Tag Archives: thoughts

Reflections on Christmas, by a Doula (me), and not a Theologian (the hub).

I love Christmas. There is so much to love about it – the food, the festivities, the giving, the joy. Only this year did I calculate exactly how many family traditions (or events) we shmoosh into this beautiful period of celebration. There are many.

Between my husband and my family, I could count over 10. From baking our own mince pies, to acting the nativity scene (dressed up and with specific roles!), to Uncle Paul’s Christmas Party and Carols at Kirstenbosch. This season is full – and wonderful.

And so full of WONDER. For so many years we celebrated Jesus’s birth – in the manger, with angels and shepherds and that all important star – all so neat and tidy and lovely sitting in the church pew thinking ‘let’s hurry home now and open presents’ (a firm childhood memory of mine)…

Only after having my own kids (and falling in love with birth) have I begun to imagine that birth differently. I love to imagine how hard it must’ve been for Mary and Joseph to (physically) escape to Bethlehem. (If you’ve had those STABBING pains UP your vajay-jay as if you’re about to give birth there and then can you imagine what that must have been like for Mary). I wonder how often she thought she might not make it – with the bobbing up and down on a donkey and Jesus most likely decending into position, pushing on her bladder. I imagine her fear and desperation not finding a place to stay, and then the mix of relief and discomfort finding a stable, a place to finally sit down, and then ‘prepare for the birth’. I wonder how long her birth was, how long did she push for (birth-nerd talk), and how the baby was delivered? At what point did her waters break? Was he breach? Was he posterior? How did Joseph handle it all? Did he freak out? Had either of them seen birth before – they were young… What did they do with the umbilical cord? Was there a moment of divine intervention from heaven above, or was it all really… human. This is BIRTH. Real, raw, scary, beautiful, empowering BIRTH. Yet the birth of a King.

Was there a split second of Peace on Earth? I doubt Mary was wearing white cloths neatly wrapped around her body (for one, there was no Aerial or Omo back in that day). If you’ve seen birth, nothing remains white. The cloth Jesus was wrapped in must have been covered with amniotic fluid, vernix and blood. This was the very messy, very real, very on-the-run birth of Christ. The Christ, the Saviour of the World. I wonder how long Mary and Joseph stared at Jesus wondering if he really was their Saviour.

And so as I reflect this Christmas, I think what I’m realising is that things often don’t look ‘right’. Surely Jesus should’ve had more to wear than swaddling cloths and a more comfy bed than a used animal trough? This picture is nothing like immaculately wrapped up gifts under the tree and the perfectly roasted gammon presented on a Pinterest worthy dining room table. There is nothing wrong with those things – I too love to celebrate WELL – but it seems the picture of Jesus’ birth and the deeper truth sometimes don’t seem to match up in ways we might imagine. This messy birth, and our Saviour on earth. This confusion leads us to Trust; to have Faith – two things it seems we need to possess in larger and larger quantities nowadays, in a world spinning off its axis and one in which we control far less than what we like to believe. Life is hard, and life can be scary; there are unknowns, and mess seems to be everywhere. In our humanness, we cannot understand it – well, I sure can’t.

Luke 2:12: “And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, Glory to God in the Highest and on earth, peace, good will toward men.”

Wherever you find yourself currently… It’s coming. He is Hope. Be it in your heart, or here again in his Creation, we await his coming. We sit in the labour pains of the mysteries to come.

It’s almost time. Keep pushing, keep breathing. Behold, He is coming soon.

Image Credit: Photo by Jaimie Trueblood/newline.wireimage.com, https://brandonacox.com/advent-always-hope/.

This Whole Nanny Thing (Part 1)

It was at a Baby Shower the ‘school moms’ threw for me right before Brea was born where one of the wonderfully well-meaning moms asked “but you’ll have help right?” It must have been the months of staring into my terrified ‘I’m about to have 3 kids’ face every morning at the school gate which had her ask the question. “Yep, totally. I mean, my mom is right there”, I replied.

You see, I never grew up with help. My gran lived next door (as does now my mom and dad) and helped around with lifts and laundry, babysitting and walking the dog. My mom only worked a few days a week and so we didn’t need it.

Having had the boys in Vancouver, there was no option for a nanny so you ‘man up’ and figure it out. And it was totally manageable. Maybe it’s the Canadian Childcare tax benefits, the year long paid maternity leave, ‘free’ healthcare and the unquestionable safety (even if it is only perceived) which allows you to just relax about, well most things.

So with a then 4.5 year old, 2.5 year old and a newborn, we ‘manned up’. We brought this precious new bundle home and it was wonderful and hectic and more wonderful and more HECTIC (read about it here), but over time, hubby and I realised we were slowly but surely moving closer and closer to: survival mode. And we weren’t surviving in survival mode. Our options were limited, but the most obvious was to just get help. Thing is, I didn’t want a nanny. It was foreign to me. I didn’t want someone in my space, I didn’t want the cost, I didn’t want to ‘not manage’, I didn’t want to worry about this ‘stranger’ and more importantly I didn’t want to seemingly outsource my parenting. I was also a little nervous of nanny agencies (I’d heard horror stories), and knew that if we invited someone into our home, we were inviting her into our life. So it was a biggie.

Looooooong story short, on the Easter weekend this year we hired our first (and hopefully life-long) nanny, who has CHANGED OUR LIVES a million times for the better. Cue the champagne! Now I know many of you reading this will be all “duhhhhh, we could have told you that light years ago”, but it was a struggle for me. It’s a big deal inviting someone into your home and entrusting them with your most valued little thing/s EVER. So give me grace, will you?

So if this was it, and if she was the one, surely I must do everything I can to make sure she is loved, well-trained, that she understands us, that we understand her, that there is mutual trust, appreciation and open communication – because why wouldn’t you? So last month I sent her on Nanny Training with Super Nannies.



I loved our nanny before, but, our relationship has BLOSSOMED since she went on the training. She is still not perfect – and that’s okay. Because, am I? Heck no.

I feel like Super Nannies has helped me flesh this whole nanny thing out: our relationship, expectations, roles and responsibilities and, it has made for such a wonderful home environment. I feel like it is my role as an employer to not only treat my nanny well, but to pay her well and respect her (as a person and human) and to do what I can to lift her out of the previously disadvantaged position in which she was raised, and give her a voice and purpose and value. And going on a course like this has done just that. She feels empowered, known, communication is open, and we can discuss things without me feeling like ‘white privilege giving instructions’ (my issue I know) to feeling like a team sharing a common goal and working together to achieve it.

All those things I was previously scared of have dissolved: she shares my space in such a humble, unobtrusive and safe way; I manage better because she creates the space FOR ME to BE A BETTER PARENT; she is worth every cent I pay her; she is no longer a stranger but a team member and I am less stressed, more patient, less busy, more able to spend one-on-one time with the kids and the hub is super stoked he no longer has to clean the kitchen way into the night while I fall asleep on the couch.

A gift. She is a gift. My eyes have been opened to how massively beneficial this shift has been for us as a family. Hang around for Part 2, where we discuss what miscommunication we have overcome and what exactly she learnt and how is has benefited us all. x



How to Survive the Morning with 3 kids ON YOUR OWN.

Most mornings are a nightmare. ‘A MAAAARE’ as my Australasian friends would say. If it’s not hard enough to drag yourself out of bed each and every morning, imagine doing it on your OWN with three smaaaaaall children? No guys really. It’s full-freaking-on.

So a few months back I had this on-going whats-app dialogue with my girlfriends about how UTTERLY IMPOSSIBLE pull-your-hair-out I was finding ‘the mornings’. The hub (bless him) heads to work just after 5am which leaves me with no other option that to drag myself out of bed at the first whimper of any child. (He does return earlier than most and then ‘takes over’ so we can’t resent him too much).

We’ve been through the ringer – moaaaaaaaaaaaning about eveeeeeeeeeerything – from not wanting to put on shoes, to underpants, to rain coats and not wanting to eat breakfast and demanding the breakfast I don’t have in the cupboard. I understand getting out of a warm cuddly bed with your luscious down duvet (lucky kid!) is hard (TRUST ME), but let’s just mentally prepare ourselves to do this for.the.next.18.years.

I hold my breath, I bite my tongue. I scream, I whimper my pleas, I bribe, I convince, I threaten. It’s not great.

I’ve put music on (to lessen the moan), I’ve sent them to school with their pjs UNDER their clothes. I’ve even left them sleeping (so that my dear mother can manage the chaos) and I’ve raced off to work.

Throw in some wet beds, some breastfeeding, some vomiting, some screaming (by all involved – we each have our turn), a toddler whose Lego just.broke, a 5 year old who can’t put on his socks (because they’re about 17 sizes too small), a baby who needs 7 drops of probiotics 30 min before she has food (ha ha ha), and a stubborn 3 year old who boycotted his (now soggy) weetbix for mint vanilla toothpaste as their before-school snack. Shoes and socks, on and off, jackets and beanies, on and off. And then the nappy you never changed, explodes. Poo everywhere.

You name it, I’ve done it. I’m finished.

I hate screamy-mommy, so something needed to give. My options were to a) run away or b) tackle this head on. Obviously a) is not a real option. So somehow, I’ve managed to rise above it all (in glorious fashion) and here’s how I’ve done it:

  1. Get up early. This is the hardest thing you’ll do all morning – but it’ll be worth it. If not for anything other than allowing yourself the time to MAKE THAT COFFEE. Always make more than 1 cup. Have it on the ready. Because 1 is never enough.
  2. Hide your phone. Once you’ve switched your alarm off – hide it. While I’d much rather be chatting to my girlfriends about the upcoming 3rd royal baby, DON’T allow yourself to get distracted. This will be your downfall.
  3. Lunch boxes. No matter how many matchsticks you need to keep your peepers open at night – make those lunch boxes the night before. Kids don’t care about brown oxidized apples.
  4. Dress them at night. When times are tough, I dress my kids in their (play) school clothes the night before. No shame. You gotta do what you gotta do. Hopefully we’ll have this morning thing under control before we hit the school uniform stage. 
  5. Buy them the cereal they want. And I don’t mean cocoa pops/fruit loops. But pick your battles. I can’t handle the constant fight over oats or weetbix – so muesli it is. The cost is worth it. Trust me.
  6. Feed and nappy first. If there is a baby in the household, at first peep, get to them. Breastfeed/bottle feed and then change their nappy. In one swift motion. Don’t hesitate. Then hand them a Hip Organic Rice Cake – that’ll keep them happy and entertained for a good 3 minutes.
  7. Warning, warning, warning. We’re going in 10min, we’re going in 5 min, we’re going in 2 min. Boom. (Parenting 101)
  8. Chorus line: “What day is it today?” “Tuesday!”, “What do we need to remember on Tuesdays?” (Think think think think think: School t-shirt? Dress Up? Fruit for the bowl? Money for something-or-other? Show and Tell? FitKids t-shirt? Extra clothes in school bag? Extra murals? Play date? Grandparents for the afternoon? …( And together we think of the answer.)

And off we go to school. Tra la la. You might have noticed that we do not allow TV or iPad in the mornings. That’s just a no-go. Once we head down that path – we’ll never return.

And most mornings, we’re doing okay. Yes, we forget Show and Tell (often) and yes, there are still glares and talking through gritted teeth and raised voices and the usual parenting coping mechanisms. But we’re getting there… and we’re much, much happier.

Those of you with more than 3 kids – I have ABSOLUTELY NO IDEA how you do it. No idea. Nada. You’re super human. You must be.

What do you do to make mornings easier? Pray tell?

R3000 Challenge: I’m in trouble… 

YOI! I’m in trouble. I did a quick shop yesterday. (I’m surprised at how often I need to go to the shops, as it turns out – 5ppl can eat quite a lot).

I spent another R300, which, in my vague calculation (still unsure of total GFC order) leaves me around R600 for the rest of the month. 😳 I have meat, and staples. But today my confidence may have superseded the reality of my situation because I might have made some rash decisions.

I bought 2 x 3kg bags of butternut. Why 2? Did I need 2? I’m not so sure. I also needed tea. So I bought a box, of 107 teabags. Do I need all 107 teabags? Can I even drink that much in 15 more days? Not a chance. But the bulk buyer in me came to the party.

The saver came to the party too and I couldn’t refuse the Jungle Oats on sale, nor the Bubbly chocolate. If Bubbly is ever on sale, it’s almost sinful to say no. Surely? So I caved, and as I grabbed two slabs off the shelf I thought twice about my budget. And naively took the hit. 

I seeeeeeriously need to tighten the purse strings. Because I have a birthday boy coming up, and cake (and school party treats) will be a necessity shortly.

RIGHT! Two points that have been raised by numerous readers: FREEZING GLASS JARS.

Yes, I too believed one could never freeze glass, but, it turns out you can. A friend showed me or else I would’ve been way too scared to try. They must be decent glass jars and you must be sensible. Don’t freeze HOT food, straight from the oven into the freezer, and take care when defrosting. Don’t take it from the freezer and pop it straight in the microwave/oven. Go easy on your glass.

I buy my glass jars from Bonpak in Prime Park, Diep River. They’re the same size and shape as the Oh Mega Nut Butter jars.


A friend messaged me today, and she was reading my mind. Her message was as follows:

I love the challenge blah blah because… you “buy what you need, no need to overdo elaborate meals EVERY night, good for the hips, good for the world / enviro (cause not over consuming in this consumer crazy society etc etc). Every time I have made my “normal” purchases I think of you and how you’re exercising such restraint and it makes me see the “normal” purchase as a super spoil.”

Someone else (talking about something similar but different) spoke of our consumer culture like this: shopping (unnecessarily, in our case maybe for food/eating) is a way of “filling voids, eradicating boredom, fostering laziness, thwarting creativity, not to mention draining our bottom line“.

I sometimes imagine asking someone from the early 1900’s to watch our western culture. And I wonder how sensible popping into the same shop every 2nd day would seem? Especially in today’s unbelievably demanding lifestyle, when we don’t actually have the time to spare? Does buying a takeaway coffee look cool, indulgent or irresponsible? Is it a prerequisite to your morning? (Coffee is ABSOLUTELY a prerequisite to mine, and I thank the Good Lord for the creamy sweet nectar every morning as I sip it). Pre-cooked meals? Are they convenient, or necessary, or have we barely stopped to consider the joy and creativity involved in cooking we’re blindly robbing ourselves of? Nooooooo judgement here guys – I’m asking myself these exact questions… (and I could’ve fueled a small country on the amount of take away coffee I had last month…)

What is food? What have we made it? Where have we been sold a lemon by society? I’m ALL about good food. I’ve said this already. I love what it represents; different textures and colours, what humans are able to create with micro greens and edible flowers, the complexity of flavours and beauty and satisfaction in a delicately prepared meal. But when did we put it on autopilot?

How I’m keeping our grocery budget to R3000 this month. 

Anyone else feeling slightly nauseous at the prices of groceries recently? I get that I’m now buying for a (solid food eating) family of 5, but it seems like every trip to the shops seems to deplete my bank account more than it should, and it’s significant. And I know others feel the same.

We recently had veeeeery dear friends visiting us from Vancouver. Despite paying for 4 doctors appointments and numerous meds in 6 days the week prior, we decided that we’d enjoy the holiday and have fun and not be scared off by our growing credit card bill. We’d also endured a car break in (in hubby’s car), the need for new brakes on my car, new glasses for our son, and random renovation payments. But whatevs. We were going to have fun. Oh, and FUN we did! I’m sure I’ll blog alllll about it another time. Cape Town is spectacular.

Right, so on Sunday evening through tears we bid our friends farewell. Our time together had deeply satisfied our hearts, our minds, our emotions, certainly our stomachs, and most definitely the ones reaping benefits from the interest we pay on our Discovery Card.

And so, in the spirit of FUN, and not despair (this is important) we decided that we needed to replenish the available funds and be HARDCORE about it. So I set myself the most ridiculous challenge of keeping our food budget this month to R3000. We’re only allowed to spend R3000 on food this month. Can we do it? When I shared my new challenge with my girlfriends, one actually texted back “that’s impossible”. Maybe it is, we’ll soon see.

Before anyone throws any eye-rolling judgemental glances my way – I have a few DISCLAIMERS:

1) This does not include the existing food I have in my house (although I assure you there wasn’t heaps – if I did it would defeat the point).

2) While I will do my best not to deplete EVERYTHING in my pantry before 1 July, I do want to rummage through and use things that have been there a while. Use up before buying new.

3) This is not an exact science or mathematical formulae on how much each meal costs. I have given myself a R3k limit, but obviously, as with most lessons we teach ourselves, it’s more about opening our eyes to how we do things (in auto pilot) and then rethinking them…

4) Since we eat mostly paleo, we will have to be reaaaaally flexible when it comes to what we eat. Some nights very well might be bread and butter (not margarine, NEVER margarine).

5) I know that for some, R3000 for food alone can seem like a LUXURY. Budgets and money are sensitive topics – but most people in my demographic easily spend more than double that on food. Again, it’s bringing into question numerous thoughts and ways of doing things which deserve attention from time to time.

Let’s get into it, in the post to follow. This is not a bait-and-switch, I just know the most people don’t like to read long posts… so keep your eyes peeled for the next installment.

Join me! This will be fun.

3+ months in with 3 kids… and this is what I’ve learnt 

Had you told me 5 years ago that I’d have 3 kids under 5 I would’ve laughed AT you (that crazy, ‘you’re ridiculous’ kind of laugh). But here we are. And I’m so fortunate.

Looking at my littlest bub, I’m OVERWHELMED by her perfection. Her beautiful strong fingers, the perfect veins on her eyelids, her chubby legs and gargly smiles. Ah. I’m completely smitten. My kids are just incredible. And I remind myself of this often, especially during the times of silently and inwardly screaming pretty profane language in my head.

And so it’s becoming more and more clear, as we grow into this family rhythm of 5, what exactly I’m learning. I’m winning at times, and failing a lot. I’m drinking a fair amount of wine and am currently completely addicted to Masterchef Australia. It’s ‘mommy’s show’ and the family knows not to bother me. Well, all except for Brea.

So here it is. My list of what I’ve learnt in 3 months with 3 kids.

It’s loud. Kids are loud. It’s like they’re attached to amplifiers. They scream. A lot. My kids like to scream to the North Pole for Father Christmas. Yep. Noise. All the time.

The demand is high. Physically, be it for a toy, or some water, or to be fed, changed, or carried. To be rocked, or bounced, or sung to. Mentally, to negotiate eating noodles and salad and sibling rivalry. The logistics and importance of eating at the table, answering hard and ridiculously unrealistic questions while treating them as important, all the while encouraging number and letter recognition with a smile on my face. How to remember the wipes, nappies, a blanket, dummy, suncream, extra clothes and wrap before an outing. And that’s only for one kid. The bag packing, laundry folding, dry-Pronutro-stuck-to-the-bowl washing. It goes on, and on, and on… You get the point. Tip: just don’t ever sit down. It saves you inevitable disappointment. Trust me.

– The child in the middle seat of the car can quickly learn how to put the dummy in the newborns mouth. Win.

– Have a First Aid kit on you at all times. Your chances of needing it have skyrocketed exponentially.

Know your priorities/goals and gather as much energy as you can muster to CHASE THEM. Want to lose weight? Don’t even think about the run before hand, just throw your shoes on and walk out the front door. Grocery shopping: take a list (because baby brain x3 is outrageous) and hit it hard. Want to eat healthy? Just don’t waste time wandering down the sweet aisle. All it will result in is recognizing your incredibly weak self control and another voice message from your hubby of a screaming baby.

– As a mom, you can say no. “Can we watch TV/eat chocolate/beg for more treats/be demanding?” NO. And that’s that. Invigorating. (Why is this so hard to do?).

– You will love #3 as much as #1. It’s mathematical. It works out. It’s miraculous.

Expectation management. Be VERY realistic about expectations of outings, yourself, patience levels, frustrations with your hubby (internal ‘who is doing more’ calculations), potential sleep-deprived grumpiness, how much you can and can’t do in a day, how often you’ll have to reheat your coffee or never finish a sentence. We are not all Erin Brockovich.

– Always, always, always, ALWAYS use a breastfeeding pillow. I’ve learnt this the hard way THREE times now. Your functioning wrists, neck and back are essential for life. In case you were wondering. Also a yoga ball. Take my word here – just buy one.

– Make it a RULE to have ‘me time‘. Shopping, a massage, a haircut, a run, coffee or drinks with your girls. It.WILL.save.you.

Laugh at yourself. Enjoy a good cry in the shower. Roll with it. Wear that mom-bun with pride. Sleep with white noise on. Allow yourself to dream. Grow a Village. Pray. Sleep at every given opportunity.

Now I’m sure there are way more really deep, meaningful and profound things I’ve learnt, but obviously I can’t remember them – because I have 3 kids. That’s enough to remember.

The One about Hiring a Doula

Birth is expensive – I get it. I’m facing all of that right now. Scans, blood tests, Dr’s/midwife bills… it goes on and on. On top of that, I’ve just signed up for HypnoBirthing classes, and for first time mom and dads there are prenatal classes, prenatal yoga, lactation consults, buying a ga-zillion (often expensive) things. It’s all just hectic.

And then there is the doula, which doesn’t seem all that important when facing the million bills, unexpected needs, third trimester exhaustion and hubby asking “what on earth is a doula?”

I’ll save you my shpeel on why I think you really, really reaaaaaally should consider hiring a doula (I am a doula, and have had a doula at both previous births – so am a huge advocate) but I’ll just give you some food for thought, inspired by Wellness Mama Blogger, Katie.

if a doula was a drug

As a doula, it is an honour to be invited to participate in anyone’s birth team, and having done it numerous times, I am always inspired and in awe of labouring moms. There really is something so primal and raw about a mother labouring – it is beautiful and astounding to witness. While doula’s are certainly not the be-all-and-end-all of births, there is a lot of evidence that the presence of a doula can shorten labours and (in some cases, drastically) improve birth outcomes.

What is a Doula and What Does She Do? (Source)


What Does a Doula Do? The word “Doula” comes from the Greek word doule, meaning “handmaiden” or “woman who serves.” That is precisely the role of a doula for a laboring woman: to serve the laboring mother and help her have her desired birth outcome. 

In essence, a doula is a massage therapist, friend, therapist, DJ, court jester or anything else a mother needs her to be in labor. She is a shoulder to cry on or an encouragement when the mother thinks she can’t go on.  Most doulas go through a rigorous training program before assisting women in labor.

A doula is trained in labor and childbirth and provides continuous support to a laboring mother. Her focus is tending to and helping the mom and supporting the relationship of the laboring couple. Doulas often support laboring women by:

  • Providing continuous emotional and physical support,
  • Giving information if asked and helping the mother find resources to research her birth choices (before labor),
  • Using comfort measures like massage, suggesting different positions and helping with relaxation breathing,
  • Accommodating the mother’s wishes for the birth environment (low light, soft music, etc) to the extent possible in the place of birth,
  • Encouraging the mother to communicate with her doctor and to be informed about any procedures and interventions (a doula does NOT give medical advice or interfere with the doctor/mother relationship),
  • Supporting the father or birth partner in the best way to support the mother. A doula never replaces the very important role of the birth partner and a good doula will help the birth partner by suggesting ways that he can support the laboring mom and things that can improve their synergy in labour.

But WHY a Doula?

Women have complex needs during childbirth and the weeks that follow. In addition to medical care and the love and companionship provided by their partners, women need consistent, continuous reassurance, comfort, encouragement and respect. They need individualized care based on their circumstances and preferences.

Doulas are educated and experienced in childbirth and the postpartum period. We are prepared to provide physical (non-medical), emotional and informational support to women and their partners during labor and birth, as well as to families in the weeks following childbirth. We offer a loving touch, positioning and comfort measures that make childbearing women and families feel nurtured and cared for.

Doulas are also great at practical help: taking photos at your birth, moving your bags from one room to another, keeping you hydrated, massaging your lower back through a tough contraction, helping you understand ‘medical talk’ going on around you, filling the bath if you desire a water birth, and they’re always on the other side of the phone when your waters break, you lose your mucus plug, or you’re onto your 17th cup of red raspberry leaf tea…


Numerous clinical studies have found that a doula’s presence at birth

  • tends to result in shorter labors with fewer complications,
  • reduces negative feelings about one’s childbirth experience,
  • reduces the need for pitocin/oxytocin (a labour-inducing drug), forceps or vacuum extraction and cesareans,
  • reduces the mother’s request for pain medication and/or epidurals.

Research shows parents who receive support can:

  • Feel more secure and cared for,
  • Are more successful in adapting to new family dynamics,
  • Have greater success with breastfeeding,
  • Have greater self-confidence,
  • Have less postpartum depression.

So, how do you go about Hiring a Doula?

In South Africa, the best thing to do is to check out WOMBS (Facebook and website) as well as MamaBamba and just ask around. Chat to your gynae or midwife. Doulas gain the most business from word-of-mouth, because I think actions really do speak louder that words in this type of ‘industry’.

Interviewing a number of potential doulas is really important – but might feel a bit weird, right? Even if you’re not sold on the idea, I’d recommend just meeting with a couple and chatting stuff through, and soon enough you’ll get a feel for what they can do to support you in your birth and if you want them as part of your birth team.

Here’s a cheat sheet on what to ask (thanks to Wellness Mama)

Important Questions to ask when considering a Doula:

  1. What is your training? If certified, through what organization?
  2. Are you available around my due date?
  3. How many other clients do you have around this time?
  4. What is your philosophy about birth and how do you most often support women in labour?
  5. How many births have you attended?
  6. Have you attended births at my birth location and what were experiences there?
  7. Do you have experience with my caregiver?
  8. Do you have a backup doula and will I meet her?
  9. At what point in labor do you meet up with us?
  10. How do we contact you during labor? Are you always on call?
  11. What coping techniques do you find most helpful?
  12. What are your fees?
  13. Why did you become a doula?
  14. Have you given birth yourself? Did you have a doula? What were your birth experiences?

It is also really important to connect with your doula and feel like you can trust her. She will be with you during one of the most intimate and vulnerable times in your life, so your comfort with her is vital.

Money, money, money…

The cost of a doula varies greatly depending on where you live. Doulas who are working toward certification (student doulas or doulas-in-training) may offer discounted or free rates (WIN!), while some really experienced doulas can cost a pretty penny (but often offer awesome benefits such as a whole toolbox of tricks, use of a TENS machine, prenatal massage, training in HypnoBirthing and so on). In general in South Africa, the rate seems to be around R3000. For the most part, medical aid will not cover this cost, so needs to be calculated into your birth budget.

This might sound like a huge additional (and maybe even seemingly unnecessary) expense, but considering the additional expenses that can occur without the presence of a doula, can be just as much if not more. If for no other reason than protecting the birth experience and the deep (deeeeeep) memories associated with your birth experience, that was enough for me. In my mere 32 years of being alive, one thing I’ll always believe in is community, The Village, and it is in these times of very real vulnerability that continuous loving support can make or break. We were never ever meant to birth alone.

And so, have you ever had or considered using a doula? What was your experience?

Image credit: blissfulbeginningsdoulacare.wordpress.com, antipodeanmushroom.wordpress.com,


Meeting in the Doctor’s Waiting Room

Yesterday I took our eldest for a follow up appointment at our ophthalmologist. I’ve written a little about his story here but yesterday I anticipated a fairly similar outcome to our usual checkup. But the appointment was unusually, and beautifully hopeful. More on that later…

I was running a little late after dropping our youngest at my in-laws and rushed in at 2:02pm (our appointment was for 2 – and I hate being late). As I dashed in, a father snuck in the door behind me holding his young daughter. She was gorgeous, and could not have been older than 2 and a half. I could see immediately (from my limited experience) that she had a squint, even though I think most would probably not notice it. The receptionist looked at us both and requested ‘last name?’ to which I replied ‘Knighton-Fitt’ and so she turned to the gentleman and said, ‘Oh, so this is your first appointment?’ My heart broke as I remembered our first appointment, and I had such sympathy imagining the journey he was about to begin.

As the dad took the clipboard from the receptionist and got ready to recall their medical history on paper, I wanted to throw my arms around them and give them both a huge hug and tell them everything would be okay, but it’s easy to say that looking back.

cuuute pic of clay

There were so many perfect moments this afternoon in that doctors room. The fact that Clay couldn’t fit on my (now enormous) lap meant that I had to pop him on the BIG chair alone and watch him interact with our doctor himself. He would never had done that even 6 months ago. He answered the questions politely and watched the red ball, the cotton bud and the torch so obediently. He listened to everything the doctor said, and whispered the correct answers to all eye tests. His eyes had locked into place (NO.MORE.SQUINT), and his eyes were excellent, individually, both in strength and crisp clarity. ‘Proud mama’ doesn’t begin to describe it.

At the time of the 3D test, I held my breath. This was what we had no idea what to expect. While our 2 operations had corrected some mechanical issues, the development of 3D was never a certainty. His last appointment 3 months ago showed he had no 3D vision. (IE: He can kick a ball and do everything any kid with 20/20 vision can do, but give him a set of 3D glasses for a movie and it wouldn’t mean a thing to him. This can have larger consequences later on when it comes to future career choices and sports etc.). If you don’t develop this kind of 3D by age 4, chances are you might never develop it. Clayden has just turned 4.

So as he looked through the 3D glasses into the book and tried to grab the fly’s wings (which should stand up from the page) he grabbed… the… air. Our Dr looked at me with excitement and I knew it was good. If he had grabbed the page it would have indicated that his 3D was still non existent. Watching him digging his chubby innocent little fingers under the ‘wing’ made my heart leap and I had to grit my teeth to stop myself from bursting into tears. It was all such such such good news. After a 2yr long journey with Clay’s acquired esotropia, across 2 countries, with the help of 2 optometrists, 2 ophthalmologists, 2 operations, and a VILLAGE of support, prayer and a lot of money  (and tears) spent, this is what we’ve been waiting for. Our first appointment with ‘everything looks perfect’. (The only thing better is if we were to phase out the glasses completely, but one step at a time – only time will tell – and he is so stinking cute in his glasses, I think I’d miss them).


Eye Operation April 2015. 

As we left (I could have hugged our doc – but it would have been pretty random), I saw the dad and his daughter replace us in his room. One family out, another one in. Just like that. With a heavy camaraderie-like heart, I watched them start the journey we were (praise God) ending.

Clay eating ice cream

So many of my latest, more personal blog posts have been about kindness and awareness. This one is no different. To think we are all on our own personal, raw, delicate, challenging, sensitive and day-by-day journeys, needs to be recognised. People need to be SEEN. To that family who are beginning the journey correcting eye issues, to the family who have lost a baby that no one knows about, to the family who is struggling with infertility, or severe anxiety, or self-hate or a scary diagnosis. None of us have our stuff together (maybe on the outside it might look like it), so let’s all just be a little more sensitive and aware.

As our awesome (deeply missed and longed for) church in Vancouver used to say each time we met, “we are a community of Hope and Struggle”… and let’s allow ourselves to be just that.

About being Reprimanded by a ‘Gynae’ at Woolies

So here’s a funny story. I like coffee, right? And while I stayed away from coffee in my first pregnancy, I relaxed a bit in my second, and now with my third – well this one loves it. Pick your battles and everything in moderation are things we need to tell ourselves, daily.

So I’m standing in a queue at Woolies this morning with a Vida in my one hand (which could have been anything – hot choc, decaf, anything)  and a chocolate croissant in the other, and I hear this voice say “you know that’s not good for your baby?”. And in a sure state of shock and ‘did I actually just hear a stranger say that to me?’, I lifted to my head to hear the voice once again… “You’re talking to a gynecologist”.

I think I stammered some kind of response like “I’m fine, thanks” and “can I please pay for this croissant?”, to which the (supposed) gynecologist asked “don’t you feel your baby kick much more after a cup of coffee?”. At this point I’m trying desperately to a) wrap my head around if I’m really living this and am actually being publicly judged, b) get out of this conversation I really don’t want to have with a stranger at 9am on a Friday morning, and c) just pay for my croissant.

Said gynecologist then wished me well (I think with the seemingly small amount of social awareness he possessed, he had picked up that I was not interested in having this conversation about my bad parenting with a stranger in a public setting) and he went on his way. The very sweet cashier and I exchanged a brief conversation with lines such as ‘each to their own’ and ‘at least I’m not smoking dried paint and drinking petrol’. And that was that. Funnily (hang on, horrifically) enough, my pregnant colleague experienced a very similar thing recently.

be kind flowers

Whether or not you agree with drinking coffee or alcohol, eating cupcake batter or dying your hair while pregnant, that’s not really the point. Each person has their own story, and their own convictions, and while maybe I’d choose to use natural products and cloth diaper my kid, doesn’t ever mean that I should judge or condemn anyone who does something differently to me.


It got me thinking, as I sipped my evil coffee and nibbled on my wheaty, starchy, gluten, vegetable fat, and fake-flavour-filled croissant about how quickly we naturally judge others who choose different ways of doing things to what we do. Even as I blog about our greenISH life, I hope you never think I’ve got this down and that I’m all high and mighty. My story began from a personal conviction, NOT from wanting to tie a noose around my neck and label myself as perfectly ‘green’. I’m definitely not, and I’m happy to say so here. I write to inspire others, NEVER to make them feel judged. I’m failing miserably (and I sincerely apologise) if that has ever been the outcome.

So around all things pregnancy and birth (because that’s where my head is currently): I love this quote:


I know of a beautiful, mixed, vastly different cultural group of friends who have never had a sip of caffeine and those who have had numerous (but safe) alcoholic drinks in their pregnancies. From HypnoBirthing, to elective cesareans, to un-medicated home births. I have dear friends who have had cesareans which have saved their and their babies’ lives. Those pro vaccine, and those anti. Those who eat strictly paleo, and those who live on quick, sneaky convenience food. Those who exercise excessively throughout their pregnancies and those who glue themselves to the couch from Day 1. Breastfeeding, bottle feeding; stay-at-home moms, back-to-work moms. Last night you would have caught me listening to positive birth affirmations, on repeat, in a candle-lit bath; and ask my hubby, each night we are currently listening to Marie Mongan’s Rainbow Relaxation CD as we fall asleep (after the Olympic Artistic Gymnastics of course). Oh, we are all so very, very wonderfully different.

And so while I’ve spoken to many gynaes, midwives and birth professionals about the yes or no to coffee, let’s all just hold our tongues a little quicker before we think our (personal and unasked for) advice is what every stranger in the queue behind us wishes to hear. I’m not saying we should live in a society where we can’t offer our opinion (please no), but let’s make sure it’s within relationship, it’s healthy, encouraging, and loving, even if it does involve rebuke. Okay? Awesome.

Happy Weekend you beautifully different, and equally wonderful people!

That uncomfortable work-in-progress feeling…

All pics in this post are a personal reminder to myself of life LIVED, before things were perfect (if they ever get there – which I doubt they will)…

There is a lyric in an All Sons and Daughters song which says ‘I need you, oh how I need you’ and while not everyone may share what I believe in (the song refers to needing Jesus), wow, at times I’m made SO aware of my failings, my weaknesses and my insecurities. And it’s a bit of a relief to admit, right?

EVER-DAY, by virtue of the fact that I’m a mom and a wife, I’m made fully aware (often it’s blinding) of my weaknesses. That’s what marriage and parenting will offer you. No doubt.

Backdrop pic edit

So here we are, in our new home. We’re 7ish weeks away from welcoming our third child, and first daughter into our family. I’m so fortunate. Lovely home, great neighbourhood, beautiful healthy family, supportive and hands on parents, incredibly generous and thoughtful in-laws, friends who I still can’t believe are friends with ME (they are THAT awesome), health, ability, skill, means… And I’m mortifyingly unsatisfied (give me grace, I’m also 33 weeks pregnant and HYPER emotional/sensitive).

I’d choose skimmed walls, downlighting and Liberia coloured walls over a years supply of pre-cooked meals, dummies, wipes and the cutest Cotton On Baby gear out there. I’d choose an interior designer to redo my entire house than have babysitting offered to me free and at any given time. And I’d definitely choose a 15 hour labour over a 2 hour one if it meant someone would magically rip up our hideously stained carpet and replace it with something… ANYTHING! My poor husband is up at sparrow to get to work and home again at a decent time, and is often welcomed home by a ratty, exhausted, (quite possibly) sloppily dressed, pregnant princess asking (hinting) at if ‘we’ (we know it’s not a ‘we’) should paint this room, or skim that room, or replace the door handles here or move the shelves there or or or, and if we (‘we’) can do it RIGHT NOW. And if we’re honest, I’m not up for paint fumes, carrying heavy stuff or climbing onto things so one could consider me almost entirely useless. I make soup. And a lot of it. But I’m also very pregnant and the urge to NEST (which is REAL) has hit an all time high.


So selfishly, I want to put EVERYTHING on pause, have life be perfect, and then we can all unpause and continue. Let’s do that shall we?

family shoot

But that’s not REAL life. That’s not how this works (and I want to burst into big blubbery sobs just typing that truth). My revelation? Aren’t we ALWAYS a work-in-progress? Be it in our careers, our weight or appearance, our home renovations (or upgrade or needing new linen or curtains or size bed or to have that slightly ‘nicer’ postal code), our marriage and parenting skill (or lack of), OR our desperation to be married or a parent. Are we not constantly working on our image or reputation or the impression we like to portray on social media? Goodness, it doesn’t always need to be flashy – I’m constantly challenged that I’m not giving enough back to my community, or helping at some non-profit. And so while I said I wouldn’t hang our most precious Vancouver artwork ‘until we get into our new house’ – that has now been shifted to ‘when our walls are flat’, and then ‘Liberia coloured’. Okay, then I’ll hang it up. It’s like never burning that scented candle which has now, I’m fairly certain, no scent left. Shame.

So here’s my challenge to you as I very reluctantly and painfully turn this around and stare it in the face myself. How do we live to our fullest, in this place of ‘not yet’. I see so many similarities in the life I stumble through in my faith, in my marriage, in my parenting, in my wanting to achieve. How can we find genuine fulfilment in the undone, the imperfect? It’s a good question, huh? Dare to offer any suggestions?


I am a textbook work-in-progress. I think we all are. And I think creating the image that we have it all together is not only brutally unhelpful for those struggling, but, is a big fat lie. Hunger itself is a symptom of knowing we are not self-sustainable. Dirt (as in dust and mould and all other frustrating and gross unstoppable forces) will always be there. Like split ends after a fresh hair cut. We cannot control everything… please, I can barely control my kids without the threat of erasing ‘Blaze and the Monster Machines’, Saturday morning pancakes, or some form of sugar.

And it’s okay. You’re doing okay. Let’s be in this crazy uncomfortable place together, and allow it to be okay, to live in the mess, and the dirt, and the celebration, and the sorrow, and the joy of our very beautiful reality.

And hold me to hanging that artwork…

kids standing on beach