Category: Parenting

Our little ballerina’s first “big girl” exam results and photos

Satin ballet shoes

Last Thursday, we received Zee’s grade 1 ballet exam results and photos. And we are so, so proud of this little person! This was her first – as she put it – big girl exam, the first exam where they’re given marks on the different aspects of each dance they perform. As if that in itself wasn’t huge, our tiny tot had to go into that exam room all alone, for a solo exam. Let me go back a bit to why that happened.

About a week before exam practice/extra lessons started, mommy decided it would be fun to walk into the table and break her toe. 😐 It was a break so fantastic, even driving was out of the question. Then, in the middle of that, I was sick – cold, or flu, or something. And of course, I passed this to Zee. What all this meant was a whole bunch of missed ballet lessons at the most crucial part of the year – grade 1 ballet is serious business people. Anyway, when we eventually got back to ballet, one of her teachers advised that it would be difficult for Zee to catch up on group routines in the little time left, and that a solo exam would be a better, less stressful option. I chatted to my girl, and she said dancing alone sounded scary, but she’d do it – my little trooper! So now we’re caught up on how she came to do a solo exam.

Back to the results. She scored 73 marks, only 2 short of a distinction. I was thrilled to see her marks, but her reaction was slightly different. She said it made her sad that she didn’t get a distinction – this surprised me, as I didn’t think she would even know what that was. Turns out she was studying her mark sheet quite intensely, and found “distinction” next to the highest marks “75-100”.

Merit pass

My heart sank seeing her disappointed little face as she tried to figure out what she did “wrong”. I let her know immediately that she did a brilliant job, that her score was very impressive, and that I was extremely proud of her. And while daddy and I obviously like knowing she pays attention in class, and improves in her dancing each year, its not because we want her to score a certain number of marks, or compete with anyone (the competition bit being one of the reasons I love homeschooling too). All we want is for her to do her best, and to enjoy what she’s doing. I also reminded her of the main reason she dances – because she loves it.

First ballet lesson 2012

She loved ballet from the very first day she stepped into the studio as a two year old, and she still lights up each week when we arrive there. I hope that never fades. How special it is to be so passionate about something from such a young age, and for it to still bring you joy even as you get older.

When dad came home, she told him she’d missed out on a distinction by 2 marks, and that it disappointed her a little. Echoing my earlier sentiments, he told her that her score was excellent, and that he was incredibly proud of her. Then he smothered her in hugs and kisses, while she giggled uncontrollably. ❤

Of course, Mom the Deep had to get in on the conversation. I reminded her of everything I’d told her before, and threw in a little extra just to make sure she really got me.

She nodded in agreement to everything I said – and not that annoyed “ugh, I’v got to nod and say yes mommy, or she’ll never stop” nod, but a sincere, “I hear you mommy, and maybe you’re right” nod. #winningatmotherhoodmoment
She was smiling again, and responded with, “I did do really well hey mom?” Then she remembered there were photos, and moved on to admiring her cute self in the pics. 😀

Motherhood, hey. Sometimes you’re the reason they’re sad or crying – you know, because you didn’t write or draw something on every page of a scrapbook they made you (yes, this is an actual thing), or you gave them a packet of Cheddars when what they actually wanted was Flings, or you told them its way past their bedtime and they must to get into bed (oh the horror) – and then sometimes, you’re the one who makes it all better, the one who reminds them of their awesomeness, and gets them smiling again.



Ballet exam - grade one

Ballet exam - character

Exam photo shoot: West Photography



One Messy Mama
Mummy Times Two

An early decision, and the other reasons why we only have one child

A one child family is really a strange phenomenon to some.

“Really? You just have the one?” 

“Shame, she must be so lonely.” 

“Don’t wait too long, its not nice to have a big age gap.”

“You should tell mommy and daddy to get you a brother or sister.”

“So, when’s the next one coming?”

Sometimes those close to me will jokingly tease about this, and we’ll have a laugh together. Usually though, the questions/statements come from those who don’t know me well, or from complete strangers I meet in Spar. Sometimes, I give some sort of answer, other times I just smile politely, not sure what to say.

This post isn’t going to be me raging about how I hate being asked/told these things all the time. I’m just saying this is what happens. Often. I actually don’t get irritated (much). I do get that just because I wouldn’t ask/say a lot of what people ask/say to me, it doesn’t mean they’re being malicious when they do. I also get that some things, like a one child family, are foreign to some people, and this makes them curious.  Those times I’m awkward and unable to respond, it’s because part of me is worried what they’ll think of me. Or that I’ll get the reaction I’ve gotten so many times when I did respond – that dismissive wave of the hand, accompanied by, “no man, don’t be silly! You’ll be fine!”

What this post is actually about, is why we first chose what we chose, an unexpected trauma, and how a lot of what others assume is completely off the mark. Hey, maybe next time someone asks, and I’m standing there all awkward, I’ll just send them the link.

*Warning: there may be an overshare of details, some a bit heavy for sensitive readers, or those who’ve not had babies yet.

The initial decision (no, this isn’t the main reason, we’ll get there in a bit)

Family - beautiful heart

So I guess we should start at the beginning, the first real reason we have only one little person in our home. There’s not a whole lot to say really. Before I was even pregnant with Zee, I told Shawn of my wish to have only one child. He was happy with that, as long as “our child is a girl, and looks just like you.” Not bad conditions those, and it turned out pretty well for him too. 🙂 Even today, nearly a decade later, I can’t tell you exactly what my reasoning was, but that’s what I wanted, I was sure one child was it for me. We did agree though, that if our child were to ask/show the desire for a sibling, then of course we’d get right on to making one for her. 😉

And if you’re wondering, we have asked her many, MANY times (after all, I don’t want to be 45 when she finally goes, “hey, about that little brother…”). And her reply each time has been an emphatic “No thank you.” I don’t blame her – we’re a happy bunch, we have loads of fun together, and our family feels complete. So even seeing her friends with siblings doesn’t lead to her feeling like she’s missing out on something.

The assumption: A pregnancy so difficult and awful, you can’t bear to do it all over again

Family - pregnancy funny

So, a popular follow up question to my reply of, “we’re not planning on having more kids” is, “did you have a really difficult pregnancy?” And the answer to that is No. I had an amazingly smooth pregnancy. There was no heartburn, I literally experienced one day of morning sickness, very early on – and it was just the nausea, I didn’t actually hurl. We were on holiday in London, and I felt like I was going to be sick in front of Buckingham Palace! Shawn, and my friend T got me away from there so quickly, it still makes me laugh. So ja, I was one of those sickeningly happy pregnant women, caressing her ever growing belly, and talking about how I loved being pregnant. Ooh, and I finally had boobs – winning! I was healthy, happy, and huge, ha! I ate everything, because you know, YOPO (You’re Only Pregnant Once)! 😀

Family - pregnancy funny gif

Of course, it wasn’t all picture perfect. I spent a fair bit of the third trimester nights sleeping in the sitting position, propped up by every pillow in the house… when I wasn’t running waddling to the loo to wee, that is. I also experienced painful cramps in my calves. And of course the worst – not being able to shop to my full potential, because even the walk from the car to the mall left me exhausted. 😋  Still, being pregnant was amazing, an almost nine months I truly enjoyed.

How that day in the delivery room reaffirmed our decision not to have more kids

Family - three hearts

That subheading may be a little misleading. Yes, labor is horrifying, especially when you decide to be Wonder Woman and go natural, plus decline any drugs. But even that isn’t what convinced us. Because once that beautiful, tiny baby was in my arms, all of that was forgotten, and an incomparable love was all I felt. I think I was still holding her when my doctor noticed that something was wrong – with me, not my baby, thank goodness. She was strong and alert, despite making her arrival four weeks early. She was perfect. ❤

*Now is where we get into the gory details I mentioned earlier. Shawn would tell me later that he heard the doctor say the bleeding wasn’t stopping, something wasn’t right, and that the nurse was to book the theatre immediately. I was blissfully unaware of all this at the time, I had no idea what was coming. When the nurses took Zee to the baby room, Shawn went with, as we’d planned. A few minutes later, everyone had left, and I was alone. A short while after, a nurse came in to check on me, and I told her that my back hurt a little. She adjusted the pillows to help make me comfortable, and left.

It was probably only a couple minutes later when a blinding pain shot through my back. I tried to reach for that remote near the bed to call someone, but I couldn’t move. The pain only got worse, and I had no idea what to do. I remember my vision going blurry, and not being able to even lift my arms. I don’t know how much time passed before Shawn and the unit manager (this is the nurse who’d taken care of me from the time we arrived at the hospital) walked into the room. I don’t remember if I’d told them something was wrong, or if she’d noticed on her own. Things were really hazy by that point.

Both the nurse and Shawn helped me off the bed, but I couldn’t stand, let alone make it to the shower. She quickly got me a chair, and told Shawn to keep speaking to me and to keep me awake. She filled water in a dish, and bathed me on that chair. The next thing I remember was being on a different bed, and the same nurse was telling me she was going to push down on my stomach. She said it would hurt, but she had to do it. By this point, I could barely see at all, I still couldn’t move my arms or fingers, and I doubt I even responded to her. I don’t think I had ever felt so weak and useless and confused… Then, I heard her say, “I’m so sorry, I know that hurt.” And it did hurt like hell at that moment, but then I felt better. I remember saying something stupid to her like, “don’t say sorry, you made it better, I can see now!” Shawn told me that a frightening amount of blood and clots had come rushing out. It was gross and scary, but after that I got to see my brand new little person again. I fed her, and couldn’t stop looking at her.

Afterwards, two nurses came with an indemnity form, and to get me ready to go into theatre. I remember asking them why I had to go, because the other nurse had sorted everything out. I was terrified of having to go in for a procedure of any kind. Apart from that day, I’d never even been in hospital before, and I suddenly recalled all the things I’d heard before about people not waking up after being under anesthetic. I was convinced I was going to die, and I freaked out. All I kept thinking was, no wonder they let me carry my baby and feed her, because I’m never going to see her again.

Shawn says I was in theatre for an hour. He says he sat outside the room on the floor, praying I’d be okay. And I was. I’d lost tons of blood, and would be in pain for a while still, but thanks to the quick thinking and action of my doctor, and the prayers of my guy, I was okay. We also learnt of the severity of what what had happened from my doctor at my six week check-up, and that sadly some women have in fact lost their lives due to this not being treated immediately. Turns out I had suffered the effects of a retained placenta. Here’s a little about what that is, from those who actually understand these things:

If you have a retained placenta, it means that all or part of the placenta or membranes have stayed inside your womb (uterus) after the birth of your baby.

When all or part of the placenta is firmly stuck to the wall of the womb, this is called an adherent placenta. In rare cases, this happens because part of the placenta has deeply embedded itself in the womb. This is called a placenta accreta, and is more likely if the placenta embeds itself over a previous caesarean section scar. If the placenta has grown all the way through the wall of the womb it is called a placenta percreta.

When left untreated, a retained placenta can cause life-threatening complications for the mother, including infection and excessive blood loss.

Unfortunately, there isn’t much you can do to prevent it. If you had a retained placenta in a previous birth, you do have a higher risk of it happening again. But that doesn’t mean it will definitely happen. 

Sources: BabyCentre; Healthline

So there it is, a summarized version of my post-delivery experience, plus a few of the facts/medical terms. I know I’m not the only person this has happened to; I know it’s not guaranteed that it will happen again; I know there are women who’ve gone through this, and then went on to have more kids… none of that completely alleviates the anxiety though. It’s not as if it consumes me, I don’t live in fear… but when there is a pregnancy scare for example, I do find my mind going there – what if it happens again? This – more than sticking with an original decision, more than Zee not wanting a sibling right now – this is the biggest reason we’ve held off on growing our family. And we’re okay with that.


One Messy Mama

So… How old are you?

Remember when we were kids, and someone would ask, “how old are you now?” Excitedly, proudly even, we’d answer, “nine, and I’m going to be ten in four months!” I was reminded of those days during the holiday. There were two older girls where we were staying, who were really sweet to Zee. Chatting to them, I asked how old they were, and the older one replied, “my sister’s eleven, and I’m twelve, but I’m going to be thirteen soon!” I caught that twinkle in her eye as she said the words, the barely contained excitement over the thought of getting older, becoming a teenager, being grown up and fabulous.

How things change… Hit your thirties, and there’s no joyful response to that question. A cynical snort maybe, or a scowl if you’re feeling particularly sensitive about the age thing that day. Funny how back then we couldnt wait for the next number, now that wait couldn’t be long enough.

On a serious note though, I’m going to be thirty five soon, and the truth is I’m ok with that. The part that scares me, is how quickly its come. Not in a bad way, like ugh I’m so old… am I going to have grey hair now?… are those marks on the mirror, or are they lines on my skin?… No, nothing like that – not that I want any of those delightful things which come with getting older, but I’m not losing any sleep over it. The part that actually freaks me out is that every year I get older, my little baby is growing too, and isn’t that much of a baby anymore.

On NYE, we were at my uncle’s place, together with my mom and dad. Zee was having a blast with my little cousins, playing in the pool at 10pm, chatting about ballet, and roasting marshmallows on the braai. She was having such fun, she was still wide awake at midnight! On hearing that it was 2017, she hugged me and said (beaming from ear to ear), “mommy, I’m officially seven and a half!”

You see, Zee is at that stage where she’s now counting down to the next age, and is quite excited about being “a big girl” – this, despite me telling her she’ll be my baby even at forty! 😀 She’d asked in November I think it was, if she was seven and a half yet, and I responded that she would only be seven and a half in January. Thus the excitement when the clock struck twelve. Needless to say, I quickly informed her that she would only be seven and a half at the end of the month, in an attempt to hold on to the baby-ness just that tiny bit longer.

Then yesterday rolled around, and Facebook gave me this:

Like, “your baby’s seven and a half now. Deal with it.” So I did, with a mini photo shoot of course, to remember the time my baby turned seven and a half. Officially. Because, what else can us mommies do, but stop being in denial, and accept the natural order of things… They will grow; they will become more independent, and say more often “it’s ok mommy, I’ve got this” *sniff*;
they will eventually feel we’re not as cool as they once thought… And we have to deal as best we can, savoring every baby-ish moment along the way, taking as many photos as we can to treasure forever, and appreciating the moments when they need us even as they’re busy getting older and wanting to do it all on their own.

“Look mommy, like a superhero cape!”

Please excuse the gross stringy thingy that Cocoa (Zee’s dachshund) was dragging around and decided to drop right there, in the superhero pic.

When a sneeze tickles your nose, but your mom won’t quit with the photos

Mummy Times Two