Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Photos- Lukas' Birthday

The album can be viewed here.

Monday, 31 October 2011

He's here!!!

My little Ziggy just couldn't wait any longer - on Monday morning, 24 October, at 10:29am, Lukas Joubert Brown was born via c-section. He weighed a very healthy 3.5kg (about 7.7 pounds) and is perfectly healthy in every way. He's supposedly 3 weeks early but he's in no way "premature", and I have my doubts about the accuracy of his predicted due date.

I'll post his birth story some time soon, and the gorgeous photos Steve has been taking, but for now here's a cellphone-camera photo.

We're getting on quite well; we're learning about each other every day and although it's a big change and a challenge in many ways, I have a great support network at home and I'm enjoying it a lot. Steve is very supportive, handy and excited to get to know his son, and my parents are here from the Cape. I am not quite sure how I'd have managed the last few days without both the emotional support they provide and the practical help of basically running the household for us. While they are taking care of the food, dishes, laundry and a million little odd maintanance jobs we haven't gotten round to, I can focus on Lukas and resting. I'm sure that's the reason I'm able to enjoy him as much as I do. He's just so very beautiful and amazing.

Wednesday, 12 October 2011

5 Things I Can't Wait To Do After Pregnancy

I am not wishing my pregnancy over (although it sometimes seems to my impatient, short attention spanned mind that 9 months is unnecessarily long). I'm not complaining about not being able to do these things. But they are fun little things; silly, everyday things; that I look forward to being able to do again.
  1. Wear my engagement ring
    And my wedding ring (which is currently on a chain around my neck). Or, for that matter, any ring that isn't one of those adjustable flea-market specials.

  2. Sleep on my back
    When you're visibly pregnant and you lie on your back, the weight of the uterus presses against the vena cava, a major blood vessel running back up to your heart from your legs. This can cut off circulation to the baby and/or lead to dizziness and fainting. Not recommended.
    I'm a fidgety sleeper and although I'm quite used to lying on either side now, I miss having more options.

  3. Eat a peanut butter and apricot jam sandwich
    If you and/or the baby's father have allergies, hayfever, asthma or eczema in the family, there are some schools of thought that suggest you avoid nuts (especially peanuts) while pregnant to try and avoid giving the baby a nut allergy. Although there is no evidence proving a direct link, both Steve and I have so many of the mentioned risk factors in our family, I wanted to play it safe. I really miss peanut butter - which is probably largely psychological (the "taboo" factor) because I didn't really eat that much of it before I was pregnant

  4. Wear my adorable Singapore shoes
    I have the most wonderful shoes bought in Singapore. They are hand stitched lamb's leather, with quirky patterns depicting different scenes, and no two match (no, not even the left and right of a pair). They are the most beautiful shoes I have ever seen, never mind owned, and they're so me. But, like every pair of shoes I own bar two, they don't fit at the moment.

  5. Recognize my own nose in the mirror
    Some women's noses get bigger when they're pregnant. It's got something to do with all that progesterone in your body; it softens your ligaments and cartilage so your pelvis has more room for a baby to move through. Most people say I'm imagining it but I know my nose is considerably bigger, and one other person has admitted to seeing it (thank you to them for confirming I'm not crazy!). I'm not that fussed, but it's kind of weird. I miss how my face used to look, just because it's my face and I'm so used to it.

You might be surprised by the lack of alcohol on the list, but I'm not that big a drinker anyway and I haven't missed it that much.

Friday, 7 October 2011

Baby Shower

On Saturday, 1 October I had a lovely suprise. A whole bunch of my friends turned out to show their love and support and help us with the long list of must-haves for a new baby and nursery.

Thank you all so much - those who were there, and those who couldn't make it and went to the trouble to send something along as well. Special thanks to my mom for coming about 1,300km and to my two friends who did a great job organizing it.

Click on the thumbnail below to see the pictures taken on the day.

Wednesday, 28 September 2011

The glamorous side of pregnancy

Yes, that's right, I don't post for ages and then I'm going to just write a lazy, whiny post about minor inconveniences.

I really want to add though, before you read on and take it the wrong way, that I'm not really complaining. I'm venting. Sure, the distinction may not be immediately obvious, but I am very aware of how fortunate I am. I have had a ridiculously easy pregnancy. Heck, just to be pregnant is in itself enough reason to grin and bear it. I wouldn't change any of my minor gripes for the world if it meant not having this baby, I just need to say "this is mildly annoying!" somewhere.

My feet are swollen. Really, really swollen. I slept with them elevated and still woke up with puffy feet. They now resemble overfilled red water balloons in almost every way. I will be once again carrying my shoes to the car when I leave the office because they last fit me when I got to work this morning. Thank goodness for the footspa waiting at home!

Here, see for yourself:

I have even had to give up on my lovely kneeling chair for the time being because I think trying to elevate them is more important at the moment. It took me about half an hour to rearrange my desk so that I can put my feet on an old computer tower under the desk, find a chair in which I could sit comfortably with my feet that high, and still reach the keyboard and mouse and look at my screens without causing too much shoulder strain. All of this of course left me even more sweaty than I was already.

And that is my second mini-rant. I am so sweaty! It's gross. Hence the title of the post. I'm sorry if the sarcasm wasn't immediately apparent enough to warn you of the slightly TMI nature of this post. My hands leave damp marks wherever they go and my feet laugh at the feeble efforts of the foot spray AND foot powder I optimistically employ every morning. I won't even go into the situation under my shirt's arms.

Speaking of things I'll spare you, I can't resist mentioning wind but I'll refrain from going into more detail. Just... graaaah.

Ok, rant over. These are insignificant complaints, and they won't last long, but it feels good to get them off my chest somewhere. In my imagination there are actually people reading this blog, and they are sympathising with me, and that's all I wanted. Thanks, imaginary friends.

Tuesday, 6 September 2011

Why I'd prefer a normal birth

Let me be clear from the onset: I believe that there is nothing wrong with women choosing even elective c-sections.

I think that you are no less of a woman or less of a mother if you birth "through the sunroof" as a friend described it, whether by choice or necessity. At the end of the day, after all, what matters is that your baby is born and that you are both alive and healthy.

HOWEVER, I think there's a lot wrong with the fact that our media and, more worryingly, our medical fraternity, has under-educated us and misled us to believe that major abdominal surgery is an easy route, or that a natural process our bodies were designed to perform is somehow wrong and unmanageable and unnecessary - for reasons that include (but I'm sure are not always necessarily limited to) personal convenience for ob/gyns and less legal liability.

I'm not saying there's a big, conscious, underground plot to promote c-sections. However the small ways in which gynaes, mainstream media and popular opinion appear to be biased against natural births means that more and more women aren't making decisions with all the facts available to them. It's a fact that even those women who have a preference for natural childbirth at first, overwhelmingly change their minds on the advice of less-than-impartial medical carers whom they trust to advise them.

The World Health Organization states that "there is no justification for any region to have caesarean section rates higher than 10–15%"[1]. Rates in South African private hospitals are, depending on whom you believe, as high as 80% but no lower than 60%[2]. That is a huge disparity with the WHO recommendation.

Some of the benefits of a vaginal birth for baby

  • Baby is born when baby is ready, not a week or two before (when c-sections are scheduled) - or even more if the due date calculation is out.
  • Baby has better respiratory function, since the compression in the birth canal forces amniotic fluid from the lungs. Vaginally delivered babies have a marked reduction in risk of asthma.
  • Baby's cardiovascular system gets stimulated during natural birth, preparing it for life outside the womb. This is why vaginally born babies gain a healthy colour much quicker than c-section babies.
  • Baby's immune system benefits from friendly bacteria picked up in the birth canal, providing benefits well into adulthood.
  • Breastfeeding is easier to establish after a normal birth.
  • Baby may develop better stress coping mechanisms through normal birth than with the trauma of c-section.
  • Newborns born naturally are less likely to end up in intensive care than c-section babies.

Some of the benefits of a vaginal birth for mom

  • Recovery from even a difficult labour is far quicker and easier than from a c-section (which is, after all, major surgery).
  • Believe it or not, vaginal births have a lower maternal mortality rate than c-section. Again, keep in mind c-sections are major operations and there are many risks associated with any operation.
  • Mothers who give vaginal birth are at lower risk for postnatal depression.
  • Lower risks for future pregnancies: the risks for ectopic pregnancy, placenta previa, placenta accreta, and placental abruption are all higher for women who've had c-sections.

I'll add citations later, perhaps; right now I am more aware of how irregularly I'm posting to the blog than I am of rigorous fact-checking :) but these arguments are ones that are presented over and over again by many reputable publications, and I did research a few that I hadn't heard before.

I know there are also risks associated with vaginal birth, but they get enough publicity as it is without me making this post even longer and less interesting by listing the counter-argument as well.

Although I have been doing my best to keep an open mind so that if I need a c-section I won't be too disappointed (Ziggy's size may end up necessitating it), I hope I have broadened your outlook a little and that you might better understand why, if at all safe and possible, I'd like to bring Ziggy into the world the way nature and God intended. Even if the prospect is a hella daunting one :)

Friday, 2 September 2011


Wow, trying to decide on a pram is daunting stuff.

There are as many variations, models, brands, price ranges and options as there are baby shops in Jo'burg.

Do you go for a travel system that accommodates the car seat? Do you include a carry-cot? Do you buy one that folds down to a compact, light weight frame ideal for travel, or something more robust? Are the "must-have" brands really worth all that money? How much do you spend?

We spent a long time looking at prams and, frankly, being overwhelmed and confused. A travel system (where the car seat can be removed from the car and attached to the pram so the baby isn't disturbed if ze falls asleep in the car) seemed like a great idea, and I was especially keen on having a carry-cot as part of the system as well, but these were extremely expensive.

A carry-cot seemed to me to be the best solution for the "to buy a camping cot, or not to buy a camping cot" dilemma. I feel it's a bit ridiculous to spend a few thousand rand on a cot, and then another two thousand on a camping cot for travelling or for having baby sleep in our room for the first while. However I don't like the camping cots enough to only buy that as Ziggy's first bed. I also have no idea how long we'll keep Ziggy in our room, so it's very hard to gauge how much value you'd get for your money. A carry-cot seems to me to answer all these questions quite well, and seems great for taking Ziggy somewhere where ze's likely to fall asleep (it's not advisable to let young babies stay in a seated position for more than half an hour as this hinders spinal development) or just being able to wheel a sleeping baby all over the house with me.

Finally we found one system we quite liked, that had a car seat and carry-cot option, and that was affordable - until then it seemed only the most overpriced brands offered carry-cots that are actually part of the system. Now, I am not someone who is swayed by branded things unless it's a brand known for their superior quality. I am not a "keeping up with Jones" type of person. So for us to seriously contemplate a Ferrari pram system... well, it was unexpected :)

We did carry on looking for a while because the price was in the very top end of what we thought was reasonable to spend, but after considering a few other options we went back to the Ferrari system and realised just how much we liked it.

It has now been purchased, as a very kind and generous gift from Steve's parents, and delivered and set up and everything. I did take some photos but they are a bit rubbish, so these are from the web.

The frame is much lighter weight and folds down much smaller than almost any other system we looked at (that isn’t a dedicated travel stroller with no other accessories). It’s very sturdy and seems well made.

The car seat is suitable from birth to about 1 year so we will have to get a new car seat after that, but we weighed that up with the pros and decided we are happy to do that. The carry cot is suitable from birth until 9kg. The stroller part itself has several different seated positions and is suitable from a few months to around 4 years.

There are two frames that clip onto the wheel base. One of them is the car seat, and onto the second frame you securely strap either the carry cot or the stroller seat.

The handle height is adjustable (good for two parents of differing heights) and it can swivel over to both sides, so you can quickly and easily change from Ziggy facing you to facing the outside world, and you can in this way also choose whether to have the big wheels in front for travelling over uneven terrain, or the small wheels for 360⁰ manoeuvrability.

It’s really easy to collapse and unfold, and as I said takes up a reasonably small amount of space in the boot once folded. It’s also light enough that I feel confident I could fold it, unfold it and put it in the car even if I had a c-section, as soon as I was recovered enough to drive anyway.

We are very pleased with our first big baby purchase! Next on the list: the cot.

Monday, 15 August 2011

Preggie Product Review: Kneeling office chair

I'd first heard about these kneeling chairs (aka architect's chairs) when a colleague of mine in England got one. He had back trouble and swore by them. Then I heard they're good for pregnant women as they allow more room for the belly and are better for posture and the lower back.

When my back started aching from my normal chair at work (where I spend an awful lot of time) I started Googling them. They are quite expensive, around R1000. I don't know if I've ever before gone past the first 5 pages of a Google search; luckily this time I did because on page 8 I found a junkmail advert for a second hand one for a LOT less. I went to have a look and bought it on the spot. While obviously second-hand looking, it was in perfectly fine condition and exactly what I'd had in mind.

From the Wikipedia article:
The intended purpose of a kneeling chair is to reduce lower back strain by promoting proper spinal alignment.
A proper kneeling chair creates the open body angle by lowering the angle of the lower body, keeping the spine in alignment and the sitter properly positioned to task.

Although one's weight still rests primarily on the bum and not on the knees or shins like you would think, it does take some getting used to. The shins do take some weight and although you get used to it quickly, at first the shins do feel slightly sore at the end of the day.

Another effect of the shin pressure is a more frequent reminder to get up and stretch, get a glass of water or go to the loo. This isn't a problem for me to do as my bladder reminds me to get up long before my legs might, but in general I think this is a good thing anyway for people who spend around eight hours a day in front of a desk.

Another thing to get used to is getting in and out of the thing. While easy once you've got the hang of it, if you don't plan your first attempt well you may well end up sprawled or chasing the chair in a circle. Skirts are also another thing to get used to when using the chair.

I do however find that the further my pregnancy progresses, the more glad I am for the chair. With Ziggy already as big as ze is, I find several things uncomfortable about sitting in the typical 90o angle position: I find my blood circulation to my legs (and thus swelling in my feet) is better in my kneeling chair; I find my lower back is fine at the end of the day; I find my general posture is better (my shoulders are kind of forced straight and pulled back to maintain balance, but in a very natural feeling way); my belly isn't pushed against at all by the lap that forms when you sit in a normal chair which eases pressure on my stomach and lungs, a minor but growing issue with sitting normally.

If I did end up needing to have a c-section I imagine it will also be a lot easier sitting down with my thighs away from my abdomen, reducing the risk of accidentally pressing against a scar.

All in all I'm very happy with my purchase and can recommend a kneeling chair to anyone, pregnant or not; provided you get a decent deal like I did.

Thursday, 4 August 2011

Ziggy at 24 weeks

The stills the doctor takes when he's doing sonars are rarely very interesting to laypeople like you and me, and I'm lucky to get one moderately interesting picture to post on here every time we go.

The 24 weeks scan was no different, in that respect; but what was different is that the best picture from this batch is also the first decent 3D (or 4D or whatever it is) picture we have of the baby.

Apparently the baby is huge - in the top 98th percentile of the growth graph at this point. It's making it a little trickier to make decisions about the birth since, as much as I want a natural birth, it might not be practical. It might also go off without a hitch, I just don't do well with so many unknowns. More on that decision making process in a future post, though. For now I'm simply grateful that the baby's healthy.

Ziggy's also very active now, and I am reminded of the little presence every now and again by a kick; and even Steve can feel them by now. It's very strange and very amazing.

Wednesday, 3 August 2011

Why "Ziggy"?

I quite like giving things nicknames. I also don't much like being just like everyone else. There are a few standard nicknames people tend to give their baby before the birth, like "bump", and that's lovely, but I can't help but be otherwise.

One way in which we're being a bit otherwise is not wanting to know the baby's gender before we meet hir. It makes it even harder to refer to the baby because you can't use "he" or "she"; "he/she" is stupid; "they" is clumsy; the gender neutral pronouns "hir" and "ze" confuse people; "it" is horrible. And none of the names we like are gender neutral.

Early in the pregnancy a term sprung up from somewhere in my weird brain, where it had been lurking since matric (high school senior year) biology. One of the very first stages of a baby, when the two parents' cells have just joined together, is called a zygote. And right then and there a nickname was born: Ziggy the Zygote.

Ziggy is long since not a zygote any more but we've become quite fond of our little Ziggy and even other people in our lives refer to hir as such by now.

So, no, it's not after Ziggy Stardust, and it's not the name we have decided to give the little one once Ziggy makes an appearance in November; but it's our way of referring to the baby and it makes us happy.

And now you know.

Tuesday, 2 August 2011

Ziggy at 21 weeks

At 21 weeks we had what is called the anatomy scan.

The doc checked for certain markers and indications of known illnesses and syndromes; I'm very grateful to say that all he found was a picture of health. Below I've uploaded the only good picture from the stills he captured.

’s a big baby – in the top 70% for growth at that stage (even more at the moment but more about that later). It has made decisions about the birth a little harder to make but at least the baby has turned from the breech position ze was lying in at the time of this scan.

Around this time I also started feeling Ziggy kick, which was amazing.

Since 21 weeks was a while ago now, I promise there'll be more updates soon, including news from the latest (24 week) scan.

Monday, 4 July 2011

Looking back: first trimester

Hooray and thank God, we've made it past the halfway mark. At the time of posting, I am now at 22 weeks, and still having a relative breeze of it, for which I'm very grateful.

At this point I thought it would be appropriate to look back for a moment at my first trimester.

Of course, it started off without me knowing I was in my first trimester - which, I suppose, is often the case. It wasn't until week 6 that I even suspected I was pregnant, week 9 before I knew for sure and week 13 until we knew how far along I was, and were ready to tell the world.

As soon as I seriously suspected being pregnant, I started reading up furiously about the dos and don'ts, especially regarding what I can eat. However this doesn't change a thing about what you eat (and drink) before you know you're pregnant - but a lot of the restrictions on a pregnant woman's diet is to try and avoid the absolute worst case scenario and the chances of something like an unpasteurized cheese actually causing a problem are very low. Alcohol can be more of a factor but luckily I'm not much of a drinker. I recall the odd glass of wine here and a shooter there but not enough to lie awake over, especially since Ziggy is looking a picture of health so far.

I was very lucky as far as common first trimester complaints go. I didn't have heartburn, cravings or morning sickness to speak of. I don't think I was particularly moody, either, but I am not sure I'm the best person to judge that ;)

The only morning sickness I had was three mornings in a row (at week 7) which was enough of a clue to make me do a pregnancy test (or, as it turned out, a series of tests). So I count that a blessing rather than a curse! I had the typical fatigue though, and let me tell you, unless you've experienced this yourself whatever you are imagining when I say "extreme fatigue", it's probably not quite accurate. I'd heard women talk about it before, but I had no idea I would have so little energy left by the time I got home from a day's work. I would literally flop onto the sofa, barely able to lift my head, and doze there on and off the entire evening. I was also constipated, which is fairly typical, but I won't share more than that on the subject, don't worry.

The two emotions I'll always associate most strongly with my first trimester are doubt and elation. Because I had a negative result on one of the three pregnancy tests I did, and a natural reluctance to take getting pregnant for granted due to my medical history, I found it very hard to go through the ups and downs of three pregnancy tests, a blood test, waiting for results, and then finally waiting for my gynae appointment to confirm how far along I was and that everything was looking ok. But when the doctor's office called on the Monday after my blood test and told me the results were positive, I felt as if I was going to explode from joy and relief. That is one of the happiest memories of my life so far, equalled only by my wedding day and topped only by the incredible mass of emotions I felt the first time the doctor put that baby up on the sonar machine's screen and I could see this little person growing inside me, and hear hir heartbeat. I was so overwhelmed with joy and gratitude.

There was also the relief of hearing that I was already 13 weeks along - relief for the most part that I was already past the most dangerous phase for miscarriage and such, and also a bit for the fact that we could finally tell the world this giant secret that had become the centre of our universe.

Now I'm well into my second trimester, and looking forward to the rest of this exhilarating ride, the end of which is only the beginning.

Friday, 24 June 2011

Ziggy at 17 weeks

The ultrasound we had at 17 weeks was an amazing experience; we could see the baby so clearly and it looked so much like an actual little person. Sadly the stills the doctor took don't really convey much of that. There are some video clips, too, if I get a chance I'll try to turn them into animated gifs; but for now, here's the best of the 17 week pictures of Ziggy.

Thursday, 9 June 2011

Preggie Product Review: The Yummy Mummy Tummy

Even though I'm not really showing, I have for a while now found my jeans can cause discomfort, especially when I'm sitting - and this is not just the same discomfort of a big belly I've been used to most of my adult life, either.

I'd seen those elastics you can attach to the buttons and button-hole of trousers to increase the space between them but it's not very discreet, especially since it doesn't do anything with the zip. I improvised this effect with hair-bands for a while but the first time someone told me my zip was undone I resolved to buy myself a Yummy Mummy Tummy.

Known by other names as well, especially in other countries, this knitted band is supposed to fit snugly but elastically around your waist so you can hide unbuttoned jeans underneath it, as pictured.

Ordering and delivery
Although the gateway the site uses for processing payment was down the first few times I tried to order, it was back within an hour or so. I found the site easy to navigate and cute to look at, and the shopping basket secure and easy to use. I chose a counter-to-counter next day delivery (counter to counter is cheaper than door to door but I still wanted it soon - I'm not a patient kind of person!).

I was impressed when the lady who presumably owns the business phoned me to say that she was going to drive past my place of work (whose address I specified as the delivery address) on her way to the post office, can she just drop it off at reception. Thus I had my package even sooner than expected - she did keep my delivery fee, but I suppose she did go very slightly out of her way.

The package was beautifully wrapped in the black and white striped pattern central to the website design, and it was lovely to get a "present" in the middle of the working day like that. The product packaging was also lovely.

Size friendly
I love that the site carries two sizes of this product:
Size 1 (pre-pregnancy dress size 28 - 36)
Size 2 (pre-pregnancy dress size 38 - 46)
(those are SA / UK sizes), and that it does so without making you feel the least bit uncomfortable about needing size 2. If you've never been a plus-sizer trying to find pretty or even just comfortable things to wear, you will never know that this is a real concern.

However, unfortunately I don't think two sizes are enough. Maybe it'll change as my belly grows, but I find the size 2 (and although I'm a fair few sizes up from the lower 38, I'm not at the top end, 46, either) is too big to effectively keep my jeans up at the moment. I'm still using my hair-band trick underneath it, or with bigger/baggier trousers I'm just buttoning them up and using the band instead of a belt.

Using the product
The other disappointment, and this is more of a problem, is the thickness of the material. I appreciate that there are probably considerations such as not causing an already warmer pregnant belly to overheat, but the material is just too thin. From the descriptions and very much from the pictures I had envisages being able to wear this sticking out under my tops like a camisole or vest top. However it's not nearly as discreet as I had hoped since the shape of a denim fly, zip and button are clearly noticeable underneath and I still need to wear tops that cover the fly region, kind of making the band obsolete. The material also looks like underwear. The black is the best one in these terms; the shape of the jean underneath is extremely noticable in the white and the beige just looks like old-fashioned underwear, it's that petticoat colour (there was a 3 for 2 offer for web orders, ok?).

I concede that most women don't prefer to wear their trousers in their waist like me but on their hips, and maybe there it's less noticeable, but I had had higher hopes for the product.

On the upside, I have gotten extremely used to the soft hugging feeling over my belly when I wear it pulled up. This might however result from a lifetime of being self conscious of my belly and the feeling I like may well be something "holding it in" by association. This is not a conscious preference, and I am not at all interested anymore in whether my belly is or looks big or small enough for other people's liking, but I am aware of the cumulative sub-conscious effect those concerns might have had in my life before being pregnant or embarking on my Body Acceptance journey.


The last concession that I must make is that I don't know how many of the issues I have with the product will disappear as my baby grows. If they do, I will post about it again.

To summarize:
✓ great idea, well presented;
✓ there are a nice amount of colour choices;
✓ catering for larger women;
x the broad size categories don't make for a great fit;
x the thin material makes it far less versatile than it can be;
✓ the physical sensation is comforting.

Monday, 30 May 2011

Baby's first pictures


Sonar 1
Ziggy at 12 and a half weeks.

Sonar 2
Look! A brain! And eyesockets! And ribs!

Thursday, 26 May 2011

Preggie post

FAIR WARNING: while I'm hardly graphic, if you're very squeamish about women's biology or under 13 years old, you may find one or two things TMI.

The first of many posts about Baby. You'll probably get sick of them. Luckily, that's your problem :)

You may especially get sick of the non-gendered pronouns I'm going to use, but we don't want to ruin the surprise of the baby's sex until the birth, and referring to a person without reference to their gender is not straight forward in silly English (or most languages I know of, actually). So I'll be using:
Ze - he/she
Hir - his/her
Although it may sound foreign to you at first, I find it a little bit less clumsy than "they" and "their" or "his/hers" and "s/he".

We are very, very excited. Steve's wanted children for as long as I've known him, and we'd been officially trying since last year.

Because I have PCOS, we weren't sure how long it would take to conceive, and I was convinced we'd need some sort of medical help.

That is why, when I was indescribably exhausted by the end of every day it didn't occur to me that it may be because of being pregnant. Then, when I was sick a few mornings in a row I thought "I'd better do a pregnancy test to exclude it and not get anyone's hopes up". I'm optimistic like that :)

The first test was positive, although it was an old and expired test, and I was so very weary of getting ahead of myself - especially since PCOS can sometimes cause a hormonal imbalance that confuses the tests. The second test I did was negative, but I don't much like the sound of 50/50 odds. I decided I'd rather go for best two out of three. The third test was positive.

At this point I decided to get a blood test to put all the uncertainty to rest, which is a hated hated hated ritual for me and my undetectable veins. After the first 3 unsuccessful stabs attempts to find a vein, I actually told God "I had better be pregnant after all this!". And hey, I guess that now and then He'll bless us despite our childish, petulant rants :)

It was a further month before I could get an appointment with my gyneacologist for an ultrasound scan to see how far I was (I had no idea, couldn't even guess).

Keeping it a secret from everybody but our immediate family until the 3 month mark was so difficult - I was so happy, and wanted to shout it form the rooftops! The second hardest thing about it was coming up with new and exciting excuses all the time as to why I wasn't drinking or eating brie. In case you're wondering, most people don't say anything until three months because that's the most risk-prone period. If you've made three months, chances are much higher the pregnancy's happy and healthy.

Imagine our amazement and excitement (in hindsight, you probably can't) to learn in the gynie's office that I was 12 and a half weeks along, and to see the baby on the ultrasound and hear hir heartbeat! It was the most amazingly profound moment of my life so far. We could see a little heart beating, a spine, ribs, eye sockets, even a little full bladder!

The doctor says everything is looking good so far, and I've had a very easy pregnancy. Almost no nausea, no heartburn, only a little tiredness. We'll see the doc again in a little under two weeks.

I refer to the baby as Ziggy (as in, Ziggy the Zygote). Ze is long since not a zygote anymore, but it's stuck and I quite like it.

Due date is 15 November.

Have I mentioned I'm deliriously happy?

Monday, 23 May 2011

A poem for my newish Samsung Galaxy S

Samsung Galaxy SHow do I hate thee?

Let me count the ways.

I hate the way you downloaded all my Facebook, GMail and Twitter contacts to my phone's contacts without asking; even every single email address I've emailed before rather than just my saved GMail contacts.

I hate the way I spent literally hours cleaning up your bs auto-downloaded contacts to exclude those Facebook weirdos I'm only friends with out of courtesy or laziness to clean up my list, and those GMail addresses I once sent an email to, only to have you recopy ALL OF THEM when my husband accidentally enabled auto-sync. I hate that the only way to stop you doing this would have been to let you delete them from my GMail and Facebook accounts.

I hate that I can't permanently disable auto-sync.

I hate the way your morning alarm works. I hate that I can't have the "smart alarm" AND have it set to vibrate without playing a melody. I hate that I can't seem to have the snooze function work without a smart alarm.

I hate the way you beep and light up when you're done charging. Because of your poor battery life I have to charge you every night, and because I haven't got quite fed up enough to stop using you as an alarm clock I charge you by my bedside table. Cue getting woken up every night in the wee hours when your battery is full.

I hate the disconcerting way you become uncomfortably hot during Skype calls (I can't say I've noticed it with normal calls).

I hate the way you display sms recipients and senders in my call log, and that there's no obvious way to switch this off. Do you have any idea how many key presses and finger scrolls it takes to just find the last or second last person I called? One button on my last phone. ONE.

I hate the way that if my friend's number isn't in exactly the right place in the contact, even though I definitely have their number saved against one of the five joined accounts linked to their name, you refuse to tell me it's them that called me or smsed me, and I can't even add their number to a new sms I'm composing.

I hate the way you seemed to magically turn yourself off of Silent mode in church on Sunday, treating the whole congregation to my adorable "Pac Man dying" sms notification tone. I know I switched you to silent, so don't try and convince me I didn't.


Look, so you're quite technologically cool, and your screen and processor and stuff is up there with the other great smartphones. And I love the connectedness of having Skype and Facebook and Twitter right there. But really? I'm hoping some things improve when I upgrade you to Gingerbread, but I am not getting my hopes up too high, either.

Not a lot of love,


Friday, 20 May 2011

New job

OK, first things first. Here's the long promised post about my new job.

It's quite a funny story how I ended up here. In this post from December about my 30th birthday, I mention the band I hired for the party, the Red Hand Blues Band. Between their sets we chatted and I learned that the double bass player, Martin, runs a development company. He mentioned, conversationally, that they were keen to find some programmers who were interested in working from home or part time. After that (and a tequila with tabasco and orange!) we both carried on with what we were there to do and didn't give it much further thought.

In January I sent my CV to the recruiters I had been working with ever since moving back to SA and, as an afterthought, to Martin as well. I heard back from the recruiters, went on a few interviews; eventually I was one interview with the CEO away from accepting a job with an online contract managment firm.

Cue an email from Martin to say that my CV had ended up in the junk folder, but if I'm still looking would I come for an interview. I almost didn't go, but he seemed keen and I didn't have anything to lose.

After the longest, most comfortable and most in-depth first interview ever, I was really torn because both positions felt like a good fit. Martin was also very keen to get me on board, and during the phone call where I told him I had to weigh my options and make a difficult decision, he told me he'd be buying a computer for me to work on in good faith in the meantime.

The biggest deciding factor that made me choose this job over the other is the diversity of projects they do (rather than maintaining one piece of software like in the other company) and the diversity of technologies they use. The focus is on my own core skill, ASP.NET, but there's a lot of scope for learning new things. There have been several occassions that showed me it was the right decision. Not least of all the boss' amazing attitude towards family and work-life balance when it transpired I was already pregnant at the time of the interview!

It's a small development company, doing mainly web stuff, but for an office with 7 people (one of whom is a designer and one a copy writer), we maintain some seriously heavy-weight clients.

I'm enjoying the work, I'm loving the people, and I'm seriously appreciating the very human and honest managerial style.

I am a little in danger of being that annoying new guy who thinks they should change everything to what I'm used to, but it can be a little frustrating to not have source control or coding standards. While it's a good exercise for me in relinquishing control and adapting, I like to think I do bring some good suggestions that at least give food for thought even if we don't implement them straight away.

So, that's the story of my now-not-so-new-anymore job, and what I believe to be the divine hand in leading me to it.

Monday, 16 May 2011

New post - do your eyes deceive you??

Ok, so I have been promising various people a new post on here for various amounts of time for different reasons.

So I'm going to do one of those lists of things I intend to post about in the near future again, the idea being that I'll update this post with a link to that post when it's done. As if that's worked before...

Anyhoo. Coming up, on Moonica's Musings:

Thanks for not having given up on me yet (if you're reading this, I'm making the assumption). Now that I've got something interesting to talk about again (see last point above), I may even update the blog semi-regularly.


Tuesday, 8 March 2011

Not everyone can be an astrophysicist

Found this great post in the Fat-o-sphere that so wonderfully captures what it’s like to be surrounded by people who are gripped tight in the commercial beauty fallacy, even when they are well-intentioned friends. For example, when I need a safe, sympathetic shoulder to admit to (some) of my psychological issues with food and get a dietician recommendation. Or when I go to a restaurant and feel obligated to have a salad, or skip desert, or at the very least feel bad about going round public looking the way I do and still having the gal to eat right there in the open (look me in the eye and tell me you've not thought that about a fat person eating).


Everyone can be an astrophysicist

Everyone can be an astrophysicist. All you need to do is work hard, and you’ll get there. Let’s face it – only quitters aren’t astrophysicists. If it’s not something that comes naturally to you there’s PLENTY of things you can do help you get there.

Just study harder, for example. I know it seems obvious, but clearly you’ve never heard it before, otherwise you’d be doing it. Finding the complex mathematics difficult? Hire a tutor. Doesn’t matter that it’s expensive and maybe you can’t afford it right now – if that’s what you need to do, then do it.

Still finding it difficult? Maybe you need to spend more time studying so that you can get there. What? You’re already studying every day? Maybe you need to do more. And more. If it requires you to study 12 hours a day in order to become an astrophysicist – that’s what you need to do. Sure, you won’t have time for your friends or family, and your mental health might suffer, but at least you’ll be getting closer to that goal.

What do you mean you don’t understand why being an astrophysicist should be the ultimate goal for everyone? Astrophysics is what everyone aspires to, really, even if they say otherwise. Or it’s what they should want, even if they don’t. The benefits are amazing – well worth those small sacrifices of well-being and mental health.

I’m so tired of people saying that not everyone has the capacity to become an astrophysicist. It’s well established now that every single human brain functions in the same way and has the same capacity for intelligent thought. Do I have any research to back that up? Well no, not specifically, but everyone knows it. It’s on the news all the time and my cousin’s best friend’s boyfriend’s sister did a subject in psychology and she told me that essentially everyone’s brain is made up of the same stuff, so obviously it all works the same. Clearly the problem with the people who don’t become astrophysicists is that they’re quitters. They’re just not prepared to do the work it takes to get there. They don’t have any pride or self-respect or self-discipline. All they want to do is sit around on the couch watching TV or playing on the internet. That’s all anyone who isn’t an astrophysicist does.

And at the end of the day, I’m an astrophysicist*, so everyone else must be able to be one too.


*Actually, I’m not an astrophysicist. I have nothing but respect and admiration for astrophysicists. It was the first occupation that I thought of that required a highly intelligent, highly trained mind, and I mean no disrespect to anyone in that field.

Sunday, 13 February 2011

My week so far.

Found out my husband has to book an expensive international flight on short notice, leave the country and won't be getting paid for the time he'll be working in England. Hope he will be let back into the country on his return. Stressed a little bit about unexpected expenses.

Said goodbye to Steve, hosted my bible study group in the evening. Made lemon meringue. No catastrophe, probably to lure me into a false sense of security.

Got told my car's engine is completely buggered and will need replacing completely at a cost tens of thousands of Rands. Stressed a lot about unexpected expenses.

Buggered up my garage door. On the up side, took a friend to the airport with the understanding I am to look after her car while she's away, so at least I have transport.

Need to find some documents of Steve's so his work can apply for some sort of interim arrangement that will allow them to pay him as a legal employee until his new visa comes through. HEY GUESS WHAT can't find the document anywhere.

Pretty good day. Didn't even shout at God. He even arranged for my lovely friend to be here on Saturday morning through some fluke car trouble she had so she could help me with an important errand I couldn't have done on my own. Had a lovely evening out with friends, too. The pool's filter system did pack up though and it's now a lovely mossy shade of green.

My friend's car? Won't start. AT ALL. Thank God (ha) I at least got to the front gate of the house safely since it was 3am but, not being used to driving clutch anymore, I stalled it on the steep incline of the driveway. Had to let it free back down and onto the sidewalk where it is now sitting like a magnificent, immovable installation sculpture. Also I woke up at 8am from construction vehicles reversing behind our house. I have no idea how I'm supposed to go fetch her from the airport tomorrow night, now.

Yes, this post is exclusively for the purposes of making you feel sorry for me. I sure do. I know things can always be worse but at the moment it feels like they are getting worse at a more or less constant rate; so at some point that is going to stop being true.

Monday, 7 February 2011

So, Steve is off to England tomorrow.

If you think that's surprised you with it's suddenness, that's nothing compared to how surprised Steve and I are!

He had a one year work visa for SA. On 17 December he qualified to apply for permanent residency but that takes Africa time to go through The Dept of Home Affairs.

I really don't know what happened and I don't want to speculate but all I know is today he got a call from his visa agent and then booked a flight to the UK. His visa expires tomorrow, so he has to go. Tomorrow.

And of course I'm not working at the mo, and we bought a R15000 dining set yesterday, and the car is in for repairs and in all likelihood will need a new water pump.

It's going really well.

Today has been a mad rush of phoning (the most dear, sweet, amazing!) family and finding somewhere to stay; figuring out how he's going to get to the airport without our car; getting a flight booked with credit cards that are being obstinate and won't go through online; cancelling dates with friends; finding the winter clothes etc etc etc.

It's kinda stressy in here at the mo.

I really need to find a job.

Wednesday, 2 February 2011

I'm fat.

Here's a great excerpt by Kate Harding on why "You're not fat!" drives me up the wall. I am, and everyone's constant denial of the painfully obvious is not only insulting to my intelligence but also part of the reason the word is loaded with so much shame. I'm fat, and that's part of who I am, and I refuse to be so ashamed of it I can't even say it. I'm also a brunette. I'm also a woman. These are some of the things that make me who I am.

"Fat" is not the worst thing that can happen to anyone.

Full article here:

"For much of my adult life, I've worn plus sizes, struggled to fit into airplane seats and been clinically obese according to the body mass index (BMI) charts that determine everything from the price of my insurance premiums to whether doctors will hand me a Weight Watchers brochure when I see them about an ear infection. I once asked a doctor for help with excruciating knee pain following a spill down some stairs, and the only prescription she offered was "Lose weight." (Oh, OK. But since I'm probably not going to lose enough to reduce pressure on my joints in the next 10 minutes, and my knee hurts RIGHT NOW, do you think maybe you could MAKE WITH THE PAINKILLERS, BITCH?)

Thin women don't tell their fat friends "You're not fat" because they're confused about the dictionary definition of the word, or their eyes are broken, or they were raised on planets where size 24 is the average for women. They don't say it because it's the truth. They say it because fat does not mean just fat in this culture. It can also mean any or all of the following:

Socially inept
Just plain icky

So when they say "You're not fat," what they really mean is "You're not a dozen nasty things I associate with the word fat." The size of your body is not what's in question; a tape measure or a mirror could solve that dispute. What's in question is your goodness, your lovability, your intelligence, your kindness, your attractiveness. And your friends, not surprisingly, are inclined to believe you get high marks in all those categories. Ergo, you couldn't possibly be fat.

But I am. I am cute and healthy and pleasant-smelling (usually) and ambitious and smart and lovable and fun and stylish and friendly and outgoing and categorically not icky. And I am fat -- just like I'm also short, also American, also blonde (with a little chemical assistance). It is just one &%$@ing word that describes me, out of hundreds that could. Those three little letters do not actually cancel out all of my good qualities.

Thin friends aren't the only ones who insist that I really do magically appear skinny everywhere except in doctors' offices, on the street with strangers, on airplanes, in dressing rooms, and in my own mirror. Since my blog about body image and fat politics has developed a strong readership and I've become more visible in the fat-acceptance community, I'm getting it from the other side now, too: According to some people bigger than me, I'm not fat enough.

What do you know about size-based discrimination? You're not fat!

What do you know about how hard it is to find clothes that fit? You're not fat!

What do you know about trying to find a partner in a culture where fat is almost universally considered unattractive? You're not fat!

One more time for those who missed it: Yeah, actually, I am fat. Granted, I am not fat enough to have suffered truly vicious discrimination from medical professionals, employers or landlords. I'm not fat enough to have been asked to buy two seats on a plane; I've never had fast-food containers chucked at my head while I was out for a walk; and I don't have any trouble getting around or taking care of myself. I am incredibly grateful for all of that and conscious of my relative privilege, but it still doesn't make me not fat. It only makes me less fat than some, just as I'm fatter than others. It makes me kinda small for a fat person. If I were thinner than the average American woman, I might call myself "kinda big for a thin person" instead. But I'm not. I am, as it turns out, fat.

It's OK to say it out loud. It's also OK to point out that I'm not that fat, so I've never personally been the victim of the worst fat hatred our culture has to offer -- that's the plain truth. But telling me I'm not fat is a bloody lie.

Let me tell you why I'm so bulldoggy about hanging on to that word and refusing to let go:
Because I have taken shit for my size -- the kind of shit my thin friends rarely observe and can't quite imagine -- and that's an ineradicable part of my history. Telling me I'm not fat doesn't make those wounds disappear.

Because fat should mean only having more adipose tissue than the average person, but it doesn't. And every time you ignore what's in front of your face to tell me I'm not fat because you can't bring yourself to put me in that nasty, ugly category, you're buying in to the idea that real fat people are all sorts of nasty, ugly things I'm not. Bull. I am a real fat person, and very few real fat people live up to the worst stereotypes wielded against us.

But mostly, I want to be called fat because it's the simple truth. I am not overweight, which suggests there's some objectively ideal weight for me that's less than I weigh now, when I exercise regularly and eat as much food as my body needs. That makes no sense at all. I'm definitely not thin, which is what everyone seems to be implying when they tell me I'm not fat; I take up space, I'm curvy as a mountain road, and I've spent more money at plus size clothes stores in the last six months than the people who sew their clothes probably make in a year.

I'm fat. You wouldn't think that simple fact would be so confusing."

Friday, 28 January 2011

The tragic tale of Roy and the Pavement

So, I promised a long time ago in this post that I would tell you about poor ickle car Roy, the pavement, and Auto and General (a South African insurance giant).

Last year, I was driving somewhere near the Johannesburg CBD. I was a bit flustered from having to search around for the theatre we were headed to, and street lighting in the city centre is a distant dream. Long story short, taking a right turn at an intersection, I didn't see the small piece of pavement between the two directions of traffic in the street I was turning into, cut the corner and mounted it split seconds after Steve's shout of "Look out!".

Have you stopped laughing yet?

How about now?

Then I'll continue. Luckily we're members of the AA (on the off chance that any 'mericans ever read this, that's the Automobile Association; not Alcoholics Anonymous). We got towed home and ended the evening on a rather flat note. The next morning I used the web based system to put the claim on the Auto & General website and got a message promising to phone me back within four hours.

I did not get called back until the next day (Saturday). I was not able to actually speak to someone until the Monday. The car did not get towed to a panel beater's until late Tuesday afternoon. And that's sort of the highlights of my interactions with A&G. I had to constantly call them to try and get an update; my calls were almost never returned; I got conflicting information on the damage and ETA from the A&G agents, their assessor and the panel beaters. I had to pay for my own rental car for almost three weeks - A&G claim I declined the option to have a hire car, which I contest, but I've asked five times for the recording of the sales call to be pulled and transcribed to settle the matter but to no avail.

After two weeks I went to pick up the car. I didn't even make it home before every warning light and alarm started freaking out; I pulled into the nearest petrol station. When the guys there who were helping me pulled out the oil dipstick, the oil was smoking it was so hot. They poured a bunch of coolant into the radiator, only to have it streaming out underneath. NO-ONE THOUGHT TO CHECK UNDERNEATH A CAR THAT LANDED WITH ITS UNDERCARRIAGE ON TOP OF A PAVEMENT. They fixed the frigging wheel alignment and no-one noticed the entire radiator system was totally buggered!!!!

At least (after a very, very large piece of my mind in no uncertain terms to the complaints department) A&G paid for my hire car this time. Another two weeks later Steve and I went to pick up the car again, and it started flashing lights and beeping again! At least the radiator was fixed, but no-one bothered to put any water in it (or oil, it seemed).

I'm still trying to get A&G to take my complaint seriously. Their approach seems to be to give you the run around in the hope that you'll eventually give up or die. Luckily for me they've published a service charter that promises a R250 penalty any time they don't live up to it; I ought to be able to make most of my excess payment back by now.

Monday, 24 January 2011

Happy New Year! (and awesome FA reposts)

Hello, and may 2011 bring you everything you hope and pray for, and stuff you haven't even imagined to hope for yet!

In a bid to just post something, ANYTHING, and since I've been catching up some of the awesome blogs I haven't read in ages (yay finally setting up my Google Reader), here's something from one of my favourite blogs.

“Fat people are often supported in hating their bodies, in starving themselves, in engaging in unsafe exercise and in seeking out weight loss by any means necessary. A thin person who does these things is considered mentally ill. A fat person who does these things is redeemed by them. This is why our culture has no concept of a fat person who also has an eating disorder. If you’re fat, it’s not an ED — it’s a lifestyle change.”
By Lesley Kinzel, via We Are All From Earth.