Monday, 22 December 2014

Tick tock...

Tick tock. Had a midwife appointment today. Apparently my uterus is "irritable". Freaking understatement, my whole body is irritable right now! Please come soon baby. I think he dropped even further down today as my tummy has changed shape. And was planning to go an walk up and down UCT steps today in hope of some kind of labour induction but am not sure I actually can walk any more.

But irritable uterus sounds promising right?? It must mean something right?? I am grasping at straws here. Even though my due date is Sunday the midwife wants me to go to the hospital for monitoring on Friday because Squirmy is now so big and it seem like the fluid is getting low. I have to admit it makes me anxious and I may beg for some kind of induction by then. In midwife care, at least mine and I think in the UK they only tend to induce at 42 weeks, but I agree, this baby is running out of space and it just makes me nervous! Apparently sometimes a membrane stretch and sweep can induce so I may ask for that. I am sure no one who has not had one ever wants or needs to know what that is... so I will leave it to the imagination.

But I am having loads of Braxton Hicks so my uterus is both grumpy and practicing and this can only be good.

Still struggling with names, can you believe it. Have the original back up name and a new name that I love but G-man pointed out issues with his surname. Again. They seem minor issues to me but it is so freaking upsetting. I never would have guessed naming would have been such a nightmare for me.

On the babycenter naming board someone wanted to name their son Jamon. If you know any Spanish you will know why this is hilarious :D (Ok the spelling is missing an accent but still. Bwhaha).

Friday, 19 December 2014

Exit this way.

Oh man. 39 weeks today and still pregnant. Sob.

I had painful cramps all day today. Tried to do grocery shopping but it did not go well. I tend to always take the G-man shopping with me now and am so glad I did today. These cramps are not like contractions at all, because they don't go away. I could not think straight enough to select potatoes.

Google tells me that sometimes early labour starts this way, and other times you can have the cramps for weeks. Weeks! Please no. And my hips are tingling with weird nerve pain now and I don't think blood or lymph is necessarily reaching my legs - judging by their tingliness and the fact that they look like I have elephantiasis. My back, well it is sore but seeing as everything else is too it is not as prominent as usual.

Do I sound like I want this to be over? And Squirmy remains nameless - he shall probably remain that way forever as we just cannot find a name that we like that does not clash in some way with the surname.

In America everyone gets induced and in SA the babies get C-sectioned out of there. Am starting to see the appeal of these options over being slave to the readiness of a fickle and untrained uterus. My midwives follow a fairly British protocol of care and I am with the British ladies... waiting... and waiting... and going slowly mad.

Thursday, 18 December 2014

Friggin measles!

There is a measles outbreak in South Africa at the moment and it is making me feel uneasy. Bad enough that I am not immune to Rubella and it is not something that is on the free vaccination schedule in this country. I seem to have avoided that issue and the horrible things it can do to unborn babies, thankfully.

The last few days I have seen a few moms post that their babies have measles on Facebook. My immediate question is WHY? Measles vaccine IS on the free schedule because it can be a very serious illness, especially amongst immune compromised and malnourished people. I have seen very distressing photographs of the havoc measles can wreak on the eyes of children who have a vitamin A deficiency. In this country where many people have AIDS and others have a high likelihood of being malnourished you would think the measles vaccine would be taken VERY seriously. So why are these middle class babies getting it? Did they not get vaccinated or are they just not finished with the boosters yet? I also understand that in this country not everyone has easy access to good healthcare and many young ones are not getting vaccinated as they are not being reached and this leads to outbreaks of these illnesses. But these are middle class babies I am seeing on Facebook, with access to both free and private vaccinations.

It scares me because I am about to have a newborn and by default they are immune compromised. I don't want my tiny baby catching measles! I have had measles as a teenager. It was horrible and the worst fever ever and my eyes have been light-sensitive ever since. And I have a great immune system.

I wish people who refuse to vaccinate realised how much of a risk they put other people in by not getting their kids vaccinated. People with cancer, AIDS, other immune disorders and old people whose immunities to measles have worn off are particularly vulnerable, as are little babies. We vaccinate not only to protect ourselves but everyone in society too.

I feel very vulnerable right now. And saddened by the bad advice out there. My own midwife advised us to plan our own vaccination schedules if we wanted to rather than following the scientifically tested and validated schedules that are used. Awful, awful advice. If those ladies delay the measles vaccine then this outbreak could become even worse. Ugh. I can't believe she is advising a group of people with no scientific background to go over the heads of scientists in these situations. So dangerous.

I will just be hiding in my flat for the first few weeks of my baby's birth and just hoping I don't meet up with a measles baby at the clinic or anything. 

Monday, 8 December 2014

Moving office.

I'm feeling sad. This is a tiny thing, not a big deal at all, but G has been working from home since we moved back to SA. Since my own job hunt did not go so well and I became a postgrad student instead, I worked at least twice a week at home too. It is so nice having both of us home. Obviously I try not to bug him toooooooo much during the day, but if I need to ask him something or have a little chat then I can, and we can go for lunch time walks, and have quick cuddles, and we just generally have a very insular but harmonious vibe going on.

However, we only have two bedrooms in our flat and the baby needs his office so he is moving out to a shared office with some climbing friends. He is probably going to move at the end of the week. I know this sounds lame but I will feel so lost without him around. It is amazing what you get used to. Obviously in the UK we both worked all day away from home and just crashed in the evenings, but this house is going to feel so empty with him gone and me just mooning around (I actually am the shape of a moon) and then obviously looking after a baby soon.

Also we will have to majorly downgrade our home internet, haha. His boss was paying half the bill as it was for work so we had unlimited. We are probably going to have a cap, this unheard of thing that South Africans have to deal with. We are internet spoilt brats, coming from the UK where internet is dirt cheap and caps are more of a myth. Saying that, G did once get us capped internet in the UK just because he thought it was the best thing ever that it was only 5 pounds a month, but we (he, actually, he was watching Game of Thrones and stuff like that every day) speedily exceeded the cap every month and immediately paid more to increase it each time. Lame. Please note that it is not that we could not afford unlimited internet, which was dirt cheap, it was just the novel thrill of SUPER cheap internet that attracted him, and we ended up paying more than we would have for unlimited each month anyway.

Saga of the internet aside, I wish we lived in a big house with an office and he could work at home, but this could actually be good for him. He was used to working in a busy office with friends. Maybe these last two years have been too lonely for him. I think he will really enjoy an office vibe again. I will just miss him like crazy.

Friday, 5 December 2014

Winter melon

I am very happy and relieved to have made it to 37 weeks! Phew. Baby is the size of a winter melon, whatever that may be. I am sure it is big. It seems that doctors used to be gung ho about taking babies out at 37 weeks, but recently a full term baby has been redefined to 39 weeks, so that is how far I want to make it! Sometimes it seems unlikely now that I am so huge and I get this intense pressure down below... last night I thought perhaps he was going to bust out of my belly, he was squirming so much. That definitely caused me to panic because I do not feel even remotely ready for this all to actually happen. Which just shows me that I will never feel ready, I guess.

I did not have a baby shower, mostly because I don't have enough female friends to invite to one (I know, how sad). But seriously I could think of 4 ladies to invite and they don't know each other and that would be lame. There was G's family I could have invited but in the end I just didn't. Babycenter members are of the VERY strong opinion that it is absolutely wrong to host your own baby shower, which I had no idea about. I mean, what is the big deal? My cousin threw her own in the UK. She gave us food and drink, we gave her gifts, it seems a fairly normal transaction to me. We throw our own birthday parties after all?

Anyway. Despite the lack of baby shower, we have been given so many new and second hand clothes that I feel slightly overwhelmed. One friend's brother gave us two huge bags of clothes. Our unborn child has more clothes than either of us have ever owned in our lives.

It makes me feel a bit funny how these things work - cycles of privilege. While I don't consider myself to be rich amongst my peers, in South Africa as a whole I guess we are definitely on the rich list. We could afford to buy all the clothes we needed for the baby if we had to. We feel so grateful that we don't have to but we could. We are lucky to have other fortunate friends who pass on their clothing bounties. I am sure the poorest people who cannot afford to buy baby clothes do not have rich friends who can pass on tons of clothes to them. IT makes me want to go out an donate all of these clothes immediately. Or at least use them and then donate them. But here is the slight catch - I think it is expected of us to pass down these clothes to the next baby in the family/friend group.

I think I am going to try and donate as much as possible and save a few things to pass down. This seems the best way. I feel kind of embarrassed right now with our cupboards stuffed full of clothes for the next two years, but so so grateful too. This has definitely been the biggest-spending year of our entire lives as a couple. It has been CRAZY. So every little helps. I just want to pass this abundance on to someone else who really needs it, like really. Not like us. We are just spoilt.

Friday, 28 November 2014

BFG mini.

Eeek! So just to reiterate, I am growing a BIG baby! I had a doctor's appointment today, first one since 20 weeks. Because I see the midwives, I only see the doc 2 or 3 times in pregnancy. It is always nice to have a scan, although at this stage there is almost nothing to see as Squirmy is too big. Apparently the doc projects that he weighs 3.2kg. Already! This is not off the charts big but it is at the end of the spectrum for size. When the doc said the number, I assumed that he meant that Squirmy's projected weight would be 3.2, but no, that is what he is now. Obviously these scans are known to be very inaccurate regarding size predictions, but I can believe it, considering how everyone reacts when they see my belly.

I was less than 3kg when I was born. How is it that I have incubated such a giant? Is that what an aversion to vegetables and nik nak cravings does to a baby? Yikes. It is funny to think that if I were seeing many other doctor's in the city, I am pretty sure I would be recommended to have a C-section about now. I feel relieved that I chose the midwives and doctors that I did. My midwife explained to me that the size of the baby means nothing as to whether he will come out vaginally or not. The actual passage of my pelvis is the one key point, which no one can know the size of, and the other point is how loose my pelvis has become thanks to the relaxin hormone. If I am wide enough and loose enough, any baby can pass through, otherwise even a small baby could get stuck. Judging by how painful my pelvis is every morning I think my tendons are pretty loose. Another factor is the baby's head. His skull bones slide over each other during birth and how well the bones retract defines whether his head will fit or not.

My doc did say that he hopes for my sake that the baby comes in the next 2 weeks (no no no too soon!!!) otherwise I will be birthing a 4kg baby. Um, ouch. However, no, the next two weeks is too soon.

Also we found out that from January next year our hospital will be included on the Delta network for Discovery medical aid. This year it was not and we have the Delta plan, so we have to pay a R5000-something fee, which obviously sucks. But as this hospital is THE one to go to if you want to attempt a vaginal birth we decided to bite the bullet and pay the fee. Obviously it hurts. But from next year we would not have to pay the fee!! If Squirmy could just arrange to come a few days late (he is due on the 28th Dec) then our birth will essentially be fully covered. Ha, I wish. Unfortunately I have a feeling this one is coming earlier rather than later, just by sheer lack of room and inability for my body to house him any longer. He will just have to be an expensive baby.

Thursday, 27 November 2014

Maternity leave

I'm on "maternity leave" if a student can call it that. Finally! It came not a minute too soon. I am taking some serious strain. The world in general is of the opinion that I am particularly large, and I concur. My belly is huge. I am not just saying this. The last few days it grew even bigger. It is so heavy now. G and I walked downstairs to hang up some washing and I felt like I ran a marathon. I am struggling now and all I want to do is sleep, but sleeping really hurts my hips. I wake up every morning in so much pain.

The baby has dropped and as a result I have to pee every few minutes. Which does not bother me that much actually. But today a new symptom happened. The sharp, agonising pains in my groin region that are continual and don't go away. I think G thought I was in labour, poor man, because I was squealing with the pain. Apparently this is quite common and is the baby resting on a nerve or stretching a tendon or something. Ugh. It was bad.

I was really looking forward to having some time off to get lots of shit done, but I get so tired all the time that I do wonder just how much I am going to get done in the next few weeks.

And I weighed myself today and I have gained 11 kg! I was really hoping to not go over 10. And I have 4 weeks to go. I do feel that it is almost all in the belly and to look at me you would agree, but I am sure that when the baby is out I will find out how much of that is not in my belly but in other areas... ugh. I did not really experience the increased appetite that some pregnant women get so I can't really say it felt like I ate all that much, but then exercise has been an unreachable goal for some time now so it could also be down to that.

I know I sound like a typical moany pregnant woman in the last stages of the third trimester. And that is what I am. Well technically I only have 4 weeks of this to go. That is crazy little. I am kind of terrified now based on the size of my belly that I have grown a real chunker (my midwife did say I grew Squirmy "very well") and squeezing him out is going to be a real battle. Shudder.

Better go try and get shit done before this baby arrives. We are so not ready.

Wednesday, 19 November 2014

Another one bites the dust.

A lady in our antenatal classes had her baby last week! She was 34 weeks. The day before she went into labour we had our class. We had similar due dates and were discussing how uncomfortable we were. She did mention that sitting was super uncomfortable for her and you could see she was pretty uncomfortable throughout the class. But wow, bam the next day she had her baby!  Another lady in my pilates class had hers at 31 weeks, but that is a little bit more serious as the baby is still pretty small at that stage. He was fine in the end but he needed quite a bit of TLC in the beginning.

Too soon, too soon. 34 weeks. I am so not ready for that. I want my baby to bake as long as possible. I am sure in a week or so when I start to get ridiculously uncomfortable I will be singing a different tune but I want to avoid the issues that prematurity can bring. Of course at 34 weeks the baby should be fine and probably only needs a little bit of time and assistance in NICU, but still. Prematurity has been linked to some physical and developmental issues in some cases.

And anyway. Soooo not ready to actually have this baby. Will I ever be ready? No name, no hospital bag packed, total denial. There is not actually going to be an actual baby at the end of this, right? That was totally just a  rumour.

Squirmy has been pressing down on my pelvis and the pressure (and pain) down there is increasing and I am just a lumbering sphere at this point. I feel like I could pop at any moment. But would appreciate the extra 5 weeks to do some preparation, thanks.

Monday, 17 November 2014


Another midwife appointment today and it was all good news, yay! I still have ridiculous fatigue that made me lie down all weekend while the BFG cleaned the whole house (ok I did the dishes) and painted a wall all on his own. I feel terrible. But I am so dead tired all the time. The midwives tested my haemoglobin and apparently it is at a really good level, higher than most people's at this stage of pregnancy, so the fatigue is not related to that. I guess it is just related to carting around a 2kg lump in my belly.

They asked if I was eating a super iron-rich diet. Um, no? My diet has been horrible the last few weeks. I seem averse to vegetables again and averse to cooking in general. I don't eat meat every day and my spinach intake has dropped considerably. Can I chalk it down to my Clicks prenatal vitamins? They are clearly good stuff.

But position-wise the baby is head down and engaged in the pelvis and anterior, and basically a great position for labour and vaginal birth, so he better not decided to shift because this is all great news. I do find it a bit disconcerting how much focus there has been on the labour and birth part - I've been going to classes and reading natural birth books and gearing up for all that - but I have not put much focus on how to actually be a good parent. You know, the stuff that happens after you just need to feed and clothe your baby - the part when you actually have to make good parenting decisions and stuff. I am so scared of all that but I have not read or prepared for it at all. Not sure how you would even do that. I mean, the labour part IS important. I want it to go well so that both the baby and I are healthy and it is also important that it is not a traumatising experience that could exacerbate post-partum depression. But the actual parenting vibe, that seems so much more important. I guess we all just wing it to some extent.

My general exhaustion and inability to clean our flat has prompted some people to suggest we hire some help around the place. That is a whole other issue for me. Something I am not very comfortable with at all, and wondering if I should somehow face up to my hang-ups over hiring someone to clean up after me or just do what I am most comfortable with, which is how things work in the UK - people clean up after themselves, if they are working they just allocate the weekend for cleaning. This is what I am used to. I think the issue of hiring help in South Africa is a whole other post's worth of confusion for me. I honestly cannot picture myself being anyone's boss, ever. But I do feel bad that G is having to clean and work full time right now. That is not cool. As soon as I am done with university I can at least focus on doing tiny bits of cleaning during the week and hopefully stay on top of it all. But when the baby comes, gosh who knows how things will work out.

I handed in my dissertation last week, hurrah. I just need to get through a presentation of my results next week and then I am freeeeeeeeee. Oh I cannot wait.  Just hope the baby does not decide to come any time soon. There are still major preparations to be done.

Thursday, 6 November 2014

Pregnant ramblings

Still totally flummoxed on the naming debacle after people have been posting our "already named" child's name all over Facebook. This is not the first time, it started months ago. I managed to get over it the first time. Ugh. People are the worst. I thought up a new name that I like last night but the BFG nixed it - apparently a kid with that name bullied him and sat on him when he was little. Ouch. It's so tricky when you have an association with a name to avoid thinking about it. I have rejected many names because of people I know or knew with the name. Basically our child is going to be called Bob, which is our default name for everything, because we are so stumped on names.

On a positive note, I am loving our antenatal classes. The lady taking the class is a third generation midwife. She was born at home with her gran as midwife and has been attending births since she was little. I love how pragmatic she is. This is a class for people who want to attempt vaginal delivery and she is obviously giving us as much advice on the matter as possible, but she is not one of those militant natural birth advocates. Some people feel that we should not even be told about pain options or the fact that birth is even painful at all. Apparently even saying that it will be painful is causing it to be painful. If you say it is uncomfortable then the idea of the pain supposedly goes away... please, spare me this. I know I personally am going to feel some pain. And that is fine. I am guessing there are some women who do not feel pain during labour and that is wonderful. But I think that most of us are going to have to face the pain but accept it and not be scared, you know? So yes, our midwife explained all the pain management options to us and when they are likely to be appropriate or innapropriate depending on how labour is unfolding. There are some cases in which an epidural is very appropriate. I appreciate her honesty and I appreciate that she is removing the guilt some women will feel if they end up having one despite their best intentions.

I am hoping to avoid one for reasons pertaining to my messed up back. I have a scoliosis and apparently it is harder to insert one in a skew back, but I also have a damaged back and epidurals can cause permanent back pain in a few unlucky people. Also I react badly to anaesthetic and it scares me because of that. All that said though, if the time comes and I really feel I need one I am sure I will not hesitate! I am not trying to be a hero. Just so scared of operations. Ridiculously scared. Like when the baby was breech every time I tried to mentally prepare myself for a C-section or read up on how to recover from one I would panic and just shut the idea down. I know I should try to prepare myself in case Squirmy (this could be his name?) decides to flip again. But I just can't really bear to think about it. I am such a ninny. Please don't flip, Squirmy.

The midwife also showed us a birthing video. Again I am impressed by her pragmatism. I have watched tons of episodes of the UK version of One Born Every Minute so I though I was totally prepared for the whole birth thing, but the video she showed us made labour look HARD. The lady had no pain meds other than the laughing gas and she had a short active labour of about 4 hours before the baby was born, but she was suffering. She was in a lot of pain. They don't usually look so scared and sore in One Born Every Minute! I am wondering how much they edit out?? But again the midwife emphasised that this was an example of a good birth. She had no complications, and her pain and discomfort never got to the point that she needed anything more than the gas and air. So we should be accepting that that is how a good unmedicated birth looks like.


P.S. will be 33 weeks tomorrow. Cannot believe how huge my belly is. It just feels like a giant bag. I could actually feel it growing! At the beginning of the week all of a sudden my skin got tighter and thinner around the belly and I knew I had grown. So weird. Now the skin is a bit looser again. Ugh. I am so scared to see how this stomach will look after birth and how the heck I will ever restore these stomach muscles. For vanity purposes of course, but also, my back needs tight stomach muscles, it cannot hold itself up without them.


Tuesday, 4 November 2014

Naming debacle

So how would you feel if your partner's friends and family decided on a name for your baby and started using it in public, and worse, on FACEBOOK, for the whole world to see, before you even gave birth and made any announcement about a name?

This has happened to me. It is making me so angry I just don't know what to do. Unfortunately when the BFG went over to the UK a while ago he told his family and friends some names that we liked. Knowing him, he is very unpredictable in what he says, his idea of our reality does not always translate to mine, he may have told them that we had made a decision. Which we definitely had not and still have not.

They as a group decided which name they liked and are now referring to my unborn child by that name on Facebook. This is blowing my mind. I am the most stubborn person you are ever going to meet. No way in hell is a group of people deciding my child's name for me. No way in hell do they get to use it on Facebook. Most people make a big effort to keep the name secret. I want the same rights! I want to keep my child's name a secret. Not have it splashed all over Facebook! This is ridiculous.

The name they are using was my number two choice and became my number one choice. To be honest in the last few weeks I had secretly decided that that one was probably the one. But now I don't want to use it. Because of the way they have appropriated it and not respected our privacy or even consulted me in any kind of manner. I don't have a number 3 name choice. I just generally don't like names for boys. And they have ruined one of the only two that I like!

ARGH and oh man. I just see red every time I see my child's "name" on Facebook. It makes me so mad. And I do like the name a lot. But I dislike what they are doing so much that I am willing to drop that name, and go back to my original favourite even though that one has many issues and many people told me not to use it. Screw that! Screw everyone.

Never make the mistake of discussing names with people. I have had some pretty awful experiences every time I mention a name to anyone. I won't even go into the flak I recieved for my number one choice. Just lie. Make up a lie name and tell everyone that name. Please learn from my mistakes. People are just awful and have no boundaries. Sigh.

Monday, 3 November 2014

Medical mystery

So it appears that I am a medical mystery, ha ha, not really. I had a midwife appointment today, it was a good one, the baby is head down today! This makes me happy but I know I should not get too excited because it is still early and the little rascal can flip again at any time. Stay down, baby, down!

I asked my midwife about a weird clicking sound that I hear up to 4 times a day, a sound like a knee clicking. I started hearing it at about 28 weeks. Just before I heard it the first time I was on the Babycenter forum and someone brought up that they had heard a clicking or cracking sound coming from their baby. Most people thought she was mad and teased her about giving birth to a dolphin. LOL. I thought she was probably just feeling hiccups. That was because I had not actually felt hiccups yet. Now I have felt both the hiccups and the clicking, and they are totally different. And everyone I mention the clicking to says it is probably just hiccups. It is not! The internet is full of women asking about their clicky babies, and there does not seem to be a proper answer to what it is. It could be clicky joints, or apparently it could be amniotic fluid bubbles bursting. It sounds more like a hard click than a pop of a bubble to me but who knows. The BFG has heard it too.

My midwife just stared at me as if I was crazy and said she had never heard of a baby clicking in her life. Then she phoned the senior midwife and she just laughed and called it Bic syndrome, and said she had never heard of it either. These are experienced ladies. Why has no one heard of this?? At least I know I am not alone, thank you internet for introducing me to other ladies who have heard it.

I do think that if I had not read about it before, I might not have noticed it. But sometimes it is very loud. I just hope it is not painful, poor little thing.

Less than 2 months until Dolphin baby is due.

Wednesday, 29 October 2014

The final countdown

My thesis is due in just over two weeks. This makes me want to sob, mostly with joy. Things are fairly well on track for me to make the hand-in date, barring some major objection from my supervisor or some terrible unforseen thing that I hope is not lurking around the corner. Oh how I dream for this all to be over.

Of course our uni threw an extra little bonus into the mix of a presentation that we need to do at the end of November, so I will have two weeks after handing in my thesis to prepare for that bundle of fun. This is the first time our department is making non-Honours students do this, which seriously bums me out. There is nothing that I hate more on this earth than speaking in public. The thought makes me want to sob, mostly with horror.

And then, oh sweet day, I will be finished (except for thesis corrections from the examiners) and can just, like, be pregnant for a few weeks before we get down to the business of having a baby. We are horribly under prepared as I am in a frenzy of thesis writing. The day creeps closer and closer and I am starting to panic a bit. A lot.

I got hold of a child mag for Cape Town at my antenatal class, and it nearly blew my mind. Mom and baby classes, child activity classes, child music classes, birthday party event planners and child therapy classes and I don't even know what else. I really don't think I can handle modern parenting. It was all so overwhelming I wanted to burst into tears. This could very well be hormones, I think. But still. When I was a kid my summer holidays involved reading a thousand books, playing in the garden and I think I did a Sunday school day camp for one day. There were no planned activities, classes or therapies and birthday parties happened at people's homes and did not cost a fortune. I am a quiet soul. Is it really necessary for kids to do all of these things? And for parents to somehow acquire money for all of these things? I understand that as most times both parents work these days, my type of childhood summers are probably not a reality any more. I just really hope our kid likes rock climbing, reading, chess, quiet time and self-entertainment, because that is what the BFG and I are good at. Otherwise I am going to need to find a good job ASAP to pay for all these classes and  activities that blow my mind. What am I getting myself into, I ask with quivering knees?

Saturday, 25 October 2014

Hospital tour

We went for a quick tour of the hospital today. At least we now know where to actually go if we pitch up with me in labour.

The labour ward was WAY smaller than I expected. I have clearly watched too many American movies and British birth stories from One Born Every Minute. There are three delivery rooms in the whole place. They are great rooms, huge, and two of them have big baths because my hospital allows labouring in the bath and even allows water births. This is apparently quite rare in South African hospitals. I am hoping I get a room with a bath!

However, the fact that there are only three is freaking me out a bit. What if more than three women are in labour on the night I pitch up? Please, where do the other ladies go? Do we share? Oh the awkwardness of that visual.

It occurs to me that this is probably rarely an issue, as women in private hospitals in South Africa are not labouring and pushing out their babies, but are having C-sections. I did not get to see where they do those, but I am guessing it must be in a theatre that looks different to the delivery rooms. So maybe my fears are truly unfounded. It is kind of weird to think that three is a sufficient number of rooms. I guess after watching all the UK hospital documentaries I am used to seeing loads of delivery rooms and separate labouring rooms so that they can shuffle all the ladies in and out, and even phoning other hospitals when things get too full. Three seems so few.

I have met a fair few women here in Cape Town who are all hoping for natural birth. Many of them are going through my hospital which means that they are more likely to be successful. My entire antenatal class is full of women who want natural birth only. But if they are not going to my hospital then they will have a big fight on their hands. One of the ladies said that her doctor said something to her along the lines of, "if you really insist on having a natural birth..." like it was a real annoyance on his part. So yeah, the idea that South African middle class ladies are too posh to push is not fully accurate at all. But some of the doctors are clearly to posh to catch?

I just hope all the ladies are not queuing up with me around Christmas time to take turns in those three delivery rooms!

On that note, I think my baby is still breech, so maybe I should have been checking out the operating theatres after all.

Friday, 17 October 2014


It seems like these days if you want to be taken seriously as a real blogger you have to blog under your real name. Blogging has changed so much since I started writing nonsense to entertain myself on the internet in 2008. Back then it was still ok to blog anonymously and not so many people were doing it to make money.

Now it is all about personal brands and honesty, a least if you want something public. I have never really wanted that, and have actually loved the fun of blogging anonymously. Not so that I can bitch about people with no consequence, but for some reason I feel more free to write what I want when I am an anonymous voice rather than someone people can put a face to. Must be the introvert thing but I am way more creative when I am anonymous.

Now I have found out that someone who I consider as kind of a stalker, is kind of stalking me again. It is probably not fair to call him a stalker as he has not made my life hell wth constant contact or made me feel like I am really unsafe or anything. I just don't want the guy to contact me and for some reason, even though we last "knew" each other in 2002, he still feels the need to track me down. I say "knew" in inverted commas because I barely know him. I considered him a friend of a friend back then. He had feelings for me though. The first time I met him I was single. The second time I met him a year later I was with the BFG. So all of his "feelings" for me come from one single meeting. He was clearly never in love with me but but with a fantasy of me.

We saw each other only a few times after that. One time he put his arm around me. As I said I was in a relationship. I did not handle the situation very well, I was slightly in shock that he would do such a thing, and other recent tragic family events had my attention. So I just ignored the situation rather than confronting it. Yup, that was a mistake.

After that he made every effort to be awful to me. And me being an idiot gave him chance after chance to redeem himself, and opened myself up to his nastiness again and again. Luckily, as I say I barely knew him and barely saw him.

Then in London many years later, G and I bumped into him at a train station. In such a humungous city, what are that chances?? Anyway we greeted each other, had a small chat and then went on our way.

A few years later he Facebook friended me and I was willing to let byegones be byegones so I allowed it. But it was clear that he was going through ALL of my old photographs, leaving snarky-nasty messages on all of them. That freaked me out. And he friended my sister who he did not know. That also freaked me out. And every time I wrote a status, again came the nastiness. Eventually due to some other reasons, including him asking if we could meet up with him and his new wife (why??? I don't even know you!!) I unfriended and blocked him. He clearly had no idea of personal boundaries.

Anyway, now he has found me again and is trying to force me to contact him via various channels.

What this comes down to, is that I will probably never feel comfortable blogging under my real name now. There is no way in hell I would want this guy to be able to read this and know all this about me. I love blogging even if I am my only reader, but I cannot risk him finding this. Yuck.

I hope the blogging world understands that a few of us choose to remain anonymous for good reasons. Not that I need to worry about the blogging world in any major way. But yikes, social media can be a risky thing that brings unwelcome attention sometimes.

Tuesday, 7 October 2014

A time to be born...

This goes out to my unborn child, I hope you can take a hint. The little horror was still breach at today's appointment. 28 weeks.

Saturday, 4 October 2014

Pregnancy epidemic

It is crazy how many people I know are pregnant right now. It is like an epidemic. Obviously I go to a pregnancy pilates class so that ups the numbers a bit. But out of my original non-preggy class, all of us 6 except 1 lady are now in the pregnancy class, AND our instructor is pregnant too. Is it catching?!

Out of the ladies in my class from school (about 27 of us) at least 8 that I know of are pregnant or had a baby this year. This is easier to understand. We are turning 35 in the next year or two. That magic number makes people make babies in a fevered rush to be done before all the scary fertility stats kick in. I know it is what motivated me. My class was a nerdherd class so most people delayed having kids til their 30s. People are either trying to pop out their second and get reproducing done before they are 35, or if they are late starters like me, are trying to at least get it all started. Facebook is kind of mad with bumps and scans right now.

And then one of my older friends in her 40s got pregnant! I am SO happy for her. She has been trying for years. And it is finally happening for them.

Then, all the people I was friends with in the UK - yup 4 of us are pregnant/just had a baby. In the science world, people have babies even later than 35, so they tend to be even later starters, but yes, things are happening in that part of my world too.

It is so weird to me because I have lived in a babyless and pregnancyless world for most of my life (probably partly thanks to the lack of baby-friendliness in Science) and now it is just a baby explosion, or as I like to think, a future poop explosion. It is just a pity I don't actually live near most of these people, who are scattered all over the world. I still don't see many actual real life babies, and am still as much of a novice as ever when it comes to things like nappies, crying, feeding... well everything.

I live in such an alternate world to most people I really know and see. People who plan to have kids in their mid twenties and be done by 30. Us older ladies are my reality, but I know we are not the norm. I know many people are terrified to even try and have a baby once they hit 30. Well, I am here to say, it seems ok. There are loads of us doing it. It seems to work out. Let's see what happens at magic number age 35

Thursday, 2 October 2014

Aches and pains.

Oh wow, it's like the baby and my tummy exploded this week. Now I am really heavily pregnant. I am so uncomfortable all the time and my lower abdomen hurts. I think it is the muscles being all stretched out. I had quite tight tummy muscles and they are obviously being all separated and weakened and are not used to bearing  a weight that must be approaching 1kg of baby. It aches all the time and I feel like I could get a hernia down there? I'm sure I won't but organs and such don't feel all that well supported.

And sitting in an office chair is hell. I can't breathe. There is no manoeuverability in this belly, so it cuts off circulation when I sit. I spend all day at uni wriggling around, trying to find a comfortable position. And this is only going to get worse?

Someone on my birth board mentioned that changing sleep positions at night should be an Olympic event and I have to agree. Shifting this big belly is not easy with no muscles to help out. And when the baby settles on the other side it hurts! Again. And getting up out of bed requires special procedures now that my muscles are just accessories.

And sleeping. My feet overheat. I get too hot and then too cold and then... its morning.

Pregnancy is so much fun, haha. I think the next 12 weeks are going to be tough. But at least there are only 12 more of them. I plan to write the rest of my thesis from my bed in a reclining position. That way I can breathe and type at the same time.

I do like feeling his wiggles though. I will miss that. While I am driving he sometimes thwacks my bladder really hard. I won't miss that part, ouch! But the rest, and watching my tummy bouncing around, is fun. My baby seems to like the breech position though. It is still too early to worry about this being a permanent fixture, and today he appears to be lying sideways, but as I mentioned before, I did everything possible to be able to try for a natural birth, and I don't want no breech baby. I may have to start all the spinning exercises soon. Spin, baby, spin!

Wednesday, 24 September 2014

Blood type sciency stuff.

I found out that my blood type is O negative a few months ago. The universal donor. Should I add that I have never donated blood (yet)?  I was always bordering on the accepted weight before, and then in England we could not donate because BFG was an  "African male" and I had slept with an "African male". I plan to start donating when I am not pregnant though, my blood is useful!

All this blood type stuff is not important to the majority of the population when you are pregnant, unless you have the "negative" part attached to your type. Then things get a bit complicated. Yippee.

People who are RH - do not produce the RH antigen, so if we are given RH+ blood with the RH antigen our blood forms antibodies against it and  kind of attacks it. So if you are a negative mom and you have a positive baby and your blood mixes at any point during or after pregnancy, mom's blood will then attack any future positive babies you might have if any mixing occurs again. Yikes.

This RH negative blood type is rare. Of course it is. Of course I am left handed, RH negative, and apparently have a personality type that is very rare for women. Only about 15% of white people have the negative type, and only about 5% of black people! I should just add that there are some VERY rare blood types and clotting issues and other mutations that it seems I do not have, so I am very lucky. This RH stuff is not a very big deal. Just an expensive deal. The injections they give you to block your response against RH positive blood cost R700 each time and they give you at least 3. More if you have any kind of injury or bleeding during pregnancy. And I do not have the kind of medical aid that covers that stuff so we would be paying it all.

Luckily for me I managed to hook another rare RH negative person in this RH plus sea. BFG is RH negative too! This means we have no chance of producing a positive child. And negative blood does not attack other negative blood. How awesome is that? And how slim the chances. No injections for me! Shew, this pregnancy was already costing more than it should have. I just feel a bit sorry for our kid. Being negative just seems to be more trouble than it is worth.

It seems the BFG really is perfect for me in every way :D 

Thursday, 18 September 2014

I am growing a giant.

All of a sudden it has occurred to me that I am... HUGE. I do a pregnancy pilates classs and another lady there has the same due date as me. She is really short, but her stomach is way smaller than mine. And why this is, I don't understand. At my first scan my baby was measuring a whole week ahead so it may be that I am cooking a giant baby in there.

It also occurred to me that no one is monitoring my weight at all. My back-up OB-gyn did weigh me both times I saw him at the 12 and 20 week scans, but I don't see him again until the end. The midwives have not weighed me. I thought that this was awesome because all that weight gain was likely to be depressing but then I remembered that rapid weight gain is a sign of pre-eclampsia and it would actually be worth keeping track so I don't miss something like that.

So I weighed myself. The torture. It's crazy to think that the baby does not even weigh 1 kg yet. Where does all the weight come from? Well, I know it is the extra blood and the placenta and the amniotic fluid etc, but even then I doubt it explains everything. I do feel scared as my weight is about to enter new territory, I am currently at my highest ever weight from years ago. I am tempted to not get on a scale again! But I think it is worth keeping track in case something weird happens. Another lady in my pilates class had sudden onset pre-eclampsia at 30 weeks and had to give birth to her little one immediately. I would like to avoid that if possible!

Still can't figure out why I am comparatively so huge though. All I know is that the pilates must be working. I have not had any sciatica so far or any unusual pains other than the usual back issue that I have had for years, despite my baby being the size of a (very large) lettuce.

Also I am giving up coffee again, that one cup a day was making me too guilty. I am finding it harder than when I originally gave it up. I think because I need to be awake to write my thesis. But I have also been getting headaches. Ugh. I think it is worth it though, for my peace of mind if nothing else.

Thursday, 11 September 2014


I passed the 24 week mark this week. The Americans on my Babycenter birth board seem to consider this a big milestone - the baby is now viable. But as far as I can tell, this is not the case in South Africa and 28 weeks is considered the viability landmark. Although I have heard of stories of babies born at 24 weeks surviving here in SA too, the survival rate anywhere in the world for such premature babies is only 50% anyway, with very high rates of lifelong health issues, so lets hope my little one decides to stay in MUCH longer, thank you very much.

It's hard to consider any date a landmark when you know that loss can occur at any time. At least 4 people I know via the internet or real life have had late losses, and I cannot begin to imagine how devastating that must be. So my milestone is birth, really.

I am really struggling with the whole diet thing. Eating healthily. I had the best intentions for this pregnancy but 9 months is a long time when eating healthily is not easy at the best of times. And I started drinking coffee again. Nescafe, once a day. Well within the limits but I feel bad about it. I am just not sure I will make it through my thesis write up without any caffeine. All nighters are already off the table for me and I doubt this has anything to do with pregnancy. My brain shuts off by about 9.30pm these days and refuses to work any more. I think if I drank coffee I could keep going but I am not breaking my one a day barrier. Unfortunately I was using decaf as a very effective substitute but it triggered morning sickness twice and now I have a mental block against the stuff.

Protein, vegetables. I am not eating enough of these. I am so off food and cooking right now really. I think it is the fact that the baby is squishing my tummy and makes me feel full quickly. I mean, I am getting quantity fine, but quality is the issue. Oh the guilt. I just hope my average to subpar diet and caffeine intake don't do something bad to this kiddo.

I have 4 months to go. Perhaps you can tell, I am finding that time moves like an exhausted snail right now. Except when I calculate how much time I have left to do my thesis. Then it flashes past like a really flashy thing.

Also I FINALLY told my fellow students in the department that I am pregnant. I was just too damn shy but I managed to blurt it out yesterday. I am a good 10 years older than most of them, and some of them are considering their own kids in the near future. It is kind of fun answering their questions, even if I am extremely late to this baby party and they all probably know more about babies than me. Maybe they can babysit?? 

Tuesday, 19 August 2014

To C or not to C.

I have gone to a huge amount of effort (and money) to TRY and avoid a C-section in South Africa, and I certainly never dreamed it would be so hard. I am wondering now if I should even have bothered, considering that if the baby is breach or there is another issue, I will have to have one anyway, which would actually save me a lot of money. Maybe I should have surrendered to the C all along.

In the UK the NHS (being free) keeps C-sections to minimum - emergencies and complications only. The care is midwife led. I remember thinking back when I lived there that natural birth seemed terrifying and that I should aim to come back to SA for having kids so that I could have a C-section.

Then I came back to SA and started to actually research what giving birth is like. I remember sitting in my tiny room in Johannesburg coming close to a panic attack as I read about natural birth. Then I remember reading about C-sections - and I realised that as terrified as I was of natural, I was more terrified of C-sections. I have had a very minor operation before, and it was terrible. I hated recovery, I was miserable for weeks. C-sections are not minor. I don't really want to have major surgery and then have to look after a baby. I am sure most women are not such wusses about operations, but I AM! I hate them. Let's not mention the weird reactions I had to the anaesthetic.

So I decided to go the natural route. Little did I know in SA and in Cape Town in particular, this is almost impossible in the private sector. I knew that SA private hospitals have a high rate of C-sections, actually it must be one of the highest in the world, because it is much higher than the US. What I did not know is that most doctors here actively discourage natural birth. Apparently in Cape Town many doctors refuse to do natural birth at all. Or they pretend they will allow it, but then tell you that you need a C-section for various reasons. Basically they lie to you and tell you your baby is too big or your baby will die. Now in some cases, obviously those things are true. My midwife told me their C-section rate is 20% - so they deem 20% of women need a C-section for those reasons.

My hospital up the road has a 90% C-section rate. Apparently 90% of women interviewed for a survey at that hospital hoped for a natural birth. But 90% of women who go there get a C-section (I can't find the link to these stats. I may be remembering them incorrectly. I know it involved two 90%s). Which means a whole lot of people are being told they need a C-section when they don't. I kept reading miserable stories of  women being told their babies are too big, having a C-section and the baby weighs a perfectly normal amount. The reasons are payment (doctors get paid a lot more for C-sections), safety (some doctors think C-sections are safer, although the statistics do not back this up!), convenience (the day can be scheduled, and it can take an hour, whereas labour can be days), and these days, just inexperience.

I have no issue with elective C-sections, if a woman wants one. But if a woman wants a natural birth and is being forced into a C-section, then yes I have a problem with that.

According to the interwebs my only hope of having a natural birth in Cape Town was ditching the doctors and hiring a private midwife. So that is what I have done. They have back up doctors that cover them in emergencies. There is only one hospital in Cape Town that allows them to practice. This hospital is not only my list of hospitals for the medical aid coverage that I chose. And they do not cover both the doctor and the midwife. So I am going to have to pay extra for the midwife and extra for the hospital. This baby is going to cost a LOT of money. If I had stayed in the UK, the whole thing would have been free, and the natural birth would have been default. At least I know with the midwife that if I am told I need a C-section that I am not being lied to and I can trust their advice.

All I can say after all this effort, I better not need a damn C-section after all! Funny, what an effort it took for the privilege of squeezing a baby out of a vagina. Which is still the (second) most terrifying thought to me. Let's just block that thought out for now.

Tuesday, 5 August 2014

Pregnancy milestone - rogue bellybutton.

I can tell that my bellybutton wants to pop out. It is on the verge. I am dreading it. Outies freak me out. I have always thought they look hideous (sorry previous pregnant ladies). And you can't hide them. They stick out for miles. I am just going to have to not look down for the next 5 months because they give me a bad feeling inside.

Considering what is going to happen to my waistline and apparently my lady apparatus in the next few months, not looking down is probably the safest policy.

Wednesday, 30 July 2014

Reality kicks.

I've started feeling real kicks now, the kind where I don't even have to press my hands on my stomach, and it is freaking me out. I was at university today, typing away at my thesis, when these kind of ticklish, uncomfortable kicks started up.

I had a real moment of panic and disorientation. There is a human INSIDE of me (trying to get out?). It was some kind of Alien moment. This human is inside of ME. And anything could happen. I am supposed to look after it inside of me, but anything could happen.

I have always been a nervous (maybe more like terrified) and reluctant driver. I really struggle with driving. I learned so late in life. I still feel the need to practice driving somewhere before I go for the first time on my own. Now that I have a permanent passenger inside of me, I am terrified again. I am so crap, what if I crash? I mean, it will be much worse now if I crash! I am so out of it sometimes when I drive, anything could happen!!

Oh dear. This all became so real. I think it did not really dawn on me before just how real this all was. The groblet was tiny and I couldn't feel him. It seemed like a story I had told myself rather than something real.

It's so real and I have to look after this human for the rest of my life and keep it alive and I am totally freaked out.

Saturday, 5 July 2014

Major diet-related guilt.

I know going on and on about pregnancy related stuff can be somewhat tiresome, but it does tend to take over your whole life, for obvious reasons.

I did not get morning sickness, no vomming for me, hooray for that. I did get nausea though and an enthusiastic gag reflex. I also got a strong aversion to vegetables. They don't make me nauseous, but my stomach just says NO. I do try though. When I make something healthy it can take me an hour to eat it because I really have to force it down. Which makes me naturally want to avoid all vegetable dishes because they are such an effort to eat.

Meat is not enticing at all either. I can eat it but it will not digest and it just makes me feel blegh. So there is a lot of force-feeding going on at the moment.

However, carbs are my best friend! Potatoes, oh yeah. And chips - The Simba kind, especially corn chips make me feel so good! There is a definite salt craving going on.

I have to admit I have eaten a few full bags of nik naks and ghost pop so far. And a few people have pointed out that they are filled with MSG and preservatives and a whole crap load of e-numbers and lots of salt and that I should NOT be eating whole bags of them. Eating donuts and sweet things does not cause so much panic but my chip consumption is apparently a whole other level of bad.

Now I am panicking somewhat. Will my poor kiddo have some kind of nasty issues due to salt overload or horrible e-number overdose? Ugh. The thing is, it is so hard. All other food is making me miserable. All I crave is salt and carbs and it is the only thing that makes my tummy feel ok, And I am trying. I forced down a steak today and yesterday I force-fed myself a homemade soup with at least 4 types of veggies. But egh. Eating is such an effort. And my nik nak addiction has probably already done the damage if there is any.

I am going to try like crazy to avoid all chip-related binges from now on. How, I do not know. Try telling my stomach how delicious butternut really is and please send it the message that gagging is no fun.

Monday, 30 June 2014

Coffee or no?

Ugh. I quit coffee just as I got pregnant, and it was surprisingly easy. I had tried to quit before and had terrible withdrawal that included depression, headaches and just general misery. This time I did not have any of that, which surprises me, because while I was working on my Masters in Joburg I was living off coffee and very little else.

Recently I have been suffering mild headaches, and I am blaming pregnancy. They are not very bad, and I should not really complain, but it does get a bit draining when they occur every day. I read that caffeine seems to help. So today I made myself some Nescafe, the caffeinated kind. It is ok to have a bit of coffee in pregnancy.

Now I am feeling not so good! All shaky and weak and anxiety has sprung from nowhere. I am not usually an anxious person. Blegh. My mild headache is gone though. Can't win in this game - headaches or anxiety? Maybe I will alternate.

Tuesday, 24 June 2014

A lemon in the oven.

So blogging world, I have been hiding again, for no other reason than absolutely nothing interesting has been happening in my life. Until now I guess.

After a miserable two months in Johannesburg slogging day and night in lab with no time to cook or exercise and lots of time for stress, I came home and immediately fell pregnant.


Just kidding! If there is one thing I can safely say I am good at, going by my 14 year relationship, it is birth control. We clearly had that down. I can happily vouch for the wonders of condoms because the minute we put them away I got knocked up. But this was all well planned.

I feel very lucky and grateful to have fallen pregnant with such ease. At my age fertility is  in decline and I know many people of all ages who battled for years to fall pregnant, if at all. And even that one month was stressful! I cannot imagine doing that again and again. Living by the clock, what with calculating ovulation and timing the deed, and then two week waits, and then the countdown for miscarriage risk at each week of pregnancy and then in my case a 12 week wait(!!) to actually see if there was really anything growing in there or if it was all my imagination, I was stressed and tired of watching the clock. Now I feel like I don't have to worry about time so much until the baby needs to come out, so that is a relief.

I had very mild pregnancy symptoms at first, no morning sickness, just some nausea and an aversion to vegetables and meat. Only dairy products and carbs seemed to go down ok (Nik Naks are my saviour).  So much for the healthy pregnancy diet I am supposed to be following.

Now I am in the second trimester (baby currently the size of a lemon) and I have thrown up twice! And I thought things were supposed to get better from now on. And I have hectic shortness of breath. We walked around the block the other day and I had to sit down and rest I was so puffed. I am a bit worried about this actually, because I know many women can exercise just fine during pregnancy and can do more than walk around the block. I mean, my body has produced up to 50% more blood and is straining the heart, but I am not sure that this is a normal level of breathlessness. Apparently pregnancy can suddenly bring to the fore heart problems that went undetected before. Please don't let that be the case.

I am also now having lots of uterus stretching pains which are not agonising but last all day and get to me after a while. And then there is my back. I am not really showing or anything but all the stretching is causing back pain already. Oh boy, I can't imagine how painful it will be by the end.

I am already missing the easy times of the first trimester.

I am so inexperienced in all things baby, have never changed a nappy, have had almost no interaction with babies whatsoever. I am pretty terrified. But somehow I will have to manage, so here goes.

Wednesday, 26 March 2014

Celebrity divorce

When I heard that Gwyneth Paltrow and Chris Martin are going to divorce, or consciously uncouple, if they must call it that, the wave of divorce sadness hit me again. Does everyone get divorced? And particularly, why do almost all famous people end up getting divorced?

I actually feel sorry for famous people. It seems that there is this modern myth that we can have everything, awesome career, good relationship and happy kids, and famous people always seem to be the epitome of this expectation. Poor things. They have so much money, it is almost their duty to be happier and more successful in all of the things than we are. I think celebrities are victims of very unrealistic expectations, but to some degree, we all are.

But it is a lie and it is a lie for all of us. You cannot have everything, there has to be compromise. You CAN have a compromised version of everything, yes.

Famous people generally get famous by having an awesome career. Long after they have made more money than they will ever need, they still pursue their careers, I assume because it fulfills them, at least I hope that is the reason. But in order to have a good relationship, you have to sacrifice some career stuff. You have to give your partner time. Lots of it. If your career takes up too much time you have to say no to stuff. You cannot keep pursuing that career and not expect it to have consequences in other aspects of life. It doesn't mean quitting, necessarily. Just cutting down.

So I guess we all have to really decide what is important to us and then compromise. Extra money really does not buy you out of this equation.

I know for sure that my relationship is more important than any job I could have. I have never been a career-oriented person. I tried to be one for a while, or thought I should be. But my relationship will always come first in my life. I suppose that makes it easier for me because it does not feel like there is any sacrifice I need to make in terms of work life at all.

Freaking divorce! You are everywhere. Stay away.

Thursday, 20 March 2014

Random life stuffs.

G and I bought a flat in Cape Town! Well, G did. As a student I cannot really make any contribution to a bond. It seems awfully grown up and scary, but then, he is 38. Everyone has to grow up sometime, right? Actually, no, owning  a place is not necessary for grownup life at all, much as we are conned into thinking that. And I even question the financial sense of why everyone does this now that I know how much freaking money you spend in the process, and how little you make as profit when you sell? There must be a reason...

On that subject we also bought our first ever couch. Hilarious. They are expensive too. People keep asking how we survived without a couch but the truth is, we are not very sociable and when we had people round in our tiny granny flat in England people sat on the floor or a chair or the bed. 

When I say we bought a flat, it is not actually ours yet. We agreed to buy in September. And the lawyers have still not come through with the final paperwork! A friend of ours signed to buy in December and had his place by the end of Jan. How is it possible that we are still waiting? We are renting the place that is supposed to be ours. Most useless lawyers ever.

Real estate is heartbreakingly expensive in Cape Town. I sometimes browse the property pages for other cities to make myself sad.  I am not sure we could ever afford to buy  a house in this city, at least not in the central areas. 

I am hating every minute of every day of my Masters. It is sad to admit, but I dream every day of quitting. I have major homesickness for my previous work place. I have tried for months to convince myself that I am overreacting, but I am just unhappy with so many aspects of the supervision that I have that I can't move past my dissatisfaction. I wonder if I will be able to hang in and finish it? I spend all night dreaming about how I will quit with minimum drama and accusation, but at the same time make my issues heard. I feel like a quitter these days. Do I quit everything? At the same time, misery is not healthy and I would be much better off without this level of unhappiness and stress. Who knows what will happen. Every day I try to hang on a little longer, mostly because I am completely averse to drama and unpleasantness.

I have been in Johannesburg for two months, living on an active building site with jackhammering and drilling day and night, and missing my G like crazy. The only way for me to finish the work my supervisors want me to do is to work day and night without cooking breaks. G has started to decorate our flat without me. I feel like I am nearing the end of a long prison sentence and I cannot wait to go home. No offence to Johannesburg. I am sure you are a lovely city. I, however, will never get to see you because I am chained to a lab day and night. I did not realise you rained so much. It's a bit extreme. 

I blame the ANC.

Tuesday, 18 March 2014

Being back in South Africa is much harder than I thought.

I am finding living back in South Africa SO much harder than I ever expected. I feel that I need to communicate that, but I am scared of trying to go into the why's of it. I have a feeling that articulating it would piss a lot of people off and I have no desire for that. Not that anyone reads this blog, hello I have had a wordpress blog for years. I think the reason I have come back to blogger is because I want that anonymity again.

Anyway, even saying that I find living in South Africa hard seems wrong to me. No matter how hard it is for me, it is a million times harder for all the people living in poverty, and they don't exactly have a choice about being here or not.

And this is part of the problem. Trying to align my own struggles with those of other people in this country and still feel that I have the right to feel how I feel.

I did not realise how angry people are here. And for good reason! But the anger scares me even though I know it is fully justified. I am one of those people who is not able to block these things out, the emotions of others affects me greatly. I have always had this issue. And this is probably why I am struggling so much.

It breaks my heart that people are so angry. It breaks my heart that for many people, I am a symbol of the cause of that anger. I was naive before. I thought that people got along. And they do. They really do. But it seems to be less common than anyone could wish.

Everyone, of every culture, is very nice to me here. But there are these huge barriers that seem to prevent us from connecting. I am not used to this. England is a melting pot of every culture, and the only way to survive is to connect, instantly. It is easy for me. I have made friends with people from every culture I can imagine.

And yet in South Africa it is completely different. The barriers are there and I can't even put into words how they work. One day they might go away. Maybe? But I will be old or dead. It makes me so sad. Because I like pretty much everyone. I want to connect with people and have that easy friendship that rises above culture. And it is possible. But it is much harder than I thought. We have a lot of misconceptions about each other.

People are friendlier here, much friendlier than in the UK, so it is not all bad. But there is a general wariness that we have around each other. And the anger, it is there, so strong I cannot ignore it.

 The thing is, there is so much good actually! So much. But the bad tends to dominate my psyche. I have always been this way.

My problem is that negative emotions overwhelm me until I cannot see anything else. Other people can see the positive and live positively, but the anger that is bubbling up in this country overwhelms me, and it scares me too. I do believe this country is in for a rough ride some day. When, I do not know. (Well, for many people it is already a very rough ride indeed. Perhaps what I mean is that we could be in for something that affects privileged people badly. Will the people who are struggling now struggle more? Perhaps. I think we need to chat to Zimbabweans about whether they are better off now or before Mugabe went a bit extreme. I bet there are a wide range of opinions on that!).

At the same time, things have always worked a little differently here. We have never followed the traditional African path in terms of history and politics. Not saying this is a good or a bad thing, but South Africa has had a unique path and maybe the current anger will rouse something slightly different from the usual. Who knows?

Of course another thing I struggle with in South Africa is guilt. In Cape Town you can encounter people with difficult and sad stories every time you leave the house, multiple times a day. I know that I am lucky to be the one hearing the story rather than the one living the story. The contrasts in this country are too great. I have never considered myself wealthy. But to a person who earns R1000 a month or less, of course I am wealthy.  Shockingly wealthy. My monthly grocery bill alone comes to a lot more than R1000 I can tell you that.

And so I am both wealthy and not. In some circles I would describe myself as ok, as well-off. Once we were struggling. In other circles we are incredibly wealthy and the thought of describing my past as "struggling" in this context is a joke.

 These things, they require some mental gymnastics that are difficult to negotiate.

I always thought I was made of stronger stuff. But I am learning that my very noble thoughts about my self, others and the world very rarely translate into noble action.

And so I am struggling. And I am disappointed in myself.

Apologies to any South African who may find this offensive in some way. I mean no offence at all. I always seem to struggle with things that other people think are just plain crazy. 

Monday, 10 March 2014

Divorce is one hell of a mind-bender to me.

It's funny how I just wrote about commitment in relationships recently, and ever since then I have been thinking a lot about divorce.

A few people I know online or in real life are getting divorced. It terrifies me.

I think divorce does not terrify me if there was a problem with the relationship from the start, or if things become really bitter for whatever reason. For instance I know someone who actually broke up with the guy, found herself pregnant, they got married and had a troubled relationship for many years until they got divorced. In that case divorce seems like a kind of freedom from a bad situation.

But what really freaks me out is that I know people who have been with someone they love (loved?) deeply, for many MANY years - and suddenly after those many years something changed or happened and all of a sudden that life partner person, with whom you have extensive history, is no longer the person you want to be with.

I have heard of parents who have split up when their kids are in their late twenties. That blows my mind. All of that history an shared experience - nixed in an instant.  Did it not mean anything in the end? Or it did mean something but it is possible to move on from? Can you compartmentalise this stuff? You can see how much I am grappling to even understand how this is possible. My world would just not make sense if I did this.

This scares me so much because for me a huge part of bonding with all people is knowing someone a good length of time and shared history. I take a loooong time to warm up to people. It is an introvert thing. My brain needs to process x amount of information about a person before it feels comfortable that it knows the person, and similarly I seem to need to know someone for quite a long time before my brain feels that it is worth putting up the barriers I usually put up. After a longish time my brain says, ok, now it is worth it. This person is not just an aquaintance who will disappear. This person is going to be around and is worth putting all of your affections into. I guess all of my energy will go into that person, so my brain does not want to invest in someone who I just will not be very close to. Once time and history have been shared, I pretty much will love that person for life. No matter who you are, you are in.

I think that is why I always end up loving the people I work with so much. All of them. Because I spend so much time with them, am able to get to know them over a long time, and share a lot of history with them. I am aware how atypical this is because most people are very wary about friendships at work. I love all my colleagues and will forever! Personality clashes are not often an issue for me, as long as I have spent enought time with you!

The G man and I have shared nearly 14 years of history. If for some reason we split up - it would blow my mind. My life makes no sense without him there because we have all of that past stuff - it seems meaningless if we are not together. Does that make sense? I feel like if I lose him I will lose all of that history or at least render it senseless and empty. I can't describe how much it confuses me that people can walk away from such a long shared time and start anew. I think it is just not in my character.

I bond for life, and I mean LIFE. And yet, these divorces happen all the time. They can happen to anyone, even people like me who are convinced the person they are with is their ultimate person for life. And I also know that G is different to me and bonds in a different way - it is not so much about shared history and length of time for him. I feel that for him walking away from so many years of history would not be such a mind-bender. And that does not help my panic much either.

I think this is what they mean when they say relationships take work. Even when yours seems good it is no time to coast along and take things for granted. Ugh.

Saturday, 1 March 2014

Commitment - I get it.

It's probably my fault for having a thing about marriage and not wanting to do it, but I am getting quite tired of the questions people ask when they find out that G (whom I have to call my boyfriend for lack of another word) and I have been together for nearly 14 years.

I know that people are not meaning to be mean or tiresome, but I get asked the same thing again and again, and it puzzles me.

"Oh, so why aren't you married? Is it because you don't want the commitment?"

What part of "nearly 14 years" somehow implies a lack of commitment?! What part of waiting for nearly 2 years while he went to Antarctica, during which I never saw him, not even once, and Skype did not exist?
Please explain this to me? What really scares me is that the societal concept seems to be that you have to put your commitment down in a signed document, or it is not the real thing. It just seems so insecure to me that a commitment has to be signed and made law for it to hold.

I realised after about 4 or 5 years into my relationship what commitment really meant and how tough it actually was. It means sticking with the person even through times when they are driving you crazy and you are not feeling any love for them whatsoever. It means working through every problem you have with each other, even when leaving seems like the only option. Commitment is hard.

And it is something that many young people who get married have no idea about at all. I have heard stories of ladies who are now divorced who still say that their wedding day was the best day of their lives. Because it was all about them, because they got to be a princess for a day. Because romance as an ideal was being fulfilled. Not because of the unglamorous commitment part and what it really means.

 I totally understand that I am in a tiny minority of people who actually do not want a wedding and a legal contract (or a religious one) and that is why people get so confused. But our relationship is exactly the same as one with a certificate. Until death or divorce (unofficial in our case) do us part. I am working really hard towards having "death" (hopefully in the very distant future) as that ending. The same as anyone else. Commitment is everything to me.

Why does a contract make such a big difference? Why is it difficult for people to respect my relationship as the real thing? Why does G's family insist on calling me his fiance in public as if I am some embarrassment that they need to hide behind one of the safe labels we use?

My relationship is the real deal.