Update

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My last update was me swearing to write more, and i didn’t. Oops.

The truth is that it is very hard to run a blog, a household and work a full time job, I know most of you do it, but I’m not sure how!

Things are going well here. I am still working full time from home so that Emily can stay home with me. It is working well, I really do miss going in to the office though and do get starved for adult company. My mom gets lots of phone calls during the day and Shaun has to listen to me chat incessantly when he gets home. I enjoy my job though, even though it can be very disheartening at times. I am learning a lot.

Emily is getting so big. She is walking and falling all over and is learning quickly to be a princess from her big sister. She has three and a half teeth and wears size 12 – 18 and a size 4 nappy. She sleeps so well and will only wake up three times a night most nights. She fights going to sleep usually and we still feed to sleep for most naps and bedtime. We all sleep together in the main room and I don’t see that changing anytime soon, Though we may move Lily onto a mattress on the floor at some stage. Emily wants to sleep next to her sister every night, and be sleep I mean play. She loves Lily and wants to be with her every second she can.

Lily is the most amazing child. She is sweet and polite and kind. She is still very shy and is taking a while to adjust to school and her new class and teacher. She will get there though and I know it is the right thing to send her, she gets so bored staying at home. She loves to dress up and always has her doll, handbag and cell phone at close reach. She has long conversations on her “phone” with her granny and nana and is really starting to amaze me with her attention to detail. She remembers bizarre things from months ago and will tell me them at random times. I have to watch what I say! She has started telling me off for swearing and constantly berates Shaun and I for fighting (we don’t fight that much!). She look after Emily amazingly, feeds her, gets her water, takes her clothes off for bath time, helps her up and down stairs and is just generally a huge help and the most wonderful big sister. She is gives hugs and kisses and love so easily and is just the smartest and best kid I know!

My dad leaves in March, I am trying to not think about it…

My brother is coming to visit though! I can’t wait!

Conversations with my three year old

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We have these conversations EVERYDAY with Lily.

L: Mommy, what colour is your hair?

S: Blonde

L: What colour is your face

S: erm, peach (we try to be politically correct; Shaun once said Caucasian and got a very weird look from Lily)

L: what colour is your nose?

L: what colour is your legs?

(This goes on for a while. Sometimes I change it up and answer green or blue, but she gets cross when I do!)

L: Mommy, on Monday I’m going to see Grandpa Kulu (this is her word for my dad)

S: On Monday? I don’t think so my babe

L: yes I am

S: on Monday you’re going to school baby

L: when then?

S: I’m not sure my baby, Grandpa Kulu is very busy

L: you phone him and see when he’s coming to play in my Wendy house

M: ok

*looking out the window in the car*

L: mommy what’s that man doing?

S: which man?

L: that man there

S: that one?

L: no

S: that one?

L: NO

S: that one?

L: NO Mommy!

S: which one Bean?

L: the one in the blue shirt

S: oh. He’s walking to work.

L: why?

S: because he doesn’t have a car so he is walking

L: why

S: because not everyone has cars

L: why

S: because it’s expensive to have a car

L: why

S: sigh. Because it is my love

L: why

…this goes on for a while

*reading her book in the car*

L: mommy look here

S: I can’t look baby, I’m driving

L: look here, what’s this?

S: I can’t see my baby I’m driving

L: why?

S: because we’re going to school

L: mommy look here!

S: I can’t Bean I’m driving and it’s not safe for me to turn around

L: why

S: because if I turn around to look at your book I might crash and then you and your sister will be very sore and have to go to the doctor and daddy will be very sad. It’s my responsibility to get us to school safely…cue long lecture…

L: silence

L: silence

L: mommy look here…

L: Mommy are you going for a hair cut?

S: no, not today

L: why not?

S: because I don’t have any money

L: I’m going to buy you some money

L: mommy I’m going to the shops (Usually in her sisters walking ring, or pushing her trolley. She will have one of her handbags over her shoulder, a shopping bag, her sunglasses and a baby with her)

S: what are you going to buy?

L: coffee, ice cream, chocolate and chips!

L: mommy, what colour is your……..eyes/hair/cheeks/knees

(We have this conversation at least five times a day)

L: mommy we can’t go to school, the puppies are lonely!

L: Emily is catching me! (Runs away shrieking with laughter while Emily stares at her)

L: mommy, one day when you were small, you rode on Grandpa Kulus bike. I was a baby in your tummy. (Weeks ago I told her about our visit to Amsterdam and riding on the back on my dad’s bike. I was six, so she was definitely not in my tummy.)

Lily. I. Don’t. Know. Why. Day 2 of Writers Boot Camp.

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We were standing in Pick n Pay today, waiting to buy biltong. The conversatuon went like this:

Lily: “mommy what are you doing?”

Me: “waiting for the lady to come so that we can get some biltong”

Lily: “why?”

Me: “because I’m hungry”

Lily: “why?”

Me: “because I didn’t eat lunch”

Lily “why”

Me: “because I was working and didn’t get chance”

Lily: “why”

Me: “because I was working”

Lily: “why”

Me: “because I have to work to make money”

Lily: “why”

Me: “because we need money to live and buy food and pay for the house”

Lily: “why”

Me: “because that’s the rules”

Lily: “why”

Me: “because that’s what society says”

Lily: “why”?

Me: “because”

Lily: “why”

Me: LILY I DON’T KNOW WHY. 

Lately, those are my five favorite words. 

Topic for day 1: Even if you know me well, you don’t know this. #writersbootcampza @Writersbootcmp

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I have birth nightmares often.

 

 I had two difficult births; to use the word traumatic feels wrong because I had the best possible outcomes. I have two healthy girls, who were discharged immediately with no complications for either of them. This doesn’t stop the flash backs and nightmares though. I feel like a traitor to the natural birth cause by saying this, but I am terrified to even think of falling pregnant, because I do not know how I will birth. The thought of another natural birth paralyzes me with fear. Am I proud to say that I birthed naturally? Yes. Do I wish it went differently? No. I wouldn’t change anything because who knows what the final outcome would have been. I wouldn’t change anything; I just don’t want to do it again. I don’t want to remember the fear, the pain, the uncertainty and the exhaustion.

 

I hate saying this. I hate it because I don’t want anyone to read this and decide against a natural birth, it was one the most amazing experiences. I am glad I did it and that I got through it, it has shown me how strong I can be. This doesn’t change the fact that I can’t think about the mask going over my face, the midwife telling me that there is no time for an epidural , and the feeling of being stitched up while not numb, without getting goose bumps and a sinking feeling in my stomach. It doesn’t stop me having nightmares about going into labour and knowing what was coming, while trying everything in my power to prevent it. One day they will stop though, time heals all wounds.

 

 

Madness, a quick update to get back into blogging.

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The last few months have been insane. Here is a quick recap of the madness, starting in September last year:

 

We had planned to travel up to JHB for my mom’s wedding at the end of September. We made a week of it and had a bit of a family holiday before the end of year sprint. A few days before we left Shaun got a call from a company in Pretoria asking him to come in for an interview. We quickly shifted plans a bit and he attended the interview the day before the wedding. The next week was spent talking and planning and trying to not freak out. We got home and he got the call that he got it; they wanted him to start 1Nov. That’s where the madness started. Shaun resigned, I spoke to my boss and organized a plan to work remotely, Lily was meant to start a new school the day after we found out, I cancelled that and was lucky enough that her old school could keep her for another month. We gave notice on our flat, booked a truck and started packing. My mom found us somewhere to live in Centurion and researched schools, hospitals and gynes. I was going to only meet my new doctor at 36 weeks pregnant. Shaun then remembered he was writing exams the first week of November. This threw us. He spoke to his new company and they were ok for him to start the 2nd week but he couldn’t change his exam venue. This meant that he would have to stay in Durban while I moved us and drove Lily up to JHB alone. At 32 weeks pregnant. I did it with no problem, except that half way into the almost 6 hour drive, Lily spiked a fever of 39 degrees. Quick stop at the Montrose rest stop, break open the car “just in case” kit – wet face cloth, thermometer and panado, followed by ice cream and we were back on the road. She wasn’t well for a few days and I ended up having to find a doctor in my new town, the first week we lived there.

 

Shaun passed all his exams, drove up and started work the following day. That was 7th November. Lily started school the same day and went on holiday a month later. I was frantically working from home in that time, to try and get as much done as possible before the baby came. I met my new doctor on the 28th Nov and booked my bed in the new hospital. I was 36 weeks. Lily finished school on the 6th December, and we spent a week together, me moaning and uncomfortable and her painting, drawing and bored to tears with a mommy who could barely walk anymore. On about the 12 Dec, we decided to buy the house we were living in. It had suddenly gone on the market and was too perfect to let it pass by. Shaun got the ball rolling and the following day, I went into labour. I had only met my doctor twice but as you all know, she didn’t deliver Emily anyway as she wasn’t on call. I didn’t know gynes did that, but I was pretty annoyed. Anyway, the new gyne was lovely and I will return to her again. I far preferred her to the original doctor, who was rushed and cold.

 

I was in hospital for the weekend and came home on the Sunday arvie. I was very sore, in a ‘this isn’t quite right kind of way’. A few days into it and I couldn’t take it, I went back to my original gyne. I was a sobbing mess, could barely walk for the pain. She told me I was depressed and prescribed anti depressants. She had a quick look at my cut, said my stitches were torn and told me to take pain killers. As I was leaving I started crying again and told her this pain wasn’t right. I was so sore, she prescribed antibiotics for a bladder infection, without testing my urine or examining me. That was the Friday. The following Wednesday was Christmas day. I had been feeling fine but woke up that morning a bit sore. Took two panados and a suck it up pep talk. The following day I woke up in agony. I couldn’t walk, couldn’t get out of bed, shaking with fever and just feeling horrendous. It was boxing day, so short of going to the hospital not much was to be done. The following morning I went to see the stand in gyne (cue gyne number FOUR). She saw that I had an infected uterus and kidney, due to an untreated bladder infection, turns out the rushed prescription of antibiotics weren’t enough. She prescribed strong antibiotics and to come back in three days, after three days I was still in a lot of pain but infection markers were going down. She advised a hospital stay with IV antibiotics, but the thought was to terrible. How could I do that with a toddler and newborn over the festive season? I decided to stay home and wait it out. Anyway, the long and the short of it is this: birth and recovery sucked. Six months later and I’m still struggling with recovery. I’m glad I have my two healthy girls and don’t have to do it again.

 

Emily was born 13th December. I started working again full time on the 1st of March. Juggling working, a baby and a busy toddler and a husband who is travelling a lot has it’s challenges. This is my excuse for being a crappy blogger. I am going to try my best to blog weekly from now on, This post has been thrown together so that you all know what we have been up to and why I have been so quiet. I promise to post more updates on our adventures starting now…

 

 

 

Never underestimate the power of a good scream.

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Never underestimate the power of a good scream.

‘I cannot believe this is happening to me again’. This thought went around and around my head, as I moved in and out of focus, waiting for the gas to start to work again. It was happening again. How was this even possible?

It all started a few hours before…

I woke up with cramps and a feel of anticipation. I had spent the last nine months saying that I hoped she would come on the 13th as it was a long weekend, my mom was still here before her holiday and I knew how over pregnancy I would be. I was past the point of ‘over it’ however. My dad took Lily and I out for breakfast and I had cramps on and off but nothing to say ‘this is it’. We came home and Lily and I spent the afternoon painting and bouncing on the ball, the pains were getting worse, bad enough to stop talking and walking. Eventually I decided to make an executive decision and call it. I sent Shaun a message saying ‘I think this is it’. He called me back, doubtful. He thought I was being dramatic. I told him to come home now. I then called the labour ward and told them that I would be in in a few hours and I started timing my contractions. They were about 6 mins apart so I called my mom and told her to make her way to my house as well to look after Lily. I started to prepare Lily for a night without us and made sure my bags were ready. I then wrote a list of Lilys eccentric vocab for my mom, so that she knew what she was talking about! I actually just needed something to do, to push down the terror that was building. As you all know, I had spent the last nine months swinging between calm acceptance of the inevitable, and crippling fear of a repeat experience. I wrote about it here for parent 24. I felt quite calm as I sorted and prepared though, I had decided to focus on the baby not the birth and knew that whatever happened, I would be a mom of two soon.

Shaun came home and started playing with Lily and making no move to rush or get ready. He hadn’t even changed out of his work clothes. When I demanded he move it he said ‘why? We’re not really going to the hospital are we?’. He was totally in denial. My response wasn’t polite but got him moving. My mom arrived and Shaun and I left. We got to the hospital, making bets on how long we would be there for. He said she would only be here on Sunday. I said before midnight.

We got to the hospital and the midwife checked me, I was 3cms with irregular contractions. Cervix was very thin and ready though. She suggested walking and bouncing for an hour to try break my water. My new doctor wasn’t on call, so after all my planning I would be delivering with an unknown doctor anyway. I decided to remain zen and not let it bother me. They called the doctor on call who agreed with the walking and bouncing and reassessing in an hour. They didn’t want to induce in anyway as I wasn’t quite 38 weeks yet, but were happy to let nature take its course. So we walked and bounced and at 8pm I was checked by a different midwife who said nothing had changed. In fact she said my cervix was still thick and far back. Not a good sign. It was two totally different diagnosis but what could we do? She went off to call the doctor and came back with a plan. They advised I have a dose of pethidine and atarax which would take the edge off the contractions and allow me to sleep for four hours. As I was only 3cms I was in for a very long night, especially since I was in a lot of pain already and the contractions weren’t dilating me anyway. She said in four hours they would wake me and check and reassess. They planned on inducing by breaking my waters in the morning. They didn’t want to do anything in the evening as less staff on call and just generally safer during the day. We hummed a haaed for a while. We were both totally against pethidine but also knew that I needed sleep in order to have the sterength to survive labour. The midwife offered a half dose but assured us that a full dose would wear off long before baby came. We decided to do it. I was tired and sick of being in pain. I wanted to go home to my Lily. So they gave me the jab and we settled in for a few hours nap. Shaun was going to go home and come back in the morning. We called my mom and said he would be home shortly, he was going to wait for me to fall asleep.

Thank goodness he did!

As I dozed, listening to the beeps of Candy crush that Shaun was playing, another contraction hit. It was sore and I complained loudly but knew the meds would kick in soon. A few minutes later another one hit, this one very sore. I breathed through it and as it ended I felt a pop. My water had broken. Shaun ran to get the midwife and she came in and checked. I was 4cms. She went out to call the doctor to tell her and as she left another contraction hit. This one was really bad and I told Shaun to go and get her and tell her to call the anaethatist because I wanted my epidural now. She came back in and checked me and didn’t remove her hand as I had another contraction.

That was the first time I swore at her.

The next second I had a gas mask on my face and she said to me ‘Shannon, you’re not going to believe this but you’re 9cms. This baby will be here in half an hour. The doctor won’t get here in time. There is no time for an epidural’

No time for an epidural. The words echoed in my mind as the gas kicked in. They floated around the room and out the door. Then I lost control. I screamed at Shaun. Told him that this was not happening and he can’t let it and how could he do this to me? I swore at the damn midwife again to get her hand out of my fucking vagina it hurt! Then I floated away again…

‘Shaz you need to focus, the doctor is almost here. Don’t push’

‘Please please get me an epidural, I won’t move I promise. I had it last time, I promise I won’t move’

‘Shaz you need to stop screaming’

‘ I’ll stop screaming if you get me an epidural!’

‘You need to stay in control. Breathe don’t scream’

‘I want a fucking epidural NOW’

‘Ok Shaz the doctor is here you can push’

‘I can’t I’m going to die’

‘You’re not going to die, push’

And so I pushed and I screamed and I pushed and a baby came out of me. Instantly I sobered up, all thoughts of gas and pain and epidurals gone. Shaun cut the cord and she was handed to me. Unfortunately the doctor started stitching me up right then and that was a whole new pain, but Emily Grace Richards was here. After 45 minutes from 3cms to birth. She was here. I was in shock. I couldn’t believe I had just given birth completely drug free. I was still not feeling any effects of the pethadine. I was terrified it would hit any minute though and insisted I get Emily latched before I passed out into a drugged sleep. She latched well though and we spent a few hours getting to know eachother before she was taken away for her paed tests and I went to sleep. I still couldn’t believe she was here. Before midnight. I had been right 🙂

She came out face up, this, the gyne informed me the next morning, meant that instead of having to open up 9cms, I had to open up 11.5cms. Which is why I had to be cut again, even though she was 600g smaller then Lily and I could push effectively as I didn’t have an epidural. Because it was all so fast, she didn’t have time to turn her so out she came, face up. This is why I was in so much pain after the birth. There was a lot of damage.

It has been just over two weeks and I am still recovering slowly. The recovery has been difficult this time as I am a lot more damaged then last time, although thankfully it is mainly physical. I do not feel as traumatised as I did after Lily was born. This time I know that things happened as they should, naturally and without us forcing the issue. She came when she was ready and I’m happy with that. Natural birth is sore, very very sore. I don’t know how women do it more then once!

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The story of the two wolves…

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There is a story about a Navajo grandfather who once told his grandson, “Two
wolves live inside me. One is the bad wolf, full of greed and laziness, full
of anger and jealousy and regret. The other is the good wolf, full of joy
and compassion and willingness and a great love for the world. All the time,
these wolves are fighting inside me.” “But grandfather,” the boy said.
“Which wolf will win?” The grandfather answered, “The one I feed.”

For the last few years, I have worked on my good wolf. I have nurtured her
and fed her, I have pumped her full of positivity and self-confidence. Thus
I have grown. I have gained so much confidence in myself as a person, a
mother, a wife and a daughter. I have learnt who I am, and who I want to be.
I have discovered what is important to me and spend a lot of time thinking
about how I can portray myself to the world in the light I want to be seen
in. I strive to be kind, to be thoughtful and to reproduce these qualities
in my daughter. So far I am succeeding which just goes to further prove that
my decisions are the right ones. I am confident in myself and the person I
am.

My good wolf has starved my bad wolf; she is sitting on his weak and
malnourished body and growling down his protests. The bad wolf, the wolf that
represents my low self-confidence, my second guessing, my doubts on who I am
and who I want to me. My thoughts on how I portray myself to others, my
failings as a daughter, a sister, a wife and a mother. Those negative
qualities have been kept down for the last few years.

Someone recently fed the bad wolf. This person said awful things to me and
my bad wolf stood up and took notice. He smiled and started to gain weight.
He snapped at my good wolf. These words were aimed at crushing my
confidence, aimed at putting these thoughts into my head and it worked. A
few well-placed jabs and my good wolf was suffering.  Thankfully I have
people around me who build me up, not tear me down. My family and friends
helped me to feed the good wolf again, and started the process of starving
the bad wolf back in to submission.

This experience has taught me that the people we have in our lives, makes
such an enormous difference. They can make or break you, and can affect your
whole life. Now that I have more than just me to worry about, I have a
husband and two children to think of and have to be the person that I want
my girls to be. I have to be the person that they look at, that one day they
can say, I want to be just like my mom, or, I learnt that from my mom. It is
a big job, one all parents are faced with. I recently spoke to a friend who admitted her bad wolf is gaining strength; unfortunately he gains strength a lot easier than he is starved. We are now embarking on the same journey I went through, of starving him slowly, bit by bit. We will get there.
Our children and families deserve all the positivity in the world and they deserve a mother who KNOWS that she is the best that she can be, and not doubt herself. So my dear friends starve that bastard, keep him down! WE deserve better!

Two-one!

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The terrific twos!!!

Lily is (almost) two! When asked she says she is two one. I can very easily state that she is at the best age so far! To be honest I do say that about every single age, but I just love two!

The tantrums and whiney pants-ness is something to behold but most of the time it is because we can’t understand her, it must be incredibly frustrating to want something and not be able to make yourself understood. The other night we had a meltdown because she kept asking for a “bidi”. I had just given her a plate of food (I can’t remember what it was now) but she kept asking for a ‘bidi’. I had no idea what she was on about, I tried everything and she got more and more upset, until she finally managed to show me that she wanted a spoon. Seriously how was I supposed to know that a Bidi is a spoon? In a similar situation I have learned that Kadush is open.

The talking is the best, da da da is jump, kwa Kwa is duck, ooh ooh is monkey, she says woo woo for dogs, moos and baahs, birdys, cars, ba is bath. We can actually have a conversation now, and we sit in the bath every night having long chats. I love it! when asked where her bed is she points to the spot between our two pillows but knows her room as her room, the one she doesn’t sleep in. She follows direction really well, if I ask her to take her clothes to the laundry basket she does, she will pass me a towel when I get out the bath or shower, find the remote when asked and help collect dirty dishes. I am amazed at the level of understanding. Every now and then she will look at me quizzically and I will have to show her, but not often.

She loves the galaxy tab, which drives me mad as the only time I can play with it is when she is sleeping, but she knows how to use it and swipes to turn it on, flips the screen and play her fave games.

She is still a big cuddler and more often than not sleeps in my arms, can you think of anything better? I doubt it. Sometimes she wakes up and takes my hand and puts it on her cheek before going back to sleep. She loves her dad and as soon as she wakes up she looks for him. As Shaun often leaves for gym at 5, she wakes up and says “daddy gone” in a mournful little voice.

She eats well, is very independent and will feed herself every time. As long as she has a “bidi”. She is a big drinker and will down two bottles of tea without a second thought. She has juice sometimes but usually tea or water. Potty training is going to be a pain because of this!

As far as the “terrible twos” go, we have had a few tantrums and she can be unreasonable. She can be very indecisive and whiney and I try so hard to keep my cool but every now and then I SOS to Shaun and hide in the bathroom. Pulling on my clothes and wailing is the worst. She says naughty mommy if I do ANYTHING she doesn’t like, and goes running to Shaun. Thankfully most of the time we have each other’s back and we explain to her why daddy or mommy aren’t naughty.

She is gorgeous, I just adore her. We have so much fun together! I wish I could still be home with her all the time, but she loves school, she loves to play with her friends and learn new things, and I know I can’t give her that.

A quick one about my lovely husband who is such an amazing dad. I hate the term ‘hands on dad’ because it goes against the grain so I am just saying he is a great dad. We are equal parents in every way and we make such a good team. I really feel that we are doing this parenting thing pretty well, our child is amazing. We are ying and yang and I could not be more blessed in the husband and daddy department. Lily is a lucky little girl!

Once upon a time, I wrote in a journal…here’s what I wrote.

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When I was studying my honors in Trauma counselling I had a module that required six months of volunteer work. I have been bought up in a family of “give backers” so this was no great stretch for me and I soon found a shelter in Rustenburg called “lighthouse baby shelter”. They are a shelter for children and babies in crisis, under 4 years old. http://lighthouseshelter.info/. I was told that I couldn’t volunteer more than 2 days a week, as it is very heavy going and they didn’t want to wear me out! I tried to argue but they wouldn’t budge. Yes, heavy heavy work but amazing all the same. I didn’t blog then, but I did keep a journal. I thought I would share with you some of what I wrote:

 

15/04/2008

I fed Chris today, he is +- 2 weeks now* but might be a bit older. His approx. birth day is 28th March. Apparently his mom hasn’t come to visit him since Wednesday last week, I really hope she hasn’t given up. He is so cute. I saw on his chart that he is taking Retrovir. I don’t know what that is, I am going to look it up but I suspect it is ARVs, I really hope I am wrong. Learnt today that Kego is 5 months old, she is so tiny I thought she was 5 weeks! She was born very prem. Leeann has started to crawl at 6 months old, she is gorgeous! Thabo won’t let me hold any of the other babies and throws a tantrum  when I do, he cries when I leave every day, it’s awful.

*Chris came to the shelter when he was 3 days old.

16/04/2008

Just looked up retrovir. It is an ARV given to babies to stop AIDS. I feel like I have a rock in my stomach, I wish I hadn’t looked it up; he is only 2 weeks old. I am getting too involved already.

17/04/2008

I hung out with Leanne a lot today, fed her porridge which was so messy and gross but she seemed to enjoy it! Every time I look at the kids I can’t help but think how unfair it all is, how can someone abandon a child?

22/04/2008

Thabo has moved into the big kid’s side as he has outgrown the babies. I have been putting off spending too much time there, the babies are easy and cute, and the big kids are wild and exhausting. Will have to spend more time there though, they really all need the attention

25/04/2008

Went to the big kids today and it was hectic, the kids are all so nasty to each other, and I’m not used to it. They fight for my attention, all want to touch my hair and sit on my lap. I can’t imagine how the carers survive!

08/05/08

Haven’t written in a while, I have had pleurisy so have been in bed a lot. It was very very painful! Went back to the shelter this week though. Chris cried a lot today, maybe colic? The newest baby is very quiet, only a week old we think. Kelly is two but can’t walk or talk, she is so sick. She can hardly even cry, she just moans and looks so sad.  Breaks my heart because it is all she has ever known. She didn’t even have a choice, has been bought into this world and sick and abandoned. It makes me sick.

02/06

Kego has gone home to her mom. I am so happy for her but will miss her! Vanessa donated money to LCS and they were so grateful. They are all such good people. Hope some of it rubs off on me!

06/07

So long since I last wrote, been so busy. Leanne has been adopted, she is going to Holland. I am so thrilled but shew I miss her, she was so special to me. Tsolofelo has also gone home and we have two new babies. Amos mom tried to kill her; she has a bad cut on her wrist and scars on her head and neck. No one seems to know exactly what happened to her. She is about 3 months old. This is the first abuse case that I have dealt with and I am struggling. I am battling to connect with her because I am scared to hold her, scared I hurt her.

31/07

Thabo has been adopted and is going overseas. His mom came to look at his bed and see where he grew up, she seems really nice. She said that he is battling to bond with them a bit but they are all persevering. What an amazing thing to do.

Struggled today with the toddlers, I have never been a kid person and I am really battling with the hair pulling craziness. I need a pep talk because I know they need me more than I need to be alone. PULL YOURSELF TOGETHER SHANNON! Suck it up and be there for them, not for you.

08/08/2008

Ria has gone home after living for 2 years at LCS. His gran finally came and got him, apparently she has been looking for him all this time! His mother tried to kill him so I really hope she is long gone. Phumelo was sleeping when she came to get him and when he woke up he was looking for him. When Janis told him that he had gone home to his family, Phumelo kept asking where his family is, and why they hadn’t come for him. That broke my heart. They were best friends and he didn’t get to say good bye and doesn’t understand.

14/08/08

I went to school with the big kids today, it was really fun. Rhenelwe has gone home and I didn’t get to say good bye which is sad, will always remember her having permanently wet pants and saying “mommy look” at everything in her sight.

 

That was my last entry. What I didn’t manage to write was Chris dying. Unfortunately the Retrovir didn’t help and his immune system was so weak and he just couldn’t fight. He was 5 months old when he died. I was devastated. I held him two days before and he looked like a different child, I hadn’t seen him for two weeks and had to go and check his chart because I didn’t believe it was him. I will spare you the details. But it will stay with me forever. I can see his face in minute detail still; it is not something one forgets easily.

Working at lighthouse changed me and helped me grow. It also helped me see things clearly and has definitely shaped who I am today, as a person and as a mother. I saw the worst and heard the worst. The things that people did to the children there were to cruel for words, but the people working there were amazing, full of love and working selflessly, something I have to learn to do on a daily basis. Working there helped me see that I could handle it and was strong, despite everyone telling me I couldn’t. A lot of friends and family didn’t want me to do it, they didn’t think I could cope with what I would experience and see. I did cope; in fact I coped so well that it scared me. I wish I hadn’t coped so well, it also helped me see that I didn’t want to be a trauma councillor. I didn’t want to not be affected by those things; I wanted my heart to break with every story of abuse, neglect and abandonment. I was scared that if I was exposed to it every day, and I saw the worst side of society every day, I would become immune.

This was all when I was 22 years old. Straight out of varsity, had just moved out of home and learning about the world. It was an eye opener and a game changer and something that I would recommend everyone does. Give back, maybe it hurts you. Maybe it breaks your heart. Maybe you cry yourself to sleep. I don’t care. What I do care about is that it is not meant to be easy. Those kids don’t have it easy. You need to put your feelings aside and think of them because they are what matters. They are the future, as clichéd as that sounds. We need to help them now, when they are still babies, so that we can ALL live in a better world in the future.

My opinion on smacking children

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I have made it perfectly clear how I feel about this subject, so I don’t think I really need to elaborate on it, but I am going to anyway.

Yes I am against smacking of children. Not in the same way that I am against sleep training, where I believe if circumstances really call for it, and you are at your wits end, might be worth a go (I know that saying this goes against all that I stand for, but, I am flexible and rational. And nothing is ever set in stone. I believe every situation is different. Sleep training would not work on my child, but I refuse to make a sweeping statement). With smacking however, I can make a sweeping statement and say that I am against it and would not smack my kids.

The reason I wanted to write this is mainly focused on the following comment I saw on Parent24

Screw your law. As hy of sy stout is dan brand hulle gat. Since we stopped a good hiding at school the youth have gone off the rails. A good hiding kept me in line and today there is nothing wrong with me

Really? You really this THIS generation is doing so well? The generation that got smacks and hidings from their parents are the generation that has landed us up in this mess of a world we live in! We live with violence every single day, we hear about rapes, murders, molestation’s, kidnappings, hijacking and the list goes on, every single day. Do you think that the people who committed those crimes would not have committed them if they had been given a good hiding as a child? They probably did get hidings! Who is to say that is exactly what caused them to be violent in the first place? Kim said it really well in fact:

well, using the rod didn’t exactly produce model citizens did it? Or were our jails completely empty and nobody got traffic fines and ponzi schemes and murder didn’t exist before corporal punishment was banned?

It has worked for centuries? Jails just been built recently then? scams never existed? Everyone was just perfect? Research seems to show that many of the problems smacking would supposedly solve are caused by smacking – children learn what they live, and smacking means they’re living in a violent household that teaches them that might is right.

Exactly. Surely things can only get better?

I know everyone can lose their temper and smack their child at times, I understand. I really do, but here is the crux of it. you would not hit your partner for coming home drunk and acting silly, you would not hit your partner for not loading the dishwasher, you would not hit your partner for not making his/her bed, or not brushing his/ teeth, or for sulking, or slamming a door, or raising his/her voice. You would not hit your partner if he or she was rude to you, or was “showing off”. In fact, there is NEVER an instance where you would hit your partner. So why oh why would it be ok to smack your child? The person who has been loaned to you, who you have been tasked with teaching, who learns from example. Who doesn’t know anything but that which you teach him/her.  The problem is that people see their children as THEIRS. This is not so. Your children are mini humans, created by you but not owned by you. They have minds, thought and feelings, just as you do. How would you feel if you were forced to wear a pair of uncomfortable shoes that you hated, that you really really did not want to wear?  You would be pretty pissed off if no one would listen to you, and still made you wear them, wrestling you into them. In fact, you may start to cry and you might get angry and lose your cool completely and shriek and scream a bit. Who wouldn’t? It must be awful having your will taken away from you. This happens to children all the time. Parents complain that their kids won’t wear something they have bought for them, or won’t eat the meal that has been cooked for them, or won’t sit still and quietly in a restaurant. Put yourselves in their shoes. My mom still talks about being forced to eat a dinner she hated, she had to sit at the table for hours, crying, because she didn’t want to eat it. 45 years or so on, and she still remembers it.

I have gotten totally off topic, but that fact remains. Your children are humans, there for you to care for, not force your will on. I am not judging, I actually had this conversation a years ago with a dear friend who had children when I didn’t. At the time,  I said that I thought it was ok to smack, as long as it was not out of anger and purely used as a tool to discipline. Her and I had long discussions about it, even ploughing through my psychology text books to see if they said anything (this was before google was the go-to source of information). As far as I know she never used the information, and merely used it as a threat, which was effective enough. but it isn’t really any of my business anyway. It’s not like I chat to my friends and ask, do you smack your kids? Jut as I don’t ask, do you co sleep, where do you have sex if you do and when are you going to wean your baby. Not my style…

Since that chat, I have since changed my mind (as I have with a lot of things). Seeing things as a parent as as a non parent are two very different things. I wont smack my kids, and I am ok with the law being passed. You are not legally allowed to hit anyone, not even animals, so why should hitting your children be ok?