Every Baby is Different

I was so spoilt with Stevie. She was the world’s most perfect baby – she fed well, she slept well from day one. The only issues we had were that my own, personal sensitivity to cooked onions caused her extreme discomfort, and she never pooed. Seriously, even before the expected 6 week mark, Stevie pooed once a week – and my god did she poo. Once, she showered Pete, the wall, the door and the floor (and there may have even been spatters on Rome).

Baby Stevie – the face that launched a thousand poonamis

I appear to have been spoilt with Elia, too. This little poppet came out of the womb with the world’s most perfect latch, cluster feeding her way through the day. But she doesn’t seem to like dairy. And by that, I mean the fairly common intolerance that babies sometimes have to cows’ milk proteins, transferred through mum’s milk. In formula babies, this often results in transferring to expensive, sensitive formulas made with soy or other substitutes. In breastfed babies, this means mum has to cut all dairy out of her diet.

Little Miss No-Dairy

This isn’t the worst thing for me. In order to get my body ‘back,’ I’m going to have to look after myself, and I don’t mind admitting I need to cut out my addiction to cheese. Thankfully, that’s my only dairy weakness. But wait – what about my porridge?

Bring in the almond milk and coconut milk. Almond milk porridge (half water, half almond milk with oats. Stir in a tablespoon of real maple syrup and a teaspoon of Flavorgod Gingerbread Cookie and let simmer fill at your desired texture) or coconut milk quinoa porridge (about 2 parts coconut milk to 1 part quinoa, with cinnamon powder or Flavorgod Chocolate Donut simmering but not stirring until fluffy and light) – and you can also do chia seed puddings with either, letting the chia seeds soak in the fridge in your desired milk overnight. I like mine done in coconut milk with vanilla essence, topped with berries the morning after.

Thankfully, the possibilities are endless. Now, to just convince myself that I don’t miss my stinky cheeses…

Chia seed pudding topped with pineapple, with banana loaf and almond butter

Quinoa porridge with coconut milk, topped with bananas, blueberries and coconut bits

Banana and egg pancakes – that’s it! No more ingredients! Top with whatever you please – lemon? Yup. Real maple syrup? Yup yup.

Flavorgod ships worldwide, including South Africa, for a small fee. Head to Flavorgod.com for prices.

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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

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 Alésia 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.

A Mum and Dad Love Story

Yesterday, we were with friends when someone asked me “What were you doing, this time 8 years ago?”

I answered, tongue-in-cheek, “Trying to get in my best friend’s pants.” This friend, who we know very well, just said, “Well, how did that go?”

I pointed at my best friend, and said, “I think it went pretty well, eventually.” My mum piped up, “Well, she did marry him…”

It got me wondering – very few of us share the stories around how we actually met our other halves, or how we came to be together. It’s the sort of subject that’s only really brought up on a drunken night around a fire. So, in the sharing spirit, here’s ours.

Babies!

In May, 2009, I was cast, last minute, in Wrangler denim’s lookbook/catalogue/campaign. All I was told was that it would be shooting in Las Vegas, where I’d been 6 months prior to shoot, and that there would be a male model. I was told his name, and asked a couple of male model friends whether they knew him – I sussed out he was Northern, like me, and a ‘nice guy.’ So far, so good – and nothing new. I saw a picture of him at a different casting, and I really didn’t think he’d be my type.

This is the picture I saw – he looked nothing really like this!

Fast forward to Heathrow T3, a few days later. I knew we’d most likely be flying together to Vegas, and lo and behold, at the gate, earphones on and waiting to board, was the guy I was working with. He was so engrossed in what he was doing, I left him to it, deciding to catch him after the flight.

But fate intervened. A few hours in, as I was waiting for the loo, as the toilet flushes, out comes this incredibly handsome young man. That picture definitely did not do him justice – he had huge, aqua-coloured eyes, cheekbones to die for and dimples like you’ve never seen. Plus, his hair kept falling across his face, which was pretty adorable.

We started chatting, and he let someone else in the queue before me so we didn’t have to stop. Sadly for me, he mentioned his girlfriend straight away – but he was such a nice guy, and we got along pretty well. We didn’t see each other for the next couple of hours, but once we got to Vegas we were inseparable.

Funny interject, here – Pete told me, about 5 years into our relationship, after we were married, that he’d actually let the person in the loo before me because he’d just *ahem* done a number 2 and was terrified of me judging him if I went in after him. That still makes me giggle, now.

Meanwhile, we are in Vegas, and had both recently turned 21, so that evening we shared a couple of beers by our hotel. The job was great fun, and we got on like a house on fire – Pete was from Leeds, close to my hometown of Manchester, and there were 6 months between us. He’d been with his girlfriend a few years (booooooo) and she was a student. On the last night, we went into the casinos and got very drunk – very good fun. On landing in London, we exchanged numbers and promised to stay friends.

Terrible quality Blackberry photo of one night in Vegas

This story is in danger of rambling, so I’ll try to rush it along. Fast forward to Paris, in July 2009 – I was on stay for a couple of weeks with two friends, and it coincidentally mens’ fashion week. So we met up, a big group of us, and went out drinking and dancing. Two nights in a row. And, my goodness, this man got stuck in my head. I fancied the pants off him – and he had a girlfriend! So not fair – so I snagged his friend. Childish, I know.

On return to London, we decided we’d had such fun in Paris, as a big group, that the nights out partying and dancing until the early hours continued. At the time, my sister, Hollie, worked as a promoter for various high-end London nightclubs, and because we’re models, we got in for free. We went out probably 6 nights a week – and Pete and I became very close. We’d spend time outside the nightclubs in the daytime, watching movies or having coffee in town. I never once lost my feelings for him, but he became one of my best friends. I dated other guys (partially to try to make him jealous) but nothing ever came of it. My mum, upon meeting Pete, was determined he was the man I would marry (well done, Mama).

Round about Xmas, 2009

Unfortunately, by the time Pete’s girlfriend was due to come back to London to stay for a while, my feelings had grown pretty strong. To this day, he denies ever knowing how deep my feelings were for him, until I told him I couldn’t see him or be around him anymore. I never gave him an ultimatum or asked him to leave his girlfriend – I would never have known how he really felt if he’d been pushed one way or the other. We didn’t see each other for over two weeks (which was a lot, for us) until he sent me a message whilst I was working in Germany, telling me he’d broken up with her. I was so elated, I vomited. I know – I’m a closet romantic.

Our first Hallowe’en together

The rest is kind of history – we actually took things fairly slow. I don’t think I referred to Pete as ‘my boyfriend’ for a good 4 months, and we didn’t say the ‘L’ word for about 6-7 months. We felt no need to rush. We lived in NYC for the majority of the start of our relationship, and saw each other probably for 2 days a week as we were so busy travelling with work. We got engaged in August, 2012, and married a week before Xmas in 2013 – 3 and a half years after becoming ‘a couple.’ Then Stevie followed, and now the other is on the way!

Share your stories with me – how did you meet your other halves? I love these tales – I really am a romantic!

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!

Gelli and Slime Baff – review

Wow – so I get sent things to review every now and then, but this is easily the best thing ever that I’ve been sent.

Zimpli Kids have two new products – Gelli Baff and Slime Baff – to entertain kids at bath time. Gelli Baff turns the water into tiny jelly particles, before you use their special salt and rinse it happily down the plug. Slime Baff turns the bath water into gunge. Then, theoretically, you just add more water to disperse – but we found scrubbing the slippery bottom of the bath with soap got rid of the last bits of goo.

So, I popped Stevie in the bath (or baff?) on Monday afternoon, armed with a bag of pink ‘Gelli’ powder. I wasn’t really expecting a lot, to be honest, but she loved it. She thought the jelly was amazing to squeeze and squish between her hands, she liked filling up her buckets and cups with it and watching it go ‘splat’ and she was also fond of coating Mummy’s knees in the stuff. We spent an entire hour in the tub with this product. It didn’t hurt her skin, it stayed jelly-like all the way through, and even I enjoyed playing with it. The colour was a very consistent pink (her favourite) and it smelled lovely. Stevie was devastated when we had to get out, and immediately asked for “more jelly.” RESULT!

Then, last night, we popped four kids in the Slime. My bath was a bit more crowded, but this also went down a treat!

The slime took a little bit longer to turn to the correct consistency, and I thought we’d have a failure, but once it got there, they were sold. Riley is the same age as Stevie, 2, whereas Jordan is almost 6 and Maggi is 8. I definitely found that the older kids preferred the slimeyness to the younger ones – Stevie spent most of the time massaging slime into Maggi’s back, and Riley just did her own thing in the tub. Maggi wanted to take slime home, and Jordan was insistent she enjoyed the slime “the most out of everyone!”

There was slight confusion, as I said, when trying to dissolve the slime. It didn’t want to dissolve!

I waited until the kids got out before I tried again, with hot water this time, and it did help – and the soap on the bottom of the bath to get rid of the scum worked. I’d recommend the leaflet maybe include that info (as it does the salt info in the Gelli leaflet).

Gelli and Slime Baff will be available at Toys ‘R’ Us in South Africa in about 2 weeks – just in time for Santa! All 3 of us mums who tried the product said we’ll be popping some in stockings for Christmas. It’s great sensory play for kids, it’s clean and easy to get rid of, they feel like they’re making a mess even when they’re not (it’s stain-free) – what’s not to love?! Something that can keep my very busy daughter happy in one place for a whole hour is good by me. Product definitely approved.

ZimpliKids.com

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?

Jump Gravity

Recently, although not as recently as I thought, a new ‘trampoline park’ opened in Bedfordview.

Since Stevie was about 13 months old, every week we’ve taken a trip to Rush trampoline park in Greenstone Mall. She loves it, Pete might love it even more, and it’s great exercise for all three of us. They have toddler hour most days, where all three of us (before I started to ‘show’) could jump for less than r300. However, in the storms in October, parts of the roof of the mall collapsed on top of the trampoline park, this rendering in unusable – and no word has been released as to when we can return.

So the advertising of the newer park, at Bedford Centre, couldn’t have been timelier. We chose to pop along, after making a quick phone call, at 10am on a Tuesday morning – when Stevie doesn’t have school.

We found the place deserted. When I asked the lady behind the counter how busy it’s been since opening, she assured me that from Thursday to Sunday it’s heaving. So I suppose we were just lucky to have the place to ourselves. We were monitored by a first-aid trained supervisor, and Stevie and Pete (of course) went off to explore.

Gravity is laid out completely differently to Rush. Where Rush is a giant floor of connecting trampolines, with a separate room for basketball and balancing, Gravity’s trampolines are laid out in very specific sections: the basketball hoops are all in their own netted enclosures, the toddler area is very clearly defined and the foam activity section is along one side away from the ‘bouncy’ parts. Whilst this worked perfectly for us, while it was quiet, I wonder how well it would flow during peak periods.

My two monsters (yep, I’m including Pete in that description) enjoyed the athletic trampoline the most – basically two competition-bouncy trampolines surrounded by high, padded walls you can jump on to. If there had been more people, Pete would’ve particularly enjoyed the dodgeball section. However, unlike Rush and other trampoline parks, the rules are very clearly laid out – dodgeball must be played properly, queues must be adhered to.

We paid r240 for Pete and Stevie to bounce for one hour. The price list says children 4-7 are r110, but on querying this I was informed that “nobody assumed kids under 4 would come and bounce, so that will be rectified.” The lady in question also mentioned that they may be taking the price down further for toddlers. This does make it more expensive than Rush to bounce, but there is definitely more to do, and a designated toddler area for under-6s.

There is also a zip line and a climbing wall available at an extra charge, which we didn’t try out yesterday but will in the future.

Jump Gravity is now open at Bedford Centre, Bedfordview. For bookings call +27 61 522 3240 or email booking@jumpgravity.co.za

Their Instagram handle is @jumpgravity