Five

A long overdue post …

newborn

3 Days old

They say that in the newborn phase, the first six weeks or so fly past while you merrily wallow in the punch-drunk baby love haze.  That is also clearly true when one turns five! Happy 5th (and six weeks) birthday Carrie-bear!

6 Weeks Old

6 Weeks Old

Baby girl,

Now you are five! A full hand, a whole school-week, five little monkeys jumping on the bed!

It’s crazy how fast the time has gone, and to quote a line from one of my favourite songs: “The future disappears into memory, With only a moment between.” Tragically, the mind starts to file away the little memories, the fleeting moments, like the newborn smell, or the sound of that delicious first laugh, but thankfully, we make new memories every day. And every now and then, prompted by a familiar smell or sound, a first moment surfaces from the archives of my mind, and I am graced with memories of sweet little you. You have become a big girl, almost overnight, with hardly a trace of your babyhood left in your face or body.

You love to sing the A,B,C song, so here is an alphabetical list of things for your fifth birthday:

A – Apples: You love to eat apples, and will often help yourself to one out of the bottom of the fridge. You don’t like them cut up into pieces, but you do require the stalk to be removed!

B – Bears and bunnies: Your collection of bears and bunnies could rival the local Hamleys! Your bed is literally covered in fluffy creatures. Your favourites include Cuddle-bear (which was actually your first bear ever), Curly-bear, Bon-bon, Bunny, Big-bunny and Claire-bear, to name a few. You take turns to cuddle with each bear and / or bunny every night, and make sure that no-one ever gets left out.

C – Caris: You already know how to write your name, and take great pride in showing me your latest artworks with your name written in the corner. You also like to tell me, whenever you see a “C”, that C is for Caris, and Chloe (Your best friend).

D – Dance: You love to dance! This year you started Hip-hop classes for the first time, and it was definitely love at first sight. You love to wiggle and twirl, preferably in a full circle skirt!

dance

Dancing Queen

E – Elephant: You made a beautiful picture of elephant at school, with big grey floppy ears and you were apparently the only child in the class that made a crinkly trunk, clever girl!

F – Flowers: You love to pick flowers, especially the pink camellia’s in the drive-way.

G – Gary: You love your Daddy very much! One of your favourite games to play is The Teacher Game, in which Daddy gets to be a student, and you call him GARY! in a bossy tone.

H – Holiday: You absolutely loved our holiday in Mauritius this year, and tried everything from archery, to tennis, to the trapeze. You even participated in the mini-club show (twice) and performed like a superstar!

Mini Club Show

Mini Club Show


Archery

Archery

I – Ice-cream: Your love of ice-cream continues, especially chocolate in a pink cone.

J – Jekyll and Hyde: Ok, you do have a few Jekyll and Hyde moments, where you go from perfectly happy to absolutely miserable in the blink of an eye, but I guess mood-swings go hand-in-hand with being 5. Thankfully the happier moods are more frequent…

K – Kitty Cat: You love to pretend to be a kitten, and crawl around on all fours meowing and rubbing your head on us! K is also for Kokino, the Greek word for red, your favourite word. We were playing with some flash cards the other day, and the red card came up to which you said “Kokino!” followed by lots of giggles.

L – Love: We love you more than all the stars in the sky!

M – Make-up: You love to do make-up. Time-hop delivered a classic this morning from 3 years ago, not much has changed since then. I have, however, bought you your own set of brushes since you gave my Mac blusher brush a little haircut with some nail-scissors at round about the same time.

Make-up

Make-up

N – Naughty: Yes, you can be somewhat naughty, but its always of the mischievous kind, and never malicious. Some days you test my patience with your strong will, but you always manage to make me laugh and smile.

O – Oranges: You love oranges, orange juice and other orange foods such as carrots.

P – Puppy: You love our puppy Saxon, and he listens to you so nicely, mainly because you always have a stash of Beenos in your pocket!

Puppy

Puppy

Q – Quiet: Quiet is not a word that we would use to describe you. You love to horse around with Alex, the louder the better!

R – Rainin’ : You have this peculiar habit of clipping the ends of words that end in “ing”, so “it’s raining today” becomes “it’s rainin’ today”. We have no idea where you got this from.

S – Sing: You love to sing, especially songs that you have made up by yourself. Maybe you will be a famous song-writer one day. I know that whatever it is you choose to do, you will be great!

T – Temper: my mother often tells me that I had a terrible temper as a child, well, I guess the apple never fell far from the tree in this respect. But as you get older, you are learning to keep it in check! (Sometimes)

U – Upside down: You love to be upside down at the moment, and often climb the tree in the driveway to show me how you hang from your knees. In Mauritius recently, you were brave enough to try the trapeze (until you decided, after the 3rd try, that it was too high, but you were happy to do it indoors a little closer to the ground).

upside down

V – Very Cute: That you are my girlie, don’t ever change.

W – Wings: You love to draw creatures with wings, such as butterflies, and usually with a number of cats nearby. W is also for Wedding. Your cousin Stacey got married recently, and it was one of the highlights of your year. You absolutely loved dressing up in a puffy dress and having your hair and make-up done. You loved it so much that you have been planning your own wedding ever since! And you will be marrying Daddy of course.

Wedding

Wedding

X – ‘x’s: There are always lots of ‘x’s for kisses in your drawings too. I recently taught you how to do a European kiss, one on each cheek, which you think is absolutely hilarious.

Y – Yam: You’ve never actually tried a yam, but I am sure you would if I knew where to buy one. You have always had adventurous tastes, and are willing to eat most things, even tomatoes, much to your brother’s disgust.

Z – ZZZs: You love to fake sleep, especially in the car, and when I ask you if you are sleeping you respond with plenty of giggles. You really do love to laugh!

My Big girl, don’t ever change, we love you just the way you are. XXX

Me and my girl

Me and my girl

Seven

My big boy!

I will admit to having a little cry on the way to work after I dropped you at school this morning, my mind still boggling at how my baby boy is already seven! Still euphoric after a great party, you were excitedly greeted by the friends that joined us yesterday to celebrate. We invited a small group of special friends to the bird gardens, and it was such a pleasure seeing you have such an awesome time. You and your friends ran around freely, enjoying the birds and other creatures on display, pure joy emanating from your hearts and your faces! Half the time I didn’t even know where you were, testament to the fact that you are a big boy now, and don’t need us to watch you all the time.

2 alex

The change in you in the year between turning six and turning seven has been huge. You have grown taller and more solid, and your face has lost all remnants of toddlerhood! You have become so responsible, more assertive, and happier in your own skin. You are still, however, a bit of a day-dreamer, disappearing into your own little world every now and then, oblivious to the goings-on around you. You have learnt to read and do sums, and can finally tie your shoe laces by yourself.

3 alex

You are a gentle and kind child, and always care about other people’s feelings. We are so proud of you my boy. Your reading and writing is excellent, and you love to read aloud to your sister (especially “Cuddle Bear”.) I love receiving little letters from you that say things like “I love you mom, you are the best mom”. And you even write love letters to the dogs…

4 letter

You love animals, and enjoy telling us facts about various creatures such as the birds in your birdie book, and the reptiles that you love so much. Your favourite thing at school is “show and tell” day, where you get to talk about all the things that you love (mainly various animals)! You love to swim, and can literally spend hours in the pool, immersed in your own imagination as you dive under the cool water. You love our new puppy, Saxon, and I just know that the two of you will be life-long friends.

5. alex and bird

It’s so bittersweet watching you grow up my boy; becoming your mom has changed me so profoundly. I cannot imagine not having you near me. If I compare your first day of grade one to today, I cannot believe it’s the same child. The thought of you not needing me as much frightens the life out of me as I witness your growing independence.

1 us

I am so blessed to be your mom, and I love you more than all the stars in the sky.

Stay as sweet as you are, my big boy, you will always be my baby.

 

 

Three…

My Dear Caris
It seems like just the other day you were a thumpety-thump sound accompanying a grainy blob on a black and white screen. My surprise pregnancy. My “Oh my God, how am I going to tell your father” baby. I can still feel the tears stinging in the corners of my eyes when Professor Nicolaou said, “It’s definitely a girl”. A rose amongst the gang of boys we already had at home. Our very own girl-child, a little princess, a pink one!

If I cast my mind back to those first few weeks after you arrived, I sometimes struggle to find clarity in the memories, as it all seems like a life-time ago. There is definitely some truth in the saying “time flies when you are having fun” as the last three years are all but a blur! But I do remember the softness of your skin, your hair: soft like a puppy’s ears and your tiny fingers (with their teeny, tiny nails) grasping mine. And how much I already loved you when I saw your squashed little nose for the first time as the doctor put you on my chest, only seconds old. I remember how you loved to sleep, and how I used to wonder if we would ever know what colour your eyes were because they were always closed.

And now you are three!

caris 2 days

When I look at you now, it’s hard to imagine a helpless tiny baby, because what I see before me now is a proper little girl. A Big Girl who likes to do everthing “MYSELF!” A confident little lady who loves her dollies and the new Wendy-house. A sweetheart who loves to laugh (an infectious belly-laugh!) and occasionally irritate her big brother Alex (on purpose!)  A chatterbox who loves to talk on the phone, and who has hour long conversations with imaginary friends on the other end.  (Some who are called Salvador and Barcelona!) A little sister who loves her big brothers to the moon and back! A little miss bossy-boots who loves to dish out orders to everyone, including mommy and daddy. A little madam who loves to dress up like a princess (and iron?!?) A little social butterfly who loves to sing and dance and ask endless questions. A little koukla who loves the Greek word “ko-ki-no” and likes to announce it everytime you see anything red.  The sweetest little thing who makes us smile and laugh!

Wendy House

ironing princess

It breaks my heart that you are growing up so fast, and that soon my little Big-Girl will be all grown up, talking on the phone for real and thinking about boys and make-up, instead of baby dolls and lego. So I am savouring the moments of your littleness; of your sweet smiles and requests to “Pick me up!” and ” I wanna sit with you”.

I love you to the moon and back my baby girl. Don’t grow up too fast!

Caris 3rd Birthday

hello kitty princess

Things you should know before becoming a parent

I was looking at Alex and Caris playing together yesterday afternoon. They both suddenly look so big, so grown-up. The traces of baby-hood have all but disappeared from Alex’s face, and Caris is not too far behind him. It makes me sad to think that their baby days are over. They are growing up way too fast…

playing together

I have pretty much stopped buying baby magazines. Not because I know everything, but because the articles are becoming less and less appropriate now that my children are getting older. (And I think I’ve pretty much covered the breast-feeding / weaning / solid-food / potty-training cycle by now!) But I suddenly had this thought about how wonderful it would be to read one of those “things you wish someone had told you before you had a baby”  lists right now. I am clearly feeling sentimental.

So I decided to write my own list, and it goes something like  this:

  1.  You will be responsible for another human being. All day. Every day. For the rest of your life. It’s both overwhelming and liberating at the same time. It will be one of the greatest privileges you will ever have.
  2. You will be tired all the time. Very tired. But somehow you will make it through every day with a smile on your face as you tuck your babies into bed, and kiss them goodnight.
  3. You will have an empty feeling when your children are not physically with you. This will even apply if they are asleep in a different room less than ten meters away.
  4. You will feel heartbroken thinking about a time in the future when your children are no longer little. You will ache with every fibre of your being at the thought that one day they will leave you. And that time will come sooner than you think.
  5. You will not know what you did with your spare time before you had kids.
  6. You will have your buttons pushed, and your limits tested on a daily basis!
  7. Your priorities will change. Big time. Every decision you make will be underpinned by the fact that you now have children.
  8. You will experience what unconditional love really feels like.
  9. Your heart will burst with love when those deep dark grey eyes look into yours for the first time. This will be the happiest and scariest moment of your life.
  10. The mere thought of something happening to that tiny little being will leave you feeling paralyzed and unable to breathe. As will the thought of something happening to you.
  11. Your children will make you angrier than you have ever been in your life. But you will still love them. And you will forgive them.
  12. You will feel proud.
  13. It will break your heart when your child is hurt, sick or upset.
  14. You will struggle to imagine what your life was like before children.
  15. Hearing “I love you” come out of your child’s mouth for the first time will soften you in a way that nothing else ever can.
  16. You will change. Irrevocably.
  17. You will love with all of your heart and soul.
  18. You will play with Cars, Lego, baby dolls and the like, and you will colour-in with crayons! And the smile from your child will make it all worth it.
  19. And last, but not least, you will try to savour every moment, be it good or bad, because child-hood is just too damn short!

Talking about co-incidences…

Following on from my post yesterday, I stumbled upon the following link in my twitter feed about the guilt (American) mom’s feel, and how the French seem to do the parenting thing so effortlessly. I knew there was a reason I have always liked the French.

Some insight for all of us guilt-stricken moms …

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/debra-ollivier/bringing-up-bebe_b_1224589.html

Blue Eyed Girl

Image

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

Hello 2012!

It’s January 1st and I feel like I have been out partying all night. Although my “hangover” is due to a lack of sleep and not over-indulgence. Alex has been sick for almost two weeks. Our holiday has included 2 trips to the emergency room (real trips this time) and one visit to a GP. He has had temperatures of 40, on and off for the last 4 days, so with doses of Calpol, 2 courses of antibiotics, voltaren suppositories and wrapping him in tepid towels we have been playing yo-yo with his temperature. Alex tends to vomit when his temp exceeds 38, so we’ve been cleaning up a lot of that too.

So last night, just after midnight while everyone was screaming happy new year and letting off noisy fireworks, I was running a tepid bath for my poor, poor boy. He spent the rest of the night sleeping in between us, feeling like someone had sneaked a hot potato into our bed. Wash, rinse and repeat at about 4, including more vomiting, and diarrhoea for good measure . To add to our woes, we found out from the chemist yesterday, when we filled the script for the top-up antibiotics and more voltaren suppositories that the casualty doctor grossly over-prescribed when giving us the suppositories, and the antibiotics. So I am hoping with all my soul that the 3 suppositories that were more than double the dose he should be having for his age and weight, have not caused any lasting damage. (Caris slept through the whole ordeal).

I’m definitely sending an email to hospital management.

So the start to the year has not been a good one, and I am really worried about my boy.

2011 was an interesting year, with a mix of highs and lows.

We were in Ballito last year as well, and I remember standing in the shower on the morning of January first, and crying my eyes out. I was 22 weeks pregnant with Caris, feeling very sorry for myself and my unplanned pregnancy. Gary was grumpy with me because we had stayed home on New Years eve, and to top it off, I had had a huge argument with Craig on Christmas day that was still creating an uncomfortable vibe in the house. Then to add more fuel to the fire, Stuart said something that really pissed me off, and as I stood in the shower drowning my sorrows, I contemplated walking away from everything, playing scenarios of being a single mom of two in my head. (Cue dramatic music) Step-parenting sometimes sucks in a big way, and I’m still waiting for my medal in the post.

So now that I think about it, 2011 got off to a shitty start as well.

Some Lows:

* “The terrible twos”: clingyness, whining, general non-compliance (exacerbated by the impending arrival of a new baby)
* My mother being hospitalised for pneumonia, which gave me a huge wake up in terms of my childcare “plan B”
* My father being diagnosed with macular degeneration
* Saying goodbye to some toxic friendships
* A divorce in the family

A Few Highs:

* The birth of my sweet baby girl, little Miss-happy, Caris. Watching her grow and develop and turn into edible cuteness.
* Alex starting school, and watching him blossom and learn new stuff every day. (Also, sadly seeing Alex “my baby”, become a “big boy” overnight)
* No more nappies for Alex!
* Having 6 months off work! And having had some time to reflect on whether or not I am still happy doing what I’m doing. I can see that 2012 will be a year of big changes for me.
* Starting a blog – it is amazing what a great outlet writing is. Even if no-one reads it, seeing my thoughts in black and white is incredibly therapeutic.

So, while the year has launched off with a rather bumpy start, I just have a feeling in my bones that it will be a good year.

Happy new year.

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.