Wednesday, February 28, 2007


Quite often I find myself nodding my head as I read a post but I seldom feel a connection to what the writer is expressing. Today however I found my way to a lovely blog written by a lovely man ( think) via a comment on a friends... well you get the picture.

This is the post and if you look on the right under the fabilicious section you'll find his link. Give it a read and let me know what you think. Both locals and foreigners alike.

I think that the reason it resonates so deeply with me is because I too am now straddling 2 identities, that of being South African and now a mother to British (Welsh) born children and wife to a Northerner. Also, I live in an area of Britain where there are very few people who weren't born or raised here which makes me stand out a fair amount.

Mostly I don't care - being different is nothing new to me. I grew up during the apartheid era, but went to a multi racial school. I was an advocate for change, as was my father. At the time people were wary of this kind of white rebelling, so being different comes naturally. Sadly though, being South African means that the 'different' that people assume is one entrenched in South Africa's dark past. I am a white South African, of an age where I would have benefited from the practices of the apartheid government (whether I advocated their rule or not) and because of this association some people assume that I should continue to pay for the sins of the past. Some are racist themselves and therefore assume that offensive jokes of this nature would be perfectly acceptable in my company (they're not) Worse are those South Africans who can't accept that change is uncomfortable and that I believe that there has to be some back lash against white people before true equality can emerge.

I guess this is something common amongst foreigners, which in itself is a comfort.


Wednesday, February 21, 2007

And you thought I was kidding?

Poor Tommy looks like one big chicken pox. The calamine has become his new clothing and through it all he still manages the odd tooth(less) grin. Makes me want to eat him up except well, he has the pox!

I know everyone says that it is so much better for them to get through these childhood illnesses young but I feel so helpless when I see how frustrated they get. If ever there was one thing that made me feel like their mum, its holding their limp little bodies when they aren't well.

The worst thing is that Nathan hasn't actually broken out in any spots yet, so we still have that to look forward to. No doubt he will fall prey to it as his brother gets over it - surely a sign of things to come?

I knew that I'd jinxed things when I said that they had avoided illness up until now - serves me right!


p.s still no home broadband *sigh*

Monday, February 19, 2007

5 x the fun..

So here the fun starts.

2 weeks ago my sister developed a rash, which became blisters, which scabbed over and was then diagnosed as shingles. Now she's fine but.....

Both boys, my SO and my sisters boyfriend have chicken pox AND it looks like my other sister may be getting shingles too!

So far, I'm fine - physically anyway. Mentally, I may need to up the dose of happy pills!


p.s. itch itch, scratch, scratch

The saga contiues...

My SO has pointed out that I never mentioned what the problem was with the pregnancy. Just so you know, the diagnosis was twin to twin transfer syndrome.

Considering the circumstances surrounding the run up to their births, both boys were doing really well. I have only recently started catching up on other blogs again and have now realised just how many things could have gone wrong. Thankfully our doctors and nurses chose to only tell us what we needed to know so we were blissfully unaware of many of the issues that others in our situation had to deal with.

The NICU staff were fantastic. Even more so when they began encouraging us to get involved with the boys care. At first I was terrified at the though of handling their frail little bodies but with some practice I relaxed and became more confident. Sometimes a full term baby would have to spend a night or two in the NICU unit and we would be shocked at how big they seemed.
When I look back at the pictures from those early days I can see how premature they looked but at the time they were just seemed small and perfectly formed.

There are a lot of things about those first few weeks that I wish I'd been more prepared for. The 3 day blues hit me hard and stuck around for longer than I would've liked. Also, the moment that the milk came in I thought that I was having a heart attack I was in so much pain! The midwife thought it was very funny and offered a hand pump to take away some of the pressure. Can I just say that if you're reading this and you think that you may need to express at some point, please be kind to yourself, hire/rent/buy an electric pump. Those hand held ones are agony (although they are slightly less revolting, but I'll take speed over revulsion any day)and should be used in emergencies only!

After 3 weeks of (what I now know to be minor) issues, we were finally able to get the boys ready to go home. It was a bitter sweet departure from the unit. We were looked after so well and the nurses treated they boys as one of their own. Thankfully, my sister had flown over from South Africa to live with us and help out - which I think is what saved the SO and I from complete meltdown in the end.

On June 27th, 2007 our boys made their first car journey to the place that we call home and we began our first journey to parenthood.


Nathan (left) and Thomas (Right)
29 days old

Friday, February 16, 2007

A quick aside...

I don't know how I found her, but if you're in need of a lift please go here . She rocks! And as soon as I have a home connection again, she is SO going on my link list :-)


p.s. hold thumbs (or cross fingers as non South Africans say) that the internet connection will be back sometime this week-end.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Just when I was getting into the swing of things..

My broadband connection at home is down (and has been since last week-end). In a manic attempt to get some work done on the outside of the house I went around trimming back old cables. Unfortunately one of the cables that I trimmed wasn't old at all.

I am hoping to have things up and running soon 'cause I'm on a roll and I'm sure that you're all waiting in anticipation for the rest of the story right? :-)

Watch this space !


Tuesday, February 06, 2007

So we went to the wedding and it was HOT! Everyone was very kind about how big I was but I think it freaked more than a few people out (I think my sister-in-law may have worried that I was going to go into labour and steal the show J). We had booked months in advance to stay over in the beautiful hotel but sadly the splendor was lost on me once the exhaustion and worry took over.

The following morning we left early but within a short time I began to experience pains in my chest and had difficulty breathing. I spent the entire 3 hour journey with both arms stretched out and above my head to try and relieve some of the pressure.

Dr Mac and Gill were waiting for us in the sonography suite (a new machine had been installed as well so there was a lot of excitement) and we were ushered straight past the waiting area and into the room. Within seconds it became obvious that the amount of fluid had increased significantly overnight which Dr Mac confirmed with some measurements. Twin 1 (recipient) fluid had increased from 12cm’s to 15cm’s and twin 2’s (donor) fluid had decreased to below 1cm.

Dr Mac sat us down to explain our options. Essentially we had to decide whether we were going the old fashioned route (amnio to remove the fluid) or the modern route (laser treatment). The latter would have had to be done at a different hospital and by a different doctor so after only a little deliberation, we decided to stick with Dr Mac and the amnio.

The process took around 2 hours and in total they removed nearly 3 litres of fluid. Once they finished however I began to cramp (they expected some pain but the cramps could have signified early labour) so Dr Mac decided to book me into the hospital for the week-end to keep an eye on me.

I was finally discharged on the Monday morning but was then notified that I was to go straight home and that I would not be returning to work. I think that they deliberately underplayed the severity of the problem but the fact that I was required to return every second day for a scan belied their assurances.

Over the course of 4 weeks I was closely monitored and on a couple of occasions the fluid increased to within the dangerous range only to diminish before any further action could be taken. At 30 weeks Dr Mac informed us that he wanted to deliver the boys by c-section at 31 weeks. I informed my family and so my mum flew over to be there for the birth. The day before I was scheduled for c-section I returned for a final scan and to all of our surprise, both boys had improved significantly and enough that Dr Mac decided to postpone the delivery for a week.

4 weeks and 4 days after diagnosis, I arrived at the hospital bright and early ready to say good-bye to pregnancy and hello to motherhood, mistakenly thinking that things would get easier J

The c-section itself was a breeze. Sure I was (mildly) disappointed that I didn’t even get a choice but it wasn’t nearly as traumatic as the media had led me to expect. I did lose a fair amount of blood and had to be monitored very closely for several hours afterwards but the morphine helped to numb the pain. Nathan (Twin 1) was born first and weighed just less than 3 pounds. Thomas came second and was just less than 4 pounds. Although bigger in size, Thomas was the one who needed help to breathe and he was on CPAP for a few hours after he was born. Both boys were whisked off to the NICU unit and I was wheeled out to recovery.

Perhaps the hardest part of that day was being wheeled up to the maternity unit afterwards. The policy is that if a mother has had a c-section that she is put on a general ward for the first night (a good idea in practice as this ensures that there is someone in the room at all times). The downside to this is that I had only briefly glimpsed my babies and I was surrounded by woman who had theirs with them all the time.

The first night was terrible; I was given a second dose of morphine just before I went to sleep but woke up several times to the sound of babies crying. At around 4am I asked if I could go down to the NICU to visit the boys but there wasn’t anyone to wheel me down. I came to realise that being wheelchair bound was going to mean that I had to rely on others so early on morning 2 I forced myself to get up and shower and stopped the morphine (although that stuff does linger on doesn’t it?) so that I could regain my mobility. I was also moved into a private room so that the other poor mums didn’t have to feel guilty.

Later that morning I finally made it down to the NICU unit and was able to get my first proper look at my sons. I fully expected to feel an immediate rush of love and affection for them so imagine my disappointment and guilt when the overriding emotion was fear and numb detachment.

Looking back and loving them as I do now, I find it hard to remember these feelings of bewilderment – but I wish that someone somewhere had mentioned that it isn’t always instantaneous. That love is something that grows over time.

Thomas (1 day old)
Nathan (1 day old)

Friday, February 02, 2007

The first post is always the hardest. (Part 1)

I never wanted to have children. Don't get me wrong, I love kids but I never saw myself as a mother - or for that matter a wife. That is, until I met my husband. C & I met in the October and by December we both knew that our lives were to be forever intertwined. We got engaged soon after and then lived together along with our 2 cats.

Shortly before we got married (December 2005) we decided that we would stop being 'careful' under the belief that we would take some time before we conceived. This was our first misconception (hehehe excuse the pun) because by my calculations it occurred sometime in the first week. Needless to say, fitting into my wedding dress 6 weeks later was almost impossible.

At 13 weeks we insisted on an early scan (in the UK the first scan is usually only at 18 weeks), I'm not sure why we insisted but we did. To our surprise and shock we discovered that we were in fact, carrying twins! This was our first surprise but it definitely wasn't to be our last drama.

We were immediately scheduled in for a second, more detailed scan and this was when the real fun began. The sonographer had to ascertain what type of twins they were for, we were to discover there is more to it* than just identical or not identical. The scan failed to provide them with the conclusive evidence they were looking for as they were unable to find a membrane between the twins. They were however able to confirm that they were identical and that for the moment they were healthy.

At around 18 weeks and after several desperate scans, we were finally booked in to see the Specialist Consultant, affectionately referred to as Dr Mac (or McDreamy as the nurses liked to call him). It took him a while but he eventually found a membrane and we got to breath our first collective sigh of relief.

As the weeks passed I got bigger and more desperate as the 'morning sickness' that had haunted me from the start persisted and worsened. Despite my best intentions, pregnancy really didn't agree with me and I'm fairly certain that it didn't agree with the poor people around me either.

From 24 weeks onwards I started being scanned every 2 weeks as is normal for a twin pregnancy. I took solace in watching my 2 beautiful boys grow and tried my best to ignore how truly awful I felt.

At 28 weeks I dutifully reported for my regular scan. To my untrained eye nothing seemed amiss even though we always asked all sorts or questions to try and understand the complexities. The sonographer commented that there was a lot of fluid, but that it appeared to be in both sacs so she wasn't worried. I remember thinking that it was a strange thing to say.

The following day I received a call from the senior sonographer (Gill). She calming told me that Dr Mac had reviewed my case and had asked if I could come in for another scan. I mentioned that we were due to attend my husbands' brothers wedding the following day (May 4th) and asked if it was something that I could do after I got back. Gill called back say that Dr Mac wanted to see me before we drove across country to the wedding so we agreed to pop in the following morning.

To say that I was big was an understatement. At 28 weeks my waist measured at 44inches and I was desperately uncomfortable. I wasn't to realise it at the time, but a chance discussion in the corridor was overheard by Gill who casually mentioned it to Dr Mac. Had this not happened, things may have been much, much worse!

* for a full description of the types of twins see: