Please indulge me as I also share a little history of my father whom I loved very dearly. My dad had a terrible car accident when a truck with horse-and-trailer skipped the robot and drove over his bakkie as he was coming home from work at 6pm on Monday 13 February 1987. He sustained severe injuries and was diagnosed with 93% brain damage. He was institutionalised in the Tienie Vorster Home and declared completely catatonic. He died 7 years later in 1995 of kidney failure. This obviously had a huge impact on my life and was the seed for my love and patience of those with special needs.
Fast forward many years later… Luis and I got married in 2005. I was excited to become a mother but alas we were unable to conceive naturally and eventually turned to fertility specialists. After numerous operations, 3 artificial inseminations, 4 IVF treatments, and 2 frozen embryo implants there was still no pregnancy.
I started losing hope and opened an art gallery and vintage clothes shop in Greenside, Johannesburg. We travelled all over the world and I was a real high flyer who enjoyed life, but simultaneously still felt a deep sadness and longing for a child.
Then on 6th of October 2010, just after the soccer world cup at 7am the morning – a close friend of mine, Angelique phoned me. She had some shocking news – her youngest sons’ biological mother had called her during the night and told Angelique that she had another child that she would like give up for adoption.
By 7pm that evening, I was driving home from Boksburg with a baby on my lap. Could this really be happening? Could this really be our baby?
Many court cases followed this day in order for the adoption to go through – making me anxious and clinging to my baby for fear of someone coming to take him back again.
Many doctors’ appointments also followed as my baby had been handed over to me in a frail state. Baby Lulu was eventually diagnosed with autism, epilepsy and mild cerebral palsy among other diagnoses.
Another shock was to come – my new baby boy also had another brother by the same mother. He was almost 3 years old with severe ataxic cerebral palsy and global delays. The doctors never expected him to walk or talk at that stage. We adopted Chris as well as we desperately wanted to keep the siblings together.
Over the course of a year and more court cases, in November 2006 we finally managed to adopt Chrissie as well.
It’s been a roller coaster ride with 2 special needs boys with a lot of energy and a curiosity beyond our imagination. I was happy and settled well with my two boys. They are still doing remarkably well and teach me every day the REAL values of life and love.
True to all the old wives’ advice of falling pregnant – ‘just relax and let it happen’, I fell pregnant naturally and baby Gerhard was born a premature mite at 1.5 kg in July 2013. He spent a long time in ICU and I became aware of how fragile life can really be. Shortly after he was released, my husband had a heart attack. Back to another ICU and renewed fears of failing health and possible death.
All this trauma rekindled my childhood love & admiration of my grandma and her canned fruit and veg. These became an intrinsic part of our new lifestyle as I endeavoured to restore the health of my family by increasing probiotics with naturally fermented veggies. These humble living foods improved our health and lives significantly.
We were and are one big happy special needs success story!
I started to ferment kombucha, kvass, kefir and eventually also our own organic veggies.
When I first started fermenting, I did so mainly with the little I remembered from my grandma. I had many, many spoiled batches and the house regularly stunk like a brewery as my bottles overflowed during fermentation. Some glass bottles even exploded into a million pieces!
Through the years I developed an absolute fool-proof method of fermenting with age old secrets combined with new technology such as the airlock system. Since using this method and sticking to the easy rules – I have yet to see a mouldy or stinky (or explosive!) batch.
To get started – check out the following pages: