Tuesday, 10 October 2017

The Longest Labour Ever

I know I'm doing these posts two weeks late and a little back to front. I should probably first tell you about the journey my pregnancy took me on, and then about the labour. Sorry. The truth is: the journey is a long story, and given the short bursts of 'free' time I have with a newborn in the house, I thought I'd get this abridged account out of the way first.

Sunday 24th September
I had been experiencing prodromal labour for about three week at this point. I was already overdue (something I had never experienced before), and I had made it to the end of the school term without having to take unpaid leave. Zac was away camping on the beach with some of our extended family for the weekend while we were home (because we had expected to have a newborn around already).


It was a slow morning. We were going to collect Zac from camp, and took our time heading out. It was actually really great to get some alone time with Sam, so we ran a few errands, popped in at a friend, and then had a bite on the road en route to the beach. We spent most of the afternoon there before heading home. We even went for a walk on the beach, and took a pic captioned "we are still waiting".

The last of my alone time with my baby Sam

By the time I got to bed, I was having those regular contractions that never amounted to anything and always faded by morning. Then at midnight I could not sleep; the contractions were still as they had been before, except that they were starting to hurt - enough that I couldn't sleep through them. I timed them for an hour while I paced our passage in the dark. They were 10 minutes apart - as they always were at night - but I could no longer lay down through them. I woke Andel to let him know (and he went back to sleep as soon as I told him I didn't think it was that significant).

Monday 25th September
By the time my family woke on Monday morning - which was a public holiday in SA, thank goodness - I had not been back to bed. I had alternated between pacing the house and squatting next to my bed through each contraction, still, 10 minutes apart. I told Andel I hadn't slept but that since the contractions hadn't got any closer together, they would probably fade, and I would be able to make up some sleep during the day. Except, of course, that by midday they hadn't faded. They also hadn't gotten any closer together. They were sore though, and I was not getting a chance to sleep.

We attended the first birthday of our friends' daughter that afternoon. I hadn't planned on staying, but the distraction seemed like a good idea. The contractions kept coming, wave after wave, every 10 minutes, and I had to catch my breath or crouch down as they did. Eventually, after I had had enough of smiling through the pain and answering all the "are you still pregnant?" questions, we head home. I had been (awake) dealing with contractions for 17 hours already!

By 18h00 I was on the phone with my doula trying to figure out what was going on. Contractions were getting mildly closer together, but at eight minutes apart, it still wasn't significant enough to go into hospital, I thought. After all, with Zac (the only other spontaneous labour I'd experienced) I went in with contractions five minutes apart (although admittedly not nearly as sore as what I was already experiencing).

By 19h00, we called the hospital and explained the situation, and the sister on duty told us to come in to be checked out. I was happy with that arrangement; after all, I thought, if I was not in real labour, they would send me back home.

We arrived at hospital, without breaking any traffic laws, in an impressive time given we stay half the world away from the hospital. I was immediately placed on foetal monitoring, and checked out.

After having been examined by the sister on duty (who also happened to be a midwife) my doctor (who happened to be returning from his weekend away) upon hearing it was me, decided he'd come check me out as soon as he was back in town. At this point I  thought I would be going back home.

The doctor arrived to check me out. Despite being 4cm dilated ten minutes earlier when the midwife checked (still in latent labour, and able to go home), when he checked I was 6cm, and officially admitted for the long-haul. I was also now on the clock: I had to dilate consistently, at least 1cm an hour, or things would be considered risky. At this point my contractions were five minutes apart, and while I had to still be constantly connected to the foetal monitor, I could be on my feet. The doctor said he'd come back to check on my around midnight.

I don't think I was ever really prepared for the onslaught my body would have to endure bearing each contraction. Add to this the fact that I had been awake and on my feet nearly 24 hours already, and I was not in good shape. We had been regularly losing the foetal signal while I was contracting, so I had been made to get back on the bed. In this position I was in some serious pain, contracting every minute or two, and my quiet, controlled, breathing-led handling of my labour had been replaced by some wild-animal sounds, and constant begging for some decent pain relief (the gas had not done the trick, and merely caused me to get sick) and/or a c-section. The sister checked me again. My labour had not progressed at all in the two hours since the doctor had been there.

Bed-bound and totally over it

Tuesday 26 September
Upon hearing that I had not dilated any further, I was prepared, willing and happy to do a repeat c-section. I was tired, and my body felt like it was shutting down. Being numbed up, cut open and spared from further pain was a welcoming thought. But when the doctor examined me, not even 30 minutes after the sister did, I was 9cm dilated. This should have been a celebration; knowing that the end was in sight. But I all I could do was beg for an epidural. So they gave me one.

Around 01h00
Getting the epidural in while having constant contractions was no joke. I remember wondering how the heck I was meant to sit 'perfectly still' while my uterus seemed to twist itself into a knot around every other organ in close proximity to it. I squeezed Andel's hands with insurmountable force that I had since not been able to replicate.

Being so close to delivery, I was not allowed to have a full epidural, and so when it eventually kicked in, I was still able to feel and move my legs. In fact, I could still feel the contractions - but I was eternally grateful for the measure of pain relief it brought, especially when my waters were broken. It allowed me to recollect my thoughts and concentrate long enough to hear the doctor tell the sister to prepare for delivery.

Finally I was fully dilated, fully effaced and baby was awaiting ejection. During this time though, what I haven't spent much time mentioning is that, there were concerns. Between me losing the foetal signal and the baby not quite enjoying the contractions, the sister was growing increasingly concerned about the baby's heart rate, and at least three times I thought I was going to be rushed into theatre. The doctor though - bless him! - if he had the same concerns, didn't let on except to tell me, "ok, we don't have hours to do this. You are going to have to push this baby out now".

I got the go ahead to push. I may have felt, for just a second, a little remorse at having the excuse for an epidural that allowed me to feel just about everything except the real urge to push, but that thought didn't last long. As each contraction began, I took a deep breath and bore down hard. Guided by my phenomenal doctor and the amazing sister, and supported by the peaceful reassurance of my wonderful doula and champion husband, this continued only 20 minutes. That was all it took.

The moment of truth

At 02h36, after 26 hours of awake labour, as my doctor lifted a small, squashy (surprise) baby girl for me to see, Bayley Cate Klaasen (who was still nameless at the time) was born.

Checking out of the labour room

Sunday, 17 September 2017

How To: Pack a Hospital Bag

Despite coming around this mountain a third time, when I finally got thinking about packing a bag (around 39+ weeks), I could not for the life of me remember what should be included. I don't know why, but it always seems to happen this way. Add to this that you get offered so many baby bags/boxes from hospitals, stores and medical aids, and you can feel even more confused (at least, I did). so you inevitably end up calling a friend or posting an online SOS asking what exactly needs to be in one.

So here, for future reference (probably not mine), is a list of what should be covered - and before I even start, let me just say that I have opted to pack a small (hand luggage size) suitcase instead of a bag, as it's much easier to see into and access without emptying the entire contents over the hospital bed.

For Mom

Unless you enjoy pumping that hospital soap dispenser twenty times per wash, pack your own shower stuff. Remember to keep it mild and fragrance free for the delicate areas, and to include a cloth or sponge as these are not provided. Also pack shampoo and conditioner, as there's a 99% chance you will want to wash your hair. And don't forget your toothbrush and toothpaste.

You'll need your deodorant, body lotion and hairbrush (don't forget extra hair ties). Lay off the heavy perfumes though. New babies prefer the natural smell of their mommy. Except for lip balm (that is essential when feeling dehydrated) I would also keep make up to a minimum (but that's maybe just me; I hear other mommies pack a lot of that in - for the visitors and photos etc.), and have a small nail kit handy to trim growing nails while working with Baby.

Maternity Wear
You'll need those lovely maternity pads - lots of them (you're likely to be using about three at a time). You can wear ordinary underwear, however, I found that the maternity knickers seem designed to fit those massive pads, so I go with those initially. You'll also need breastpads for when your milk comes in. The washable ones are pretty handy, but I'd go with disposable while in hospital to save you the hassle. A light pyjamas (hospitals are really warm inside) or nursing top (either the strappy kind, or something that is button down in the front) is great for after the birth. If you're planning to labour and deliver vaginally though, bring the oldest t-shirt you have to birth in. Socks also come in handy (compression socks if you're having a c-section), and you should have slops or slippers to walk around in while in hospital. You will obviously need something to wear when you leave hospital as well. Try to remember that while you will no longer have Baby in your belly, you may not be able to fit into those pre-preggie designer outfits just yet.

If you have one, pack your birth plan, and whatever else you need for your labour time. Don't rely on getting snacks and water during the labour period from the hospital itself. It can be time consuming and expensive (not to mention that it requires your birth partner to leave) to do it this way. Pack in some energy-boosters that are not heavy on the system, and that you easily just pop into your mouth to eat. Once Baby has arrived, you may also want a notebook and pen with you so you can jot down the one million things you'll have in your head and heart that you'll want to remember later on. You will need to pack in your phone charger, and very importantly a suitable adapter (hospitals don't readily give these out, if at all). The same goes for earphones so that you can actually get some sound for your middle of the night tv viewing. I found it also helped to have a book to read or crossword puzzle to do between visiting hours when - if you're not sleeping and Baby is - you can have something stimulating to do. If you have a feeding pillow that you plan to use, bring that too. I found it incredibly useful in the hospital.

For Baby

The biggest things are nappies (I highly recommend the Huggies newborn because of the super cool and convenience cutaway at the navel that accommodates the clamp) and wipes (sensitive and fragrance free). You will need surgical spirits and cotton pads to clean Baby's navel, but I wouldn't stress too much about all the other things like powder, aqueous cream, bottom butter etc.; they aren't essential.

With the hospital being as warm as it is inside, more often that not, babies will just wear a clip vest and get wrapped in a blanket. Some hospitals supply this, but if you'd rather have your own, pack it in. Also pack in a beanie and a pair of socks. Have a going home outfit option (or two), and an extra blanket for when you head outside. Once again, a nail scissor is handy (especially if your baby has baked a little longer than expected; their nails are usually longer too).

ps. Don't forget, when going home, you will need a car seat - hospitals will not let you leave without this, and rightfully so.

Thursday, 22 June 2017

Photo Update: Zac's Paw Patrol Pizza Party

A Paw Patrol Pizza Party, have you ever? Well, that's what you get when you have a child wanting a pizza-making party (following that holiday club experience he had in April), who is still completely obsessed with those pups!

Not that he mentioned his desire for this fusion party from start. Initially it was just a pizza making party, and we went through three different invitations:

Then he remembered he actually wanted the Paw Patrol present, and so the invitation was edited to look like this (thank God for zazzle.com):

Being Zac's first real class party, although we didn't want to go all out crazy, we wanted to give them all a good time. And so we also had to choose an appropriate cake - not the easiest task when your child professes to have a cake allergy.

In the end, we decided to keep it simple by doing the following:

Party Table:
My experience has been that kids don't actually eat all that much when they're at a party. So I decided to keep the treats minimal, and carefully selected them to fit with the theme (and our budget):

Parents Snacks:
Being the middle of winter, I decided to make a pot of soup and get a couple quiches for snacks, and added some 'pupcorn' and 'bones' for nibbles. There was also more than enough hot and cold drink options.

Main Activity:
In order to make the most of the time, and fulfill Zac's pizza-making dreams, we had each child make their own pizza using basic dough, tomato sauce, cheese and bone-shaped salami. We started with this so that the kids could play while the pizzas all baked. We also decided not to do party boxes, and rather allowed the kids to take their pizza and birthday cake home if they wanted.

Things To Do:
We had to prepare for the possibility of rain, so we were in a big hall that the kids could play in. But the weather was fantastic, and it was wonderful to bask in the sun. We had a Paw Patrol colouring-in station, and a large garden area for the kids to run around playing ball games in.

And in the end, everyone seemed to have a good time - if these two are anything to go by!

Special thanks to:
Yaya for arranging the hall
Uncle PJ and Aunty Ash for the pre-party prep assistance, in particular, the pizza dough and biscuits
Uncle Lee and Aunty Ilana for helping with the party set up and taking pics 
Aunty Dom for cutting bone shaped everything
Uncle Ricardo for two awesome pizza cakes (one for the actual birthday on Sunday) 
Steffi for helping with Sam, even through a poo-explosion at the party
Daddy for not losing the plot when Mommy was

Sunday, 18 June 2017

Zac: My Favourite Five

I know that as soon as I publish this, I’m going to think of a host of ‘better’ things to have included in this post. So let me just put this disclaimer out right at the start and say that, really, these are only five of many of my favourite things about Zac.

Zac, to think that you’re turning five nearly blows my mind. What is it about remembering everything and nothing all at once; how it feels like eternity and one day at the same time? I continue to be amazed, humbled, challenged and lavishly blessed by this journey we are on with you.  In honour of your fifth birthday, and in our annual tradition of a special birthday post, here are five of my favourite things about you right now:

You being at big school for the past 18 months has introduced me to a whole other side of you that we never really had the chance to see before. I have had the opportunity to hear from teachers and other parents about the boy you are with others, and if what they say is all true, I could not be more proud. You are friendly, compassionate and loving, liberal with your affection and kind with your words. You hold the girls’ hands as you cross the parking lot together, and never leave anyone all on their own.
My Sweet Boy, this is what character is made of; to consider others, before oneself. And as you grow older you will often hear how much more important this is than the fact that you can already read (well!), or that you’re a numbers whizz.

The Bible speaks repeatedly about faith like a child, but I never truly knew what that looked like until I came into contact with yours.  You have a real relationship with Jesus, and I can’t explain how happy that makes me. In fact, you teach me – and others – so much about how Father God wants us to relate to Him. You pray with expectation and even make agnostics believe that ‘someone’ is listening to you. You are bold and confident in who God is, and how much He loves people.
My Precious Child, You have anointing over your life that I can’t wait to see unfold in whatever it is God has planned for your future.

One would be forgiven for thinking we are short on family, because you have made many friends just that. I think of Uncle Peter, Aunty Sandra, Ma and Pa Blake, the Jacobs’ – to name a few. You have a way of crawling into peoples’ hearts, and loving them so completely that they have no choice but love you right back. And it’s pretty much the same with your biological family. You are a doting brother and caring son. As unique (and challenging) as dealing with all the different facets of you can be, everyone loves you fiercely.
Loving Son, the family you have is the group of friends you will have with you your whole life. Treasure these relationships and invest in them. These are the people who will celebrate your success and share the burden of your sorrows.

Your dad and I were recently talking about how head-strong and assertive you are. It’s true that many times you can be opinionated (but you’re only just five, hopefully you will learn how to manage this better as you mature), and often others don’t understand, and want to ‘sort you out’ – BUT Dad and I agree that this is part of your nature that is God-designed for you. We love that you are able to stand your ground, effectively communicate how you feel, and are not easily swayed by what someone else would have you believe.
My Strong-willed Warrior, you are a future world changer. You will need this strength someday, so until then, we promise to do all we can to properly hone and refine it in you so that you can use it for good, and not for the destruction of yourself or others.

It would be amiss of me to leave this one out, because, as serious and sensitive as you can be, you’re also really funny, and lots of fun. I love watching your imagination run wild whether you’re exploring outer space from the station in your room, or out on another adventure with Ryder and all the Paw Patrol pups. I love how you (still) race straight from the car to the sea, usually (still) fully clothed, unable to contain your sheer delight as you run through the waves. I love your sharp wit and sense of humour, the funny-faced selfies I find on my phone, and the sound of your laugh as you and Sam get up to mischief.
Little Joker, may you never lose this zest for life, or the ability to see the good in every situation. The art of being happy is in choosing to be. Go on those adventures, try those new things, laugh at yourself. There is so much joy in life, and we wish it all for you.

Happy birthday Zac-a-roo. We love you so, so, so much!

Wednesday, 14 June 2017

Celebrating Dad

Some men take to fatherhood like a duck to water. My baby-daddy was not quite like that. Between being  extremely squeamish in real-life blood situations, and scared to death of carrying anything smaller than 5kg, I was pretty safe to deduce, even before our babies arrived, that he was not going to be all that hands on.

Enter Beautiful Boy/Big Brother, June 2012. The circumstances surrounding his birth resulted in an emergency c-section, and The Husband's first parental experience involved fighting back tears and helplessness as his brand new baby painfully got his lungs flushed out. (I never realised or acknowledged the long term effect this would have on him until Beautiful Boy 2.0 was born three years later, and I heard The Husband anxiously ask, "why aren't you going to take him to have his lungs flushed?". It wasn't necessarily, but it had been his fear all along. As was the possibility of a repeat emergency delivery.)

The Husband didn't change a single nappy on our 3.4kg baby that first month. But triumphantly marked his first a few weeks later with a Mufasa-esque trophy hold of our baby - with his nappy on back to front. While I did most of the baby related activities, there was still plenty of daddy love, cuddles and devotion, even during bronchiolitis at five weeks, and pneumonia 11 months later.

Second time around, apart from that lingering fear from before, The Husband was a lot more confident. While he still refused to change our even smaller baby, he eagerly did Kangaroo Care from the second Beautiful Boy 2.0 was placed into his arms, and effortlessly took Big Brother through his first separation from me while I was in hospital, and again when I could not stay with him while was in hospital later that year.

It's been three years since then, and The Husband wins MVP in our family, hands down. He has shown me over and over that the value of a partner is not in doing the baby things only. Sometimes (as continuous nursing from one baby to the next has shown us), babies want or need (often, only) their mamas, and that's where The Husband has come out tops. He is able to - and does - make dinner, bath kids, run errands and restore peace. And no one cleans a house like this man!

So this Fathers Day, with another on the way soon, let me just say again: there isn't anyone I would rather do this parenting gig with. We are completely different and perfectly complementary, and together, are the best thing for these precious gifts we have the awesome responsibility and privilege of raising. I don't say it enough, but I am so grateful for, blessed by, and proud of you Husband!
Happy Fathers' Day!

This post was written using aliases as it was entered in a blogger Fathers' Day competition.
If you've been reading CUWTK long enough though, you'll have no trouble following the post. 

Friday, 9 June 2017

My Middle Class Privilege

I'm going there.

For as long as I haven't posted, I've been mulling this over in my mind. I've been wondering whether I felt I needed a soap box to say my say, or whether this is actually a valid point that needs some kind of spread (even if only to the friends and family that read this) to allow others to think about it as well. I still don't have the answer. So if nothing else, this will be something of a journal entry for me to look over down the line from now.

It's not like I never knew middle class privilege existed. I'm the first to admit that I have classist prejudices. They stem from my own childhood when it was assumed that because I attended a Model-C school, spoke proper English (without a flat accent), and didn't listen to the local radio station, I was trying to be white. I never understood that. I was fortunate to not be affected by colour. I didn't want or feel the need to be another colour. I did, however, want to be better, and probably therein lies the issue.

Fast forward nearly thirty years, and I live a fairly open-minded, middle class life. I have not experienced overwhelming success in any area. I am not rich. I do not live in in an affluent area. We try to keep things simple. We have to. Yet, I am considered far more fortunately and privileged than many in my country. I live in a solid structure covered by a roof. I have access to clean (hot) running water and sanitation. I have a permanent job. I can (just about) afford medical aid. In this country, in this day and age, that makes me rich.

So as the drought we currently found ourselves in has become increasingly dire, I have challenged myself in the area of using more than I need. The truth is: there is plenty I don't need. So when I asked questioned the water consumption for water-birth on a local water saving social media page, I was not prepared for the onslaught I was going to receive.

To cut a long story short, I was bombarded with accusations of calling birth a luxury, not wanting to give (my) children the best possible start in life, justifying c-sections and the water used there etc. etc. etc. I didn't get a chance to respond because the admin turned off all the commenting rights, but here's the truth, for me anyway:

Never mind my thoughts on natural v c-section births ( I have plenty, most of them documented in this blog). While child birth is not a luxury, in my books, a water birth most certainly is. While I don't deny the pain-relieving and intervention-reducing benefits of birthing in water, using 650L of water - the equivalent of one person's allotment for the week under our current 4B water restriction - is for comfort, and certainly not essential. Just ask the many women who give birth (vaginally, mind you) down the road at any local MOU or government facility.

Would I like the option of water during labour? Absolutely! But am I willing to ask for it at the expense of someone's water quote for a whole week? No.

Similarly, we experienced a pretty bad storm this week. In some areas it was no worse that any of Cape Town's annual ones, but the reality is that in other places buildings had roofs blown off, people were left homeless and destitute, and lives were lost. Even worse than that, not far down the national road from here, part of the Garden Route is engulfed in flames. Nearly 30% of Knysna has been burnt to the ground. But we see things in the rose-tinted lenses of our designer sunglasses.

Please don't think that I'm self-righteously pointing the finger at anyone. This problem is my problem. I'm part of the population for whom it is too easy for us to disregard the plight of others, justify our choices, or give our critical opinion as we sip on gourmet hot chocolate in comfort of our warm, dry homes. And all because we think we've worked hard enough and earned the right to our luxuries.

This torments me so much. It's not something I know how to solve. But I do know this: we will never get to the point of having exhausted all avenues for us to help those who have less than us - there is that much to do. And until we get up, and walk a mile in someone else's shoes, we will never know the extent of their burden, and we will always think we are better. When really, we aren't.

Vluit, vluit. My storie is uit.

Friday, 5 May 2017

Half Way Here (Third Time Lucky)

For the third time in five years, I find myself half way through a pregnancy. In what as been a real whirlwind of events, it's rather funny how slowly things seem to be going this time around. Anyway.

We are now in the 21st week, and this morning we went for the big anomaly scan and check up. It was significant for a number of reasons. First off, having only seen a midwife so far, this was our first scan of the baby. Secondly, it's that big scan where you check everything, including whether there are boy or girlie bits. And thirdly, we had to take Zac along.

Turns out this little one is doing wonderfully. We had a glowing report of perfect development, good movement and healthy growth. And Zac was in awe. While his eyes were glued to the screen, taking in every detail of his newest sibling, his mouth did not stop talking (over the sonographer), asking a million questions. One of those questions was about the baby's gender.

Now for some context: Zac has been saying - for about a year now - that he's going to get a sister (note: this was before I was pregnant), and that God told him so (so admittedly I laughed a bit when I saw the test). When I explained to him that there's a 50% chance he may get another brother and asked him how he'd feel about that, he didn't miss a beat, and simply replied, "we can throw him in the bin". So that's been something we've had to work on for a while, and I thought we were getting somewhere until he cried last night about having to come to the scan today, saying, "I just know it's going to be another boy".

Needless to say, we have not found out the gender. We are hoping the excitement of the moment will override any potential disappointment.

So with four months to go, I can confidently say we are getting excited. The movements - and ever enlarging belly (who knew a small baby needed so much room?) - are making everything feel so much more real, and I am so looking forward to share those experiences with Zac and Sam who have already affectionately named their new sibling Jellyfish.

Jellyfish at 20+ weeks, looking exactly like Zac and Sam did!

September can't actually come soon enough!

Tuesday, 2 May 2017

#catchup: CT Cycle Tour Juniors

I have recently drawn the conclusion that, based on the number of incomplete posts I have in my drafts here, I'm going to have to do some #catchup posts in which, although the information is literally months old, I can still post it on the blog without anyone missing it (which is what would happen if I slotted it into the correct time sequence).

Below is a photo update of CT Cycle Tour Juniors which, as it turned out, was the only CT event this year. As usual, the kids were super keen to participate, and eagerly dressed up in superhero regalia in keep with this year's theme. We had a record 8 Hendricks/Klaasen origin kids (and far too few adults to supervise them), but still managed to have a great time!

In the bus on the way to the event

Penny Bear, Zac's class teddy, race ready

It may have been a little early for these racers who went first

They held hands the entire way!

Jellyfish (in utero) and I got exercise too

Impatiently waiting for his race

Chuffed with her medal

All ready at the start line, on any and every type of wheels

Ready, Set, Go!

Penny Bear in tow

Some of the festivities at the event

A mandatory post-race (and lunch) ice cream en route home

Ice Cream happiness!

What a day! As chaotic as it always is, it's also always a lot of fun. And next year will be the real test - when we have a child in every age group!

ps. Jorja was also there, but not present for many photos as she was exploring with Lexi and Gabby, and raced on her own, without a co-pilot or photographer!