Supermommy 5 ~ Maz’s Story

I can’t believe we are halfway through the Surrounded by Supermommies’ series! Thank you all for the love, warmth and support you have shown Melanie, Lindsay, Cassey and Carla. Please continue to share their stories with the world. And now we head into another special story.

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The journey to motherhood begins the day you find out you are pregnant; so much of the mommy you are is influenced by how that journey plays out. Growing a baby inside your body is amazing and mind blowing in so many ways, our bodies are incredible. But often the experience of pregnancy itself is traumatic and painful and so very hard, and the long term effects of that are too often ignored.

Our fifth Supermommy is someone I respect hugely. I have been following Maz’s story on her blog Caffeine and Fairydust (how amazing is that name?!) for quite some time now. Maz had an incredibly stressful first pregnancy, being told in the first 6 months that there was no way her baby would survive; the extensive stress and fear deeply affected her ability to bond with her new daughter. It also affected her second pregnancy, perhaps not in the way you might expect.

The first time I met Maz was at the last #CTMeetup and I was a little starstruck. When I started working on this series, she came to mind pretty early on; but she was the last person I contacted because I was worried she would think I was a stalker. She was awesome and so enthusiastic. And for anyone who missed it, she was also my lift to the Huggies event we attended a few weeks ago, so I even have this photo :)

Maz & Me

Maz & Me

Ok, now that I have all the fangirl enthusiasm out of my system, let’s get started…

This is her story
Maz is madly in love with her husband, Cole, and an adoring mom to two of the most beautiful children you will ever see; 4 year old Mikayla and 7 month old Knox. She is an incredible fashion designer. She is a rockstar blogger. She is an animal rights activist. She knows her own mind and owns her opinions; she is straight-talking and tattooed and gorgeous. She is also sweet and sincere and warm and just lovely. I’m a huge fan. (So maybe not all the fangirl enthusiasm was done).

Maz family

Maz grew up on a beautiful farm 30km’s outside a small town called Upington in the Northern Cape. At 17 she was diagnosed with bipolar disorder, which came as a huge relief to her as she now knew what was “wrong” with her. She left her parents and her home the December after she matriculated to move to Cape Town and study Fashion Design & Garment Technology at the Cape Town College of Fashion & Design.

She met Cole at 18, but they only connected a year later where he made quite the impression by doing backflips to make her happy (literally), and they have been together ever since.

Cole and maz

In her own words
I am a farm girl at heart, but I always had a plan when it came to my career. Moving to the city and studying Fashion was always going to be a part of that plan. Falling in love and starting a family was very much not part of the plan; I never wanted to get married until I met Cole. Plan or no plan, everything worked out perfectly. I still have a great career, I just get to come home to a house full of love and laughter afterwards!

Wedding pic

A First Pregnancy
Maz and Cole got engaged after only 6 months of being together and were supposed to be married in September 2010. Shortly before then, they found out she was pregnant and postponed the wedding to October 2011. They were ecstatic about the pregnancy, a little shell shocked but very happy.

And then at her 3 month check-up, her gynae told her that it was unlikely the pregnancy would go to term and she was probably going to miscarry. Exacerbated by depression, this left her in a very dark place.

She describes her pregnancy as a war. She suffered from Hyperemesis Gravidarum throughout her entire pregnancy, she was in pain and exhausted all the time, her hair fell out and her skin broke out. And the constant fear caused her to disconnect from her pregnancy and her baby.

After 6 months of waiting to miscarry and feeling horrendous, they decided to go for a second opinion at the Fetal Assessment Center. They were told that the baby was perfect and healthy, if a little small.

Pregnant with mikayla

In her own words
After being the happiest I had ever been, I was stressed and depressed for most of my pregnancy as I waited for the inevitable. I cried every time I left the gynecologist’s office.

He told me that because I was suffering from severe nausea and vomiting that lasted all day and all night; neither of us was getting the nutrition we needed. There was little or no amniotic fluid in my womb, Mikayla was very small, and was apparently not growing as fast as she should have been. I was told she wouldn’t survive.

A specialist later on explained to me that it was perfectly normal, and my doctor had no right to cause alarm. But that was months too late; the emotional and psychological damage was done. My gynae basically ruined my first pregnancy.

Birth
After the trauma and the confusion of the pregnancy, they decided at the last minute that they would head back to Maz’s hometown to deliver the baby.

They went to her family doctor for a checkup at around 39 weeks pregnant. Maz had been unable to eat anything for two weeks and was vomiting more than usual, so she was sent straight to the hospital. She had very high levels of ketones in her urine, which is a sign that the baby is not getting any nutrients. The fear that her baby wouldn’t make it out alive, that something would be wrong with her and that the previous gynae was right, was ever present in that moment.

39 Weeks Pregnant

39 Weeks Pregnant

In her own words
I was too young and inexperienced to ask the necessary questions. I was very drugged up. It was still a beautiful experience; I just wish that I was more present. I remember feeling a tug and then they took her out.

There was silence for what felt like an eternity, but my husband said it was just a few seconds. I remember frantically asking, “Why isn’t she crying?” I remember being very afraid, I think I was still waiting for the miscarriage to happen in my mind, I just could not shake it. And then she cried… and then I cried.

I remember my husband holding her next to me, but the memory that is embedded in my brain is the look on his face, how amazing and strong he looked holding our daughter. How bright his blue eyes were, how happy he was, how in love he was… I fell for my husband all over again that day.

me and hubby with newborn mikayla

Postnatal Depression
The trauma of her pregnancy did not end with Mikayla’s birth. She loved her baby, was in awe of her, but she could not connect with her. Maz was not sleeping at all, Mikayla had colic and she was struggling to breastfeed and neither of them could stop crying. Unsure what else to do, she returned to the one thing she knew – work.

In her own words
Being bipolar, I never really know what a “normal” range of emotions was. I guess I knew that something was terribly wrong when I would sit on the couch with my baby in my arms and cry – all day long. I pushed my friends away; I didn’t want to see anyone. I would not let my husband see his friends or have fun – if he did I made him feel guilty about it.

4 days

I felt terribly lonely even though I had an amazing support system. My parents live very far away, but my mom was on the phone with me every night guiding me and offering me advice. My mother-in-law would sleep-over to look after Mikayla so that we could get some rest, and when I started work she took care of her during the day.

My husband was incredible; he changed nappies and did middle-of-the-night feedings, he washed dishes and cooked. Most importantly, he helped me find myself again. I have the most amazing husband in the world.

I lasted a little over 2 months at home and then went back to work – I wanted to get away. My work was the most important thing in my life before I had kids. I am a career woman, it is in my veins, in my bones; I don’t think that will ever change. It has always been what I was supposed to be.

I went back to work to escape, but also because I knew I wanted to be extremely successful and I had a goal of where I wanted to be – my 5-year plan. I was young and had a lot to do in order to achieve that goal. In the beginning I was always working; I would work late or bring work home with me. I think after about two months, I had a nervous breakdown.

me alone with mikayla 6 weeks

A breakthrough
I remember looking at her, and it was like I saw her for the very first time. She looked so innocent. I knew I had to sort myself out, that she deserved more. From that moment on I have tried every second of the day to be the best mom I could possibly be.

My doctor put me on a common medication to treat PND, which also helped increase milk production. I was given sleeping tablets to help me wind down and get some rest; I was going days without sleeping at all and it really messed with my mind.

I spent as much time with her as I could and our bonding process started. There was this moment when she was about 1, when I looked at her and I felt that love that makes your heart want to burst. It was only then I really realised that this was my baby girl, she had survived the pregnancy, we had survived and she was here and she was mine. Every minute since our bond has gotten stronger; today at 4 years old, she is everything, we have the strongest love and bond between us.

me with Mikayla at 6 months

Mikayla and I 1 year

Mikayla Rose
There are no words to describe Mikayla. Nothing seems adequate… She has always been very intelligent. She achieved all her milestones very early and it has always been evident that she is extremely bright. She is also insanely beautiful. Since the day I was brave enough to show her to the world we would be stopped by strangers on the street, people would literally stare at her. She is gorgeous – I don’t know how that happened.

Mikayla 1

She has an incredibly strong personality and she is hilarious. We are mother and daughter, but we are also best friends. We are both very artistic, we love playing dress-up and singing. She is a drama-queen (like me). Our favourite thing to do is put Taylor Swift on in the car real loud and sing along at the top of our lungs, or dance like idiots in the kitchen and lounge.

Girls

She is her dad’s little princess and the two of them share a remarkable bond. I used to be jealous of it to be honest. She also has an adventurous side, she shows no signs of fear – just like her dad. My husband is a bit of an adrenaline junkie and she definitely got that from him. They go skateboarding together and hike to the very tip top of the mountain.

Daddy's girl

It always astounds me how she will be in a twirly princess dress one moment and the next she’s rolling around on a skateboard in her skinny jeans. Fun fact, Mikayla can write/draw perfectly with both her left hand and her right. Weirdo :)

Skate

A second pregnancy
Not surprisingly, it took Maz a long time before she considered trying for another baby; although she has always wanted 5 kids, so baby number 2 was a definite. She squashed down the trauma of her first pregnancy last year and she is so glad she did.

Knox ~ 34 weeks

Knox ~ 34 weeks

As if to make up for the first, her pregnancy symptoms were manageable. Other than severe heartburn, she had a little nausea, her feet swelled, she had some Braxton hicks and she was tired after working all day,

In her own words
I took me forever to feel ready, my body and mind took long to heal. I think my brain filed my first pregnancy under traumatic experiences and just kind of shut down whenever the thought of having a baby came up. Eventually I just had to get over it.

My pregnancy this time round was wonderful. I really enjoyed it! I was very big and felt like I was going to explode, but it felt right. I tried to savour every second! Towards the end, Knox kicked me really hard and it actually really hurt and I experienced some round ligament pain, but nothing I couldn’t handle. The worst was the heartburn… holy cow!

There were so many high points; really experiencing it, enjoying it and sharing it with Mikayla. At every check-up we were told that he was doing really great and that felt amazing! Also, my husband’s face when he found out we were having a boy was beyond words!

My greatest fear going into this pregnancy was that I would not be able to love Knox as much as I love Mikayla.

me pregnat + mikayla and hubby

Preparing to be a mom of 2
There were challenges to be pregnant when I had a 3 year old at home; not being able to lie down and sleep whenever I wanted to, or sit down and put my feet up. There was still a mountain load of stuff to be done every night and bedtime stories to be read.

But Mikayla was wonderful; she was so excited and helped me get everything ready. Every night she would put her ear to my tummy to listen to her brother or sing him a song. She even told him stories.

me pregnant with knox with mikayla 5 - Copy

We included her in absolutely everything. We did not try dumb the situation down, we explained it to her as it is. Kids understand so much more than we give them credit for. We also explained to her that he would need a lot more time and attention when he arrived.

Birth 2
Knox was a little too enthusiastic to be born and arrived at exactly 36 weeks. Maz was in labour for 15 hours while the doctors did everything they could to stop it. She had a lot of fear approaching her c-section and when she went into labour, she had even more fear because he was so early.

In her own words
I remember standing in the doorway of our house chatting to Cole, he was busy building something. Mikayla was laughing at something he had said and all of a sudden I felt Knox kick me incredibly hard, followed by a sharp pain. I laughed and said to Cole that it felt like Knox was trying to escape. We went about our day as normal.

I took Mikayla out for lunch for some special girl time and we had a great day. I started feeling contractions at about 7pm. I thought that I was being paranoid, so I took a bath and tried to relax. I was too scared to phone the hospital, I did not want to cause a panic amongst my family and friends, so I just sat there quietly, waiting for it to stop. I think subconsciously I knew the time had come, but although I was really excited and prepared, I did not want it to be true for his sake.

At about 10pm it started to become really painful and I asked Cole to take me to the hospital. I am not sure how to explain all the feelings I experienced in those 15 hours… I was terrified, happy, sad, confused and excited all at the same time. I could not wait to meet my little guy, but I wanted him to be okay and have the best start in life. Being born a month early is obviously not ideal.

For some reason I was scared of the surgery this time. I thought I was going to die; no jokes, I really thought that I was not going to come out of that theatre alive. I have no idea why. My doctor was amazing and I was confident in her abilities. Luckily, one of our friends, who is also a gynae, came in to assist my doctor and it was so nice having her there. She is the kindest soul and it was a very special experience to have her there with us. Between her, my doctor, Cole and the hilarious anesthetist, they really made it an awesome experience. I felt happy and calm.

hubby and i with newborn knox

Until they took Knox, and the tone of their voices shifted. I got to see him for about a minute before they rushed him to the NICU. There was a slight infection in his lungs, but the biggest problem was that his lungs were not mature enough to breathe on their own. They were light wet paper bags. We were not allowed to touch him at all during the first couple of days, as too much stimulations caused his stats to drop and affected his breathing.

Knox in incubator

I was really scared in the beginning; afraid that I wouldn’t be able to bond with Knox because he got taken away from me so soon. It was on my mind all the time. My fears melted away the first time I got to hold him, I still cannot think about that moment without crying… It was incredible. Our bond was instant, and almost more than I could bear. I still feel so guilty for not having had that feeling with Mikayla from the start.

Holding Knox for the first time

Holding Knox for the first time

holding knox for the first time

Coming home alone
Too many people I know have had to do this recently and I still can’t get my head around it. I know you do what you have to and obviously you do whatever is necessary for your baby; but how do you physically cope with leaving a part of you behind?

Knox was in the NICU for 5 extremely long days. Having to leave the hospital without her baby was the hardest thing she had ever had to do. In the end, she had to go home and be strong for her daughter.

To my mind, the strength that takes is not lessened at all just because it is something you have to do. And going home and being an amazing mom and showing your strength to your daughter shows superhero colours.

Hugs

In her own words
I remember thinking that my son was almost a week old and I had only held him once, I had only kissed him twice. I had not changed one nappy and I had only been able to feed him through a tube. It was not the way it was supposed to be.

me with knox newborn

The NICU has very strict visiting policies, so I had to adhere to them. When it was quiet time for the babies, I had to leave. I would get into the car and break down, I cried myself empty… It was the hardest thing I had ever had to do, but I needed to finish crying before I got home for my daughter’s sake.

When I was at home I tried to rest, to sleep; but in reality all I was doing was pumping a milk supply because he was being tube fed. I was in quite a bit of pain this time around, so I could not do much.

Things with Mikayla were quite hectic; she was so upset and cried a lot. She was not allowed in the NICU, so it was really difficult for her. We tried to explain the situation as best we could and we kept her busy by getting her to help us prepare Knox’s stuff; she loved being involved. Every time I left to go to the hospital she was excited to meet her baby brother, and every time I came home without him, she went to pieces. It was beyond hard.

I looked after myself and knew what to expect. I used my maternity leave to find myself and my passion again and just spent every single moment with my kids. Mikayla has a great deal to do with keeping any PND or baby blues away; it is impossible to be depressed with her around.

Knox

Knox
Knox flourished when he was released from hospital. He grew so fast that they had to put him on solids early. He is taking a tiny bit longer with some of his milestones, but nothing out of the ordinary. They will just need to watch his lungs as he grows up, as some premature babies with underdeveloped lungs can have issues later in life.

In her own words
It hurts to look at him, he is that beautiful! He has my husband’s gorgeous blue eyes and the longest eyelashes in the world, but he is a little mini-me. I can already tell that our personalities are a lot alike. He is a mommy’s boy, that is for sure! I want him to stay this little forever. He absolutely adores his sister, he light up every single time she enters the room.

knox and i

knox and i 2

Mik kiss Knox

He is my soul mate. Although I don’t love him more than Mikayla (my heart just kind of grew), I definitely feel very connected to him and we share a special bond.

Mommy of 2
I love being a mom of two and it is definitely a lot easier than I thought it would be. Mikayla and Knox having such a special relationship, there is so much love there. me and the kdis

knox and mikayla

mikayla and knox

There is, of course, the financial aspect and we have to plan our days in advance; but I am lucky that I have a very hands-on husband who gets involved and helps me wherever he can. We are equals, and we share the tasks at hand equally. I cannot imagine a life without Cole; I would have 10 more kids with him if it were logical. We will see what the future holds, but we will probably have a third later on in life and adopt thereafter.

cole and mikayla with knox

cole with the kdis

Career
As mentioned earlier, Maz is a born career girl; and her passion for fashion has seen her through some difficult times. For the first time after Knox’s birth, she struggled a little to return to it and became an advocate for extending maternity leave in South Africa. Not only was she returning to work after what seemed like too little time with her new baby, but she was actually heading into a brand new job. Leaving her kids was incredibly hard and came with all the mom guilt expected, but she also knew that to be the best mom she can be, she needs to be the best version of herself she can be – and that version works her butt off at something she loves doing. Letting your kids see that kind of love, determination and dedication to following a lifelong dream is an incredible gift to them.

In her own words
Ever since I can remember I was designing dresses for my Barbies and then begging my mom to make them for me. I got my first miniature sewing machine when I was about 8-years old – it was love at first sight.

I have always had a 5 year plan in place; I knew where I wanted to be in a certain amount of time and what I had wanted to achieve. So far it is still on track. I started off as a menswear designer, during which I learned a bit of graphic design. From there I moved over to layette (babywear) and worked at Naartjie Kids, which was perfect for me at the time as I just had Mikayla, so she ended up being my biggest inspiration! After the founder of the company (my mentor) retired, I also decided to move on and try my hand at ladies wear. That is how I got sucked into the world of fast commercial fashion. I have worked with some of the top retailers in the country, it has at times been a bumpy road; but I truly love my job.

Power Pic

Caffeine and Fairydust
In all this amazing busyness of being a high level fashion designer and an attentive adoring mommy and wife, she has also managed to leap to the top tier of bloggers in South Africa with seeming ease. As a blogger myself, I can tell you there is NOTHING easy about it. It takes incredible amounts of work and patience and time; you need to love it and commit to it and it can be exhausting. It is also therapeutic and cathartic to have somewhere you can go that is all yours.

Maz only started blogging during her pregnancy with Knox in September 2014. She can be found here blogging about everything from parenting to politics, with some amazing reviews and giveaways thrown into the mix. I love Maz’s writing style; she has a great way with words and she weaves a story worth reading. I find it is a great relief to be able to really get into an article after the short and sweet posts that most blogs showcase. Don’t get me wrong, I do them too on occasion and they are fun and they have value. I am just a person who prefers to feel like I’ve just had a coffee and a good conversation with a close friend, and Maz has that style down.

In her own words
Writing has always been one of those things I wanted to do, but never thought I was good enough at. It was also quite low on my career list; it went something like.. Fashion Designer, Forensic Pathologist, Rock Star, Tomb Raider, Archaeologist, Chef, Writer.

I started blogging last year when I was going through a really hard time. I was working at this horrible company where I was being harassed and treated unfairly for being pregnant. My blog became a welcome escape; a form of therapy, even though I have never written about that particular situation.

I blog whenever I get a chance, but I am very strict about it not taking time away from my husband and kids. I also have pretty bad Insomnia, so sometimes I will write at odd hours of the morning to pass the time until the sun comes up (which is probably why I make so many spelling mistakes). I am still trying to find my balance, and still ironing out the kinks of what I want my blog to be. I am not sure what the future holds for Caffeine And Fairydust, all I know is that I am loving it, and I hope my little space on the Internet leaves people inspired and with a new perspective. {Me: It does :)}

Screen Shot 2015-07-27 at 9.27.24 AMFinal words on…
Pregnancy
No two pregnancies are the same. Try not to compare yourself to others – comparison is the thief of joy.
Everything will annoy you. This includes air, gravity, your husband’s loud chewing and everyone you’ve ever met – just breathe.
Pregnancy IS magical, but a lot of it sucks… more than you can even prepare yourself for.
The “Pregnancy Glow” is bullshit, don’t fall for that crap. It was society’s way of making us feel better about getting fat and hormonal, but it backfired terribly with unrealistic expectations.
Do your Kegel exercises. You can thank me later.
Get off Google. It’s nearly impossible not to want to look up every symptom you think you have, but you are going to drive yourself insane.
You are going to gain weight, so best to come to terms with it now – your body will never be the same again, but that is not always a bad thing.
Find a gynae, doula or midwife that you feel comfortable with and that you can trust – they will be with you when you are at your most vulnerable.

Becoming a first time mom
The good thing about nights is that they bring on the morning, and every day is a new day with a newborn.
Don’t feel ashamed to ask for help, build a support system and use it.
Prepare yourself to love like you never even knew possible.
You know those women who talk about how they fell in love with their babies the instant they first laid eyes on them? Yeah … that’s not how it works for everyone. If you do not bond with your newborn instantly, don’t worry… it will come.

Postnatal Depression
Ask for help! Do not brush it off, it can become serious if not treated and you never want to put yourself in a position where there is a possibility of hurting yourself or your baby.

Having a second child
Involve your first child in everything; keep them up to speed with what is going on. Kids understand more than you think.

Being a successful working mom.
You need a reliable support system. You will never stop feeling guilty, but you need to get over it. If this is the life you chose, do it properly so that your children have someone to look up to.
At times it might seem impossible – there is so much to do and not enough hours in the day! Through careful planning and time management, it is doable, in time you will find your rhythm.

Being a successful “mommy” blogger
Oh gosh, I am not really a successful “mommy” blogger yet, so I am not sure how to answer this question! All I know is that you should always be yourself.

Finding balance
Personally, I found my balance through spiritual growth. I am not religious, but I meditate and do yoga and it does wonders for your mind. I also make sure to make time for myself, it might sounds selfish but you are never your best self to others until you take care of your needs and nourish your own soul first. It does not mean you do not care about your kids. It just means that you understand the value of your own happiness and how it affects every aspect of your life. Make some time for yourself.

The 3

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

You see now why I am such a huge fan, don’t you? I thought so. I’m even sad to be finished telling this part of her story; I will have to find something else to interview her on soon. For those of you who haven’t read her entire blog from the very beginning – lucky you! Head here and off you go!

This is one power mamma who goes for what she believes in with everything she has. She carried a beautiful baby girl through one of the most mentally scarring pregnancy experiences I have heard of; she fought her way out of a deep postnatal depression to be a better mother and to bond with her baby; she continued to grow in her career while focusing on growing herself and her family; she chose to surrender to pregnancy a second time to work on the family she envisions; she had be separated from her baby boy because his lungs weren’t able to breathe alone; she had to leave him in hospital after all her bonding fears from her first baby; she had to go home, suffering terrible physical pain and anguish at the separation, and be positive and excited and upbeat for her daughter; she had to learn to be a mommy of two and then she had to leave both her babies when her maternity leave ended and jump into a new job, which she has recently been promoted in again.

She is a Supermommy.

Maz’s final words covered all the usual wisdoms I would share :) One of the big things I took away from her story, is if you get scary or bad news about your pregnancy – go get a second opinion straight away. Don’t wait! Don’t let one person’s bad judgement determine the course of your pregnancy and possibly the course of your parenting journey.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Maz you are so incredibly brave and so incredibly strong. You are a warrior mommy. You are leading your best life and you are setting the very best example for your kids. Mikayla is already showing her likeness to you in her indomitable spirit and her ability to assert her independence and be who she is; YOU did that! Your approach to life, to parenthood, to marriage, to your career, to yourself, is inspirational. You are a supermommy! Thank you for sharing your story with us.

If you have loved this story, if it has helped you feel less alone in your own journey, if you have learned something new; please share Maz’s story, so that you can share that feeling with others. That is our goal, no mommy left behind!

Sending all the love xx

Comments

  1. says

    Thank you so much for all the kind words! You all rock, and you are all super mommies in my eyes ♥

    A huge thank you to Mandy for sharing my story so beautifully

  2. Shafeeka says

    Amazing! Reminded me a bit of me after my kiddo was born, especially the PND. Here I’m pushing to extend the age gap a little longer, and she just went for it. SUPER SUPER MUM! #warrior

  3. says

    What a wonderful piece. A Poignant reminder never to judge any book/person by it’s cover. You just never know what anybody has gone though or is going through. Thank you for sharing Maz’s story Mandy.

  4. says

    I am misty eyed right now. You just never know looking at a super mum because she carries her scars so well

    I most connect with this amazing super mums story. At this very second this gives me so much hope at where I find myself

    • Pregnant In Cape Town says

      She is very inspirational and definitely a mommy who proves you can have it all and do it all. You are amazing; a supermommy for sure. You are doing what is right for K xx

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