Tag Archives: baby

Operation: Bye Bye Cot


I’d like to compare the taking down of Hannah’s cot, to the tearing down of the Berlin Wall, but I do believe that that would be insensitive for many reasons. So I won’t. But what I will say is that the emotion we I felt as I disassembled her cot, was almost the same. Not quite, but that’s the comparison I’m using so humour me please.

We had been talking about it for a while. Hannah had been sleeping in the double bed in her room for the last two months or so, so it wasn’t like her cot had any use or that she needed to be “weaned” from it. Zoleka would still put her down in her cot for her day time naps but that too was more due to habit than necessity. I also felt that Hannah was restricted in her cot; she is a wild sleeper, and I wanted to give her room to thrash out in her sleep if she wanted to.

The reason we didn’t do it sooner, is because it’s a BIG deal and I wanted to give the ceremony all the pomp and glory it deserved. Taking down the cot – for mother and child – is a momentous occasion. Any mother will tell you that. Any mother can attest to the fact that the coming down of the cot, is a major milestone in the life of her little bunny. The move from cot to bed almost always signals the move from baby to big girl or boy. We even speak to our children in that vein: “wow, you’re a big girl now! you sleep in a big girl’s bed!” I know my hesitation was because I knew this was probably, and most likely, and almost definitely, the last cot I would take down. Ever. There are no more babies. I won’t have to fight with my husband, as I tower over him with a huge belly, shaking the directions in his face as he battles to put it together (and we have camp cots, they aren’t that difficult to assemble), I won’t ever stare in wonder at the empty cot, all decked out in new fresh linen, with cuddly toys planted in the corner, as I wait for the pink squishy baby to be born. Or stand over my baby’s cot, winding a mobile to shush her to sleep. For me, that cot symbolises my pregnancy, my birth experience, MY BRAND NEW LITTLE PUDDING who used to look lost in that big open space of frilly linen; it represents sleepless nights when the cot stood empty because I paced with a restless baby in my arms sometimes from dusk until dawn. The cot reminds me of how HARD it all was, but also how quickly it has all come to an end and how rewarding it all was and how accomplished I feel for making it through ALIVE, and the kids are still alive too (!!) … the baby-baby days are over. I kick myself every time I use this corny sentence but it’s true: they grow so fast!

So for me, it was more a case of saying good bye to one of the best things I’ve done in my life: raise babies into toddlers. It may seem small, insignificant and silly – I mean it’s only been three years – I can hardly call myself an accomplished mother, I’m still new at this actually, but I do believe that these three years have probably being the most difficult, the most heart wrenching, the most rewarding, the most AMAZING years of my life. To conceive in itself, is a miracle, people brush off too easily how intricate and complex and remarkable it is to actually conceive a baby. To carry this baby in your womb for 9 months and to bring him or her to birth. To watch this pink ball of love-mush grow and develop into a walking, talking being with a personality to boot, and, as a mother, to be super instrumental in that WHOLE process – come on, that’s bloody miraculous! I think the move from babyhood to toddlerhood, is as significant, if not more so, than any other stage in development. To think that in two short years your ball of mush learns to eat, walk, talk, feels emotions like love, sadness, hurt and pain, knows faces and voices – there’s not that level of growth in such a short time span, for the rest of their lives. The growth which takes place in these two years (two being the general age that your child will be labelled as a toddler and no longer a baby) is astounding. So when they reach this age and you look back and marvel at how far they and you have come, it does make one emotional! And for me, the cot is symbolical of ALL of this! So I trust you now understand just how big a deal the taking down of my last born’s cot was for me. Not so much for her, but definitely for me.

Hannah has handled the move from cot to bed, with such ease; she really is a super star. She giggles when I ask her where her cot is and tells me “cot gone” and swipes her chubby arms from side to side to indicate “no more.” She loves that she is able to get off the bed and waddle over to us in the mornings, without having to yell for someone to take her out of the cot. She loves to jump-jump-sugar-lump on the big bed, and most importantly she loves that she is one step closer to being more like her brother. Big girl and boy! The room looks a bit bare without the cot, so I’ll have to find something cute to fill that spot – because less is never more with me. In fact, Hannah’s room doesn’t look anything like a little girl’s room because it also serves as a guest room when we have visitors. So perhaps I’ll use this as an opportunity to girly-up her room a bit – but not too much because we have to be out of this house by August, remember.

So that’s a wrap folks! Cots, prams, feeding chairs, walking rings, Bumbos, bouncy chairs – ALL GONE. My toddlers are toddling along, and my baby checklist is fast reaching completion. Next stop: Operation bye-bye botty. Watch this space.

 

Liam in his cot
Hannah in her cot
Get me out of here!

Five things I’m loving about you guys right now…


Baby girl Hannah

  1. I love how cuddly and soft you are, with your delectable baby fat deposits behind your knees and the back of your neck…sooooo good for nuzzling!
  2. I love how you pat my back rhythmically when I am putting you to sleep – which technically means you put ME to sleep, but that’s ok.
  3. I love how you love to eat! Anything and everything! The minute the fridge door opens, you mosey on over with your mouth open and you say “hummmm” to indicate that you’d like some. So when you don’t eat, I know that you are feeling out of sorts.
  4. I love how you smell. Even when you’re dirty from playing in the sand, and rolling in the grass, and even when you have a stinky diaper, you still smell amazingly and wonderfully delicious. How do you do that?
  5. I love how you wonder around the house alone. And when I come and find you, you’ll be looking out the window at the traffic passing by, with your chin resting on the window ledge. Or you’ll be in your brother’s shoe cupboard, trying to put his shoes on. Sometimes I find you in the bathroom, wrapped in toilet paper and I want to smack your bottom because 2 ply toilet paper is expensive, but you look so cute, that I can’t help but laugh.

Mommy’s Big Boy, Liam

  1. I love how smart you are! I know every mom thinks their kid is smart.. but really boy, you are SOOOOO smart. You know your colours, even the hard ones like silver and grey. You know the days of the week and the alphabet, and you can identify letters like T for Tommy Tall and M for Magic Melon and C for Curly Clown.
  2. I love how I am your favourite – even when I shout and give you a smack – I’m still your favourite! And I love how you tell Dad that Mama is your best BEst BEST, and Dad is just your best.
  3. I love how you want me to tell you the same story over and over again and you always laugh like it’s the first time you’ve heard it. Ok, I must admit that sometimes this endearing quality does annoy me, because it’s the same old story of Ellie the Elephant who wants a peanut butter sandwich and a glass of milk which I made up months ago to keep you quiet. And if I forget one line of MY story, which I made up, you make a point of correcting ME, the author of the story.
  4. I love how you correct us when we make mistakes. If Dad and I are having a tiff, you remind us to TALK NICELY to each other. If we don’t say please and thank you and bless you, you reprimand us immediately. If we don’t say our prayers and kiss good night, you make sure that we do. You tell Hannah not to pick her nose, or eat from the floor and quite recently, not to pee in her diaper (it has been difficult to explain to you that while Hannah CAN wee and poo in her diaper because she is still a baby, you are now a big boy and you need to go potty).
  5. I love how you remember people and places, and how you place value on people, even complete strangers. You always smile and say HELLO or HI and you ask how they are. You remember all your aunties and uncles names – even the hard ones like aunty Adele, who you call aunty Tinkerbell. And when you haven’t seen a particular person for a long time, you ask me where and how they are.

You two are the best BEst BESTEST! I love you forever, I love you for always, as long as I’m living, my babies you’ll be.

Door of Hope


 “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it. And He took the children in His arms, placed His hands on them and blessed them.” Mark 10: 14 – 16 (NIV)

Last Friday, I had the honour of spending some time at Door of Hope, a home for abandoned babies. It was incredibly sad and disheartening but at the same time it is a place full of love and happiness and you can’t help feeling like you’re sitting on that silver lining of an otherwise very dark cloud. Presently, there are 29 little puddings housed at Door of Hope. They range from just a few days old, to about two years old. These babies all have tragic stories; some were found in plastic bags, others were left on the side of the road, some were thrown from high rise buildings, while others still have their real moms who visit them there, but these moms can’t financially or mentally afford to keep their babies in their care. The experience left me feeling utterly grateful for my life, for my beautiful babies, for LOVE that I so often take for granted.

Door of Hope opened their doors over 10 years ago. They operate purely on donations from generous people and organisations, with lots of overseas donors. The South African government have yet to provide them with any sort of subsidy, which breaks my heart, because I’d much rather my tax contribution be funnelled through to organisations like this, than to another road upgrade that does nothing to alleviate the traffic anyway. They have dedicated staff and young volunteers from all corners of the globe, who love and care for these precious babies around the clock. Their adoption success rate is phenomenal, with 90% of their babies being adopted by foreign parents. The babies are kept on a fantastic routine of eat, sleep and play, they are happy and healthy (except for the few special needs babies who are mostly HIV infected) and they have beautifully decorated nurseries and lots of toys to keep them busy. Their caregivers spend lots of time just holding and cuddling them, and it’s easy to sense that it is a place of love and hope.

While I bottle fed and cajoled with Njabulo, a 6 month old baby boy who tugged immediately at my heart strings, I wondered which cruel mother would ever have been able to give up such a gorgeous little thing. But the truth is, these babies are victims of grave and very unfortunate circumstances. I can only imagine how desperate, how completely hopeless a mother must feel to have the strength to dispose of this baby whom she carried for 9 months. What terror and almost insanity one must experience to have the will to commit such a dastardly deed. I can, in no way, judge these mothers. I will never know the trauma that she must have endured, and probably still endures to this day, at having to give up her baby. I will never know the levels of desperation that she felt, but I do know that the mind is a powerful thing and in the midst of anxiety and depression, it is possible to make yourself believe that wrapping your baby in a plastic bag is a rational thing to do, rather than letting them live through a life of hardship and struggle. Mothers who were raped, mothers who are uneducated so they don’t know they have other options, mothers who can barely afford to feed themselves, let alone a small baby. So I can’t judge.

Door of Hope encourages mothers who feel this way, to rather leave their children in their legal care. There is a hole in the wall, lined with a soft mattress, and a weight sensor that immediately sounds the alarm, when a baby has been placed on it; the mother who left her baby remains anonymous (sad face!!!!). Or the mother can legally sign over her baby to Door of Hope and the little one is placed on the adoption list.

I cried when I left that place, I cried for those beautiful babies who wait for loving families to take them in, I cried for the volunteers who take time out of their lives to give back to the world in a positive way, I cried for the wonderful families who adopt these babies, I cried for my own children who are such a blessing and who thankfully will never have to endure that feeling of being unwanted or unloved.

I cried for myself… how wrapped up I am in my own little world, with ALL my problems. How I walk around with my head hung low, moaning about traffic and my babies who don’t sleep through the night and my husband who doesn’t pack the dishes away even though he promises to, and my helper who doesn’t clean the bathroom tiles properly and my job that demands so much from me. This is how wrapped up I am in my own problems – my problems that are minute and silly and stupid – that I fail to understand the depth of the problems other people are facing. HOW can I compare having debt that I can’t shake, to a baby who will most likely never know his birth mother? HOW can I compare a speeding fine, to a mother who has to give up her baby because she can’t afford to keep her? HOW can I compare having to eat peanut butter sandwiches for lunch for the second day in a row, to a little baby who is found on the side of the road, starving and dying?

So today, love your family for just being THERE. Look at your “problems” and have a good long think about how bad it REALLY is. Give something back. Volunteer if you can, donate what you can, pray whenever you can, for whoever you can. You see, the sooner we realise that life is bigger than just our “problems,” the sooner we really start to live.

“If you give ,you will get. Your gift will return to you in full and overflowing measure, pressed down, shaken together to make room for more, and running over. Whatever measure you use to give – large or small – will be used to measure what is given back to you.” Luke 6:38 NIV

Big Brown Eyes


I read somewhere that babies are born with big bulbous eyes, to endear them more to their mothers (kinda like Mort, that cute cuddly thing that follows King Julien all over, in Madagascar, the movie). One of the first baby milestones that sends a mother’s oxytocin levels into overdrive, is when her baby really focuses on her for the first time. From that moment, you are pretty much hooked.. your baby will use his/her eyes in many ways to bring you much joy as they grow. And as they grow, they will also realise that by simply batting their eyes lashes.. you are putty in their hands.

Hannah has just discovered the power behind her big beautiful brown eyes. She knows how to make sad puppy dog eyes that will have Daddy drop whatever he is doing to come running to kiss better. She knows that if she squeezes her eyes tightly together while pretending to cry, she can generate a fair amount of fake tears. She knows that when she “makes eyes” we all laugh at her and she loves the attention.

But what she doesn’t know is that her eyes make my day. That when I walk into our home after a day at the office and I see her eyes light up excitedly at the sight of plain ‘ol me, I want to crush her in a love-hug. When she plays with her brother and they are sharing and being good and mummy isn’t shouting, her eyes dance with delight. When Daddy pushes her on her princess car, she giggles and I can see the joy radiating from her eyes.

It’s true! The eyes are the window to your soul, and for the most, I think all is well with Hannah’s soul, her eyes tell me so.

The Terrible Two’s: A true Story


I’m not sure how it happened..  I am convinced I was with him at the time and I didn’t notice any lightning bolts, thunder, a voice from heaven or the likes? But something happened as the clock struck midnight the morning Liam turned two years old. He went to bed a sweet cherub, and woke up more like the cherub who was thrown out of heaven – if you get my drift.

I’ve always believed that the “terrible twos” was just a myth, I mean how can a child be bad for a whole year, come on now! I know a child must surely reach an age where they start exercising their independence, where they start pushing boundaries and testing the disciplinary waters, but I didn’t, in my wildest dreams, imagine that the move from infant to toddler would be more like dealing with a pre-adolescent tween, than a diapered babe still wet between the legs! The mood swings, the crying, the moaning and groaning, the meltdowns, the tantrums – it makes menopause look like a walk in the park.

I am all for allowing your child to explore this new found independence – letting him pour his own milk into his cereal, even though half of it ends up on the floor, I’m thinking of getting a cat to mop up after him. Allowing him to choose his own shoes and brush his own hair, even though we leave the house most mornings looking like a normal family with a circus clown in toe. Allowing him to choose his own meals, thank goodness his school provides a well rounded breakfast, lunch and two healthy snack options,  because as a mother, I know that Smarties and yoghurt do not constitute a healthy evening meal. Now this sounds simple enough, but you must understand that with every decision he wants to make, comes lots of crying, jumping up and down, the occasional toy thrown in my face and ME, the mother, the disciplinarian, the ruling authority, left to feel like a complete failure; frazzled at the fight I’ve just had to endure with a child who can’t even spell his own name yet. And even this I guess I could handle every so often, but this has become our lives! Nothing is simple to Liam, not even saying his prayers is simple anymore. Let me illustrate below.

 

 

Pre two years old:

Mum: Dear Jesus

Liam: Dear Jesus

Mum: Thank you for this lovely day

Liam: Thank you for this lovely day

Etc, etc.

Post two years old:

Mum: Dear Jesus

Liam: NO

Mum: Come Liam, say your prayers

Liam: NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO

Mum: Jesus help me to be a good boy

Liam: *silence*

Mum: JESUS HELP ME TO BE A GOOD BOY

Liam: Liam IS a good boy?

Mum: *siggghhhhhh*

I’ve been told to ignore him when he behaves this way, and this is quite a safe method because no one would want to steal your screaming child in a shopping centre anyway – believe me. Still, you have to go and peel your miserable lump off the shopping centre floor eventually if you have any plans of getting your shopping done. I’ve tried reasoning with him, but this frustrates him to the point of a smack in the face (my face, not his). I’ve tried the art of distraction, which works if I am distracting him with a big fat sugary treat, but at the risk of him losing all his teeth before he is three, I’ve had to cut back on this method. The trusty wooden spoon has also lost its allure. Pre two years old, I had just to mention the wooden spoon and he’d revert to being the sweet cherub we talked about earlier. Now, he laughs scornfully when I mention the wooden spoon, probably because he knows I don’t have the guts to use it! Which brings me to the last method – the swipe across the bottom, or the rap over the knuckles – this method worked for a while, but now my soldier takes it in his stride, as if he sees it as an army stripe in the Battle of the Wills.

I’ve been told to chose my battles with my domineering two year old, and rather focus on winning the war. So as we battle along each day, I try and keep a mental score of who’s winning, hoping that I can let this particular victory slide, so that we can get through one conversation without a dramatic ending. I get shivers down my spine when I realise that as Liam learns to let this obstreperous behaviour go and grows up, I’ll be going down this road again with his little sister soon. I doubt my experience will be advantageous, as I’ve already noticed that Missy has a stroppy streak. I have no doubt that when I see their two little heads huddled together, loud giggles erupting, and little hands clapping together in delight, they are concocting a plan to see who can get mum to go grey faster.