Ready to switch to reusables? Now is the time.

Making the change from disposable items to reusable (and washable) options is not as hard as it may seem. It can also save you a heap of money. In the strange and unpredictable time of COVID19 that we are currently living in, we are seeing not only panic buying that has momentarily thrown our supermarkets and supply chains into chaos, but also the dangerous behaviour of people flushing materials unsuited to our sewerage system down the toilet. Even if you choose to be ready with reusable options in your house and don’t end up using them, at least, should you find yourself unable to access the items you usually use, you’ll be ready.

 

Pads and Tampons – Cloth Pads, Menstrual Cup or Period Underwear

What are your options?

Cloth pads: basically, cloth versions of pads. You can get them handmade by some amazing women working from home (or second hand – just Strip and Sanitise), and they might cost $5-$30 each. You may need 10 or so, so a fair investment. Great for post partum, and generally can be very comfortable. To wash, you can stomp on them in the shower which will give them a good rinse, and then just chuck them in the wash.

Menstrual Cup (Mooncup/Diva cup/The Keeper, etc): plastic or rubber ‘cup’ that you insert. It catches your period, and honestly, these are amazing. Once you get the hang of it, you cannot feel it at all, and you can change it once a day. I like to change and wash it in the shower. You can sterilize it every month in boiling water. Bam, easy done. Cost: $20+

Period underwear (ModiBodi/Thinx, etc): Underwear that has an absorbent area and can be absorbent enough for full time use for your period. Pretty amazing stuff. Great for that pesky pelvic floor too. Usually these cost $20+ a pair, but sometimes there’s deals and sales on. Luna pads are a cheaper (and inferior) version you can find at Woolies sometimes on special for $10 – good to stash up for your lighter days. Rinse them before washing like cloth pads, adhere to their wash instructions – usually cold wash only.

Easiest option:

Cheapest and easiest is the menstrual cup as you buy it once and use it for potentially years. Most convenient would be period underwear, but you need to fork out a fair bit to get set up. If you want to go part-time reusables for your period, you could just invest in some cloth pads or period underwear for your lighter days. The environment, and your body, will thank you!

Cloth pads
Red Town Reusables from Baby and Belle

 

Mooncup
Mooncup

 

 

 

Toilet Paper – ‘Family cloth’

What you need to start:

Literally, anything. Squares of flannel cut up from a pair of old pyjamas. Small face washers. Cloth sewn into squares. Local company Earthy Bums makes cloth nappies, breast pads, bibs and baby clothes and sells fab little flannelette cloth wipes – packs of 10 for $5.

How do I clean and store them?

Keep two containers near the toilet, one with your pile of clean cloths to use, and one for the used ones. Every day, rinse the used ones and chuck into your usual wash. If you go all in for 1s and 2s – put on some rubber gloves, hot rinse the cloth wipes well under the laundry tap and you can rest assured no unwanted material will be in your wash.

Downsides?

This might be a pretty extreme idea for some of you. I thought so for myself too, but I’ve been wiping my babies’ bubs with cloth wipes for ages, and that didn’t seem too weird… so introducing the option for myself and my daughter who is just recently toilet trained seems logical. But, I am washing cloth nappies so chucking a few more cloth wipes into the wash is not a big deal.

Part-time?

Honestly, for someone like me who goes to the toilet to pee A LOT (thanks pelvic floor) using cloth wipes just every so often when I go is a great way to drastically reduce my toilet paper usage. Think about it, if the girls in your house are using the TP every time they go to pee – this is a lot of toilet paper you can save.

 

Flannelette Wipes
Flannelette wipes by Earthy Bums

 

Tissues or Wet wipes – Cloth wipes, Face Washers and Hankies

I know the good old hanky isn’t exactly popular now, but honestly, we throw out a lot of tissues and flush a lot of toilet paper that we’ve used to blow our noses pretty unnecessarily. If you wipe your kids’ faces with face washers, it’s not that hard to do the same for yourself. Get yourself some small washers, cloth wipes like those mentioned above in the TP section, some flannel squares or hankies and use them instead. I made some flannel wipes. If you think they are too gross to chuck in the wash then just give them a quick power rinse under the laundry tap. Too easy.

(PS Also, for every day cloths around the house – forget the paper towel or the scourers! Flannel cloth, crocheted scourers, face washers etc, all these work fine for basic cleaning and wiping. There were ways of doing things before everything was able to be disposed of, we just need to collectively remember this.)

 

Disposable nappies – Cloth nappies

What you need to start:

For one child you need about 15 or 25 nappies (you might use 5-10 a day and will have to wash every 2 or 3 days). These may be: full modern cloth nappies – a waterproof nappy with inserts either stuffed, snapped or sewn in; an absorbent fitted nappy with a separate waterproof cover; or a more old school style flat or prefold with a waterproof cover. The last option might mean you need 15 or 20 prefolds and about 5 waterproof covers.

How much will it cost?

Cloth nappies can cost anywhere from $10 to $50+ each. For $10 or $15 you can get an ‘Alvababy’ nappy which are excellent quality for the price. If you start out with some of those, you can boost (add extra absorbency) with other inserts you might buy later, or just with a cotton tea towel folded in.

Better quality or more ethically made nappies might include Econaps, Baby Beehind, Designer Bums, Boho Babes, Alcmena, Minnie and Mae (there are so many nappy brands now!) and these will be $25-$40 a nappy. So – if you buy 20 nappies new, you might be spending $400. You can figure out how long it will take to start saving money depending on how much you are regularly spending on disposables.

Buying second hand is not difficult: join some Facebook groups or check Facebook marketplace for some deals. Ask a cloth mum friend for guidance if you are not sure whether you are getting a good deal. Do a Strip and Sanitise as explained on the Clean Cloth Nappies website.

What I would do to get started as a newbie to cloth nappies:

I would buy 10 or 15 prefolds either new (Real Nappies prefolds are $25 for a pack of 5 or 6) or secondhand (you could get them for $2 each if you are lucky) and 10 or so cheapish pocket covers (like Alvababy or similar) either new or second hand: $5-$10 each. Prefolds are excellent inserts for pocket nappies, generally awesome super absorbent cloths to have around the house for spilt drinks etc, and great for change mats on the change table. What I’m suggesting will set you back anywhere from $80 to $175.

*Prefolds come in different sizes: e.g. newborn, infant, crawler and toddler. No matter the size, any excess can be folded down at the front before being folded long ways into three to fit into a pocket nappy.

Downsides?

Obviously, you need to wash them! Seems hard; is not. Join Clean Cloth Nappies on Facebook, or check out their website. Please ask me for help if you need. You may think this will cause your energy and water bills to skyrocket, but research has shown the difference is very small.

Also, you need to deal with poo. That’s the thing really. I can’t make that sound good. Poo is gross. It just is. Make some micro-fleece liners which make it a little easier to deal with, and get yourself some gloves and a scrubbing brush.

Part-time?

Every time you use a cloth nappy, you are saving a nappy from going into landfill to join EVERY OTHER DISPOSABLE nappy that has ever been created, used and thrown out. You don’t need to go all in, 100%. Maybe just use them during the day. Maybe use cloth nappies for a couple of days in a row, wash them, use disposables for two days while you wait for them to dry and for you to fold them up again, then repeat? You don’t want them sitting around waiting for days to be washed though, so try to use a few a day if you can so it’s not too tedious waiting for enough to wash.

(PS Look up Elimination Communication if you are in lockdown and happy to chase your kid around with a towel and a potty and you might be able to say goodbye to nappies far earlier than you planned.)

 

Everything contained above is my opinion or experience, yours may be different.

Take care of yourself. 🙂 ❤

I Took the Kids To

Animal Feeding at Basil’s Farm and Winery

(Swan Bay, on the Bellarine)

“You guys are the best group I’ve ever had!” The man who is leading us through the feeding of the animals declares excitedly.

I don’t believe him. “Really?” I ask. Well, I guess we have been pretty good. Only one kid has breached the rope line. Multiple times. Every time he does, I whisper “Ooh, rebel.” There are certainly more adults than children but with most of the kids under three, I guess it is pretty amazing that no one has run under the feet of the llama yet.

56917776_433359000747612_994613236324106240_n$20 at Basil’s farm and winery gets your child an animal feeding session, and lunch with a drink.

Starting at 10am means that basically there is no one else around except for the people there to feed the animals. When we arrive, we are taken to a ‘Safety briefing’, where we learn a little about the different animals we will encounter, and the importance of the rope line.

The kids all stand on the edge of the rope and learn to cup their hands to hold the feed. The man in charge comes along the line and with his hand, imitates a chicken’s beak pecking in each child’s hands so they know what they are in for. It’s quite aggressive (like a real chicken) and I begin laughing uncontrollably. “This is what the chickens will be like!” I explain to my daughter.

We finally move down to the animals, and parents with prams are asked to park them at least 10 metres away from the feeding. I consider what my actions would be should a llama or sheep charge at the pram. I don’t really come to a sound conclusion but the prams are fine, the animals are not the charging type, and I needn’t have worried.

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The sheep aren’t that excited about the feeding process – they seem a little weary of the whole thing – but we do get a couple down for a nibble, and the llama too. The parents and grandparents break our backs trying to keep our kids’ hands cupped with feed whilst kneeling down behind them. I immediately try to take a selfie and am subtly admonished by the guy in charge. “At this stage, if parents could just make sure you are holding your kiddies’ hands out in a cup for the feed…”

After the sheep and the llama, we move on to the chickens. One chicken makes a beeline for me and tries to snuggle into my chest. “What are you doing? Hey!” I thrust the feed out to the chicken’s face but it’s not interested and continues to try to snuggle with me. I decide it’s someone I must have known in its past life. “Who… are you?” I ask. The chicken spies the silver beet my daughter is flinging around her head, and runs for it.

With the animals content and fed, it’s time for the kids to receive their promised lunch. My daughter has chosen the pancakes and juice. I have a coffee and carrot cake. She pretends to ride the toy tractor in the sand pit, “I’m DRIVING! I’M DRIVING!!”

The sun is shining, the grass is green, the coffee is good, and the kids are happy.

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Check out the Basil’s Farm website

I Took the Kid to

Students’ Strike for Climate

It feels merely years ago that I graduated high school, headed off to uni, did some travel, and was ready to change the world. But it was 17 years ago.

My generation was going to do the fixing. We would be so well informed, so conscientious. We would wrestle the power from the older generation because we knew what was at stake. Now I’m 34. My generation are not in power yet. We are the generation of workers, fathers and mothers. There’s so much work to do. Women of my generation are still busting our guts for equality, and still being killed by our partners weekly. Our Indigenous brothers and sisters are still far worse off than us, and their children less educated and more incarcerated. We are nowhere near being in control of the world; nowhere near wrestling the country from the hands of the middle aged white males who still rule.

So, as a teacher, and a mother, I am buoyed by the actions of students this week. I mean, my generation aren’t doing anything to fix the world, so I sure as hell support them in their endeavours.

With my daughter in childcare, my 8 month old son and I set off for Geelong town. We didn’t make it in time to meet the crew at Richard Marles’ office (damn!) and, knowing the strikers were heading off to the Town Hall at 10am, at 10:08 we were power pram walking up the wrong street (oops), chasing protesters we couldn’t see. When we turned up towards the Town Hall, sweat dripping off my brow and the only activist t-shirt I could find (Girls Just Wanna Have FunDAMENTAL RIGHTS) sticking to my back, we had the strikers in sight. A public servant offered me a “Good morning!” as I pushed my ridiculously heavy infant up the hill towards the flashing police lights and the sounds of some good in-unison chanting.

When I was in Year 10, I participated in the Walk for Reconciliation and when I was 18, I walked in protest of the Iraq war. In the year 2000, my Japanese teacher quietly divulged to us that she wasn’t sick one day – she was off in the city protesting the tax being placed on sanitary items. She was/is still my hero.

These children that my son and I went to support were striking FOR THEIR LIVES. This is their planet, their climate, their livelihood. We listened, happily, inspired to their speeches – one by one, student by student, they got up and explained to the crowd their fears and dreams. From the mouth of a 14 year old, a famous quote: “When the leaders are acting like children, and the children like leaders… you know change is coming.” The moment was lost when a state Upper House member got a hold of the microphone and started banging on about how important it was that students took the situation out of the hands of the 50 year old men in charge… like him. The crowd were confused about whether to applaud or not. “SO WHAT ARE YOU DOING ABOUT IT??!?” someone yelled from the back. He went into some political campaign rambling. “GIVE IT BACK TO THE STUDENTS!!!” He  acquiesced, to all our relief.

The students break into music and dance. My son bobs around in my arms. So many faces, so much passion. “Maybe it will all be okay?” I look for hope in his little face. He blows a raspberry in agreement.

climate

Bluey – a review

There’s a new level of peculiarity that comes with Bluey appreciation: you’re at a BBQ with other parents and all of you – ALL OF YOU – are talking about a kids’ show. Not in the “oh it’s just so educational” or “it actually has a good theme song” kind of way, no, you are talking about Bluey because YOU love it. You all admit to watching it without your children there. One of you even confesses to sending a message to your elderly neighbour, just to let her know about it.

Bluey is a 6 year old Blue Heeler and the animated show follows her daily play with her younger sister Bingo and her Dad, Bandit. Her mother, Chilli, often appears just to say that she is heading off to work, to play hockey, or to go for a run. The family live in a Queenslander surrounded by the sounds and sights of the tropics.

bluey

What makes Bluey so amazing?

  1. It’s funny for everyone. While your child is laughing because Bluey has given up on Fruit Salad after dreaming she was a fruitbat, you’re in hysterics at Chilli’s line delivered for every parent everywhere: “7 o’clock!? That was a big sleep!”.
  2. The music is beautiful. The music makes every moment of every episode.
  3. Bluey’s relationship with her dad, is relatable and speaks to the generation of the parents watching. Toffee apples: “Old school, nice!” A reference to Indiana Jones – a game where Bandit rolls a Yoga ball down the hallway and the kids jump out of the way – “Raiders.” In ‘Keepy Uppy’ the neighbour’s dad runs to hit a balloon back over the fence, “I’ve done me hammy!” Bluey also builds a link between what we had as children – a world without screens – and what we want for our children, but in reality have to work quite hard to provide in this world of ‘video’ games and TV shows on demand. It reminds us of making up games to play inside when it’s a bad weather day (Taxi), begging our parents for change to play the claw machine in the local pub (The Claw), and guessing what your sibling or friend is saying underwater(The Pool).
  4. A respectful family unit enjoying creative and wholesome play, is what makes Bluey a lesson in good parenting. Not everyone is a natural parent. Many of us struggle with what to say and do at those pivotal moments in our kid’s development: when they are disappointed, angry, not sharing, or how to speak up when play gets too rough for them. And games – trying to think of games to play is a bloody difficult task for some of us. Every episode of Bluey shows us the trials of parenting, and how we can act towards our children when our actions and words come from a place of love. Bandit and Chilli are not infallible, but they do their best.
  5. It certainly is refreshing to watch a show where the father is the main carer of his kids. He is there for the getting ready for bed routine, and for the dawn walk to the monkey bars, but still he is always trying to catch a glimpse of the cricket scores on TV whilst wrestling his two daughters. He’s nearly always carrying a basket of washing. Friends often watch a whole episode of Bluey for the first time without realizing that Bluey and Bingo are both girls. Bandit rarely addresses them as “girls” and his terms of endearment are words like ‘squirt’, ‘buster’, ‘mate’, and ‘pint size’.
  6. The best thing about Bluey is the touch of magic that is sprinkled into each episode. The second best thing is my two year old daughter’s facial expression when she is watching that magic unfold. I thought she was a comic genius when one day, out of nowhere, she stuck two bobby pins under her top lip, clapped her hands and yelled “I’m a walrus!” Later, I realized that Bluey does this in the Takeaway episode – a moment that literally last TWO SECONDS. Enough time for my transfixed daughter to take it in, and replicate.

Whilst I love every single 7 minute episode of Bluey created, I am eagerly awaiting Season 2, or a Bluey movie. For the moment, when my daughter demands an episode for the 700th time (usually Markets), I have an arsenal of play ideas at my disposal. “I have a balloon we could blow up – how about a game of Keepy Uppy?” “No,” she says, “How about… Shadowlands?”

Bluey-TV-Series-ABC-Kids-Bluey-Character-waving

I Took the Kids to

Werribee Zoo

After my 2 year old had chanted NO BUS for the eighteenth time I realised that maybe it was time to bail. But we were on the bus. And as a mum who generally has always respected her daughter’s wishes, it was hard to force her to sit down and tell her that it was going to be fantastic – for the eighteenth time in reply.

We just had to get moving. I had lured Miss 2 into the Safari Bus queue with a cookie, and kept her there with the promise of more in my pocket. (I literally held the cookie in front of her nose and walked.) Now, as she was squeezing out of her seat belt, and screaming, my grand idea of neutralising her, and the 6 month old on my lap by trapping them in a moving vehicle for 35 minutes was rapidly fading. As with many a grand idea, I found myself singing under my breath “seemed like a good idea, at the time”.

That’s right, I came to the Werribee Zoo with two kids under two on a thirty degree day because, you know, that’s what parents do sometimes when they’re desperate to get out of the house, and want a long enough drive that their kids might sleep.

When we are finally moving, it feels like a lifetime before we see anything. I wonder if I’ve picked the wrong side of the bus.

Over the hill into the savannah scene and suddenly there are four Giraffes ridiculously close to our window – my daughter is hypnotised. “Thank you Jesus” I mutter under my breath, possibly heard by the guy across the aisle who had called me Super Mum earlier (I decided more in sympathy than admiration).

We circle some zebra and rhinos and Miss 2 is refusing to remain seated. I break the rules, by breaking open a rice cracker pack. I unwrap it under my seat and pass it to her like a black market transaction. “QUICK” I whisper, “EAT IT QUICKLY.” She takes one bite and goes to throw it out the window. Toddlers.

I learn that the collective noun for zebra is a ‘dazzle’ from the occasionally hilarious man narrating our tour. I wonder if he can see us through the mounted cameras at the front of the carriage – my daughter is standing up again but I have one arm wrapped around her. I decide that I could legitimately plead ignorance about not knowing the rules as she had done a runner from the queue when he was listing them all over the loud speaker.

When the bus finally returns to the Safari Station, my daughter is somehow still safe inside the vehicle, and my 6 month old is asleep on my breast, sweaty, but happy. After escaping the bus, which upon reflection she agreed she had enjoyed, Miss 2 seeks refuge in a coin operated safari car and refuses to move.

“I’m driving!” she yells, to which I reply, “yeah, me crazy.” The lady at the adjacent café table definitely hears that, laughing into her coffee, and I let my daughter drive for as long as she likes.

bus pic

The longest third ever

CW – miscarriage talk

It’s 3am and the light of my phone is bathing my face in the otherwise dark room. My partner rolls over to look at me, bleary eyed and probably half asleep.

“Babe. You need to sleep.”

“I’m just looking up the chances of miscarriage at 11 weeks. After a clear Harmony test.” I say this tongue in cheek because I know it will annoy him, but every word of it is true.

“Oh. That’s great.” These words are breathed out in a kind of sigh, and they are blanketed so heavily in sarcasm, I know he is quite awake.

My husband thinks I have a morbid obsession with miscarriages. He’s right. He also thinks that using Google to self-diagnose, and trawling though countless forums about miscarriage experiences is basically the worst thing I could do. He’s probably right about that too. He’d be shocked if he realised the extent to which I have self-diagnosed and trawled though! Whilst I am no member of any forum, such as babycenter.com, I have – no joke – spent hours and hours reading thread after thread of the angst, fear, hope and joy that comes with trying to conceive, failing to conceive, conceiving but losing, and birthing. You should see my Google history.

I started experiencing anxiety after the birth of daughter a year ago. It has waxed and waned, but at the moment is hanging around 24/7. It doesn’t bring panic attacks and it doesn’t stop me from doing things. It could, but I don’t let it. It just physically annoys me and mentally drags me down, like the rock that’s sitting in my chest right now.

I know everyone thinks I should loosen up and stop worrying about miscarriage. But all those people that think that have never experienced what I, and so so many women have experienced. Ours came before our daughter, it was our first pregnancy that we lost. So our daughter is our little rainbow pocket rocket. Getting pregnant again though, now, is an anxious experience of course, but it is somewhat buffered by the existence of our sweet little girl running around me all the time. However, I just assumed that I would miscarry again. I don’t know why, I just did. I told a friend in Mother’s Group, “I just feel like miscarriage is part of my story.” What a terribly pessimistic thing for me to think! But I know I think it for the same reason that women who have lost, fight the urge to get attached to the attachment inside them. Why women don’t announce until they feel sure, so sure, that maybe this one will stick for good. For self-preservation. The friend in my Mother’s Group said that maybe it will always be a part of my story because of the effect it has had on my life, but it doesn’t necessarily leave me doomed to have more.

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Stories of miscarriage can trigger a reliving of my own experience that throws me off for days. When someone close to me lost a pregnancy a year after my own miscarriage, and when I was close to popping out our rainbow, I was sucked into the black hole of grief that had taken me some time to escape. When a pregnant friend had some bleeding and messaged me, concerned, I was of course so worried about her. She was given the all clear, after a doctor offered her an ultra sound to check out what was happening. This threw me into a bizarre emotional rage that my doctor, when I had seen her about my own bleeding and cramping, did not offer me this. She did not even use a foetal doppler to check for the heartbeat… and I know there is one at the clinic! I cried at home, so full of rage and resentment at the realisation that perhaps if my doctor had have performed this simple check, I could have been made horrifically but at least immediately aware that my baby was gone. I could have had the warning. I could have had an operation. I could have avoided losing my baby in the toilet of my workplace, Friday night, sometime between 3 and 4 o’clock when most staff and thankfully all students had gone home.

This fit of regretful, sad rage only lasted twenty minutes or so. I even vowed that next time I saw my doctor I would ask her why she didn’t check my baby’s heartbeat. Did she follow protocol? Why did she just let me go home with basically a “well there’s nothing we can do, except wait and see” prognosis? There is clearly no point – no point – in pursuing this, but for those twenty minutes or so I was completely irrational and angry – I was a different person to who I actually am.

Because we lost our first baby at 10 weeks, getting to this magic number was an all consuming task for me. I counted down, day by day. I waited impatiently for the scan and DNA test we would be doing. My partner came with me on the day, with our one year old. We started the scan, and straight away were presented with a little blob on the screen, heart beating away inside. One sac, not twins, and a good looking little blob.

Then my worst nightmare, the words “Hmmm, this doesn’t look like a ten week old foetus though”. My heart dropped, I stopped breathing. And the voice in my head was saying “It’s dead. It’s gone. You’re gonna miscarry again.” Then another voice, “Stop it Jacqui – YOU CAN SEE IT ON THE SCREEN. There’s a heartbeat.”

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It was 8 and a half weeks. But it was fine. My dates were wrong, with an incredibly long cycle and an astoundingly late ovulation. The receptionist cracked what she thought was a joke, “A week a half early!? Whose fault was that?” I think I muttered something like, “Um, my body’s?”.

We discussed what date to return for the blood test, as we couldn’t do it until I was actually 10 weeks. I stared at the calendar on my phone but didn’t really see it. Tears welled up and my partner whispered to me, “Hey – it’s okay, we just wait a little longer.” I looked him in the eyes which made me tear up even more, “It just took so much for me to get to this week, and now we are being rewound…”

I realised that my entire being of energy had gone into making it to the day we would see our little bean on the screen, see the heartbeat, and see that everything was looking okay. My whole mental and physical capacity had been used up, to get to this moment, and now I was deflated and forlorn.

But everything was fine, I had to keep telling myself, so there really wasn’t anything to be upset about.

And so we went back to 8 and half weeks. I let the weeks pass trying not to dwell too much on the time frame involved. I continued to feel my anxiety constantly, with no let up. All the time. I mentioned to my partner that maybe I should go to the doc, and see if I needed to take something. He pointed out that maybe it would disappear after the 12 scan, that my body was subconsciously on edge, even if I felt like I wasn’t stressing. I went for the 10 week blood test, and had a very, very anxious wait until the results came back a week later regarding Chromosome issues – all clear. Then there was just a week left until the 12 week scan, right in the midst of my family’s December Christmas celebrations. We told everyone that we were expecting, always with the caveat of “So far all looks good, but we are just waiting to see the baby again at the scan in a few days.”

Before the scan, my partner asked if I was nervous. I don’t know why, but I wasn’t. Maybe because I had had shocking nausea for weeks, and so I was pretty reassured that the hormones were still kicking around, and so was baby. I also think that with the extra week and a half, I had fallen into a sort of resignation. Whatever would happen, would happen, and I’d find out very soon.

The doc silently scanned away, checking the screen and taking screen shots and measurements. Just as I was about to ask (probably with some frustration) how everything was looking, she said all the things you want to hear. “Great measurements, looks perfectly normal, healthy looking baby” etc, etc.

And so here we are. We have made it to 14 weeks today. And my anxiety did peel away with the celebrations with family, and a slow and relaxing post-Christmas break of doing not much, and being away from home.

And today is therefore the beginning of the second trimester, and the end of the longest pregnancy third I’ve ever experienced. I’m still scared, but I’m feeling good. How lucky are we to have another little human on the way? So, so lucky.

Why did I write this blog? Not really sure, just a shout out to those who endure a tough time when pregnancy comes around again but you have lost before. I am fully aware that I wrote a very similar story last time, with my rainbow pregnancy, but I guess this is a pain that doesn’t really ever fix itself.

 

Baby Butterflies

“What are you most worried that it will be?”

“Heart failure,” I say, to which my doctor nods and mutters “of course”.

“And maybe… anxiety?” I laugh because I think it’s funny to be worried that I have anxiety. My doctor laughs too.

I had been having a weird feeling in my chest on and off for weeks before I did anything about it. I had been trying to identify what sort of feeling it was and what was bringing it on. It wasn’t a pain. My heart was beating deep, not fast, and my breathing felt not restricted, but not quite right. It was kinda like butterflies in my stomach except the butterflies were pewter and stuck up behind my sternum.

Sometimes I would pick up my baby and walk into the kitchen where my partner was making dinner and feel the heavy-heart-beating-weird-feeling. Holding my ever growing and ever weightier baby I would say to him, “See – now, I’m getting it now!” This reinforced the idea that my heart was going to combust, my lungs fail or I had exhausted my chest and body in the first half year of being a mum.

I booked an appointment because one day while I was driving, I realised that I had had the weird-heavy-heart-butterflies for a full 24 hours. I needed to be responsible I told myself, for my daughter. I couldn’t wait this one out. Always fully booked, I had to wait a few days before I could see my doc. I took it easy, stopped driving and stayed home, didn’t pick up the baby too much, tried to rest. My sister messaged me every hour in case I had dropped dead and my baby was left alone. This sounds dramatic – but I was really actually very concerned.

The day I finally got to the doctor, I suddenly felt safe! I was so sure that something drastic was going to happen, that sitting there – about to get answers – I felt a great relief. The doctor poked and prodded and listened to my chest. “It’s like… I’m not short of breath… but I could just get a little bit more.” She nodded knowingly and motioned for me to return to the seat at her desk. My doc had previously proven herself a bit of an alarmist – I thought for sure she would send me for all the tests. Every test. It would be exhausting, but necessary. I could count on my doc to leave no stone untur-

“I don’t need to send you off for heaps of tests or anything,” my suddenly non-alarmist doc was saying.

“Oh?”

“Hundred percent anxiety symptoms,” she said smiling her warm but I-have-a-lot-of-people-to-see smile. “So now, you don’t need to worry… about it being anything serious. You can focus on trying to fix this. Your heart is not going to stop. Your lungs are fine.”

The doc asked me how I’d been feeling generally. I told her I was feeling fine. I guess that’s why I didn’t think it would be anxiety. I manage fine.  Then I remembered my little paranoid period where I would fully imagine someone killing me whenever I turned a corner in my house. So I told her about that. I told her how I felt pretty weighed down by the world. Not my personal world. The Trump world. It was the morning of the Manchester concert bombing. “Well, this morning’s events would not have helped that,” she said.

I’ve felt pretty good since my baby came along. Hardly ever down, pretty positive, very supported. This anxiety thing is a whole new ball game for me – depression, I know how that feels, but this is different. I knew I lost my Zen a bit after the baby came: I started to feel this new sort of stress when my partner and I would take the baby out, anywhere. To Bunnings, to the supermarket, to Queensland. I started saying things like “I just feel real stressed when we leave the house.” Hubby would ask why – if she cries, she cries. If she poos, she poos. If we forget something, we’ll deal with it. Even when I was with him I felt a deep concern about getting in the car and heading out with the baby.

So I guess that’s around when it started. And to be honest, having someone say, look you might have post-natal anxiety – meant that I could immediately feel relief that I wasn’t dying from something more serious, and start to take action to try remedy it. [I messaged friends and fam after the docs – “I have anxiety, LOL. I really shouldn’t say LOL, but I’m so relieved I’m not dying!”] I’m a mentally strong person, but I haven’t always been very organised. Feeling anxious about getting out and about has caused me to write more lists, pack my bag early, and talk through exactly what I need, where I will be, what time I will leave and how it will all work out.

We all know people who have crippling anxiety that stops them from living normally. I can live normally, I just recognise the pewter butterflies when they attack, and try to calm them down. Sometimes I feel like I’m a little allergic to my baby though. It usually hits me when I am getting ready to leave the house with her. Sometimes just as I open the front gate. Today I was merely rushing around doing things and the butterflies were in manic mode. And still, it hits about half of the times that I pick her up.

She’s my little allergen.

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P.S. If you need help, make sure you see someone. 🙂 And look out for your new mum friends who might be staying at home a little too much, or seeming a bit stressed about the new little life in their life.

A childhood memory*

I don’t know how my mum found out about it. I guess she saw me from the lounge room window as she scanned the front yard for her youngest born. She would have checked the backyard first. Why would I be in the front yard? That was not somewhere I was meant to be. At any rate, by the time she saw me I had reached top base. She might have seen my feet dangling, perhaps spied my golden curls through the foliage, several metres off the ground. Our front yard tree, which overlooked the next door neighbour’s driveway was split into three bases: Third, second, and first, or bottom, middle and top. I was the youngest of three and each base could barely hold a child’s body comfortably, especially my brother’s – he was 5 years older than me.

I think I was 4 when I climbed to top base, without my mother knowing. Unfortunately I don’t remember the climb or the view that day. Just my mother telling me off in front of the kitchen sink, as her friend who was around for a cuppa watched on. See, we were always climbing trees, and my brother would sit at top base, my sister at the middle, and I would always be at third – barely a hop off the ground. I don’t remember my motivation for reaching the top, I’m sure I just saw the way was clear, and thought I would.

My mother didn’t smack me or anything. She didn’t even yell. But her face, level at mine, was struck with worry but tinged with relief. But what if you had fallen? I remember her asking me. But I didn’t, I say.

The big old tree was cut back to bottom base when the neighbours wanted to build a garage. That time that led to my mum holding me close in the kitchen, lovingly chastising me, was the only time I was able to climb to the top of the old tree in the front yard.

 

*may not be accurate; I’m sure Mum will let me know.

 

Welcome to the Cult – a Cloth Nappy Obsession

It’s the middle of the night and I can’t sleep. I command myself to stay off the MCN (modern cloth nappy) Buy Swap and Sell sites but I ignore my own warning and have a look anyway. Oooh, 6 Close Pop-Ins and postage for $110. Damn they’re cute. That’s less than $20 for each. Posted… I force myself off that group and head to the support group. I see that someone has just joined and has declared how happy she is that she’s begun her cloth nappy experience. “Welcome to the cult” someone has replied. I chuckle in the dark.

My stash (more coming)

Before my love of cloth nappies escalated (some of my stash above – just the ones I stuffed today), I would scroll the online community sites and be absolutely amazed at the level to which mums (and the odd dad) were obsessed with these things. I had inherited a full set of prefolds and covers from a friend – a great get – and had received 4 weeks of a nappy service (best present ever) when our first child came. The nappy service just dipped my toes into the whole experience (and every dirty nappy I chucked into a bin for someone else to wash). I had no idea the extent to which modern cloth had become a cult following and really – a big market for nappy sellers to that group (apparently only 10% of nappy users use cloth). Friends already on the cloth nappy wagon added me to MCN Review groups and the Clean Cloth Nappy Down Under group on Facebook. In the early days (oh how naïve I was then) I would read out posts to my partner. He would suffer, feigning interest, as I crawled down the rabbit hole further and further:

“Look babes – these women are OBSESSED! Look how many nappies this lady has?!”

“Oh my god, so much poo talk…”

“Wow, now they’re discussing what kind of SPATULAS they use to flick poo off into the toilet…”

“I mean seriously, how many nappies can a baby REALLY need?”

“I’m totally happy with the prefolds – I don’t need to buy any more nappies EVER.”

“How hard can washing them be?”

“What the f*** is FLUFF MAIL?”

“Sweet baby cheeses, someone made a cloth nappy key ring.”

 

Now, with some genuine interest:

“I think we need one of those hoses to shoot the poo off into the toilet.”

“Do these nappies smell right?”

“DO NOT USE THE RUBBER GLOVES IN THE BATHROOM, they are my poo gloves.”

“Can we have another baby so I can buy more nappies?”

“FLLLUUUUFF MAAAAIIILLLLLL!!!”

“I need to talk to you about a new clothes line.”

“Don’t look at the PayPal account. But if you do, I can justify every purchase.”

“No seriously – can you smell these for me?”

“You don’t understand. Washing nappies is a science.”

“Imagine if we have twins – I would have to buy like, a full new set of nappies.”

When I first started musing about cloth nappies, my mum was very negative – (sorry Mum, but you were) or let’s say, cynical. She was fairly adamant that the power and water I would use washing nappies would make the savings from not buying disposables redundant. Now obviously I live in the echo chamber of MCNs, but I have seen much information that confirms that environmentally, and economically, I’ve made a good choice – especially since I don’t use a dryer. This came with my nappy purchase recently:

Info card that came with my Cloth Nappy Market purchase

**Before I continue – there is no judgement for those who use disposable nappies. Motherhood is bloody hard and whatever works for you, is what you should do. Also, washing nappies requires a certain commitment of time and effort – not everyone has the time and space needed to do this. **

For me the landfill issue is what justifies every moment of my cloth nappy lifestyle. Every year, for every child, you might be putting 300 kilograms of nappies into landfill. Disposables are made using energy and water, and take hundreds of years to break down.

We still use disposables at night-time and when we are away for more than a few days. I always have some back up in the nappy bag. For anyone wanting some environmentally friendly ‘sposies’, these nappies are great, and fully compostable.

Ecoriginals

(I actually know someone who composts them.) You can get them delivered, but they are more expensive than your more mainstream option. You can also get compostable wipes, but I’ve embraced cloth wipes too, which is easy if you are already washing nappies!
18493005_10158615946465433_559969515_oI made this for bath time >>  by cutting a hole in a zip up pouch that had some sort of baby related bath gift inside. (#hoarder) You fold them into each other like normal wipes and tissues. Wet as you go or fold in damp.

My (to be honest, sometimes frightening) obsession with cloth nappies has really made me question why I love it so much. Why I want to buy all the nappies. Why, when it was my birthday, I wanted to just get more nappies. I mean, I don’t even wear them. WHY DO WE LOVE THEM SO MUCH?

Being at home (I’ve been at home with baby for 5 months now) can be a lonely experience. It depends on your personality I think, and your ability to be alone how well you cope. I’ve always been good alone. Especially alone and busy. I talk to myself, I set tasks and I pump my fist to no one when something is a success. But I’m in this strange new situation where despite me being busy all day – all day – cleaning, cooking, breast feeding, washing, playing, shopping… I can go the whole day without doing anything for myself besides having a cup of tea. I treasure doing stuff for myself. I love puzzles, I love reading (LOL, haven’t read for months), I love learning, I love gardening (LOL plants are dead), I love accomplishing.

I loved being a teacher, and I miss it. Sometimes I feel that when I left my career behind I also left behind a little of my identity. I like to have purpose, and yet every time I set about doing something, there is a nappy to change, a mouth to feed, a baby to entertain, or dishes to clean. (These are all purposeful things, I mean, without me my baby would starve and the household would fall apart.)

But when I wake up and think NAPPY WASHING DAY, I jump out of bed and get started. I still feel new to this so getting the washing done correctly is SO important. I check the water level, make sure the detergent amount is good, make sure they’re pegged properly, ensure the safety of the precious nappies as they get smashed around in the Heavy Duty cycle. This is where the Clean Cloth Nappies Down Under group comes in. This Facebook group admin offer you all the information any novice cloth nappy user needs. They give you a nappy wash routine based on your detergent, your machine, even the hardness of your water (edit: this is no longer available from the CCNDU crew but they offer all the info you need to make your own). The admin (and the whole group community) support you as you sanitise and strip your nappies, choose detergent, fit your nappy to your baby properly… everything. I can’t adequately laud their greatness. They are angels. You have a problem, you ask them. I had smelly nappies after I washed them. The smell was still there a wash and a soak later and that broke me. I thought about giving up cloth. I was wasting water and time trying to fix it. I asked the CCNDU ladies, they gave me the help I needed and I am back on track with beautiful, healthy, clean smelling nappies again.

Trump gloves and cloth for poo removal

[Obviously it’s not sunshine and rainbows – every day (or two if I’m lucky) I put on my Trump gloves and rub my baby’s shit off a nappy. Yeah, I do that.]

My point is I love cloth nappies and I love the feeling of success that every good wash brings. But I also love the colours and the prints. I love their feel as I slide them under my baby’s butt. I love the fact that I reuse them. I love WASHING THEM. They’re pretty and awesome, but they give me purpose! It empowers me because I am doing something fantastic. I am literally saving a kilo of rubbish from going into the ground every day. I am a planet crusader, AND I’m saving money. But on top of this, I’m taking poo and wee ridden nappies and every third day I’m returning them to their natural, crispy white and bacteria free state because I am good at washing them. Think about that for a moment.

Stuffing time!

For stay at home mums who might feel like they have not accomplished much (besides keeping their baby alive and well and happy), being capable of reusing something that others throw out every day is a bloody marvelous achievement.
So cloth ladies, when you stand back and look at your freshly washed nappies drying, when you stuff them ready to go and stack them into a kaleidoscopic pile of environmentally friendly beautifulness, make sure you look around the empty room, nod your head at the imagined applause, high five your baby, and pump your fist in the self-adulation that you truly deserve.

Now I’m off, need to get the gloves on.

P.S. My fluff mail came with a cloth nappy key ring. My life is complete.

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No News is Good News (like seriously, none of the news is good)

I’m driving and I’m cursing. Oh man I’m cursing. I’ve made the mistake of tuning in to 774 on my way out West – breaking my self-imposed news ban. The ban began on Monday, and to be honest, I didn’t think I would make the week. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve still been on Twitter and Facebook, the Twitter feed offering enough news headlines to keep me in touch with the world, but in a way that means I can quickly scroll through without become emotionally involved.

I usually have ABC News 24 running all day. Even after I’ve heard the same bloody story word for word for the eighteenth time, I still leave it on, just in the background as I play with baby Kylo, potter about the house, breastfeed, cook, clean – I basically exist with the hum of the news behind me. If it’s not the news, it’s Parliament Question Time or the Press Club Address. (Yeah, I know, thrilling.)

[So I’m in the car and Georgie Downer has just been asked a question – about the government’s inaction on workplaces short-changing workers and using visas to hold them to ransom. She answers by saying that those examples are another reason new citizens should be proficient in English. Urgh. She has no concept of her own privilege and no compassion, nor understanding that migrant workers are likely working in jobs IN ORDER to improve their English, or certainly to support their studies. Pure victim blaming. Grrrrrr SMH.]

Every piece of news has seemed horrific lately – I know I don’t need to tell you. You live in the same world as I do, where a former reality TV host who has admitted to sexual assault and regularly releases policies on Twitter is President of the United States, the leader of the Philippines sends death squads to murder civilians, capital punishment still exists and sometimes goes wrong, children are STILL being bombed in Syria, refugees are being targeted left right and centre and still being locked up in camps that we as a nation seem to have collectively forgotten etc etc so on and so forth.

When the floods hit northern New South Wales and claimed the lives of the mother and her children, I lost my shit. I couldn’t deal. I pictured her holding her children as the car sank. I can’t even deal writing these few short sentences about it. After that, Syrian refugees – buses of them, and dozens of children – were killed whist they were trying to flee. I found myself weeping as the story ran on the TV. Who the fuck bombs buses of fleeing refugees? What sort of a world is this?

Since understanding that I am probably am empath, I’ve realized how deeply I can become involved in things that I watch. Masterchef or My Kitchen Rules will routinely leave me with no fingernails remaining as with every nail biting moment of the show, I actually remove the tips of my nails. Not just cooking shows. Documentaries, movies, anything where there is suspense or really REAL drama that I can transport myself into and experience to the point where it disturbs me. It seems ridiculous, but I have had to learn to ‘turn off’ and watch without feeling and without getting emotionally involved in whatever is happening on the screen. Doesn’t always work though: we were recently watching my current favourite show, Grand Designs, and the house owners were having a wall-sized single window pane positioned on the side of their house using cranes; everything hinged on that moment and a centimetre out would screw up EVERYTHING. My partner looked across at me – “Is this stressing you out?” I glanced down at the perfect crescent of fingernail that I had bitten off and placed next to me on the table and lied, “No.”

Violence is something that stays in my mind’s eye very vividly. I actually have a fantastic visual memory. (I was raised without violent movies when I was young which could have something to do with how they affect me.) When my partner joined me on maternity leave we binged on Vikings. We watched every horrendously intense, but brilliant episode in existence to prepare us for the new series. That’s like, 50 episodes in a week. Being fans of Game of Thrones and House of Cards, A LOT of what we watch is quite violent. However, I’m a full on pacifist. I once joined a Karate club and gave up after one lesson when I realized I would have to hit someone.

So anyway, after all that binging, I became aware of disturbing thoughts and visions that were creeping in to my mind. I would pull the baby through the house in her bouncer, walking backwards, and picture someone stabbing me in my back. Serious. I would mentally remind myself to book a dentist appointment and then have a vision of a drill going through the top of my mouth. I would see murderers in the dark when I went to the toilet in the middle of the night. I would hear noises in the supermarket carpark nearby and imagine a car crashing through our bedroom wall. And so on and so forth. Until one day I said to my partner “I have a problem.” And so I (and we) stopped watching certain movies and series.

[This isn’t the first time this has happened. Whilst staying a week on the idyllic, quiet island of Korcula in Croatia, we watched every season and episode of the Sopranos. I had never watched it before. I found myself outside in the sunshine, doing some hand washing in my bikini, loving life as a traveller – but then began to have feelings that if I walked around the corner of the house someone would jump out and shoot me with an Uzi.]

And so, I banned myself from certain TV, and all the news for a week. It just seemed right, and to be honest, it really helped. It also forced me to do other things – and watch some good History series. (Oh yeah the Crusades – peachy. Ha!) I don’t agree with turning away from the world or putting your head in the sand, but when something is affecting you in a negatively way, maybe you need a break from it?

Surely some of my issues here comes from getting used to being a mum. I don’t like it when people start every sentence with “As a mother” and I wasn’t a fan of people who continuously said to me “You’ll understand when you have kids”, BUT – But…. Yeah my life is different. I can’t JUST think about me. Clementine Ford said that having a child was reckless as a part of your heart is walking around outside of your body. Yes! Maybe it is just my mortality that has hit me, now that I and my partner have not only been charged with the protection and responsibility that naturally comes with having a child, but also the legacy of family. There is something that extends further than our two lives now.

I made it through my no news week. I’m trying to relax. I’m trying to find the Zenness I’ve been really good at, at other times in my life up to this point. I want my daughter to be chilled out. I don’t want her to fear death, or anything in life for that matter. Unfortunately the world is not a great place right now – so it’s easy to find myself fearing stuff for her.

After Georgie Downer suggested that migrant workers should just get better at English to stop them from being exploited, some faith in humanity was restored for me when the last caller of the session rang through and told her how preposterous her answer was.

Maybe there will be good news next week. And if there’s not, perhaps I’ll just turn off again.

trumpcat