Roses For Thorns

Roses For Thorns: Chenel Kruger

Hi, I’m Chenel, I’m a young mom, 25, of two boys and I married the love of my life whom I met at the age of 18. I have an incredible passion for photography and for my kids. I used to only photograph weddings but now I’ve shifted my business and I am photographing births – it’s probably the most incredible thing ever to witness and capture.

I (accidentally) started a blog two years ago where I chat about all things mama-related and show you my world through my eyes.

www.jamesandjaxson.co.za  | Instagram : @james.and.jaxson |www.chenelkruger.co.za

I was told at the age of 18 that I might struggle to have a baby one day as I only got my period every 3 or 4 months. At that age, I didn’t think too much of it until I was actually married…when it sort of counted. With our first child James, it took well over a year and that was tough enough, but with our second,  it was even more intense. I was not ovulating at all and my estrogen was low it was pretty much non-existent. I went to a couple of gynecologist appointments, scans and blood tests – the hospital felt like my home. Eventually, the doctor put me on ovulation-inducing medication with added rounds of estrogen. It gave us hope which was, little by little, eaten away at as I was still not getting pregnant.


Month after month I carefully listened to my body and googled pregnancy symptoms. I became obsessed.

I bought so many ovulation and pregnancy tests we could have probably paid for IVF. Month after month, seeing negative tests, broke me.

It hurt me more than I thought it would. I was so sick of going for scans and being told my eggs weren’t big enough when they are released or some other stupid reason. I was so mad at my own body!

The rocky journey also included chemical pregnancies and though I was barely pregnant, it was enough to show a blazing positive little cross on that Clearblu and it spiked my hope levels…only to crash them gloriously to the ground.  I was 4 weeks and a couple days if I can remember correctly. I kept testing, almost like an addict and the lines got lighter and lighter until there was nothing and I started to bleed. The cycle was going to start all over again and it was heart wrenching –people will tell you it wasn’t a real pregnancy but your feelings and emotions and hopes will tell you otherwise.

Every aspect of my being was challenged: my self-worth, my femininity, my profession, my marriage, my faith.     

I felt lost and confused to be honest. I would not understand why my body was doing this. Weren’t us women actually made to have children? Why would my body not do this naturally? Why would I need medication to fall pregnant, that so many women do naturally?

Getting pregnant wasn’t easy, and I found that devastating. I really beat myself up for waiting so long when I’d always wanted children and family had been the basis of my happiness my whole life.     

It really changed me as a person. It opened my eyes to this big world of infertility and how many women actually suffer from it. I never even knew it existed before the doctor muttered those words to me. I understand the hurt, I understand the anger and I understand the frustration now. And I do not wish it upon anybody.

On my very last month of being allowed on the medication, I fell pregnant. It was 10 days before Christmas – yes, you imagine it was the best Christmas present ever.

There are still big misconceptions about struggling to fall pregnant. I feel like we still don’t talk about it enough, as though it’s a taboo subject that people need to avoid. But you know, it’s actually so common. It happens to way more women that we realize, and we need to stand up and be there for each other. I think people don’t realize how incredibly common it is to have infertility issues – maybe because no one speaks about it.

In a way, I’ve mentally gotten through the experience. I created an Instagram account for my TTC journey and I often go back and read all my posts and how I felt at moments. Sometimes I cry reading the captions and sometimes I am proud of how far I have come since then.

It will always be a sensitive topic and it will always be a part of me. I heal by speaking about it, by connecting with others that have been through the same. It makes me feel less alone – what is that saying? We rise by lifting others.

Infertility is a loss. It’s the loss of a dream. It’s the loss of an assumed future. And, like every loss, it will be grieved.

With loss, we have to be so careful how we speak to others – I will definitely avoid things like “It will be okay, just relax it will happen, stop stressing about it, you can always adopt” Those words were muttered to me so many times and it honestly upset me so much. So what would I say? It sucks. And I GET that it sucks. It’s a horrible thing to go through and it kills bits of you inside.

Life can be so unfair but I have learnt to trust in God’s timing.

He knew when the time was right even though I refused to understand. Nothing you can say can really heal someone or make them feel better – but they need to know to NEVER ever lose hope, no matter how difficult it may get.


The concept:

I wanted to convey a lot of symbolism for the first part of the shoot; the scales on which we weigh ourselves against others, and the “norm”; the empty and full passion fruit and seed pods; the pages of paper – our story, our pain.

The biggest link I’ve seen in many pregnancy stories is how we feel inadequate and less of ourselves – we hold our reflection up to the world’s impossible standards.

This shoot wouldn’t have been possible without:

Dresses: Jacoba Clothing
http://www.jacobaclothing.co.za/
https://www.facebook.com/jacobaclothing/
https://www.instagram.com/jacoba_clothing/

Floral arrangements: Flowers on the Stoep
http://www.flowersonthestoep.co.za/
https://web.facebook.com/flowersonthestoep/?ref=br_rs 

Makeup: NJD Makeup Artistry
https://web.facebook.com/njdmakeup/

Hair: Hair & Makeup by Putri
https://www.facebook.com/hairandmakeupbyputri
https://www.instagram.com/hairandmakeupbyputri/ 

Venue: Welbeloond
http://www.welbeloond.com/
https://web.facebook.com/www.welbeloond.co.za/ 

Roses For Thorns

Roses For Thorns: Mandy Lee Miller

Hi, I’m Mandy. I am a Cape Town based mommy of 1 gorgeous wildling little girl, Charlotte (Charly) Rose, who is far too smart. I live in a townhouse in the suburbs with Charly, my husband Brett, and our two cats. I am 36 years old, I have crazy curly hair to my waist (my favourite thing about me), and I never “lost the baby weight”.

My background is in PR and Marketing, specialising in writing and media relations, which I left when I found out I was pregnant with Charly.

I started my blog, Pregnant in Cape Town, (Facebook, Instagram) when I was about 5 weeks pregnant. I’m the owner and editor of an online pregnancy and parenting magazine, Tums 2 Tots Online. I co-own an online women’s only Facebook group, South African Sisterhood, which is much too neglected. In 2016 I started a national car seat awareness initiative called #CarseatFullstop where I spend most of my time and energy trying to teach South African parents why all children under 1.5m tall (between 10 and 12 years old) need to be in a safe, properly secured car seat. #ProjectMeZA is my next big project, where I am going to try to reprioritise myself outside of just being a mommy. I do a bunch of other things as well, which in essence boils down to me having a love and passion for connecting people.

#CarseatFullStop – Website | Facebook | Instgram

#ProjectMeZA – Facebook | Instagram

Tums 2 Tots – Facebook | Instagram

In May 2018, I knew I was pregnant. From the moment of conception, I knew.

I stopped taking my anti-anxiety meds and I even told a few of my closest friends, because I knew it was going to be a funny story one day. I never doubted it. The chances of me falling pregnant were incredibly slim. A few days late on birth control and just one time… that is all it took. Continue Reading…

Roses For Thorns

Roses for Thorns: Kathryn Rossiter

My name is Kathryn and I’m a Cape Town-based lifestyle blogger at Becoming You and I am (now) a mom of 2 amazing kids aged 8 and almost 12. Although my family might seem to be the “perfect” pigeon pair, there are still many hidden scars about my journey to this point in my life, one of which was my intensely emotional struggle with Secondary Infertility.

Like most young married couples, my husband and I thought we had plenty of time and opportunity to start our family when we got married aged 21 and 24, having a baby, although on our agenda, didn’t really feature for a few years after the wedding.

Fast forward 3 years into our marriage and, despite the fact that we were living and working in a foreign country and managing to do some international trips fairly often, we both found life a bit boring! While on a holiday in Italy we almost “risked” going contraception free, but nervously backed out of that and stuck to “the plan”

You see, we are both BIG planners. We aren’t the fly-by-night, wing-it dreamers – we are spreadsheeters and schedulers. We always have a plan. And quite possibly a Plan B too!

A few months later our itchy feet and sense of malaise at our non-exciting life, along with a deep yearning for home, led us back to the leafy suburbs of Cape Town. Within one month we were “trying”, within four we were “positive”. Easy peasy! Little did we know….

The first 2 years of our son’s life whirled by in a blur and as a planner, my second baby was “meant” to be conceived around the time my oldest was 2. That way I would have the “ideal” age gap of 2 years and 9 months. Exactly the same as between myself and my younger sister.

My body had other plans.

Having received a diagnosis of Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) during our stint on the NHS (prior to baby number 1), I had expected to struggle to fall pregnant the first time around. When that didn’t happen I merrily moved on, assuming that the medical tests were wrong, or that somehow my body had defeated the diagnosis. Continue Reading…

Roses For Thorns

Roses For Thorns Vol 2 – Miscarriage, infertility and the great void

“Sometimes it’s hard to see the rainbow when there have been endless days of rain.”

Volume two of the Roses For Thorns series will be launched on the 3rd September!

Following my miscarriage in October last year, I was touched and amazed at how many people have faced miscarriage and/or infertility themselves – so many of us don’t talk about it because, well, it’s not exactly a great party starter. We all know at least one person, even if we don’t know their story, that has struggled to conceive or has lost a baby in pregnancy. Yet I still find it to be a topic that doesn’t garner enough “normality” – and what I mean is that many still feel ashamed to share, shamed into silence by the overwhelming stigma that women are women partially/wholly because of their ability to reproduce.

For this season, I wanted to focus solely on miscarriage and infertility and really strip the photography down….to make it almost barren, and more focused on the physical aspect of the women involved. It was less about the surroundings and more about the “Roses”, because I wanted us to see the personal face of the fact that 1 in 4 women will suffer a termination and difficulties in pregnancy. Continue Reading…

Rosie Loves...

Making traveling fun with Trunki

When you’re traveling with kids, it can sometimes feel like you need a holiday after the holiday. That’s why we love including Rosie in the holiday vibe with her own travel essential, her Trunki.

I’ve been on the receiving end of many a toddler melt-down. They seem to have an innate ability to know when something around them is about to change and it can completely shift their emotions. Going on holiday is something different, and packing for it was sure to nudge some alarm bells in Rosie.  Which is why I’m so grateful for her Trunki and how it made her feel involved in our plans…whilst also making her feel like a big girl.

We’re all going on a family holiday

Can you beat waking up to sound of cows lulling or the smell of the sea or the freshness of salty air as it whips around your face? Two weeks ago we took a break to Stanford and Cape Agulhas and it was just perfect. Find out where we stayed and what we did in this post.

Obviously, the days of throwing some clothing and toiletries in a bag and dashing off on holiday are long gone now that we have a kid. Everything needs to be a lot more methodical and packing can feel like such a mission when you realize you need extra clothes FOR the extra clothes that you’ve packed.

To make our travels more fun, Trunki SA sent Rosie her very own Una the Unicorn Trunki earlier in the year and it’s been our steadfast travel companion for Rosie ever since. With glittery stickers, a sparkly horn and silky tail, it’s the most epic Trunki ever PLUS, it has wheels and can be ridden….like a unicorn! I know, it’s genius.

To get us all excited for the holiday, and to help Rosie feel 100% included, I allowed Rosie to pack her Trunki, which was hilarious. Continue Reading…

Parenthood

Choices I’ve made as a parent that I’m grateful for

Parenting is a minefield. No matter how you prepare yourself, you’re gonna feel kicked in the face most days. Whatever ideals you had before kids can easily go up in smoke when faced with a screaming toddler who keeps flinging themselves on the floor in frustration. I had so many rules and regulations that I was going to try and enforce. It started in pregnancy, as I told myself I was going to only eat healthily and listen to classical music. Ha. Oh Shante, you funny little sea urchin. Now, I just work around Rosie’s personality and how our family works best and it keeps us sane and at peace.

I’ve always been a pretty chilled mother. Sure, there are some things I can’t deal with such as barefoot kids in public (no judgies), or leaving the house without hand sanitizer, but when it comes to other “obstacles” that could have incurred a meltdown, I’ve let them slide. We’ve also looked at particular patterns of behavior in both us as parents, and in Rosie, that could be potentially harmful and we’ve made choices based on making sure we all stay happy and content. Here’s what I’m very glad we have chosen to do:

  1. Serving milk cold. I’ve mentioned before how difficult it was to get Rosie to take to a bottle but after much perseverance, we now can’t get her off them. One thing I’m very grateful for is for not warming up her milk. I had a few raised eyebrows from folks when I mentioned it originally and a few jokes about how it was mean, but knowing that I can be anywhere and I don’t need to look for a warming facility is awesome.
  2. Letting her cry. Moving Rosie into her own room and into her cot falls jut behind having to endure the ring of fire in labor. The first night of letting her cry was so traumatic. However, she was the type of kid that just wanted to be on the boob, or rocked to sleep and she would wake every 30mins and it was crushingly exhausting. I know a few people will tell me that I should have just endured and enjoyed the moments because she wanted to be with me, but you also need to keep yourself mentally healthy. The first night was rough. The second night was better and the third night, we seemed to have broken through the wall. No, it didn’t mean she slept through the night, or that we didn’t struggle going forward, but it made life easier. Now, we have a good bedtime pattern…even if there are nights when she doesn’t sleep through.
  3. Being stern with my Nos. I’m the first to admit I’m not a warm person. I like my own space far too much to have it encroached on and when Rosie was born, a few people wanted to be in our space. I was very firm about it and I don’t regret that. It takes a lot of energy to get me to leave my introverted bubble, energy that I was pouring into my baby. I won’t jeopardize what works for our family for social events – it sounds restrictive, but kids benefit from their routine and if I go to a braai with her and we only start eating after 8pm, I’m done. I’m going home. Ain’t nobody got time for that.
  4. Choosing creche. Okay, this one is difficult because I have days, mainly when she gets sick, that I wish I hadn’t put her in creche but, for the most part, it has been great for us. This sounds like a selfish thing to admit, but for the sake of being able to grow our businesses and offer Rosie, and ourselves, the best life, we have to graft hard. It’s also boosted her immune system as she has been exposed to all sorts of bugs, and I’m glad shes stronger now before the new baby arrives.
  5. Letting her explore. If you’ve seen this post, you’ll know that our house is very open. We keep our cupboards door-free and right by Rosie’s play area, we have a book shelf. By not constantly saying “no, don’t do that”, and keeping things in the open, Rosie hasn’t been tempted – because we ALL know that kids want what they can’t have. So amazingly, she doesn’t scale the shelves and isn’t interested in unpacking cupboards because it’s not off limits; She knows to be gentle and to play “softly” and I strongly believe that by showing her how we take care of our things, it has instilled that same sense in her. We were told by so many people that we would need to childproof our home and we haven’t because we haven’t made anything seem appealing by constantly telling her “no, don’t touch that!”
  6. Ignoring people when it comes to parenting advice. I am the type of person who will do the exact opposite of the advice you have given me just because I want to discover what works for me…and because I’m so stubborn. A lot of the advice that I did listen to turned out to be kak and it just reinforced the truth that you can’t learn everything from other people, you do need to experience it for yourself because each and every child is different. It’s also extremely important to myself and my husband that we discover and appreciate Rosie’s own personality and what we stand for without trying to fit ourselves into other’s moulds.
  7. Letting Rosie be. She’s a shy kid. At parties and social gatherings it can take her a full hour before she releases herself from me and goes and plays. When she meets new people, or even people she knows, she doesn’t always say hello. In the beginning I used to feel awkward about it, I used to try and force her to greet people and then I realized that she is only two. She has her whole life to demonstrate social decorum but I’m not going to lose my head over her not wanting to greet everyone. As for hugging and kissing, her body, her rules. I will NEVER force her to hug or kiss anyone. It will probably cause issue with some family, and be misconstrued as rude, but if I’m telling her that she can’t let a boy at school kiss her, why is it okay to make her kiss Aunty Ruth? It’s not. P.s, she is fantastic at saying goodbye. You won’t meet a kid who can say farewell with such enthusiasm as my daughter.
Explore

Visiting Cape Agulhas

A few weeks ago we packed our bags for a mini getaway to the Overberg and it was the perfect holiday escape for us. We did many firsts with Rosie, which we’ll always cherish, and we spent quality time together before baby arrives. We first stayed in Stanford and you can read about our accommodation here. Our second stop was the Southern tip of Africa, Cape Agulhas.

We stayed in a superb guest house, Agulhas Ocean House , overlooking the sea, and run by a wonderful, loving couple who pretty much made the holiday for us.  With five spacious bedrooms and the most amazing morning breakfasts, it’s a peaceful spot for using as a base to explore the area.

We stayed in the Zen View room which had an unobstructed view of the sea and a balcony overlooking the mountains behind. There was a private sitting room for us and plenty of space to put up a camper cot for Rosie. With no water restrictions, we all had a bath!

We spent two nights in the area, though we would have loved to have stayed longer. Here’s what we did: Continue Reading…

Explore

Blue Gum Country Estate

Sometimes all you need is to get away from home, explore somewhere new, and look at a different view to feel a million times more like you. That’s how it feels having gone away for mid-week break.

Last week we got away to Stanford and Cape Agulhas on a really mini baby-moon to spend some time together as a three before the new she arrives. The entire journey in total took around 2 hours 45mins which, with a toddler and a pregnant woman, is a good amount of time to spend cooped up in a car; I love the drive over the pass, stopping at Peregrine Farm Stall for a pie, and feeling the holiday spirit driving through Hermanus and then to pretty little Stanford.

Stanford has that old-town charm that encourages slow living. It’s home to great cheese, antiques and art shops and is great for walking around. Our accommodation was Blue Gum Country Estate – just 15 minutes from the town, positioned between the mountains and just far enough away that you feel secluded from the world…without missing out on all the home comforts.

It’s incredibly charming – and I love that word; from the moment we parked and left the car, all we could hear was birdsong and the gentle lull of nearby cattle. It was peaceful and safe.

Our room was one of the family-friendly mountain-view rooms and it was incredibly spacious, comfortable and backing on to a beautiful lawn.

I love the English country decor and the bed they put up for Rosie, but I think the view and the natural light stole the show. Continue Reading…

Wine News

The Breedekloof Soetes & Soup Festival: a feast for the senses!

Chocolate; Chicken Curry; Beef & Red Onion Marmalade; Waterblommetjie; Mexican Meatball; and biltong and blue cheese – these are just a few of the soups being served at this year’s Breedekloof Soetes & Soup festival, taking place on Friday, 20 and Saturday, 21 July.

This lively winter celebration, which is hosted at various wineries in the Rawsonville, Slanghoek, Goudini, and Breede River areas, will serve you complimentary cups of steaming homemade country soup accompanied by a glass of red or dessert wines.  Soetes & Soup is a showcase of the Breedekloof’s finest wines and hearty homemade soups– once again affirming why this valley is fast becoming known as “South Africa’s most generous wine route”.

Highlights over the festival weekend include live entertainment by various artists, including Jazz-rock artist Michael Meiring at Bergsig Estate, upbeat hits by DJ Chris Erasmus at Badsberg Cellar, the talented acoustic duo Jaco & Isabella at Jason’s Hill, as well as the famous and much-loved Afrikaans singers Emile Swiegers and Valiant Swart as well as Handré Meyer at Opstal Estate. Husband and wife team, The Romantix will be performing at Deetlefs Estate and there will be live entertainment by Case Closed as well as the brilliant guitarist Loki Rothman with Daschbosch and Goudini Wines at uniWines Vineyards. The Gospel duo Kaleidoskoop’s performance at Bosjes promises to be a hit, too. Continue Reading…

Rosie Loves...

Why we love Tommee Tippee

It’s always difficult writing a post like this because you’re trying to be sincere without sounding like a stuck record.

How many times have you read a blog that was so filled with simpering adjectives and shallow praise that you needed a strong G&T to wash the sycophant away?

However, as a parenting blogger, I get asked my opinion on essentials for babies and toddlers, as well as pregnancy must-haves and finding the right way to do it, without sounding like a parrot is where we often go wrong. If I get it wrong, it’s only because I’m trying to express our love for a brand that I’ve used since Rosie was a baby.

There are brands that you try that stick with you forever. They are faithful stalwarts that make elements of life easier and they are the ones that you’ll suggest to friends when asked. Tommee Tippee is that brand. Being a well-known brand in the UK, I was very aware of them, and the bottle set and breast pump had been on my list of items to get as we prepared for our first baby’s arrival. My mum gifted me with a set of bottles and sterilizer at Rosie’s babyshower and they are still going strong! Continue Reading…