When your only option is to quit.

I’ve been an advocate of the all natural, birthing process, including breastfeeding for a long time, even before I had kids.  It’s what a women’s body was made to do, and even though I needed ceasars for all my babies to make it safely into the world, I still believe that natural is the way to go.  This goes for breastfeeding too.  My first experience of breastfeeding was pumping every three hours in the hospital while my first baby, Asher, lay in the NICU with a terminal infection.  It all ended rather abruptly and painfully when he passed away after nine days.  

My second breastfeeding experience was, for lack of a better description, perfect.  Cal latched beautifully, my milk came in abundantly and we enjoyed the breastfeeding journey together for sixteen months.  It was at this point I started to get ill.  I had some sort of virus that wouldn’t leave and in order to be treated I needed to stop breastfeeding, cold turkey, or risk ending up in hospital and having to stop anyway.  At sixteen months I figured it was okay because I’d given it such a good run, so I let it go quite gratefully.  

Along came Shaw.

I fell pregnant with Shaw quite soon after going off the pill, and hadn’t quite regained the weight I’d lost from my illness, and I was a little concerned that would play a roll in the pregnancy or the birth.  Pregnancy went reasonably trouble free, and birth was normal (ceasar).  Then two weeks into breastfeeding I started getting sick again.  Nothing was working, I got infections and stomach flu and it all continued for almost six weeks when my GP advised that my iron levels where taking a dive from the breastfeeding, and if I didn’t stop immediately, I’d end up in hospital again with another iron transfusion and would have to stop breastfeeding anyway.  Breastfeeding at this point was going really well.  I had an abundance of milk, as usual, and could probably have fed a second baby with my abundant supply.  It wasn’t that I didn’t have enough milk, it was a question of wellbeing.

My son is only nine weeks old.  How can I stop now?!?! 

It wasn’t a difficult decision, to choose being healthy for my family over breastfeeding one child and becoming useless for months from illness, but it was an emotional one.  I knew that my youngest would never get ALL the benefits that breastfeeding provides, he’d miss out on crucial immunity and his milk may not always be warm.  Funny how a mamas mind works.  But, we had no choice,  we had to make the most of our window of opportunity to move him onto formula bottles while it was still less obvious to him, and possibly less traumatic to move over.

My only option was to quit.

It didn’t take long for him to take a bottle (second type we tried he liked), we stocked up on them and formula and all the other paraphernalia that goes with cleaning and sterilizing bottles.  I started to express to mix the milk and hoped like heck that stopping the breastmilk would be painfree, hahaha. 

So, after a weekend of excruciating pain, a round of Dostinex, a good bra and some serious pain killers, my milk is almost dry and my son drinks his bottles like he’s done it since he left the womb, why was I so worried???  

The irony is not lost on me that I’m so pro natural and have such different experiences with my children, it just shows you, you cannot plan what life will throw at you, you can only respond to it.  
Image: Impact Photography 

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When life hands you lemons.

There’s “the plan” and then there’s life.

How many times have you imagined a situation going one way, and then life?  Or you aim your life in a direction and things are going well, then life! If our existence stuck to the plan, I’m sure things would be very different.

I had a prophecy over my life once and part of it was “there will still be the lawn that needs mowing and bills to pay”.  This was God reminding me that I can’t live with my head in the clouds, the realities and responsibilities of life are still there, but that doesn’t always make them easy to bear.  

As you get older, you learn how to handle the curve balls better, but sometimes they come a little thick and a little too fast to keep up.  That’s where the lemons come in.  They say when life hands you lemons, you should make lemonade.  I say make the lemonade, then make lemon merangue and lemon tart and lemon cordial, start a franchise and milk that sucker till it can’t throw another lemon your way.  Keep praying, stay humble and eventually the lemon business will feel like second nature and you won’t even notice that the very thing that was sent to derail and leave a bitter taste in your mouth has become something sweet and life-giving.  
Perspective is everything, and sometimes only God can adjust it for us.
Image: Pinterest

Friday Fun.

Another Friday has arrived, and this short week has left me with nothing but a blur of school, work and laundry.

Laundry?!

I swear there are people living in this house I haven’t met yet, judging by the amount of laundry a toddler and a baby make.

I wasn’t ready for the upgrade to professional laundry business.  It’s never ending, bearing in mind my baby has mild reflux, so things get spit up milk ruined, all the time.

Do you have any laundry tricks? How do other mamas stay ahead of the ball on this one?

Behind the camera.

I’ve been taking photos since I was about 11 years old.  My father gave me my first camera, his 1960’s contaflex with zeiss lenses, and let me loose on the light.  I remember shooting everything and anything, from flowers to my horse riding gear to the family pets, anything I could shoot with that old school manual camera was fair game.  At the local stables I would take photos at the show jumping and sell the pics to my riding friends.  It was before digital, and before instagram and Facebook, and photography was simpler and less intimidating.  Editing was done in the dark room, mostly, and a “ruined” film often added to the creative outcome.

I worked as a part time amateur in Cape Town for many years before moving back to the Eastern Cape and eventually landing a dream job working at a local studio.  Cue marriage and babies and you have a stop start career.  

I decided a long time ago that photography would be something that I would do no matter what life threw at me and so I shoot with my phone when I can (life is hectic with two kids) and then every now and then I get the opportunity to whip out the canon and do some proper work, work for me is stock photography, and I love it!  It sounds weird when I tell people I don’t like shooting people, it’s just not my thing, weddings, families, babies – nope.  I like things I can control, models, food, inanimate objects, flowers. Yeah, I’m THAT person, but I love what I do.  The thing I’ve learned along the way is that it’s GOOD to find what you love shooting, and to not compromise on that, as creatives I think we often try to be good at everything, instead of finding our niche and working on it, mastering it.  Thats my mission, to work on my stock photos and give it my all, unapologetically, be that photographer, and love what I do.

You can check out my instagram at @kimvanvee or my photography Facebook page Asherlove Photography by Kim van Vuuren

Image:Asherlove photography by Kim van Vuuren

Reflux, Easter and sleep.

So it turns out those 30min burping sessions and crying on end for baby Shaw was reflux, and not just me forgetting how to burp a baby.  Having the right meds and easing his pain has changed our lives, his routine is settling, he’s sleeping better, and so are we!

Then Easter happened.  

Cal’s first easter egg hunt in the garden with daddy and pa, of course mommy being the forgetful, sleep deprived mommy I am, forgot to pack his stash of easter eggs for our stay at granny and grandpa, and so we hunted down the next best thing, chocolate coins!  Daddy hid them pretty much in plain sight and the toddler was in heaven.  “Choccy coins, choccy coins” was the chant of the weekend as he kept his stash close and ate almost all of them for breakfast.  It’s a compromise I’m willing to make for a special day like easter Sunday.  Next year we’ll include the resurrection story for him and celebrate together the life it gave, but for now, choccy coins it shall be.

We’ve been moving baby to a three hour feed routine, and so far so good.  Mama is getting a bit more sleep and generally not feeling so cranky.  We also found a dummy that he likes and will take on occasion, this helps with soothing in between feeds.

How did your easter go? Do you celebrate it at all?
Image: Impact Photography

Make mine a double.

When you’ve had what could easily be considered the worst day a mother could have, you’re tempted to want to drink things that come in doubles,  but wait, there is a different approach.

I was reminded of this different approach last week after our through-the-night croup/vomit/running out of baby clothes shoot-me-now night. (See friday fun post from last week).  

I had an appointment at the local baby clinic for my baby’s weekly weigh, the sister there is fully involved, even if you see someone else for the weighing, she will come out and greet everyone, ask how you’re doing with the new born, it’s a lovely place, and you feel so encouraged and appreciated when you leave.  I was telling her briefly of our night of challenges and to add my c section scar had an infection and I was being heavily medicated for that, which causes horrible side effects, and she looked me square in the eye and said: 

“Next time things are going like this one thing after the other, you and your hubby need to stop everything and pray!” She went on “ask God to show you what you can’t see in the situation so you can pray for healing or deliverance”.

I was astounded.

The simplest thing, in the trenches, I had forgotten.  I remember nodding and saying something stupid, but it had smacked me right between the eyes.  Needless to say the ride home was filled with introspection and tears as God opened my eyes to see where it all started.   

My heart was revealed to me, and it wasn’t pretty.  Please understand I’m definitely not writing this from a place of “dealt with it, I can testify!” Not even close, I’ve only just begun to heal and the conversation with God is still ongoing, it’s the start, her short sentence cracked open a six month wound and now we start the cleaning out.

Pride and arrogance have finally given way to meekness and humilty to allow God to work the soil of my heart, once again, because, I remember, that we never actually arrive, we are constantly being changed to more like Christ.

So make mine a double, a double dose of humility and openess, to get this ugly heart made pretty again.
Image: Asherlove Photography by Kim van Vuuren

Friday Fun.

So, funny story, it wasn’t funny at the time, but now that it’s over, it’s funny.

Everyone was getting a great nights rest, hubby had taken the baby so I could sleep and toddler was fast asleep.

Cue the familiar wheezing of croup.

Three a.m. and toddler has croup, hubby sets up nebulizer and so began his night of croup management.

Cue baby milk vomit.

Baby starts possetting, and no matter how often I changed him he just kept on, first milk, then pee, it was ridiculous.  Finally after three tries and in his last clean onesie, we all fall asleep.

Morning breaks and I go looking for baby’s clean onesies in the laundry and realise I’ve left them all outside overnight, and it had rained.  Ok, no problem, let’s get them inside and dry, wash the others and we’ll be good to go.  The morning was starting badly, but it’s ok, we can recover from it.  Toddler is sitting being nebulised quietly, a miracle, hubby is home to work and the baby sitter will be here in the afternoon, no problem.

Open the washing machine to hang up the clean onesies, I’d accidentally thrown a dirty disposable baby diaper in with it all…there are diaper beads. Everywhere. They stick, to everything.

I just walked away.  

I’m done now. Day over. Call for back-up, cause I’m finished.

Thank Jesus for beautiful friends in my mommy group who laughed at me, showered me with encouragement and brought loan clothes for my baby who was at this stage wearing his three month size clothes.  A cup of tea and a visit to the clinic, where I was offered a unique perspective on my situation (more on this next week) and I felt like I could cope again. 

Fyi, Friday is going well and everyone is clean and dressed, and the croup is clearing.

So have a lovely weekend, cause I’m sure gonna! 

Image: Pinterest