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.

image

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.

image

*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.*

 

 

Advertisements

Eweleaze Farm – The PERFECT camping spot

If you are looking for a great camp site that is around 3 hours drive from South London… We have the spot just for you. We were invited to join friends of friends last year that were camping at Eweleaze and we decided to jump at it. We hadn’t been camping since before we had Emily so it seemed like the perfect time. We loved it so much, we did it again this year!

The farm is a running farm for 11 months of the year and they open up their fields to the public for the month of August. It is located a short distance from Weymouth with the most beautiful views of the sea. It is situated on a hill top and at various vantage points on the site, you feel like you are on top of the world!

Family Friendly
It is a family friendly camp-site, with fantastic activities for children. They have an indoor and outdoor, hay bale, obstacle course, scheduled times to walk the puppies and petting times for the smaller animals. They also have arts and crafts activities to give the mums and dads a break. Full timetables of these activities are found in the brochure you receive at check in.

Amenities
Ok, the list is too long but some of them are: A shop filled with local, organic produce. Local ciders, beers and wine. Full camping equipment section, in case you forget the pesky torch!! A full organic bakery with freshly baked bread, pastries and pies every day. A barrister to make your favourite coffee, ice cream shop, wood fired pizza oven and restaurant. There is also a sauna and spa as well as yoga and other exercise actives for you take part in.

Beach
This little gem of a camp-site is situated on the Jurassic coast. Their private beach is a short walk from the camp-site and it is a great place to look for shells and fossils which will capture the imagination of your little explorers!

Weymouth
Weymouth is a short drive from the camp-site with all you can expect from a large town. Shops, restaurants and of course the bustling promenade with the lovely sandy beach.

We spent 4 nights in this beautiful spot and our spirits couldn’t be dampened even though it rained for the first 36 hours of our stay. We just wrapped the kiddies in rain coats and wellies and off we went!! As the rain dried up, we were gifted with the most beautiful sunset. From then on, the weather was amazing! Gorgeous sunshine and it was warm enough for some of us to actually have a dip in the sea!

Because we are a large group of people we try and set up our tents in a “kraal” style so we have the centre space for socialising. This is great at meal times and we all try and bring something for everyone to enjoy such as cheese platters, cake and I always bake my aunt’s famous rusks which everybody loves! Of course, we did what any respectable South African would do when camping and had a potjie (A slow cooked stew done on the coals of a fire in a cast iron pot). We had 3 varieties and all of them were delish! We also braaied… a lot! and did the compulsory marshmallows on sticks… the only thing we didn’t do was sing kumbaya.

It was important (for our sanity) that the children had various activities so not only did we take advantage of some of the activities on offer but we also came up with a few games ourselves such as painting the rocks around the fire pit, playing go fish, egg and spoon race and bubbles!! It is so wonderful to see them run around with wild abandon, they almost didn’t know what to do with all the space!

So, if you are looking for a great little spot, with so much to offer, this camp-site comes out trumps for me!! We are looking forward to our trip next year and hope to hear your wonderful happy stories of your visit to this little slice of Dorset heaven.

For more photos, visit their Facebook page

Happy Campers!!

My new baby essentials list

When you are a first time mom, all of the items available for your baby can be overwhelming. It can be hard to separate the necessities from the gimmicks. I was drawn in by a few things that I did not use in the end so, here is my list of baby goodies that I found invaluable, hopefully you will too…

Pram/Buggy
You will definitely want a travel system. Make sure the baby car seat fits into the frame of the buggy. It will make the world of difference when you are out and about. I found having a buggy with one handle bar made all the difference in steering the buggy while holding bags or a cup of coffee and also make sure that the buggy is light and easy to fold.

Bottles and microwave steriliser
Pick your bottles and make sure that the microwave steriliser fits into your microwave. You will be using this a few times a day in the beginning.

Baby monitor
There are many on the market so go for the one that suits your budget and needs. Some have cameras and other have breathing sensors. We didn’t need all the fancy add on features so we went with a simple monitor that included lullaby’s and a temperature/humidity reading.

Aden and Anais BIG muslin squares
These Aden and Anais muzzies are great and so versatile! They are made with muslin cloth and great for swaddling in the summer months, covering the buggy while baby is asleep, a blanket for baby to sit on, a towel for around the pool…The list is endless! They come in a range of designs so I am sure you will find one that suits you and baby perfectly!

Grobags/sleep bags
You really can’t go wrong with these. They take the worry away that baby’s blanket will land up over their head and if baby is restless, you can be assured they are snug and warm the entire night. Think about your baby’s age in relation to the season… so 0.5 – 1 tog for summer and 2 – 2.5 tog for winter.

Buggy sun shade
These are great black out shades for your buggy to help baby sleep while you are out and about. They are fully breathable and UV protected.

Floor playmat
These entertain and develop your baby. The bright colours and dangly toys help to develop their sight and motor skills as they try to grab the toys. It also helps to keep your little one occupied during tummy time.

Digital ear thermometer
These are the easiest to use and the most accurate. When your baby is not well, you want to be able to assess the situation as easily and quickly as possible. A digital thermometer is definitely the way to go.

Bath thermometer
Babies have such delicate skin, they can only handle temperatures of 37 degrees. A bath thermometer helps you to make sure the bath is just the right temperature for their little body.

Changing bag
This ultimately becomes mommy’s handbag too so choose one that you really like. I love my PacaPod bag but there are so many to choose from. One piece of advice, just like the PacaPod has changing pod, I would strongly suggest you buy a small bag that will fit nappies, wipes, nappy bags, changing mat and some bum cream. It will make changing your little one much easier while you are out and about or on a plane. You just grab the changing pod and go.

Baby sling
Again, there are many types out there but the BabyBjorn is the best in my opinion. Babies… especially new borns, like to be close to their moms. This can be challenging when you want to head out for a walk, put a load of washing on or have something to eat. This sling is great as it allows you to have baby close but gives you the freedom to move around.

Sheepskin
For baby to lie on, sit on, play on, sleep on. It is a great play mat for the winter months. The floor is cold and the sheep skin will help keep them warm. Get 100% sheepskin. It keeps baby cool in summer and warm in winter. Emily sleeps on her’s throughout the entire year. One of our BEST buys!

Feeding cushion
These offer great support during your pregnancy while you sleep or sit on the sofa but even more support while you feed your baby. Whether you bottle or breastfeed, babies can take up to 45 minutes to feed in the beginning. Having a cushion you can rest baby on means you are not trying to hold up your little one on your own for that period of time.

Some sort of comfortable rocking chair in the nursery
It’s 2am and your baby has woken up unsettled. You give them a bottle and sing them back to sleep but the whole process takes 40 minutes. Do you stand in their room? Or do you sit? Some baby’s can take a while so having something you can sit on in the room will be a life saver! Make sure to incorporate one in your baby’s room today!

Swaddling and cellular blankets
Most newborns like to be swaddled, having something you can wrap them tight in means they will settle better. All blankets should be breathable so cellular blankets are the best.

Dimmer switch
Add this to your baby’s main light switch. A side lamp is actually really bright so when baby is unsettled in the middle of the night, a dimmer switch on the main light means you can keep the lighting in the room really low.

Moses basket
Or something similar for next to your bed. When baby is new, having to get out of bed 5 times a night for feeding can be exhausting. You simply have to turn over and pick baby up for feeding. Also, I was comforted to just put my hand on Emily’s chest to feel her breathing right next to me.

General essentials
Of course you will need other various bits and bobs such as nappies (a lot of them), changing mat, bath seat for the bath (no need to buy a baby bath), vests and babygro’s, toiletries, mobile for the cot, baby bouncy chair (For those that want one) and so on.

If you are about to embark on motherhood! Congratulations! I hope this list offers you some help.

Are you a mum and have a few items that you found invaluable? Do share these if they are not on the list.

Happy shopping!

A Salt Dough Garland

We woke up on Sunday morning and felt really disappointed to see the overcast weather and I thought to myself, what am I going to do with a toddler indoors all day today??

I then remembered that I wanted to make salt dough ornaments for the Christmas tree last Christmas, but I just didn’t get round to it. As it requires ingredients in every kitchen, I figured… today is as good a day as any!

Recipe:
1 cup salt
1 cup flour
1/2 cup water

Mix everything together to form a fairly wet and sticky dough.

I then scooped the dough from the bowl onto a floured table and let Emily really get stuck in. She absolutely loved it!

Once the dough becomes more workable from kneading and playing with it, you can then roll it out with a rolling pin.

We then used Emily’s choice of cookie cutter, which on this occasion was a whale, and cut out our shapes (Tip: the dough needs to be quite thick)

image

We then poked holes into the shapes with a skewer and placed them onto baking paper and baked in an oven (100°c for 2 hours).

image

Once they were cool, I strung them up to make a garland and Emily and I walked around the house and garden to figure out where she wanted to hang her new creation.

image

With a little persuasion from dad, she agreed that the chalkboard wall was a good place. We were both very chuffed with our creation and luckily, by the time we were done, the sun had come out and we decided to go out for a family walk with Emily on her scooter.

image

Of course there are many things you can do with these. You can add food colouring during the dough phase or paint them once they are are dry and cool. I have seen some of them with a dried flower embedded into the ornament. You can also use a twig from the garden to make pretty impressions. Be as creative as you like.

We thoroughly enjoyed our arts and crafts day and hopefully, this will provide hours of entertainment for you too!

Why he is the best dad

We were recently back in South Africa for a visit and we were having breakfast at a lovely cafe in the shopping mall, when Emily said she needed to go to the toilet. Before I could even say anything, Matthew was up and taking Emily to the bathroom. My Aunt “mum” turned to me and said “Sjoe!… Cands, he is such a hands on daddy!”

I am acutely aware of how hands on Matthew is with Em but it was one of those little aha! moments. Realising how much he does for her and most importantly, with her! So, I thought in light of Father’s Day coming up this weekend, I would dedicate this post to Matthew because, he really is the best dad.

When we found out we were pregnant, I remember Matthew did a little “whoop!” in the bathroom and patted himself on the back. I laughed because I knew then that he was so up for this job and that we were both ready. To be honest, it has been a roller coaster ride since then. The first night we were home with Emily, she had not latched on properly yet and was not feeding well. She pretty much cried the entire night. We both just looked at each other with a look that screams “help me!”. We had no idea what we were doing! However, when I look back on that night, there is one thing that stands out… Matthew was by my side the entire time. If I wasn’t sleeping, neither was he. We were in this together and we would figure it out as a team.

This is very indicative of how our parenting style has developed over the years. Constantly walking around with the look on our faces that says “I have no idea what I am doing half the time” but I now look at Matthew and I know that whatever stage we are dealing with, we are in it together.

I never really had a stable father figure as a child. My Aunt and Uncle took my sister and I in when I was 14 (this is whole other story for a different day). My uncle is the most wonderful man you will ever meet. He became my rock and my inspiration and I feel so lucky to have had the opportunity to be moulded and guided by him at such an impressionable time in my life. When I look at Matthew and Emily, I see their relationship going from strength to strength (just like my my relationship with my uncle has grown) and I feel secure in the knowledge that the 2 of them will remain close. Daddy’s girl, as they say!

I love the fact that he WANTS to spend time with Emily. He lets her tie his hair in a hair band, they play tea party and Matthew is the Lego master. She delights in the incredible objects he creates with those little blocks. They love to be in the garden together planting flowers and watching the garden grow. Emily adores the beach and building sand castle is her favourite thing to do with her dad. And as Emily gets older, I can just see Matthew sitting in Emily’s room, looking like a clown with all the make-up she has applied to his face and the both of them screaming with laughter!

Both Emily and I are lucky to have him and we couldn’t imagine life without him so, thanks babe for all the love! And to all the dads out there, Happy Father’s Day!

I wish I knew THAT before I had my baby

For mums by mums

So, I sent a little message round to some of my mummy friends to find out some of the things that they know now that they wish they knew before their bub arrived and this is what they had to say…

London mum of one (Me!!)
The pressure of breastfeeding – 
Every mum to a newborn has felt it! In the UK, you are expected to have a good latch before you leave the hospital. If you haven’t got it right yet you will have a midwife that will visit you the following day at home and explain the importance of breastfeeding and how you need to get it right (As though you have never heard this lecture before). Can I just point out that a lot of new mums DO NOT get the breastfeeding thing right immediately. Needless to say, Emily and I were “one of those” problematic patients that really struggled. Emily, my boob and I were then slightly manhandled to get her to latch on which left Emily screaming and me in tears and my confidence completely shattered! It took 2 weeks for us to get the hang of it when I finally found a lovely lactation expert who was gentle and calming. I was speaking to a mum this past weekend who had the same experience and we both agreed that we would never allow anyone to treat us this way again. We would certainly speak up! Don’t be afraid to stand up for yourself. Luckily Emily and I both got great pleasure from breastfeeding once we both knew what we were doing. It can be a wonderful bonding experience if you have the right people supporting you. And if it doesn’t work out… IT IS OK… don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

image

Early weaning (Wait till baby is ready) – So many of my friends were weaning their baby’s early (4 months onwards) and I felt so compelled to do the same. It created such problems! Emily was not ready and with me pushing her she went on a feeding strike and refused to eat. I also tried to follow all of the “weaning guru” books and reduced her milk and expected Emily to be eating 3 meals a day pretty early on. I quickly realised that a baby’s milk is vital during their first year and that they will drop feeds on their own and eat as much as they want. Once I decided to be led by Emily, the process was so much easier. No more sobbing in the corner at feeding time (that was me by the way… I kid you not!)

image

London mum of two
Breastfeeding – It can be hard work. Especially if you suffer from infections like mastitis. These infections are incredibly painful and leave you feeling very ill. It is OK to stop when it feels like it is not working for you any more.

Milestones – Don’t worry about when kids reach their milestones (especially if you are comparing your first child with your second). They will reach them when they are good and ready. Every child is different.

image

Fatigue – It is a game changer and can make a difficult job even harder! Make sure you take some time to yourself and accept help when it is offered to you. Don’t be shy to ask for help too. If you feel like you need a break, reach out!

Difficult stages – Always remember that This-Too-Shall-Pass… All difficult stages are exactly that, a stage. From teething to fussy eating to tantrums.

South African mum of one
Sleeping routines – This mum read a number of books during her pregnancy and began to stress about small things like a sleep routine so, when baby arrived this was her stressor. Do not feel like a failure if you cannot get your baby down for their allotted naps. All baby’s are different which means their sleep cycles will be slightly different. Also some babies sleep well and others not so well. It is beneficial to get your baby into a routine early but be led by your baby rather than clock watching. They will naturally fall into a routine themselves. Be kind to yourself if things don’t go according to your plans as baby’s have a way of changing the game no matter how prepared you think you are! This mum has found her baby adapts to new environments really well because she is more relaxed.

image

South African mum of two
This mum also picked up on the breastfeeding issue and getting the right support.

Antenatal classes – Generally, these only prepare you for the birth which is such a small part of parenting. It would be good if these classes focused on getting through the first few weeks with a newborn as well. She found it a waste of time. I will say that the NCT classes in the UK are also very birth focused but we did cover the first week and the friends that we made, we saw regularly and I have kept in contact with a couple of them so for me, it was great! Look around to find a class that suits you (if you decide it is worth your time and money)

Post natal depression – It is of course easier the second time round but you are so vulnerable when you have your first baby. With nurses/midwives/family members expressing their concerns with your breastfeeding, sleep routines, or simply the way you hold your baby can knock the small amount of confidence you do have. Keep an eye on yourself and how you are feeling. If you are struggling at any point, speak to someone (hubby or a nurse) who can help you. Your physical and mental health are just as important as your baby’s. As they say: “A happy mum makes a happy baby” and I think this could not be more true!!

image

I hope this is of some help to you new mums out there!! Do you have anything to add to this list? I’d love to hear your experiences and how hindsight has changed your view on various aspects of birth and parenting.

*Please note that these are the opinions of mums who have gone through their own experiences. These opinions are NOT all my own and that other people’s experience may be different*