Hi! My name is Caley – wife to my gorgeous MC, mom to two precious daughters: SJ (3) and EN (1) and lifestyle blogger living in sunny Durban, South Africa.
Did you experience easy or difficult pregnancies and births?
My first pregnancy, with SJ, brought 12 weeks of horrible nausea and bouts of vomiting, I struggled to keep much down and I slept as much as I possibly could. I had a good second trimester and I enjoyed exercising, having my energy back and my growing bump. Unfortunately, my third trimester brought along pre-eclampsia and bed rest and from 26 weeks, I started to gain weight quickly and started to retain water and swell.
At my 37 week check up, my blood pressure had hit 140/110 and my gynae called for an emergency c-section. I drove home, packed my bags, collected MC from work and we drove to the hospital to have a baby. My c-section experience was amazing – we settled into our hospital room, I was gowned up for theatre, I had my spinal block with MC holding my hand, my legs and pelvis went numb, I lay back, was cut open and within minutes our precious baby girl, SJ entered the world with only a tiny cry and weighing 3,4kgs. I was stitched up, sent to recovery for the numbing to wear off while MC went to give her SJ her first bath and we met back in our hospital room for cuddles and helping her latch.
My second pregnancy, with EN, brought a bad dose of hyperemesis gravidarum. I managed to not eat or drink (or keep a crumb down) for 6 weeks. From the day after we found out we were pregnant, to the morning of 14 weeks, I was extremely sick. I was hospitalised twice and spent weeks in bed in a dark room unable to eat or move without fainting. It was horrible and something I never want to experience ever again. I also had a little toddler at home who had no idea why Mommy was missing and always sleeping… My second trimester brought rays of sunshine and from week 14 to week 35, I loved my pregnancy. I was able to eat and drink again, I had lots of energy, I was busy with SJ and moving into our new home and I managed to keep my exercise regime up until the day before EN was born. I felt good!
At my 35 week check up, I was nervous of going into early labour and MC was out of the country on business. My gynae confirmed all was well with the baby and he booked my second c-section for the 27th May. That night, I went for dinner with a friend and when I got into bed, I had severe pain in my lower abdomen. I woke a few times that night with the same intense pain. I wasn’t contracting, it was one long pain that never went away. The next morning, my in laws offered to have SJ for the day and for me to rest. By lunchtime, MC was on the phone, very concerned and begging me to call my gynae. I’m a laid back pregnant woman (and now mom!) and I don’t call or visit doctors unnecessarily, especial on public holidays but my poor husband was worried so I called my gynae and went for a check up. Upon feeling my tummy, he noticed that my uterus was slowly thinning so he suggested admitting me into hospital with two cortisone injections to help the baby if I went into early labour. After my first cortisone injection, I was hooked up to the foetal monitors which clearly showed I was in labour and contracting at regular intervals (this one constant pain was preventing me from feeling the contractions!) An hour later, I was given a pethadine injection to help ease the pain. An hour later, I was checked again – the contractions had started coming quicker and faster and my uterus had starting thinning to the point of almost rupturing so I was rushed in for another emergency c-section (with my husband on a flight home!) My loving FIL managed to scrub up and come in with me to hold my hand and video our birth. After numerous failed attempts at a spinal black and a bit of a daze with all the drugs in one afternoon, our second baby girl EN was born that evening, weighing 2.8kgs. Whilst I was in recovery, MC arrived at the hospital and managed to get in a few cuddles with EN before she was sent to the NICU as her breathing was too quick. After a few hours of oxygen, she was given the all clear with her lungs but she wasn’t able to feed from a bottle so she was hooked up to a feeding tube. After 8 long days in NICU, precious little EN latched like a champ and started exclusively feeding from momma and we could head home…
Are you a stay-at-home-mom or working mom? How does this work for you?
I am currently a stay-at-home-mom and I love it! I am very grateful for the time it gives me with both our girls – being able to lift and drive around, attend and enjoy activities, playdates and parties as well as the flexibility it gives me to find time for myself and organising our home and to be there during crisis moments like emergency doctors visits and childhood milestones. I had parents that worked full time jobs my whole life and I really didn’t like staying at aftercare and missing out on so much and getting home so late each day, but I understand that it had to be done to allow us to be financially stable. Every day (as tough as some days can be), I am truly thankful that I have this time to be at home. In saying that. now that I have two toddlers (almost!), I am looking for something creative to do and coming up with business ideas. Watch this space!
How did you decide on your child/rens names?
One thing that having kids has taught me is that naming a child is one of the hardest things I have ever had to do! Names are so important.
Before MC and I even got engaged, we had a chat about children’s names (as you do!) – I mentioned the girls name Sophie and he loved it too. Easy! Her second name is Jade, which is my second name too. Easy again!
Second time around, we were stumped! We had only ever liked one girls name and we had a string of favourite boys names. Right up until the week before EN was born, we only had boys names and I had a good feeling that she was a girl (we didn’t find out the gender with both girls). We were away on holiday, thinking of different names but not agreeing on any when my FIL called to say he had heard a lovely name on TV, Ellie. A famous golfer had two daughters – Sophie and Ellie and he liked it. So did we… The next day, we were wondering through the hotel and a father called for his daughter: “Ellie” – it was a sign! Her second name is Nicole – named after MC’s late sister, a very special family name.
*It must be mentioned that I never ever put Ellie’s choice of name and the name of my blog together – until it was mentioned after her birth. The name of my blog has always been the shortened name for an elephant…
How has your life changed since having children – positive and negative?
Life has changed in so many ways… I have an instinct like never before, my heart feels emotions and feelings I never knew possible, I love two little humans more than I ever imagined, my body changed to grow and develop these little miracles in the most incredible way. Life is busy and fast and non stop but amazing and rewarding too. Every day, we are learning and teaching and watching these little people develop into their own personalities. I have always wanted to be a Mom and I love and adore my role as a mother – but there are also days when the time out and the peace and quiet are golden.
Where are your children at school, and how did you make this decision?
EN isn’t at school yet, she stays at home with me and our domestic worker. She will start at a small play school in January 2016.
SJ is at a local co-ed private school that starts from Playgroup and follows through to a high school. SJ is a confident and outgoing little girl who loves people of all races, ages and gender. She thrives at school and she comes home with so much information and many stories from the day and what she has learnt. It has been the best thing for her. The school is very impressive too and we are very happy with the choice we have made – it is new and has great facilities, the number of students is small and has big classrooms, it follows a great ethos and curriculum and SJ loves her teacher and peers.
Are your kids more like you or your husband, and in what ways?
Often people say it is hard to tell when they are so young… But in our family, it is already very clear. SJ is my twin – both looks and personality. She is confident and outgoing, friendly and aims to please. She can be bossy but is a great leader. She is sensitive and emotional when she wants to be but can also be feisty and cheeky. She is very organised and together, and has slight OCD tendencies. Definitely my child.
EN is her Daddy’s twin – again in looks and personality. She is quiet and reserved but also knows what she wants and will stand up for it. She is happy and has the softest, kindest nature. She is loyal and her face lights up when she sees the people she loves. We will see how her little personality continues to mature and develop as she gets older…
The above is also the reason why MC and SJ get on so well and EN and I click – the personalities complement each other, just as they do in our marriage. Quiet incredible to see.
Describe the “type” of Mom you think you are?
I like to think of myself as a loving, caring, fun, organised and laid back Mom who just wants the best for her children. I love and adore my girls with all of my heart and I will always put them first, but I also know right from wrong and will always discipline and guide them through life and their different phases of behaviour. I love to play and have fun with them and their friends, and always thinking of new activities and outings for SJ. My Type A personality brings out the organisation in me and I am never without my diary, phone and a list to ensure all is on track for our daily routines. I am also laid back and not phased by most parenting situations or the hectic task being a Mom entails, and it has been proven that I stay calm in panic or emergency situations.
In saying the above, I am not a perfect Mom. I lose my cool, I shout, I want to disappear at times, I forget appointments and important dates, I let my children down and lose perspective. But I try my best to be the Mom my girls need me to be.
How do you stay organised or in a routine – or do you live in organised chaos?
My Type A personality makes sure we live in organisation and a strict routine. But again, I am normal and some routines need to be broken or be adapted at times (weekends, holidays, sick days etc). Since birth, both our girls have been on a strict eating and sleeping routine and it has worked so well – they were both sleeping through (7pm – 7am) by 14 weeks and they have been happy babies and now toddlers. The routine allows us as parents to do the best we can, be on the same page when one is away and also get some quality time together. We have a calendar board in our kitchen as well as online synced calendar that is shared between us. We also have a weekly catch up to discuss plans and a weekly meal plan for easy grocery shopping and daily meal prep. SJ also has a daily routine and reward chart that she follows. Yes, I know I am OCD.
What is your favourite activity as a family?
Describe your ‘Mommy-me-time’?
It may sound selfish to some but MC and I have always been very strict on our girls fitting in with life and not changing life to revolve around them. We still go on holidays alone, on date nights, on family weekends away and individual time alone too. This has been so important for us both, and it keeps us sane.
My favourite me-time is spent being pampered – having my nails done, my hair done or a body massage at a spa. My lazy me-time is an afternoon nap or reading a good book with a cup of tea.
Describe your proudest moment as a Mom.
Being a Mom brings so many proud moments – from carrying a baby to delivering a baby, to getting a full nights sleep, watching them reach milestones like sitting and crawling and first steps and talking first words (there is no sound more magical than the word momma from your babe). And as they grow, the proud moments multiply to listening to SJ count to 20 or sing her ABC’s, to watching her setting and clearing the dinner table, to saying her Grace before dinner, swimming under water, hearing her good manners saying please and thank you without a prompt and getting a praiseworthy report from her teachers. The list goes on, and each day there is a new proud moment…
Any advice for other Moms or Moms-to-be.
Try your best – it’s the best you can do. Your child is your little miracle and your responsibility and what works best for you, is the best way. Trust your motherly instinct, it is very strong and should never be ignored.