A journey into Parenthood & dealing with loss

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Christmas: Expectation vs Reality

Tonight we took Kyle and Ayla on a family outing to the Botanic Gardens Trail of Lights.

As the day progressed I was getting as excited as my darling little three year old firecracker.

Memories flooded back to me of going to the Wemmer Pan lights as a child. Wandering through the displays, looking at all the Christmas scenes. Watching the musical fountains as we ate hot dogs or vetkoek. Wonderful childhood memories. Memories too of my time in America. Driving around to see the decorated houses. Going to the state park near Annapolis to drive through their light displays.

The anticipation was growing and I was really looking forward to it. Dressed the kids up on matching outfits. I knew that we would go and get photos with Santa tonight.

And then we arrived. To chaos! Cars everywhere, long queues already visible, before we had even found parking. My heart was already starting to sink. I don’t do well in queues, especially ones that feel disorganised. And Kyle is even worse! Bracing ourselves we joined the queue. It was probably close to 30 minutes before we got inside.

Pretty coloured lights wrapped around the trees. It was a magical setting. We began wandering around. Elves, fairies, Olaf from Frozen, a Nut Cracker – lots of photo opportunities with dressed up characters.

Santa’s Grotto, by the Husky Rescue, was set up and the queue wasn’t too bad to get our pic taken. So we decided to do that early and then wander around once it was nice and dark.

Ayla cried in Santa’s arms, so it ended up a family photo, mostly dominated by the gorgeous husky in the pic. And the. I queued again. This time to pay and get the print. Well 45 minutes later and I was done. By this stage Ayla was losing the plot and Kyle was starting to get tired. We rushed around the rest of the display, missing a fair amount of the lights and displays. Completely missing the food trucks (which from the reviews sound like they ran out of food pretty early), missed most of the charities tables and just wanted to get out of there.

When did my anticipation and excitement disappear? I wish I knew. I had so wanted it to be a magic evening as a family, but in the end it was just a lot of queueing, for a mediocre family photo with Santa and some lights.

I’m hoping that I can find some holiday spirit sometime soon and findthe place inside me where I can cope with queues and crowds. It’s that time of year – they’re everywhere.

Kyle on the other hand loved it. Maybe it was the magical evening he was hoping for. I really hope so. Maybe my parents were equally frazzled after my childhood visits to Wemmer Pan. Maybe kids just remember the good stuff. Here’s hoping!


Bianca & Brian’s Homebirth

My photographer’s blog about my birth!

Thank you Lara for being so amazing.

Lara's Lifestyle Photography

A celebration; that moment when life begins.

From the time a woman knows that she is pregnant, everything changes.  The way she looks at the world, the way she works  – nothing is left to chance anymore.  Decisions are thought through more carefully, and much consideration is given to the all-important birth plan. While it is a given that a mom may not always get the birth plan she hopes for, Bianca and Brian are proof that sometimes, if you plan properly, you can get exactly what you wanted.

Bianca and I bonded at a networking meeting – Hello Boss Creative.   It was here that she first mentioned the idea of having her birth photographed.  I have to admit I felt quite honoured to even be up for consideration.  It is usually a private moment and would be my first birth shoot that I would photograph.  Actually, I’m not sure…

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Rainbow Baby 2.0 – Labour & Birth Story

** contains photos of nudity – NSFW **

10 July 2017

Mrs G had just returned from her holiday to France and needed assistance. I'd had a lazy morning, we really needed the cash, so I agreed to go through. While I was there I had a few contractions, but nothing major. I thought it was possibly from sitting at a desk, after being lazy all morning. I left her house at 1530 and drove home. In the car I had 3 contractions that almost took my breath away. The ones you need to do the focussed breathing through.

I got home just before 4pm and decided to lie down for a bit to see what happened with the contractions. I also started timing them.

They were still fairly erratic, but a pattern was emerging. With Kyle I had done this so many times when it wasn't the real thing that I was sure this was the case again. I decided to go have a warm bath.

In the bath I had one or two contractions and then they petered out completely. I stayed in the bath about 45 mins and the contractions didn't come back, but it was warm and comfortable so I enjoyed the peace while the in-laws were keeping Kyle entertained. I got out the bath and before getting dressed lay down for a few minutes again. The contractions started back up very soon after getting out the bath! But this time they were even more erratic!

I messaged Brian to head home exactly on time and then carried on with my evening. I had a feeling so offered to lie with Kyle at bed time. I just knew it might be the last night he was my only child. In the 45 mins it took for him to settle I had 9 contractions! I hadn't taken my phone in, so just counted them. After the snuggles and him drifting off, I joined B and the inlaws at the table for dinner – Prego rolls and chips with apple pie for pudding. I was clearly fuelling up, because I had two helpings of apple pie. Later I regretted that! I ate dinner rocking on my yoga ball and had a few fairly strong contractions. Strong enough that I needed to stop thinking and not have people talking to me.

I moved to the couch and continued timing contractions. I also suggested that B set everything up for the water birth, but even then I wasn't 100% sure that this was it. When he was needing help with setting up and I couldn't concentrate during the contractions I decided it was time to call Leigh, my doula. That was at 20:41.

She arrived just before 21:00 and helped to get the pool and everything else set up. Soon after she arrived I had a succession of contractions 2,5 minutes apart. At that point we decided it was prudent to call Marianne. At this stage I still thought she was in Mooi River and would be 2 hours. Thankfully with the updates I had been giving she had made an intuitive decision and driven down to Melissa's house earlier in the evening. So they both arrived just after 21:45. At this stage I also called my photographer, Lara, and she arrived just after 22:00.

I remember at this stage fussing with my playlist as I couldn't get my phone and the Apple TV to talk nicely, and I really wanted my soundtrack. B eventually fixed it by rather using blue tooth.

The pool was almost ready for me to get in when Marianne and Milly arrived. Before getting in Marianne took my vitals and listened to baby's heart rate. Although the contractions were intense, I was still having comfortable breaks between them and was able to chat and laugh between contractions.

I climbed in the pool and was conscious of 2Cellos playing. I still commented to Leigh how much I enjoy them and that I hadn't included their Game of Thrones medley because I thought it might not be appropriate. She had walked out the room and came back as the GoT theme song started. We both had a giggle. She did a beautiful essential oil massage of my neck and shoulders in between contractions.

I was very aware of not wanting movement when I was in a contraction, but I loved the feel of her hands on me during the contraction.

For the next 45 mins B focused on boiling water and bring pots and kettles through to warm up the water in the bath and also to get the bath to at least the minimum depth. Our geyser barely made it half way to minimum!

As the contractions got stronger and more intense, I changed position and also began lowing through the contraction. At this stage Leigh began with counter pressure during the contraction on my lower back.

It was during a break in contractions during this phase that I remember commenting to Leigh that everything seemed to be moving along pretty quickly! She just smiled at me. Little did I realise how quickly things were moving along.

After a little while Leigh showed B how to do the counter pressure and it was amazing to know that it was my super supportive husband who was now helping me through the contractions!

It wasn't long and I moved into transition. My moaning changed from cows lowing to more of a whale call! I also chose to move into a position on my back again. Supported by B who's hands went numb from me holding his forearms so tight!

Shortly after that change Marianne appeared from the bedroom and mentioned to me that it was getting more intense. It was amazing to have her calm reassurance that she noticed and I didn't have to do anything else – she was on top of things.

I was half expecting her to begin checking me and doing all sorts of things, but instead she positioned herself in my line of sight and instructed me how to change my breathing to cope better. I truly felt that this was my birth, and my body was doing this the way it wanted, without anyone telling it or me what to do.

The intense desire to bear down was incredibly. The first sensation soon after was of my waters breaking. It literally felt like a water balloon had been popped out of my vagina. It all happend in the water of the pool, but I had the sense that you would have heard the pop were it not under water! I remember seeing the greenish liquid flow out into the pool – it's an image that I think only I saw, and so I really want to paint it. Which is strange, because I haven't painted anything creative in years.

Marianne continued to make suggestions about how best to breathe in order to keep supplying my baby and body with sufficient oxygen. I remember becoming conscious of being quite loud and glad that Kyle wasn't there for this.

The intense desire to push continued and soon I could feel my baby crowning. The other sensation that I don't recall from my first birth was actually feeling the baby kicking and squirming as they descended the birth canal.

The head birthed and on the next contraction I pushed my baby out entirely. Marianne scooped baby up and put baby on my chest. I briefly tried to check the gender, but the umbilical cord was thick and between the legs and I wasn't able to see clearly at that point. It was at that exact moment that Kyle called from his bedroom. B went to get him for him to meet the new baby.

K's first words were "you forgot about me!" We had originally agreed that we would wake him up to watch the birth, but I realised while I was in transition that it might have been a bit loud and traumatic for him (he hates loud noises), and so didn't remind anyone to get him. He actually woke at the perfect time. He checked out the baby and then seemed most excited about being up in the middle of the night and being able to play! Typical 3 year old!

He went to play outside on the patio and it was then that I finally could check whether I had had a boy or a girl.

It was a girl!

The girl I have always wanted. The girl we thought we wouldn't ever have. The Johnson family is mostly boys in almost every generation. This was my seventh pregnancy, four of my losses we didn't know the gender, the one loss that was tested was a girl with a genetic disorder and we believed that that might be the reason behind the other losses. So as much as I wanted a girl, we had sort of steeled ourselves to the fact that we might only have boys.

But she is a girl! A perfect, healthy, beautiful girl!

Ayla Gillian Johnson!

Ok. Back to the birth story…

Kyle played, I snuggled our baby girl and we all waited for the placenta to be birthed. Once it was clear it had separated I was told to push it out. It passed without much effort and Marianne proceeded to check it. My team of self proclaimed Birth Nerds, Milly and Leigh, simultaneously commented on how "juicy" the placenta was. It was thick and intact. I found it really interesting to watch Marianne check it.

Blood was taken from the cord for standard testing. Since I am Rhesus Negative we needed to know baby's blood group. She is also Rhesus Negative, so there was no need for the Anti-D shot.

I then needed to hand the baby to B, in order for me to be helped out of the pool to be checked. This was much sooner than I had handed Kyle over, and Brian was more than pleased to be able to snuggle his new baby girl. We all moved to the bedroom.

I was checked. Only a minor tear in the same place that I tore with Kyle. Not bad enough to require stitches. Bed rest, keeping my legs together and nori were prescribed. Everything healed beautifully within about 10 days.

Ayla was weighed and measured and given the once over.

The absolute highlight of my home birth was being able to stay in bed with my gorgeous family straight after my baby's birth! No nurses checking vitals every few hours, no unfamiliar noises, familiar pillow and comfortable sheets.

I had completely lost track of time, as had my photographer, Lara. During a lull she moved the curtains to look out the window. When I asked if everything was ok, she said she was checking to see if the sun was coming up. I laughed and told her it was only 23:38! Less than two hours since she had arrived! My baby was born at 23:11, a little over an hour and a half after my midwife arrived!

By 01:00 everyone was gone and B and I sat in the dark staring at our miracle! Life was good!

The Beginning…

* All photographs by Lara Baker Photography!

It’s been a while

I apologise again for the delay. I’ve been really bad at even reading my blog roll, never mind updating my own blog. There really isn’t much of a reason really.

My pregnancy is still going very smoothly. I am 38 weeks on Monday and BSquirt is expected to arrive any time in the next 3 weeks. Dr P will induce on 3 June if baby hasn’t arrived by then on his/her own terms yet. I’m really hoping that an appearance will be made some time from 10-14 days from now.

I have had a surprisingly easy pregnancy, that I feel terrible complaining at all. However my pelvic bone pain is now almost constant, and baby hasn’t even engaged yet. I’m not sleeping well at all, and pretty much haven’t the whole pregnancy. I’ve been very lucky with very few other symptoms. I am still quite mobile and am still driving fairly happily. I do find walking up stairs a chore, but otherwise I’m feeling pretty fit.

All our shopping is done and we are as ready as we will ever be for baby to arrive. The best news is that I was told today that I have won a competition I entered in a magazine. The prize is a pop up travel cot that we just love. I saw it early on in the pregnancy and just knew it was perfect for us. So excited that we have won it. I can’t wait for it to be delivered!

I thought I would also share a few things that I have been watching on Netflix that have been really good. I watched The Business of Being Born and the follow up documentaries More Business of Being Born. I got so much useful information from these shows and really felt more empowered about my birth. I watched A Doula Story and enjoyed that too, although not really relevant to my own life. I then discovered Call the Midwife – a BBC series about midwives in the East End of London in the late 50s, early 60s. What a really fun show! I am loving it. I’m hoping season 3 will load on Netflix soon!

I can’t believe that I’m just over 2 weeks away from my due date! This has truly been an amazing experience and I am feeling calmer about the impending birth.

To all the other pregnant women on the blogs I follow – I am thrilled for you and wish you everything of the best, even if I don’t always comment or like your posts. You are always in my thoughts!

“Mommy, Somebody Needs You.”

After a particularly tough couple of nights, with little sleep before BSquirt is even here, I am going to take this post to heart and make sure that I enjoy every tiring, exhausting minute of the next few years. Because as this post states – the time will pass way too quickly.

Ever since we brought our new daughter home, her older brothers have been the first to tell me when she is crying, whimpering, or smelling a little suspicious.  “Somebody needs you,” they say.  I have no idea how this little saying started, but at first it sort of annoyed me.  I could be enjoying a quick shower… “Mommy, somebody needs you.  The baby is crying.”  Or, sitting down for a second, quite aware that the baby was beginning to stir from a nap…. “Mama, somebody needs you!”  Okay!  I get it already!  And not to mention that the newborn’s needs pale in comparison to the needs of 2 little boys.  Somebody always needs a snack, a band-aid, a different sock, ice cubes in their water, a NEW Paw Patrol, a stream of snot wiped, a hug, a story, a kiss.  Some days never seem to end, and the monotony of being “needed”…

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Everything’s ok, just being super lazy.

I feel bad cos I haven’t posted an update. Everything is going well and I have started feeling The BSquirt move. We have had a super lazy festive season with just the two of us this year. The laziness has moved into all areas of my life.

I promise to do a proper post soon, but wanted to just touch base and let everyone know that all is well.

I have been reading posts and commenting when I feel I have something to say.

I wish all my blogosphere friends the very best for 2014!!

Friday Giggle


This morning hubby asked what I wanted for breakfast. I answered “food” because I wasn’t sure what we had. The picture above is what I walked in on in the kitchen.

At least my Friday started with a giggle!

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