Life Lately… And An Apology

Guys! , I know it seems as if I’ve fallen off a cliff face, and whilst it kinda feels like I have, I managed to get caught on the ledge and am slowly starting to make my way back up.

So, first off, my apologies for the radio silence. I know my 6 loyal readers have missed me terribly. But I’m back, kind of, and now that the craziness of the last few months has come to a semi-solid place, hopefully this little ol’ blog of mine will gain some momentum again.

So, where did we end off? Oh yes, having a baby leaving my job and starting a business. Somewhere there, I think.

Yep, I went back to work after maternity leave, and left. So, whist it was all very unexpected it was the push I needed to get my little business that I had been running for two years off the ground. You are now looking at (well, reading words by) Kate Rankin Photography owner founder and creator and Kate Kearney Consulting, owner, founder, tea lady, loo cleaner, MD etc etc.

The photo business, as you know, has been happening and thriving and doing better than I could have ever imagined (see what happens when you buy a fancy camera? ;)). The consulting business started recently, and sees me doing a little bit of everything – I’m running and managing the social media for some awesome clients and freelancing at a company in Sandton assisting with their project management. Its amazing and wonderful and BUSY as all fuck. So, if you ever need a photographer slash writer slash social media’r slash jack-of-all traders, you know where to find me.

So, that’s the work news.

Kid news? Pinch me, cos I got the best ones out there. Seriously. I look at my daughter and am filled with absolute awe that I made this inquisitive, big eyed, feisty, fun, friendly and loud human and I look at my son and cant believe this cheeky, smart, creative, anal, obsessive, quirky, shy and kind little man is all mine. And together, well they are just amazing. For those on the fence about adding a sibling to their brood, all I can see is, despite the manic chaos of it all, it’s a bond thats actually too beautiful to describe.

Whilst this all sounds super happy and posotive it’s been a really rough few months as well. I learnt some valuable lessons about human nature and trust, I lost out on so much sleep that my body went into a state of mild depression and I am still fucking fat after having a baby. (Side eyes rooibos tea. Dreams about cake.)

Those are the two biggest and most obvious parts of my life, and I guess it’s what I naturally talk about. But the past few months have also got me thinking about feminism, emigration, the menstrual cup, chronic fatigue, stress and weight loss. All things I’m going to be delving into deeper on this blog, because if I cant tell you the perks of a moon cup, the anxiety over whether to stay in SA or flee for ‘greener’ pastures or about how women are fed up with the patriarchy, then what use am I to you, really?

So, thats it really. My last 4 months in a very tight little nutshell. A hazelnut, really.

Thanks for sticking around, if you did, I appreciate every single (literally, single digits) one of ya.

xx

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Win A Love To Dream Swaddle

Yesterday I posted a photo of Piper in her Love To Dream swaddle, and the response I was just incredible! So many other moms and dads got in touch telling me how it’s changed their life in terms of baby sleep.

Now, I’m just a mom of a 4 month old and never-gonna-leave bags under her eyes, so I’m no expert – but I will do whatever it takes to get my baby down, and keep her down! So for me, I cannot live without four things when it comes to Piper having a sleep:

  1. A Love To Dream Swaddle Up
  2. A good dummy (I swear by those hideous ‘honey dummies’)
  3. A sleep du-du (there are so may on the market but Piper favours a little pink bunny)
  4. A full tummy

Since posting the pic, I have received so many questions  about Love To Dream , so I thought I would do my research and answer them all here:

Where do you get the sleep sack? I have been looking and cant find anything suitable

You can get them from The Bub Hub (and they now have an online store, yay!), Takealot, Kids Emporium, Baby Fantasy and A-Z

Do you find the sleep sack really helps to keep Piper sleeping? Grayson has started waking and I’ve been wondering if that might help him

Yes. I really do. It hasn’t got her sleeping through the night, but the aim isn’t for it to do that (that’s just baby to baby specific) – but it has been a lifesaver in helping her feel secure. Since she was born she’s suffered from a really bad startle reflex and kept waking herself up. In the Love To Dream she can’t wake herself up with that jerky arm movement, and so her sleep is deeper and much better. Sometimes she goes down for a day nap, without her Swaddle Up, and she sleep is only about 30 minutes long. Like today. She has literally just woken up form her sleep after 20 minutes (her swaddle is on the line, drying). I think Grayson may be too old for the original swaddle – but you can get him something called the ‘Swaddle Up 50/50’ which has removable wings and is made for babies age 4-8 months. This is what I’m moving Piper onto next.

 

I cant imagine how Stevie would handle it – she uses her hands so much to self soothe and get herself to sleep. Are her (Pipers) elbows bent and hand up by her face?

The Swaddle Up has been designed for exactly that! To allow a more natural “arms up” position which allows baby to self-soothe. If you look closely at the pic of Piper you will see how damp and grubby the arm parts are – because she literally sucks on them all the time.

What is the age range?

Birth to 3 years – the swaddles are available in 3 stages – ‘Original’, ’50/50′ and ‘sleep bag’.

Sounds like a winning recipe! How old was Piper when you started using it? I have one, but not sure what age to use it from

I think she was a few days old when we started, the second I realised how bad her reflex was, was the second I popped her in one. You can start now for your gorgeous little girl 🙂

Do they make these swaddles in adult sizes?

Haha, I was wondering the same thing!

How do you put them to sleep in it?

You literally pop them in, put their hands and legs inside and zip it u. Then you lay them on their back, or side, depending on their preferred sleep position

Check out this video to see a more detailed description of the Original Swaddle Up and how it works

So, I kinda bet you’re dying to get your hands on (and your baby in!) one of these Swaddle Up’s, right? Lucky for you I have one Swaddle Up™ Original in Pink, Blue or Grey in Small or medium to give away.

To enter, simply tell me what you would do to pass the time while your baby has a gorgeous long sleep in his or her Swaddle Up. Would you read a book have a nap, hit the gym or just sit and watch them sleep? I’ll be drawing the winner on Monday so make sure to drop your answer in the comments, follow my blog and like Rupert Approves on Facebook. If you want an additional entry, simply share this post from here, or my Facebook page, to your Facebook page.

Good Luck! 🙂

 

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My Instagram QnA – You Asked and I Answered.

A week or so back I was inspired by a blog post that an Instagram friend, Gaelyn, had written. It was based on a whole bunch of questions that she had got people to ask her on the app. I told her I loved the idea so much that I was going to steal it, so I did. I had tons of fun with this – it’s been a bit of a slumpy few months in the writing department, and so this was just the creative unblocking I needed. You guys were the perfect writers block laxative 😉

Thank you to everyone who took the time to ask me questions, You guys were all super tame, I don’t know if I’m relived or not!

Let me know if I should do another one of these?

PS – I wasn’t sure who wanted to remain anonymous or not, so I’ve removed everyones names.

How is the weight loss going and how are you staying motivated?

You know the saying ‘a year ago you’ll wish you had started today?‘ Well, that’s kinda me right now. It’s been 6 weeks since a group of us made our #FatttisAndMoanies pact and I feel like I’ve fallen off the wagon too many times to count. That being said, the last 2 weeks have been really good in terms of consistency and training. I’ve started doing a bunch of classes at gym, which for me, are so much easier than following apps or plans. I tend to give up if I miss a training day on an app, but with classes it’s just easier to pick up where I left off. I’ve also been training with a friend which really helps to stay motivated and committed. As far as weight goes, I haven’t even lost 100 grams! Nothing is shifting which is really, really demotivating. So, I’ve actually decided that instead of stressing about fitting into my pre baby jeans I actually just went and bought 3 new pairs of bigger jeans to tide me over. Trying to fit into my thin clothes was causing me so much stress that I just want to put them away for a few months and not feel like an octopus in a condom every morning, trying to squeeze into them.

That being said – I am shocked to see how many retailers have inconsistent sizing in their shops – I recently bought 2 pairs of size 12 jeans from Cotton On. the one pair doesn’t even go over my knees and the other pair fits perfectly – something I need to remember when berating myself for being a certain ‘size’.

When are you starting solids and what are you starting with? (Need some solid inspiration)

We are going to try wait until 5 months, like we did with Carter. I’m not going to do any rice cereal as they just have such a bad rap – rather I want to try get her tasting all sorts of flavours and textures from the get go. I haven’t got a set plan in mind but I do want to (where possible) incorporate as much protein into her food as possible, because protein = sleep and well, we could ALL do with more of that around here.

How many adverts have you been “the voice” to on radio?

8 years ago? TONS. Nowadays, I think one ad that’s still doing the rounds in a Dubai IKEA 😉 When I took up photography, and when photography took off, I had to cut the amount of voice over work I did as I just wasn’t able to get to the studio when they needed me. I miss it, but I also had to be realistic.

What is your biggest fear?

How long is your piece of string? I am fearful by nature – everything from car accidents to retiring with no savings. My ‘silly’ fear is spiders and my ‘serious’ fear is something happening to my kids. Drowning, getting hit by a car, leaving a baby in the car seat. Everything! I’m pretty sure all parents feel this way and its true what they say, that as a parent you will never ever stop worrying. I also worry about my place in this country and our financial security and future. Man alive, thanks for the question, now I need a Xanax 😉

What or who inspires you every day?

Seemingly normal and everyday people. Just yesterday a woman I followed on Instagram shared a pic of an interview done on her in which she talks abut being a hot shot lawyer. My socks were knocked off – I had no idea! I am motivated by my friends for following their startup/entrepreneurial/study and travel dreams. I am inspired by the work I do – being a perfectionsit means I can never settle and am constantly striving for excellence. I am inspired by a random lady stepping off a taxi looking like a runway model, or how great someone looks in a messy bun, or the busy mom who still gets up to train every day at 5 am. I don’t really do the self help books or TED talks, rather, I look to my peers and society and use them all as one big Pinterest board.

Im looking at starting my own business. eek. do you have any advice? 

No, I have zero idea what I’m doing 😉 I have been doing my photography on the side for almost 2 years and so the advice I can give is this: Start small and start on the side, like I did. Open up a business bank account and allocate 20% for tax/SARS. Take advantage of platforms out there to help you with your admin (I particularly like Wave as my invoicing platform). Use your connections and gain trust by being reliable, reputable and kind. Don’t underestimate your value either and charge competitive rates. Offer discounts but try not to do too much for free. I had a rule when I started taking photos; The first of anything was free (first wedding, first newborn etc) that way, there’s less pressure but you also get great experience. Learn wherever you can – mentorships, online courses, YouTube tutorials and shadowing. Ask peoples advice and don’t be scared to put yourself out there. Lastly, fake it till you make it and remember that everyone suffers from some sort of ‘imposter syndrome’ and that is totally OK. Good Luck!

I just found out Im pregnant! can I ask you all the baby questions as i go?! 

Yay! Congratulations! And yes, absolutely, but my answer to the hard questions will probably be something along the lines of ‘have a glass of wine and don’t sweat the small stuff’ 😉 Kidding. Kinda.

Who did your micrblading? They are so perfect 

Firstly, thank you 😉 Secondly, what makes you think they’re not natural? Thirdly, who am I kidding, I have awful features. I had mine done by a lady called Melanie at a place in Clearwater mall. I’ve just tried to find her on Instagram but it seems she’s no longer on it… and I cant remember the shop name either. That being said, I’m pretty sure if you ask around you can get some great referrals for other brow artists. PS – I went a shade darker which means my hair grows blonde over them, and it looks a bit odd. I still tint my eyebrows once every 6 weeks and use a brow pencil (‘Brow This Way’ from Rimmel) to touch up the dodgy patchy bits.

Bedtime routine for two tots 

What is this routine you talk of? My once angelic boy now pulls out all the nightly stops to avoid actually getting into bed at the prescribed time. That being said, amidst the madness we do sometimes have moments of luck, so our typical night/bedtime routine goes like this:

Carter gets home from school at 5/5:30 and we play, chat catchup a bit. He then eats supper between 5;30 and 6:30 depending on his hunger levels. If we are both at home one parent will sit with Carter while the other carries Piper (because her royal highness will not be put down during suicide hour). My hubby always does the evening bath time at 5:45 with Piper. Either Carter will bath with her or shower with Barry later. Barry will give Piper her bottle at 6 and she’s asleep (again, not always successfully) by 6:10. If Carter is still in the bath while Piper is having her bottle, and only one parent is home, then we have a rule whereby we call out to him every 5 minutes and he has to answer, otherwise he’s not allowed to bath alone again. Carter’s bathed/showered and in his pyjamas by 6:30 and then he is allowed half an hour of TV before bed. Some nights we build puzzles or draw but 5/7 times he gets TV. I think our strict TV rule has worked well as its such a novelty for him that it keeps him occupied for 30 minutes and allows us to prep dinner, pop Pipers dummy back in 87 times or just sort out lunches for the next day. At 7 pm the TV magically turns off (thank you iPhone remote!) and Carter is then given the option of 10 more minutes of TV or a story in bed. The story usually wins and – if he’s not being a threenager – he’s in bed and sleeping by 7:30. We went through a massive wobbly when he was about 2.5 and his bedtime routine is only coming right now (thanks to spanking, bribing, shouting, crying, timeout, toy confiscation and wine).

How do you juggle marriage, motherhood, your career and still manage to go to gym? 

I have a spouse who carries 50% of the parenting load, for which I’m so grateful. He’s very big on us each getting our own time off to train and so we usually alternate mornings or evenings. So, one of us will go to gym in the morning leaving the other to dress the kid for school (ha sucker!) and then the other one gets to gym after work or go for a run in the evening. That being said, the arrival of baby 2 totally threw this off kilter as shit got super busy. Hard core training like Iron Man stuff has completely fallen by the wayside, which is OK, I mean, who really has time to train for several hours a day? We have both slacked in the exercise department, but I am now fortunate enough to leave Piper with the nanny for an hour, once Carters been dropped at school at 7:30, and head to gym. Barry’s started running a lot more and we have a stationary bike and treadmill in our dining room. When Piper is a bit older and we don’t need to split the bath time and feeding routine I like to think we will get back into a proper groove. As for marriage, I’ve always said that it is the hardest thing I have ever done. I think we both had a really big wakeup call a few months ago and so we are taking the time to be kinder with each other and go on a few date nights. It’s a work in progress but just these small changes have made us a stronger team. As for career – it’s tough for everyone – but we share calendars and can always see when the other person has a shoot/meeting/function so we can plan accordingly. It’s not perfect, but it helps.

Remember the day you, Lucy and I were counting microscopic ferns? Now you have Carter and Piper 

So, this wasn’t really a question as much a statement, but I loved it so much that I decided to include it. (thanks for the fun reminder, Zee!) The back story – I was told that I would battle to have kids, and me being me, I went into panic and planning mode. I bought this little lipstick sized ovulation microscope online that – when ovulating – showed up as teeny tiny fern like shapes. Well, I brought it to work the one day and the entire office had a go at seeing their saliva under the microscope. Imagine my surprise when it was my turn and BOOM! There were hundreds of fat ferns. Needless to say, Carter was born 10 months later. PS – it’s clearly a lucky charm as the three friends I lent it to afterwards all fell pregnant.

Why are you so hard on yourself? I ask because your honesty and humour when dealing with life is so relatable.I think you’re doing an amazing job

I have, for as long as I can remember, used sarcasm to hide my insecurities. I feel like I have always been the ‘good enough’ girl. good enough looking, good enough at school, good enough at sports. Nothing ever really defined me, and so I used wit to give myself an identity. So I guess what you see by me being hard on myself, is the only me that I know. Plus, aren’t we all? As much as I know that social media is almost entirely fake, where people only show their greatest and most joyful moments, it also makes me incredibly insecure, and so I swore that I would ever not be authentic on the platforms I’m on. So I show the good, the bad and the ugly – and as much as I want to – I don’t even use on of those face filter apps to make me look like I’m not mid-thirties with 2 kids 😉 But I promise I’ll try to be gentler on myself (after I’ve lost the 20 kilogram and had a boob job). kidding!

Why did you leave radio? 

I am a verbal person, and have always spoken my mind. Working in radio began to feel a bit too scripted for me – I didn’t feel as if I had an opinion or was actually making a difference. It was also the first job I had ever had and as much as I loved it – I still miss it – I wanted to see what else I could do with my life. I was worried that I would never grow in a professional sense and the corporate world seemed quite exciting. Even though I left commercial radio, I feel like my blog and my photography has allowed me to still be creative and express my feelings.

Tips for breastfeeding/sleeping through the night 

I’m not sure if you mean getting baby to sleep through the night, or mom being able to sleep after she’s woken for a feed, so I’ll give this answer my best shot:

Firstly, I chose to stop breastfeeding at 2.5 months. I battled in public and it was leading to massive weight gain (for me, not her ;)) However, when I was breastfeeding I would express, alot. Which meant Barry could do feeds and I could sleep, and visa versa. This allowed us both to get to atleast 5/6 hours stretches. I am also 100% routine mom and so from day 4 we tried to get Piper on a day and night feeding routine. I would limit her time on the boobs so she didn’t get lazy which meant she knew that at feed time, it was time to chow! We also didn’t feed in between her 3 hour sessions, unless it was an emergency. It’s worked for us and we know (sort of) what to expect.That being said, my darling daughter does not sleep though the night, and between her and Carters new-found night terrors, I feel like no one in my house will ever sleep again 😉

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Life With 2 Kids

There’s a reason it’s taken me 10 weeks to write this post. When Carter was a newborn I was oh-so-smug about churning out blog posts like confetti. It’s been a whole different ball game this time around. I took a whopping 29 days off before I went back to photography, shooting an 11 hour wedding when she was less than a month old. Not earning a full salary on maternity leaves means maternity leave is less cuddle and more hustle, and to be honest I.Am.Exhausted. I’m also dreading 1 July when I leave my awesome edit-from-home-in-slippers vibe and head back to my corporate job. I hope the dress code allows for fat pants and maternity bras.

So, busy-ness aside, what is it like to have a second child?

  1. It’s busy. I think I kinda alluded to that earlier, but it is. It’s amazing – I roll my eyes into my brain when twenty-something people moan about how constantly exhausted they are, because I had one kid and realised what the term ‘busy’ really meant. Well, moms of two or more, I totally get how you must have rolled your eyes at us moms of one. The first few days were so easy that I had another moment of (very short lived) smugness. Husband was on paternity leave (ya, let’s discuss that flash in a pan allowance hey government?) and that mean I could totally enjoy the snuggles and chill out time as I had a set of hands to help clean and cook and just chill with. The second he went back to work real life set in. Newborns, as teeny and tiny as they are, are are really very time consuming. From feeds to burps to nappy changes and everything in between. When they do sleep you are met with life altering decisions. Do I grocery shop, do I do some work, do I wash her clothes, do I clean bottles or do I blog? And then before you can even make a decision, the baby wakes up and all your plans for the day are long forgotten.
  2. It takes a toll on your marriage. Suddenly, two parents means one kid each which means zero down time. Our evenings are run with military precision as one spouse cleans kids while the other starts cooking. Bedtimes are managed with tears and screaming. Sometimes the kids also cry. A shit ton of wine is consumed and in between the grunts of ‘your turn‘ when the monitor goes off and downing carb laden easy food for meals, you barely have one ounce to even look at each other. We realised recently that we haven’t had a date, just the two of us, in over a year and a half. So yes, it’s safe to say that our marriage is basically in survival mode for the next few months while we try to keep two little people alive.
  3. The sibling will suffer. You can prep them until they are blue with boredom, but once that baby comes, someone is going to suffer. Carter adores his sister so much that my heart sometimes feels like it will explode with custard, and while this makes me smile sunbeams out my face, it also means that he’s taking ‘the change’ out on someone. And that someone is me. My kid, my crazy kind sweet beautiful boy has been a little dick to me since the day I fell pregnant. There are fleeting moments of adoration or hugs or loves, but I can tell you that 80% of the time I am his punching bag. And its Ok, because I know it wont last forever, but while it does, it’s still very hard. After a particularly stressful morning last week I sat, sobbing while googling ‘Aspergers in toddlers’ and telling my husband that we had to take him to a child psychologist. Thankfully, a hundred moms spoke me off my cliff and told me that acting out is totally normal, and no, I shouldn’t run to the adoption agency just yet. Little arseholes that they are though, these threenagers know just how to drive you to the brink of insanity before doing something totally adorable to remind you not to drop them off at the orphanage for the night.
  4. No one cares. First kids are exciting man, people wish you and praise you and come visit and bring food. Second time around, only your family really give two hoots. In a way it was quite nice not having 59 people in my hospital room at once, but in a way I’m pretty sad that Piper s arrival wasnt met with the same amount of joy as Carter was. I have friends who still haven’t even met her, and friends who haven’t even wished us congratulations. In a way its a good thing, as it’s reminded me who my real tribe are. I’m still sad no ones brought carbs food though.
  5. You will be more tired that you ever thought possible. I think, to allow conception of another baby, your body purposely forgets just how hard sleep deprivation is. I genuinely don’t remember it being so hard with #1. I am tired all the time, and my face looks like the before ad for botox. if one more person tells me how tired I look I might stab them in the face with a wine bottle.
  6. You are more flexible. With the realisation of this being your ‘last kid’ you change your approach somewhat. I hold her a bit longer and let her sleep me on me a bit more than I did Carter. I’m more flexible with her feeding and routine and I’m trying to enjoy and appreciate her as much as I can. She’s already nearly 2 and a half months and my heart is heavy at the thought of her growing up too fast.So, on that…
  7. It’s too fast. 10 weeks in and I’ve yet to go back to gym, update my blog, make photo books of their lives or clean out that draw that’s been collecting crap since 2016. Your day is broken up into 3 hour stretches during which 100 more important things need to be done. Working throughout has also added a new dimension to my ‘leave’ and every free minute I get is spent editing or shooting or invoicing or doing admin.
  8. It’s just as exciting. The novelty does not wear off the second time around. The first smile will melt your ovaries (I know, because mine are currently very much melted) and every milestone thereafter will be treated as if she were your first. Don’t think that this baby will be relegated to the backseat just because it’s not the first time. Each and every thing my Baby Piper does feels like the first time, because she is not her brother, she is her. She is different. She is unique. And every thing she ever does will be exciting because of that.
  9. It’s just how it should be. I never had those feelings of “how I’m I going to love another human as much as I do my first”. I always knew that I wanted two kids and always knew I had room in my heart for another. If anything, it’s taught me to love Carter even more (if that’s even possible). In a way I can’t wait to see who she grows into and what kind of person she’s going to be, but for the time being I am so content just sitting with her and touching her and breathing her all in (girls smell much nicer than boys, even when they’re babies).
  10. It is so, so worth it. So worth the weight gain, the breast-feeding hormones that make me fat, the lack of sleep, the mum dum, the stretch marks, the 10cm scar, the bags under my eyes and the exhausted skin, the tired eyes and the 8 pm bedtimes, the 2 am insomnia and the debt. It is so worth it, because I am so happy and so deeply in love with my two children. Motherhood may not be for everyone, but it’s one of the greatest achievements of my life.

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Surviving The First Month – Boobs And All (Plus, Win a Breastpump!)

Piper is nearing her one-month birthday. I KNOW.

It’s been an incredible (and incredibly fast) first few weeks. She is amazing. I’m drowning in every bit of her, because she really is growing up way too fast for my liking. In fact, I had a little moment this past weekend when discussing birth stories with friends (yes, this is what we talk about now) and I realised she will be my last every baby. I’m devastated that I wont ever have that experience again. But, I digress.

Coming home with a new baby is always a daunting exercise – regardless if you’re like me and it’s your second, or if it’s baby number 5 you’re bringing home to the family.

You forget everything. It’s amazing how the brain retains only what you really need to remember, and discards the rest. Jokes, you’ve just had a kid, Your brain retains nothing, you are all dumb now. So, in the spirit of helping other new moms keep their shit together, I’ve decided to put together a little ‘Surviving The First Month’ series and chat about everything from boobies and body to blood and ‘bloody hell!’

To kickstart, I’ve decided that the most important thing to discuss is feeding. And in my case, breastfeeding. Apologies to the formula mums – I will be there in a few months when I go back to work (although at times I’ve considered hanging up my boob straps and switching to Nan because of, well, all the below reasons)

The latching… Unlike Carter, when Piper was born they popped her directly on my boob and she latched first time, like a little star. I have nightmare memories of leaking nips from Carter days, so my hospital bag was 3/4 breastpads. Although, you don’t actually need them for the first few days as you are making tiny amounts of colostrum and baby really only needs a teaspoon or less, per feed. So all was good under my proverbial hood and little Pip latched and ate and slept and poo’ed. On day 4 my milk came in, and with it, my boobs doubled in size and became rock hard. Piper was still latching but it was so incredible sore that my toes would literally curl in and I would levitate every time she came anywhere near me. I was using these hideous nipple shields to try get her on (because on top of milk coming in and boobs growing, they also become so rock hard that for baby to get a grip is the equivalent of them trying to wrap their lips around a soccer ball). I was in agony and the breaking point for me came on day 5 when after a feed, I looked down and her little face was covered in blood. I immediately contacted a lactation specialist – Sally – from Noobebe Baby Clinic  who came to my house and sat with us for an hour teaching me how to properly latch my baby. That and a session of physio** helped me so much and I cannot stress enough what an investment this is. I can understand why so may moms give up trying to breastfeed, the pain of early onset mastitis, cracked nippled and rock hard goombies is enough to make even the most hardcore crunchy mom give up and grab a bottle.

The mess… Guys. You must never underestimate the messiness of milk. I can only speak from my experience, but when the milk comes in, it comes in fast ad furious. Like the cast of Absolutely Fabulous at a gin sale. No amount of breastpads can prevent this:

Or this (Incase you’re wondering, this is my duvet cover, which means I leaked through shields, a bra, a top and actual linen.)

And even if they do, its a fucking nightmare when boob is out, baby’s on and she suddenly pulls away. Milk streams out at ferocious 90 degree angles. If a forensic expert had to come in to my home they would find traces of Kates Dairy all over the house, from the curtains to the carpets. I took a break from writing this blog to feed Piper now, and this is legitimately what she looked like after her first suck:

My advice? Stock up on breastpads and keep them everywhere. Baby’s room, your room, under your pillow, wedged between cushion covers and in your car. Also, you will be very sleep deprived and therefore very stupid. Top tip? Don’t apply them sticky side down on your nipples. It’s not pleasant.

Feeding in public… I could never get this right with Carter and hated the thought of going out with him when he needed a feed. The amount of times the poor Woolworths change-room assistants let me borrow a stall is beyond me. It also got very expensive as every-time I used a room to feed I felt obliged to buy myself new clothes. Nursing covers are hot and stuffy and unpleasant all round, plus, they could be the size of a picnic blanket but you are still guaranteed a nip sip when shifting baby from boob to boob. I find it incredibly difficult as I have to help her get latched which means both hands need to be under my top, and in order to see what Im doing that also means that I need to also be under the cover. There is not less conspicuous than a hot sweaty woman with a bright pink shawl draped over her shoulders in 30 degree heat trying to wrestle an infant octopus between oversized leaky mammaries. If I have to, then I will feed in public. If not, I express, bottle the milk up and actually just save us both from tears.

 

Expressing and bottle feeding… I used the Medela double electric pump with Carter and am using it again with Pip. This thing is terrific, the only downfall is that you have to hold the pump in place while expressing which meant you were very limited for however long it took to get the milk out. That is, until Michelle from BreastPumps and Beyond came to my house to deliver, what I fondly refer to, as THE BIGGEST GODSEND AFTER HAVING A BABY. She also brought me chocolates, so she’s basically my favourite person.  It’s a click on bra that allows you to hook the pump in so you can operate hands free. This thing has actually changed my life. I can read, work, blog, watch TV, take hideous selfies or wash dishes while expressing. Jokes. I have a dishwasher for that.

I debated for hours over posting this photo, but decided that in the spirit of honest parenting, you needed to see what real motherhood looks like. It ‘aint pretty. 

I’m using the Medela Calma bottle and teat which mimics the sucking action of a nipple. (God, how many times can one person actually say ‘nipple‘ in a post?). I’ve been expressing from 4 days and giving Piper the occasional bottle since she was 5 days old – so I can get a break, or feed in public or so hubby can feed and I can sleep lie awake wondering if he’s going to remember to change her nappy afterwards. Oh, and also so I can drink. heavily.

So, what have I actually achieved with this post? Apart from perhaps causing a spike in the sale of the contraceptive pill? Well, hopefully to help you realise that you’re not alone in this messy journey of motherhood, and also to help you stock up on shit you really need, versus shit you really don’t.

Shit you really need:

Breastpads. Any brand. The large box. keep them everywhere

Towelling nappies. Not for nappying, for absorbing spillage and mess and milk and tears.

A Medela breastpump and THE WORDS GREATEST BRA. Get them here:

A nipple cream – I use the Medela lanolin. Yes you will gawk at the price. Yes, you will need it. (great for cuticles, too).

The number of a good Sister (like nurse, not biological or Whoopi) who can help you with your latch – chat to Sally from Noobebe. She also does vaccinations.

The number of a physio who can help you should you get mastitis or pain.

A comfy chair. I use the ComfyMummy chair with a foot cushion and it’s really helped with those 3 am feeds when you are so exhausted you can’ see straight Tip> Pay for Scotch Guarding. because, mess. FYI – they have recently moved their showrooms so give them a visit or have a look at their website.

Shit you don’t need:

Breastfeeding tops – They really make zero difference when you have to peel back layers of bras and pads anyway.

Overly warm breastfeeding covers – they are not fun for everyone

Nipple shields. If I can give up this crutch, so can you. I promise.

Judgy opinions. Do what works for you.

** Side note. When selecting a physio to caress, massage and laser your boobs, try not to book your husbands ex girlfriend. You’re welcome.

Competition Time!

The lovely folk at Breastpumps and Beyond and Medela want to try and simplify your breastfeeding experience, so we are giving away one Harmony manual pump to a lucky winner. I also have this particular pump as it’s super handy for on-the-go expressing. I’m shooting a wedding at the end of the month and will be taking it along to express between the ‘I Do’s’ . To enter, all you need to do is subscribe to this blog, like and share the post on your Facebook timeline (you can share it from here) and leave me a comment. Winner will be drawn and announced on Thursday.

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Introducing Piper Grey. Our Daughter.

I’m writing this from a very loved up cocoon. 13 days ago we met our precious daughter, Piper Grey. She was born via planned C section but came wide eyed and screaming into this world, just as I had hoped. She is perfection, All 3.42 kilograms and 50 cm of her. Just like her oder brother she was born with a mop of dark hair which I’m almost certain will, like his as well, fade, fall out, grow back blonde and then settle into a dark blonde. She has large almond eyes that currently, are a deep blue and a little rosebud mouth. Her character is simply delicious – soft and sweet with a ferocious crossness that comes every 3-4 hours when she’s hungry and needs boob. Her features are delicate and dainty but her hands, man those hands, those were made for something great. In fact, her hands were the first thing the gynae saw as he pulled her out, and as he did he said ‘she’s gonna be a 4 kilo’er’. I’m kinda glad she’s not.

Alot of people have been asking me about her name, and no, it didn’t derive from ‘Pip’. We were calling her Pip in the tummy because ‘It’ sounded too weird, and when we chose the name Piper it was simply a coincidence that it was 2 letters longer than her nickname 🙂

The whole C section and hospital experience was amazing – even better than the first. I had her at a different hospital to Carter and cannot tell you just how welcome, special and important all the nursing staff made me feel. The only downfall was the limited visiting hours for Barry and Carter and the broken aircon – she was born in one of the hottest weeks and I was uncomfortable for 4 days. It was like staying in a sauna.

And the boys? Well, they are simply besotted. Barry has been given 10 days paternity – which is great but in my opinion about 2 months too little – so has been with me for 2 weeks helping and bonding and being my rock. He goes back to work tomorrow and Im somewhat devastated. Carter is simply obsessed – I always knew he would be loving and nurturing but to see him with her, it can actually make your ovaries do the Macarena. She is his little light and he gravitates towards her like a beacon – he smothers her with kisses and soft touchers and whispers her name when he’s crying. I am the luckiest mom in the world.

Piper was born with several ‘stork bites’ on her face – a ‘V’ on her forehead, on her eyelids and under her nose. At first I was really upset – her perfect face felt flawed, and I gave myself a full day to mourn a little bit of her perfection. And then I sucked it up and told myself I was being ridiculous – she has 10 fingers and toes and is a perfect human in every other way. The docs said the marks will fade in a few years, and I’ve learnt to embrace them as part of her and who she is. I don’t edit them out in all my pics as I want her to look back at photos and see her for exactly who she was.

I have been loving my time at home with her. Not being able/allowed to drive is a tiny blessing. I’m trying this time do do less and be more. She is my last baby and so I want my waking hours to be spent gazing, touching and smelling this little bundle. Because I know all too well just how fast they grow up.

r-Grey

It hasn’t all been roses and custard, I did too much too soon and suffered a small bout of mastitis, afterbirth pains (we need to talk about that, people!) and threw in a dose of food poisoning for good measure.

She is 2 weeks tomorrow, and I actually don’t remember a time before she was here. Yes, the lack of sleep and 2 am feeds and constant soiled nappies and saggy tummy and exhausted eyes are leaving me more mombie than anything, but I wouldn’t trade it for the world. She’s here, she’s ours and she has completed our little family.

 

 

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‘Pips’ Nursery Reveal

One of my favourite parts about having kids (I sound like Octomom) is being able to plan their rooms. I hate anything that’s too ‘themed’ and tend to go with a feel, rather. Carter’s room was grey and navy and because it had more room and space, I could do so much with it. When it came to putting Pip’s nursery together, I really battled. Not only is the room tiny but there is zero wall space, so it was trial and error trying to get everything we needed in there. I always wanted a bight, cheerful tropical nursery, and never realised just how popular the trend would become! Nevertheless, my love for flamingos trumped my disdain at being sucked into a trend, and I persevered. Although it’s not perfect, I am really happy with the room and how it’s come together. Its bright, light and calm, and already smells so damn good.

All of the furniture is a hand me down from Carters room (and several other babies before him!), the side table was one I found in the garage and repainted. The shelves are from @Home, the art is from Shutterstock, the painted flamingos were done by me and my moms friend. The cube shelves are Mr Price and the flamingo was a gift from a friend. I’m waiting on 2 more special items – a mobile lovingly and painstakingly being made by my mom and a delicious monster printed muslin blanket that I eventually caved on and bought online.

The nappy bag is also Carter’s (yes, he had a girlie nappy bag!) from Lou Harvey, the bottles I will be using are all from Nuk and the dummies I’m going to be trying out are from Nuk, Tommee Tippee, Doddle and Co and Avent. I’m not taking any chances that she will be a fan of those hideous honey dummies her brother (still!) adores.

Now just to pack hospital bags and I’ll be (almost) ready for her arrival.

 

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Showered With Love!

It’s less than 3 weeks till the little Miss arrives. I haven’t hit that ‘fukkit‘ stage just yet, but I am getting more exhausted with each passing day. Just 12 more days left of traffic to the office, 5 more shoots (I’ve squeezed in 3 more this week, oops), several more social activities, 2 bags to get packed and one nursery to finish and then it’s baby time!

She has been one spoiled little girl already and I’ve been lucky to have had not one, but three baby showers thrown for me.

I belong to an awesome group of ladies who I met through Carters school. We started a little Whatsapp group 2 years ago, and that WhatsApp group has turned into real, solid and supportive friendships. These girls remember everything from birthdays to anniversaries, are my sounding board and support system and raise me up on days when I cant do it myself.

A few weeks ago they threw me the most gorgeous baby shower breakfast with stunning decor and food and amazing gifts. It was the perfect intimate morning and I am truly grateful for the attention to detail and love that they showered on us that day.

A colleague at my office is also preggie – we are 4 days apart – and 2 weeks ago the company threw us a little surprise shower at an office function. They had arranged the most amazing cake and goodies and it was such a genuine surprise.

Then, this past Saturday, my friends and family threw me the most exceptional tropical themed bash. As you know, I am a sucker for a good attention to detail event, and this was no exception. My current obsession with all things flamingo was carried out to perfection, from incredible cupcakes and lawn decorations to food and decor. Again, this little baby was absolutely spoiled and I lugged home hundreds of amazing things. My biggest issue is going to be finding space for it all!

I am so so lucky to have the friends and family that I do – I feel completely overwhelmed and fortunate to be a part of this village.

I hope my daughter grows up to be just as good as the people I have in my life.

 

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How LG Saved Me With Pre Baby Nesting Panic

There’s something fundamentally different about having a girl, vs. having a boy. For one, when I was pregnant with Carter I received very few hand me downs for him. He had zero fancy clothes (in fact, the only name brand item he had was a Cotton On onesie I bought for his coming home outfit.). Other than that, his clothes were cute, but oh-so-practical.

Then, I fell pregnant with a girl and suddenly friends were giving me the most amazing bags and bags (and boxes and more bags) of clothing. I have actually been too embarrassed to share just how many clothes we got, because it seems revoltingly unnecessary. The bags sat in the baby’s room for weeks without being touched. Every-time I walked in I would retreat like a beeping garbage truck. There were too many things and not enough space (or energy from me). Then, LG delivered a brand new 13 kilogram Sapience top loader washing machine, and my life changed. I realise how dramatic that sounds, but I suddenly realised just how faster and easier it would be to wash all of this:

 

In this:

I dedicated an entire Sunday to sitting in the room and opening bag upon bag of clothing. It took close to 7 hours to open, sort into size and decide what I was going to use vs donate to charity. At the end of it all I had 4 large, neat piles sorted into season and age. Bravo!

Sadly, I forgot all about the sneakiness of a toddler and had literally left the room for 1 minute when I came back to a disaster zone. My sweet, fun and ‘helpful’ little boy had decided he didn’t quite like my structure, and had decided to reorganise the entire set up.

Warning, this video may cause OCD nightmares:

All plans flew out the window and I literally scooped up thousands of pieces of clothing and shoved them into my top loader. Thank goodness it has a 13kg capacity, because it could have fit in my son should I have needed to.

Thankfully, this machine comes with a Smart Inverter Control – which in laymans terms means ‘won’t lead us to Cape Town water crisis’ any time soon. Great news for me, greater news for my frugal husband. It also has something called ‘SmartMotion’ which means you can wash according to fabric type – perfect for newborn baby clothes which need to be soft on the skin. Lastly, the  TurboDrum™ enables the most powerful wash and removes even the toughest dirt through strong water stream of rotating drum and pulsator in the opposite direction. Basically, just what you need for those sure-to-happen poonamis. 😉

Anyway. All’s well that ends well and I got the clothes re-washed, re sorted and semi-repacked. Apparently the LG Smart Inverter does everything but sort your cupboards. Pity.

 

Want your own lifesaving LG Smart Inverter? Check it out here

PS – the best part of all of this? I finally have a room in the house that smells soft and pretty like a baby. Farewell stinky triathlon room! I may or may not go in there once a day to breathe in the scent.

PPS – Stay tuned for a baby room reveal coming next week!

 

 

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The Ten Commandments of Pregnancy. For Men.

Pregnancy is a glorious time, a time when your body grows a baby, your skin glows and the future seems bright and rosy-hued.

It’s also a time when your boob sweat mixes with 3rd trimester milk, your baby is honest-to-god getting jiggy on your bladder and a full night sleep was last spotted around the half way mark. You are hot, irritable, annoyed and any sudden move from your partner may leave you feeling filled with murderous intent.

Which is why, at around 3 am this morning, upon returning from my 18th trip to the toilet and having found my husband had removed my 6th strategically placed pillow from the bed, I decided not to murder him in his sleep, but rather write a short, easy to understand series of rules for all partners of preggy women, to hopefully save them the potential wrath mine might have encountered last night.

*Disclaimer* I am not basing the below on anything my husband may or may not have done. Please still speak to him when you see him on the street. Unless he’s sleeping on the street. In which case I have kicked him out for doing something on the list below and you may throw rotten vegetables at his head. 

Just because your wife is now knocked up and on a diet of water and heartburn meds, does not now mean you have a designated driver (insert ‘hey boet’ and high five jokes) for the foreseeable future. Unlike Uber, we do not get to kick you out of the vehicle at any time, charge you actual money for driving you around or give you a rating of 1 – divorce stars after a trip. We also don’t have the 2 am tolerance you do, are more often than not interested in hitting a jol until the wee hours and pretty much hate everything about you when you’re slumped in the passenger seat slurring at us to ‘get pulled over babe! These metro pigs will be in for such a lag when they breathalise you!’.

Pregnancy is an expensive time. The medication, the scans, the checkups, the UIF forms, the future unemployment, nursery decor, meds and a thousand other costs mean that mom-to-be is probably now a walking insomniac stressing about how she’s going to survive. And then, the fact that she will be at home for 4 months (give or take) looking after the baby also means that she will need to get out and about and spend money on things – at the sake of her not becoming a recluse who last washed her hair 18 days ago. You made half this baby, and so the fact that she is carrying it shouldn’t let you off that financial hook. Get the fuck involved, T Rex, and whip out your wallet. Better yet, give her a credit card so she doesn’t have to beg and ask for your 50% of the Doctor visit money or half a pack of nappies. Step up, pay up, give her a break.

Remember that lekker few weeks before you got married, when all your mates convinced you that you were about to end your life and the only thing that could possibly save you from a life time of ball and chain blues was to go out, shag a stripper and get so drunk you didn’t come home for 2 days? Well, this is not the same thing. Having a baby means you’re probably mature enough to accept that your life is going to change, so it doesn’t mean you now need to drink away the fear like a frat student on payday. As much as your pregnant, exhausted, hormonal and smell sensitive wife loves it when you get home at 3 am and vomit in her rose bush, don’t do it due. For real. Grow the fuck up.

Have you ever woken up and your Jack Russel, Roxy, has crawled into your bed and kinda shifted her way onto your left foot, and it’s all dead and you’re sweating a bit because Roxy is heavy and uncomfortable? Well, David, shame, because unlike you, who gets to boot poor Roxy off, we are stuck with a hot-Roxy in our stomachs for 40 weeks. Also, hot Roxy loves our bladder and is so large that she physically moves all of our organs up and away, like a Pixar movie. Hot Roxy doesn’t sleep when we do and loves nothing more than a midnight party in our uterus. This means two things – we wake up and have to wee because she’s bouncing on our bladder and all our food from the day before then erupts from our throats in a bilious volcanic explosion. This also means that we cannot get comfortable, like ever. It takes 12 strategically placed pillows for us to even consider getting into bed, so god help the man who then knocks the cushion fort down in the middle of the night because shame, he’s uncomfortable or has no space. A lesser human would kill you for breaching that safe haven, so don’t do it. If anything, offer her more pillows, my god man, buy out the whole of Coricraft if you must. Build her a fortress so large it could be a Kingdom on Game of Thrones. And if you’re really that bothered by watching your wife look comfortable for the first time in 7 weeks then maybe you should consider sleeping on the floor, or in the garden, or at your mate Steves house.

About anything. Yes, I know that sounds harsh but your wife/girlfriend/lover/one night stand now knocked up is going through a lot right now. She’s terrified, tired, exhausted and overwhelmed. If she does or says something that you don’t love, shut your mouth. Unless it is going to physically alter you in any way then rather bite your tongue and ask her how you can help her. Be the bigger, better person. Do not harp on pregnancy related errors she may make, pregnancy related smells she may poop or pregnancy related outbursts she may display. Trust me, she will remember them for much longer than you ever will. Don’t be a dick, be lekker.

The best part of any pregnancy, according to 99% of men surveyed, is the actual conception. Unfortunately, some of the stuff after that just isn’t as fun. Crazy hey? Things like admin and forms and booking beds and medical aid issues. These don’t all happen by the wave of a wand. There is a lot to do when prepping for a baby and most of the time the mom-to-be is lumped with the tasks fo prepping everything. Help her out – you will be making a huge difference and assisting her in a very important way. You will also be assisting your way to a longer life and therefore promoting a better future relationship with your unborn child.

“Hey Jimmy, where’s your dad?”

“Shame, ya, he’s dead. My mom killed him when I was in utero”

“Holy hell bru, why?”

“He didn’t paint the baby’s room when he said he would.”

If, like us, you are highly social people and tend to always have functions at your house, perhaps now would be a good time to re-assess your life a little bit. No-one, especially not your wife, enjoys making guests feel uncomfortable in her home, so she is going to be very reliant you to do that for her. Entertaining towards the end of pregnancy is awful for the mama-bear-to-be. She’s sober, exhausted and more than likely so deep into her nesting phase thats she’s wiping down the toilet seat everytime Brendan goes for a slash. She really doesn’t want people overstaying their welcome and is going to need you to understand that, and assist when guests overstay their welcome too much. Better yet, try cut down on the entertaining entirely and keep visits light and brief. I promise you, the ‘fun’ wife you had hasn’t died, she’s there, but she’s gatvol and probably just wants to fart in her home, alone. Bonus tip: Save the guest list and the good booze for when baby is here and she can join in on the fun She will thank you for it. I promise.

Your pregnant vagina: Critics are calling it ‘The Exploding Lotus’, The Loose Volcano’ and the ‘what the fuck did I just witness’. Please don’t ask for sex, ever. Unless your wife (and lucky you) falls into the 0.1% of females who actually enjoy intercourse while pregnant, just accept that she is sore and uncomfortable and making sweet sweet love to you is the furthest thing from her mind. Like ‘fun Sally’ your wife will be back soon enough. Grab a porn mag, find a free bathroom and stop your moaning.

So there you have it. Consider this your weekly public service announcement gents. Share with your mates to save them future pain, and while we’re at it, grab your wife a bunch of flowers on your way home. From work. Not your way home from the pub. You bloody muppet.

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