New year, new me

Growing up my mom always told us that you can feel as good as you want to feel. To this day, I still believe that. During the last year and a half, I wanted to feel sad. I liked feeling sorry for myself. I enjoyed hiding in dark closets crying my eyes out with tissues all around. It felt good. It felt good to be angry with God. I liked shouting at him, and blaming him for my pain and depression. And didn’t I have a lot to be depressed about? Wasn’t my pain justified? Wasn’t it all His fault?

I lost the first baby, when I was 5 months pregnant. Almost half way there. I lost the second one 8 months later, on Mother’s Day weekend. Wasn’t I a good enough mother for a second baby? I lost the third one, right before Christmas this past year. An operation before Christmas? Really, God? Why even give me the baby if you are going to take it away? At least let me enjoy Christmas!

New year, new me, isn’t that how the saying goes? Well, the new me, in the new year decided to change my outlook on life and get over myself. I owed it to Johan and Ava to not waste another year sad or angry. If that meant getting on birth control to avoid any disappointments, then that’s what I’d do. We decided to look at booking a holiday with some friends to Thailand and just use 2014 to relax and enjoy life.

The first thing I had to do was to stop fighting God. I had to accept the past and begin trusting in his plans for me, for us. I needed to get back to reading His word and listening to Him. To thanking Him for all that we do have. Back to focusing on love and laughter. Isn’t that what life is all about?

As I started working on my happiness, I noticed my health was beginning to deteriorate. Since the operation in December, I just didn’t feel right. Like my body wasn’t going back to normal. I was gaining weight faster than I had ever before. I was tired, agitated and overall uncomfortable.

Last Friday I went to see my doctor. She starts every appointment with this sad face and “how are you“. She’s been with me since the birth of Ava, so she knows all my ups and downs. I told her about taking a year off of trying for a baby and that we were coming to terms with the thought of only having one child. We talked about our trip to Thailand and just trying to make 2014 a happier year. She agreed that if that’s what I wanted, then we should go for it. Especially, if it makes me happy.

As I began to explain my ailments, a smile slowly crossed her face. “You’re pregnant”, she said. Impossible. My cycle hadn’t even gotten back on track since the last miscarriage, so how could I possibly be pregnant? She insisted we do an ultrasound to check.

When the cold gel hit my tummy, visions of my last visit soared through my head. Back to that day when Johan grabbed my arm, pointed to the ultrasound screen and said, “oh good, there’s the baby”. Then the doctor’s shoulders shrank and she grabbed my other arm and said, I’m sorry, but no, we’ve lost it”.

Back to last Friday, as the black and white ultrasound screen flickered, and then settled into focus, there on the screen was a baby. A big baby. A 15 week old baby. A bomb could have gone off around us and my doctor and I wouldn’t have noticed. We sat in silence for a few minutes. Looked at each other. Laughed. Looked back at the screen and basically stared in shock.

I had a D&C after my miscarriage in December, it’s where they scrap the uterus, in case you don’t know. How this baby survived, we don’t know. I have seen my doctor again, got a second opinion from another doctor and even went for a 4D scan. Not one of them can tell me how this happen, but I know. I know it was God. Only he can perform miracles and this little baby is our miracle. He survived a D&C. He’s a fighter.

Johan and I are still in shock. It’s weird to go in for a checkup and come out almost 4 months pregnant, but we couldn’t be happier.

What I’ve learned so far this year, is that when I finally gave up on how I thought my life should be and gave into trusting in God’s plans, he answered all my prayers and more. He’s given me hope. He’s given me strength.

strengthened

 

Oh, and it’s a boy!

babyS

 

 

Staying Positive

I like to consider myself a positive person and honestly think people would say that about me. I try to be the person in the room with a smile, telling happy stories.

In April, Johan and I got the best news I have had all year. It’s amazing how two little lines on a thin stick can change your world so quickly. I was pregnant and so happy. Maybe too happy, but I couldn’t help it. God was giving us another chance to be parents. I couldn’t believe my luck!

I just knew in my heart it would be perfect this time, like it was with Ava. I wasn’t going to let myself be scared by what happened last year. I was going to think positively and we would get through these next 9 months and end up with a healthy baby in our arms. At four weeks, I even went out and bought baby stuff, that’s how perfect I knew this pregnancy would be.

When I started bleeding on Mother’s Day weekend, I stayed positive. We could get through this, it was just a little bump in the road.

At the hospital, there on the doctor’s screen was a tiny baby, with no heartbeat. But it was still early, the heartbeat could come, the doctor said. I took some blood tests and would hear back from my doctor on Monday.

When I didn’t see a heartbeat, my heart sunk. I prayed and prayed and prayed. Trying to stay positive, not believing this could be happening to me. Hadn’t I gone through enough last year? Wasn’t that all I could handle? Please God, please do not let me lose this baby too!

On Monday, my doctor called and said she wanted to see me first thing Tuesday. My progesterone levels were too low.

After a restless night, Tuesday morning came and as I lay on the doctors bed, all I saw was an empty womb. I tried to stay positive. Tried to stay strong. Tried not show Johan or the doctor the sheer panic that had over taken my body.

I had miscarried the baby. I couldn’t believe it. I couldn’t actually understand what had happened. I still don’t.

This time, my body failed me. It’s not a medical decision I didn’t really have the choice to make. My body had let me and my unborn child down.

I’ve been trying so hard to be healthy, mentally and physically these past few months leading up to falling pregnant. So positive. Trying my best to create a healthy environment to try again.

Last October, I didn’t think I would ever be able to try again. To go through this sort of pain again. In March, I wanted a baby so bad my body ached for it. I ache for it.

And now, I ache even more. I am sick and tired of saying I am fine. I am okay. I am not okay. My heart is broken even more than it was. More than I thought possible. More than I ever could have imagined. I just cannot believe this happened to ME, again…

Staying positive just isn’t possible right now. I am afraid I am changing. Changing into a person I don’t want to be. The type of person I don’t like to be around.

Except in front of Ava. In front of her, I am still the same old mom who loves her more than anything. With a bright smile, hiding her tear stained face.

 

 

The Day is almost here.

The Day is almost here, the Day I have been dreading the most since we lost him. Saturday the 9th of March, my son’s due date, is almost here.

These last six months have been the hardest of my life.

The first month, if it wasn’t for Ava and Johan, I don’t think I would have gotten out of bed. I cursed my house for not having a proper closet for me to lock myself into. I cursed God for not taking away the pain. I cursed the shower for not making me feel clean. My iPad for not distracting me enough. I cursed myself for everything and anything I could have done. My past for my Karma. My thoughts for my pain. My body for it failing me and my son.

The second month, I went back to work for a couple of weeks and then we jetted off to America. Being back at work was a nice distraction from the reality of our situation. However, my drive to and from the office was horrible. It was and is, my only real alone time. The hour to work, I spent fighting back the tears as I didn’t want to ruin my makeup. The hour driving home, I let it rip. I sometimes cried from the parking lot until the driveway, where I would quickly clean my face, throw on a smile and then squeeze my family. I still have days where I am afraid to go to the bathroom at work. Afraid to be alone or look at myself in the mirror. Afraid of the tears that might come and won’t stop.

Our trip to America was good therapy for me. I really needed to see my family and oldest friends. I wish I could say we relaxed a bit, but we didn’t. We were non-stop from the moment our plane landed in Charlotte, until we took off in January.

The third month, was really rough. The new year brought with it loads of anxiety. 2013 was supposed to be the year we grew our little family to four. I was supposed to be preparing for having a baby. I couldn’t help but think about trying for another baby. If we do, when should we start trying? Should we try to have a baby before the end of the year? Am I ready? Will we even be blessed with another baby? What if we loose another baby, can I cope? Should I pack away his clothes? Should I pack away the maternity clothes? Should I stop wearing maternity clothes?

During this time, the 15th of January came and I hadn’t noticed the date until Johan said something. I had just come back from seeing the next door neighbour’s son’s nursery, a terrible idea of mine, as we were due a week apart and it only made me sad and jealous inside. It was then that Johan reminded me it was three months since we lost our baby. I hadn’t even realised the date. I had forgotten to mourn the month anniversary. Sounds silly, I know. But it rocked me. I felt as if I had let the pain overcome my life, to the point I even forgot where the pain came from. I had forgotten about my son and had hit rock bottom.

It was at the bottom that I realised I needed help. I had done the therapist thing and decided I needed medication. I honestly didn’t think I could do it on my own anymore. I spoke to my doctor and she prescribed me an anti-depressant. I have never been one on taking medication but hoped and prayed it would help me.

For the next week, the side effects totally messed me up. I felted wasted all day and through the night. The anxiety I was having about being on the medication and the side effects I was feeling was worse than the depression. To the point I finally gave up and couldn’t take it anymore. If anti-depressants work for you, that is great! I am jealous. This drug didn’t work for me and I wasn’t up to trying something else.

So, I decided to ask God to help me fight my depression and focus my energy on running. In December, I began running in the mornings before work. Johan and I started competing in road races in January and ran our first 21km two weeks ago. The high I got after completing a race is something I cannot explain. It’s been months since I have felt so good about myself.

These last two months have been a bit easier for me. I don’t know if it’s praying more or the running, or that we have been so busy I haven’t had the time to really reflect on life, or the tons of cds I now keep in my car to distract me during traffic. Whatever it is, I have felt a bit better.

There are lots of ups and fewer downs, but this week, right now, I feel like crawling into a hole and never coming out. It takes every inch of my being to get out of bed and get through the day without crying. It takes every single inch to fake a smile and hold a conversation. To be ok. What I need is to get past this Day. The Day that is almost here….

*For some of you, please forgive me and know that I am truly sorry. I am so sorry I don’t want to see or hold your newborn baby. Sorry that I can’t even buy your baby a gift. I can barely say congratulations without choking. I am so, so sorry I couldn’t make it to your baby shower. I am so jealous of your new baby, of your belly bump that I could just die. It’s not that I want your baby, I want mine. I want to be a mother to the son I lost.

At the exact same time, I am extremely happy for you. I know the joy you are experiencing and the love you have found that you never knew existed before. I am so very happy for you. Really, I am. I am just so jealous of you, too.

Blair

 

 

 

 

 

 

Be OK

“Be OK”

I just want to be ok, be ok, be ok
I just want to be ok today
I just want to be ok, be ok, be ok
I just want to be ok today

I just want to feel today, feel today, feel today
I just want to feel something today
I just want to feel today, feel today, feel today
I just want to feel something today

[CHORUS:]
Open me up and you will see
I’m a gallery of broken hearts
I’m beyond repair, let me be
And give me back my broken parts

I just want to know today, know today, know today
I just want to know something today
I just want to know today, know today, know today
Know that maybe I will be ok

[CHORUS]

Just give me back my pieces
Just give them back to me please
Just give me back my pieces
And let me hold my broken parts

I just want to be ok, be ok, be ok
I just want to be ok today
I just want to be ok, be ok, be ok
I just want to be ok today

I just want to feel today, feel today, feel today
I just want to feel something today
I just want to know today, know today, know today
Know that maybe I will be ok
Know that maybe I will be ok
Know that maybe I will be ok
 

Sharing

My parents are flying back to the US today. It’s been such a blessing having my mom by my side during this time. They do live here, but four hours away, so my dad drove her down last week. She’s really helped me get through these last few days.

We leave for the US on the 9th of December. I have been looking forward to this trip all year. Started counting down the days at 100, right now we have 54 days until we leave.

I have to be honest though, I am now deathly afraid of our trip. I am actually afraid of going out in public at all. Afraid I will run into someone who doesn’t know what has happened and I might have to explain. Afraid of the tears that may come from just a hug from someone who does know. Afraid of having to contribute to an actual conversation.

At first we struggled with having to tell people. It’s hard to pick up the phone and share bad news, especially your own bad news. You can’t just post something like this as your Facebook status, nor could I imagine posting it on Blairadise, as this is my happy place. A place to share my happy thoughts, Ava’s milestones, crafts I’ve actually completed and good news.

My first reaction was to close my Facebook account and shut down Blairadise. Go into hiding per se. When will I ever be happy enough to post something worth sharing? What would be worthy enough? Is it too soon to be happy again?

Then I got a few messages from friends asking if I had heard the sex of the baby, or how I was feeling or what’s new with us. What do I say? Do I lie, then they find out later the truth? Do we keep it a secret, and not lean on our friends during our time of need? I would hate it if friends or family did that. It’s times like these that you need your friends and family, more than anything.

Obviously something changed within me and I decided to share our story here. Blairadise is actually my safe place. I can write whatever I want, how I want, when I want. No one can judge my bad grammar, because every once in a while, bad grammar is accepted in Blairadise.

Being able to share our story has become therapeutic for me, to say the very least.

My biggest fear is that we don’t fully embrace our situation and it passes us by, then regret ruins us later. At least I will be able to come back here and reread about the pain I am experiencing now, it will help me remember; remember what we went through and one day, hopefully, how far we’ve come as people, as husband and wife and as parents.

So, I’ve put our story out there to help us heal. To say to our family and friends, yes, we need you right now. Wether you are next door or 12,000 miles away; your prayers, sharing your stories, virtual hugs, kind words, text messages, hand written notes, and especially your blue finger nails; it’s all helping us heal.

Thank you, thank you, thank you. Thank you for sharing your love with us.

The Hardest Part

I can’t stop thinking about the Cold Play song The Hardest Part, so I had to Goolge the lyrics.

And the hardest part
Was letting go, not taking part
Was the hardest part

And the strangest thing
Was waiting for that bell to ring
It was the strangest start

I could feel it go down
Bittersweet, I could taste in my mouth
Silver lining the cloud

My first major break down came at 4am, when I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror. Who is that girl looking back at me with those sad eyes? Why is she up so early? Oh, yeah…

The second, in the shower. I have never been a singer or crier in the shower, but it has slowly become my favorite hiding place. In there I feel like no one can hear my sobs over the rushing water. I know that’s not particularly true, but just the idea that no one can hear gives me comfort.

And the strangest thing
Was waiting for that bell to ring
It was the strangest start

Number three happened this morning in my room at the hospital, waiting for the bell to ring and the strangest start. This was by far the worst one of all. Once they hooked me up to the drip and catheter, reality suddenly burst in and punched me squared in the face. It felt as if I was dying. The room started closing in on me and I completely freaked out. Johan held me as tight as he could while I shook and sobbed uncontrollably. All I could think of was to pull everything out and run home. And, I thought about dying. I was so afraid something might go wrong and I would die today. Horrible, horrible thoughts ran through my head. I honestly did not know if I could make it through the day. Thankfully, the nurses came in not too long after and wheeled me to theater. As we rolled down the hall with Johan holding my hand, I felt like I was in a movie, a horror movie.

Today has been the hardest day of my life. I have no regrets, as we didn’t have another option. Yet, it makes it no less painful.

They have put me in the maternity ward, as the doctor says the nurses here know how to better care for a patient with a c-section. Hearing the cries from the babies down the hall should be considered torture for someone in my condition.

This is the same hospital Ava was born, except this time I will leave empty handed, with no baby…

I chose not to see our baby, however, Johan did. He said he was beautiful, but that one could see right away that there was something terribly wrong. Knowing that one of us saw him is enough for me, as my biggest fear in all of this is that we didn’t honor our son enough.

And the hardest part
Was letting go, not taking part
Was the hardest part

Today felt like the hardest part, but the song is right, the procedure is behind us and all we need to do is let go of the pain and start recovering, just letting go, that’s the hardest part.

Last Wednesday, I decided I would paint my nails blue in remembrance of our boy. My mom did too, then Tria and Keira, Amanda and her girls, plus her sister in law and her daughter. Then Tria’s sister in law in Namibia, and my best friends, their daughters and their sisters. My older sister Natalie and her daughter Bailey. Other sister in law Lee. And the list goes on and on. Friends from all around the world have painted their nails blue in support of our family. I am so surprised every time someone tags me on Facebook with their blue nails. It means so much to me and reminds me that we are truly blessed with amazing friends and family. A huge thank you goes out to you all for the kind emails and messages. To the other women who have shared their stories with me, thank you. You give me hope for our future.

Again, I am not okay, but will be…

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. (Jeremiah 29:11 TNIV)

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Broken

I am not sure where or how to start, as the last week of my life has been a blur.

With Ava, I didn’t have a clue I was pregnant. I had a cold I just couldn’t kick, and when my sister in law suggested I may be pregnant, I laughed; then sent Johan straight to the pharmacy to buy a test. In true male fashion, he bought one test. One? Who buys only one pregnancy test?

The two lines appeared as soon as the urine hit the stick and I thought, let’s wait a few minutes and maybe it will change. Nope, I was pregnant, and we had only been married for six months.

Initially, we were really scared and anxiety quickly sank in, then came the excitement. It didn’t take long for us to share the news with our families.

From that moment on, I enjoyed life to the fullest. Slept looooong hours, tried to eat more healthy, all the while dreaming about American junk food. I read every pregnancy website, blog and page of What to Expect When Expecting. Still do.

Come January 27th, 2011 our little Ava Louise arrived. Not easily, but she was there, in my arms, screaming, healthy and perfect.

In June of 2012, on the car ride to my parents for the weekend; I knew something was up. I’d been a bit nauseous for the past few days and only wanted to sleep. Yet we all know, lots of sleep is not an option for mothers… And, I just knew.

As soon as I could, I went to the pharmacy and bought one test. Only one, like Johan. Again, as soon as the urine hit the stick, two lines appeared; anxiety kicked in, followed by excitement and right away, we told our family and friends.

I thought I would blog more about this pregnancy, due to the fact I had missed out on the opportunity with Ava since I only started the blog the few weeks before she was born. But, I just haven’t found the time and sadly, became slack on reporting all of the emotions and bodily changes that happen during pregnancy. Something I now regret more than anything…

This part will be short, as I don’t want to ramble on and on, or give every little detail as to what has happened to us.

On Monday morning, I went to the doctor for my normal monthly scan, filled with high hopes to finally confirm the sex of our new baby. Johan couldn’t attend, as he was in China for work, however, he was there on Skype via the iPad. We watched together as the doctor confirmed, number 2 is a boy! We both had tears of joy in our eyes, said our goodbyes and hung up.

Within the next few minutes, our lives were turned upside down. The doctor turned to me with a look, a look that says everything, yet she didn’t say much at all. Basically, she saw something that concerned her and she wanted me to go to the fetal assessor right away.

Excuse me? Wait. What? I don’t understand. What are you saying?

My world came crashing down.

Here is the short of the extremely devastating news…

Our doctor, two other doctors, the fetal assessor and geneticist have all reported the worst; our son has not developed properly and will not survive birth.

The cause? We don’t know and can only find out after they run tests at birth. A birth that will happen on Monday, via caesarean, at only 19 weeks.

Am I okay? No, I am not. I am not okay. I am devastated. Shattered. Broken. My heart has broken in ways I never knew possible. The shock has lifted, and reality has sunk in. I am losing my baby. We are losing our son. Ava is losing her brother. He maybe tiny, but he is still a baby. A baby Johan and I made together.

Have I lost faith in God? No. I am not asking why me? Why us? Why not, us? Rather me, with one amazing little girl, than someone else who doesn’t have kids. Or maybe someone whose marriage isn’t as strong as ours. Or doesn’t have a support system like we do.

Honestly, I never thought anything tragic like this would happen to me, as I have never considered myself a strong person and God doesn’t give us things we can’t handle. He has held my hand through this and I know that I am right where I am supposed to be. I just need to live in the moment. Feel the pain. Acknowledge what has happened and trust that he does love us and knows what he is doing.

My aunt wrote me this last night,

God will use this in your life to make you stronger and to help someone else who goes through this. Remember singing the song, “I’ve got the joy, joy, joy, joy, down in my heart…down in my heart, down in my heart to stay”? The last verse says, “I’ve got the peace that passes understanding down in my heart, down in my heart….etc” My prayer for you is that you have that peace that passes understanding down in your heart.

I have neither peace nor understanding in my heart at the moment. But trust in God enough to know that one day, maybe 5 years from now, but one day, I will have the peace that passes understanding down in my heart, down in my heart to stay.

I have written this horrible post without details only so I can get it out in the open. So people don’t have to feel bad when they ask me about the pregnancy and I burst into tears.

Maybe one day, I will share all the details on here. I just can’t right now, as it is too, too painful.

Thank you to everyone for all of your support during this time. To Amanda, for getting in the car the moment I called. To Tria, for going with me to the doctors and asking the questions I couldn’t. For listening to the doctors and doing your own research. For watching Ava, when I just couldn’t face her and just holding my hand when Johan wasn’t there. To my mom, for being who she is and being here with me. To all of our families and friends, for all of your support. We couldn’t do this without you…

To Johan, for loving me, understanding me and listening to me. For being an amazing man, husband and father. And for just being you.

And to Ava, for the unexpected hugs that do more than she will ever know. For continuing to make me laugh and smile, everyday.

We will be okay. Just not right now.

The Scheepers’ – September 2012

On a warm summer’s evenin’ on a train bound for nowhere, I met up with the gambler; we were both too tired to sleep…

Wait, that’s not it.

On a cold summer’s day, we, The entire Scheepers clan met up at Irene Farm for a morning full of laughter and cries, all in hopes of one good family picture…

Well, we got 500 gorgeous pictures; all thanks to the ingenious team at Creative Emporium, Melanie and Reinhardt. Their job could not have been easy, trying to photography eight adults, chasing after five rambunctious kids, in the middle of a wet farm… But they did it, and did it well.

The moment I heard Charl and Lee were visiting from New Zealand, I knew we had to jump at the chance of a large family portrait. Everyone agreed, and seeing what a fabulous job Creative Emporium did on our last family photos back in December 2011, we hired them again.

September is early spring here in South Africa, which means you have no idea what the weather is going to be like until you are living the day. It turned out to be a chilly, yet sunny morning. Perfect weather and light (so they said).

Here are a few of my favorites….

Now, if I only I could get all the Kernodle’s in the same place, at the same time…

Cheers!

Setting the stage to NORMAL…

A few weeks ago, I attended my nephew Juan’s school concert and was blown away while watching him on stage. Knowing I wouldn’t be able to put into words what I had experienced, as eloquently as my sister in law Tria, I asked her to write this post for me.

I don’t think I have mentioned much about Juan’s brain damage on Blairadise, mainly due to my ignorance on his condition. Unbeknownst to my sister in law, during her pregnancy with Juan, she contracted Cytomegalovirus, or the CMG virus which caused profund deafness and substantial brain damage in her tiny unborn baby.

In the beginning, the doctors told them he may never walk or talk, and would never be able to live a “normal” life. That didn’t stop Hennie and Tria from pushing on, learning everything they could about his condition. Flying to America to attend a course on how to be better parents to a child with a disability. Constantly reading up on the latest break throughs in science and physical therapy treatments.

What they as parents, as a family and Juan as a human being have accomplished in three short years is astounding. He’s walking, he’s talking, running, playing, laughing, singing and dancing. All things the doctors said he wouldn’t be able to do, ever.

So here is a short little story that I asked Tria to share with you from their amazing journey…

“What is normal anyhow?” you might ask, “ If you compete in the Paralympics; would that qualify you as being abnormal “? 
When a parent gets the news that their baby is missing one of his senses, has substantial brain damage, and if you are lucky, you are going to end up with an adult with the mental and physical abilities of a toddler, you pretty much sit back and think:  “CRAP ASS!!!—surely this isn’t normal?  “Why could my baby not just be normal? Shouldn’t a human being be issued with a ten toes, ten fingers theory? This is not human. Not humane. This is just not what I signed up for!!!”
Well what, exactly, is it that you signed up for anyhow? We can debate this sideways but one thing is for sure: as with life, having any child is also signing up for the unknown for the rest of your life! And that is exactly what you get: the unknown. 
Last night was Juan’s school concert. When my little deaf boy walked on stage with his little bitty rigid legs in his puffed crocodile costume, with his tiny face popping out of the crocodile costume’s mouth, the whole of humanity just has to sit back and celebrate super-human abilities!  The courage it took for that little man, having not being issued with the “standard” package, to get up there and sing his songs… doing his  little sidesteps. He has risen to the “same” as others born with a “normal” package, he has grappled with, and conquered his deficiencies, he has shown that the bar was not too high for him! That has to stop you in your tracks and say, “Juan, I salute you!”

The most gorgeous crocodile in history!

And that is exactly what his mommy, daddy, grandparents, brother and sister, his nanny and his dearest aunty Blair did; we cried and laughed and just couldn’t believe how far we had all come. In that very moment we realized that he is like us; nothing less, maybe even more.  Whatever he might have been issued with, he has a heart wanting to be loved, a spirit wanting to fight, he has his fears and most importantly, because of all the things that make him UNIQUE, he supremely qualifies as being normal!
For each Paralympics athlete entering the stadium, who got up on stage and performed their thing, we know that to your mommy, your support system, you are normal. With the courage that comes from being human, you went out, vanquished your inadequacies and taught us with much humility, what normal is all about.  We salute you.

Getting ready for the concert and a quick glance at Juan’s “ears”: the Nucleus Cochlear Implant System.

A big head to carry on these shoulders!

Juan in his BIG costume.

Anna, Keira, Tria, Hannu and my mother in law.

Anna, Keira, Tria, Hannu and my mother in law.

Brother in law, Hennie and Juan’s biggest fan, Hannu. Still awake @ 22h00; not missing a thing.

Me, Juan’s second mom: Anna and his biggest fan: his younger brother, Hannu.

NOTE: Juan attends a school, Eduplex, which was specifically built for the hard of hearing. Deaf children are educated alongside those with normal hearing with a benchmark of one deaf child for every five normal hearing children. This naturally sets the stage for the hard of hearing to learn to speak naturally, more easily. We are fortunate enough to have this world-class facility within 10km from our house. Thanks to our support system; Juan is bilaterally implanted with the Nucleus 5 cochlear implants, which enable him, to date, to hear sounds as soft as 25db. Might not be ‘normal’ sound – but it is HIS normal and enables him to communicate freely!  When the world of sound gets too much; Juan has the ‘super-human’ ability of switching off his sound whenever he pleases!

 

I am so lucky to be apart of this amazing family. Their strength encourages me to be a better person and parent. Thank you, Tria for sharing your story and inviting me to Juan’s concert. I didn’t tell you, but I cried all the way home that night, thanking God for all that Juan has accomplished. I am so proud of you guys.

To Juan, I salute everything you are, and everything you will be!

 

 

Happy Birthday to Me!

I turned 30th last month. Hard to believe, I know. I, myself am still in a state of shock at the news. Deep in my heart, I feel I shall stay 25 forever…

Anyone who knows me well, knows I like parties. And for my 30th, I wanted to plan a nice big birthday party and invite everyone we know.

I contacted the gorgeous girls over at TwoDelighted and enlisted them to help me come up with some ideas. Since August is during the winter in South Africa, I imagined a big fire roaring in the backyard, surrounded by a few hay barrels covered in flannel blankets, wine barrels here and there, cafe lights strung across the yard and inside the house. A rustic chic, country sort of theme.

Enter Colleen and Megan. They came up with this inspiration board and jammed packed it with gorgeousness. Just enough to get my wheels turning.

I booked the wine barrels, located a farmer with hay, picked out the menu, ordered the cake, TwoDelighted designed me a few printables, and then…

I found out I was pregnant…

Lil ole selfish me was not going to throw a bash, at my house, until all hours of the night and not be able to partake in all the festivities. Then have to clean up the next day? No siree. Not happening. So I cancelled the party. Pregnant women are allowed to do that from time to time.

But what now? My friends had put so much effort into helping me plan the party, I couldn’t just toss it to the waste side?

Thankfully, I remembered a few years ago my Aunt Ava moving to Chicago from Georgia. Seeing as she was so far away from friends and family and could not be with them on her birthday, she mailed everyone some tea to enjoy on her special day. Such a great idea and it gave birth to the idea of a tea party.

So, I changed my Big 30th Birthday Bash, to a calm tea party at my house with all of my favorite South African ladies, my mom and Amanda. I then mailed some of my dearest family and friends tea bags to enjoy alongside with me on my special day.

I had a LONG list of people to mail tea to, got to the post office and saw the price of posting, scaled it down a whole lot and off they went. Praying they would arrive in time for the party and not get lost on the way. If you didn’t receive any tea in the mail, you made the cut, yours just got lost somewhere in the mail… Promise. ;)

The actual tea party went off without a hitch. Big thanks to my dear husband for keeping Ava busy for the day. My mom and sister for being AMAZING as always. Tria for always being there for me, if it’s advice for a sick child or whipping up delicious snacks for my birthday party, I can always count on her. My mother in law for her mouth watering sweets and all she does for us. The girls at TwoDelighted, even though they are thousand of miles away, they still helped make my party a bit more magical. All of my wonderful girlfriends that came to celebrate with me. I don’t know what I would do here, without any of you. And of course, everyone far and wide who shared a cup of tea in honor of me on my birthday.

One of my favorite parts of the day were the Mad Libs that Megan and Colleen created especially for me. In the US, we grow up playing them, but for my SA friends it was new. My friend Natalie was kind enough to video the girl’s Mad Libs. Will post the videos as soon as I figure it out.

My advice for anyone planning an event of any size, hire a photographer. I for one will no longer count on myself or others to take photos of special events. I will hire a professional photographer, even if it’s only for an hour. At least I will have that hour of photos. Hence, I do not have one nice photo from the party to share with you all. Not one even Instagram could save. It’s a shame really.

But, I do have a few photos from the US of tea drinkers!

Aunt Ava enjoying her cup of tea!

My pal Stacy, lovin’ her some Rooibus. Which I bring home for her every time we visit.

Cousin Leah drinking her Rooibus tea

My aunt Joy and cousin Morgan looking fabulous while sipping their tea.

Megan from TwoDelighted

To brighten your day or to read TwoDelighted’s sweet post about my Tea, click here.

Fast forward back to the present. At the moment, I am 13 weeks pregnant and getting fatter by the second. Some days I feel like one of those people from the People of Walmart website, with rolls overflowing from my skinny jeans. I keep telling myself I can still fit in them and can’t breathe by the time I get to work. One day I’ll learn.

Little Miss Ava is so darn cute these days. I call her my Pumpkin Pie because I really could just eat her up.

Today I stumbled across this picture from September 2011:

and to think a year later, that little baby has turned into an exuberant little girl:

;

Until next time friends…

Blair

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