It’s Babyloss Awareness Week + how to stay positive after a miscarriage

I admit: I was a bit scared throughout my pregnancy. I was scared of hearing those words “I can’t hear a heartbeat” again. I felt a wave of relieve whenever I heard my baby’s heartbeat during my monthly prenatal check-ups.

Prishantha Chetty, a blogger friend, told me this week that Babyloss Awareness Week is every year during 9 to 15 October. Prishantha is creating awareness for an event held about Babyloss Awareness Week today in Johannesburg.

It’s weird, because I had a miscarriage on 11 October 2014. So every year this time, I think of the baby I had lost.

I was about 11 weeks pregnant when it happened. I woke up that morning and found that I was bleeding. I didn’t tell anyone about it, I just cried a lot. I phoned my manager from work, because it was my work-weekend. She advised me to see my doctor.

I then phoned my doctor, but he was off that weekend. I was referred to another doctor, who then checked me out.

He told me the most disturbing thing. “I don’t hear any heartbeat.”

Shortly thereafter I was told I should get a vacuum aspiration. It’s an operation where the contents in your uterus are removed.

I didn’t want to call my husband, because I didn’t want to disappoint him. I called him anyways. At that time I lived in Port Elizabeth and husband lived in Johannesburg, because of work.

A day or so after the incident, husband arrived – with the financial help of friends. He would have taken a bus to Port Elizabeth, but friends chipped in and bought him a flight ticket instead. This gift was a surprise. We were really grateful for this.

Anyway, my second pregnancy was last year. I was a bit scared, because I was reminded of the first one. Whenever I got negative thought coming up, I would push it away. I kept telling myself I didn’t want to disturb my baby with negative vibes. I was sure whatever I felt, she could sense it too.

I had negative thoughts come up throughout the pregnancy. A flicker of fear that I might lose my baby, came up.

Here’s things that helped me stay positive throughout my pregnancy:

I MADE AN EFFORT TO SAVE THE MEMORIES
1. I wrote to a few mommy- and baby magazines and asked how I could be on their cover. Yes, I know. If you know me, you would know I am a shy person. I would rather be behind the camera than in front of it. Eventually a magazine journalist came back to me and said: “We do mommy diaries where you have to submit a monthly diary of each week of your pregnancy. You could agree to that?”

Writing every week was tough, because some weeks would feel the same. You don’t want to give same old, same old stories. But I kept going.
I committed to writing for someone rather than keeping my own diary, because I knew I would be inconsistent if I didn’t have a deadline.

Also, they took photos of me every month. So, because I wrote the diaries for them for free, they are giving me the photos of the shoots (of every month) for free after the diaries are published.

2. I would sometimes take pictures of myself and my belly. Then I’d share it with my parents and close friends. I didn’t want to share on Facebook. Only at a later stage, I shared the news on Facebook and posted a photo.

I READ ABOUT MY UNBORN BABY’S WEEKLY DEVELOPMENTS
Every week I would read about how my baby is growing. Sometimes I would share this with a friend or family member. I would also talk to my unborn baby about her growth inside of me.

I TALKED TO MY UNBORN CHILD
I usually spoke to my child after work while I was driving home. I would also do it when while doing something like cooking.

INVOLVED MY FAMILY
I asked her daddy to read to her. Sometimes he would talk to her or sing for her.
My parents sometimes send voice clips via WhatsApp of them talking to my baby. This was so that baby could get used to their voices.

Losing a baby, whether through a miscarriage or birth or death is heavy. You never forget your baby and you get those days where you just want to mourn them.

It helped me to talk about the loss. I felt that if people didn’t go through that experience, they wouldn’t understand. So eventually I found people to talk to that went through it too.

Even if you don’t know what a person is going through, just being a good listener to them is enough.

The words “I don’t know what to say” was nice to hear. To me it meant: “I don’t know what to say, but I want to. So I will be honest and humble enough to say that, and this is my way of saying ‘I am here for you.'”

Thank you for reading about my experience. If you have gone through losing a baby, let me know how you learned to cope.

How motherhood makes you become a super human

I am doing it for my child [children].

I have heard many people say the above phrase. I think I am beginning to grasp it.

Ever since I became pregnant with my firstborn, I began thinking how am I going to better my life now that I am a mother. I have to live like the woman I want my daughter to be. In fact, I want her to live a better life than I am.

motherhood habits

MY PARENTS’ HABITS

Recently, Samantha Dube, a blogger friend shared her experience of her running a 10 kilometer race for the first time. She said it was interesting how runners are so friendly. I knew exactly what she meant, because my parents used to be runners [well, my dad still is].

They would hoot whenever we ran past runners even if these athletes were only exercising. This hooting was a form of support, said my parents. Later when I did my learner’s driver test, I heard you’re actually only supposed to hoot to prevent an accident…

Eisj, but then again a lot of people also hoot after a wedding – to cheer for the bridal couple.

I also remember that the Comrades race used to be held on South Africa’s national Youth Day [June 16]. On that day, my parents would wake up early to watch the start of the Comrades on television. Throughout the day they would be occupied with something and tune into the television once in a while to cheer for the runners.

The Comrades are nowadays held at the end of May.

Imagine my excitement when I interviewed legendary Comrades runner, Bruce Fordyce last year. I think my parents made me appreciate (and respect) the hard work athletes put in.

Thinking about habits of my parents, makes me wonder about my habits. What will my daughters take from me?

FINDING THE SUPER HUMAN IN YOU

I have seen how women, especially single mothers work extra hard after they’ve given birth. It’s like you get a new lease on life.

There is something about enduring pain during and after birth, then still making effort to take care of your newborn baby and your household.

Your maternal instinct kicks in and you find yourself pushing through to do what you have to.

For instance, one of my friends Maryna Barnard, studied part time to be a lawyer after she got pregnant with her second child. She was a full time teacher of more than 20 years while being a student through correspondence.

Her answer to why she is studying: “I am doing this for my children.”

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Before I became a mother, I never thought that I could do many things (as a mother).

I got through the different stages of my now nine month old baby’s life. Meaning, I went through the newborn baby phase – where she cried a lot and both of us didn’t understand each other.

I am going through her teething phase now. I also know there are more phases to come.

And while all of this is happening, I think about how I’m going to raise my daughter to be the Super Human that I want her to be.

While I am thinking about it, I am learning as I go along. I am finding me again.

Are you thinking about how to raise your child [children] while they are growing up? I’d like to hear your views. Thank you for reading!

Advice on using plants that’s in your garden + my roadtrip

I am really grateful that I am home after being away for three weeks.

Myself, my husband and our nine month old daughter went on a roadtrip from Johannesburg to Cape Town from 15 September 2016. The driving distance from Johannesburg to Cape Town is more than 1300 kilometers.

roadtrip plants johannesburg

WHY THE TRIP?
My husband, a musician and composer had a few gigs [music shows and a workshop for learners] in Cape Town. We stopped for shows at places which included Richmond, Paternoster, Bellville South and Tulbagh.

We arrived back in Johannesburg on Tuesday evening, 4 October 2016. On Wednesday, I had time to do some washing and other admin, while the Princess went to her pre-primary school.

BACK TO REALITY
I went back to work on Thursday 6 October.
It’s great to be back.

Back in my own bed – we slept over at a lot of places in Cape Town. This included staying over at friends and family, and guesthouses.

guesthouse roadtrip

I kept asking myself the question: “Is this baby-friendly?”
This was whether it was food or wherever we were staying. My heart jumped for joy when I saw carpets at a guesthouse, because that meant Princess could crawl around.

It also helped that we brought along a blanket for her to play on. Another thing I learned: travel with a flashlight or candles. You never know when loadshedding will strike in an area.

I didn’t like that this one guesthouse didn’t have bowls nor plates in the room.

I loved that the one guesthouse in Paternoster we stayed at, had magazines. Princess gets bored easily – so anything to keep her busy, makes me happy.

I realised that being out of a routine was taking its toll on all of us [especially on the Princess].

TAKING THE HERB
My highlights of the trip included the creative writing workshop my husband and his friend, Loit Sols, facilitated.

workshop roadtrip

 

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The other highlight was learning about the different herbs and plants that can help heal or cleanse your body.

The day before we headed to Paternoster, husband became ill. I had a bit of flu already, but I had been taking some herbs as medicine. It was the first time I had eaten garlic whole – with nothing to wash it off.

Whenever my throat is not well or if I get itchiness, I cut raw ginger into my black Rooibos tea. I then eat the ginger and wash it off with the tea.

Our friend, Loit Sols told me to eat the garlic raw. It tasted horrible, but I felt good afterward.

He also made a herbal concoction for us to drink. This included herbs and plants he had in his garden.

I heard that stinging nettle burns the germ you have inside your body. I never knew this before – growing up I heard that you should get rid of the stinging nettle in your garden, because it’s harmful to the other plants.

Apparently, the above statement is wrong. Stinging nettle helps heal your body. It’s good to take another herb with the stinging nettle, says Loit. [Afrikaners know the stinging nettle as “brannekil” or “brandnetel”.]

One of my aunts confirmed Loit’s statement, because she had read up about this herb. She had bought stinging nettle at a health shop [and it is sold in a green box]. I told her she could use the stinging nettle in her garden.

Another thing I learned is that these herbs [or rather plants] you don’t have to rinse. You shouldn’t boil it in water neither. Instead, make it as if you do tea. Boil water and then throw the water on top of the plants and let it soak in a tea pot.

The herbal concoction I drank [made by Loit], had the following ingredients:

Hotnotsgooigoed

herbs hotnotsgooi goed roadtrip

Stinging nettle

stinging nettle herbs
Mint

mint herbs
Lavender, and
Buxu [known as boegoe]

You can use any of the above plants together – whatever you have in your garden [or whatever is in your neighbour’s garden]. We used all of the above plants.

Do not drink sugar [when you take the herbal concoction], because apparently this is bad for the immune system.

You may however use honey [because it has natural sugars]. You can also add other ingredients like lemon.

I know lemon is good for cleansing your system. I used to boil water and then pour it over a slice of lemon. Once it had cooled down a bit, I drank this in the morning [first thing] at least an hour before I eat breakfast.

I think learning about the different things I can use to make me feel better, made my trip interesting.

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Besides that, I enjoyed spending time with some of my family and friends. If I didn’t see you, it’s not because I don’t love you. Our schedule was just a bit tight.

Thank you for reading about my experience.

Lessons learned from South African artists + my roadtrip

My family – myself, husband and our nine month old baby – drove from Johannesburg to Cape Town for a few gigs (shows and workshops).

WHY THE ROADTRIP
My husband is a musician and composer.

This roadtrip is taking place mainly because he is connecting with some fans and business colleagues.

Our trip started 15 September 2016 and it’s about three weeks long.

His gigs included a show in Wellington at the Digterstuin (a poetry garden event), a workshop for learners at Bellville South High, and entertainment for Suiderland Plase awards ceremony at Landtscap.

THE HIGHLIGHTS OF THE TRIP
So far the road trip has been good. We could visit a few family and friends along the way.

I got a bit of a break away from cooking (yay, mommy victory dance). I especially enjoyed eating curry bunnies and the occasional braai meat. I also had a few minutes to myself whenever family members wanted to bond with the Princess.

I got to attend one of my cousins’ 21st party. This included tasting her chocolate cake. She had made the cake two days before the party. Her trick to keep the cake moist was to pour (already made) coffee over the cake.

THE LOWS
Sadly, some of the gigs were cancelled. This meant less income on our trip.

Again, I could not visit all our family members or friends, especially due to lack of funds. Sorry my people.

LEARNING FROM WRITERS
I didn’t think this was funny when the following happened, but it’s a sort of funny story:

I watched an American movie with one of my cousins. Husband comes in and asks what is the movie’s name.
Cousin replies: This Christmas
Husband: But these people are not talking Afrikaans.
I realised he was joking because “This Christmas” sounds like “Dis Krismis”.
My reply: Christmas isn’t even an Afrikaans word. It’s Kersfees.
Often though we Afrikaners write Christmas as slang Afrikaans “krismis”.

I thought of husband’s friend Loit Sols when the above incident happened. Loit is a poet. He writes his poetry in goema Afrikaans (also known as Kaaps Afrikaans).

Loit and husband (Leslie Javan) facilitated a workshop for learners on Tuesday 27 September in Bellville South.

Their aim was to teach the learners about creative writing especially songwriting.

I learned the following about:

WRITING
Make mistakes. For example, Loit told the learners that his way of writing words, especially since it’s goema, does not seem correct in standard Afrikaans terms.

His advice: “Don’t worry about your spelling of words. If you worry about that, you will never finish writing your story. The important thing is to tell your story.”

He added: “There are editors to rewrite or perfect your spelling (or paraphrasing your story).

BEING AWARE
Good writers look for the obvious. Sometimes the obvious are not seen to you, because you become used to your surroundings.

For instance, if you walk to school or work every day, most surroundings or things around you, become obvious (and unnoticeable).

KNOWING YOUR AUDIENCE
Learners/ young people need interactive teaching.

I spoke to a former teacher at the workshop and he said role playing is important when teaching children (or conveying your message).

Instead of telling your learners or audience what you are going to teach, rather let them do role playing and find out for themselves, he said.

It also helps to do a “needs assessment” before doing a workshop.

COLLABORATION
When you have the right partner, a collaboration is good for business and self-development. Husband and Loit complimented each other whenever they did a show or workshop together.

I have two questions for you :
Have you ever been on a roadtrip?
What’s the most memorable advice you received relating to the skills you are passionate about?

Thank you for reading!

It takes a village to help you grow

I have a hobby – it’s blogging.

Blogging is when you write and share ideas publicly in a form of a blog post (this article is a blog post) on a blog. A blog is an online public diary. Mels Postbox is my blog which I started in July.

As a relatively new mother, I can’t do my hobby alone. I need support.
Support means that I can get time off for me to work on my hobby.

A MOTHER’S LOVE
I appreciate my mother more now that I am a mommy. My mother used to do so many things for her husband and children but it went unnoticed.

I even think about how my mother must have washed our clothes with her bare hands, because I do it now.

On Sundays before we go to church, she’d wake up very early to cook a meal for us. We would then just warm the already prepared food after we return from church.
My mother used to rather buy her children or husband stuff like clothes than for herself.
I remember one of my mother’s sisters used to pamper my mom with things.

Now that I’m a mom, my mother preaches that I must look after myself – not only the husband and children.

ME – TIME IS IMPORTANT
Last month I attended my first bloggers meet up. To tell you the truth, I struggled for about a month on whether I should go to that event or not.

Firstly, I didn’t want to spend money on a ticket for me. I could rather buy a million things for husband or my children, was one of my thoughts.

Eventually I convinced myself that I need to invest in me, and that I need me time with other people.
I was happy I went to that bloggers meet up.

MY VILLAGE
I met a few bloggers who I now regularly chat with on Facebook.

My relationship with them reminds me of when I studied for my degree in journalism.

It was part time – my classes were on Tuesdays and Thursdays. During the week I worked at a newspaper.

A friend on the university allowed me to squad (sleep over) in her room on the days I had classes. That helped me a lot, because I struggled to get a lift home those nights. During the day I would travel by train.

I remember when I was working on my thesis, I had a small group from my class who I could chat to about my ideas and thoughts.

I enjoyed it so much to have that support. Working full time and studying part time was tough.
One of the people in my group was a working mother.

The blogging friends I have now reminds me of those days on and off university (because sometimes we would study or do research off campus).

DON’T WORK ALONE
Support is important when you are doing something extra like being a student or having a hobby. I say this because mothers especially need support or a community.

Blogger Yaro Starak, author of “Blog Profits Blueprint”, says he was an introvert and preferred working alone. He did however see that businesses of bloggers become successful because these people had a community.

They had help and support, from for example Facebook groups.

In my chats with my small group of blogger friends, I realise I have a lot to learn.
It’s also great that I can share things with my community.

Yes, the saying goes “it takes a village to raise a child” but I believe it also takes a village to help you grow as a person.

I don’t think I could make a success witg my hobby or any new venture without help of my husband, family and friends.

I don’t know what I would’ve done if I didn’t have that friend who was kind enough to let me eat and sleep over in her university room.

Thank you for reading! Let me know how you take on a new venture.

Advice on choosing a career – this is how I got into journalism

I never thought of journalism as a career before I enrolled to do the course at Cape Peninsula University of Technology.

In fact, before I decided to enrol for journalism I never watched much news. My brother and I used to love watching the 19:00 comedy show on Sabc1 on a weekly night. News did become my life the day I applied to do journalism.

Studying journalism was not something I considered. I wanted to do something in medicine, like radiography. I failed Natural Science in June 2005 when I was in matric. I needed good marks for that course – so when I failed I didn’t get a call back from the university’s radiology department.

During my matric year I decided with a couple of friends that I wanted to do a gap year. The plan was to take a gap year and au pair in the United States.

I went all out – I did a lot of babysitting and I worked for free at a local crèche (a day care centre for children) to make up the hours I needed. I think the programme asked that I must have about 100 to 200 hours of experience (babysitting children).

I got the necessary paperwork to do au pair – I even wrote a letter to my potential host-parents. Writing the letter was the most exciting thing I did. I must have realised then that I should consider a career that involved creative writing.

Anyway, during my gap year I worked as a waiter while trying to get my things in order to do au pair. I had to get my driver’s licence to complete the application to do au pair.

Long story short, things didn’t work out my way. I failed too many times at my driver’s tests. Eventually I made a decision to let go of the dream of becoming an au pair. How I came about that decision, is a story for another day.

After I made a decision not to do au pair, my parents advised me to go study something.

The thing about finishing matric and being an adult is that it is an exciting part of your life. You get to make decisions as an adult. Yet, I was not sure what I wanted to do with my life.

I always had a dream that I wanted to be a doctor; maybe a gynaecologist.

One day at a hospital – I was sick – I saw a man with his foot messed up. It was as if he just came in from an accident. His foot looked disgusting and bloody. I couldn’t see myself touching that man’s foot and then decided that I cannot be a doctor.

So radiology was the second dream. In my matric year I had taken everything on higher grade and I failed some of my subjects because it was too much to handle. Please note: during my school years I was always in the Top 10 or Top 20 learners at the school.

There was a lot going on in matric.

My mother suggested that I study journalism, because I apparently had always said I wanted to be an author. Journalism would be a way of telling stories and a steppingstone of me becoming an author.

I had a light bulb moment: what my mother said was true. I had even while working tried once a month to buy at least one magazine. I’d buy a different magazine each time, because after a while the one magazine’s content seemed “same old, same old”.

I had been enjoying reading and writing since I was a child. I even went to a free Writers Workshop in my teens and wrote my first soapie-story.

The day I enrolled for journalism I was told that the applications had already closed. This was in December 2006. The lady at the administration did however advise me to go see the head of department (HOD). I went to the journalism department and there the secretary of the HOD said the same thing: applications are closed.

God intervened; the secretary then told me she’ll take my application. She asked me however to call her every day [when the university opened again] to remind her about the application. The week my class mates went for orientation, I was sitting on my phone every day to call the secretary. I eventually was called to come in for an interview.

Out of hundreds who applied, I was one of 40 that were chosen for the course.

Why am I writing this post?

Well, the other day I spoke to someone about how many people especially entrepreneurs don’t know what their services should be. How do you decide what to study or what to sell or what service to give? Here’s my input:

  1. You should think about what your talents are. What are you good at? What do you enjoy doing?
  2. What are your qualities? How can you serve? Just because you are a good listener does not mean you should try being a social worker. Doctors are good listeners too – I think. Doctors have to listen to patients who moan about what is wrong with them. That information then helps the doctor make his diagnosis. I am a good listener – but I am a journalist who listens to other people’s stories. I also enjoyed working as a waiter and a call centre operator – it helps if you are a good listener in one of these jobs.
  3. Talk to people. Share your ideas out loud. You learn about yourself and from others if you share what’s on your mind.
  4. Sometimes you should just take the leap. For example, I am a shy person – someone who hardly ever talks, yet I am a journalist. AND I LOVE MY CAREER. I love learning new things. I love listening to people’s stories. Those are the things I get to experience in my career. I would not have known that I could love this job had I not taken a chance to enrol to study journalism.

I hope this was helpful. Thank you for reading!

About Me

Hello, goeie dag, molo, dumelang, awé, Asalamu Alaikum, sawubona, Shalom

Welcome to my blog.

I am Melissa Javan, creator of Mel’s Postbox. For those of you who know me, I previously did my blogging at www.melissanel.wordpress.com. I recently got my own blog domain name. The aim of my blog is to share stories, tips relating to life and/ or entrepreneurship, and also to help people to create better content for their websites or newsletters.

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Married Javan, I am a South African journalist and content producer by profession. I became a journalist, because of my love for storytelling.

So far it’s been an incredible journey. I started blogging in 2011 while reporting on the 17th United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP17) event in Durban. I was working for an independent grassroots newspaper, Cape Flats News then. While on my journey as a blogger, I encouraged some of my female media friends to join me, to give people insight to our careers and thoughts in general.

I stopped blogging after I moved to a new province and job in Port Elizabeth. I started taking blogging seriously in July 2016.

Anyway, I am also the mamma of a 0 year old (currently ten months old) daughter and stepmom to a beautiful, talented chef, who is in her early 20s.

I speak a little South African, because my mother tongue is Afrikaans and I am surrounded daily with friends and colleagues who speak isiXhosa and Setswana.

My interests include entrepreneurship, food, music, travelling, but most importantly women (especially mothers) who inspire me. I love hearing stories of how people become successful despite their challenges like living in an impoverished community.

I hope to inspire you, or make you laugh – while you read about my (and others’) journey.

Thank you for visiting my site.

Regards,

Melissa Javan

PS Connect with me via email melissajavan1@gmail.com

or Twitter @melissa_nel

or Facebook page: Mels Postbox.