’m not feeling great’. And he told me that he thinks I should because I need energy. I didn’t want anything, and told him I was going to go to sleep, because I had a feeling it was going to be a long night ahead. I lay down on his lap on the couch for a bit, trying to embrace my last few hours (so I thought) with this belly, and I remember feeling my stomach going rock hard, and then going back to normal. I was obsessing over timing my contractions, and I remember feeling so confused. Surely they were supposed to be consistent like I was taught in antenatal classes? They were so irregular in their gaps.

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I went to sleep, it must’ve been about 7:00pm. By 10:30pm I was woken up with sharp, painful contractions. I was scared, but comforted by having David with me. Thinking back to my thoughts, my mind is blank. I can’t remember what I was thinking – I have a feeling the only thing on my mind was trying to get through the pain of each contraction. I remember my exercise ball being my best friend. I lived on it. David was trying to understand how bad they were, and wanted to know if we needed to go to the maternity ward. I didn’t know. I didn’t want to be sent home, and I didn’t want to have to sit in the empty maternity ward in the stormy weather if I wasn’t far along. We decided to just go after I collapsed from standing to sitting position after a contraction. I arrived by 11:15pm, bags and all with David and had an internal examination done. I was only 1cm dilated and already in excruciating pain. I felt so disheartened knowing I still had such a long way to go. They warned me, saying that I was obviously a slow dilator, and offered for me to stay in the maternity ward, but I decided to rather go home to my comfort.

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We drove back home, and I don’t remember that drive at all. What I do remember is what seemed like the darkest night of my entire life. Not in a bad way. I think as a woman, when in labour, it just kind of feels like we are alone in a way. It’s difficult to explain. David was absolutely incredible. He was there, right next to me – running bath after bath for me. Offering to rub my back if I wanted it, and checking in to see how I was at all the right times. But, the pain that we experience is indescribable, and we are so focused and in our own world while in labour that it almost feels as if we are in a room on our own. I lived on my exercise ball, with two ottomans piled on top of each other as a surface for me to rest my head on between contractions as well as in a bath tub that entire night. I couldn’t find a single thing that made me comfortable. In the house we were renting at the time, the bath tub was narrow and quite small. The water never entirely covered my belly. I remember David making me numerous cups of tea for me to try to drink when in the bath because I was so freezing cold. I remember him dozing off and then frantically running into the bathroom to see if I needed his help out of the bath and back to the exercise ball. That night was long, it was tedious and all I wanted was to meet my baby boy.

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I’ve never been so happy for the sun to come up. Because I knew that the night was over. I called the midwife in the morning and said that I was just in so much pain that I had to be at least 6cm dilated. She told me to wait a little longer (because I was dilating so slowly) and to come in at 12pm unless it was unbearable. 11am came, and I told David that I needed to go. That car ride was excruciating. It felt like the longest drive of my life. Every contraction that passed was indescribable. I felt like everybody in each car we passed was driving slowly on purpose and almost assumed they should have known I was in labour. We arrived at the maternity ward, and I will never forget walking through those doors. It was Wednesday 27th August (Olly’s original due date) and there were pregnant women waiting for their ultrasounds and check ups in the waiting room. Poor women – as I walked through the doors, I had a contraction and landed in a heap on the floor. Their faces – let’s just say I will never forget them!

They took me into the room to do another internal and to monitor babies heart beat. Lying on my back was awful. The heart rate monitor wasn’t working, and after 15 minutes they had to start again. I was irritated, and in so much agony lying on my back. The lady walked out and I told David that I needed a bucket — NOW because the pain was so bad that I needed to throw up. He ran around the maternity home asking them for buckets, and ended up grabbing a steel bucket (probably a bin) out of one of the bathrooms literally just in time. Pain meds were offered to me, and David reminded me of my wish of an unmedicated birth. It turned out I was only 3cm dilated. THREE. Now 24 hours into labour, all I wanted was to meet my baby boy, and I just wanted this pain to be gone.

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The midwife arrived, and suggested I get into one of the baths to try and speed up my labour. It felt like I was in that bath for a lifetime. It must have been about an hour, and I felt this strong, uncontrollable urge to push. The midwife had gone into another room to eat some lunch and had left me with one of her assistance and David. David was amazing, assisting me with my breathing and holding my hand through each contraction. When I felt the urge to push, I frantically told the assistant to get me out of the bath and to call the midwife. Her answer was ‘no’. David ended up telling her that she had no choice after back and forth arguing with her to get me out. I kept being told to ‘stop pushing’.

I eventually got out of the bath, and I am certain that I slowed down my labour and that if I had just let my body do it’s pushing naturally, he would’ve been born right then and there in the bath tub. I was taken to the bed and this is where things took their time. It must have been about 1:00pm when I got out of the bath. 2 hours were spent with me rocking, and doing all sorts of things in hope of getting this baby to come! I remember standing totally naked in the room with my arms wrapped around David’s neck just dropping at the knees at each contraction. It was eventually time to get onto the bed and to start pushing. They broke my water and then after 45 minutes of pushing and an episiotomy, Olly had arrived. This bare, warm little person covered in vernix was plonked onto my stomach, and I remember David saying in such an emotional voice ‘Baby, you did it! He’s here.’ I think I was so exhausted and overwhelmed that I hadn’t even registered that he was out! It was a confusing moment. So completely and utterly amazing, but also surreal. I felt as if I was dreaming. As if I was living in somebody elses life. I was then told that it was time to birth the placenta. One painless push, and that was out. All I wanted was a photo of him on my stomach, I wanted him to latch and for David to then cut the umbilical cord as I had stated in my birth plan, but he was taken off of me and just before they snipped it, David quickly told them that he wanted to do it. He cut the umbilical cord and they took him to a little table to do his Apgar score, etc. I felt that it all of a sudden became so impersonal.

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Sadly, this is where it all went downhill. About 20 minutes after he was born, the midwife told David – ‘Ok, you can go home now.’ With a shocked look on his face he asked them if they were joking. They responded with ‘the baby is here, now you can go home’. I couldn’t believe it. I had just been through the most ‘traumatic’, emotional, hectic thing in my entire life, and all I wanted was to have my partner there and to have his support and to cherish these first moments together. They eventually agreed to him staying for the next hour. Our moms arrived and met their grandson, and then left. David was then told to leave. My heart literally broke as I saw him leave. All he wanted was to be with us and to be able to stare at his newborn baby.

I was never shown how to get Olly to latch and was left to work it out myself. There was absolutely no guidance. Thank goodness Olly latched naturally, and fed well. After 28 and a half hours of being in labour, all I wanted was to get into a bath to clean myself. I was in pain, tender and really sore from my episiotomy. I asked them if I could have a bath and if someone would please watch Olly. They explained to me where the bath was. Nobody offered to assist me to walk there. I climbed off of the bed and honestly thought I was bleeding to death! Not once had anybody warned me that because of my natural birth, there would be a lot of blood! I had a bath, and when I got out couldn’t find Olly. I eventually found him in the ward that I had delivered him in, and they were just clearing out his nose. They brought him back to me, and I climbed into my bed next to his little crib. About to try and go to sleep, I heard that Olly sounded like he was struggling to breath. I got up again, and asked the nurse to please check him out again. She responded ‘I already did.’ I told her that I wasn’t asking her, but telling her to check his nose, she eventually took him back to the delivery ward and checked his nose. About ten minutes later, she comes back to me and says: ‘I’ve got bad news, I’ve called an ambulance.’ My heart dropped and my entire body went cold. I was convinced that my baby had died. I rushed into the delivery room, and she told me that he was struggling to breath (respitory issues), obviously due to distress from me pushing for so long. I look at my tiny, 3.8kg baby, so delicate – and my eyes gaze to his nose – to see that the breathing tubes that were supposed to be pointed upwards into his nostrils were pointing downwards. I felt like slapping somebody! I told her ‘HE CAN’T BREATH BUT YOU DON’T EVEN HAVE THE BREATHING TUBES IN HIS NOSE???’ I was told that I must just do it myself then. So there I am, as a first time mom, scared out of my mind – totally unsure of what on earth is going on – waiting for David to arrive holding tubes up my babies nose.

The ambulance arrives, and David arrives at the same time. Olly is moved into an incubator with a drip and tubes and I ride in the ambulance with him to Mowbray Maternity Hospital. David follows in his car. We arrive, and I remember so clearly getting to the doors to the NICU passage way, and the doors being slammed in David’s face. He wasn’t warned that he wouldn’t be allowed in, and seeing those doors slam shut on his face literally broke my heart. Both being so concerned about our baby and for him to be unable to be part of what was happening was excruciating.

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I have pages left of this story, but to speed it all up a bit – Olly had the most incredible doctor at Mowbray who was so informative and she did such a good job at looking after my baby. We were able to go home on the Friday after him being in NICU for 13 hours, and in the KMC ward with me for 1 night.

It was a whirlwind for me, but I would do it all again in a heartbeat. There were times once Olly were so scary for me, and I cannot even begin to imagine how scary it must be for some moms who face bigger issues with their babies at birth. No story is the same, and we are ALL superheroes – no matter how we gave birth – natural, c-section, medicated or unmedicated. And to the moms who have adopted, we know that the pain is there for you too, in ways that I only understand because I am adopted and my mom has explained to me the pains and things she had to overcome of not having had the opportunity to experience birth herself and with her journey to adoption.

Right now, what matters the most is that I have a healthy 2 and a half year old boy who is happy and striving. And, I would do it all again…in a heartbeat.

An Early Arrival: Angela Rea’s Birth Story

As Mother’s Day is coming up, both Lisa and I decided it was time to tell our birth stories. Both very different experiences but the same outcome, two healthy boys. I do not know about you but I love reading other mums tales of bringing their children into the world. I can sit and read these stories for hours on end (when I have time), mostly shedding more than one tear. Birth is magical and I love the magic.

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Elijah Micah was very planned. Darrell and I had been trying for quite some time, with quite a bit of loss and quite a lot of heartache, when our miracle, rainbow baby was conceived. I could not quite believe I was going to have a baby even though up until 13 weeks I had weekly scans, starting with week 5. I was madly anxious and paranoid and am so grateful to the medical team I had looking after me who would answer their phone anytime to me to try and calm me down. I would cry and beg to my FET specialist to prescribe something for my anxiety but he refused every time and persuaded me that not medicating myself was best for baby. I am so glad I listened to him as it is only 9 months of your life and I had such a sense of accomplishment that I had not taken anything.

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I was mildly nauseous for my whole pregnancy. The type of nausea where you just want to constantly eat white, refined carbs(ta ta Banting, nice to know you) as that is the only thing that settles your tummy. Hence I put on 7kgs in the first 3 months! But only 9 in total in my whole pregnancy. Being the very paranoid person that I am, plus living in a tiny village nearly an hour away from the hospital I was going to give birth at, I would take myself down weekly to the local clinic at the pharmacy in town for a little check up.

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At 34 weeks pregnant, a Friday, I took myself down to Sister Kotze so she could do my weekly tests. I have always had slightly low blood pressure. She took my blood pressure and her eyes got a little bit wide and she said she thinks I should just slowly lie back on the bed. She asked me to phone my gynecologist who told me to go straight to hospital and he would book me in over the phone.

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Off to Paarl Medi Clinic we go. Darrell was still away finishing his winter season of aerial firefighting up north in Stutterheim, over 1000 km away with the closest airport a few hours away. Eunice, my mother in law, had offered to come down to South Africa from their missionary work in Tanzania to help with the new arrival which we had eagerly accepted and asked if she would possibly come a few weeks earlier as I would be all alone in Tulbagh and nearly an hour from the hospital. I am so grateful that she said yes and was therefore on hand to drive me to the hospital and keep our home running in my absence. We arrived at the hospital and I was whisked away to a bed and all sorts of tests started. The baby’s heart rate was fine but after a 24 hr urine test I was found to have pre-eclampsia. I am really not sure why it was such a shock to me as my fingers, toes, face and even my nose was so swollen. My amazing  gynecologist Dr Andre Van Rooyen would sometimes come check on me three times a day and had told me that they would keep me in hospital until they performed a Caesar me at 37 weeks pregnant. My eyes were really opened to how dedicated the medical profession is. It really must be a true calling to be a doctor as they sacrifice so much time away from their own families for the sake of others. Dr Van Rooyen told me that if he had to Caesar me earlier it would not be an emergency and Darrell would have enough time to get to me in hospital as his work would not let him off.

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So started two weeks of bed rest, four hourly monitoring of the baby and countless blood tests etc. I was on blood pressure medication but my blood pressure was all over the place, very high one minute and low the next. At 36 weeks after being in hospital for two weeks Darrell got the good news that the clients wife in Stutterheim had intervened and demanded that Darrell be allowed home to his wife. I was so excited as he called me to say he was leaving at 5 am the next morning to come home. At my 10 pm monitoring of baby’s heart rate the sisters face looked a bit concerned and she rushed off muttering she was going to call another sister, who came in and brightly told me she was going to phone my doctor. Obviously I was hysterical. I did not want to phone Darrell as he needed to be well rested for his long journey home the next day. I was monitored every two hours that night ending when Dr Van Rooyen arrived very early the next morning. He apologized to me and said he knows he promised he would not do this to me but they were going to caesar me in two hours time as the baby had gone into distress. By this stage Darrell was on the road, some 10 hours away still. I phoned him to relay the news and asked him to please not panic and speed as there was absolutely no chance that he would make it and that we would see him in due course. WE! It had just hit me that I was about to give birth. I was so nervous as Elijah was in distress and I was not really sure what that would entail. Darrell phoned his mum who rushed through to be with me and I phoned my sister Linda. I asked her not to tell anyone as I was so very scared and not thinking straight. She jumped into her car and raced through to Paarl from Cape Town.

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The nurses came in to prep me for surgery and when they were gone I remember going into the bathroom and dropping to me knees, praying harder than ever before to God to keep this precious miracle baby safe. I was then wheeled into the recovery room to wait while they readied the theater for us. Most of what happened next is a blur. I was put on the operating table, the anesthetist asked me to curl my spine away from him while I was sitting on the edge of the bed so he could perform the spinal block. My years of doing yoga really paid off as I did not feel a thing from the needle that I had heard so many horror stories about. As I was lying down Linda came flying into the theater dressed in her hospital scrubs, ready to be with me. A few cuts later, one big big cry, tears of relief and our beautiful Elijah Micah Rea was born. Perfect. So healthy and strong. He latched immediately and hence started a new love affair. From that moment he was by my side and still is. Doing life together. His Daddy got to meet him later that afternoon. I have never seen a bigger smile on Darrell’s face, as tired as he was after driving all that way, than when he got to hold his son for the first time.



We would love to hear your birth stories too! If you would like to share yours, please email it to onemodernmom@hotmail.com along with a photograph.

View Your Body Through His Eyes

I’m pretty certain that by making this statement, it’s safe to say that I’m speaking for about 90% of women who have experienced pregnancy. Many of us aren’t quite sure how we feel about our pregnant and postpartum bodies! We aren’t all so comfortable with the changes, and it takes a huge toll on many of us emotionally! This being said, those changes can often affect our relationships intimately, not necessarily because our men think we are less attractive, but rather because of the way we view ourselves.

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This doesn’t only happen whilst pregnant, but for a huge percentage of us, AFTER baby is here too! Gosh – to be maybe a little too honest, having been a breastfeeding mom, and perhaps due to slacking on the kegals and having had a natural birth, I always had the worry in the back of my mind of something leaking out while being intimate. (I’m still considering whether I should remove that??) Apart from that, we now have this empty belly and full or empty boobs that has teamed up with gravity, and just decide on which direction they’re headed without our say!

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Apart from that, we all know about the stretch marks and cellulite that chose our bodies to move in with. I think being a mom, we all get the hint. I have a point to this, I swear!

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THE POINT:
For Valentine’s Day, I decided that it was time to go a little out of my comfort zone, and to do a Boudoir shoot for hubby. He didn’t want to do expensive gifts, but sneakily, I not only wanted to do this for him, but for myself. I needed to take this step, and I had been encouraged by fellow moms to do this to see myself in a fresh, new light!

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By now, you must know who Angela Rea is? If not, you’ve got some scrolling to do down this blog to familiarize yourself! Angela has joined One Modern Mom as a collaborator, and also helps out with some of the photography. I approached Angela with the concept, and she really encouraged it!

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The morning of the shoot I went through to her house. She did my makeup (being a makeup artist) and we decided on the first ‘look’. I was nervous, but before long, it was just fun! Being the very down to earth, more sporty person that I am, I wanted to do something that showed who I truly am as a person.

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We had such a fun morning, and I had such a good experience shooting my very first Boudoir shoot with Angela. I then got my photos back, one by one – and WOW! You truly do see yourself the way that hubby sees you! After giving him his gift, a little Boudoir Book of the best photos which I added my own words too, I asked him which photos were his favourite. I was amazed, and quite taken back when he answered me. Strangely enough it was the photos that showed my ‘imperfections’ the most. I just wanted to hug him.

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Knowing that he loved this ‘flawed’ and stretched body just as much as my before pregnant body just blew my mind. Doing this shoot has given me confidence and a new found appreciation for all that my body went through to grow this tiny human. And knowing that hubby appreciated that just made my heart overflow with joy.

I have shared the tasteful photos here as the rest are for hubbies eyes only.

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A huge thank you to Angela Rea for these photos that gave me a fresh and healthy perception of myself. You can check out her Facebook page here: https://www.facebook.com/AngelalReaMakeupArtist/?fref=nf

Instagram: @angievictoriarea / @angelareamakeup

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Be The Duchess.

Duchess is a rank of nobility, the female equivalent of Duke.

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The Duchess. Where do I even begin? Apart from the fact that the name in itself leaves me feeling totally sophisticated, the bottle is beautiful, minimalist and chic! The Duchess is the World’s very first non-alcoholic gin and tonic. I’ve been asked by so many people why I would drink the non-alcoholic version when I could just drink the ‘real thing’. Truth is, I’m not a big alcohol drinker. Since my pregnancy, my body can’t tolerate much alcohol, and it just leaves me feeling ready for bed when I’m at an evening event. Don’t get me wrong, my drink of choice and my absolute weakness is an ice cold G&T! However, being a mother means that I have a list of responsibilities that come before anything. I always loved taking a drink or two down to the beach while watching my man surf. We would then hang out until the sun goes down, and he enjoys a couple beers too. BUT, knowing I have to get my little boy home safely after our trip to the beach means I would rather enjoy a non-alcoholic drink. Luckily for me, The Duchess made its entrance into my life! Which means I get to enjoy my absolute favourite taste while being 100% responsible.

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Makeup: Angela Rea

I wish the product was around while I was pregnant and breastfeeding. The fact that it is safe for expectant moms, and breastfeeding moms too means that we get to feel included. Just a side note: The Duchess DOES contain a little bit of quinine. It is less than normal tonic water, so don’t overdo yourself. They kindly removed the Devil’s Claw from the product which makes it safer for you to indulge in. The whole bouquet of botanicals (Cardamom, cloves, star anise, all spice, and orange peel) only make up 0,15% of the product, which means it is very safe.

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I suppose that one could say that Gin & Tonic has become the ‘Craft Beer’ of 2017? Perhaps I am making assumptions. However, I just love how creative companies are getting with G&T’s. All of the flavours are amazing. BUT, I still have to admit that I will settle for the original gin & tonic over all of the flavoured ones. Perhaps it’s because I love to add in my own special ingredients to create something amazing that tantalizes my own specific taste buds?

We played around, tried all sorts of different ingredients, and narrowed down my personal top 5 concoctions.

  1. Grapefruit & Basil
  2. A dash of Sparkling Ruby Grapefruit with blackberries and Rosemary
  3. A slice of Lime and Lavender
  4. A slice of Lemon & Rosemary
  5. Grapefruit, Juniper Berries & a Rosemary Sprig
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2. A dash of Sparkling Ruby Grapefruit with blackberries & rosemary.

My 2 and a half year old son managed to get hold of my drink that I left on the step the other evening, he literally ran around the garden with the cheesiest little smirk on his face with great content knowing he got to have a sip of ‘tickly’ juice. He calls it this because of the bubbles in it that tickle his mouth.

I have so much to say about The Duchess that I’m not even quite sure where to begin.

On The Duchess website: http://www.theduchess.co.za/, they sum up ‘their story’ beautifully: “The Duchess was created for the conscious consumer – the healthy, successful
and discerning individual. Whether at a business lunch or being the designated
driver, for personal or religious reasons, The Duchess offers you the choice of a
sugar-free, calorie-free, and hangover-free refreshment.”

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*The usual tonic water we add to our gin is packed with sugar and leaves you with a feeling of guilty pleasure after indulging! When I’m out for drinks, I never just drink one, so I am constantly aware of how much sugar I am absorbing, and I wish I could block it out from the back of my mind. So YAY to sugar-free!
*I’ve been to a few business meetings before where the client I met with was enjoying a glass of wine, or an alcoholic beverage. Although tempting, I prefer NOT to drink alcohol when meeting a client, (especially because it is usually a baby/parenting company). I always end up settling for a cup of coffee or fresh juice, when I secretly am wishing for something more refreshing, especially in summer. The Duchess IS perfect for this.

*Being a mother, I cannot deal with having to deal with a hangover + a two year old. It’s just NOT happening. Now I can enjoy as many as I wish while cooking dinner, reading stories or bathing my toddler, at an event, and I don’t have to worry about the end result of my health and my ability to tend to my responsibilities as a mother.

I’ve encouraged a few non-G&T drinker friends of mine to try a few of my concoctions. They stuck their noses very high in the air, and weren’t keen on trying ‘because they’ve tried it before and can’t stand the taste’. They eventually gave it a try, and loved it! You can really get creative with the way that you drink yours, and it really does look gorgeous in a glass with the fresh ingredients you add to it. Such a wonderful idea for a garden party or a get together on a sunny day!

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Photo Credit: Angela Rea (@angievictorearea)

The Duchess has become rapidly popular! And, is becoming available at more and more stores. You can have a look at their website to see where the closest stockist is to you. I always get mine from the Alphen Spar in Cape Town. But, there are LOADS of places you can get yours.

I love their Instagram feed, they constantly have new, beautiful photographs being loaded, so check it out @drinktheduchess. You can also keep in touch with them on their Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/drinktheduchess/

So CHEERS to the last little bit of summer with an iced cold Duchess in hand, absorbing the sunshine at the seaside. And CHEERS to all of the evening that will be REMEMBERED throughout the year, and to all of the happy memories you’re about to make for 2017.

Are you a Gin & Tonic lover? Have you tried The Duchess? And what do you love to add to yours to make your own special concoction? Let me know below.

I will be sharing more photo content with you over some time to show you what I love to add to mine!

 

GETTING TO KNOW ANGELA & ELIJAH REA.

It is with great excitement that I type this post. A special one – an introduction. Many of you who follow me on Instagram (@onemodernmom) know who Angela & Elijah Rea are through my posts as Angela has helped me tremendously over the past few months with photography.

We have become good friends, as have our sons who are the same age.

Angela and Elijah are jumping on board with my blog, and will be featured at least once or twice a week. Angela is a makeup artist, and will be sharing many makeup and beauty tips with you apart from other mommy talk and advice she will be sharing as time goes on.

Let’s get to her intro: you can follow her on Instagram: @angievictoriarea to check out the gorgeous photos she takes of her little boy and for One Modern Mom.

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1. Tell us a little bit about yourself.

Well first and foremost I am a mom. Getting married and having a baby is what completed my life and what I feel most passionately about. I am a makeup artist,  a creative soul who loves to try and exercise when life and babysitters permits it.

2. Tell us a little bit about your sweet little family.

Sadly my little family just consists of Elijah, my darling two year old and myself. I lost my very loved, soul mate of a husband nearly two years ago in a traumatic accident. Not a second goes past without me thinking about him and I am trying very hard to bring sweet Elijah up to be the kind of man Darrell was. Elijah and I have three sets of awesome grandparents who take their roles very seriously and are an immense help to me.

3. When you’re not doing makeup, what else do you enjoy doing?

I love to shop. I mean REALLY love to shop. I used to do it for a living and now all that “training” is focused on things for Elijah. I love going on special outings with my boy and meeting up with friends for coffee.

4. You have a very busy little boy, Elijah – tell us a bit about him.

Elijah is nearly two and a half. He is sweetness, cheeky, bossy and loving all rolled into one lovely guy. He has blonde curly, crazy hair and a gorgeous smile with a small dimple just bellow his mouth, one of my favourite kissing spots.

5. Three random facts about you..and go.

In my 20’s I was asked to dress up in ex ballerina Phillis Spira’s tutu and dance around the South African National History Museum for The Cape Times.

I can not dance.

I hate Lizards.

6. You have recently started playing around with photography, what has inspired you to invest in a good camera and to start taking photos?

I have always loved photography. Being someone who loves drawing and went on to study in the art’s field I love looking at beautiful things. My eyes would always capture the moment in my head so I thought why not try and see what I can do with a camera. Of course I have the perfect model at home too. Elijah!

7. What style would you refer your photography to?

Natural lifestyle. I like to capture real moments in peoples lives and make it into a beautiful piece of art.

8. What kind of photography is your favourite to capture? i.e. Newborn? Boudoir? Lifestyle? Family? Weddings?

I am going to make a new category and say Lifestyle Boudoir. Showing woman that they can be beautiful in everyday settings. And of course family. Not posed. Just interacting with their parents and siblings.

9. If you could live in any place in the World, where would it be? And why?

France. My mother is French and I love the people and culture there. I also love their views on raising a family. And then their is the food.

10. What else do you think is important for the readers to know about you?

I can be very shy when first meeting people. But that quickly goes.

11. How would you describe your parenting?

To be honest I do not think I have a style. What ever works at the moment is what I am going to use. In theory I like to think I try and reason with Elijah when he is lying on the floor in a heap, thrashing his legs around because I opened the lid of his yogurt instead of letting him do it, but who knows!

12. If someone gave you R2000 and told you to go on an adventure with Elijah for the weekend, what would you do?

Hmmm that is a hard one as there are so many places I want to show him. But we would probably go to Petersfield in Citrusdal as it holds special memories for me. We would swim in the dam, I would show Elijah how to roast marshmallows, play in the orchards and lie in in the morning. Who am I kidding. We would be up at 5.30am exploring!

13. In closing, tell us what sort of topics you will be blogging on One Modern Mom?

I have a special interest in all beauty products. I want to show moms how to do the 5 minute face for the school run while holding a toddler on your hip. Also quick ways to spruce up your beauty routines. I love fashion, that is what I studied, and I want to let moms know what is out there. And then of course anything kiddie related. I want to be a real mom showing my experiences and hopefully the readers can take something away from that.

If you have any additional questions for Angela, please ask away in the comment block below!

 

 

Taking Care Of Yourself As A Parent

Being a parent is a full-time job. But don’t forget that it’s super-important to take some time out for yourself, too. 

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To all those out there with babies or young kids, raise your hand if you’ve reached the stage where you’ve given up on making an effort to eat healthily and exercise regularly? Where you will leave the house in what many would deem pyjamas, complete with a greasy top knot? If your own hobbies and interests have been replaced by finding the best nappy prices, driving the kids from one extra mural to another, and cutting chewing gum out of your five-year-old’s hair – again!

As moms, I’m sure most us have experienced all of the above. Having a newborn is the most challenging job on earth – or so we think. However, being a parent to multiple kids has got to take the cake. Let’s get real – where are we supposed to find the time and energy to look after ourselves?

You may be wondering why caring for yourself is so important. Little people notice and absorb so much more than we realise. As parents, we need to be healthy role models to them so that when they mirror us, we don’t regret the choices we’ve made.

Parenting is tough, and sometimes we need an hour or two during the week to reboot our emotional systems – time to put our feet up without any distraction, to eat well, exercise, catch up on our social lives and to invest in our relationships with our partners. The biggest mistake that we make is feeling guilty about doing these things. For some reason, we work ourselves up to believing that taking time out will mean we’re bad mothers but, really, it’s the exact opposite!

Parenting is a job. A 24-hour, full-time job. We don’t get to escape it on weekends, after 17:00 or on public holidays. Unlike a general office job, we’re always on call. Think of taking time out for yourself as ‘taking leave’. We need to energise and to reboot emotionally – to catch up on our friendships and relationships. This is what will literally keep you sane. It’ll also help you realise that there are hundreds of thousands of parents around the world who are going through the exact same things as you are.

If this article hits home for you, pick up the phone and organise a babysitter, arrange a dinner date with your other half or hang out with a friend. Lace up your running shoes (which are most likely starting to get dusty), and go for a jog. Make better choices when you’re next at the grocery store so you can make your desire to eat healthily a reality. And love yourself by taking time out for yourself. Your kids will be there when you get home – just the same as when you left them. However, you’ll return as a brand new version of yourself! ‘Me-time’ really fuels your Super Mom powers. Making the effort to make it happen is really worth it… and you are worth it.

— One Modern Mom xx

I would love to hear from you! You can also follow my Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/onemodernmom/?fref=ts

Instagram: @onemodernmom

The Power Of Touch

Hands up if, as a parent, you’ve heard something along the lines of ‘stop smothering your child’. Well … don’t! I’m talking about how important the power of touch actually is, and how it differs from child to child. 

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If you’re like most parents, you don’t want to stop kissing, cuddling and feeling your baby’s delicate skin. Truth is, this rarely changes as your kids grow from babies to toddlers to young children. Many parents have mentioned that they’ve heard remarks like ‘stop smothering your child’. Well… don’t!

Want to know why? Touch is the first of our senses to develop. Touch is a love language. Touch plays a huge role for babies even before they enter the world. Think back to the days you spent lying down and stroking your belly, enjoying the little flutters in your stomach. Then, as baby grew, they started responding to your belly strokes and tickles.

Once a mother has given birth, direct skin-to-skin contact has proven to provide a number of benefits for your infant. Months pass by and the story doesn’t change… a simple kiss on your little one’s stomach can have them cooing with a toothless smile on their face. I loved massaging my little boy after his baths, and I continue to do this. He often goes from wild child to completely calm in a matter of minutes.

Touch gives you a sense of security. How do you feel when you’re scared or anxious, and your other half gives you a tight hug? Or when you’re upset or happy and a parent or family member holds you close? You feel safe, calm, and loved.

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Some children get over stimulated by too much touch, so be sure to understand your child’s body language so that you know when to stop. Light touch (stroking, rubbing etc.) is more likely to make a sensory sensitive child reach his brim faster, but firm pressure (hugs, rough-and-tumble play, massages and playful squeezes) are calming and reassuring for almost all children – and adults for that matter.

Many believe that a parent’s touch wears off as a child gets older. False! An older child needs your physical attention just as much. The way you administer it just changes a bit, like a hand on the back, a bear hug or even playing a game with your child that requires skin contact. Skin contact releases positive brain chemicals which will leave both you and your child feeling happy and loved.

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The power of touch is a mind blowing thing. Sometimes we struggle to describe how much we love our child in words, yet a simple hug can explain it all in a matter of seconds. Holding their hand can trigger an outpour of emotions which could have been trapped inside before. A gesture as simple as placing your hand on your child’s shoulder and saying ‘I understand’ or ‘I forgive you’ can move mountains.

So, I encourage you to ignore opinions on how much touch is too much for your child. You know your child’s needs more than anybody else – positive touch is healthy and crucial for children, just as it is for you and me. Touch is a powerful healing tool and is vital for building your child’s confidence, self-esteem and sense of self-worth.

— One Modern Mom xx

PS. Please do share your thoughts with me below!

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