Expectations: Why Are Such Supportive Women So Negative? – Why Social Media Isn’t Helping

Since having more time to myself I have found I have developed some bad habits I used to be so proud I didn’t have.  But, now I have more time on my hands, sitting around the house on maternity leave waiting for a baby to come, I have realised maybe I need to find a better way to pass the time.  Spending more time on my  phone browsing social media for entertainment has made me realise, or reminded me of how negative a place it can be.  I wonder if it’s the anonymity where people feel the freedom to voice their harsh, judgemental and cruel words?  Or is it just that it only takes one person to open up an opportunity to start a negative nancy marathon?  And, why are we using it as a display of the perfect people we want everyone to think we have become?

My Outlook & Home Dynamic
As a typical woman I guess I am so used to being busy all the time, I never really take time out for me, and when I do it’s not for very long.  I assume this is what makes people appreciate their free time more.  I struggle with balance between working a rotating roster/shift work, and managing all the things at home.  I assume the role of meal planner, shopper, accountant, and coordinator etc.  Don’t get me wrong my husband is great, and he helps out with house work, he will share the load of washing, vacuuming, he takes out the garbage, manages the yard work (not that we have much – but I don’t have to have anything to do with it), he will do basic meal prep/cooking and he often wakes me with a coffee.  I think we have a fairly balanced role around the house, and we both have a sense of 50/50 responsibility for everything.  We both work, he currently works part time and I have always worked full-time/overtime, but the imbalance has been more about him retraining in a new profession that included some study, and the part time status was inflicted by his employer.  (Although I can see the phonechainvalue in a 4 day week – just saying…)  However, since being off work I feel as though I can’t expect him to go to work and still share all the things around the house, I’m not saying this is how all households should work, it’s just a feeling I have and it might be due to my upbringing or my usual feeling of always being busy.  But, since being on leave I have taken to all the household chores, except yard and bins, which still leaves me with ample time around the house.  Ordinarily this would be great, but at 38 weeks pregnant, most of my friends and family working, and with my minimal energy levels I feel as though all I have done is lay around the house in the afternoons, watch tv and spend WAY too much time on my phone and social media.  Granted, we don’t have children and this will soon change, I will be happy to welcome his help when I have a baby to care for around the clock, feel tired and struggle to find time to fit in a shower.  But, at the moment I feel absorbing the extra work hubby does around the house is only fair since I’m struggling to figure out how to fill my days anyways.  This has me wondering about our perceptions of our role as women in 2020, what do we expect of ourselves, what do we expect of each other, and when did women become so judgemental?

The Culture of Social Media
To put this into context I have to get back to the “too much time around the house and bad habits” comment.  It has become a habit to browse social media while I watch tv, when I find myself sitting for a moment, sometimes it feels constant.  Something I don’t usually do.  So with this new found time searching for I guess entertainment, I have had fb-vemore time to read articles that have popped up in my feed, and even more time to read people’s comments, to the point I actually got annoyingly emotionally invested in one or two conversations and actually left a comment.  Something I would normally never do.  I guess mostly because I see how other people make seemingly innocent comments and cause an uproar, resulting in people being judgemental, defensive, offensive, rude and just unnecessarily cruel.  I understand that written text is often taken out of context, but I feel as though some people are commenting almost just to latch onto one part of something said by someone else and just attack because they can.  With all the negativity surfacing from research around social media and the negative effects it has on us individually, I wonder what it’s doing to us as a society.

I guess when you voice a concern, opinion or idea you are being judged, assessed and assumed by others for an array of reasons.  On the internet we are interacting with a diverse audience.  People of differing cultures, upbringings, values, ethics and opinions.  Words are taken out of context as there is no inflection, and there are far too many negative attitudes and opinions out there.  The social media platforms are very negative places, something that isn’t a secret anymore, and more research materialises to identify chainshow facebook and instagram are ruining our self-esteem, happiness and self worth.  Some of the “discussions” and comments I see literally remind me of the reactions of children, when a comment is made and others go out of their way not to intelligently have a discussion about the comment, but just to abuse and attack the person who they know nothing about.  No wonder there are so many issues with kids being bullied via apps and social media when this is the example being left from grown adults and the online community.  Readily available for all to see.

The Female Role/Expectation
This gets me back to my initial thought process – the role of women in the household.  I read an article this morning about a mother who was discussing the struggle of balancing her family, work and household duties, which included photos of a very untidy laundry.  First of all, I used to babysit for a family of 6 kids, I get how quickly laundry can pile up.  I know from my own struggles that coordinating work and home is a fine art of balance and planning (as I’m always trying to master it but never seem to have a perfect formula) and I don’t even have kids yet.  So I am in no way judging any part of this.  But, it was the comments underneath that upset me.  There were so many commenters, women with kids, some who worked, some who were stay-at-home-mums, all commenting on their individual work/family/house balance.  Two comments were posted about how it was unacceptable to have an untidy house, and continued to identify their own regimes, how they worked, had kids, coordinated said kids after school activities, school drop offs, pick ups, and had perfectly tidy and clean houses.  This of course was not well accepted, with an array of comments following that attacked those two mothers, accusing them of not spending enough quality time with their families, how they would rather have an untidy house, and accusing them of bragging and thinking they were better than everyone else.  I’m not condoning either behaviours, or making any judgement either way, but what this highlighted for me is the pressure and expectations we feel are being cast upon us.  Not just from society, but from our peers and probably the most harsh, from ourselves.

I would have thought in 2020 the role changes women have gone through over the years would have lead to a change of these views, pressures and expectations.  We have come from a role of getting married, having babies, raising a family, and taking care of our husbands to having any role we like.  We can be the stay-at-home-mum if financial pressures allow, or because of financial pressures and costs of day care etc, we can have jobs because we need to, we can choose to have a career instead, we can even choose to “do it all” or not invest in any of it.  I feel as though throughout history women have fought to be equals to men in the workforce, and a shift of the stereotype in the house had shifted to more of a shared role, yet women seem to have become so harshly judged by each other for not taking on everything and winning at it.  Even worse, we seem to be so defensive if we are seen to fall short of one or the other, and pull each other down for not reaching our perceived idea of perfection that we think society asks of us.  Why is it women will stand together to fight for equal rights and perceptions against traditional roles and expectations, yet pull each other down for sharing the struggle to maintain an idea of who we think we should be seen to be?

I won’t lie.  I have my own preconceptions of who I think I should be, and what I think people expect of me.  I was raised first by my mother who quit her job when she got married because she wanted to have a family, she was a “stay-at-home-mum” in the traditional sense of the 80’s.  But, like women of today she too was judged, not by social media though, just by her mother-in-law.  I later went on to live with my grandparents when she passed away, where there was a similar dynamic, my grandmother was the homemaker, and my grandfather was the provider.  I was also told during high school by my grandfather that he couldn’t understand why I would worry about getting my HSC, as I would likely marry, have a family and never use it.  How I have taken it upon me to prove him wrong.  I have my masters degree, we’re about to start a family and I’m planning to balance the lot somehow.  I have to say I feel the pressure to balance it all.  The career, the household, the family and the newest pressure for me is yet to come…  The kids lunch box!  This seems to be the new frontier in pressures placed on mothers of today, and a post for another time.

Changing Social Media Culture
I guess my point is that as a society we really need to take a look at what we are creating.  We have a culture online of pulling each other down, women have a culture of pulling each other down, and we expect this not to be filtered on to our children and the next generation.  My question is “how do we change it”?  As grown adults who are relatively anonymous on the internet why do we need a moderator?  Why do we not behave like this in a face-to-face setting?  And above all, why do we feel the need to spread such negativity?  I find it a really different culture between what I see on social media, and what I see in comments from my blog.  Two different platforms, used in different ways, yet one is so toxic and the other is so supportive.  Makes me wonder, how do we bridge the positivity of the culture here to other social media platforms?

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Pregnancy: Third Trimester

Although I’m not quite through the third trimester we are looking at induction soon, so I thought it was about time for me to wrap up this post, as I have been contemplating whether or not I would like to make a birthing post.  Nothing gross or graphic, but just a real look at my experience and expectations I guess.

The Experience of Pregnancy
My experience of pregnancy has been a fairly pleasant one.  I felt good most of the time, I pregdidn’t get unwell, although I didn’t work for as long as I thought I would, I do still feel ok at 37 weeks.  I find that you get different responses from other pregnant women though.  They either love it or hate it!  The ones that love it seem to gush about how amazing it is to carry their baby for 9 months, how much they love being pregnant and how amazing their birth was, while others tell you traumatic stories of endless mornings sickness, food aversions, extreme lethargy and their horror of birth.  Having heard all of this I wasn’t sure what to think.  I kept waiting for the mornings sickness, when I never got it I wondered if everything was ok, you don’t hear as many experiences where they skip this symptom after all.

As a nurse I met new people every day, so you go through the motions of answering the same questions.  “How far along are you?”  “When are you due?”  “Do you know if you’re having a boy or a girl?” “Is this your first?”  “Why don’t couples want a surprise anymore?”  I answered these questions so often, and patients always want to know what names you’ve chosen, I guess this is a topic of major debate these days, but I do wonder whether it has been a topic of major debate in the past as naming trends change over time, and the names that seem outlandish become more mainstream.  I have been in many conversations with people about the unusual names people use, and must admit I know people who have used names we would never think of using, but you do get used to it.  And, at the end of the day it’s just a label.  However, being married to an ex-teacher there are of course names associated with negative experiences that restricted the list, however, we seemed to focus on more traditional names anyway.  I always wanted a name that wasn’t on the top 100, but a name that we didn’t make up, or that wasn’t really a “name” by definition.

As for our expectations, I hadn’t really thought too much about it all.  I know I wanted to expecationshave a baby some day, but hadn’t really thought about the experiences of the process, even as we lined up for IVF I feel as though I just went through the motions.  Hubby had thought about how much our lives were about to change, but I don’t think it was until my widget counter on my phone indicated we had 100 days until the expected birth date that I started to think about the trauma of getting this baby out into the world.  This was when other peoples’ birth stories started to get to me, I think I heard just about all the possibilities.

The third trimester also brought with it the physical changes and challenges.  This was the hardest part for me.  No longer remaining as active as I had been, I started to realise I couldn’t take the long strenuous walks I was doing before hand and in the earlier days, I lost my ability to bend and therefore lost flexibility, I have trouble turning in bed and bending down to pick things up, even getting off the lounge is sometimes a struggle.  The swelling finally kicked in, before I finished work I had huge ankles and if I had my feet down all day my feet would be huge.  I no longer sleep through the night as I have to go to the toilet at least 3 times.  And, as the tiredness kicks in I find it hard to get motivated to do more than I have to as well, which I find disappointing because I had all these expectations of using my time off work for daily yoga and walks at the lake – but I have struggled with motivation and the weather here hasn’t been ideal for outside activities with recent weather either 40 degrees celsius or more recently rain all day.  Throughout this pregnancy I have had appetite changes, I was getting hungry more than I used to – I’m eating breakfast now, and finding I need to eat more regularly, but around week 34 found I couldn’t fit in as much food without feeling uncomfortable, and I found I had a decreased appetite.  Meanwhile, +13kgs at 30 weeks, +15kgs at 34 weeks, +17kgs at 36 weeks and although I’m told this isn’t excessive I feel as though it’s not all pregnancy related. So instead I’ve started some new habits – I’m starting to adapt my diet for the slower lifestyle I seem to have taken since maternity leave, and incorporating some strength training – nothing over the top just some light weights for upper body strengthening, and squats for lower body and I’m aiming for a third trimester yoga workout 3 times a week.  We’ll see how well these best intentions pan out.

Preparation
These last few weeks have been mostly made up of lists.  This is me trying to keep everything organised.  I made lists for the hospital bag, and because I don’t know what to do pregsize the baby will  fit into I have 00000 and 0000, plus an array of comfy clothes for me to wear, toiletries, supplies for breast feeding and cord care suggested from our antenatal classes.  And, while I kept to that list, the only difference is having enough for the baby in two different sizes I have this fairly large bag that I’m sure looks somewhat over the top.  But at the same time I am packing for two people for a five day stay away from home, so I guess it’s not unlike what I would pack to go away for five days on a holiday.  Just no sunscreen, insect repellant, or array of shoes.  I also had lists for what we thought we needed for the baby, what we thought we needed to have set up in the house, and of course I have packed and repacked the babies’ room to fit in all the things we have been given and that we’ve bought ourselves.  I often get asked if I’m ready.  I guess my answer is yes, we have everything I can think of that we would need, probably some things we will never use, or rarely use, but mentally and emotionally we’ll have to wait and see.  Currently I’m playing the waiting game on maternity leave, and preparing for a kitchen renovation.  No this is not a nesting thing, my husband tells me I am a nester naturally, this is circumstantial, the money and time aligned and now I’m hoping it can get started before I go to hospital with the hopes maybe it will all be done by the time we come home.  In time to pack it all away.

Self Care
I have decided to take some advice from some older work colleagues who tell me my life lay on grasswill never be the same once this baby is welcomed into the world.  They recommend getting as much rest as I can, doing something I enjoy, and just make the most of being alone because I won’t get the opportunity for sometime.  So given that I’m scheduled for an induction in 10 days my plan is to catch up with some friends, do some baking, sewing, watch tv, nap and fit in some vacuuming and laundry around that.  Well, that’s the plan anyways.

Pregnancy is laced with expectations and good intensions!

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Pregnancy: The Impact of Body Image

Body image has always been an issue, especially for women.  As society projects an idea of what they they should look  like, putting added pressure on women to out-perform expectations.  This of course starts in the teenage years and sometimes earlier these days, as girls when body changes begin to occur, and they want to continue to fit in.  As women we not only have to worry about whether we fit in with our peers at school, but we have the added stresses of puberty, shaving/waxing, wearing the right clothes, being the right size, wearing make-up and being who everyone wants you to be.  To all the people who have ever said I wish I could go back to high school, do you really remember what that was like?

It’s no surprise that women can go through a similar transformation issue during pregnancy.  I have been on a pregnancy forum since the two week wait from our IVF cycle, and it’s amazing the things that concern people about pregnancy, pressures and expectations.  There is so much more awareness around pregnancy health these days.  We all get screened for gestational diabetes, I was screened for my risk for pre-Balance-is-the-key-to-life1eclampsia, there is a rather conservative number given to the amount of weight we are meant to gain, not to mention all the foods you can no longer eat, and all the lifestyle factors you have to give up.  There used to be a culture too of “eating for two”, and there is still a pressure from some people to do this, saying you aren’t eating enough to nourish your baby, so with the pressure from the medical field not to gain too much during pregnancy and the pressure from others to eat more – what are we supposed to think?  It’s no wonder women are so confused, uncertain and insecure.  It’s the pressure from high school all over again, with the added rapid body changes.

I found I was on websites offering calculators for how much weight I should be at depending on my gestational week, I found I gained more some weeks and others I gained minimally if at all.  I struggled as my clothes no longer fit, I have found myself out getting clothes to make myself feel comfortable, felt insecure when I don’t have anything dressy enough to wear to go out or for special occasions, and of course there really is a lack in the maternity department in local shops.  I also joined a diet program for new beginnigspregnancy (which was an addition added from the program I was already following), I felt there wasn’t much guidance offered there on what I should eat, however it made me realise the weight gain part was hard for everyone as we had similar concerns on discussion boards.  I still feel a little guilt and shame when I realise others have gained less than me, leaving me wondering what I can do to fix it, and why I feel as though this is such a big deal.  Hubby keeps telling me I have all the time in the world to rectify it after the baby is born, and he reminds me if I can lose 42kgs, I can lose a few extra from the pregnancy.  After all, if there is a healthy baby in there, and a healthy mum out here, does any thing else really matter?

In the last few days I had a slight change of perspective.  I have been thinking about how quickly pregnancy passes (I guess if you haven’t had any of the side effects), and the amazing things our bodies are doing during this time.  Do we lay our focuses on all the wrong things?  Should we not be preparing for the arrival of a new baby rather than dwelling on a few numbers on the scales?  Should we not be enjoying all the feelings that remind is there is a small human going through amazing developments in there, embracing the bump as a reminder of what is yet to come, and making a plan for our new life and preparing for parenting?

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Surviving the Silly Season: Managing Christmas Prep

I was sure I would keep our Christmas stresses to a minimum this year.  We aren’t hosting or having anyone over for Christmas this year, but instead we seem to have found ourselves contributing to two Christmas days, which of course means lots of food preparation for me. Although this post is coming a little late, I thought I was share my strategy for getting through it all.

I feel as though we make ourselves so busy these days, why should the holidays be the time to make it worse?  Why not make it as easy for ourselves as we can?

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We went minimalist this year – decorating our house with lights and this minimalist tree that deters the cats

My first tip is to pace your tasks.  Don’t leave it all until the last minute!  I spent some time this week making a plan for the things I have to make, I made a shopping list, and today I am going out early to get the shopping for all of it.  To make our planning harder, hubby has a birthday tomorrow so today I am fitting in his birthday cake as well as Christmas prep.

My plan goes as follows:

Our first Christmas celebrations are on the 24th; making pavlova, rum balls, gingerbread biscuits and a salad.  The second is on Christmas day; brownie trifle, Christmas cake and a weet-bix slice.

Sunday 22nd

  • Confirm meal plans and any other meals you will need over the next few days
  • Confirm shopping list
  • Do the grocery shopping early
  • Prep rum balls and gingerbread cookies
  • Make hubby’s birthday cake
  • Tonight’s dinner – quiche loraine (this will leave us leftovers for following nights)
  • Wrap the last of Christmas presents

Monday 23rd

  • Soak fruit for Christmas cake

Tuesday 24th

  • Salad
  • Trifle
  • Weet-bix slice
  • Cook Christmas cake

Then on Wednesday – Christmas day we don’t have anything to do but just show up.  I think Christmas preparation is getting bigger and bigger every year, and the easiest way to get through it is to delegate tasks to your guests, this is what both our families have done this year.  Give everyone a task, if you’re happy to cook the meat, have guests cover nibbles, dessert, salads, and sides.  Take the stress out of the day, and then at the end of the day they can all take their leftovers home and reduce the amount you have to clean up on the day.

My biggest tip is don’t leave the groceries and meal prep until the last minute!Alternatively – buy things pre-made!  I’m not that organised!

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Planning a Tight Budget

As I’ve mentioned before I am planning to be off work next year on maternity leave.  Which means living off a third of my usual income, and managing on a little over half our usual income.  Planning this out has made me realise how much money we really waste, and trying to live by that budget now as we try to adapt the way I do the grocery shopping has been a bit of a shock.

When you do up a household budget there are some things you can’t avoid, we have all resized_20190528_1604481841645121331155492.jpegthe usual expenses; mortgage, phones, foxtel (which although it could be cancelled, it is still under contract and may be one of the only sources of entertainment with a new baby), utilities, rates, existing loans and of course food.  I figure the only thing we can really change in our house is the food and fuel budgets, and although our circumstances won’t be changing next year around food we can shop a little smarter, and regarding fuel for the cars, I won’t be driving 60kms/day to work and back, more like 6kms to the shops and back once a week, and maybe a social visit whenever I can fit one in.

Our Rules for Grocery Budgeting:

  • Make a realistic budget – you probably spend more than you think
  • Make a meal plan
  • Create a shopping list – one you can stick to
  • Reassess what you’re impulse buying – what do you REALLY need?

There are so many habits we have when it comes to shopping for groceries.  For instance we used to just buy what we needed every 2-3 days, I felt like I wasn’t throwing as much food away, but how much were we really spending?  We were running down to the convenience store to buy dinner items and odds and ends, plus picking up things that were on “sale” along the way.

Tips for Meal Planning:

  • Make a list of meals you like to eat – I have one with breakfasts, lunches, dinners and even desserts
  • Make up a meal plan board – you can stick laminated meal ideas to it as a visual for you and your family so you can plan your grocery list
  • Mix up the menu so no one gets board, and take requests
  • Make a baking list too, this can take the expense out of snack items as it’s cheaper if you make things yourself
  • Have a shopping and food prep day – on this day pack food away in a prepared state to make cooking quicker (pre chop veggies like broccoli)
  • On nights where dinner is easier – ie something goes into the oven for 30mins+ prepare something else for another night you would usually get take away as you’re too tired to cook
  • If you shop on a fortnightly basis and worry certain ingredients will spoil before the following week – cook that meal this week and freeze it

 

Food Prep that will Change Your Life:

  • Chop and pack veggies into containers – as mentioned above this makes dinner quicker, plus food is less likely to go off and the fridge looks much more organised
    If you have Tupperware ventsmarts it’s time to get them out and use them
  • Buy cheese by the block – slice some and grate some and put into separate containers or a divided container.  Grated cheese often has saw dust etc to prevent clumping, and we ingest this
  • Freeze meat that you won’t use in the next few days
  • Plan nights where you can easily cook two meals at once
  • Pack snacks into a container or tub in the fridge and pantry for family members to quickly grap – at our house as we get a veggie box I am trying to encourage the fruit for snacks

 

The best plan I have come up with so far has been a budgeted fortnightly shop.  For example:

Budget of $250/fortnight (remember I live in Australia so AUD):

  • Fortnightly shop of $150-170
  • Fortnightly fruit and veggie box of $30-40
  • Leaving $30-40 for extras (milk, bread – anything we might run out of)

 

If you’re struggling to keep your budget down I suggest thinking of all-in meals that will small changeslast more than one night such as; lasagne, curries with rice, veggie bakes you can have as a side with different meals or even for lunches or snacks.  We have a pizza night where we make homemade pizza on wraps and the ingredients can also be used in salads or other dinners.  If we have lasagne I usually have left over lasagne sheets so we make cannelloni later in the week or the following week.  I think you just have to look at how your family eats, and what your requirements are.  In our household we both often have to eat dinner at work so we eat more “all-in” meals on those nights and have a roast or something that’s nicer eaten fresh on the nights we’re both home for dinner, these are the nights the veggie box comes in handy.  I find the veggie box is a cheaper way to buy veggies and they seem fresher, plus they support our local farmers!

The best thing you can do is plan ahead!  It seems time consuming but we use an app for our shopping, we have an account we both log into, and then I have a think about our rosters for the fortnight ahead and go from there.  It probably takes about 10mins to make up a shopping list and meal plan.  My new approach is not to allocate meals for certain days, but rather a list of meals we will be having for the fortnight, I make the ones hubby wouldn’t be happy to make when I’m home, and leave the easier ones with less work for when he’s home, plus some easy  go to’s for both of us.

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Invest Time, Not Money

Why don’t we see what we have right in front of us, before it’s all gone?

As we look down the barrel of 10 months on a very limited income next year, and possibly something similar when I go back depending on how we can coordinate two shift work rosters, I have been thinking about the little things we might like to do as a family, the things we did as kids that we completely overlook now.  Which led to me realising how generations these days don’t take the time to appreciate the little things in life anymore.  We see life through the lens of a camera, yet we don’t have many photos around the house, we have so much stuff but we don’t spend any time at home, and we travel but we don’t appreciate the outdoors.  We look but do we see.  We hear but we don’t listen.  No wonder there’s such a movement for being more present and mindful.  We need to speak because we have something to say, and listen because someone else has something to say, that might just be valuable.  We need to go back to having conversations, rather than listening to the sound of our own voice.

I have been thinking about how busy I always am lately.  I know I read all the time about how we are only as busy as we make ourselves, but no matter what I do I find I still feel 20191110_1456213695830631881340027.jpgas though I’m rushing around.  I make at least 1 day a fortnight for me, and because I work all afternoon shifts I often feel as though I am always meal prepping in the mornings before work.  I see other women who somehow have the motivation to get up earlier to make more of their day, but is that really that effective if they are losing sleep at the other end?  Which makes me wonder…  Is there really a perfect balance of work/home/rest?

In my ever changing and developing attempt to make more balance I have decided there are a few changes I wouldn’t mind trying.  Since I have people always telling me the scheduled 17 days I’m planning to have off before the baby is “due” isn’t enough, and that I need to make the most of that time as it will be my last opportunity to be “alone”, I wondered why I can’t take regular time out to do that now?

Next weeks’ challenge:

  • Take at least 30mins out each morning before work to sit and have a coffee, enjoy the outdoors or read a magazine
  • Take 1 whole day a fortnight (some weeks I only get 1 whole day off) to wind down, rest, relax
  • Make a list of things to do during days off so I don’t spend half the day trying to decide what to do with myself
  • Get outside more – picnics with hubby, walks around the lake/beach
  • Do some exercise regularly – I often leave this as a last priority but I think it would make all the difference in my energy levels

 

In order to make change, we have to implement a change in behaviours somewhere.  For 20191118_1828113230214733437694832.jpgthe most part my goals are just to make more time for my head and body to wind down and relax.  I want to spend less time watching tv, worrying about things and more time getting outside and doing all the things we used to do as a family when we were kids that seem to have been lost over time.  Something as simple as a picnic crosses off so many of these goals, it gets us outside, hubby can go fishing, I can read, go for a walk, or just take some time out.  I think there isn’t enough value placed on simple things like going somewhere nice to have a picnic as a family, be in each others’ company, and enjoying a change in atmosphere.  Even just interacting during dinner with no technology, sharing what we’ve been up to, what is happening with us at work or from day to day, I worry we are all losing that conversation and this is something we want to encourage with our new family.  There are so many things we can do with friends or as a family that don’t cost us a fortune, invest time rather than money.

On that note, I’ve decided to put off the groceries to sit on my balcony with a magazine or some crocheting.  I can do the groceries tomorrow while hubby goes fishing.

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Pregnancy Files: Trimester 2

As promised I am documenting progress on trimester two. I have done a lot of reading and we have been in discussions about what we want to do about many things. I have come to realise there will always be people who want to offer advice, tell you that some of the ideas you have don’t work, or that they are too much work, but I’ve learned to keep a lot of my ideas to myself.

The things they don’t tell you about pregnancy is all the sensations you will have. I have been haunted by mothers telling me how bad morning sickness is and asking me how sick I’ve been… 0%! I have however had sleepless nights, pangs and twinges, sore and swollen chest, constipation, bad dreams, frequent urination, and have been really flat, and also felt fine. Here I am up at 2am because I can’t sleep. We spent the evening with family, where I was so tired, I wasn’t really even concentrating on the drive home, but I got home, head hit the pillow, asleep by 10pm and awake again at midnight.

A few things we are considering leading up to the arrival of our rainbow baby (therefore we have had quite a bit of time to think about this):

Purchases

  • Owlet, but the sensor rather than the webcam. This is a system (if you purchase both I guess) that allows you peace of mind when your baby is asleep. We are still considering buying the sensor sock that monitors the baby’s heart rate and oxygen levels as my husband is a nurse in ICU and has seen a lot of babies presenting with complications during sleep. Although this is definitely not a vital item to purchase, we are hoping it will offer peace of mind after a miscarriage and an IVF pregnancy.
  • Modern cloth nappies. We have been taking these into consideration for some time. We will have quite a reduced income while I’m off work, and the thought of the money we will save in addition to not having nappies sit in our bin for 2 weeks (they only empty every 2 weeks here), in addition to the impact on the environment, we have been thinking about starting out with them and seeing how it goes. However, once you start to do some research you find out how much they cost and I guess that can be a bit of a deterrent, but when I found an article indicating disposable nappies will cost in excess of $3000, while cloth will cost $1500 from new born until toilet training, we are leaning towards the cloth at this stage. Plus I highly recommend shopping around, there are some better prices out there, and of course you can always buy second hand if you’re ok with that idea.
  • Bottle prepper. Yes, this is highly a convenience option. We purchased one at a 33% discount and I thought it would be handy for hubby as he feels ill-equipped for when the baby comes. I thought this would take some of the stress out of it, and for middle of the night feeds it preps a bottle in under 2 mins.
  • Breast pump. I have picked one up second-hand from a friend, it has options for electric and manual with a timer on the electric one. The day care centre we are on the waiting list for offers to feed your child formula or your own expressed breast milk, which may be handy if we’re still breast feeding when I have to go back to work. At this stage, given baby isn’t even born yet we aren’t really sure what to expect, for this reason we also haven’t invested in a proper set of bottles. I bought a starter set just incase, and figure we can add to it depending on what our needs are at the time.
  • Baby carrier. I was always interested in a baby carrier. I am planning to assume all household duties while I’m off work and hubby is working, I figure it’s only fair, and this will include shopping. I had imagined a baby carrier would be an essential tool for grocery shopping, freeing up my hands and allowing me to use a trolley. We found the Ergo 360 on Catch of the day for $90 off. I have since been told this is the best option on the market, but I guess we will trial that for ourselves later on, but I also wouldn’t mind a wrap as I have heard they are more appropriately fitting for the first 6ish weeks.
  • Strider pram with bassinet and fitted capsule. We decided to splash out on a new pram, I didn’t want to get the most expensive or the one with the most bells and whistles, but we did settle for one that has the capacity for tandem seats (for later on just incase), it also came with the bassinet that can be interchanged with the seat, and a capsule that can fit directly onto the pram frame when either the seat or bassinet are removed. We thought having a complete travel system would really help, as I don’t want to be stuck at home afraid of upsetting her routine, I want to be able to get out and socialise with friends, do the shopping and hopefully have her routine work around our life. These might be dreams every parent has to begin with, but at the very least I thought having a capsule that can fit into the pram will mean if she’s asleep we won’t disturb her too much.

We have been lucky so far, we have been given so many big ticket items from friends and family that meant we could splurge on some items we might have had to reconsider otherwise.

At the half way mark I noticed a few changes, my belly was no longer resembling pregnancy only in the evening, I also had a bump in the morning. I no longer fit into my work pants, they didn’t even button up, so I had to make a purchase for something more comfortable to get through work. I have had frequent headaches, but they are minor compared to the migraines I usually have to deal with, and I think a lot of it is to do with stress in my sleep waking up with them, and merely getting out of bed and being upright makes them resolve on their own. From week 20 we have both felt our babies’ movements, which makes things feel a little more real, and we find it reassuring everything is going ok rather than waiting for the next scan or the next obstetrician appointment.

With uni now out of the way I can finally start to get our lives on track. I’m trying to get a handle on some kind of routine, ordering a veggie box fortnightly, and doing a proper grocery shop to prevent the daily shopping we have fallen into a habit of doing, plus meal planning! Getting a routine back into the household chores, maintaining a laundry routine, a cleaning regime and getting some time out in the sun. I feel like when I study I spend every moment inside at my computer, I see the lovely day outside, but feel I’m wasting precious time if I enjoy it and leave the study until later. It’s also a hard balance when there’s not much time outside of my work roster. I only get to steal 3hrs in the morning each day before my afternoon shift, and try to keep one of my days off a week for me or for family time, or for both. So it’s so exciting to finally have my mornings back and my days off actually free. I would rather potter around the house cleaning it then spend more time writing essays.

My highlights of the second trimester have been finally being able to enjoy this pregnancy without being overshadowed by study. I am enjoying finally getting some routine back, as it means we don’t have to struggle to keep up with day-to-day tasks like meal planning, grocery shopping and laundry. I have also prepared the nursery, started to pack away the things we bought for the baby, and organised a space in our spare room to relax. I wanted to get the house in order while I can still move around ok with all the bending and stretching, and while I still have the energy.

Now in week 25 I feel as though I am more tired going to work, I am dragging myself around the ward, I am getting light-headed at the gym, and I feel a general sense of lethargy on work days. With only 2 weeks to go before I’m in trimester 3 I have had a few moments where I feel like the reality of pregnancy has actually hit me. We will be solely responsible for this baby in 3 months, I can’t lie, the idea of birthing this baby is really scary to me after hearing so many horrible stories, and sometimes I wonder if having had no issues for the whole pregnancy means I’m not going to have such a good time at the end.

Coming up!  I will get around to making a post about how I’ve been feeling, our nursery set up, and other preparation for being a family.  These may be separate posts or a big one depending on how much time I have and how organised I am at the time.  I also have a few topics/issues I wanted to share.  Watch this space!

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