One of the most exciting parts about a baby on the way is undoubtedly the baby nursery. Hell, I will find any reason to decorate and buy things for the home, and here I have the perfect excuse. But, unless you’ve always known what your dream nursery looks like, it can be a daunting experience.
Thank goodness for sites like Pinterest – but also, not thank goodness – because, so much choice!
Luckily for us we know the sex, so that eliminates half the options. I’m also very firm on the ‘no theme’ rule. I’m just not a Disney or Teddy kinda gal.
I’ve always loved prints and have decided this is the perfect-time to pay round with contrast. We’ve decided to keep the nursery neutral – with tones of grey and white and pops of colour. I initially wanted mustard but was met with a raised eyebrow, so we’ve changed it to royal blue.
Friends and family have been totally amazing, and we have been so fortunate to receive a hand me down crib and compactum. Both these pieces need a lot of work, but if now’s not the perfect time to unleash my inner DIY’er, then when is?
Here are just some of the ideas I’m playing around with… but with just over 4 months to go, it’s time to get cracking on making a firm commitment.
Search the Internet for anything pregnancy related, and you will be bombarded with information ranging from best bottles for a newborn to glycerine suppositories, and everything in between. Apps, books, newsletters and daily emails keep the mom-to-be informed about the size of her baby (Oh look, today he’s a paw paw!) her stretchmarks and how to best prepare your nipples for feeding. With so much info out there, its no wonder that pregnancy is very much a female thing, something for the ladies. It’s a big vagina’y focused book-club.
I’ve been fortunate to have had a relatively easy pregnancy, but it’s still been a tough 5 and a bit months and sometimes I just want to not do anything and have a little cry instead, because sometimes I just don’t want to. I don’t want to work, exercise, cook, clean, wash the dogs, walk the dogs, buy dog food, try find my feet to rub cream in, take the car for a service, stack the dishwasher, squeeze into a now way-too-small bra or find clothes that fit.
With that in mind, I’ve decided to write a blog post for all the dad-to be’s (dad’s-to-be?) husbands and partners of the pregnant ladies. Hopefully this will help keep harmony in the home when your time comes.
Here are a few things that I (and a random sampling of woman I interviewed) wish our hubbies knew in those long 40 weeks of human gestation*
Don’t ever blame anything on pregnant hormones. It’s unkind and thoughtless and extremely hurtful. Yes, we are absolutely going through some hormonal changes (apparently it happens when one is growing an actual human inside of them) but to call that out in a fight or argument is not fair.
Be a protector. I’m not talking about coming to our rescue all damsel in distressy, but we need to know that you are financially prepared for what’s about to happen. I speak for me (and maybe others) when I say I spend a few hours a night worrying about money and how we are going to clothe, feed, doctor, school, educate, entertain and take the best possible care of our child. 4 months of maternity leave, means 4 months of no salary and 4 months of wondering how we are going to buy groceries, pay the bills. 4 months of wondering how secure our job is on our return, how a baby is going to affect our career and how colleagues are going to treat us when we arrive back at the office. It’s at this extremely vulnerable time when you need to step in and tell us that EVERYTHING IS GOING TO BE OK. Lie if you have to, rob a bank if you must, just let us breathe easy knowing that ‘you’ve got this’.
Step Up. Yes, in most households there are ‘wife’ duties and ‘husband’ duties. As an example, I don’t mow the lawn, but I’m in charge of groceries and cooking. That being said, it’s a rule that needs to be flexible, and we need you to pick up a little bit of the slack from time to time. Your woman would drop down on her knees (if she still had the ability to see her knees) in joy should you decided to come home with dinner or groceries one one night, without being asked.
Listen. When we ask you to do something we can only ask once. Yes, it’s a little bit of a test. If husband forgets to buy the toothpaste like I asked without having to remind him 4 times, how is he ever going to remember to fetch our child from school or buy nappies or formula?
Don’t beg us for praise. We appreciate everything you do, honestly (even if we don’t thank you every time for taking out the rubbish). We treat 10 months of pregnancy like a job interview – we watch to see that you can manage both your duties and some of ours (I’m about 1 week away from being able to wash the dogs on my own) so when you fail to do yours, we worry about how you are going to cope when there’s a tiny screaming needy infant on the way.
Nod and smile. I like things done my way, and I like them done yesterday. I’m a planner, I’m OCD and I’m who you married. You must be joking if you think that will change during pregnancy. Please tolerate our outbursts and panic attacks about pram wheels and wall paint and carpet colours. Nod and smile and ask what you can do.
Don’t take advantage of designated Dave. Just because you have someone to drive you around for 9 months, doesn’t mean you now need to become the worlds greatest boozer. Sometimes a bit of mutual matching sobriety would help our “ohmygodicantdrinkforalmostayear” sadness, just a little bit.
Get Involved. I don’t know why men get the raw end of the deal when it comes to babies. Perhaps it’s because they’re not carrying them that there’s this implied assumption that the dad isn’t as involved. My husband has come to every single scan and Doctors appointment since day dot. He knows more about what’s going to happen than I do, and he’s been involved every step of the way (except for the curtain shopping – there are some times when it really is better to leave dad behind). We love it when you get involved, and it sucks when you can’t experience everything we are – but we appreciate the interest you pay and the reading up you do and the way you actively plan for baby.
Make us feel special. Speak her love language (this is an important one guys). If she is into gestures or acts of service – bring her home a bag of nappies, make her a cup of tea or book her into preggy bellies or for a facial. If she’s a words of affirmation kinda gal, tell her how incredibly beautiful she is. Speak her language. Ladies – this applies to us as well (I can definitely learn from this one too!)
Help with the other kids. For those couples with an existing child – one of the biggest pleas for help from the mom is for hubby to get involved and bath, feed and look after the older child while she looks after growing a second one.
Don’t Complain. If we forget to take a our dirty glass to the sink, take it for us. if we don’t replace the mayo at our grocery shop, buy your own mayo. To err is human, to err alot is pregnancy. Pick your battles and rather step in and help out more. Nothing we do is malicious. We are just so bloody tired all the time that sometimes we do silly things without even knowing that we’re doing them.
Be patient. My husband has on several occasions remarked what a breeze I’ve been throughout pregnancy, and whilst I know that, I also know that a lot of woman have it a lot harder and give their men a harder time. Regardless of your situation, be a lot more patient with your scared, vulnerable and fragile wife.
Be like in the movies. I always anticipated pregnancy to be bouts of me yearning for ice cream and husband dutifully driving to the petrol station 24 hour shop at 2 am for my favourite vanilla Magnum. Alas, no shops have been driven to and no vanilla ice cream cravings have taken place. But when they do, be ready. We all want a little movie romance in our lives.
* Disclaimer: Not all these comments apply to all men, and no offence was intended in this blog post. In fact, ladies and gents I welcome all comments and bragging about your awesome spouse 🙂
As is blog tradition with Rupert Approves, at the end of each year I like to recap the highlights for the past 365 days. As is also tradition, I tend to do this at the 11th hour in a flat panic.
1. I turned 30. And even though the actual birthday and celebrations around it were average (note to self – LOWER YOUR EXPECTATIONS) turning 30 hasn’t been as scary as they say. In fact, it’s been downright lovely.
2. My friendship groups solidified. The good ones grew better and the not so good ones… Well, they are non existent. Life’s to short to waste your fun on less than amazing people.
3. We celebrated 1 year of marriage. The first year was bloody tough. We did it. Yay us!
4. We bit the bullet and bought our dream home. Things have been progressing slowly from there but progressing nonetheless. I fall more in love with my space and garden each day
5. Work is good. No dramatic news in the office space, but to be happy and fulfilled in a place where you spend 40% of your life is an achievement in itself.
6. My family stayed healthy and happy for the majority if the year. The older one gets, the bigger this blessing becomes
7. We took a holiday for the first time in over a year and spent 8 brilliant days in Port Alfred. Sea, sun and (virgin) cocktails were just what the doctor ordered.
8. I bought s new car. Traded in my fuel guzzling out of warranty SUV and got a smaller zippier runaround that I love driving each and every day.
9. I ate my first ever chocolate brownie and fell.in.love.
10. I learnt to control my anxiety and went from A type to A minus type. Baby steps, but I’m getting there. I can now leave the office at 5 pm without a shred of guilt and am learning to make more time for me. See, age does have its perks.
11. I had a great year of blogging. Still not where I want to be, but I’m constant,y delighted with the feedback and messages I receive from people around the world – people who have laughed, cried and celebrated with me on this very open and honest journey.
12. My dog babies get more wonderful as the days go by. As I lie in bed typing this (sipping on a Christmas edition chocolate mint Nespresso – can that be considered a bonus point 15?) they are lying with me, intertwined in my legs. Ones snoring, one farting with enough power to destroy a small country, and both filling my heart with the most insane amount of love.
13. I ran my longest ever trail race with one of my closest friends, and absolutely loved it. It was a reminder of just how much trail running has become my number 1 exercise love. As soon as this baby is out I’m going to take it up again. Which leads me to my final point…
14. I fell pregnant. One of the most insane, scary and exciting things that has ever happened to me. I am so lucky to have had the worlds easiest pregnancy, and apart from the fuck me scale reading and the occasional constant craving for wine, I have been so blessed. In 5 months we meet our baby boy and I couldn’t be more excited.
How was your year? If it wasn’t all it was cracked up to be, then there’s a whole new one waiting for you in less than 24 hours time.
Wherever you are, make it a good one. Be safe, be happy and be good to yourself.
Thank you for all your support on Rupert Approves over the past year – you guys warm my heart more than a toasted sandwich, and that’s a lot!
1. The first 12 weeks, when no-one knows (and just think you ate all the pies) are when you feel the absolute worst. Want to throw up on your keyboard? Sure, just make sure you do it quietly.
2. You may not gain any weight but shit gets bigger and looser. I have a Kardashian sized bum, with none of the perks
3. Most people, upon finding out say “well done“. I swear, getting knocked up was the easiest praise I’ve ever received. If pregnancy was a promotion, I’d be President right about now.
* Side note – one person when finding out actually asked “How do you know?”. I wasn’t quite sure how to answer that one.*
4. You go through this awkward phase of part bloat, (small) part baby and (large) part fat. When I say ‘go through’ I mean it seems to last forever. Even now, with my news out in the open I find myself walking into a room of strangers defending the boep while screaming “I’m not fat, I swear, I’m just pregnant!”
5. You may be a 10 times Comrades marathon winner, but a few weeks in, you are so tired, so nauseous and so dizzy that the thought of climbing into your car seems like a chore, let alone going to gym (I refer to point 2.)
6. You gauge time by Doctor appointments, And every-time you have a scan you are surprised that the baby is still there. It’s true – for the first several weeks – apart from feeling like you’ve been roofied, there is nothing that makes you feel like you are really with child. Conversations with my gynae have gone as follows:
Me (naked and vulnerable on the bed, large camera dildo inserted): “Oh, cool – it’s still there!”
Doctor: “What do you mean it’s still there?”
Me: “Well, I don’t know, I didn’t really feel pregnant this morning”
Doctor: “Kate, you’re very much pregnant. The only thing that can kill your baby is me or nature”
Me: “Oh, so is it OK if I gym then? (this was clearly before I felt like I did in point 5).I mean, I skip and everything”
Doctor: “Honey, if skipping caused the baby to fall out, then everybody would be going to Virgin Active for an abortion”
7. Your food moods will change every minute. One night I made fish cakes for dinner. I count even take one bite before I burst into tears. When husband asked why I was crying, I cried even harder. In hindsight I think I was more sad for the money wasted on Woolworths salmon, than I was for the fact that I couldn’t touch seafood for the next few months.
8. Telling people is a treat, and probably deserves it’s own post, but I’ll summarise. When we told our respective folks, we wrapped up boxes of “Ouma’ rusks for the moms and “Grandpa” headache tablets for the dads. Firstly, let me tell you that the penny did not drop, and secondly we must have the politest set of parents in the history of parents. My mom, upon opening her (23 Rand) rusks must have gone on and on for over 5 minutes, gushing about how much she loooves rusks, and how delicious, and lovely and thoughtful of us to drive all the way over to their house and give them to her. You get my point. My dad, takes one look at the headache pills and says “I cant use these”.
My grannies weren’t much better. What we did for them was to wrap up the same box of “Ouma” rusks, but write “Great” on-top – as in “Great Ouma” – get it? She didn’t. After about 10 minutes of reading the box out loud, I had to eventually tell her that I was Pregnant.With.A.Baby. Only then did she look up at me, laughing, and say ‘Oh, Katie, I thought you just wanted to tell me how great I was!”
9. Preggy brain is a thing. I doubt it’s supposed to happen so soon – but twice now I have left the bathroom tap running after washing my hands. Thank god I have a spouse with a good ear.
10. You know when you’re younger and you meet a guy or girl who you really like? You cant stop yourself from saying their name at any and every opportunity. “Oh, you had a bikini wax today? Mark has a sister, I’m sure she also goes for bikini waxes”. It’s embarrassing, and obvious, and you can’t stop the verbal diarrhea. The same thing happens when you are pregnant – you want to talk about it all the time and have to physically stop yourself from mentioning your fetus in every conversation. (As I type this I have duct tape across my mouth to avoid boring my poor desk mate Lucy)
11. (I know, I said 10, but this is important). You are so excited you could pee! You also do pee, alot, but that’s because of increased blood flow, and not necessarily excitement. You’re not a dog for gods sake.
Several weeks ago we went away on a weekend with friends, to watch a few of our mates (my husband included) take part in a triathlon. Amy, her hubby Chett and their 10 month old baby Ben, came along. Amy and I have been friends for more than 17 years and weekends away with the 4 of us are nothing new. Until they became weekends away with the 5 of us. That’s when everything changed.
This particular weekend was hard. Ben had started teething, and crawling, and being a bit of a homebody felt horribly antsy at being in a strange environment, in a strange cot and with a strange new routine. Over and above that, traipsing a 10 month old around a triathlon course in 30 degree heat, would bring even the strongest of people to tears.
To make matters worse, Ben wasn’t sleeping, which meant that neither mom nor dad were sleeping, and to say the least, tempers were frayed and nerves were shot. I remember, post race, and after about 23 minutes sleep between the 3 of them, Chett, while trying to rock Ben to sleep, looked up at me with vacant eyes and muttered ‘Don’t EVER have kids”.*
Like a moth in a windstorm, I was frazzled. Hubby and I had been taking about starting a family and now here we were, getting told by some of our closest friends that it was the biggest mistake we could make. I was ready to quit any idea of motherhood right there and then, and resign myself to being childless forever.
But – guess what – a few weeks later Ben had stopped teething and had turned back into the adorable kid he was. Amy on the other hand, fearing she had scarred me (and closed my uterus for life) kindly offered to write a guest post on motherhood, explaining why it was the hardest yet most rewarding thing one human can ever do.
Take a read – let us know your thoughts – and then congratulate every parent you speak to from here on out. Because they deserve it.
Parenting: A Joyful Chore
This morning I woke up to my ten month old son crawling to the side of my bed, lifting himself up, and kissing me on my cheek. It was one of those moments that makes you wonder how you could have earned such love. Of course, it only takes a few seconds until you come to your senses and remind yourself that you’ve worked damn hard for this love. Damn. Hard.*
A few months back, we went through a particularly difficult patch. Ben had undiagnosed allergies and wasn’t sleeping much. He was also prone to bouts of tonsillitis and ear infections (because of the allergies) so nights with less than two hours of sleep were a regular occurrence. My husband and I couldn’t agree on anything. We walked around in a daze thinking ‘What have we done?’ and ‘Why do so many people choose to have kids?’. In an effort to feel that we weren’t alone and out of genuine curiosity, I started on a research journey to answer our ‘why?’ questions.
My initial findings weren’t encouraging. Research is pretty clear: Parents are less happy than non-parents. Children are more likely than money, sex, work, pretty much anything, to cause arguments in marital relationships.
For mothers, the news is even worse. The wage gap between working moms and equally qualified childless women is bigger than the gap between men and women.
So yes, parenting is hard. It makes our days less happy, our marriages harder, and our salaries lower. Why then, do we choose to have children?
Have you ever considered that holidays are less enjoyable while they’re happening than they are when you look at the photographs? Picture your last holiday and try to put yourself in the moment, say walking through a market in Thailand. It’s hot, you’re sweating, traders are haggling you to buy things, your partner is on his own mission. In the moment, you’re uncomfortable and irritable. But if you look at a photograph now of you standing in the midst of fake Polo shirts and incense holders, you’d feel very differently.
Parenthood is like that. The day-to-day business of feeding, clothing, and entertaining children is tedious and frustrating but when you look back, it’s the greatest adventure of all time. From an evolutionary perspective, this makes sense because it means you’re likely to have more than one child despite having first-hand experience of how tough it is.
Did you know that we don’t care for our children because we love them? We love them because we care for them. At least, that’s what some studies say. The more we sacrifice for something, the more we love that thing. If you think about this in context of some of the projects you’ve taken on, your garden for example, it makes sense right?
Parenting isn’t rewarding in spite of some hard times. The tough stuff of parenting is exactly what leads to the good stuff.
My Ben, as you know, had a traumatic arrival. I didn’t get that precious moment when mom holds baby for the first time and dad leans in lovingly. So many moms describe that moment as a lightning bolt realisation that *this* is everything and that your heart will never be whole again. I did get the lightning bolt a day or so after birth when I went up to the ICU to see my tube-covered, fighting-for-life baby and the nurse commented on how his heart rate calmed as soon as he heard my voice. I realised then that our connection was deeper than emotional or practical, it’s biological. That’s an amazing thing to know.
Psychiatrist and researcher George Valliant is an authority on adult development who followed the lives of 268 men for 75 years. His research was able to track many of the things that most sociology research can’t quantify and he’s quoted as saying that “Joy is connection,” and that connection is the strongest predictor of life satisfaction there is.
So if the ‘fathomless connection’ that parenting brings is mixed up in sleepless nights, arguments with your spouse, despairing over a baby that won’t eat textured foods, then I’ll take it.
* I don’t leave Ben to crawl around the house when I sleep. My husband had fetched him from his cot and was watching him play on our bedroom floor.
One times 10km race runner (you may remember this post), perfectionist, empathetic and revoltingly fitted back into her size 8 jeans just minutes after Ben was born
Weeks away from his first birthday, Ben’s favourite activities include playing in the garden, crawling around the house, drooling… and occasionally keeping his mom and dad up at night.
I’m tired all the time, my hair is falling out in fat chunks and I’m living on wine and carbs. No, not pregnant (thanks everyone, for naturally jumping to that conclusion) just exhausted and in a bit of a quarter year slump. Not surprising that the last few months have been CA-RAZY! In the last 4 months so much has happened and gone down that I’m not surprised my scalp resembles a Chinese Crested Powder Puff (Also, does the dog on the right not look like Bon Jovi??). Here’s whats been happening:
1. We got Married (Two piccies, because, I can)
2. We got back from Honeymoon to the news that my mom in law had suffered a very bad stroke after the wedding. The next few weeks were severely stressful with tears, hospital visits and scary ‘what ifs’. (Side note – she is 100% recovered :))
3. We were broken into on Christmas.
4. So…. we decided to sell our house
5. I turned 30 and felt like this (except I didn’t even get a cake)
6. I sold my house on my 30th birthday
7. We found our dream home, put in an offer, lost the offer, put in another offer, and got it!
Look – garden, pool, space for actual people!
8. We are moving to said house. Tomorrow. And I’m working. Which means poor husband is going to be multitasking the bejaysus out of the day.
So we all know that one of my favourite things in the word to do is plan a party – and after our wedding my fingers were itching to get crafty and creative again. Luckily my sister in law Bev is very close to popping out a baby girl and so a pink and white themed baby shower was in order!
The theme of “Baby Raisins”(Name to be revealed) room is “Tatty Bear” – so the decision to have the same theme for the baby shower was a no brainer.
I decided to paint her a Tatty Bear for the baby room:
The Baby Shower was scheduled for a Sunday morning – and as with most events I decided to make use of my parents gorgeous garden. I hate being restricted by venues and their rules and food – so this was the perfect choice. The day started out very rainy and overcast but thankfully the sky cleared and the sun came out to play.
The guests were also all asked to wear a touch of pink, grey or white.
Here are just a few things I did decor wise. A huge thanks to Bevs bestie Lauren from the UK who brought out a bunch of Tatty Bear themed goodies – as well as pink MnMs (apparently they have a 4 storey MnM store close to them…jellies much?)
I bought tons of pink and white sweets and filled all my old jars and containers (some call me a hoarder, I call it up-cycling) and used these as the centerpiece for the table.
Thanks for the cake pops Welly – YUM!
I looked everywhere for pink and white popcorn boxes with no luck – so eventually settled on those grey toasted sarmie bags – you know the ones you used to get at the school tuckshop? To brighten these up a bit I made small little ‘Ready To Pop’ (get it?) labels which I stuck on – these were then filled with salt and vinegar popcorn. (Side story – the night before as I was making all this popcorn I had a few girlfriends round for drinks… things got pretty out of hand and I think for every bowl of popcorn I made, we ate 3!)
The food was all delicious and a huge thanks to my mom in law and Lauren’s mom in law for the platters as well as Maureen – ‘The Cake Lady’ for the awesome cupcakes and Tatty Bear cake – genius!
For the drinks I filled small glass bottles with berry juice and made little labels which I glued on. Finished with a pink and white straw these were a really cute welcome cocktail for the guests.
Consol Bottle Cocktails
I thought a cute keepsake for the mom-to-be would be a fingerprint from each of the guests. I decided to draw the outline of a Tatty Bear on a canvas square and the fingerprints would then become the balloons. I joined these up and it turned out quite nicely.
To make the photo booth I brought a plastic table cloth and cut out coloured hearts to stick on (Confession – I ‘stole’ some paint colour samples from the hardware store in various pinks and purples and greys – and think it turned out quite well!). I also brought chalk and chalkboard hearts for the guests to write personalised messages on.
To complete the look I strung white lanterns from the trees and roofs and put big clumps of pink and white balloons all over.
We also played ‘The Price is Right” and the gals filled out “Wishes for Baby” cards for Bev and Raisin.
Last week I blogged about my ‘2013 Resolutions‘ and wanted to share my progress thus far;
– In order to be nicer, amongst other gestures, I gave some guy R20 bucks for a taxi the other day. I’m almost certain it was to buy weed. (See, I can be nice but the cynic in me will never die). Ironically that evening my car was keyed for no apparent reason. Not cool karma, not cool.
– We hosted a dinner party for good friends last weekend, and they scored us 9 1/2 out of 10 for our meal. Success!
– I finally made something I pinned on Pinterest – for a friends newborn baby Amelia – and isn’t is cute?