Then There Were Four

Guys, I had another baby! And my heart is so full – I have two beautiful little girls. I am so happy, that amazing, peaceful, contented kind of happy.

If you don’t like birth stories, look away now. I promise to try not to make it too graphic.

On Wednesday morning, we visited the midwife for a check up, and ended up having a Stretch and Sweep. For 3 weeks now, the fundus (basically my baby-carrying sack) hadn’t grown, and Karen was worried that baby was running out of room. So, stretch and sweep time (and let’s-move-baby’s-arm-from-its-head-internally time – that was comfortable!).

We went home for the rest of the day to wait for (hopefully) labour to kick in. Poor Pete – he was so impatient to meet his child, he couldn’t sit still. In hindsight, I should’ve sent him to the pub.

My mum also came straight back from my sister’s on hearing about the ‘sweep’ – I really needed this baby to come today, otherwise everyone’s hopes would be up high for nothing!

Thankfully, like clockwork, my labour started as I fed Stevie her bedtime booby (nipple stimulation, especially towards the end, I known for releasing oxytocin – the labour hormone. Interestingly, oxytocin is released 3 times naturally in a woman – during orgasm, during labour, and during breastfeeding. The human body is fascinating – it’s all connected to making babies!). Quarter past 8, I was feeling intense pressure and let Karen know.

Luckily for me, my doula was Karen’s daughter-in-law, Bianca – I have a history of short labour, and this meant they could get to me, together, nice and quickly.

And of course, my history of fast labour repeated itself. Karen and Bianca got to the house (and assisted Pete with the birthing pool) just in time for my contractions to start with a real bang – I was told the day after, that on my first check after arrival I was between 5 and 6cm dilated already.

When watching period dramas involving labour, I always wondered about the towels and pots of boiling water that they ask the husband for every time – it turns out, keeping a birthing pool hot is hard work! I don’t think Pete has boiled so much water in his life – because of course the geyser ran out after a while!

Anyway – the pool was run in perfect time and in I hopped (I did not hop anywhere, of course – hopping whilst 39 weeks pregnant and in labour is not an option). Water birth was the best decision I ever made. I went from 5-6cm to the full 10cm in about 40 minutes, so I have very intense labours and the water really helped with supporting me. It was still bloody sore, but I didn’t worry so much about finding the perfect position, as the water balanced my body.

Active labour started at round about 9pm. Karen kept me informed all the way through that my waters still hadn’t broken, and that she was reluctant to break them for me while I was progressing nicely – which I was thankful for. En caul births are rare – so of course I wanted one!

In the end, my water sack actually broke shortly after contact with the water. I got to feel it though, which was different. It felt like a very rough, papery water balloon. Then came the head, and a strange, primal moment where I tuned out everybody in the room and pushed – Karen said she even saw the change. My body, knowing what to do from last time, took over of its own accord. I tilted my pelvis, let out some kind of weird noise and the biggest push I have ever known had her out, pretty much in one fluid movement.

Looking down into the pool and seeing this little, tiny creature floating in the water will go down as one of the most surreal, and amazing, moments of my life.

But wait – what I haven’t even mentioned yet is that Stevie was in the room for half of the process, and got to physically see her little sister being born! My mum brought her through and talked her through the entire thing, and she thought it was fascinating. As I lifted our new baby onto my chest, Karen called Stevie over and asked her to to be the first to see what sex her new sibling was. It was such a special moment.

I know, I my new-mum, baby-brain muddle I will have missed something out of this birth story – probably something really vital, like how Pete was with me in the pool the whole time, or how important perineal massage is. But this is just how I remember it now, 3 days after the event. Birth is beautiful, and painful, and overwhelming, and the best thing I have ever done now – twice! Even if there was a small moment on the last contraction before her head crowned where I wondered why I’d ever put myself through this again.

Home birth isn’t for everyone – as stated, I have a history of quick labour, I had a textbook, complication-free pregnancy, and I don’t like hospitals, so home birth with a midwife was ideal for me. If you feel as though this sounds like you, and something you’d like to do, then I highly recommend it. I got to labour and birth in the comfort of my own home – I got to use my own towels, tandem feed my kids for the first time in my own bed, and wash off in my own bathtub. Plus, I now know how to clean off a murder scene – always handy, no?

My midwife was Karen van der Merwe, who also works as a private midwife at Genesis Clinic in Rosebank, if the whole home birth thing seems a bit much. To contact her re a home birth: karenvdm61@gmail.com

0823357731

My doula was Bianca van der Merwe. A doula is a birth assistant, who can be hired for both natural and assisted births, and also c-section. Bianca also offers pregnancy massage and reflexology.

https://www.facebook.com/SimplyBinx/

binxycastle@gmail.com

0615467020

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Writer’s Block

This past couple of weeks have gone so fast. Somehow, I’m 39 weeks pregnant today, and I’ve had the world’s worst writer’s block.

I also can’t read, or concentrate on anything. I remember this stage from being pregnant with Stevie – hopefully it means the end is near!

All I’m concentrating on, right now, is waiting for this baby to arrive. My sister has a book going – r20 per person to guess a day, winner takes the whole pot. Stevie lost out yesterday, Pete’s guessed today and I’ve got a loose bet (no money) on tomorrow. But of course, really, it’ll probably come on Xmas day.

Goodbye, toes

So we’re here trying to look forward to Christmas, without thinking too much about the baby. It’ll come when it comes, and there’s actually nothing I can do about it.

My friend Al├ęsia bought me this from Cotton On – will baby get to wear it?

Hope everyone has a wonderful Christmas! See you all on the flip side (hopefully with a brand new baby).

Baby’s room is ready – wall decals from Kikki and Franki

Late Pregnancy and a Black Tie Do (or two)

I love a good wedding. I love a bad wedding, too, but then I don’t really believe there are bad weddings. But weddings are great.

Not so great (read: nerve-wracking) is dressing for a wedding at 6.5 months pregnant. And then again, and 8 months pregnant (my sister gave me a get-out-of-jail-free card with hers, with an infinity bridesmaid dress – more on that later).

What does one wear to a black tie do when you’ve got a giant, bowling ball of a bump protruding from your midriff?

Well, here were my thought processes, and eventual outfits.

First of all – consider the weather. Both weddings were well above the 28 degree range, so definitely height of summer. No clingy, jersey fabrics for the bump this time – flattering as they are, I’d rather not Invite sweat to drop down my forehead more than it already has to. Also, sweaty bump equals itchy bump. Not nice. And riding-up-the-sweaty-legs never did anybody any favours.

So it needed to be floaty. That cancelled out half of my pregnancy wardrobe, so that was easy. My next problem was my legs.

I work hard on my legs. When I’m not pregnant, these little old legs of mine are a mark of pride. I run for miles, squat and lunge and box jump for days on end, just to keep these little leggies of mine toned and cellulite free. Pregnant me still squats, even now at 36 weeks, but, hello, water rentention, welcome, cellulite. I don’t feel at all comfortable showing off my legs when I know there’ll be a camera and plenty of leggy ladies around. So the dress needed to be long.

I didn’t want to buy a maternity dress that I’d never wear again, so I found myself at the Stuttafords closing down sale (RIP, Stuttafords, you will be very sorely missed by me) and staring at a brightly patterned, slightly-too-big, Banana Republic tent dress. Perfect – the pattern would flatter the belly nicely, it was nice and floaty, and – bonus – I will be able to wear it cinched in with a nice belt, once the bump has turned into a baby. Result!The biggest bonus of this dress turned out to be the weather – it was unseasonably hot in Michigan for the time of year, and my tent dress saved me from heatstroke. I felt pretty, cool(ish) and comfortable. We danced the night away until 9pm ish, when Stevie fell asleep on the dance floor in my arms, to the sounds of Jay Z. What a wedding.The second wedding was my sister’s, where I was a bridesmaid. I was picked to be said bridesmaid way before I fell pregnant again. There was a brief worry that my sister would disown me – just joking. Thankfully, she chose custom made infinity dresses. Saviour! A gazillion different ways to tie the straps, empire line before my ribs stretched, and, again, cool and floaty and comfortable. The best thing about infinity dresses is that you don’t have to be the bridesmaid to wear one. One of my best friends wore a beautiful purple one to my wedding years ago. If you’re ever pregnant and concerned, and can’t find a Banana Republic tent dress, go for the infinity dress. You will wear it again! Just make sure to take nipple pasties (thanks to my other sister and sister in law) and no-show knickers. If you’re that way inclined, pregnancy spanks will work, too.There are countless ways on Pinterest on how to tie an infinity dress, but we just went for it on the day. And, trust me, I was super comfortable. If you’re the type of pregnant lady who feels confident in everything when carrying a baby, or who doesn’t get cellulite-y legs, then you can probably ignore my advice and go for what you fancy. But this worked for me. Comfort is always key. Good luck!Unfortunately for us here in South Africa, now that Stuttafords has permanently closed, there seems to be nowhere else to buy Banana Republic other than their website Banana Republic. Hopefully this will change, soon.

Your Pregnancy Magazine

As a blog reader will already know, I recently shot Your Pregnancy magazine with the lovely Aubrey Jonsson. The pics have now been published! I am so happy to have more memories to show my children.

Look how small the bump is! Your Pregnancy magazine is currently on shelves in South African shops.

Less-Common Pregnancy Fears

This is my second pregnancy. You’d think, because of this, I’m familiar with pregnancy safety, and keeping myself healthy and comfortable, right?

Well, mainly, you’d be right. But every pregnancy is different. Oh, I remember the heaviness at this stage, and the tiredness and the restless legs. But this baby is carrying totally differently – meaning I feel ultra heavy, so much so that I have no appetite, feeling as though my stomach is so small, nothing will fit. Trust me when I say, I did not have this problem last time (thank you, all the world’s food, for my excessive weight gain). Right now, I’m eating 6-7 small meals/large snacks a day to keep myself going. Sounds like a great diet trick – until you realise this is not good when you’re carrying an extra, precious parcel.

My current favourite place in the whole world.

But the lack of appetite I can deal with. The food poisoning I got earlier on the week? Not so much.

Nowadays, the majority of women have heard that the old-wives’-practice of taking castor oil to bring on labour is unsafe. The contractions/cramps brought on from the effects of the oil can cause major contractions (similar to being induced) and can also cause said previous parcel (the foetus) to suffer the same, releasing meconium (poo) into the water and making baby go into distress.

In a similar way, food poisoning and diarrhoea can also bring contractions along with the tummy cramps. Fun, isn’t it? There’s something I never had to deal with in my first pregnancy. Never again will I eat suspect sausages, blaming the funky taste on pregnancy sensitivity. I spoke to my doula after I first started suffering, so I felt comfortable knowing my ‘team’ were informed (my midwife and doula are mother-and-daughter-in-law). But I was warned to keep an eye on those pesky stomach cramps, and to call if I started vomiting (another fun thing – dehydration can also cause pre-term labour. Vomiting may have required a quick trip to hospital to be put on a drip).

Factor 50 loaded…

The second thing I’ve learned this week, thankfully before it was too late, is a funny fact about sunburn. If you’re anything like me, you’ll have to Google this information, so go ahead.

Sunburn releases prostaglandin – one of the ‘labour’ hormones. In very extreme cases, my midwife said, extreme sunburn can cause premature labour. She herself has had 2 cases so far. Now, 2 cases in 25 years doesn’t sound so bad – but I really, really want my unmedicated home birth, so I’ll be doing everything in my power to not get this baby out before 37 weeks. No pool time (the only place I’m comfortable) without factor 50 cream. No dodgy meat. No bending over – okay, so that one’s not about keeping the baby in, just about keeping my food where it’s supposed to be!

The best way to enjoy pregnancy…

Pregnancy’s great. Some people really enjoy it. I just can’t wait to get to the baby at the end!

Baby Brain

I hold up my hands, here. I’m struggling big time with the dreaded baby brain.

In a 2014 study by the University of London, evidence showed that Baby Brain is a real thing, brought on by pregnant women automatically using the right side (the emotional side) of their brains more than their left, in order to prepare for bonding with their newborn.

I don’t care about the reason, really – all I know is I have a foggy brain and can barely remember what day it is.

Last week, I had a list in my head of three blog posts to write. I wrote one of them, and I can honestly say I’ve forgotten what the other two were!

All I can focus on is keeping Stevie happy, and this small being inside me that sometimes looks and feels like it’s trying to escape like something from Alien.

So I apologise in advance about what I imagine will be a completely erratic blog from now on.

Now, what day is it, again?

Pregnancy photo shoots

It’s weird being pregnant and being a model. My entire life is made up of photo shoot after photo shoot, contorting my body in ways to make myself look even more lithe and long than I already am, in order to make a more appealling picture.

But being pregnant and modelling is completely different. Firstly, there aren’t as many pregnancy shoots as everyone thinks. Sure, I modeled up until 16 weeks, but then once I started showing I had to stop for a while. I’ve done two shoots for Your Pregnancy magazine, which were great, but this time, unlike with Stevie, I decided to try something different. I actually did a real pregnancy shoot with my friend Tahlecia.

Last time I shot with Tahlecia, it was a hair job and I was about 9 weeks pregnant. So normal business. This time was different and strange, but so lovely. This time it was just Tahlecia and I, so she did my hair and make up and just the two of us got me set up in her amazing home studio.

We’d already shared inspiration pictures, so we knew exactly what look we were going for – think of all the Victoria’s Secret models when they do pregnancy shoots: sleek, natural and just nice. No excessive make up and hair, or overdone outfits. Just me, the bump, a pair of baggy Acne jeans and my favourite, white H&M shirt.

Mega pregnancy inspiration right there – thanks, Behati!

I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves, but they took us about 45 mins to shoot and I’m so happy I did them. I’m not one of those people who loves being pregnant, but neither am I the girl who hates it. I’m kind of indifferent, but I do feel as though I’ll have some very valuable memories to last me from this pregnancy.

Pregnancy Vitamins

So, here’s something that may shock you: with my last pregnancy, I didn’t take any all-inclusive pregnancy vitamin. I know, it’s shocking, isn’t it? I took a basic folic acid supplement (also known as vitamin B9) and, controversially, a vitamin D supplement. My midwife, who I loved, told me not to worry about taking any more – so I didn’t.

But this time, it’s been different all round. First off, my GP has been worried about the effects of excess vitamin D on a foetus, and since your general prenatal supplement contains vitamin D, she advised me to skip it. Folic acid, meanwhile, is one of the top ingredients in most prenatal supplements, so there was no worry about my lacking in that (although my body may have thought so – in the first trimester I found myself craving more citrus fruits and leafy greens than usual, which are high in natural vitamin B9).

When I saw a gynae for my 20-week check and scan, he advised taking a general inclusive prenatal vitamin. I started out taking the most popular brand, but I was invited to try Chela Preg Trimester 1,2,3.

Chela Preg is a newer supplement, and instead of being a general, all round kind of tablet, it separates into the 3 different trimesters. Now, because I heard of it late, I didn’t start taking it until 27 weeks, and therefore had only a week of the 2nd trimester pack. So I’m not going to even bother giving an opinion on it. Im not qualified!

However, I am now 2 weeks into trustee 3 of Chela Preg. So far, I’m liking it. Now, I’m no scientist, so I can’t claim that slightly less reflux is down to the different medication, or if it’s just a moving baby. If you believe in coincidence, then maybe it’s just that… or maybe not.

There are 4 tablets to take a day in trimester 3. This is, admittedly, a slight struggle for me – I had to have the copper loop inserted at 12 weeks pregnant, as I couldn’t handle taking the mini-pill at the same time every day – so these were a bit of a nightmare to get used to! I found placing them next to the glass cupboard helped, so that I’d see them getting my morning juice, and in the evenings getting my dinner drink. So far so good!

In the third trimester pack, the idea is that the vitamins and nutrients are formulated to help with excessive growth of the foetus. This means more iron (the chelated form, so less constipation and reflux are the aims of the game, here), more calcium for strong bones, and more zinc and vitamins C and E to help reduce the chance of complications in the rest of the pregnancy and during birth.

So far, sounds so great, right? I just liked the idea of the tablets being formulated specifically (I’m a nerd like that, sometimes) and I honestly didn’t know if I’d feel any different after changing them over. And, of course, we’ll probably (hopefully?) never know if any one brand of vitamin does any harm, or has any benefits, more than the other. However – I can say I’ve felt pretty good since using it (who knows if that’s a placebo effect?) AND it’s cheaper than the leading brands – and I mean, MUCH cheaper – the leading brand of prenatal supplements costs r208 per 30-day pack. Chela Preg Trimester 123 costs r600 for the entire 9 months or so of pregnancy. It’s a no-brainer, for cost effectiveness if nothing else.

For a more official review of this product, go to News24.

Holiday Ponderings… AKA Thoughts by the Pool

Stevie is fast asleep. She was in the pool from about 8.30am until about 45 minutes ago. I knew Pisces children were ‘fish,’ but I honestly didn’t take it that seriously. I’ve learnt my lesson – and I’m VERY glad we have a pool fence at home. Otherwise my pregnant self would be having a heart attack every half an hour.

Holiday may seem like a strange time to write a blog post on the state of your pregnant body, but when I’m the only one in and I’m alone by the pool in a bikini with my ridiculously hot sister-in-law as my company, it’s natural I start thinking about it.

My job has made me possibly more conscious of my body than usual, and this time, second pregnancy, it’s interesting to note how different things can be.

We all know no two babies and pregnancies are the same. I’ve said before that I put on more than 20kg with Stevie – but that 20kg number was after she was born. Tall people can possibly carry more, but even so, for someone with a low BMI (if you believe in that sort of thing) the recommended maximum amount of weight is 18kg.

Pregnant with Stevie at 28 weeks – I’d been eating all the food for a while here. You just can’t see my enormous behind!

This time, I’ve been determined to do things differently – and I can already feel (and, thankfully, see) the difference. I can still fit in my pre-pregnancy jeans – if only actually closing them wasn’t such a big deal for me! I can take a photo and not worry about looking like a different person – which was the biggest deal in my last pregnancy, for me. I didn’t look (or feel) like myself.

I’ve been working out (gently) throughout. Now we’re on holiday, I’m in the pool with my little fish every single moment. I have a tan, which obviously helps. But the main thing is – I’m eating exactly the same as I did before I got pregnant!

Generally speaking, a pregnant woman does not need any more calories in the first trimester than usual, and she only needs an additional 340 calories a day in the second trimester (where I am now). That’s the equivalent of a large smoothie, or half a bar of chocolate – not a lot, when you think about it. In the third trimester, that goes up to 450 calories per day, which equates to a large snack or an extra small meal. So much for the ‘eating for two’ I did in my first pregnancy!

In other news, my bump is enormous and I’ve got terrible reflux. I’m fairly sure the two are connected (reflux occurs when baby pushes all the organs up towards the diaphragm). Is my bump bigger because I’ve put less weight on this time? Possibly – but every pregnancy is, after all, different. Maybe this baby is bigger? Who knows – we’ll find out when he/she arrives!

What do you think I’m having? Has anyone had suck hugely different pregnancies before? Let me know – I love feedback!

D-Day is Almost Here…

For those of you who don’t know, tomorrow, Thursday, in the evening, just over 24 hours away, we will be boarding one of the world’s longest direct flights. I’m 6 months pregnant. We have a 2 year old. And we will be flying Economy.

Now you’ve caught your breath on just how stupendously daft this idea is, let me make it even worse.

Upon arrival in Atlanta, we have an 8 hour layover. We have to collect our bags, as we’re on a different airline, and then sit for 8 WHOLE HOURS in the airport. Then we board another plane (2 hours this time) to Detroit. Then, finally, we have arrived.

Now, contrary to popular belief (and the above photo) we have done long flights, in economy, with Stevie. She’s very much the seasoned traveller. She sleeps well on planes, she’s very used to the noises and the goings on, and the normal 11-hour flights we do are a doddle. But this one is seventeen – yes, seventeen – hours in one go.

I don’t want to give her any drugs or herbal remedies to make her sleep longer, as sleep isn’t the problem. It’s the 5 hours or so of awake time that we’re going to struggle with. There are only so many movies she can watch on a little, tiny screen, and only so many trips to the loo we can take, before she starts to go stir crazy. I’ve done this flight a few times before, and, hell, even I go stir crazy.

So we’re going to stock up on stickers, prepare her favourite books, and load up on bolting, popcorn, cheese and any other snacks we know will keep her even slightly occupied. I can’t promise the same for us!

Wish us luck!