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Being Mom

This is the post excerpt.

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My name is Candice and someone calls me mum-mum. I have a gorgeous baby daughter, pushing 10 months. I have recently been admitted to a…erm…I’m not sure what to call it?! Ok, well I have been diagnosed with depression (post-natal depression) to be exact. 

I’ve decided to start blogging about my experiences. I intend to be raw and bare my soul in a bid to aid my recovery. 

The title? Well, I’m a journalist at the public broadcaster in South Africa. I mainly cover the Constitutional Court (the highest court in the land). And momster is kind of a play on monster (read mother) in-law (more about that hyper complex relationship later). I guess I feel like a momster: afraid and misunderstood.

For a long time, my career WAS my identity. But, as a new mom, I am having to relearn Candice. Thank you for walking with me and I hope you gain as much value as I intend to impart in taking up this blogging project.

I’m a complete novice. Haven’t written anything (aside from news) in a long time. maybe forever. This is my first blog.

Cheers 😁

Instinct

Little sesame has been having a rough ride with teething. Two ear infections. And on Friday, a rollercoaster of diarrhoea, blistering nappy rash, culminating in a bladder infection. 

She is such a trooper! In between the really painful bits (“Burnin’, mummy!” she cried), she was her bubbly self! We got the real makoya nappy rash cream at the pharmacy and that helped clear the rash significantly. This morning we decided to let her loose without a nappy – to give it some air and abit of sunlight.

That’s when I began to suspect that she had a bladder infection. Whenever she passed urine (which was way too frequently), she’d cry in pain, her little body tensed up, clutching desperately to me for comfort. We took her to the doctor, who initially dismissed my diagnosis but ordered a urine test anyway.

After about an hour, the golden liquid appeared and the nurse was able to run the test. I was right. She has an infection – a mild one. At that moment, I realised that my instincts are sound. I can notice even slight changes in her behaviour and I know when she is in pain! I am a mother! 

I just need to trust myself more. 

Cheers. 

Now and Then

When the clock struck midnight on 1 January 2017, I must have been standing on my left foot. The year didn’t start off well for this first time mommy. 

We took baby along to a funeral on New Years Eve. My grandmother’s best friend had passed away that Christmas day. I had to pay my last respects. During the service, baby needed a nappy change and there was a little girl with the sniffles in the change room. 

On the second of January, we went to the mall. She was fine that morning. And then, just like that, she got ill. Her loose stool messed her pretty little outfit. And then she wouldn’t (couldn’t) breastfeed.

We thought perhaps her nose was blocked. We tried clearing her airways but to no avail. She was hungry but she just wouldn’t suckle. We decided to take her to hospital, in the hopes that they could quickly clear her airways.

It was just supposed to be a detour, but I let my sister-in-law know that we might not make the baby shower. The ER doctor took one look at her and said, and I will never forget this, “We will have to admit her”

A ringing in my ears. I felt winded. My two month old was being admitted to hospital. This was way more serious than I had thought. We were at a complete loss.

My parents were holidaying overseas. But Nana was there in a flash, with my amazing sister. They were a great source of strength during that time. And my parents and elder sister provided reassurance and advice via skype. 

Doctors suspected that she may have picked up a simple cold virus, but because she was so little they needed to monitor her closely. The staff were most helpful and kind. Although I blamed myself (little girl with the sniffles…newborn at a funeral), I was never sanctioned by the medical staff. “These things happen” “You guys did the right thing by bringing her in when you did” etc.

But then word of baby’s hospitalisation reached my monster-in-law in Zimbabwe. 😐 She went on a category four tirade; peppered with I-told-you-so’s with a dollop of “What a bad mother!” and a gulp of “I’m calling child services. You two have no business being parents!”.

Let that sink in.

At our lowest point, when we were both feeling helpless – expecting the worst – and my monster-in-law confirms all my most feared suspicions. I knew there was something wrong with me. I was frightened of my own baby. I didn’t feel maternal at all. I was just going through the motions. I felt inadequate.

The newly birthed mother rejects her MIL venomous barbs with the contempt they deserve. Fortunately, I never responded to her messages. It has taken a full year for me to process it. 

I do not have a relationship with my MIL. But she is my daughter’s grandmother and my husband’s mother. For my part, I will not bad mouth her and will go out of my way to encourage dad to take baby and visit his mom whenever she is in town.

But this post is not about my MIL. It’s a celebration of how far we have come – as a family. I am not the same timid new mom of a year ago. The maternal instinct has long since set in.

New challenges lie ahead. Discipline is a priority as our little one year old starts asserting herself. We have each grown individually and also as a family. The newly born mother has also started finding her feet. Life is good. A blessed 2018, one and all.

Cheers.

The Joys of Motherhood

Being mom is amazing. She calls me mom-mom. I love the sound. I’m afraid this is gonna be one of those posts. You know, where everything is perfect and all is well with my soul. It is!

She went on a picnic with her grandies the other day. She saw a waterfall for the first time, and the gentle wash of the water lulled her off into a deep sleep. That evening she described what she saw to her dad. He had opened the tap and she pointed up and then said “dowwwww” (down)! 😍

Everyday she does something new. Something amazing! Something I never thought a one year old could do! And every morning, she brightens my day. Gives me the will to get out of bed and conquer the day. I have been having a rather trying time at work. But, coming home to her helps put things in perspective.

I am learning patience. Learning how to mind my tongue and to avoid knee jerk reactions. I still rehash the past. Have pity parties and cry myself to sleep. But it’s different somehow. 

It means I have to do the hard graft daily, so that she can have an ideal for coping. I have to be my best for her. Those little eyes and ears are silently observing. Keeps you on your toes. 

Cheers!

It’s snot what you think

I came across an article on Facebook purporting to teach parents how to guide their children in basic etiquette. I found the article deeply offensive. Who makes the rules on what is or isn’t socially acceptable?

One of the major no-no’s, according to the article, is allowing children to “pick their noses” in public. 😐 Children already have enough on their plates, girl children in particular! Someone in her village once told baby sesame to “sit like a lady”, when her legs were in the air! Again, I ask – with patriachy lurking in the rhetorical corner: Who makes the rules?!

The science is against “them” – the purveyors of what is good and right in society. According to an article, sourced off google, eating one’s boogers may well be beneficial. 

Picking one’s nose is perfectly natural. That’s why children do it. I have seen countless adults picking their noses on the daily commute. I do it too. And there’s no one around to shriek: “Eeeeeeeeeu!” Even if another motorist does look on aghast, one is at liberty to ignore them! 

Little sesame can often be seen poking her finger in her nose. I leave her. If she were to pick a booger and eat it, that would be fine too. We have all done it at some stage. It would be wrong to admonish her for indulging her nature. 

And, in the event that she comes across someone who would rap her over the knuckles for excavating her nasal cavity, she will be assertive enough to say “It’s snot, whatdyathink?! what doesn’t pay rent must come out!”. Just like passing wind or farting! Again, I am raising a human being, not a gender!

Pick your battles, I say, and let baby pick her nose! 

Cheers

https://www.thesouthafrican.com/read-pick-your-nose-and-eat-your-snot-its-actually-good-for-you-scientists/

White Lie

So little sesame told her first whopper today! I thought she was too young for such subterfuge?! But alas!

It happened thus. I was enjoying some potato crisps. She was clutching the baby -friendly version in her hand, but still she made a beeline for my hand. I held it out of reach and said, firmly, “No, this is mummy’s chippy. Where is baby’s chippy?” And she flung her little hands in the air, as if to say it was all done. 

She typically makes this gesture to indicate that something is either finish or gone. We all burst out laughing! She tried it! According to the science, she is too young to lie. Perhaps it was a fluke?! Or maybe she’s just ahead of her time? imfamy? Yikes! 🤔😐

She is simply adorable. I’m falling deeper in love with her everyday! Blessed!

Cheers.


https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/media-spotlight/201311/when-does-lying-begin

You go girl!!!!

The doctor said something very interesting to me during our first trip to the ER. You know, the one where I was totally panicked over gas! 🤣 Doc was really kind, he said “It’s better safe than sorry”. He also mentioned, and this stuck in my mind despite the melee, that “She already knows she is a girl”.

So, before we bothered to find out her sex in the frantic moments after birth, baby sesame knew she was assigned female. That’s some type of amazing to me! She knew, and yet she didn’t turn all-pretty-in-pink.

Before she was conceived, I stumbled upon an experiment. A baby girl was dressed up as a boy; and a baby boy was dressed up as a girl. There was a toy box full of girls toys on one end of the room, and one filled with boys toys at the other. Adults were invited to entertain each kid. 

Almost every last one took the boy, disguised as a girl, to play with dolls and tea cups, while the girl, disguised as a boy, got to play with lego, trucks and puzzles. Many of the adult participants were unaware of this gender bias, until it was revealed.

Since then I have been very circumspect about my choices when it comes to shopping for a little girl’s birthday gift. I no longer gravitate towards the girls toy aisle, and tend to look for educational toys instead. 

The toys I have chosen for baby sesame reflect this pattern. She has building blocks, different types of balls, puzzles and a giant car. Up until very recently, she didn’t have a single doll (bar plenty of fluffy teddy bears). 

There was a fight in the village over who gets to buy her a doll. For her 1st birthday, the winner got her a pretty dolly, with purple highlights in her white hair. Baby sesame named her “baba”. The loser got her a pram, which she calls “car”. 🤣

By far; her favourite toy from the birthday stash, is a racing track set! The car lights up as it whizzes around on its glow-in-the-dark tracks.

I highlight this story, simply to make the following point. There is no such thing as girls toys and boys toys. Or, at least, there shouldn’t be! Developmentally, all babies are drawn to particular types of toys: shapes, building blocks, puzzles – things that they can have an impact on: like cold jelly or a squishy ball. 

And these toys need not cost you an arm and a leg. Her favourite toy is a flattened cereal box. And she really likes the hard cardboard inside of the kitchen roller towel (she talks into it and marvels at how her voice changes)!

She also loves books. The local library is a vetitable treasure trove! She has one about words. One picture, on a thick cardboardy page, with one word, like car or dog. Recently, she received a hand me down blow-up spider man. She doesn’t like him much. I think its because of the size.

I heard this somewhere: “I am raising a human being, not a gender!”

Cheers.

http://slate.me/2zug3xq

The Art of Distraction

Dr No. That’s my nickname for a nephew who always says “No!”. Are you happy? No! Are you sad? No! Do you like aeroplanes? No! What’s that in the sky? No!

It’s usually the first word kids learn. But they don’t understand it the way we do (see article link). I had this debate with some in our village today.

She was banging on the window pane with an open hand. The village elders response can be summed up as follows: After a few firm “No’s” and removing her from the window, she appeared to have learnt her lesson and was banging with less force this time around. 

This incident illustrates my point, and is borne out by the link. I try to avoid saying no to her as much as possible. I rely on diversion tactics to distract her from engaging in unwanted behaviour.

It is an empathetic approach, where we appreciate her drive to explore and discover, to make an impact on things around her, to cause change. It is all part of her development.

But I am by no means, perfect! Saying no is so much easier than coming up with a diversion – in fact, it is, in itself, a diversion – a reaction to her behaviour! 

Cheers!

https://www.positivediscipline.com/articles/what-does-your-child-under-three-really-know-about-no