When there is a rainbow after a storm

When you have been waiting, hoping, praying for light, a moment, an answer to the tough questions you have asked of life recently, you never really expect to be heard. It is like you shouting out but no one can hear you because really, who is listening? But one day you wake up and your prayers have been answered and you are filled with relief, amazement, awe and praise.

Well, you may have guessed… we have been given the pregnancy we have cried for, for so long and our little rainbow child is due in October! We are delighted and ecstatic but at the same time scared stiff!

Finally something has come right, after miscarriage, fertility testing, heartache, tears and pain we have the pregnancy we have been hoping for and it is truly wonderful.

However, when it comes down to it… I am terrified! It is like standing on the edge of a cliff, balancing on one leg and hoping nothing happens to push you over because the reality is, if something did happen, and I topple over, I am unsure I will be able to make my way back up to the top.

Pregnancy after loss is complicated and messy. The mix of emotions can be exhausting. I have tried not to think about the pregnancy too much during the early weeks, as if bonding with this baby could break me somehow. Only recently have I begun to feel comfortable and happy about the changes going on in my body.

The truth is, anything can happen and there are no guarantees in life. I guess the only guarantee for me is that I already love this baby. I cannot wait to meet this baby. And I probably will not be able to stop the storm in my head until I actually hold this baby in my arms but most importantly, that feeling all of these things is OK.

Having hubby by my side to talk to and realising he feels the same way, makes me feel less alone. That we are in this together and honestly, as parents, that is exactly where we should be… together!

Thank you to all our family and friends who have been so supportive, caring and understanding to us both. Especially to those that celebrated for us when we felt too scared to. You are all a blessing and our lifeline and we cannot wait to share our little baby with you.

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Letting Go On The Ocean Breeze

I haven’t posted here for a while and there are reasons for this. My first post for the year was so full of joy, hope and expectation for a great year with wonderful things to look forward to. Truth is, this year has been tough. Tougher than I ever imagined it would be… I never anticipated for one second that I would have a miscarriage. When we found out we were pregnant, we were overjoyed! A sibling for Emily! How wonderful. We started to talk about the baby room, if it was a boy or a girl, how we wanted to spend the next 8 months before baby arrived, how we were going to break the news to Emily when the time was right… But then, everything changed.

That moment you begin to bleed but it takes you a second to register… “But, I’m pregnant, this does not seem right??!!” You go to the doctor and she confirms what you have been dreading… you are miscarrying. It’s taboo, nobody talks about it… like you are ashamed of your body and how it has ‘malfunctioned’ and left you with a gaping hole in your soul. Grief overtakes and your heart breaks into millions of tiny little pieces. All the joy, excitement and hope, shattered.

I am not new to loss or grief. My father has never been around. My mother died when I was 13, my gran shortly after, leaving my sister and I with virtually no family except my wonderful Aunt and Uncle and each other. Life has been hard, a roller coaster and I have hated life and the hand I have been dealt and other times, I feel liberated for my struggles because I am the person I am today because of my hardships. Hindsight is a wonderful thing… Emily was born on the same date my mother died. It was like God saying to me, enough sorrow and heartache, here take this child, be it’s mother. I am giving you something back for your loss.

When you are in the midst of your grief, it can be difficult to see the woods for the trees, and months later, I still sometimes feel this way. I find it difficult to comprehend, to digest and sometimes, I struggle to believe it even happened. “Why me?”. “What did I do wrong?”. “It’s my fault!”. “Was there something I could have done to prevent it?” These are some of the the things that have been on repeat in my head. But the truth is, miscarriage happens… to many woman. I am not alone in my suffering. I never realised just how many woman trudge their way through this life experience in silence, until I started to talk about it. I realised that most woman I know have experienced miscarriage at some point and in some way it is comforting. Please don’t get me wrong, I would never wish this on anyone but knowing that there are other people out there who know what you are going through, can offer words of comfort and advice makes me feel less isolated, less alone and that in itself is part of the healing process.

I am also acutely aware that this happened to Matthew too. Sometimes we can forget that although the dads are not carrying the child, they feel the loss the same way we do. Although he has suffered so much through this, he has been a rock and my strength. We have leaned on each other and we are stronger for weathering this together.

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We recently spent time back in South Africa with family and friends. We took some time out one day in Cape Town and drove around the west coast. We arrived in Melkbosstrand and took a walk on the beach. There is something about the ocean that is healing and restorative. Some of my biggest decisions in my life have been made while walking along one of the beaches of South Africa. As we were walking I separated from Matthew and Emily and took a few minutes to myself. I watched the two of them walk, laugh and collect shells together and my heart filled with joy. I am lucky to have the family I have and I am so grateful for them. And while I still find my mind drifting to our baby and how far I would be in my pregnancy now, I took that moment and let him/her go. Like as if the wind on the beach that day scooped him/her up and drifted out to sea. I cried and then let go. Turned around to face my family and busied myself with helping my daughter pick up the best shells on the beach we could find. We have not fallen pregnant since the miscarriage and I have no idea what the future holds for our family but if you ever wondered if we would like to have another child… My answer would simply be, Yes!… desperately.

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*Thank you to family and friends who have been such a lifeline and support. We are so grateful to each of you for asking how we are doing, allowing us to talk about it openly and for allowing me to cry on your shoulders. Some of you are so far away but so dear to our hearts.*

 

 

New Year, new beginnings

So, 2016 has rolled around and I have spent some time thinking about how I intend to spend the year. I took some time away from the blog, not because I wasn’t enjoying it… because actually, I love this little space I have created but because I wanted to re-evaluate this little site. I do find it challenging to keep writing regular posts while at the same time juggling work and family life. I was seriously considering letting the blog go because I felt that if I couldn’t post regularly, then I wasn’t doing this whole blog thing right…

We celebrated the New Year in Cornwall this year. Just the 3 of us… which is a first and honestly, it was great! We spent some wonderful time together as a little family. We ate fish and chips at Rick Stein’s fish and chip restaurant in Padstow. Walked the beaches in Fowey and explored the Eden project. Most of all, we spoke about the new year, our goals, dreams and wishes as a family.

I decided that I love blogging and wanted to keep the site. I need to allocate more time to doing this which I hope to do this year. I have begun planning posts already as well as having a think about some of the messages I want to put out there this year. What’s my ethos? And how best do I get these messages across? I also realised that the blog should really be anything I want it to be. It is by me for me, well… at least it is for now. It’s an archive of some of my happiest moments and I am fond of this little space.

Aside from this, I have decided to focus on other areas of my life such as my health and eating clean. Focusing on our house and doing up the some of the rooms that have been lacking attention. We also want to travel a bit this year and we have a list of some of the places we would like to visit. So this year is looking good. Exciting even. So here is to 2016. May it be a year full of adventure, love and excitement!

 

 

My 30 day paleo challenge – A new way of life

As some of you may know, I have followed a paleo diet on and off (more off really…) for the past 2 years. It all started with the trouble I had weaning Emily. When speaking to a nutritionist in South Africa, I realised that giving Emily baby cereal as her first foods was causing a whole heap of trouble. While cereals certainly play their part, I personally feel that there are more nutrient dense foods you can give your baby as a first food. Needless to say, Emily’s tummy cramps, sleepless nights and unsettled bed time all stopped the moment I let the baby rice go and started to feed her food that she could actually digest easily. I guess it was on this journey that I discovered paleo.

I posted an issue I was having regarding my skin on the Paleo Britain facebook page and realised that it could be related to a hormone imbalance or intolerance to foods I may be eating. I was then approached by Chloe from Paleo Britain to do their 30 day challenge for free to see if there was any change. I quickly agreed and embarked on my 30 day journey!

What is Paleo?
This page on the Paleo Britain website sums up the paleo diet really nicely. It is a nutrient dense way of eating which eliminates processed foods known to be bad for our health. Paleo has a keen focus on gut health making sure you are getting a good intake of your gut friendly bacteria by eating fermented foods such a sauerkraut. I believe the paleo way of eating to be very personal. While you can introduce other foods back into your diet after the 30 days (such as white rice and legumes), I have found that lentils do not agree with me but white rice I am actually ok with. It is all about what makes you feel good. If anything does not agree with you, eliminate it! It is not good for you!

My 30 day experience
If you fail to prepare, prepare to fail! This has definitely been my experience. Because all of your food is unprocessed and eliminates refined sugar you need to prepare for each day so you are not tempted to go out at lunch time and buy that pesky sandwich. The transition can be hard and the prep time can be time consuming so being organised makes a big difference. Chloe emails you every day to tell you what you can expect to be feeling. From energy loss in the beginning to when you may have cravings and how to overcome them. She provides an exercise plan with suggested workouts you can follow as well as useful information on the paleo diet and the reason for eliminating various foods from your diet for 30 days. She also provides some scientific based information for aspects of the paleo diet for those that are interested. The Paleo Mom is my “go to” resource for everything scientific in the paleo diet. She explains most aspects of the diet right down to cellular level. I find it fascinating and gobble up all the scientific facts but then again, biology was my favourite subject!!

Chloe is literally there, every step of the way. Hints, tips, and advice are all part of the service. Meal plans are provided and a full shopping list to compliment your meal plan is also given. She also tells you where you can source your paleo friendly products (Mainly for UK based customers). The Paleo community is all about animal welfare and the meat you consume should ideally be grass fed/outdoor reared/free range/organic. I honestly can’t fault the support you receive and the wealth of information given to you to help you understand why you are on this journey.

As suspected, I began the first week feeling very tired and I had very intense cravings. Once I hit week 2, I was in much better spirits. I was finding it easier to make good choices as I started to get the hang of preparing meals and figuring out what foods I could enjoy. Week 3, I was almost 3kgs down and felt amazing. My energy levels were up and all symptoms of reflux and painful cramping in my abdomen were totally gone. I normally live on antacids for my hiatus hernia but I took a total of 3 zantac the entire month!! I slept well (due to the lack of heart burn) which meant I felt so much better during the day. I did not suffer from afternoon slump because the protein and fats maintained my energy and sugar levels. I only got one flare up of my skin where it is normally a daily issue… All in all, it was a great month! I detailed my months worth of meals on my Instagram account with the hashtag #essenceoflifepaleo. Do pop in and have a look at some of the meals I enjoyed throughout the month.

I will certainly be staying away from gluten and wheat from now on as this is a big stressor to my gut health. I have also become so much more aware of my body and how it reacts… it’s as if I have finally fallen into step with myself so I can now easily pick up on foods and environments that are not good for me. I really can’t go back now to how I was living. The constant stomach ache and reflux is no way to live your life! For me, this is now really just the beginning. Making myself and my health a priority. Not just for me but for my family too.

Some of my meals:

Here are some of my tips to prepare for the week ahead:
-Boiling a whole bunch of eggs on the Sunday for the week (they last a week in the fridge)
– I found having a BBQ/braai over the weekend and cook a whole heap of meat made meals so much easier later in the week
-Cook extra for left overs, they make a great lunch!
-Pack your lunch box the night before so you are not running around in the morning
-I would blend a head of cauliflower for Cauli rice, cook it and keep it in the fridge.
-Roast a large dish of veggies and store in the fridge. Great in salads, with egg or in a fritatta.

Thanks Chloe and Paleo Britain! My new beginning starts now.

If you feel that the 30 day challenge is for you, you can contact Chloe here. The plan only costs £30 so for £1 per day, I would say it is very reasonable… you won’t be sorry… I promise!

*My 30 day challenge was complimentary

Body Shaming – It’s a shame really…

I was looking through my Facebook home page, catching up on the activities of friends and family when I stumbled across an advert for a gossip magazine that said “Hot celebrities that have ugly spouses!!” and there was a picture of Pierce Brosnan and his beautiful wife Keely Shaye… I couldn’t quite figure out who they were saying was ugly?? I soon realised that they were referring to Keely because she has gained weight… I mean, who could love a gorgeous curvy girl like her?? Well the answer to that is very clear on Pierce Brosnan’s Instagram account… He can!! (Yes, I follow him because to me, he is the best James Bond!! But, that is another debate for another day)

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*Above picture taken from Pierce Brosnan’s Instagram*

I felt like I could relate to her a little. Weight issues and being health conscious is something I am constantly struggling with. It is like a thorn in my side and my freedom all wrapped up in one annoying package. When I do well and feel great… Woohoo!! the world is my oyster and anything is possible. When I feel a bit meh and look in the mirror, judging every blemish and roll, I feel terrible. And believe me, no one can say things that I have not already said to myself and far worse! I have come to realise that there is no “destination” as such when it comes to living a healthy life style. You don’t “arrive”. It is something that you work on every single day. Making smart choices and doing your best for you (first of all) and for your family. And although there seems to be a rising-up of people against all this shaming nonsense, I am so acutely aware of the messages I am sending out about myself and woman in general because I want to be a role model for Emily and I want her to grow up feeling confident about who she is and the way she feels about herself.

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There was an advert campaign in the UK for a diet supplement that had such strong reactions against the billboard, the advert was actually banned. Initially, I was shocked by everyone’s reaction but in retrospect, I think many people are tired of feeling like if they are anything less than perfect, they are simply not good enough. Stylist Magazine wrote an article on it which also brought out different views but I think the gist of the backlash was that no one wants to feel inferior any more. And I am not saying that you shouldn’t be realistic! The “This Girl Can” campaign is great!! and it encourages you to get up and get moving. I can see things in myself that do need to change and I am working on it and that is the point… I am working on it. As long as I continue to take those small steps I will see the rewards at some point. It is a journey and I feel grateful to be working my way through it, as frustrating as it can be sometimes. At some point, we all need to be kind to each other and learn to love ourselves for who we are.

Well, at least I know that is what MY hope is for my beautiful, amazing, impressionable daughter.