Saturday, February 27, 2010

Friday, February 26, 2010

people are starting to look at me funny

Like, omg a baby (or two) could fall out of that woman any moment now, look away, look away.

I went to a couple of shops this afternoon and it's possibly the first time since I've been clearly and visibly pregnant (not just possibly 'big boned') that no one's engaged with me about it. No questions about when I'm due or what I'm expecting or 'Baby sure likes these sausage rolls hey' when I go back to buy another batch less than 15 minutes after the first (and btw, to that lady: watch it).

It's not that I mind the lack of engagement. Truthfully it's somewhat of a relief after months of being inanely polite, but I think the size of my belly is starting to make people nervous.
My hairdresser last week as I was paying my bill and leaving said, 'Shew, glad you made it through your appointment without anything happening', the doorman at the bank says goodbye with undisguised relief that I've not sullied their vile green carpets on his shift. People in check-out queues avoid my eye, but can't help glancing a second or third time at my belly.

Maybe this is why we used to go into confinement. To save the rest of the world from being exposed to our blatant fecund over-ripeness. Maybe this far along a pregnant woman becomes a little obscene. A little too 'Ja I had sex, yup someone planted their seed inside me, hell yeah I might actually push another human being out of my vajayjay in the near future'.

Am I making you uncomfortable? Trust me darlin' not nearly as uncomfortable as I am.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

grandma's hands*

*One of my favourite songs, especially the live version - Grandma's Hands by Bill Withers - beautiful lyrics.

But actually this isn't about my Granny's hands, it's about her feet. And how they've miraculously appeared at the end of my legs.
In my previous pregnancy I don't remember suffering from swollen feet and ankles at all. But then it was mid-winter by the time I got to this stage, Frieda was a smaller baby and actually, as she was 3 weeks early, I've now been pregnant for longer than I was with her.

This time round, in the stinking baking heat of February, I'm starting to think I may have elephantitis. For serious.
Thank the lord I took off my toe rings months ago, they'd've needed cutting off my tootsies by now!

I look down at my feet and I remember my Granny Molly.
She was a large lady, tall and as she got older, increasingly heavy. She had legs and ankles like sausages, encased in her tights, her feet bulging out the tops of her old lady shoes.
She died when I was 18 (in fact, she died on my 19th birthday but that's another story), so most of my memories of her are from childhood. She would sit ensconced in a comfy chair, either in her book-fat study or on the patio, and us grandkids would pull up on of the many footstools (not the one bearing her gin & tonic) or poofs which were always scattered around her house and listen to her stories of Cape Town when she was a girl. She was a wonderful story-teller. And sitting listening to her provided ample opportunity to study those fascinating feet.
Granny Molly started losing her eyesight in her last few years. When arriving at her house we had to identify ourselves to her, 'Hello Granny, it's Molly Jean' (my father's family always use my second name too, to avoid confusion, a habit most of them have kept up even though my Gran's been gone for 15 odd years. I kind of like it that they do.). She became unable to do things like care for her feet herself, and I always found it incredibly touching that my Grandfather would cut and paint her toenails for her.

She also became less and less concerned with social niceties, another trait I had much admiration for. As she got bigger, she'd sometimes sit with her legs splayed, her chubby feet flopped on the floor like two hams. Occasionally one (especially a little one, seated on one of those poofs) could see too far up her skirt - an area always demurely concealed in tights and beige underwear - but my Grandfather would reprimand her: 'Close your legs Molly!' and she'd respond, 'Oh John, they're only family.'
The exchange became a bit of a family joke.

But I do her a disservice to only talk about her last few years. She was an incredible woman. She'd have been an architect had she lived in another time, she designed many houses for her family and others, and was an invaluable resource to my Grandfather's building business, albeit an officially unacknowledged one.
She hosted the most outrageous parties, always involving some kind of entertainment - a play that she'd written or a concert of songs - all of which her guests were expected to participate in.
On arrival they'd be presented with a stiff drink and the part of the programme they were responsible for and shown to the guest bedrooms where basic costumes were laid out. Each part written and costumed specifically with that person in mind. Many drinks later the entertainment would begin, and would be talked and laughed about for months afterwards.
Family Christmas's were similarly curated, for many years a full Nativity play was presented, adults and children participating, hosts of cousins meant always having enough shepards and angels. And as the family grew, for years there was always a new baby to play Jesus.
Father Christmas always made an appearance, often dramatically descending from the roof or down a tree, one year even arriving in a helicopter (a wonderful machine constructed, by my Gran, from cardboard and filled with gifts, rolled out from behind some bushes with accompanying helicopter backing track piped over the stereo).
If it all sounds fantastical and totally OTT that's because it was. She was that kind of lady.

I've always been very proud to have her name, and these days as I sit with my legs inelegantly splayed round my big tummy, looking down at my swollen porkie feet, I'm reminded of her and happy to find this bit of family nostalgia in what would otherwise just be a gross and uncomfortable state of being.
And pleased to be remembering the wonderful woman she was as I prepare to raise another girl, another woman with a bit of Granny Molly in her.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

I'm a snob

No really, I'll admit it. Freely. I'm a snob and very, very often, I hate people.

Not specific people so much, just the masses. The great unwashed. The sheeple.

See? S-n-o-b!

And there's nothing that brings my snobbishness to the fore such as a morning spent at the Department of Home Affairs.

I'll willing to admit that the venue itself is enough to generate a healthy amount of disdain before you've even looked around at your fellow countrypeople. It's dingy and run-down and oh so grimy. Layers and layers of grime. There's cleaning staff around but this is the grime of accumulated years of too many bodies passing through and spending too much time there. This is the grime of queues and desperation, the grime of bureaucratic balls-ups and boredom.
Let's face it, it's a sad place 'cos no one likes to spend time there. No matter how excited you may be about your international holiday, the 4h queue to get a new passport rather takes the shine off of things. No matter how enamoured with your new baby, standing there with aching boobs and too little sleep to register it's birth is not the fun part of parenthood.
The excitement and thrill of being newly-wed could get a little tarnished as you stand there waiting to apply for a new ID document.

Especially when the wedding was nearly 7 years ago. And now you're 9 months pregnant.

Yup, I'm doing it. I'm going all old-fashioned. I'm taking my husband's name.

But more on that later. Back to being a snob.
So I'm sitting there trying not to actually touch any surfaces (unfortunately my ankles decreed the sitting part non-negotiable), breathing through my nose, stoically ignoring the tubercular cough behind me, and being awe-struck in wonderment at how ugly people can be.
The incredibly bad hair (condition, colour, style), the ill-fitting and ill-considered clothing, the shoes! don't get me started on the shoes, the toenails, the visible greying underwear, the smoker's coughs and smoker's stink, the flab, the body odour, the facial expressions of pinched, dissatisfied ennui (maybe they can smell themselves?). Urgh.
Double urgh.

I'll no doubt feel bad about this rant at some point. I'm secretly a sucker for social justice. But this morning for a while I relished in feeling superior and snobby, and I probably had the worst expression of pinched, dissatisfied disdain of them all as I sat there with my fat ankles and my smug-married demeanour.

Trying to keep my hands clean but happily dirtying my conscious.

Monday, February 22, 2010

22 feb

~ baby's back on expected growth curve (she's screwing with me already), and events which seemed to be rushing towards us recede back into the future a bit. time slows down. morning movie anyone? ~

Sunday, February 21, 2010

habit* blogging

*as in emulating the awesome contributors to the habit blog and posting a random (or not so random) picture and one simple thought.

~ I intend to tackle one room every day this week. Sorting, clearing, cleaning. I'm kinda hoping to go into labour before I get to the study ~

Photo is of my brother and sister-in-law's gorgeous kitty, basking on the wooden floors of their new house before they had them sanded and repaired last week.

I feel a little creepy using it for the following reason - where they lived before they had a strange neighbour who fell deeply in love with their cat and would entreat her into her flat on a daily basis while my brother and his wife were at work.
She was a pretty weird lady all round and forced my SIL into one of those awkward situations where she tried to befriend her on facebook and my SIL couldn't really refuse 'cos she saw her everyday on the stairs etc etc so she became 'friends' with her and then realised the depth of her neighbour's obsession with her kitty - posting photos she'd taken of the cat in her flat and eventually changing her profile pic to one of the cat asleep on her bed. The neighbour cried - yup, real tears - when my brother told her they were moving.
True story.

And proof that I probably won't be able to stick to this one photo and one simple thought thing.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

the skinny

Not me! Wha ha ha ha ha.

No, no baby yet. But 3 getaways in 3 weeks, lots, lots less internet/computer time than usual and some rather persuasive distraction has left this blog a little thin. At least one of us is.

As much as I've been swayed that way recently, and will no doubt even more so in the coming months, my intention's never been to be a mommy-blogger, or a diary blogger, and truthfully all my bloggable thoughts and experiences lately are about this baby, my days preparing for her, or just about the serene and rather bovinely tranquil place I've reached in my head in anticipation of her arrival.

I could blog about how I'm 1.08cm in diameter, how I'm rapidly running out of semi-decent things to wear (thank fk for the Yummy Mummy Tummy), how I think I'm in labour at least once a day.
I could get grusomely graphic about the emergency kit (2 maternity pads, a black bag - to protect my car seat - and a sarong) I've been carrying around in case my waters break in public. Or how I've started leaking a bit of breastmilk occasionally - I warned you - or how many grusomely graphic natural birth accounts I've been reading online.
I could witter on about doing piles of tiny small laundry. And then finding my cats asleep in the baskets of neatly folded clothes and having to wash them all again.
I could confess how packing this little outfit into my hospital bag - yup, it's ready at the door - made me get a little teary ...

[imagine if you will a picture here of a very cute little white, pink & grey outfit - stupid bloggrrrrr won't let me upload images]

Or how the other evening I had a moment of 'Um, no, don't feel like doing this anymore ... could I change my mind?'
How some crazy evenings with Frieda going full tilt and the cats yowling for their supper and the dog hot-lapping round the house I'm filled with icy terror at the thought of introducing a newborn into the mix.
How just today I succumbed to removing my wedding ring from my swollen finger.

But actually all I can say is I've reached this remarkably calm and reflective headspace. I didn't get a chance to experience this with Frieda's pregnancy, maybe its impossible the first time round anyway, but I really feel like I've reached some zen plateau (maybe it's the eye of the storm), and it's making me be quiet and move slow and feel ... ready.

Long may it last.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

blissed out

Last week's mini-break was everything we needed it to be and more ...

 the valley

 the cottage

the pool

Monday, February 08, 2010

bac to the v

Warning: birth story ahead.

On the 19 June 2007 I was 37 weeks pregnant with Frieda. I had a scheduled scan with my Obs/Gyn who declared all well and that I was on target for delivery in 3 or so weeks time.

That evening I went to my ante-natal yoga class, led by a wonderfully flaky but warm and, turns out, intuitive woman. I walked into the room and she asked me whether I was in labour. I was astounded. 'No', I said. 'Hmmm,' she declared, 'you look ... ripe'.

I went home, slept as well as a 37 week pregnant woman sleeps and awoke the next day with tons of energy, determined to finish all my last-minute baby preparation errands and then collapse into my confinement (wonderful term) and do nothing but chill and read for the last few weeks.

I missioned all day, had lunch with my husband, made plans to go out to dinner with friends, and finally got home at 6pm just in time to put my feet up for a while before going out.

That's when my waters broke.

And how. Thank fuck that didn't happen while I was still in the mall!

Almost instantly I started feeling contractions, by the time husband got home (with the take-away curry I'd requested - we had a long night ahead, I thought I should get my strength up) I was running on adrenalin, excited, ready to go! go! go!

Alas, this was not to be.

After examining me in hospital my doctor was pretty glum - baby wasn't in position, I'd lost most of my amniotic fluid, waiting for her to turn could take a very long time, she might go into distress, I'd have to be closely monitored, probably wouldn't be very mobile during labour - she didn't push us to chose a c-section, but she didn't really make us feel as if the alternative would be greatly supported, or at all pleasant (inasmuch as it ever would be!).
She left us alone to think about it and I just sagged. It all seemed such a let down after the initial adrenalin surge, I was getting really uncomfortable, with painful contractions 2 minutes apart and the knowledge that this could continue for '8-10 hours' before I even started active labour. My incredibly full and busy day was taking its toll on my energy and we both felt we didn't want to do anything to compromise our daughter's safety.
We decided to caeser.

Things happened really fast from there and Frieda was born at 11.40pm, 20 June 2007.

While never regretting our decision as such, I've more and more over the last couple of years wondered how necessary a c-section really was. Turns out the hospital I was at has a reputation for doing mainly c-sections, I've heard rumours about my then Obs/Gyn and her business partner being very pro-caesereans, she doesn't work with midwifes ...

So this time I'm trying something a little different. I'm hoping to VBAC. That's Vaginal Birth After Caeserean. Or as a (male) friend declared: Bac to the V.

I've switched doctors to a guy who's very pro-natural and supportive of attempting to VBAC (under all the right circumstances of course), I've moved to a hospital whose maternity staff are apparently better motivated to deliver babies naturally, but most importantly I'm keeping an open mind, informing myself of the risks and rewards and trying to find my zen place for this birth.

Which, as it turns out, may happen sooner than we thought. A scan today, at 35 weeks, reveals that my baby is the same size as Frieda was at birth. She's turned, she's dropped, she's facing left.
According to my doctor, we're to 'be ready'.


Sunday, February 07, 2010

stuff white ladies do*

* as witnessed by me or friends of mine in the last few months.

~ park on yellow lines or in no-go zones with utter disregard, waving off protesting guards with claims of 'Ay'll just be here for a minute my man, do calm down'

~ berate the poor dumbstruck butcher at the local supermarket for the amount of plastic and styrafoam used to package the meat cuts

~ hand out drinks of iced water and second-hand hats to people begging at the traffic lights on the hottest days of summer, all the while scolding them for having their kids out in the sun all day

~ threaten to confiscate unhealthy looking cart-horses and/or dogs from the most dubious looking scrap-metal collectors with apparent lack of concern for their own safety or what they'll actually do with the horse in the unlikely event that the guy's cowed (horsed?) into handing it over

~ interrupt a meeting full of senior (male) managers at the supermarket to complain about how few check-out points are open during rush hour and then victoriously have one of them push her overloaded trolley the length of the store, in front of all the harried shoppers, to an empty till which is being hurriedly opened just for her
(ok, this last one was me)

I'm not saying it's exclusively white ladies who do these kinds of things. But there's something about the indignant, self-righteous sense of entitlement of a South African white lady ... there's just something about them ...

Saturday, February 06, 2010

wake 'n bake

I'll freely admit to a time in my life when waking 'n baking on a Saturday morning meant something completely different, but today it meant just that. Wake (at 06:30 with child) and then, Bake.

We came home from holiday with two manky black bananas in the bottom of our food crate. Usually I whack ones like that in the freezer for making smoothies at some stage (frozen banana is a wonder-ingredient in a smoothie, when blended they go so creamy its as if you added, well, cream), but when I sat down to catch up on some blogs I took it as a sign that there were two posts about banana bread/cake waiting in my Reader.

Grandma Goot's recipe won over Aunty Betty's - 'cos its got chocolate in it of course - tho' I'm sure Heather's could totally handle the addition of some broken up chocolate pieces. And actually, if you compare apples bananas with apples bananas, they're virtually the same recipe.
I'm sure my thighs won't notice the difference. Oh ja, except I made the one with chocolate in it ...

(Of which Blogger will not let me add a picture. Go check out the recipe and take my word for it, it looked just like Julochka's.)

Oh and did I say holiday? Dude, we had the best time. More on that later.