Wednesday, 28 September 2011

Finally I saw a doctor ...

Two weekends ago Mr B, LL and I made the trek to Gabs to have our first OB appointment. You may have read about the saga here as to why we had to go to Gabs. No problem, I was over it, and ready and raring to chat to a doctor about the baby and our plans.

LL travelled the 5 hour journey pretty good. One minor meltdown that involved Mummy turning off the dvd player in the hope that the little man might sleep, only to have that idea refuted, and consequently after 40 mins of screaming and crying I gave up and put the dvd player back on. You live and learn. Unfortunately it also meant no nap for LL for the entire day!!!

After checking into our hotel and gushing with excitement over how cool family suites are, we headed off to the hospital for our 3pm appointment. We arrived early, which was lucky as the doctor was running ahead of schedule. I can hear you gasp with astonishment now, what doctor is ever running ahead?? Lucky for me, Dr M was. We headed in and began the consultation only to be interrupted 5 mins later. Dr M was required upstairs in the labour ward. Ahhh the joys of seeing your OB. So we waited. Which ordinarily would have been fine, but we had an almost 2 year old who hadn't napped and was kicking into hyper-drive. I was prepared for this though and pulled out my in case of emergency activity bags (the idea of which I got from this blog - thanks Nicole!!). I had crayons and paper, plus a bag full of small and medium sized lids, and another with a home-made dominoes game.

Thankfully this seemed to placate LL for the 20 mins we had to wait. And then it was back to seeing the doc again. Unfortunately the delay meant the appointment became rushed as he was now behind. He speedily took down all my details, did a quick ultrasound for measurements and agreed that early Dec would be the best time for me to fly back to Australia and no later. Despite the rushed appointment we managed to work out that my due date is March 1st (or Feb 29th due to it being a leap year), that the baby's size is fine for dates, and I was fit and healthy. Perfect!

During the ultrasound Dr M disappointingly said that he wouldn't be able to tell us the sex as the baby was being ultra modest and had it's body curled up. I quickly assured him before he could say anymore that that was fine as we didn't want to know. Really, he asked? Everyone always wants to know. We don't, I firmly replied before Mr B could interject.

Mr B is keen to find out; I'm not. I liked not knowing what LL was until they pulled him out. I will admit I was certain he was going to be a girl and when they held him up announcing he was a boy I was in a little disbelief, but I still like the idea of it being a surprise, to be guessing right up until that moment when the baby is finally born, placed in your arms and announced to be .... ??? I am almost certain this time that I am having another boy, so I would like a few more months of thinking maybe just maybe it's a girl or a boy or a girl or a boy???!!! HA!

Sadly there is no ultrasound pic to share. Due to the speedy nature of the appointment in the end, I think the doc forgot to give me one. Next time I will be bold and just ask.

Once the doctor appointment was over and I'd been to the lab for some blood work checks, it was time to relax and hit the shops. Or so I had been hoping. LL had other ideas. The boy was OVER IT! Not to the point of crying and screaming thankfully but he was hot and bothered and overtired. So we hit the shops quickly, grabbed some essentials and some takeaway pizzas and headed back to the hotel to feed, water, bath and bed the little man.

The next day I made up for it and we shopped and shopped. Gabs has improved so much shopping-wise since we last visited all the way back when LL was 6 weeks old. Game, Woolies, Clicks, Exclusive Books - I left money at all of them :) And it felt so good to have some retail therapy.

To give LL a break from the shops we visited the lovely Sanitas Nursery and Tea Gardens. You can find more info about this place here. Having visited the tea gardens before having LL we knew what we were going for - the FANTASTIC playground within the restaurant area, not the food or service. By Aussie standards this playground is probably just average. But for Bots it is almost the pinnacle. 1. There's different age capabilities, 2. there's more than one slide, and 3. it is right near the tables so parents can sit, have a cold drink and some lunch, while allowing the kids to run around and get dirty. Obviously LL being not quite 2 he still needs our help, guidance, and watchful eyes while playing on this sort of equipment. Not a problem, Daddy was on duty!! They both had a blast.

If you ever get a chance to visit Gabs and you have kids, I highly recommend this place for the family friendly atmosphere, the playground, and the fairly decent food (by Bots standards). And definitely try the home-made lemonade. Mr B and I shared 2 bottles as it's very refreshing. Yum!

Don't expect too much from the service or too much from the food as you'll be disappointed, but by Bots standards it is do-able.

After playing, and a quick nap we headed out for more shopping and an early dinner at the also kid friendly Spur Restaurant. For some reason I thought this chain of restaurants was solely in Africa. I have just discovered they are also in Australia, Ireland, UK and the UAE. Crazy! Obviously all these places are popular destinations for South African migration.

Early the next morning it was back on the road and back to Francistown. The break away from town was exactly what we all needed to recharge the batteries and have some family fun. It was a relief to know all was fine with the baby and that it would be safe to travel when we planned. Now to just get through the next 2 months in Bots before LL and I are Australia bound. With all that we've got going on the time is going to fly. I can't wait!

The Yummiest

Just had to share this recipe - it is one of the yummiest little indulgences I sometimes make:

Cookies and Cream Slice
350gms Oreo Cookies 
80gms butter melted                                 
375gms Philly cream cheese (block) softened
1/2 cup caster sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla                      
1 cup cream
3 teaspoons gelatine, dissolved in 1/4 cup boiling water
200gms white choc melted, cool slightly
Strawberries for decoration
Extra oreo cookies broken for decoration

Place 250gms of oreo cookies in food processor and process into fine crumbs. Add melted butter and process to combine. Press mixtrue into greased slice pan and chill.
Beat cream cheese, sugar and vanilla with electric mixer until smooth then beat in cream.
Stir through the gelatine and white chocolate.
Roughly chop remaining cookies (with knife) and stir through filling. Pour mixture over base.
Refrigerate for 3 hours or until set.
Cut into small slices and decorate with strawberries and extra cookies.( chopped)

Just made some for Mr B and I, and my in-laws who are visiting us in Bots. It's chilling in the fridge; can't wait to have a bite ..... nom nom nom :)

Enjoy !

Monday, 26 September 2011

Call me crazy

For many people living in Africa, it is part of your daily life to have a maid (or as the more politically correct terminology goes, "domestic worker"). Some people love this concept and take to the notion easily and happily. For this little Aussie it's been a constant struggle for me to get used to it, and to feel comfortable with it. Almost 3 years later and I still find it intrusive and invasive most of the time.

I know what you're thinking ... I'm totally crazy and don't know how good I've got it. Don't get me wrong, having someone do the daily chores of washing the dishes, hanging out the washing, mopping the floors etc, is great .... to a certain extent.

In my own home I am a very private person. I like to have the house to myself or at least to me, Mr B and LL most of the time. I like to choose who I invite in, and when. Some days, like most people, I don't want to see anyone, talk to anyone or be bothered by anyone (except for Mr B and LL obviously). And that's what I think gets to me the most.

Our maid, Tshepiso we've only had for a few months. She works Monday to Friday from 8am till 3:30pm. To get her to leave earlier than that is often an issue - she is reluctant to go, despite her usually being finished with her work.

So it's a long day of having someone else in the house. And I usually have to work around her - wait to cook until she's finished cleaning the kitchen, take LL outside or off to shops while she does the floors, wait till she's cleaned the bathroom so I can use the toilet. All small, relatively minor issues, but they often grate on my nerves and annoy me.

Tshepiso is actually my 3rd maid. Hmmmm... that might be saying something right there ???!! Our first maid, Brenda, was very nice but she wasn't trained and I'm not good at telling people how to do things or explaining where that line between employer and employee is. She would often be in the room cleaning while I was trying to have a conversation with a girlfriend, or would often sit and watch tv with me while I fed LL. Thankfully she was given full time work at Mr B's office and that solved that problem for me.

Our second maid Ivy worked well for a start. She had actually worked for a number of people over the years and seemed to know where the boundaries were. As is typical though she started to slowly, slowly take advantage - asking for things like gold earrings, hinting that she needed some money, suggesting that I might have some baby things to give her, etc. As LL was only 1, and I was constantly focused on him, it meant I couldn't always address certain problems as they came up. In the end we believe she stole several things from us, and I felt I couldn't have her in the house anymore. It wasn't a very nice situation.

Tshepiso then started working for us and I could immediately see where Ivy had been letting me down. This woman worked very hard and my house was soon sparkling as it had never sparkled before. She was also very friendly to LL and he seemed to like having her around. Once again though she has started to take advantage of certain things - helping herself to more and more bread, using copious amounts of sugar in her tea, and the worst for me is when she oversteps the mark with LL. One situation found her clucking her tongue disapprovingly when I was telling LL not to do something. This incident left me fuming.

And this I think is what I find the most intrusive. The Motswana people have very different ways of raising their children. She does not set the same or even follow the boundaries that I set for LL. When I am trying to ignore a tantrum she will often step in and either comfort him or play with him. I find this infuriating. But how do you tell someone not to play with your child when they don't understand where you are coming from and you have to continue to see them in your house everyday? I tend to shy away from confrontation so despite needing to address this problem, I have been trying to ignore it and instead giving her less and less opportunity to interact with him. Whether this is the right way to alleviate the problem, I don't know. Probably not.

I am really struggling with this right now. In many ways I think we would be better off without a maid. Sure my house might not be as tidy and LL might not get as much attention from me everyday but it might enable me to be more relaxed in my own home and to encourage LL to help Mummy with various chores which he seems to enjoy doing so much.

This is not going to happen though. There are certain expectations for expats in the community and providing employment for a maid is one of them. Which of course I can completely understand, and I even value that I am contributing in that way. But at the same time it's an expectation that I often resent.

Instead I am counting down the days till I return to Australia to have this baby. Then I can relax and revel in four whole months of no daily intrusion. I can get about in my pyjamas till 9am or longer if I so choose. I can sit down and watch daytime television and not feel guilty that someone else is cleaning up my house. I can make a cake and not feel guilty that I am not making two. I can be with my boy without thinking someone else is watching my every move with him. It's going to be lovely. And I know I'm going to appreciate the time out. And I also know that when I return to Bots with two small children I will appreciate my maid even more.

Australia Bound - First Trip

When Mr B and I were planning to move to Bots we both agreed that we'd make the most of the two year stint, travel, see what we could see, do whatever came our way, and not come running back to Australia at the first opportunity. That was until we had LL. By the time he was 6 months we were itching to get back, to take him, and to spend some quality time with our families. Plus it was part of the passport application criteria, to visit or return to the country within 12 months of receiving his passport. Convenient excuse, right?!

So we packed our bags and all the paraphenalia that goes with travelling with a baby (bottles, a truckload of nappies, wipes, wipes and more wipes, changes of clothes for him and us, food, panadol, water and snacks = Yikes!!!), gathered our courage, and made the 3 flight, over 24 hour journey back home!!! Despite our nervousness at travelling with a baby, LL was a dream. We had actually weaned him onto a dummy before we left so we were able to "plug him" for almost the entire journey. I seriously cannot remember him fussing or crying much at all. I also bought a cheap baby carrier so I was able to "wear" him whilst walking through the airports, enabling me to keep at least one arm free. Money well spent!

The break itself was just what we needed - spending time with our families and a few of our friends. The grandparents especially appreciated the visit - soaking up lots of cuddles and just enjoying time with LL. I even got to have a few hours away from the baby; a rare but welcomed treat.

Mr B and I also got to finally meet another special little man - our nephew, James. Sadly he was already one before we met him. But at the same time, this was great as he was past the baby stage and getting busily into everything. It was fun to see what we had in store for us. And it was really lovely to watch the two cousins interact. LL idolised James from the start.

It was a whirlwind trip to say the least - 2 weeks at Nanna and Pa's, 2 weeks at Grammy and Grampy's. I don't think we had too many days where we just sat and relaxed. But that was ok. We were home.

Within a few days of our arrival we celebrated my 30th birthday. 30!!! Yikes!!! And a mother to boot - when did that happen???? We went to this place, which I cannot recomend enough. Lovely champagne, delicious food and a wonderfully relaxed atmosphere. And the best bit?? LL and James were happily accommodated. Yep, that is what I take note of now!

Birthday flowers from my dear friends Tanya and JC

A few days later we were departing the farm with the in-laws and Mr B's brother in tow, for the seaside town of Pt Lincoln. A wedding and two more 30th Birthdays were to be celebrated. There's something lovely and at the same time sort of strange to watch your close friends get married. Don't get me wrong it was such a happy time to see them tie the knot, to see the smiles on their faces as they said I do, and to help them celebrate. But I think it is the kid in me still that sometimes has to pinch myself and ask, is this really where I'm at in life - marriage, babies, domesticity?? When did I grow up? It's all happened so fast (not really!) that sometimes it takes a moment of realisation to remember all that's happened and how far I've come ....

Me doing a reading for the lovely couple

Our ol' gang :)

The wedding weekend was great fun - lots of chatting, lots of laughing, lots of eating and drinking. Perfect! And throw in some time at the pub watching a footy game with good friends, it was just like old times!

Next on the agenda was my nephew's christening. Being the not overly religious types this was a new experience for Mr B and I. But it was a nice, simple service for just family. Quick, done and time to move on to the most important bit, drinks and lunch! I must say though James looked very cute all dressed up in his suit, even if he was more interested in tearing up the church!

LL being a very good boy during the christening

After a few days break we were soon off for a week long holiday on a houseboat with my parents, and my brother and his family for my Mum's 60th Birthday. It was Mum's request and we all happily obliged. It was a nice time together and we all said it was a pity that we couldn't make it an annual event. Maybe if Mr B and I ever move closer we will.

We got on board the houseboat at Mannum, cruised up the murray to around Younghusband, turned around and went back. If you are ever interested in hiring a houseboat from Mannum I can recommend Unforgettable Houseboats. It was a lovely relaxing week of cruising the waters, drinking, fishing, canoeing, board games, a bit more drinking, some eating, and a little Wii just to bring out the competitive nature in us all.



Much to our dismay the trip was quickly over. It had been a whirlwind of catchups and family time. Before we knew it we were at the airport saying goodbye, wondering when we would be back and seeing our families again.

Quite a few times during our holiday it struck me how beautiful and how wonderful Australia really is. Mr B and I were returning to the farm after a shopping trip to Adelaide when we were driving through some of the picturesque farming and vineyard areas of the Barossa and Clare Valleys. Stunning, I kept thinking. How lucky are we to get to see this and be from here? Seriously, this might all sound a bit cornball, but there really is nothing like moving countries to make you realise how lucky you are, to see your home and country in a different light. As lucky as I feel to be experiencing living overseas, I know that Australia will always be home for me. But for now it was back to Bots and our life there as a family of 3.

Monday, 12 September 2011

Doctor's Appointment? What Doctor's Appointment?

To ensure I still receive some pregnancy care until I return to Australia for the birth, Mr B and I  decided that I would go for regular checks to the local gynae I saw at 7 weeks. She seemed very nice and capable, and I was happy for her to be my doctor.

We made an appointment to see her at 14 weeks to have our first ultrasound. Our appointment was at 8am so we got up, got LL moving, ate, dressed and got in the car and headed off. We arrived at the doctors rooms right on time. I walked in and found the receptionist behind the desk with a child on the computer. She seemed surprised to see me. I said I was there to see the doctor and that I had an appointment, also telling her my name. She looked at me blankly for a few seconds and then said the doctor was not there. Okay..... So I asked where she was. She said the doctor had had an emergency. I was thinking, oh, ok she had to go deliver a baby or someone needed some surgery. She then said the doctor herself had had to have emergency surgery and wouldn't be seeing clients for another 3 or 4 weeks. Rrrrriiiigggghhhhttt!!!!!! So you knew about this but you didn't call me to tell me despite the fact I'd made my appointment weeks ago!!! Gosh this country and it's lack of professionalism drives me crazy sometimes. I looked at the women, said ok, and turned and walked out the door.

I was mad, I was upset and I was completely PO'd! But there is no point displaying this dissatisfaction to most Motswana as they do not react - they typically shut down, their faces go blank, and they respond with nothing. Businesses in this country do not think about the customer whatsoever. Customer service? It very rarely exists. But that is a whole other rant that I can go on and on about but won't (Mr B and I do it regularly).

Being the emotional woman that I am, I of course had a little cry in the car. What are we going to do now, I asked Mr B. I don't know, he replied. I felt I couldn't wait another 4 weeks to see a doctor and have an ultrasound. And besides I was no longer interested in returning to that doctor if that is the way she runs her business. Don't get me wrong, it was awful to hear that she was unwell and I hope she has recovered soon. I was not cross and upset that she was ill, but that nobody notified me so I could make a different plan.

So after calming down and returning home I immediately got on the phone and called my previous OB who had delivered LL. Despite not being 100% happy with my experience with him last time, all I needed was someone to go to a few times for check ups prior to returning to Australia. I felt that him being in Gabs was better than the alternative of having to drive 9 hours to Jo'burg to see someone down there.

As fate would have it he too was booked solid for the next 4 weeks and his nurse felt that was too long for me to wait. She instead booked me in to see his colleague who I also knew. I will be seeing him next week and I am really looking forward to it. It'll be nice to hear a heartbeat and to hopefully see a little splodge on the ultrasound screen. Fingers crossed I get a picture to share :)

Moving in to a big boy bed

If there is one thing I have realised whilst undertaking this parenting caper, it's that when things are working well, most parents, Mr B and I included, are loathe to change it.

Lately LL has been sleeping well. Over the last 2 years we've had quite a few problems but we've always managed to work through them, see out the phase, or change something small for the better. Until Friday night LL was still in his cot. I liked it that way. He couldn't get out and I could control the sleep situation (somewhat?!).

We knew it was time for a change though. Two weeks out from his 2nd birthday we decided to do what we'd been putting off for weeks. We moved him.

A lovely friend of ours has leant us her transformable cot. We've set it up as a toddler bed and feel that this is a good step towards a bigger bed for now. Because we are in a company house each bedroom has a double bed in it. Mr B suggested we just move LL to a double bed but I wasn't keen. For one, they are very high and it is difficult for him to get out on his own, let alone the fact he can't get in. And two, I am of the opinion kids should sleep in single beds. Simple as that.

Anyway LL loves this new bed. I made sure to tell him it wasn't a toy, that he had to lay down, and that it was for sleeping. LL helped us take apart the cot, move it out of his room, and set up the new bed. I think this helped with the transition (maybe?).

Saturday nap time came around, and he was asleep within 10 mins. Wow, I thought to myself, this move might be easier than I thought. Saturday night, bed time and he went off to sleep without a peep. Mr B and I were highfiving each other on the couch. Sunday moring LL was awake early but managed to resettle for an extra half hour. And then I heard him shuffle out into the hallway ..... I got up and told him he was not to get up by himself. The cheeky monkey skooted past me and ran to put the tv on for teletubbies. Yep that's right, my kid definitely listens to me.

Sunday nap time rolled around, and this is where things went off the rails a bit. Over an hour later and after Mummy sternly telling him to lay down more than 20 times, Mummy was beyond cross and left the room. Gosh they know how to push your buttons. LL soon followed me out to the living room. He was very sheepish and knew he was in BIG trouble!! So he didn't have a nap and yep you guesssed it by five o'clock he was a right pain in the you know what. Grrrrr!!!!

But tomorrow is always a new day and I knew there would not be a repeat. Sunday night LL was in bed early and slept all the way to 6am when I heard that little shuffle shuffle. Once again I got up and told him he was not to get out of bed by himself. (I have a feeling this will be my mantra for a while!!).

Nap time swings around and I put my determined hat on. This kid will sleep. I'm not having a repeat of yesterday. 40 mins later and the little rascal is finally asleep. Phew!! Peace and quiet for at least an hour I hope. He tried to suck me in over and over and over again. But I resisted, ignored him and waited, and waited, and waited. And I will do it all over again tomorrow until we get back to where we were last week.

Despite all this, I know the change is a good thing. And to see that smile on his face when we told him this was his new big boy bed, and to see him tuck in Pooh Bear and Sheepy in the mornings once we've made the bed, I know it is worth the unsettled-ness of the change. My baby is growing up, but it will be ok.

PS - I'm in the throes of updating LL's room. I've been gathering inspiration from these lovely blogs - ::The Beetle Shack:: and bubbymakesthree - and whilst my efforts won't be as brilliant as their's, I am hoping LL likes it at least. Stayed tuned, photos coming soon!!

Saturday, 10 September 2011

A little bit of pampering

Yesterday I indulged in a little bit of beauty therapy. I am one of those people who is typically terrible at all that maintenance stuff. I have good intentions but always seem to take a while to make the appointment and get it done. This week it couldn't wait any longer.

Mr B was kind enough to take an hour off work Friday morning so I could visit the lovely Mary at Mary's Salon here in Francistown. A pedicure and eyebrow wax were definitely the order of the day. It looked like a forrest was taking over my face where my eyebrows once had been and don't get me started on my toenails.

It's always a little embarassing to go to the salon in such bad shape but I reassure myself that she has no doubt seen worse.

An hour later I felt like a new woman. And it was nice to have that little break from LL. I wouldn't say it was a peaceful break as the salon was a hive of activity, lots of women having their hair done, others coming in for treatments; it was Friday and the weather has warmed up so it seems beauty treatments are very much required.

LL was so excited to see me on my return that he instantly stood on my feet and smooshed one of my nails. I almost cried. Being the lovely boy that he is though he automatically tried to fix it as did his Daddy. I told them it was ok ..... At least I'd tried right? Mummyhood and beauty it seems don't always mix.

They still good though ... don't they?

Duffed Again!

Mr B and I are excited to share that we are expecting our second baby!! A little brother or sister for LL to make our family complete.

I am currently 16 weeks and just starting to show. It's an exciting time for us!

I knew I was pregnant pretty much straight away - not sure why or how, I just knew. We were down in Jo'burg doing some shopping and work stuff for Mr B and I felt different - tired, hungry, was getting headaches etc. I went and bought a pregnancy test but it came back negative. So I thought it was probably just me getting ahead of myself as usual. So I told Mr B I'd bought a test, taken it but it was negative, and that was that. We'd see what happens. I went and bought another test though just in case.

A few days later and we were back home in Francistown. Aunt Flow still hadn't arrived so I decided to do the test again. Mr B suggested I wait longer but me and my curiousity and impatience meant that I just couldn't wait. I took the test and ta da ... POSITIVE!!! Bingo! Naturally Mr B thought he was a stud - first pop he gets his woman up the duff again!! What a guy! He's so funny - he suggested we could make a few dollars by selling his stuff cause it must be THAT GOOD!! 

Of course we were very chuffed with ourselves and happy and excited. But then of course the normal anxieties creep in - two kids under 3 - can we handle it?? Will it be like last time with me and all the crying and anxiety and stress?? Can I do this again?? I've always wanted two kids and so has Mr B so I know that we'll just work through whatever happens and do our best.

At about 7 weeks I thought I was having a miscarriage. I had some bleeding in the morning and naturally started worrying. I called Mr B who was of course over an hour away at his work site in the middle of an important meeting. What to do? I hadn't seen a doctor yet. The GP I saw with Lachlan had since retired. So instead I called the only gynaeacologist in town I'd heard about, to see if I could get an appointment with her. I could but not till lunch time. I had no choice but to take LL with me armed with plenty of snacks.

Once there the doctor was very friendly and reassuring. She did a quick ultrasound which seemed to show a sac but she wanted to be completely sure so she suggested I drink some more water and then we'd have another go. An hour later, with a very full bladder and a very over-it toddler, she did another ultrasound and sure enough there was a sac and it was confirmed that I was still pregnant. Phew! What a relief.

Poor LL wasn't overly keen on the ultrasound machine. He was up on the table with me and didn't really like it when the doctor came near me with the wand. It's funny how your childs natural instinct is to try and protect you even at this age. With lots of soothing and explaining and reassuring he calmed down and started to watch the little tv. He was mesmerised.

I guess because I am so busy with LL I am not so focused on what is going on with my body or thinking about being pregnant all the time like I did when I was pregnant with him. I haven't even read any pregnancy books this time around. I did buy one pregnancy magazine the other week, read a few pages, got kind of bored, and I haven't been back to it since. I think that is a good thing though. I was very obsessive last time, reading up on things all the time, going on various pregnancy forums, bombarding Mr B with lots of information all the time. I am not always the most patient person in the world, particularly when I am waiting for something to come or to happen. So the quicker this pregnancy goes, the better! Did I just say that?? Hmmmm.... maybe the reality of the situation will hit me later.

Morning sickness!!! Blurgh, it's the pits!! I remember having it with LL, but it would never usually hit me until about 4 in the afternoon and then I would feel awful and I couldn't bring myself to cook dinner as the sight of raw meat used to make my stomach churn. Mr B cooked a lot during the first trimester with LL. This time around morning sickness has been much worse. It was all day long. It didn't really start until about 8 weeks so at first I thought this is going to be great; I feel good, no sickness, still got lots of energy, maybe I'll skip that phase all together. Then it hit me and I felt awful. It helped to eat so that's what I did. Some days it felt like I was eating all day too, but it seemed to keep the nausea away so in my mind that was the best thing. That and coke! Soft drink I know is not a good thing but if it helps you to feel better then ....

Plus I didn't have time to feel sick. A 22 month old doesn't understand that Mummy has no energy or would rather be laying on the couch watching mindless tv than playing with playdough or helping to ride bikes outside. My worst day was when Mr B was in Perth for work. Wow I felt disgusting - headaches, nausea all day, extremely lethargic. Poor LL watched a lot of CBeebies and Playschool that day.

I also haven't been able to resort to too many quick take away meals this time around like we did with LL. So many nights I have had to force myself to cook something nutritious for LL and us. We had tuna mornay at least once or twice a week for a few weeks - easy peasy cooking but still tasty and something LL likes to eat without a fuss.

Exercise has also helped. At about 10 weeks I forced myself to start walking for 30 mins everyday on the treadmill. Before getting pregnant I was running most mornings or walking with friends. Life was busy there for a bit when I found out we were expecting so the exercise as usual was put to the side. It has definitely helped to keep my energy levels up since getting back into it and it is a good way to get the day off to a positive start. My aim is to continue with this all the way to the end. I did try to add in some weights but was in complete agony after my first weights session. It really surprised me. I had been doing weights quite regularly before getting pregnant so I thought it wouldn't be a major problem to do a few light ones every now and then. I did 2 reps of 10 lunges each side with 3kg weights - a light session for me or so I thought. The next day I could barely move. Not a good idea I realised. I'll stick with picking up LL for my squat exercises from now on.

Thankfully at exactly 13 weeks the nausea stopped and I started to feel normal again. Surprisingly all that eating didn't contibute to any weight gain either. It's slowly starting to creep on now though!! Might have something to do with the ice-cream and chocolate and chelsea buns I keep consuming :)

I have been getting quite a lot of pain in my lower back this pregnancy which I don't remember having with LL. I think the main contributor though is LL as I still have to pick him up often during the day - he is still in a cot so I have to get him in and out of that, he still sits in a high chair for meals, and in and out of the car. I have noticed on the days where for whatever reason I don't pick him up that much then my back is less painful. Muscle pain in my pelvis has also occured earlier this time around than with LL and I think I have started showing earlier too. All normal of course as the stomach muscles are already stretched from last time.

We've decided to return to Australia this time to have the baby. LL and I will travel back a few weeks before Christmas and then just wait it out at my parents place - I am not due till the end of Feb. Mr B will come back just before Christmas and then stay until the baby is born. It's a long time to be away from Bots but I know it's the right decision for us. I am trying to make sure that LL has all the attention he needs, and that I give myself the best chance to have a more positive experience this time. Plus it means our families will be there again for support, including our brothers this time, which if we stayed in Africa wouldn't be possible. And also friends can visit and meet the new addition. There are so many positives to returning to Australia for the birth, I am really looking forward to it.

Friday, 9 September 2011

Friday Photo Rewind #2

Mr B and I looking incredibly dorky all dressed up for a 70s Party. Three friends had a joint birthday bash - hired out one of the local restaurants, got them to cater, throw in lots of alcohol, old school tunes, and lots of dancing, and it was a GREAT night!!

I might just add that I'm over 8 months pregnant with LL in that pic, hence the very hip caftan styled dress. It was the only thing big enough and comfortable enough I could find.

Note: the aim of Firday Photo Rewind is to post a pic from the past every Friday and relive the memories with you all, cause reliving happy times is a nice thing to do :) Link up if you want to join in!!

I have this little boy Lachlan - Part 1

I have this little boy Lachlan. He is small and very funny .....

At 23 and a half months LL is an absolute joy to be around (most days). Sure we have our ups and downs but lately, it's just ups, ups, ups.

These are just a few things about LL:

1. He loves brooms, mops, dusters, vacuum cleaners, cloths - anything to do with cleaning. He will often go to the broom cupboard of a morning, pull out the broom and trail it around. He has also been known to help our maid clean the windows. Mr B once suggested to our maid that he should give half her salary to LL as he helps her so much. I don't think she saw the funny side of that.

2. He LOVES water!!! Give him the hose, turn it on a slow trickle, and he will be entertained for a good hour at least. Give him a couple of buckets of water, plus plastic cups and that can guarantee probably half an hour. Set him up at the sink next to Mr B at the weekend doing the dishes and he will be happy until they are done. Tell him we are going to water the few herbs and veges I've got growing and he will happily run to the watering can and help me do it. Like I said, the boy LOVES water!!!

3. Tortoise is his new favourite word since our 3 pets came out of their hibernation. LL loves following them around.

4. He counts to three by saying bai, doo, bee, or something along those lines. Don't ask me how he gets bai or buy out of one.

5 He loves books. Over the last few months I have often found him in his room reading to himself, well in his gibberish anyway. His absolute favourite book was Busy Airport (a board book) until last week when Busy Airport found it's way outside and into a bucket of water. Busy Airport then proceeded to fall apart. It is now on order and hoping to make it to Nanna and Pa's place before they come visit us in a few weeks. That wasn't Busy Airports first brush with trouble though. Curious to see how the plane was moving side to side LL pulled part of the book apart. Many attempts at gluing and sticky taping it back together left the plane often hanging their quite precariously.

6. Bubbles!!!! LL in the last week or so has learnt how to blow bubbles. He is very chuffed.

Like I said, he is a joy and makes me smile every single day :)

Thursday, 8 September 2011

Becoming a little Aussie

Because LL was born in Botswana to parents that are Australian citizens, he was regarded as neither a Bots citizen or an Aussie. In some countries, if you are born there you are automatically a citizen of that country regardless of your parents citizenship. Not so in Bots.

Not to worry. It just meant that Mr B and I had to embark on the long process of turning him into an Aussie!!

First we had to get his birth certificate, which was a process in itself. I rang the number I had been given at the hospital for the Department of Civil and National Registration (the equivalent to Births, Deaths and Marriages in Australia) as the place to contact in Bots for birth certificates. Thankfully the Gabs office told me I could go to their Francistown office and collect it from there. The first day we went the line was quite long so we decided not to wait but rather return earlier the next day.

This is a very common occurence here in Bots, particularly at the Immigration Office and the Vehicle and Motor Registration Office. People have been known to send their maid or their workman to the office for them to collect  a ticket, wait in line, and then call as their turn soon approaches. Smart I think?!

Unfortunately we couldn't do this at the Registration Office as there wasn't a ticket to collect. Thankfully the next day when we returned we were close to the front of the queue. Having said that, it didn't mean we were in and out of there quickly. This is Africa after all.

It seems to be quite common in Bots that when you go to an official government department to conduct your business, rather than approach a counter and deal with a customer service officer through a window or over a small counter, you instead will actually enter someone's office space (sometimes more than one person will occupy that space) and sit next to them while they operate their computer to generate whatever it is that you want. Later in order to pay for the service you will then leave that office and go to a different office to make payment to a different officer. There are no counters or straightforward queues. It is often very confusing as there are never any signs telling you where to go for what.

Eventually, after several office changes, and some phone calls later, we were given a printed copy of LL's birth certificate. First step done. Yay!

Secondly we had to have LL's passport photo taken. Passport photos in Bots are also done differently to what is expected in Australia. In Australia you are not allowed to smile, the child's ears and facial features must all be showing, the child cannot be poking their tongue out (which I might add LL did a lot as a newborn so that made that component difficult), and the photo has to be from about neck up. In Bots you can smile, and they usually take it from the upper torso up. Explaining what we needed wasn't easy. The photographer at the photo shop was initially not that interested in helping us. He said babies were too difficult. Well Duh! After several attempts LL became uninterested in cooperating so Mr B and I decided to try and take the photo ourselves. Many, many photos later we thought we'd managed to get a good one.

Some of the many shots we took to get a good one!

Next step was to apply for LL's Australian citizenship by descent, and then his passport. After many emails back and forth to the Australian Consulate in Pretoria, South Africa (there is no embassy or consulate in Bots), we made an appointment for Mr B to have an interview with one of their officers. Because LL was not a citizen of any country yet, he did not have a passport, and so could not leave Botswana. Mr B had to do the journey alone. And being the guy that he is, he did it in one day - flew down to Jo'burg, caught a taxi to Pretoria, had his interview on LL's behalf, got all the documents verified and approved, caught a taxi back to the airport and he was home in time for dinner. Whoa!

Two weeks later we had LL's citizenship by descent certicate and his passport in our possession. We could now leave the country. Phew! And it was lucky too as we had a much anticipated trip to Australia to plan - LL's first trip to the homeland. I couldn't wait!

Wednesday, 7 September 2011

A First Birthday Party

As LL's 2nd birthday fast approaches, I feel it is only fitting to blog about his 1st Birthday Party. It was a great day, and a day to be remembered.

They say the first birthday party is more for the parents than it is for the kids, and I definitely agree. It was a day of celebration for me and Mr B. Yay we'd made it. Yay we'd survived the first year. Yay it was bumpy. Yay it was happy. Yay I'm glad it's over! (Well not really, but you know what I mean?!)

LL's first birthday was on a Friday, but we had his party the next day so lots of our friends could come, have a few drinks, eats, and a nice relaxing afternoon.

So we celebrated a little on the Friday, just the 3 of us, and that was lovely - presents in the morning, Little C over to play and see the new toys, LL's favourite food for dinner, and of course a yummy little cupcake just for him.

The party day itself was wonderful. The weather was gorgeous - blue sky, sun shining. All our friends who had helped with LL throughout the year, in some way big or small, were there so we could say thanks. Adults were chatting, kids were being kids, running around or crawling or just sitting. And amongst it all LL was having a ball and being the centre of attention :)

Mr B and I had a fun time making all the food (we like doing that kind of thing). The cake looked fantastic if I do say so myself. And my cupcakes, well they were a work of art!!! (Artistic I am not, but I do try - the kids liked them at least).

It was the perfect end to our first year as parents.

Tuesday, 6 September 2011

A friend called Dee

Dee came into my life when LL was about 5 months old. She is the daughter-in-law of my landlord and lived in the unit next door. She had returned home to the US to give birth to her little man - Little C - and only returned to Bots when he was 6 months old. Until then we had never met.

G, my landlord, mentioned to Mr B one day that her daughter-in-law had just returned with her baby and was in need of some other mummy company. Mr B told her to tell Dee to stop by anytime and meet me. And that is exactly what she did. And I am so very grateful for that.

Dee is like the friend that was missing from my life for a long time. We instantly hit it off. We were on the same wavelength, spoke the same language, shared common interests and ideas on things, and we were both new Mums. She soon started popping over everyday to hang out and chat. It was great!

I think it may have been the 2nd or 3rd time Dee stopped by that she found me in a flood of tears. It was one of those moments where you start crying and can't stop. I would have looked like a wreck, and sounded like a complete idiot as I know I was crying over something completely stupid and irrational. Dee didn't seem to care, nor was she embarassed to see me that way. I knew then she was a friend.

Dee joined me at babygroup, and like me enjoyed getting out the house, chatting with others, and watching her little man interact.

Dee's friendship was exactly what I needed not only as a new Mum but as an expat living away from family and friends. We became very close in a short amount of time, sharing our stories, listening to each other's frustrations about life in Bots, and guiding and helping each other with our boys.  We did lots of activities together with the boys and they loved it! Little C and LL were like brothers.

Unfortunately Dee was very unhappy living in F'town and longed to return to the States. She had done her time here - over 6 years - and felt it was time for a change. She intended to go back for a long holiday. As we departed for our trip to Cape Town in March I said goodbye to Dee and Little C hoping that I would see them again soon in a few months. Sadly I don't think that's going to happen.

The thing is as much as I miss Dee and Little C and the time we spent together, I'm happy that she is back in the US as I know that is where she wants to be. You can't begrudge your friends their happiness, even if you wish you could've changed their mind.

As an expat in a transient town a lot of people come in and out of your life. But Dee is one I know will be there for a long time, even if at a distance :)

Thanks for being there for me Dee when I needed a friend the most - love you x

The 4 Musketeers :)

Babygroup - a place of fun and friendship

LL was about 4 months old when I started getting together with some other Mummies in town. I had been telling my friend Theunette that I wish I had other Mums to talk to, ones that were in the moment, not ones that had been there and done it but had kinda forgotten how it all went. She thought she might know some ladies and set about arranging for us to get together. It was one of the best things she ever did for me (and believe me she's done a lot!!!).

That first afternoon tea I met Leigh, Mel and Bron and their kiddies - 3 toddlers, one 3 month old (a buddy for LL), and a bump on the way. I had a lovely afternoon chatting to them, albeit a little awkwardly at times, as I felt like such a novice and such a newbie.

They must have thought I was ok though and we got together again the following week at my house with another mum, Catherine.

And that was the beginning of our babygroup. As time has gone on we've expanded and now there is 10 Mums, and 18 kids, ranging in ages from 4 and a half to a newborn who arrived 2 weeks ago, plus 3 ever growing bumps.

We get together every Wednesday or Thursday afternoon from 3pm, each person taking a turn to host. It enables us to get out of the house, meet, chat, eat, enjoy a drink sometimes, console each other, and share in the wonderful times of watching the kiddies grow, learn and play.

Babygroup has been my lifesaver in many ways. It has given me a sounding board, to ask questions, to find out what others are doing in regards to sleeping, feeding, eating, activities, and probably soon potty training and moving in to a big boys bed. It has also provided regular friends and interaction for LL - it has only just been recently that he has stopped watching from the sidelines and is starting to get in to the thick of things with the other kids, which brings a smile to my face everytime :)

Babygroup has been more than that to me though. It has brought new people into my life, people who's company I enjoy, people whose offers of friendship I have worked hard to build upon. In a small expat community these are the things you learn to value, and try hard not to take for granted.

Monday, 5 September 2011

A tough decision

You can read any Mummy oriented blog out there in blogland and you'll find a post or two about breastfeeding. It is something as a mother we are designed to do, yet it is also something that does not come naturally or instinctively for all of us. Some find it easy and wonder what all the fuss is about. Others like myself are completely lost, unsure, and overwhelmed by it all.

This post has probably been written by a million different Mummy bloggers but I am wanting to recount my whole journey into becoming a Mum so I feel this is a post that has to be written and shared.

As I've previously mentioned in other posts my breastfeeding relationship with my little man, LL, did not have the best of starts. I was in hospital for 4 days yet the entire time I was there I was not once shown or encouraged to breastfeed my child. Considering the hospital is completely pro-breastfeeding this was cause for a lot of confusion and uncertainty in me. When I think about it now all I can put it down to is it being a cultural thing. Most Africans grow up seeing their mothers, their aunts, their sisters, cousins, etc breastfeed their children. They see it, they watch it, they therefore know somewhat how it is done. For me, I can only recall two times in my life closely witnessing a mother breastfeeding their child. The first time I was maybe 10, it was a family friend, and while I was interested to know what was going on, it wasn't like I was studying what she was doing and thinking ok so that goes there, and the baby's mouth does that, and then you do that, etc, etc. The only other time was when I was 20 and a girlfriend had had a baby. She breastfed once in front of me but it was quick and over with before I even really knew what she was doing while we were chatting.

So anyway my point is that I think the nurses and midwives just assumed I knew what I was doing. My Mum was there as was my mother-in-law and so I guess they figured they would be showing me and helping me. Unfortunately this didn't happen till much later as they both assumed the nurses and midwives would help me as is most often the case in Australia. Neither of them wanted to push, intrude or get in the way.

The entire 4 days in hospital LL was therefore fed formula. When he was crying I would ask the midwife/nurse for help and instead of her coming in and showing me how to feed, she would bring in some formula and take the baby from me and feed him from a cup. The poor little man had warm milk virtually tipped down his throat. It still makes me cringe thinking about it now.

Once we left hospital we kept the formula feeding going for a day or so but then my milked kicked in as the doctor had prescribed some medication to encourage this. Day 5 or 6 my boobs were close to bursting. Janet, Mr B's Mum asked me if I wanted to breastfeed. I said I had hoped to. She said right let's get this thing happening then. For the rest of the day I sat on the bed and attempted to feed LL. We had to virtually force his head to latch on for the first few times as the poor little guy was used to the cup and didn't know what to do. It seemed like we got the hang of it after a while though and I started to feel good that I was finally doing it.

I continued to breastfeed LL exclusively until 6 weeks when we went for our first check up. Those 6 weeks had not been easy. I knew LL wasn't latching properly, on one side in particular as the pillow would always be covered in milk afterwards, and he would have milk running down his cheek. I tried different positions, albeit awkwardly, yet it didn't seem to matter. My nipples were badly cracked and sore to the point that I was starting to dread feeds as I knew the pain that it was going to inflict.

I spoke to several friends but they had no advice to give except to persist and that it does get easier. I asked around if there was a breastfeeding "expert" in town but either got silence or an um and ah response. I spoke to my GP about LL's somewhat little weight gain at around the 4 week mark. He asked how often I was feeding and I replied roughly every 3 hours, sometimes every 2. He said I was feeding too often and needed to stretch the baby out to 4 hourly feeds. He said LL's weight gain was fine, a little under, but nothing to worry about.

My Mum could see how much breastfeeding was stressing me out. I continually said to her that I knew I wasn't doing it right and that LL seemed so discontent. She suggested maybe I should try bottles and see if it filled LL up more and helped me to stop worrying. I told her I wasn't ready to do that yet and that I just wanted someone to tell me what I was doing wrong, how I should be doing it, and how often I should be feeding him.

The stupid crazy thing is I'd read the Australian Breastfeeding Assocation's breastfeeding book cover to cover more than once. It goes through demand feeding and latching on techniques in the book. I was aware of how the opinion and research on feeding had changed over the last few generations. When my Mum had my brother and I she was taught to feed every 4 hours and not before. At about the 13 week mark the child health nurse had told my Mum she didn't have enough milk for me and that she should start bottle feeding me. Those opinions are strongly refuted today. I'm not saying they are wrong and today's are right. My point is that opinions and experts ideas change over the years, which makes it even more confusing for those of us that are going through it today. Our Mums were taught one way, so how are they able to help us when today's science encourages another way?

When we went for the 6 week check up the pediatrican told me he was unhappy with LL's weight gain since birth - he had only gained 380g. I instantly burst in to tears. I felt like I had been starving my child. What a terrible mother.

Thankfully the doctor was sympathetic and understanding and confided his wife's own problems with beastfeeding, reassuring me that bottle feeding is not a bad thing. He could see that I wasn't ready to stop breastfeeding yet, so he suggested I comp feed 2-3 bottles a day and see if it helps.

So that is what we did and I could instantly see a difference. The whole time we were in Gabs (where the pediatrician was) LL slept and slept and slept. He had not slept that much in the last 5 weeks. I kept saying to Mr B, is there something wrong with him? Is he breathing? No silly, he's finally full and sated.

For some people comp feeding works well and they have no problems. The baby continues to take the breast but will also drink from the bottle. For me and LL this was not the case. I comp fed for a further 3 weeks and then had to stop. He just refused to take the breast during the day. Night feeds and the first feed of the morning were ok initially so I persisted with these, but during the day he fought me every step of the way until I gave him the bottle which he would always guzzle down.

I made one last ditch effort to reach out for help by emailing an Australian Breastfeeding Association counsellor, explaining my situation and my story, and asking for advice on what I could do to improve the situation. The counsellor was lovely and understanding and helped to ease my mind a bit. She suggested that what I was experiencing was very common for c-section deliveries. Often the drugs given to the mother can make it difficult to get a breastfeeding relationship started in the beginning and as such many mothers have no choice but to resort to bottle feeding. She made it clear to me that there was nothing wrong with that, which surprised me as I thought coming from the ABA she would be telling me I had to continue to try and work this out and keep breastfeeding. Shy of recreating a birthing scenario in the bath with LL she suggested that bottle feeding may be the way forward for us.

At 9 weeks I told Mr B I couldn't do it anymore. I was crying all the time. I felt like a failure. Feeds were stressing me out as I knew he was going to fight me or suck for a minute and then pull off. I still wasn't sure if I was feeding him enough. It was a nightmare.

A friend came to talk to me to try and convince me to keep going and not to give up. She felt that I would regret it later and that it was the best thing for LL to keep trying. I just kept thinking, was it though? Was it the best thing for him to have a mother that was miserable and crying all the time? Was I really giving up? Is that what people would think? Hadn't I tried my best? The majority of my friends in Australia had, or were, bottle feeding their kids and their kids were fine, happy and healthy, so how could it be a bad thing to do that?

I would say deciding to stop breastfeeding was probably the hardest decision I have ever made in my life and I cried and cried about it for weeks and weeks. In a way it felt like I was grieving for a loss. Mr B eventually told me I had to get over it. LL was happy and thriving and finally gaining weight. The decision I'd made was the right one, the right one for me and LL, and for us.

Finally things started to look up ...

Friday, 2 September 2011

Friday Photo Rewind

LL at 7 months reading his favourite click clack cow book to his cuddly friends.

He loves books just as much as his Mummy!!

Note: the aim of Firday Photo Rewind is to post a pic from the past every Friday and relive the memories with you all, cause reliving happy times is a nice thing to do :) Link up if you want to join in!!

Thursday, 1 September 2011

An Evening With F.A.R.T

So Tuesday night was my annual turn to host bookclub. While I always look forward to hosting and having everyone at my house, I usually feel a little pressured to cook something sensational, to have the house tidy, and to have my table beautifully presented. Three things I am not that good at.

Rather than get myself all worked up over a menu, I decided to keep it simple and cook something that I knew without a doubt would not fail - lasagne, salad, garlic bread and a very yummy strawberry roulade for dessert.

Thankfully the group was smaller than usual and I felt adequately able to cater for everyone. Seriously catering for 10-11 people when you are used to cooking for only 2 and a half can be hard work and I either over cater with stacks of food left over, or like last year when I hosted, have not quite enough food - I was short brocolli for 3 people - which is not a good look.

Despite LL not cooperating 100%, and me having to resort to Mummy's little helper - the tv - I was able to pull it all together. The house was reasonably tidy, the table looked pretty good considering the company supplied hodge-podge of crockery, glasses and cutlery, and the food was damn yummy if I do say so myself. I L-O-V-E lasagne!!! And the salad was made even better by my home grown, super fresh and absolutely delicious rocket (insert eye roll here from Mr B who thinks I'm absolutely nuts for raving about rocket). When cutting the rocket from my little vege/herb patch the smell was wafting up to me and I was immediately salivating. Yum, yum, yum!! So of course I had to have a little taste as I picked. Nothing beats home grown!

But I digress .... bookclub! The night itself was a hit. Well I thought so anyway. A wonderful group of ladies who laughed and laughed and laughed and chatted and told stories, and ate, and drank, and ate some more, and laughed and laughed and oh yeah talked about books.

I had had the book stash at my house for a few weeks and upon looking for a book the other night for Mr B to read I was reminded of how many fantastic books we have in our collection. Typically each month when the host supplies the new books everyone makes a beeline for those and forgets the older books. So I made a point of laying all the books out on my lounge room rug so everyone could see and re-discover the old titles. And I think it worked??

This month I supplied the following books:
1. The Man in the White Suit by Ben Collins

2. The House at Riverton (otherwise known as The Shifting Fog) by Kate Morton
The House at Riverton

3. The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton
The Forgotten Garden

4. At Home with the Templetons by Monica McInerney
At Home with the Templetons

5. Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen
Water for Elephants

And I will put in, once I've read it, The Distant Hours by Kate Morton
The Distant Hours
The majority of my selection is based primarily on my desire to expose bookclub to Aussie authors that they would probably otherwise not read. Most of the bookclub members are from Zimbabwe or South Africa and are constantly exposing me to books about Africa so I feel it is only fitting to return the favour.

So everyone made their selections and all my new books got snapped up. But much to my disappointment most of the ladies only took one book. Come on people, get reading!!! If you haven't realised by now I love books, I love to read, I love others to read, and I love to know about the books others read. So I'm always keen for the bookclub ladies to read lots and tell me what they thought.

So then how many books did I take?? Well I'm still reading Nelson Mandela's Long Walk to Freedom - a book I started after last months bookclub when I made it readily apparent to everyone and myself that I knew nothing about South African politics. It's a book I'm thoroughly enjoying and learning a lot from, but it is incredibly long and with more than a quarter still to go I was only tempted to borrow one other book this month - Jonathan Franzen's Corrections. I have previously read his second book Freedom and while I didn't love it or rave about it, I thought I should give Corrections a go and see what all the initial fuss was about.

And on that note, if I'm going to finish both of these books before the next bookclub dinner, I better go do some reading.

But before I go, what have you been reading lately?
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