Sunday, 19 January 2014

How my mother's womb almost became my grave

I have been working furiously on my adoption novoir these past few days. All the final pieces of the puzzle are starting to slot together. It has been such a difficult story to write, but a story which must be told.

Today I came across a photograph of a baby born at 23 weeks gestation, and my heart lurched. My birth mother Liz was 1 - 3 weeks further along in her pregnancy with me at the time she wrote a letter from an abortion clinic in London to her mother back home in South Africa (it was still illegal here in those days, so her mother - my maternal grandmother, my 'mad Granny Monica' - had flown her overseas with the express purpose of terminating the pregnancy).

I have re-read this letter close to a million times since the day I met Liz, shortly after my 21st birthday back in 1995, when she gave me a scrapbook detailing 'my past'. There is one sentence that gets me every time: "But you know, Mom, the final decision still depends entirely on me." In other words, the clinic was still prepared to go through with the procedure at this stage of the pregnancy, had Liz so requested. 

Thank God she chose to give me the gift of life, and my adoptive parents the gift of a daughter instead.

I was born at full term 14.5 weeks later. And have survived thus far, to tell this tale.

Below is the pic of the baby born at 23 weeks, and a copy of Liz's letter.

Saturday, 4 January 2014

December holiday in Durbs-by-the-sea (Part 3 of 3)

Lee's uncle Robbie Hill (a retired jockey) and his son Shannon Hill (an ex-restaurateur) started Hill Racing Stables a couple of years ago. Below is a pic of their current champion, Peter Culture, in action a couple of months ago (he will soon be relocating to race in Singapore). Hill Racing currently train 40 horses on behalf of various owners at Summerveld Training Centre. We were offered an amazing behind-the-scenes glimpse of this exciting world, first on the track, then at the stables, rounded off by breakfast at the clubhouse, with its magnificent views of the Valley of a Thousand Hills.

Above: Peter Culture, horsing around for my camera, haha!

Below: On our last full day, we spent a couple of hours on the beach at Umhlanga, by the kid-friendly rock pools just below the pier. I'm not usually a beach person, mainly because I don't do the sun (medical reasons), but welcoming cloud cover and a soft breeze made for an absolutely sublime experience. In between people watching and taking photographs, I almost fell asleep on the sand, the sound of the ocean and the smell of ice-cream and suntan lotion making me nostalgic for my own carefree childhood spent on this very beach, and many others like it.

Below: Relaxed and happy little family at the end of a week's wonderful holiday, just prior to hitting the road back to the big, bad City of Gold.

December holiday in Durbs-by-the-sea (Part 2 of 3)

A fabulous family day out at uShaka Kids World with my three English cousins (on my mom's side) and their littlies.

Above and below: Caitlyn, the birthday girl

Below: Some pics I snapped on my iPhone en route home along the Esplanade, past the harbour, the yacht mole, and some of my favourite architectural landmarks in the city.