Friday, May 31, 2013

The end of an era




So, it is finally here. I officially no longer work. Technically I'm on annual leave for the next two weeks and then on maternity leave, but as of now I definitely don't have to go back to work at least for a year - but more than likely indefinitely. Its a weird feeling. In my head I still think that I'm just going on holidays for a month and then going back.

I've worked every spare day I've had since I was 16, including when I was going to university full time. I've always been responsible for my own income and my own expenses even when I didn't really have to be. I guess its my independent streak. I've always wanted to work and I could never really fathom the idea of sitting at home and not working.

Leaving work didn't go as planned. I was going to work as long as I was legally allowed to (because in my head I needed to make as much money as I could while I was still capable). I was going to have everything organised and pass over my store in pristine condition. Unfortunately, due to my body breaking down on me that didn't happen. My last shift ended up being two weeks ago, I just didn't know it would be my last shift at the time. Nothing was prepared properly for the handover and I didn't have time to say goodbye to my workmates. Completely not what I was expecting to happen. I guess that's the thing with pregnancy, it can be unpredictable. I mean getting pregnant never went to plan, so why would leaving go to plan? I should've expected that.

Nonetheless I'm now somewhat in limbo land. I'm not working and not yet a stay at home mum. I kind of still feel guilty about being at home and not working, yet I'm loving it at the same time. Being at home means I can stay in my pyjamas for the whole day if I want to (thankfully I don't get any random visitors ever). I've also noticed since I don't have to go to work I kind of forget to do my hair and well makeup is completely non existent. Its kind of refreshing not having to get dolled up each day, especially when I'm as big as a whale and feel anything but sexy.

Another good thing about leaving work is that I don't stress over stupid stuff any more. In fact I cant believe the crap that I did stress about. It all seems so trivial now. Oh and I LOVE not having to sit in traffic for up to two hours driving to and from work each day. I have so much more time. I was freaking out that nothing would be done before the baby was born and now I have nothing but time. Its awesome. I'm still not very good at relaxing or doing nothing like I apparently should be (according to the physio), but I'm getting quite good at doing stuff in my pyjamas. So I'm kind of half way there.

The best part is I don't have to work Christmas this year! It will be my first real Christmas and Boxing Day in twelve years! I cant wait. Bring on the next chapter.

Toni x


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Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Maternity photo shoot




I don't have any photos of my mum when she was pregnant with me and I think I've only ever seen two of her when she was pregnant with my brother. It wasn't really the done thing back then and the maternity clothes were shit (think old curtains or pillows turned into something resembling a potato sack and then if you're lucky add an embroidered flower). I'm guessing she just didn't want to have to look back on the "fashion" of the day and think why the hell did I ever wear that? In the past few years though maternity shoots have become trendy and now it seems they are the done thing, rather than the exception. Thankfully maternity clothes have come a long way too.

I always knew I wanted to have lots of baby bump photos if I was ever lucky enough to get pregnant. After years of trying and not knowing if it was ever going to happen I always thought I would want to document every day of my journey. I haven't been crazy enough to take a photo every day, but on average every week or so I take a new photo. My photos, however are very dodgy (at least until they are edited in instagram then they become kind of ok thanks to cropping and filters). Its hard to take a perfect photo of myself with one hand in front of a mirror whilst trying to get my head and bump in it and look perfect, and avoid capturing the messy room in the background. I didn't want these few random photos I took to be my only photographic evidence of my pregnancy, so I needed (ok wanted) a professional photographer to make sure I have some nice photos to look back on. Thankfully one of my old primary school friends now happens to run her own photography business Katharine Jarvie Photography.

I love photos that are not too posed, but not entirely candid (if that makes sense) and Katharine is really good at capturing images like this. I also love photos that are zoomed in or cropped at what seems to be a random angle, it gives a whole other dimension to the photo. Katharine was the perfect fit for me, not only because she is my friend but because her style of images are exactly what I wanted. Her photos are very natural and intimate and to top it off one of her specialities is maternity shoots. I think its really important to find a photographer that you trust as it makes you more comfortable when taking the photos. I know I definitely don't like getting my photo taken and I get this weird expression on my face when I am forced to pose or smile (like my face somehow tells you through the camera that I am really uncomfortable and cant wait for it to be over). Thankfully we got a lot of photos where I don't look like that.  So, where are these photos? I hear you all screaming at me through the computer.

I have managed to successfully hide pregnancy photos from my blog for 31 weeks now, but here goes nothing.....  Here's a small peek at our photo shoot. I'm still too shy to share many with my face in them though. Hopefully I wont look back on them with horror in 20 years time and think oh my god what was I thinking wearing skinny jeans while pregnant - especially now they're on the internet.



Its really there, I have a bump!


And it shrinks significantly when I lay down


Showing bubba some love

No stretch marks! (...yet)


I cant believe that little person is inside me

If I look a bit small in the photos its because they were taken when I was only 25 weeks. Rest assured I have continued to grow and now resemble a whale (or at least someone who has swallowed a large inflated beach ball). T and I are so happy with these photos that we are going to use Katharine for our newborn shoots once little miss makes her appearance. She also does portrait, family, weddings and couple photos too. If you are pregnant, have a special occasion coming up or just want some professional photos done then I urge you to take a look through her Facebook page and show her some love because her photos really are fantastic.


Some of Katharine's other photos


Toni xx


* I did not receive any payment for this post.


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Friday, May 24, 2013

I feel like I'm failing



I know I haven't been the perfect pregnant person so far, but I still thought I was doing ok. However, this past week I feel like I'm failing at being pregnant and a mum (to be).

I have always put my baby's health before mine. I have restricted my diet to avoid listeria and then diabetes. I have avoided all pain relief and instead put up with immense headaches, back aches and muscle aches in order to avoid exposing my baby to anything that may harm her (lucky I have a pretty high pain threshold). I also stopped taking my asthma steroids during my pregnancy because it is not entirely proven that they are safe. This week however it has all gone to shit and I'm feeling a bit guilty about it. It seems my body has reached the point of exhaustion and has decided to give up.

The beginning of the week I had a major asthma attack and ended up in emergency. My asthma has been really good since Ive been pregnant so to not be able to breathe properly again really took me by surprise. It was so bad I actually thought if I managed to fall asleep I wouldn't wake up. So, off to emergency we went at  2:30am. I thought it would be a one, maybe two hour stay and then I would be sent home. Evidently not. I ended up being kept there for ten and a half hours for treatment and monitoring. I was also given steroids and told to continue taking steroids for the next week. Pretty much my worst nightmare. I feel like a bad mum having to pump my body with steroids just to be able to function. I know that by doing it I am taking care of me which in itself is taking care of her too, but at the same time I feel that by trying to protect her I am also endangering her. I just wish my body was strong enough that I didn't need to do this. 

That wasn't the only health issue Ive had this week. My back was hurting since last weekend when I was at work. At first I dismissed it, then I thought it might be sciatica. Each day the pain grew stronger and stronger and my ability to move was diminishing so I finally got it seen to, by three different people in the end. Three different people came up with three different diagnosis, go figure. First the GP said it was muscular so sent me for acupuncture. That did nothing. The midwife told me it was sciatica and referred me to a physio. Then finally, after doing a thorough examination, the physio told me it is actually my pelvic bones separating (something they most definitely are not designed to do). Yes it is as painful as it sounds, but apparently quite common in pregnancy. Still, I cant help but feel like its my fault for working too much. Ive been so preoccupied with making money while I still can that I put having an income ahead of my own well-being. And now I get to pay for it. I now have to wear a support band, use crutches and pretty much stay off my feet. Again I feel like my body is failing her.

I'm starting to think that maybe my body just isn't cut out for pregnancy. Or possibly it was just my own strong willed, independent streak that has got me to this point. I just feel awful that by trying to protect her I have ended up in such a crap situation. I should have listened to my body more. I should have slowed down sooner. T says this is my body's way of forcing me to slow down and I cant help but feel he is right. I hate not being able to do everything. I'm so used to being able to do it all and look after everyone that it really throws me when I have to stop and look after myself. I hate feeling vulnerable. But, if this is what it takes to ensure the rest of my pregnancy is healthy and safe then this is what I must do. 

I feel like I'm failing, but at the same time I'm doing the best I can. Everything I do is for her.

Maybe I'm just being too hard on myself.

Toni x


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Thursday, May 16, 2013

What is the meaning of family?



When I was younger I thought family meant a mum, dad and two kids. Which was exactly what my family was at the time, at least until everything changed after dad died. I guess when I was young my definition of family was quite traditional and probably shaped by my environment. All the advertising back then was aimed at the nuclear family, divorce was rarely spoken about {I don't think I even knew what it was until my parents separated} and I didn't know there was such a thing as single mums. That was again until my mum became one {well technically a widow}. My concept of family was entirely about what I was born into, the blood relationships that I had inherited. It wasn't until I got older that I realised family could be based on relationships with people I wasn't related to.

My family before my brother was born

Through my teenage years when I experienced a bit of disconnection from my actual family I began to build my own family through my network of friends. When I was 16 I started my first real job {you know one where I actually got pay slips} and my "family" expanded further. A lot of the women I worked with were my mum's age and they became my surrogate work mums. I couldn't really understand at the time why I didn't have a close relationship with my own mother and yet I could get along with so many women her own age. I often wondered if she had the same relationship with younger people at her work. I probably also got along with the other women more because they didn't have an authoritarian role in my life, just quietly. Nevertheless they did provide me with advice and give me a place to turn when I felt I couldn't talk to anyone at home. They were my family and I still consider them a valuable part of my extended family now.

As I have grown older the socially acceptable definition of family is a lot more broader. Divorce is not hush hush like it was 20 or so years ago. In fact it's probably more prevalent than the nuclear family unfortunately. Single mums and single dads are a fact of life now too. Although the meaning of family is now a lot broader than it used to be, I still find myself craving the nuclear family. Perhaps it's because I didn't get to experience it for that long? A case of the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence maybe.

T and I were drawn to each other partially because of our similar dysfunctional families growing up. We know what its like to be on the outside of the norm. We both also have a strong desire to create a stable family life because of this. I want to have a close relationship with my daughter and I really want her to have a relationship with her father. Perhaps our childhood experiences were not entirely bad, in the sense that it has made us into the people we are today. It has fortified our strong desire to create a good family life for our children. Now that we are at the precipice of becoming parents this is always in the forefront of my mind. While I'm forever grateful for those who helped me over the years, I really hope our children will think of us as their family and wont have to find surrogates.

How do you define family? 

Are there people other than your relatives who you consider part of your family?

Toni x


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Sunday, May 12, 2013

Mum to be




Mothers Day in the past was always a particularly sad day for me. It was a reminder that I wasn't yet a mother and that I might never become one. Everyone else was always out celebrating and posting photos of themselves with their babies and it was a big reminder that I wasn't a part of that club and there wasn't anything that I could do about it. It was always filled with mixed emotions, I was happy for everyone else, but a tiny part of me was jealous. I didn't resent my friends for what they had, I just desperately wished that I could have it too.

This year it has been different. I am somewhat in limbo. While I am not technically a mum yet, it is definitely a work in progress. This year the reminder is different too, it is a reminder that very soon I will be a part of that club. It is not in the form of other people's photos in my news feed, but a very big round reminder front and centre that I get to carry around with me everyday. It is real, and she is nearly here. It is the best feeling to know that something I longed for and dreamed about for so long is actually happening.

To be honest I have felt like a mother since I found out I was pregnant. I already had the protective feeling as soon as I knew that there was a tiny life growing inside of me. More-so since I saw her at the 12 week ultrasound (even though I didn't know she was a she then). It grows stronger and stronger each week and as her kicks get stronger my love for her grows more and more as well. I am nurturing her from the inside and I cant wait to care for her once she is here. I am excited for her future and I worry about being able to protect her from life as well. I wonder what her hopes and dreams will be. I hope that she loves me as much as I already love her. It is already an emotional roller-coaster and she is not even here yet. I may not be a mother to the rest of the world, but in my heart I already am.

So, this year Mothers Day has been very different for me. It has not been sad, but instead exciting and full of anticipation. I still remember the hurt from previous years, but this year for the first time it has been replaced with happiness. While technically today is not my first official mothers day, I did receive the best present of all - being able to carry my baby around with me and feel her move inside me. That is priceless.

Happy Mothers Day to all the mums out there - including the foster mums, adoptive mums, step mums, mums to be and those who have beautiful angel babies watching over them. To me this day is not about material things, but remembering the most important thing - the incredible bond between you and your baby (no matter how it came about). To those who are still desperately waiting to become mothers, don't give up hope, one day all the hurt will be worth it I promise.

Toni xx


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Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Quick & healthy beef stirfry






I had my gestational diabetes test the other day and much to my surprise I failed (thankyou PCOS) which means I have to do the three hour test this week. Yay for me because I hate needles. Anyway, because of this I am changing my diet from relatively healthy to super healthy in an effort to beat this dam test. I am pretty much cutting out all sugar except the sugar in fruit and I'm checking ingredient labels like a crazy person before I eat anything. I'm also upping my vegie intake because you can pretty much eat as many vegies as you like. I like the idea of making my food from scratch too so I know exactly what is in it so that's where tonight's recipe comes from.




Ingredients

  • Soy sauce
  • Garlic (paste or 2 cloves)
  • 2 cups rice
  • 250-500g beef strips
  • 1 carrot
  • 2 sticks celery
  • 1/2 head broccoli
  • 1/4 cauliflower 
  • 1/2 zucchini
  • 1 flat mushroom
  • 5 snow peas
  • 75ml water

Of course you can add or substitute whatever vegies you like in the recipe (normally I would add red capsicum for a bit of colour, baby corn and onion). Some people don't like putting zucchini into stirfry's because they think its too watery, but I find if you only use half a zucchini its fine. Also its been one of my biggest cravings since being pregnant so I cant go without it. I don't really like broccoli either, but Ive been forcing myself to eat it because it is so good for you and now I kind of like it (as long as its not in a dish by itself). Tip for the snow peas is to sit them in cold water (as in pic above) until you are ready to add them because it makes them really crisp again even if they are a bit limp when you buy them. Rice can be substituted with cous cous. You could also make this with chicken breast instead of beef.

Directions 

(Prep time 15mins, cooking 15mins)





  • Cut all of your vegies and meat into small pieces (I buy beef strips to save time)
  • Put rice onto boil (it takes about 15mins so do it while cooking the vegies to save time)
  • Brown beef in fry pan then add garlic (and onion if you have it)
  • Add vegies in order of hardest to softest (i.e. cauliflower to mushrooms)
  • Once all vegies are in the pan add soy sauce (as much as you like) and 75ml water to create a sauce. You can also add some salt for extra flavour if you need it.
  • Once broccoli goes bright green and rice is cooked you are done.
  • Drizzle the pan sauce over the top of the stirfry when plating.


Garnishes

You can also add cashews or sesame seeds as a garnish at the very end if you like. I would normally add cashews, but I haven't been able to stomach them since getting pregnant (which is sad because I love them).


This recipe will serve 2 people more than likely with left overs for lunch. And it tastes amazing! And no need for a packet sauce.

Toni xx


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