The year that’s been

2020 what a year. What a disastrous, challenging, terrifying, bizarre year it has been. We usually spend New Years eve with very dear friends, braaiing, drinking, swimming. This year we aren’t. We had a special family dinner at 5pm, put the kids down to sleep and are now sitting on the couch in our jammies…And like with many things in 2020, we could be, should be, bemoaning what we’re missing out on, but instead, I find myself thinking of all that I’ve been grateful for this year.

I am grateful for our health and the health of our family, especially my sister who is an ICU nurse and quite literally on the front-lines. She is exhausted, she has been through more than I would ever want her to go through, but she’s healthy, and for that I am so thankful. My Dad is technically a high risk individual being over 60, and seeing clients each day, many of them intolerant and rebellious against regulations and procedures put in place to keep everyone safe in his surgery, he has the potential to be exposed quite easily. I’m so grateful for his health.

The lockdown has knocked our economy to it’s knees. I was not spared. I run my own consultancy, and the lockdown in March caused some existing clients and potential clients to not move forward with contracts, and my income dried up. This meant that most of my savings for maternity leave were spent by the time Isla was born, and I had to take on work soon after her birth. Although not ideal, I am grateful for the fact that I have been able to find new clients in these tough economical times, and have some really exciting things that I am looking forward to for 2021. I am also beyond thankful that my husband has a steady income that has kept us warm and dry.

On the topic of Husbands, I don’t have the words to describe how thankful I am for mine. His patience, hard work, optimism and love know no bounds. He has been the glue that has held this family together this year while I have had my little wobblies. I know that so many relationships have taken a knock, couples we know that have been together as long as we have and seemed as solid have called it quits and some are on the rocks. It’s heartbreaking. It makes me so thankful that despite everything that’s happening, I still have someone to love unconditionally and who loves me back the same.

While we may have missed out on going “places” and doing “things” because of lockdown and trying to avoid the virus, we have learned to be grateful and happy in our little home. Hannah has spent so much time with her Daddy that she never would have had if it weren’t for lockdown. In this year where she has grown from being a baby in January into an amazing, mature for her age little girl in December, she has had her Daddy almost constantly by her side. It’s not been easy for him managing his work and her constant demands for hide and seek or runs in the garden, but I’m so grateful that they have been able to be together in these formative months.

2020 was a scary time to be pregnant. Nobody could clearly tell you what would happen if you got the virus while pregnant, most medications would be out of the question, and there wasn’t (still isn’t) clear evidence to say what effect it would have on your unborn baby. Up until a week before Isla was born, Husbands weren’t allowed in to visit after the baby’s birth. I am so grateful that rule changed in time for Jared to visit me, even if he couldn’t see Isla.

Isla. Oh how grateful I am for our Isla. I am grateful I was able to carry her and keep her healthy. I am grateful that her Dad was with me at her birth, I am eternally grateful for the medical miracle workers that cared for her in the NICU. I am grateful that she is here. I battled so much during the first few weeks of her life, I thought I’d never see the light and we’d made a terrible mistake. I was so wrong. She is the best thing that has happened to us this year, and I’m thankful for her bubbly little personality and easy-going nature. I’m grateful for every little smile and gurgle, chuckle and coo. The bond that is developing between her and Hannah is indescribable, and I am so excited to see how it will grow.

I’m grateful for the lessons that 2020 has taught me, the biggest one of which is to let it go (and not only because I’ve watched Frozen about a hundred times!). There is so much in life that we can’t control, so much that we try to micro-manage, and when those things go wrong it causes so much stress and grief. There is also only so much we can control, and that circle of control starts and ends with us. We can’t control the weather, the government, the behavior of other people, but we can control how we respond to them and to our circumstances.

At the beginning of 2020, the people of KZN were marveling at the migration of the white butterflies that was quite exceptional. For many people it was the first time they’d seen or noticed it, but to me, they were the “December butterflies”. We usually have at least a few day’s in the berg every year around December, and they are one of the things that symbolize the end of a year to me, like mince pies and gammon, it isn’t December without the butterflies. We were lucky enough to spend Christmas at our family cottage this Christmas, and I was quite taken aback at how emotional the butterflies made me. So much had happened this year, but there they were, flying down the mountains, oblivious to the mayhem around them. It reminded me that life goes on, no matter what happens, time marches forward. Seasons change, days, weeks, months, years tick by, butterflies migrate. We will never get this time back again, we need to treasure it, hold our loved ones close and be thankful for what we have, despite what is going on in the world.

We’ve survived 2020. It’s given us some amazing things. Time together as a family, a new daughter, life lessons learned. It’s been a sh**show for most of the world, there’s no denying that, but I have to hang on to the good that did happen, and hope that 2021 will be better for us all.

Isla’s arrival

With all the good intentions of blogging and journaling as things happened…it’s taken me seven weeks to write this. Seven, almost eight long weeks that have flashed by, so filled with a multitude of different emotions. I have so much to write about from this challenging, wonderful, scary, beautiful but overwhelming period that I could write a book! Instead – I’ll start at the beginning, it is after all, a very fine place to start.

When I first found out I was pregnant, my many pregnancy tracking apps that I downloaded told me that my due date was the 22 August, my Dad’s birthday! Our dating scan put us slightly later than that, but in my mind that was always “our” date, but as most babies don’t arrive on their due dates, I wasn’t holding my breath for a joint birthday party.

Even before I fell pregnant, I knew that I wanted to try deliver our second baby naturally. With Hannah, an incredibly long labour and awkward positioning put her into serious distress, resulting in an emergency c section. Although I know it saved potentially both our lives, I still held on to a lot of negative emotions and feelings of failure that I didn’t want to go through again with a repeat c section. Coupled with knowing the benefits of a natural delivery for mom and baby, a quicker recovery time – and an illogical drive to prove myself as a woman, I was determined that this baby would be delivered naturally.

We were all on track for this natural delivery, until our 37 week check, when the scan revealed that our baby had decided to turn from the perfect position for delivery, to being breech…..she was trying to come out bum first! (Hannah also got stuck on her way out….these girls must get their sense of direction from their father. 😛) Our gynae immediately scheduled a date for a c section, and I cried for about 3 hours straight, before getting on the google and researching every possible way to turn a breech baby. I’ll write more about that another time – it’s a whole story unto itself….but long story short, by our 38 week check, baby had turned. Hallelujah!

Thus commenced operation initiate labour….every old wives tale in the book. None of them worked. 39 weeks came and went, and my doctors opinion on the Wednesday was that she think it likely that things would start naturally on their own – and because here they don’t allow you to go past 40 weeks, or be induced if you’ve had a previous C section, another date for surgery was booked for the following Monday ….cue more tears. (Pregnancy hormones are fun guys!!)

Thursday went by, nothing. Friday went by, nothing. Every time my tummy rumbled or I stretched a muscle I was hoping it was the start of something. It wasn’t. Saturday morning, 22 August, I woke to go to the loo for the millionth time that night at about 3am, and as I climbed back into bed I felt a bit of a dull ache in my belly. Convincing myself I was probably just hungry and to ignore it, I went back to sleep.

Hannah woke me at about six the next morning. By then the dull ache was a bit more evident, definitely not hunger and getting stronger. Having been through almost 72 hours of labour with Hannah – I decided to follow the advice given to me by a midwife and doula and ignore the pain until it couldn’t be ignored anymore. I decided to bake some scones, it was Dads birthday after all and he deserved a nice breakfast!

Our last photo as a family of 3! Sitting at the breakfast table on our patio….the wheatie bag on my lap helping with the worsening contractions

By the time 8am rolled around and the scones were on the table, I was definitely in labour, no doubt about it. The contractions were quite literally stopping me in my tracks, and I finally had to use the Hypnobirthing breathing techniques I’d been practicing to get through. I still managed a scone and a cup of tea though! As Dad and Mara left, we made tentative plans that they would have Hannah that afternoon in case we needed to go to the hospital….after all, labour takes forever, I might not even need to go to hospital until MUCH later that day, or even the next day! Boy were we wrong!

Things escalated quickly from there…this must have been about 9am by now, the rainbow breathing wasn’t working anymore and I was mooing like a cow every time a contraction hit. I have no idea how close they were together, I kept trying to download a contraction timer app, but was constantly interrupted by contractions. Guess that should have told me they were pretty close!

I kept saying to Jared I wanted to stay home as long as possible – I was convinced I couldn’t be too far along and didn’t want my labour to stall by going to hospital too early. With my first labour, the contractions were all encompassing – they started at the top of my abdomen and worked their way down and around into my back. This time, I was only getting intense pain in my lower abdomen, and wasn’t even sure that they were real contractions because they felt so different to what I experienced before. Hannah was still home at this point, poor Jared must have felt torn in two, I was desperate for his help to get me through each contraction, but Hannah needed to be distracted and kept calm.

Eventually there was no amount of TV that was going to distract Hannah from the events unfolding down the corridor – and she became glued to my side. I was so proud of my little girl, despite being obviously worried that her mommy was in pain, she ran around like a little mini doula trying to help me. She kept bringing me my water bottle, rubbed my back along with Jared every time a contraction came, showered me in love and kisses, and ran to call Jared – who was by now packing the last of the hospital bag -every time a new contraction started. As I stood under a hot shower trying to manage the pain that way, she came in, kissed my tummy and said “Hannah Kiss better mommy” – and my heart just melted.

Somewhere along the way, after me deciding that hospital was a good place to be because thats where the drugs were (I wasn’t allowed an epidural because of my previous surgery, and the gas and air wasn’t being used because of the Rona – but pethidine was still an option) Jared had phoned his parents to come and fetch Hannah – and what seemed like an eternity later they arrived, which allowed us to leave for the hospital. I had three contractions in the time it took me to leave the bedroom, climb over the exposed septic tank in our front garden (a story for another day) and get down to the car. It then felt like we got stuck behind every geriatric driver and at every robot on the short trip to the hospital.

Eventually we got there, I fell out the car, desperate for a wheelchair to take me to maternity – terrified that I was going to be told I was not dilating and I should go home -or worse, be checked in to the ward and have labour stall. I forgot my mask in my rush, and as another contraction hit the bloody asshole incredibly conscientious security guard told me I couldn’t come in without one. Somehow I got a mask on and sat down in a wheelchair, and waited for Jared to park the car. Laden with my hospital bag and paraphernalia – he pushed me through to maternity- or tried to with his half a hand available after carrying all my things. Luckily we were rescued by a kindly lab tech who helped us reach the ward.

It was probably about 11:30ish by this stage and the contractions were almost on top of each other. All I could do was close my eyes and moo like a cow or repeat ow ow ow ow ow ow over and over again. I did try to breathe, I did try to relax, I did try to calm myself, it worked for maybe 20seconds each time. Yet, I was still convinced I wasn’t in proper labour. The midwives hooked me up to the CTG machine and did their checks. I was definitely in proper labour and 7cm dilated.

The next hour was a blur. I was wheeled into a delivery ward, Jared disappeared to do the admin, and the nurses kept trying to ask me the admission questions while helping me through the now almost non-stop pain, my gynae was on her way in. They gave me the drugs I was so desperate for, and they did absolutely diddly squat, but by now I think the pain had leveled out and was just more frequent rather than more painful. I thought, all things considered, we were going well! Until my waters broke. Meconium, lots of it.

I will admit at this point my mind immediately jumped to the fact that we would have to have a c section to get the baby out quickly – it was after all the ultimate reason that we had to have a c section with Hannah – and I was beyond relieved. I didn’t feel like I could do much more, and all I wanted was an epidural. This wasn’t the case – I was 9 and something cm dilated and moving fast, it was going to be quicker to get this baby out the way nature intended.

Just a few minutes later – my body was telling me to push. Guided by my doctor and gripping poor Jareds hand, (which he will gladly tell you has left a “scar”) it was time to get our baby born. I was a ninny. I cried, I moaned, I told everyone I couldn’t do it. Apparently I wasn’t pushing hard enough and had a good talking to from my Gynae who all of a sudden went from sweet and kindly to sergeant major in three seconds flat. It was an emergency situation, I had to pull myself towards myself for the sake of our baby and get her out.

Not long after, at 13:07 our second baby, Isla Alexandra was born gasping for air. The stories go that you’ll never forget the first time you hold your baby in your arms, or that time stands still, or it was a magical moment, but I can hardly remember what happened, I think I was so overwhelmed and stressed about her being ok.

Isla Alexandra – I had to pull my mask down to see her.

I remember the sound of the suction machine – the fact that she was really purple, the nurse maneuvering her on me so she could get the suction tube into all the right places, I remember seeing so much gunk in her nose. It wasn’t magical, I didn’t have the sense of achievement I thought I’d have – yes I’d birthed my baby, but she was in danger.

I held this beautiful little bundle for a little while, and looking down all I could see was a surgical mask. Thanks Covid. Not the fairytale moment of staring into my new baby’s eyes I had imagined, but when I pulled my mask down and was able to see her I was overwhelmed. I think the best way to describe what I felt was shell shock. Most of the blog posts and stories I’d read spoke of this unbelievable love and overwhelming joy at having your little baby placed on your chest…I was exhausted, overwhelmed and incredulous, but happy. I couldn’t equate the beautiful little being with the kicks and turns, the stretching and growing, the nausea, the tiredness and the seemingly unending pain that had come before her, and yet, miraculously, here she was in all her perfection.

Cuddles – finally without my mask for a while – while we waited for her oxygen to pick up

I held her for a little while longer before they took her away for her oxygen to be monitored. They laid her on Jareds chest, and hooked her up to an oxygen saturation monitor – and we watched those blinking red numbers 88, 89, 89, 88, 87, 85, 89, 89, 89, 88, 87 – just not reaching the minimum of 90 that it should be. She needed to go to the NICU.

We were able to video call our families – and typically nobody was answering their phones. Eventually we were able to “introduce” her before the nurses took her in her bassinet away to the NICU. I lay there like a spare part, waiting for someone to tell me what to do. The nurse arranged a sandwich for Jared and I, it was the strangest meal I’ve ever eaten. We sat there in near silence, trying to process all that had just happened, getting to grips with the fact that we had a second daughter, something we’re still wrapping our heads around nearly 8 weeks later!

Rooibos Jungle Juice

blog postBefore I started breastfeeding, jungle juice was a party cocktail made in large buckets or cooler boxes, and dished out with a ladle.  Only when I started doing a little bit of research into preparation for breastfeeding and maintaining a good milk supply did I stumble across this far tamer, but more valuable version!

The concept of Jungle Juice seems to be mainly a South African thing, perhaps other countries have different names for it, but any midwife, doula or lactation specialist that I’ve spoken to (and I’ve spoken to many) have recommended it in one form or another as a supportive measure to maintaining milk supply.

The concept behind it is to keep the mother hydrated and well supplied with essential vitamins that are crucial to the milk making process.  There is some debate as to whether all the added ingredients are actually necessary, and some claim that just water will do the same trick, but speaking from experience I definitely found the days that I had Jungle Juice rather than plain water I produced far more milk and had a lot more energy than normal!

The traditional recipe calls for almost one liter of fruit juice, and almost half a bottle of Schlehen Blackthorn berry elixir, among other ingredients, which besides becoming very expensive, is also packed full of sugar and can lead to all sorts of problems ranging from thrush to high blood sugar to difficulty losing baby weight.  I took a look at the recipe, and adapted it to my own tastes (and pocket!) and found that it worked superbly!

It is recommended that you drink 2l of the magic juice every day, but I often stretched my 2l batch over 2 days and supplemented with water or herbal/rooibos tea in between and found that it worked just fine! If Dad wants to get involved in breastfeeding and helping you  out, making a batch of this every evening to chill in the fridge is a great job to ask him to do. I know I was so grateful to be able to go to the fridge every morning and know that my jug of juice was ready and waiting for me.

My recipe differs a little to the traditional recipe, but worked fantastically for me, and all of my friends that have tried it.

Rooibos Jungle Juice Recipe

1 Litre of Rooibos tea (3 or 4 teabags left in 1 litre of boiling water and allowed to cool)

30ml (2 tablespoons)Blackthorn Berry Elixir (Generic brands like this one from Clicks are far cheaper and often on special)

1 Sachet of Rehidrat (or generic) powder

1 Berocca or Cal-C-Vita tablet (make sure to get the one without caffeine)

1 cup of clear fruit juice (Apple or litchi or cranberry were my favourites)

Cold water to top up to 2l


Leave the rooibos teabags in boiling water and allow to cool. Once lukewarm, remove the teabags and add the berry elixir, sachet of rehydration powder, Berocca or Cal-C-Vita tablet and fruit juice.  Allow to dissolve and then mix well. Add the fruit juice and top up to 2l with cold water and leave in the fridge to chill.

Decant into juice bottles to have handy throughout the day. Have 1 glass on waking and drink with every nursing session and meal.  You may still find yourself thirsty as breastfeeding is very thirsty work, so remember to top up with water throughout the day.

The bulk of the recipe is made up of Rooibos tea, a delicious naturally caffeine free tea, packed with antioxidants to help keep your system clear of free radicals, rather than costly fruit juice. Black Rooibos also has no sugar, so the total sugar content of the juice is far lower than the traditional recipe, while doing the same job!  The Blackthorn berry elixir is a well known galactagogue (substance that encourages milk production) and can be taken on it’s own if you’re having a particularly rough day! The rehydration powder helps to keep you well hydrated and your electrolytes in balance – which is crucial for milk production. The Berocca or Cal-C-Vita tablet are optional, but I found that they were a huge help in keeping my energy levels up. I chose to avoid caffeine while breastfeeding (although some research shows it’s not necessary) and these were great at helping with flagging energy levels!  The fruit juice is for taste (and a few antioxidants and vitamins), so isn’t entirely necessary, but does make the Jungle Juice delicious. Try to use pure fruit juice rather than processed juice that is packed with added sugars and preservatives.  Some people add 10 drops of Rescue Remedy to their juice, but I’ve never found that it’s helped me, so I decided to forgo that option.

I drank this religiously every day for the first 6 weeks of breastfeeding, and then cut down after my milk supply was established and continued to drink it on and off until my baby was about 3 months old.  Once I returned to work, after 6 months and had to express, I noticed a big dip in my supply, and so I started drinking it religiously again and was amazed by the difference one day of drinking it made! On the Monday I expressed about 500ml in total during the day, I made sure I drank my jungle juice throughout the day on Tuesday and managed to express over 1200ml!

Second time around….

I had great intentions of documenting this pregnancy in detail from day 1, with beautiful posts every week with my growing tummy and sweet toddler on my hip. I acquired a letterboard somewhere along the line and had great plans to update it every week with clever quips and facts about our growing baby. As they say….the best laid plans of mice and men….you know how the rest goes.  I find myself a week away from the third trimester and I have no idea how I got here.

The first 16 weeks were rough. Really rough. The all-day sickness hit around 7 weeks and just hung around until about 16 or 17 weeks.  I thought I’d be better equipped to manage this time having survived it with my first pregnancy, at one point in time I actually said, how bad can this be? It was bad, and none of the tricks that I thought I knew really worked all that well. The sensitivity to smells was horrendous.  Changing nappies went from being a mundane every day activity to something I dreaded, I was never sure if I was going to survive long enough to get Hannah dressed again. There were times where her actual sweet baby smell that I used to love burying my nose in her neck and hair to take in became enough to send me sprinting down the corridor to the bathroom. 

There’s no tired like pregnant tired, or so I thought, until I experienced being-pregnant-with-a-toddler-who-doesn’t-nap-tired. One of the cruelties of pregnancy is that you so desperately need caffeine, but shouldn’t really be having it.  I must admit on some days I did cave and ordered a regular cappuccino rather than the advised decaf. At this point Hannah wasn’t sleeping through the night yet, I was up every 2 hours or so with her, and got maybe a 45 minute to an hour window during the day where she slept (and I worked – there’s none of this sleep when the baby sleeps nonsense when you’re a work at home mom!). There were definitely days where I dissolved into a tearful puddle and questioned what on earth we had done by falling pregnant with a second, and was not convinced there was ever going to be any way that I would cope with two.

And then there was the breastfeeding aversion.  I was still adamant that I was going to feed her until either she decided to give up, or my milk dried out. Breastfeeding aversion was something I didn’t even know about until I experienced it.  Its a strange psycho-hormonal response that happens every time the baby latches. As much as I wanted Hannah to have as much breastmilk as she wanted and needed, every time she started to drink, I felt this massive sense of repulsion wash over me and had to fight the very strong urge to pull her off of me and shove her away. It was incredibly confusing. My mind told me that I was doing the right thing and that she needed this, but my body and my subconscious were telling me a very different story.  I powered through, and by about 14 weeks, we were back to normal.

We had a few emergency hospital visits in the first 16 weeks for dehydration, migraine headaches and most scary of all, a bleed at 15 weeks. Those were honestly some of the scariest hours of my life.  When you can’t feel your baby move yet, when you’re not really looking pregnant yet, but you’re so in love with this little life that you know is inside you (even though it feels like it’s killing you), and you know that you could possibly lose it all in a minute and very little you could do to prevent it.  It’s horrifying. There’s no other way to describe it.

But despite this all, we made it through!  And then at about 17 weeks we went into lock-down and lost all sense of time, personal grooming and fashion.  Which is a huge contributing factor to why there have been no progress pics this time around!  Because of the pregnancy, and not knowing what medications I could safely take if I did possibly get sick, I have left the house maybe 4 times in the past 8 or 9 weeks.  Generally I’ve been OK with the isolation. It suits my mostly introverted personality, but it does mean that I’ve missed out on a lot of the “fun” things about being pregnant.  There’s nobody except the dogs, an overworked husband and a disinterested toddler to talk to about how big the baby is, what’s developed that week and what odd things are happening to your body this week.  There are no co-workers asking you about names and nursery themes and genders and marveling over the size of your belly.  There’s no leisurely trips around the shops picking up cute baby grows and blankets and bits and bobs that will sit on the compactum and never be used. There’s no coffee dates and braais on the weekend with friends and family where they can tease you about how big you are and sit for hours with a hand on your belly waiting for a kick. There’s no looking forward to a baby shower (or sprinkle the second time around) because it’s not likely we’ll be able to see our friends before this baby is at least 3 months old.

I feel that life just goes on around you while you’re growing a human, and I feel as if that miracle is going generally unnoticed for so many pregnant women around the world.  The entire human population is occupied with illness and death and suffering and the women who are growing life and hope and love within them are hidden away, protecting themselves, protecting our future, going un-celebrated, overlooked, almost forgotten, or worse, suffering poverty, uncertain futures, sickness and despair. And then there’s the guilt for feeling this way. Soul crushing guilt for mourning what small frivolities you’re missing out on when so many are sick and dying, so many are starving and penniless, when so many have it far worse than you.  Combined with the infamous mood altering cocktail of pregnancy hormones, it’s a confusing and emotional time.

Most days I completely forget I’m pregnant, until I’m kicked in the bladder or spleen while I’m trying to fall asleep at night.  I’m still wearing my normal clothes (either they’re really stretchy, or I was wearing a size too big to begin with!) whereas by this point in time with Hannah I had a complete and very chic maternity wardrobe. To be fair, lockdown is helping in that I can wear stretchy leggings and a baggy t-shirt every day with no judgement!  First time round we were almost finished decorating the nursery, I’d knitted blankets, finished cross-stitch artwork for the walls and had an entire wardrobe waiting for our new arrival. I had my birth plan written out, I had my hospital bag packed (yes, I did it that early!) This time round, we haven’t decided on a name, we haven’t made any changes to the nursery, we haven’t looked through what clothes we have for her.

My goal for the approaching last trimester is to try and enjoy it more. Try to make the most of this strange isolated situation the world is in, try to prepare as much as we can for this new precious life to join our family, and maybe find a name for her before she arrives!

Lockdown activities part 1…..

Like many countries around the world at the moment, we find ourselves in a lock-down to curb the spread of the Covid-19 Coronavirus.

While we are blessed to have a fairly spacious little house and a gorgeous garden for Hannah to play in – we have needed to find some activities to keep little miss busy! I’m not keen on filling up every single day with activities, I’m a very firm believer in letting kids get bored and finding their own way to entertain themselves, but obviously not all the time!  Here’s what we’ve done so far….as you can see, the pictures are FAR from insta-worthy, but they’re real. THIS is what lockdown with a toddler looks like.

Day 1.

Gardening – Hannah has an immense love for the outdoors, if she could, she would be outside exploring from before sunrise until after sunset.  Mummy has an addiction to buying pretty flowers and trying to get her garden to look gorgeous, so combined with Blackwoods nursery having a pre-lockdown sale we had a winning combination!

What we used

seedling trays


watering can

The Activity  Get your little one to help you dig a hole, you may need to show them first, and probably fix it up afterwards, but hey – it will keep them busy!  Help them to place a plant gently in the hole, squish the soil around the roots and then the best fun of all – help them water with a watering can.

Don’t have a watering can? Watch this awesome video that Tanya Visser from “The Gardener” posted about how to make one out of an old milk bottle – yay for more activities!

Don’t have a garden? You could try planting veggie seeds in cotton wool (or soil if you have access to it) and leaving them on a windowsill. That gives you something to do every day – check back in on how the seeds are going!

Day 2:


Toddlers for some reason seem to love cleaning – especially if you’re doing it too. There’s been an international study published in the American Academy of Pediatrics journal that shows that toddlers will innately want to help an adult with a task that they are doing – and when you’re all locked in a house together, why not let that be the housework!

You just have to be careful with this one not to let them interact with the cleaning agents (obviously age dependent – I doubt a 5 year old is going to lick the cloth with bleach on it like my 18 month old tried to do), and have a ton of patience – often while cleaning one thing, more mess is made elsewhere. It’s so easy to lose your temper and tell them to “Go see Daddy” and do it quickly yourself, but remember they are LOVING helping you, and learning valuable life skills at the same time.  You have at least 2,5 more weeks to get the house clean. Take a breath and let it go.


There are some great articles online about age appropriate chores – have a google and see what your child could be capable of at their age. I just let Hannah follow me around and help out where she seemed interested. Here’s what we did

  1. Putting laundry in the laundry bin/washing machine. She loved racing through the house with a lone sock or tshirt and popping it in the washing basket.
  2. Dusting/Wiping down surfaces – this one she could do all day! Give them a slightly damp cloth and ask them to wipe the coffee table, windowsill (if they can reach) and other surfaces. You might be surprised what they start to clean.
  3. Washing dishes – if you have a step high enough to reach the sink, let them help out with the spoons, plastic cups, tuppaware etc.
  4. Washing windows – now this one will probably leave you with more work in the long run. I gave Hannah a wet wipe, and she spent about 20 minutes cleaning the cottage window panes on our patio doors, and every window and reflective surface she could reach. It leaves horrid soapy streaks, but at least they’re occupied!\
  5. Sweeping! Hannah has her own mini broom, and loves to help us sweep. Often she’ll grab her broom, run to us and say “Mummy/Daddy”, “Bwoom” – and we have to go get our full size broom out the cupboard and sweep with her.  If you don’t have a mini broom – let your little one play with the full sized one! Just watch out for shelves/coffee tables/ornaments.

Hannah cleaning
Hannah “cleaning” the windows

Day 3:


Hannah loves to get involved in whatever I’m doing, and up until now I’ve sort of just made her watch from her high-chair or the baby carrier or kept her occupied on the floor. But she’s clearly had enough of that, and wants to help out wherever and whenever she can.  On Sunday she woke up really early, and as I sat with her in the lounge trying to keep her from waking up her Dad (yes I do deserve a medal) I remembered that as kids, we often used to have scones on a Sunday morning.  Scones are pretty easy to bake, and most of us should have the ingredients in the cupboard (if not, add them to the apocalypse shopping list, even if you don’t go baking scones, they’re useful to have for other things!)  so I decided to whip up a batch, and let Hannah help.

What we used:

Oven at 220C

2.75 cups (about 350g) self raising flour (or cake flour with 1tsp extra baking powder for each cup)

pinch of salt

85g margerine

3 tablespoons of caster sugar (optional – I forgot to add, and with jam the scones still tasted great!)

1 teaspoon baking powder

175ml milk

Splash of vanilla essence (I guesstimate about 1 teaspoon)

Squeeze of lemon juice (again, about 1 teaspoon if you really want to measure)

Beaten egg (optional)

Jam and Cheese (or Cream) to serve.

The activity:

Wash wash wash your hands….you should know the drill by now. 20 seconds or 2 verses of Happy Birthday….

Preheat your oven to 220 Degrees C

Your margarine or butter should be at room temperature, but I don’t have the patience for that – so I just popped it in the microwave for about 15 seconds to soften.  Cut it into cubes/smaller pieces.

Help your little one to add the flour to the bowl.

Next, rub the flour and butter between your fingertips, until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Your little one can help with this too depending on their age and skill level – I gave Hannah her own bowl because I knew it would end up straight in her mouth!  The trick is to use only your fingertips – every time I make scones, I can hear my Mum saying, if your palms are getting dirty, you’re doing it wrong!

Next help your little one to add the salt, bicarb and sugar.

In a separate bowl, mix the milk, vanilla essence and lemon juice (squeezing lemon juice is great fun when you’re a toddler) and leave it for a few minutes (to allow the lemon juice to curdle the milk)

Add the liquid to a well in the middle of the dry ingredients and stir. You’ll need to use your hands towards the end to combine everything.

When all the dough is sticking together, tip out onto a floured surface, and press down until to about 3 or 4 cm thickness.

Using scone (or cookie) cutters, help your little one to cut out as many scones as possible, press the remaining dough together and repeat until you have no dough left.

Using a medium sized scone cutter you should get 12 scones out of this recipe.

Using a fork, clean fingers or a pastry brush, brush the tops of the scones with beaten egg.

Give your little one the task of greasing the tray – Hannah loved that – using a scrap of margarine wrapper and a chunk of margarine. Pop the scones on the tray and put them in the oven for 10-12 minutes or until slightly golden on top. (They turn Very quickly from pale to golden to burnt, so keep an eye on them around the 10 minute mark)

Serve with butter, jam and grated cheese (or cream) and a nice big mug (or bottle) of tea.

Baking scones
Hannah helping with her own scone mix and dough to cut

Day 4: 


I looked at playdoh and silly sand while I was doing my lockdown shopping, but unfortunately I just didn’t have the budget to spend on it at that time (after 3 weeks of groceries, my cards were crying a little bit). With cold, wet weather looming, I decided it was time to get creative! I had a look on the interwebs for some playdoh recipes – and combined a few (based on the ingredients that I had available) and the result was surprisingly quite good! The dough does look like it may dry out after a few days, but it’s easy enough to whip up another batch when it does.  Because it involved boiling water and food dye, I didn’t get Hannah involved in the making of this (Also she was down for one of her VERY RARE naps), but she loved playing with it once she woke up!

I’ve popped the recipe and instructions in the image below. I was lucky enough to have cream of tartar sitting in my cupboard (an odd one to have I know) but if you don’t – have a look around on Pinterest, there are plenty of recipes to follow that don’t include it.

Playdoh recipe


So far we’ve not run into boredom or cabin fever – but I’m constantly searching for new things to do with a busy little human. I’ll post a few more next week, hopefully some of the ideas help you too!

Surviving the first trimester with a toddler

I fell pregnant with my second child when my first was only 15 months old, and just entering the crazy run-around-all-day toddler phase.  I’d just started getting the hang of the balance right of being a work at home mom, and was feeling pretty confident in my ability to handle this new change. Boy was I completely unprepared!

The first 2 or 3 weeks after getting that lovely big positive on that pregnancy test was relatively easy. My husband was on leave as it was over the Christmas period – and we had plenty of activities to keep ourselves and our firstborn busy.  Once he went back to work in January, it was a completely different ball-game.  I suffered tremendously with morning sickness, fatigue and headaches and because we’d decided to keep this pregnancy to ourselves for a little while longer than we did our first, I had very little support that I could lean on during the day. Our little one was incredibly busy, and in the process of dropping a nap, which resulted in very little down time for Mom.  There were definitely days where I thought I’d never survive until the evening when hubby got home, but all of a sudden – I was at 14 weeks! I’d done it! I’d survived the first trimester, with a busy toddler – just like that.

I scoured the internet for tips and tricks on how to survive the first trimester of pregnancy with a toddler, and a lot of the advice was trite and idealistic.

Here is some of my advice on how to do it. I didn’t follow all of it, but I’ve learnt with the clarity of hindsight, and hopefully the suggestions will help you….

  1. Create a support network.  I understand wanting to keep the news of pregnancy quiet for a little while (I also understand shouting the news from the rooftop the second you see that positive result!) but it is so important to build a support network for yourself to help you through the first few weeks when you just need someone to watch your toddler so you can have an hour to lie down, or someone to complain to about how awful you’re feeling.  Find those people – your parents, close friends, babysitter, nanny – whoever it may be.. and USE THEM.  There were so many days that I just pushed through out of pride and not wanting to break and admit that I needed help and I regret that.  If you have a break to look forward to, everything seems much brighter.
  2. Get on top of the morning sickness This one is far easier said than done, believe me.  I found that the days I was able to control it and work around it were far better than the days I let it take hold of me. It’s so different for every woman, and every pregnancy is different, but here are a few of my tips and tricks that I used to survive.Know your triggers: For me, I was instantly sent running to the bathroom by musty smells, the smell of the dogs food, sweaty smells, overly sweet smells, the smell of nappies, hunger, thirst or the mention of something gross.  Some of these I couldn’t avoid – but others I could. Try to figure out what your triggers are – keep a little note on your phone of all the times you threw up and why and soon enough a pattern should emerge (or not – sorry!) If possible, try to work around them.  For example, the first morning nappy change that smelled strongly of urine would become Daddy’s job to change – and feeding the dogs became his job too!Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate: I battled to keep water down. I so desperately wanted to quench my thirst, but every time I downed a glass it would come straight back up again.  Some women can only handle warm drinks – if that’s you, make a pot of warm water with lemon and ginger (well known for it’s nausea fighting properties) and keep sipping on that. Little sips are key – don’t feel tempted to chug an entire cup in one go.  If you’re like me and could only handle ice ice cold drinks – you have to be a little more prepared, especially in summer. Make sure your fridge is stocked up on ice cubes, partially freeze bottles of juice or water and keep sipping throughout the day. I found that sports drinks were helpful (Caffeine free) as they replaced lost electrolytes from all the vomiting, and helped keep me hydrated.  I also made a morning sickness iced tea (Recipe Here ) that I kept in the fridge and sipped from throughout the day.  I stumbled across the most amazing locally made ginger and lemon lemonade from a company called Lemonlicious that was an absolute life saver, at our local farmers market, and thankfully they were able to deliver a case to me!  See their Facebook page hereDon’t get hungry: Again, much easier said than done.  What you snack on completely depends on you, your body and what you can handle.  I couldn’t keep much in except cold pineapple chunks – the juiciness and freshness helped to keep the nausea at bay, and once the starving hunger was abated, I could attempt eating something normal.  Most advice says to stick to plain foods – toast, savoury bisucits or crackers, rice cakes – but I found them very unsatisfying.  Instead I craved really salty, savoury things – cooked chips or fries, toast with bovril – and on the opposite end of the spectrum, chewy fruity gummy sweets.  While nutrition is very important during pregnancy, especially in the first trimester, if you’re hurling a lung up every time you eat – the goal is just to get something, anything in and to stay down!  Try to snack on something before you are starving – the hunger definitely makes the nausea worse.

    Ask your doctor for medication:  Anyone who’s done a smidgen of research into morning sickness and medication will know of the horrors of the thalidomide disaster in the 50’s and may be put off medication because of that.  I was one of those women, and was very hesitant to try anything.  However, with a toddler, you don’t have the luxury of lying on the bathroom floor or in your bed with a bucket like you did the first time you were pregnant. There are so many more demands on your time and energy.  After almost two weeks of throwing up everything that entered my system – I swallowed my pride and phoned my gynecologist.  She was able to prescribe a magic little pill that took most (not all) of the nausea away and let me function more normally.  In South Africa, there are a few medications that you may be prescribed. The first is a drug called Asic which is available over the counter at pharmacies.  I found that it did very little to help me, and just made me more tired than anything else, but friends that I know that have used it have had great success with it.  Two of the most commonly prescribed morning sickness tablets prescribed are Maxalon (drug name Metoclopramide) and Zofran.  Obviously if you do enough looking on Doctor Google you’re going to find scary information, but if you are with a care provider that you trust, and you’re desperate you just need to trust their expertise and prescription and not the pseudoscience and mommy bloggers on the internet.

  3. Keep your little one occupied: Try to find things that interest your toddler without too much input from you.  Games that they can play while you lie next to them on the floor/couch/bed.  Posting games are great, stacking rings are a hit, wooden spoons and mixing bowls. It’s different for every toddler, you’ve just got to figure out what will keep your little one occupied without your direct involvement.  Toys don’t have to be expensive! A coffee/formula tin with a hole cut in the plastic lid makes a fantastic “posting” game – get them to pop in pebbles, or lego bricks, or pom-poms.  Hannah’s stacking rings cost us about R80 I think, and they’ve provided HOURS of entertainment, as have her stacking cups.  Books are another fantastic distraction, as are magazines, especially old ones that they can rip up.  A piece of chalk and a brick walkway is also a great idea.  Figure out the things that entertain them and then make the most of them!  If you’re looking for educational and engaging toys, I’ve found the Charley’s boxes to be great. It’s a subscription service, and they send you a box of goodies once a month.  It’s not cheap, but when I stopped and added up what I was paying for a toy here and there compared to a box once a month, I was saving.  I also broke my rule about screen time.  There were some days where I literally could not go on another minute running around and entertaining a toddler.  I’m not happy with it, but I did it to survive.  I’m very selective about what I let her watch…I’m not a fan of loud flashy cartoons, and I’ve stuck to “In the night garden”, “Room on the broom” and “The snail and the whale”  – all available on Showmax currently.  I try to limit it to 20 minutes at a time, but honestly she loses interest long before that anyway, but 10 minutes to lie on the couch is better than nothing!
  4. Get out of the house: It’s so easy when you’re feeling exhausted and sick to just lie around in your PJ’s while your toddler wreaks havoc around you.  It’s going to feel really hard, but try get yourself up and get out. Go for a walk. Get into the garden. Go to the dog park, go for a walk on the beach, go to the library, go to the mall for a walk in the aircon. Just. Get. Out.  It’s amazing how much better you can feel once you’re up and about.  If possible go somewhere where your little one can burn off some steam (I love Go Fresh in Assagay, I can sit and have a decaf coffee or do some work while she plays with the millions of toys and stares at the guinea pigs). It will feel completely counter-intuitive and like you’re going to die, but I promise you, once you’re out, you’ll feel better.
  5. Rest while you can: They say sleep while the baby sleeps – and I’ve always been really annoyed by that for two reasons. Firstly, my baby/toddler doesn’t really sleep. I battle to get her to nap in her cot, so often she falls asleep in the pram while we’re out and about, and if she does nap at home, it’s not for very long.  Secondly, what about all the “Adult” things I need to do? You know, eating, showering, working, cleaning, sitting and enjoying the silence?  But anyway. If you’re like me, you’re about to get really annoyed at me.  Sleep while the baby sleeps.  There is NOTHING like pregnancy exhaustion, except pregnancy exhaustion with a toddler.  If it is at all possible, at least have a rest while your toddler sleeps.  If you’re at the office, make the most of your coffee/lunch breaks. Enjoy the time to just put your feet up and not be bothered by sticky fingers and demands for “uppies”.  Even if you’re not sleeping, take any opportunity that you can to sit back, put your feet up and breathe. Now is not the time to be pushing yourself. Once the second wind of the second trimester comes along, then you can try to be superwoman.  On weekends try to have a doze while they nap, or ask someone in your support network (husband, grandparent, friend etc) to take your toddler for a while so that you can catch a few minutes of uninterrupted shuteye.  My amazing husband started doing the early morning wakeup with our toddler, and I was so grateful for that extra 45 minutes to an hour in the morning where I could snooze a little longer while he got up and did the breakfast, shower, changing routine.
  6. Shuffle household duties  I am incredibly lucky and grateful to have the amazing husband that I have.  If you’re a single mom, or if your husband/boyfriend/partner travels, I would highly recommend taking the knock to the budget and getting someone in to help you with the house, even if it’s just once a week or once a fortnight.  I found that certain things (nappy bin changing, putting away dog beds etc) I just could not do because of the nausea.  Ask someone else to help out with those if you can.  There are certain tasks (eg working with strong chemicals and cleaning cat litter boxes) that pregnant women shouldn’t be doing for the safety of the baby, so if you can – get help with those.  If your toddler is old enough, try to make cleaning a game. We got Hannah a little broom, and she LOVES sweeping up, and now cleans up after herself if she spills her food or drink on her high chair (she literally asks for a wet wipe and wipes it up, so cute).  From a year old, they can help with things like putting their toys away, or wiping counters or surfaces. Whether they will help or not is pot luck.
  7. Give yourself some grace:  When I quit my job to be a stay/work at home mom in 2019, I had visions of being this business tycoon slash domestic goddess Ala Nigella Lawson or Martha Stewart. Did that happen. Hell no. Most days the house was a hot mess by the time Husband got home, dinner wasn’t even cooked, work was still happening and the kid was running around with sweets in her hair and sand all over herself (sign of a good day!) Add a growing parasite fetus into the mix, and that got worse by about a hundred times.  There were many times where I sat and cried because I felt like a complete failure, because I wasn’t living up to the standards that I had set myself. Nobody else had set them for me – I wanted to be the perfect 1950’s housewife/business tycoon.  Husband certainly didn’t expect it of me, and as long as she was fed, cuddled and had enough to play with, the toddler was great too!  Give yourself a break. Whether you drop your little one off at daycare at 6:30, put in a full day in the office and then come home and have to do the “momming” thing, or if you’re at home all day being a full time homemaker/mom – being pregnant on top of your already busy life is damned hard.  Be kind to yourself.  Cut yourself some slack – things will improve with time.
  8. Prioritize yourself: No, this isn’t a useless post about how “self care” is important – I’m a mom of an 18 month old. I know that there is no time for yoga or nails or hair or lazy magazines while sipping bubbly in a bath.  What I do know is that if you don’t do something small for yourself, especially while you’re pregnant you will lose it. And lose it bad. While you will read a million posts about how you HAVE to get to Pilates – I know that sometimes it’s just not possible, especially when you’re pregnant with number two.  Find something in your day that is yours, and try to enjoy it as often as possible.  Mine was my shower at the end of the day once Hannah was asleep.  Something people without children will not appreciate – but the solitude of a warm shower without a little body or two hanging off of you, or jumping in the bath, or unpacking the laundry basket, is just beautiful.  If you’re a runner – run. If you’re a gymmer – keep gymming (obviously with consent of your doctors ladies!) This one’s going to need some help and co-operation from that support network…rope them in. Ask Daddy, Aunty, Grandma or Neighbor or your domestic to watch your toddler if you need an hours break and take it for Pete’s sake. You’re growing another life, you’re not being weak – you’re preserving your sanity and your health.
  9. Be proactive about food  As soon as my body realised it was pregnant, that was the end of the kitchen for me. I found the smells too overwhelming (the fridge, the dog food, the vegetable drawer, even the smell of the tuppaware cupboard sent me over the edge) so cooking became an almost non-existent thing. Even if you’re not as sick as I was, after you’ve spent a day working, or running after a toddler, you’re ready to fall into bed by 6pm and probably not in the mood for cooking a healthy meal.  I was not proactive about food – and I wish I had been. Instead of making a sensible plan, we ended up having takeaways or ready meals most nights, which is definitely not good nutrition or budget wise.  What I wish I’d done was one of the following.

Ask for help: Remember that support network I spoke about?  Is there a Mom, or an Aunt or a friend who you can ask to come and cook one weekend for you? Buy some groceries for a few easy, quick meals and ask for help in cooking them, and then pop them in the freezer, ready to be whipped out when they’re needed. The same goes for your toddlers snacks – can you invite someone “for coffee” and then put them to work chopping up fruit and portioning out savoury biscuits or cheese chunks into small containers or ziplock bags so you can just grab and run without being in the kitchen for too long.

Outsource: Outsourcing your dinner doesn’t necessarily mean Mr D or Uber eats or the closest drive through. There are a number of companies that do amazing, healthy homecoooked meals that can be stored in your fridge or freezer until you need them.  My favourite has to be We Are Food , a company that started out here in good ol’ Durbs, but has spread to Gauteng and parts of the Cape.  They have amazing single, double and family meals that you can buy, as well as great packages for couples and families that work out far more economical than takeaway every night of the week!  The best thing is that they deliver right to your door. I’ve used them a few times when Hannah was much smaller and I was stuck in a chair breastfeeding all day and I can honestly say I’ve never had a bad meal!

Keep healthy snacky things on hand: Another one I wish I’d done.  I’m a sucker for Woolies chopped fruit – even though its about ten times more expensive than buying unchopped fruit…And then while I’m in there, somehow packets of sweeties end up in my basket – no idea how (must be the baby’s fault).  What I wish I’d done was bought some good fruit, nuts and other healthy snacks and portioned them out when I was feeling good – or got someone else to do it for me – and kept them in the fridge or my handbag where I could grab them when I needed to.

10. Keep positive: Remember, there is a silver lining…at the end of all this exhaustion and nausea and discomfort there will be the most beautiful baby to hold and love and watch grow.  I know from experience that it is so easy to fall into the trap of moaning and groaning and feeling sorry for yourself, and yes, you are allowed a little of that – but don’t let it get the better of you.  When you find yourself in a mood like that, try to think of three things that you’re grateful for that will hopefully help lift you out of the slump. (Mine were: 1. You’re pregnant, 2. You’re surrounded by people who love you 3. There is aircon in the bedroom – summer in Durban when you’re feeling like death is not a joke guys)

So that’s it – not an exhaustive list, and I’m certain not everything will work for everyone, but hopefully there were some suggestions that will help you! Good luck Mama, and when you’re feeling your worst, just remember that this too will pass, and before you know it, you’ll be holding your sweet little newborn in your arms.




Morning sickness ice tea

I struggled really badly through the first trimester of both my pregnancies with all day sickness. Whoever named it morning sickness was obviously a man who never experienced it themselves!

I found that I couldn’t stomach plain water for some reason, my body needed hydration, but it would just reject any water that I drank. I needed ice cold juice, something flavoured and preferably sweet. The discovery of ice tea happened one day at a restaurant where everyone else was having cocktails and beer – and my options were coke (far too much caffeine and sugar!) or ice tea….wow did it make me feel better!

Now we all know that manufactured ice tea is jam packed full of sugar, and if it’s all you’re drinking it can start becoming costly! So I decided to make my own. I would brew it in the evening and leave it to chill overnight, for an amazing refreshing relief from morning sickness the next day! I used rooibos tea as it is fantastic during pregnancy being packed with antioxidants to help keep you fighting fit and is naturally caffeine free.

The recipe was as follows:

1,5l or boiled water

5 rooibos tea bags – left to steep in the hot water until the water was cool to touch. You can adjust it depending on the strength you’d like

500ml of cranberry fruit juice (or apple, or peach, berry or even litchi!) for a bit of sweetness and flavor

A nice chunk of fresh ginger, peeled and washed (about 2cm in length, can be sliced thinner)

1 tablespoon of honey – dissolved in the water while hot

A few slices of lemon and sprigs of mint (optional)

Combine all the ingredients in a large jug that fits in your fridge. Remove the teabags and ginger once the water is cool and then place the jug in the fridge to chill.

Serve over ice, or chilled with or without lemon slices and mint sprigs. Sip slowly and continuously to keep hydrated and help reduce nausea.

Cuddles and rain

The rain falls softly on the grass, gutter dripping on your windowsill – drip, drip, drip. Music playing somewhere in the other room. Bills piled high and emails unanswered, tasks unfinished, dinner a distant thought.

You’ve dozed off in my arms, snoring gently in time with the rain. All at once you’re my tiny baby again. Gone is the toddler learning new words every second and demanding more food, more juice, more dogs.

It’s moments like this that tell me I’ve made the right choice. In an old life I’d be running from meeting to meeting, calling international lines, swearing at my slow computer ruining my life, thinking I was terribly important. Sometimes I miss that old life. I miss knowing I’m doing something right, I miss being told I’m doing a good job, I miss the rush of solving problems on the fly. I miss the heels…

But what I’ve replaced it with will last much longer – nappy changes and cuddles and hide and seek and play doh. Hours spent chasing a ball, even longer spent arguing over meal time and naptime and not sticking fingers into plugs- they’ve probably already forgotten me, what I did, how I did it.

I hope you never will. I hope someday you’ll think back to rainy afternoons cuddled together on the couch and know how blessed we were to have them, how much I loved every second.

We do not negotiate with terrorists….

When we brought Hannah home from the hospital, and when she was very, very young we often joked in the middle of the night as we put her back to sleep that “we do not negotiate with terrorists young lady”…fast forward almost 18 months. It seems as if actually, we do, in fact, negotiate with terrorists after all.

Sleep deprivation has been used for centuries as a form of torture. Psychology Today quotes it as “less overtly violent than cutting off someone’s finger, but it can be far more damaging and painful if pushed to extremes” and goes on to say that “sleep deprivation is an especially insidious form of torture because it attacks the deep biological functions at the core of a person’s mental and physical health”. Well, sign me up for the CIA – because I apparently can withstand this sh*t.

Hannah started off sleeping beautifully, by 8 weeks she was going down at 7pm, waking for a feed at 4am and then sleeping through until about 7 or 8 the next morning.  Yes, I thought, I can do this parenting thing, it’s not as hard as everyone made it out to be.  Somewhere between then and now the wheels fell off. And not just a quaint little wagon wheel falling off on the side of a country road – I’m talking tyre bouncing across a freeway smashing into multiple cars causing a pileup miles long and requiring every emergency service imaginable to clean it up.

Somewhere between then and now, she’s gone from letting her Dad rock her to sleep in 20 minutes, while Mum reads or cooks or showers or sleeps, sucking a dummy beautifully and sleeping for hours on end, to taking upwards of an hour to fall asleep – only when attached to a breast (and as I’m the only one in this household that has functioning mammaries, it’s now completely my job), waking every hour to 2 hours at night and screaming blue murder if anyone else tries to put her back to sleep. She has a few other party tricks up her sleeve…9pm every night like clockwork, usually as I’ve just turned off the light to go to sleep, or I’ve just drifted off, she wakes up. Another favourite is to be FAST asleep in my arms on the feeding chair in the nursery, and then the second she hits the cot mattress she’s screaming blue murder. Her Showstopper move however is waking at 2 am (After being awake at 9, 11 and 1) and staying awake until 4:30. It’s fun that one.

So I can already hear your cogs turning in your brains and your fingers itching to type…have you tried? The answer is Yes. We have tried it. Done it. It doesn’t F*ing work.  My favourite is “does she have a good bedtime routine” – No Doris, we just let her run around the house naked and screaming until she passes out.  Who do you think I am? This child had a bedtime routine before she was born! We eat dinner, bath her, storytime, wind down in a darkened room with the alpha wave lullaby music playing, nice little feed on the chair and then into her cot.  According to every self righteous mommy blogger out there with 7 children who sleep perfectly – A good bedtime routine will help your child sleep through the night.  Nonsense.  And yes, we’ve tried tweaking it and changing it up….silence instead of music, fan on, fan off, sleep sack, baby massage, sleepy time lotions and potions – hell I’ve even tried dosing the kid up on medication that knocks other children for a loop.

The next one is have you tried sleep training? Just let her cry it out…Now call me a hippy, but I’m not a fan of this.  In my mind it’s teaching your child that no matter how much they cry for you (their only means of communicating their distress) that you’re not coming.  So they give up out of despair and exhaustion.  Did I try it anyway? Of course! I was exhausted, and my boobs hurt, and anyway, my brother was sleep trained and he hasn’t been jailed for a mass murder or crimes against humanity (yet).  3 hours later she was still crying fit to burst a blood vessel.  Did I persist – yes, I’ve tried it a number of times with no level of success.  We’ve had consultations with a sleep trainer…side note – you know how you can send your dog off to be trained as a security dog/guide dog/service dog etc – why can’t we send our children off and someone else who obviously knows what they’re doing train them to sleep?

Have you tried a dummy? No – I enjoy my body parts being used as a pacifier.  Of COURSE I’ve tried a dummy, she flat out refuses – in fact it makes her really angry if I try to give her the dummy. And by really angry I mean throwing things across the room, biting, arching back, kicking, screaming – I’m sure you get the picture. (Don’t ask me where she gets her temper from – it must be her father :p)

Have you tried formula?  This one just makes me angry. Super angry. I am an advocate for #fed is best, and I have nothing against formula if for whatever reason breastmilk is not an option – but there’s this free miracle substance on tap in this household called breastmilk that contains sleep inducing hormones at night, and most of the nutrients that a baby needs for its first few years of life. I spent months agonizing over building and maintaining a good enough supply to feed and grow my child (more on that in another post). Science and biology have shown time and time again the benefits of prolonged breastfeeding to a child’s health, mental well-being and overall development (our ancestors only fully weaned their children at the age of 4 upwards). I know that she is using me as a sleep aid at night, and that weaning her from night feedings should theoretically “teach” her to self soothe, you guessed it – I’ve tried it! Cue screaming, demon baby right on cue that doesn’t pass out or  tire.  Our record for trying to put her down without milk after night time wakeups was 2 hours 45 minutes….I gave in. I’d already spent almost 5 hours that night trying to put her to sleep without the boob.

I would be here for a week if I typed out all the things that I have actually tried.  I think you’re probably reading all this and going – don’t give up – carry on with at least one method, you have to be consistent.  I hear you. But I’m also exhausted and drained and very likely on the verge of a breakdown. So for the moment, I’m negotiating with the terrorist – when she demands I give in, in the hopes that this time she’ll sleep for 3 hours rather than 2.

There’s a lovely phrase “This too shall pass” – and I have a friend who tags on “like a F*ing kidney stone but it shall pass”.  I know deep down that I’m answering to my child’s needs, she obviously needs love and closeness and reassurance that she is not alone multiple times a night and I know that biologically speaking not even adults “sleep through” but it’s exhausting on every level.  I’m not asking for a miracle cure here, this is just therapy, venting, getting it off my chest.




I get to…..

The last few weeks have been rough in the Mackenzie household. It started with a runny nose and a slight temperature that we attributed to teething, and then morphed into a hell on earth of bilateral ear infections, throat infection, parainfluenza and bronchitis for Hannah, followed quickly by Mom with basically the same bronchitis, ear infection and throat infection.

We were plunged into a grueling regime of antibiotics, painkillers, nebulisers and suppositories, combined with no sleep and constant whining. All the while I felt like death myself – and Jared was in one of his busiest weeks at work. Finally we thought we saw the light at the end of the tunnel (I half hoped it was a train coming to run me over) and the illness passed, only to be replaced by the bane of all parents existence – teething.

At the beginning of the month, at a year old, Hannah had exactly 0 teeth. By the end of this month, she’ll have 6. (Insert face palm & hysterically crying emoji here). For any of you that know anything about teething baby’s, I don’t need to explain the living hell that is dealing with a teething baby. For those of you that don’t know….just picture constant whining/crying, refusal to be put down, explosive stinky poos, drool that never ends, sleep so broken you might as well just stay awake – it’s real fun guys!

Anyway, my point is not to elicit sympathy or pity (although it might be nice), my point is to explain that I’m at a point where I’m over this parenting thing. Every time she cries to be picked up, or spits out the medicine that will help her, or shrieks in the middle of the night …again!!!…I’m just hoping for someone to take it all away, make it all end, give me back my “old” life, I’m sick of all the things I have to do that never end. Or at least I was, until this morning.

I sat feeding an incredibly fussy, wriggly Hannah, who has decided to sharpen her newly found teeth and practice chewing on the milkmakers. I literally sat there thinking I’ve had enough, maybe I should go back to work. I was scrolling through Instagram, and came across a post of a mommy blogger I’ve been following. Her son was born incredibly prematurely and he’s been in NICU for weeks. He passed away yesterday.

I literally went cold, and tears welled up in my eyes. The realization of how selfish and impatient I’m being hit me like a ton of bricks. That mother will never get to nurse her son to health, will never get to see him cut his first tooth (or six), will never get to see his first steps. She’ll never get to hold him all afternoon while he battles with discomfort he can’t understand, she’ll never get to hear him screeching in frustration over another lost balloon. She’ll never change another one of his nappys or rock him to sleep in the middle of the night.

It made me realize how incredibly grateful I am. Grateful that I don’t have to do all these things, but that I get to.

I am so incredibly blessed that I get to spend every day with my child. I get to be the one she clings to when she’s sick or teething, I get to watch her get better, I get to rock her to sleep 12 times a night. No matter how hard it is, I get to watch my baby grow. Just being able to have a baby that is healthy and for the most part, happy, is more than a lot of women get to do, and for that I am eternally grateful. Tired as heck. But grateful.