Manifesting my pregnancy and other stories

I’m in a postcoital headstand; with my head between my elbows and my feet against the wall for balance. According to the Flo app, I’m five days away from my ovulation date and my fiancé and I had decided to try for a baby (or I’d finally convinced him to procreate with me #evillaugh).

Then on to the next step in my manifestation plan. I type the words implantation meditation into YouTube and choose one of the videos. A few weeks later, to my surprise, I missed my period. We decided it was time for a pregnancy test, so I peed on a stick and there were two blue lines. Now I’m 22 weeks pregnant and this shit is so surreal.

From two blue lines to a heartbeat

I sat on a chair with the positive pregnancy test in my hand, crying quietly. Happy tears flowed from my eyes and just wouldn’t seem to stop. I’d envisioned this moment in my head for such a long time that I honestly believe I’d willed it into existence.

At 8 weeks pregnant, Ashwin, my mother and I went to the first scan. What looked merely like a bean on the sonographer’s screen was our future. The strong thumping sound of our baby’s heartbeat had me crying once again.

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We’re halfway to meeting this person we’ve created and halfway through the clothes in my wardrobe that fit me anymore. The bump has begun to expand and my body seems to change a little bit every day.

I’m grateful to have been given this wonderful gift of motherhood and I believe that this baby is a product of my manifestation. Anyone who knows me well knows that I’ve always wanted to become a mother, so it’s a bit surreal now that it’s finally happening. I’ll be writing a lot more to document the process and intend to share my learnings through my experience.

Thanks for reading,

Love Gabriela.

I’m broody and it hurts

I remember being equal parts lover and fighter from a very young age. My toys mostly consisted of babydolls and guns, so I was either changing napkins or in a pretend shootout with criminal assailants, sometimes even running with a plastic rifle in my hand with a baby on my back. Becoming someone’s mother has always been a part of the plan.

Stalking babies on the socials

I’ve always known I’d want to have my own family one day but I didn’t think I’d be on Instagram stalking strange women and their babies relentlessly.

I’ve been here (on my phone) for positive pregnancy tests, trimesters 1 through 4, pregnancy photoshoots, newborn photographs, “carried it for 10 months but it looks likes its father” memes, first steps, ABC’s and everything in between and I don’t even know these damn people.

Ashwin says he caught me looking in the mirror, sideways, with my belly poked out but I know he’s lying because I only do that when I’m home alone LMAO.

My sister is a mom

My sister recently went through pregnanacy and birth and meeting my nephew was so surreal. I’d known this little spirit and felt him move inside of my sister’s belly, so seeing him here in real life is always a beautiful experience. He’s just the right amount of perfect.

… but he’s fucking with my vibe. It’s like he needs a cousin and my womb just feels so ready to present him with one.

I have names picked out

I knew the level of broodiness I was experiencing was tipping the scales when I had the names picked out with certainty. I say her name out loud in conversation, describing the traits I think she’ll exhibit. She’ll have her father’s eyebrows and my curly hair (and rhythm) fingers crossed. She’ll be cheeky, ridiculously smart and the most beautiful girl in the world.

I heard the name in a song and funny enough, the name means patience (because I feel like I’ve been waiting and preparing my life to accommodate her). Ashwin has names for a boy (which we don’t 100% agree on) but I’m not even pregnant yet so we have time.

My uterus is screaming

If my uterus had vocal cords, that bitch would be screaming GIMME. I’ve literally (without any shame) written “My ovaries are scraming” under pictures of my friend Kim and her son Kayron. My friend Nomsa brought her son Qhawe to the office recently and I swear my womb started cramping.

I was surprised by the pain I felt in my lower abdomen and brushed it off to be something else but then my nephew was born and when I held him for the first time I felt the same thing.

It’s actually an unpleasant feeling like an emptiness just lingering like a gaping hole that needs to be filled. I burst into tears about the subject because everyone seems to have something else they think I should be doing before becoming someone’s mother.

There are literally pregnant women everywhere. I know this because I see that waddle at the mall, at the grocery store, while getting my nails done, at the pool, on Instagram and dammit I WANT IN.

Here’s to fertility in 2019

I feel like having a baby now is feasible but society is telling me that I need more to achieve. To all the moms and aspiring mothers, past or present, I wish you positive uterus vibrations. Here’s to a fruitful 2019.

Photography, growth and being yourself

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It’s the 3rd of January and I’m prepping my gear for a photo shoot. Lmao, the gear is my Nikon Coolpix camera which I had purchased five years prior with the intention to create more. Our location was the picturesque Klipriver Nature Reserve, south of Johannesburg and the model, my forever muse and sister; Lauren.

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My sister picked me up and we drove to the location. In order to get to the site I’d imagined as a backdrop we had to hike a few kilometres into the wilderness to a stream of water under a wooden bridge. Lauren got into her first look and pow babes, it all came together like peanut butter and jelly.

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My sister was fighting a war with her skin. She’d been experiencing breakouts of aggressive eczema all over her body. This affected her outlook on who she was and forced her to reevaluate who she was and what lessons were to be learnt. My sister had battled with acne from a very young age and it had always affected her confidence.

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I asked Lauren if she had anything to say about what she was feeling at the time and she said this;

It was like a way of coming out with confidence. I truly believe that my skin was physically manifesting the unhappiness I was experiencing. I was dedicated to being a braver and better me. My skin wasn’t completely healed but I wanted to celebrate myself, scars and all, it was still me. I’m proud to look back on the pictures to see how much I’ve grown and how far I’ve come.

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Looking back, I realise that the trying times didn’t only affect my skin but my body too. At the time the images were taken I was the thinnest I’d ever been. My skin condition limited what I could and couldn’t eat. Looking back at the pictures, I admire that body, I’m surprised by how thin I could get. I wouldn’t want to be that skinny ever again but it was very empowering being the social construct of beauty, even though I was battling internally.

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If you look at the pictures you don’t see the struggle I was suffering at the time, you see a glowing goddess. The contrast is amazing, that so much beauty can be created out of so much pain. 

I wasn’t necessarily feeling the way I looked, but my sister captured me in the best light.

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Editors note:

Go out and create. Stop sleeping on yourself and the talents you possess, but most importantly, learn how to love yourself every day.

I took these images and they took me 10 months to edit and another month to post this blog.

It’s hard being a creative because we seek validation from other people to validate that we’re worthy, that our work is impactful, that it’s even worth pursuing your dreams. I don’t care about that anymore. Here’s my shit, take it or leave it, babes.

Thanks for reading,

Love Gaby.

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Being female & POC in the working world​

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It’s 2011 and I’m a third-year student at the University of Johannesburg, majoring in Public Relations, Communication Management, and Naivety. The course required that you be placed in an agency or media house for practical experience. They threw us in the deep end, out with the sharks and these work experiences are the catalyst for my anxiety.

That year really humbled me and I recall waking up at 4:30 AM so I could catch the Putco bus from Eldorado Park to Sandton at 5:30 AM, in the dark, in the drug-riddled township of Eldorado Park. I wouldn’t dare be late either because unforeseeable circumstances were never good enough of an excuse.

Fast forward to 2014 and I have my dream job. I’m the Account Executive at an events management and publicist agency. I was mingling with monied and sipping champers with the superficial, it was fascinating, plastic and soul-sucking. I stayed because I was this coloured girl trying to make it out of the flats and make something of myself.

Future employers always want to know “what’s your reason for leaving?” and we always say something “professional” like “for growth opportunities”, instead of saying what you really want to say, “because her husband was a racist”, “because I was there to manage social pages and events but ended up doing additional work like calling to book her dogs in at the dog spa”, or “because she gave me a chocolate but when I opened it, she had already bit into it”, or “because I’d have to follow her around at events so I could remind her what people’s names were”, the list is endless. I eventually resigned 8 months into the job because crying to and from work because of a deep depression was no longer an option for me.

Companies don’t like being questioned. My last job downsized and they let go of more than half of their staff. I saw many friends sent off with unemployment, leaving behind more work to be done. I’d been there for 2 years at that point and after taking a knock to my salary when I started working there, I was earning then what I’d earned 3 years before. But alas, you take what you get mos, you must be grateful that they’ve employed you. I was managing a global account with flights to symposiums and training sessions with internationals but my salary didn’t reflect how nice it looked on Instagram.

Those relationships, like most of the others, left me with a bad taste in my mouth about working for people. You can almost immediately suss out the dodgy dealings, secret conversations and brown nosing, the favouritism and ableism, the sexism and sarcasm, the unpaid maternity leave, the “I want a doctors letter,” but medical aid isn’t a benefit, the “I RUN THIS SHIT” talk, but they won’t pay you a market-related salary.

It’s frustrating because they’re so uninspiring. It’s saddening listening to how my fellow creatives are being treated in this industry. Those brainstorms where they feed you old peanuts and tap water so they can sink their fangs in and deplete all your intellectual property which they will pitch to the client. Hou op!

My dream is to work for a brand with transformative, progressive ideas in digital who are human and can compromise so that black girls aren’t risking their lives going to Bree Street for “a sustainable livelihood”, where strange men catcall and harass them. You cannot possibly be trying to say that your concern ends where you convenience begins.

I’m not defensive Susan, I’m trying to keep it together. I come from the flats. I say that to say this; You’re dealing with a strong woman, don’t confuse this for an angry black woman. I have to outwardly exhibit strength and don’tfuckwithmeness on a daily basis so that we don’t look too vulnerable in these streets. We are taken advantage of from the second we wake up, most of us have to get up and travel to town which smells like urine and sin, then get into yet another tin can in the early hours of the morning to avoid being late and drying up privilege tears.

To all my hard-working women and men who literally started from the bottom; you deserve the world and you’re going to give it to your damn self. To the employers …just do better!

 

 

 

Photographing my 1st maternity shoot

Photographing my 1st maternity shoot

My muse Lauren and her husband Kearan are expecting a baby this November. Lauren and I have been discussing a maternity shoot for a while now but we didn’t plan any of the logistics.

So this past Saturday, Lauren packed up some items from her vintage collection called Belyeve and I shot a couple of images to document this amazing belly before we meet our child that we’re all so excited about.

Our aesthetic approach to this shoot was to use everyday spaces like the bathroom, bedroom and washing lines to capture fashion and the beauty of motherhood. I’m so excited to share these images with you.

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To Lauren,

You’re going to be an amazing mother.

You carry this pregnancy with such grace and your entire life is about to change for the better. I look forward to meeting this human being you’re baking babes.

With love,

Leandra.

 

Our dream engagement photoshoot

Don't Panic, It's Organic.

It’s the first day of January and in the early hours of the new year I was awoken by Ashwin saying “Gaby, you thought I wasn’t going to do it, I’m going to show you.” Our friends Kim and Leelo were over at our place for the last celebrations of 2017 and they seemed to be just as confused as I was. Ashwin proceeded to take a box out of our wardrobe, he got on both knees and asked me to be his wife … and the rest is history.

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Anyone who knows me well, knows that I love taking pictures, (besides the fact that I’m a tad bit superficial) I think pictures are important for documenting your life story. I couldn’t wait to have our pictures taken to mark this monumental step towards our future together. A way to celebrate each other, a way to celebrate how far we’ve both come.

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Earlier in September, Ashwin took me down to Cape Town to attend his brother’s wedding. We stayed with his cousin and his beautiful family, Carla-Rose, Caleb-Jesse and his Queen, best friend and wife Felicia. She and I were besties from the second we laid eyes on each other and Ashwin and I were lucky enough to have them take our pictures.

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On the day of the shoot, we woke before sunrise and beat the traffic to drop the kids at school. We shared breakfast together at Knead Bakery, went to the market for flowers (which would end up in my afro), then location hunting. We drove for a short while and there it was, Mother nature’s way of showing off, Camps Bay. With the skyline, beach, ocean, Twelve Apostles and Lion’s Head as a backdrop, Walther and Felicia captured Ashwin and I how I’d hoped. I’d like to share a bit of the day in pictures with all of you.

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P.s. Walther, I remember you laying on the beach and your shoes getting wet in the ocean because you wanted to catch the perfect image of my person and I. We both appreciate you so much. Felicia, you’re such a queen and a soul sister. Thank you for agreeing to photograph us, I’ll treasure it forever. For photography enquiries from Lisa Wayne Creations please visit their Instagram or Facebook.

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To Ashwin, my forever love, my everything, my future husband. I love you baby.

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My first car and other stories

My first car and other stories

Back in the mid 90’s, when I was a little girl, my father drove a grey Volkswagen Golf 2 GTI. I doted upon my father and although I was very much the girly girl like my mother, Da was my superhero. I wanted to be just like him and in so many ways I am my father’s daughter.

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Memories

Young Leandra (my family doesn’t call me Gabriela) was always with the guys. Zitto (my father’s nickname back in the 90’s) had such dope friends back in the day and it was cool getting to chill with them and sometimes they had daughters my age who I could play with. My father was always the jokester in the mix, never without a hilarious anecdote to tell (told as if it were true but we can’t really be certain). He’s still like that, he’s easy to give your heart to.

I vividly remember asking my father to leave the car door unlocked so I could get in and sit in the driver seat. From a young age, I imagined what it would be like to have a car because cars aren’t only for boys you know. I also recall the absolute panic that set in the first time I ever locked the steering wheel, just to come to find that it wasn’t a big deal, phew.

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Buying my first car

When I finally entered a tax bracket that allowed me to purchase a car I knew it was time. I’d pondered and researched and after a referral to Roxanne at WV Westgate (she’s the bomb diggity)  I was about to become a first-time car owner. I’ve always had an affinity for Volkswagen, it’s the car I remember when I think of my father. So my first brand choice was a no-brainer.

Getting my first car was a big deal because I’ve always despised the concept of public transport. My father always took me everywhere and at some point, I got to the age where I needed to get myself around. The idea of taking a taxi always made me anxious, with shady characters, smelly strangers, drunk men wanting to talk too much, drivers whose stares gave me chills that ran down my spine, overly excited Christians wanting to discuss how Christ has changed their lives, cigarette bekke and doors that fall off their hinges mid-exit. It was just too much for me to do.

Owning a car was a dream I’d worked hard for and manifested and it comes with so much responsibility and independence.

Getting to know her

I picked her up on the 1st of June (she’s a Gemini) and I remember the anxiety I’d built up on the day. When I laid my eyes on her I was bursting with sheer joy, the day I’d obsessed about for so long was finally here. I pulled out of the dealership with my mother in the passenger seat, scared out of her mind (my driving has improved significantly since then).

Clutch control was a bitch at first and I’d been caught in a couple of embarrassing moments (with other drivers watching). The trick is to remain calm, to know that the clutch moves the car and the accelerator is for power. It’s kind of an art and a science. Lauren (my sister) says to tap it which really helps me a lot.

Ashwin (my fiancé) has been in a couple of frightening driving situations with me, but he takes it like a champ and I appreciate that he just keeps quiet through most of it now.

Keeping calm on these streets

Driving can be very stressful, especially in traffic but if you master the clutch control and remain calm it can be easy as Sunday morning.

I recently drove over a speed hump so fast I almost cried, sometimes I rev her too loudly and I always feel bad afterward, but beginner drivers are bound to fuck up from time to time, be patient with us (and please don’t ask me for a lift, fuel is expensive).

Here are some first-time driver tips for those of you that need it;

  1. Respect the rules of the road (Ashwin loves this line)
  2. Indicate fokken
  3. Check your blind spot
  4. Follow the speed limit (I expect to be humbled by a ticket or two soon)
  5. Remain calm dammit
  6. Be confident babes
  7. Don’t drive drunk you bastards
  8. The car guards know what they’re talking about, just do what they say with parallel parking
  9. Find the proper seating position for you and a boss playlist for jamming
  10. … and lastly, don’t break unnecessarily, it’s annoying!

Thanks for reading, until next time, don’t have too much pride, put the car in neutral when you’re going downhill. LOL.