Blue Eyed Girl

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Blue eyes
Baby’s got blue eyes
Like a clear blue sky
Watching over me
Blue eyes
I love blue eyes
When I’m by her side
Where I long to be
-Elton John (lyrics Gary Osborne)

Already, my poor baby girl is suffering from second child syndrome. I haven’t printed a single photograph, let alone started her baby album or memory book. (But I have taken thousands of photos!) By the time Alex was 8 months old, his baby scrapbook was well populated, as I made time at night to cut and paste and embellish it with pretty things. Part laziness, and part lack of time has lead to this sad state of affairs. Having two children certainly does place extra pressure on my already stretched time management skills! So this is an attempt to play catch up, and get my ass into gear, before I get too far behind…

My Darling Caris

Baby girl, you will be eight months old in 5 days time. I cannot believe that the time has passed so quickly, but then again, even my pregnancy with you seemed to fly by. I had an easy pregnancy with you, other than the first 16 weeks of really horrible nausea and vomiting. I was thrilled to find out that you were a girl! Having a second baby, for me, was such a breeze compared to the first. I didn’t have that feeling of panic when we left the hospital for the first time, wondering “How on earth am I going to do this?” as I had done it before. I wasn’t scared to bath you or dress you, or hold you. Breastfeeding was easier, you latched on easily, and it didn’t hurt nearly as much as it did the first time round. (And we could get through a feed in less than half an hour in the beginning, unlike what felt like hours with Alex!) You were calm and content from the moment you arrived, and I am so grateful and lucky to have you in my life. In the few weeks before you were born, I was worried that I wasn’t going to cope with having two children to care for, but you just fitted in right from the word go, and you were and still are a real pleasure to have around!

You were born at 09:42AM on Tuesday the 17th of May 2011 in the Sunninghill Hospital by Caesarean section.  You weighed 3.05KG, were 53cm long and had 9/10 on your apgar test. Your nose was so skew, as it was squashed flat because you had had one of your feet pressed up against it while in my tummy, but it soon straightened into your current beautiful little button nose! I was thrilled to meet you my baby girl when they put you on my chest all damp and warm, with a mop of dark hair and grey blue eyes, and I was already in love with you when you looked up at me so intensely.

When we brought you home for the first time, the house was a big mess, as we were in the throes of renovating the down-stairs bathrooms, and as is typical with builders, they were running horribly late. So I whisked you away upstairs to the safe (dust-free) sanctity of Mommy and Daddy’s bedroom.

In the first few weeks, you slept so much, I used to wonder if I would ever see what colour your eyes were! You would wake up to feed and then go straight back to wonderful dreamland. You didn’t struggle with tummy aches or wind, for which I am very grateful. You hardly ever cried, and there was nothing a cuddle couldn’t fix. The first time you really sobbed, was at your 8 week vaccinations, my heart broke for you as you cried real tears, and were inconsolable for the first time ever.

You first smiled at about 6 weeks old. The most gorgeous sight, a big gummy grin! And by 12 weeks, you were treating us to the cutest giggles. (Especially when you saw Alex, and you still think he is very funny!) You were sleeping though the night from about 3 months, and have done so ever since. We had a small wobbly when I gave you a dummy for the first time, because you kept waking up for it, but thankfully you are able to find it by yourself now.) By four months you could roll over from your tummy to your back, and also got your bottom two teeth. (Without much fussing, thank goodness.)  Rolling from back to tummy and sitting up by yourself were mastered by 6 and a half months, although you now prefer to sit up and watch the world go by and play with your toys, and don’t really like being on your tummy. You have 3 teeth coming out at the moment (top 2 front, and 3rd bottom one) and once again have had hardly any fussiness. (I am so very lucky and grateful to have such an easy baby!)

You are such a content, happy, smiley girl. You love being cuddled and tickled and when someone blows bubbles on your tummy. You love looking at things, and examining your toys while you turn them over and pass them from hand to hand. You love seeing yourself in the mirror. You smile when you see other babies! You love to twirl your feet at the ankles, it is the cutest thing ever. You have the tiniest feet, and the cutest little toes, which you love to bite, and which I love to bite too! You always smile when you see Mommy, Daddy and your brothers, especially Alex, whom you love to pieces. You love to squeal and sing, and will call out in a high-pitched screech when you want to get someone’s attention. You can say mama, baba, dada, goo, yee and the likes, and I can’t wait for your first “real” words, which I just know you are dying to say! You love babbling away and chatting to yourself in those adorable baby sounds. You have deep blue, beautiful eyes. You are my little cutie-pie, my sweetheart, my happy little bibi, and I am looking forward to watching you grow and learn, and continue to melt the hearts of everyone around you. I love you with all my heart.

xx Mom

Letter for Alex

My dear Alex

In January 2008, we went on a family holiday to Mauritius. Conceiving you was always in the back of my mind as I swam, sat in the sun, read, and probably drank too many Mojito’s. (Which I did feel rather guilty about when I found out I was pregnant!) Not that I was starting to worry about getting pregnant yet, we had only technically been trying since October, but I had already been dreaming of having you for a long time. Little did I know that you were already there with me, a tiny beginning of life. A mere division of cells, growing bigger each day, so small, yet in the greater scheme of things, the most significant thing that was about to happen to me.

Back at work a few weeks later, I checked my diary to see when I had my last period, with the intention of taking “this conception thing” a bit more seriously. And then I realised I was a few days late. On the way home, I stopped off at clicks and bought a few pregnancy tests. Needless to say, they were all positive! I already loved you from the moment that I knew you were there, growing away quietly inside of me.

I showed your dad the official blood test results the next morning. To be honest, he was still having mixed feelings about becoming a father again, as Craig and Stuart were already 18 and 20. So his reaction wasn’t the typical “iamsohappytobeadad“, but I know that he loved you already too! (especially when we saw you for the first time on the black and white screen in the Gynae’s office. My sweet little grainy bean, with the galloping heart beat.)

I had a good pregnancy with you, felt healthy (ok, other than vomiting every day for the first 14 weeks!), did lots of exercise and ate mostly healthy stuff. I craved anything with chilli in it, and freezochinos, preferably from tashas! (That is probably why you love them so much.) You decided that “head-down” wasn’t going to cut it for you, and stayed breech the whole time, which meant that I had to have a c-section, which I wasn’t too thrilled about, but I wanted to do whatever was the best option for you. Your birth was scheduled for Tuesday the 23rd of September 2008.

On Sunday the 21st of September 2008, I was upstairs watching “strictly come dancing” while your dad watched the golf in the lounge. I had been feeling funny all weekend, full and uncomfortable, and had spent the weekend getting everything ready for your arrival (which included buying enough groceries and cleaning supplies for about 6 months, and cleaning the house like a demon!). I heard a “pop” sound, and then felt a trickle of water down my leg. My waters had broken, and I was in labour. I called down to your father, to tell him, and he looked at me with that “who are you again” look on his face that he gets when he is so engrossed in a sporting event, and when it finally registered, the look turned to one of a slight panic. Earlier that afternoon we went to Granny and Grandpa’s house for Cake, it was Grandpa’s birthday. He had joked with me when I told them I was pregnant with you, that maybe you would be born on his birthday (your due date was the 2nd of October), and turned out he was right.

So we bundled ourselves into the car, to head to the Sunninghill hospital. We phoned Charlene’s after hours number, and it turned out she was not on call, so I was about to have a complete stranger deliver you! I must have sounded like a complete lunatic telling the reception staff that I had to have a Caesar because you were breech. I was so scared that they would allow my labour to progress and that something would happen to you. Within an hour, the surgical team was there and we were moments away from meeting you. Dr Stuart ‘o Hanlon would be the doctor doing the surgery. At 5 to midnight, your healthy cry filled the air, and they gave me my baby boy to hold and look at. It was love at first sight!

Holding one’s baby for the first time is possibly the most overwhelming thing that anyone can experience. You were damp and warm, with your dark hair (a whole lot of it!) and your blue grey eyes. When the doctor put you on my chest, you looked up at me with the sweetest puzzled look, as if to say “so you’re the voice I have been hearing all the time, hello!” My sweet baby boy! It is still amazing to me from the moment I saw you, I felt such a surge of love and joy, and a deep need to protect and look after you, the little “stranger” nuzzling at my chest. I also felt real fear for the first time. The very thought of something happening to you still makes my blood run cold. Your dad summarised it well: “welcome to being a parent, where you spend the rest of your life worrying about your child”. It sounds clichéd, but in that instant that I held you for the first time, something inside me changed. I was no longer a separate person, I was a mother!

The past three years have flown by, and I have watched you grow from a tiny, helpless baby, into a confident, curious, cute, naughty, clever little boy. You have an energy about you that is as infectious as your great big belly laughs. You have the biggest, bluest eyes, and I never get tired of looking into them, even though it makes you giggle and ask me what I am looking at!

You are inquisitive and sensitive, and are always willing to give mommy a hug and a kiss when I ask for one. You are my special little guy, my precious boy, and I love you with all my heart.

xx Mom

Baby makes six

On the eve of the day before I return to work, I cast my mind back to the day I found out I was pregnant with Caris. (Six months have passed since she was born). It was a Friday morning, and I, for good measure, read the directions on the home pregnancy test, knowing that it was merely a formality taking the test. I had bought the test the day before, even though I had not yet missed my period, as I already knew I was pregnant, they say that happens when you have had a baby before; you know that feeling, it is one of those basic instincts. I casually laid the spent test on the counter top, and walked into the bedroom to see if the kettle had boiled for my tea. Gary was at gym, and I knew that by the time he came home, I would be harbouring my secret. And there they were, the proverbial “two blue lines”. Oops. The all too familiar nausea hit me like a hammer.

We had already decided to only have one child. Gary already had two boys, Craig and Stuart, from his previous marriage, and his advancing age, according to him,  was not in his favour. But I wanted to have a baby. I was never the maternal type growing up, and can’t say that I ever gave much thought to having babies. I guess it was just something I assumed I would do. At some point. And technically I had my instant family: a husband and two stepsons, who have always lived with us.

Somewhere between 31 and 32, I got this bee in my bonnet to have a baby. As the mouse in “Stuart Little” says “I had an empty space…”. I guess there is something to that “biological clock” after all. So after many heart-breaking discussions, including the possibility of us going our separate ways, Alex was “very planned”. (Gary used to joke that he was the only one of his children that actually was planned.) So much so, that Gary had his vasectomy reversed. (The vasectomy was a decision that he had made some 14 years earlier, after his wife at the time fell pregnant for the third time. Unfortunately the baby did not survive more than a few hours after being born, but that is not my story to tell.) The surgery was complex. I remember leaving the Linksfield clinic after he went into theatre, to pop home to let the dogs in as it was about to storm, thinking, “I’ll be back in 45 minutes and he should be out by then”. Two and a half hours later, with my heart pounding in my throat, I found myself demanding from the nurses at the theatre reception where my husband was. All I could think of was that I was the most selfish woman alive for expecting him to undergo surgery for me, and that he may be dead, and how I wished I could go back in time, and change my mind. It was me that wanted to have a baby so desperately, and the doctor told us that the chances of the vasectomy reversal being successful were minimal anyway. Time seemed to going by in slow motion, every second ticking by on the clock behind the nurses station went shuddering through me. Why wasn’t anyone telling me why he was not out of surgery yet. Another twenty minutes passed by, and finally someone came and told me that he was in recovery. Apparently reconnecting two tiny tubes is pretty damn complicated, and takes almost 3 hours. Who knew.

The statistics of a successful reversal were not in our favour. The longer the time between the vasectomy and the reversal, the less successful it is likely to be. A simple maths equation: makes sense. I do not remember the exact numbers, although at the time I remember spending hours Googling things like “successful vasectomy reversal”; “live birth after vasectomy reversal”; “Vasectomy reversal after more than ten years” etc … driving myself crazy, trying to find “just one” successful story that matched our circumstances. Finding only results that were frankly depressing. The success of a reversal is measured by the presence of sperm in the ejaculate post-op, the quality of that sperm, meaning the shape, and the motility as in “are they moving?”. Needless to say, given the time that had elapsed since the original surgery (which by the way, takes 10 minutes!) the odds of sperm being present in the semen were around 70%, which sounds good, but the quality and motility odds were as low as 30 and 10 percent respectively. So, useless sperm being present, would not be very useful. The funny thing is that urologists in SA, well at least the one we consulted anyway, didn’t have any statistics to share with us. We went to a guy who was recommended to us by a fertility clinic we had consulted to see what our baby-making options were. After a failed “TESA” procedure (this is where they extract immature sperm from the epididymis directly for later use in IVF), I asked the doctor if the sperm they managed to retrieve were “dead” or just non-motile, and the doctor said there was no way of knowing. So I then asked if we should consider a vasectomy reversal, and he said he did not know, it would depend on whether or not any damage had occurred to the epididymis due to back flow of sperm (an epididymal blow-out), and referred us to the urologist. The operation was done in conjunction with a plastic surgeon, being micro-surgery, and he didn’t have any statistics for us either. In fact the urologist basically told us that were unlikely to have a positive result. Only less tactfully. (I think the words he used were “you’re on a hiding to nothing”.) But he was nonetheless willing to take our money and give it a go. There are no guarantees in life anyway, are there? And medical aids definitely do not cover vasectomy reversal surgery.  Gary didn’t want to go for a follow up test, to see if there was indeed sperm, saying “what will be, will be”. From my obsessive googling, I knew that it could take a year or more to fall pregnant following “successful” reversal surgery.  It took us 3 months. Two blue lines that would change my life forever. My baby boy, Alex was growing inside of me from a clump of cells, the result of one of the “useless” sperm making it’s way up to my egg. Au naturale! What will be will be indeed.

So getting back to the second set of blue lines, oops indeed. I was on the pill, and had managed not to get pregnant on the pill for almost 20 years (OK, the time with Gary doesn’t count, as he was technically sterile, but still). Counting back the weeks, I remembered being very ill (vomiting my lungs out) at Mythos while having dinner with Craig’s girlfriend’s God-parents; we were meeting them for the first time. Probably about 6 weeks before. After confirming the pregnancy at my gynae, and having the “how could this have happened” discussion, she said that just one “missed” pill in the middle of the cycle will cause some women to ovulate. So my 24 hour bug turned me into “one of those women”.  It’s all about timing. I was shocked, but happy, and made the decision there and then, that no matter what, I was having this baby, even if I had to do it alone. It is not that our relationship was bad, in fact quite the opposite, but I knew how much Gary was against having another baby. The fact that we had Alex was a miracle in itself. I knew he would be less than pleased, to put it mildly. I was 8 weeks pregnant when I finally told him.

A chain of events prevented me from spilling the beans… My son’s second birthday, My father’s 70th and … Gary’s 50th birthday, all within 2 weeks of each other. In fact, the latter is the main reason. He was already having a bit of a wobbly about turning 50, so telling him I was pregnant, was going to be like another nail in the coffin. Oh, and my own birthday (37) was in the middle of all this too.

So once we had gotten through all the birthday celebrations, with me sipping only the tiniest amounts of wine, and tossing it out when no one was looking, we went down to Ballito for a few days of sunshine and relaxation, with the whole family in tow, and 2 of Craig’s friends to boot. One morning, while I was very elegantly hunched over the toilet, hurling my lungs out, Alex came to look for me with Daddy in tow. I told him I was sick, and to please take Alex away. I barely heard his throw-away comment, “I hope you’re not pregnant”. A few days later (and a few more thrown away glasses of wine) we were driving home, and I had to ask Gary to pull over the car, as I was going to be sick again. Not exactly the way I had intended sharing my news. Needless to say, the atmosphere in the car was pretty icy for the next 500kms.

The next few weeks were hard, as Gary tried to digest the information that he was going to be a dad. Again. I was probably not his favourite person during this time! But we managed to work through it, as people who were made for each other always do, although somewhat jaded. Fast forward 7 odd months, and baby makes six.