Random pregnancy advice

on Pregnancy  

I started writing this whilst on maternity leave waiting for my baby to arrive – it’s now almost 4 months later but I didn’t want to waste it!

As I get towards the end of my pregnancy, and the early days of finding out and still fitting into my jeans are becoming a fading distant memory, I feel like doing what many who have gone before do: give unsolicited advice. I don’t know if you’re pregnant, or just curious, or my future self revisiting this experience before going through it all again, but I hope you find it useful.

Feel free to ignore advice

Every mother is different, every baby is different, and every situation is different – so it makes sense that the complex experience of growing an entire human being for 9+ months is going to take shape differently for everyone. There’s a vast spectrum of what is considered “normal” and “healthy” in pregnancy, but most people will give advice based on their own limited experience which may have no relevance to you whatsoever (including me, in this post). For the important people in your life it might be worth discussing your differences, but with random acquaintances I find it easiest to just smile and nod politely, or say “ah, good to know”. Then ignore it. Unless it’s coming from your medical professional, who presumably is giving advice based on science and a lot of experience so is probably worth considering.

Don’t compare (or try not to)

Don’t compare weight gain. Don’t compare symptoms. Don’t compare your physical fitness level. Don’t compare the estimated weight of your baby (which, by the way, gets more and more inaccurate as your progress). Don’t compare stretch marks. Don’t compare the size of your belly, especially not to pregnant fitness instructors. Or if you do, which is pretty difficult to avoid, try to not get too worked up about it, because every pregnancy is complex and different (see the point above). For a lot of these things, you have very little control since a lot is determined by genetics and a lot by sheer luck, and no amount of scrolling through #28weeks pics on Instagram is going to make a difference. Focusing on these things too much is a downwards spiral to madness.

You are allowed to have a positive experience

There’s a lot of horror stories around pregnancy, childbirth and parenting out there, and nothing brings people together like complaining about something. But I think it’s okay and even a good thing to put positive stories out there too, as long as you’re sensitive to the audience and timing. Fear and anxiety can make things worse, so I like to think that hearing about positive experiences can be a nice counter point to the image portrayed in media. I’ve had a good experience so far, although I’m sure my luck won’t hold out forever :)

Exercise, if you can

I’ve never really been a very fit person, but exercise is a good way to keep sane and mobile (easier said than done with crazy hormones and a growing un-ergonomic belly). I was lucky that the kind of exercise I don’t hate – walking, Pilates and yoga – happen to be very pregnancy friendly. Aquarobics was also more fun than I thought it would be, especially feeling light and free at the end of my pregnancy when I just felt so heavy.

Pregnant me in the nursery

Feel good in your clothes

If you’re in a position to, get some clothes that you feel great in – whatever that might look like. Sure, it might only be for a few months, but there’s so much about pregnancy that’s uncomfortable and clothing is one thing that can actually be controlled. My third trimester was over summer, so I favoured super stretchy bamboo jersey skirts and dresses that lasted me throughout (edit: and also after!).

Skip the ‘Things that can go wrong” section

A friend gave me a “What to Expect When You’re Expecting” book, and wow that thing is chunky. A large part of that is detailing all the potential complications and things that can go wrong in pregnancy and birth – which I very purposely skipped. Most things have a low probability of happening unless you have specific risk factors, and worrying about all the things won’t change anything. Save the anxiety for if you have something specific to stress about!

It’s only temporary

It felt like I was pregnant forever, but now finishing this post 3 months after having Felix it feels like a short and distant memory. It’s uncomfortable and scary but at the end of the day it is temporary – and isn’t that significant compared to a lifetime of being a parent.

Just a note to add that I was lucky to have a complication free and actually even enjoyable pregnancy, which might be very different to your experience (or future me if I end up doing this again). This might all be irrelevant or annoying to you, and that’s okay! Take my advice to ignore my advice :)

 

2019 Bullet Journalling

on Design  

Wow, so it’s 2019! 2018 was quite a big year for me in some ways (like being pregnant), in others quieter (like having less energy to do things due to being pregnant). Although I let the Bullet Journalling habit slip a bit towards the end of the year, I’ve decided to keep going with it into the next year and (hopefully) after having this baby!

If you haven’t come across it before, here’s a bit more about it:

The Bullet Journal is a customizable and forgiving organization system. It can be your to-do list, sketchbook, notebook, and diary, but most likely, it will be all of the above. It will teach you to do more with less.

I’ve been using one since 2016, which I’ve written about over here. People using this system modify it to suit their needs, whether it’s adding fantastically beautiful and detailed illustrations, colours and spreads, or simplifying it further by dropping some of the default stuff.

The way that I use mine has evolved over time, and definitely falls more on the simple and lazy side of things. I’ve tried a few times (including the past week) to get a bit fancier and a bit more finessed, but I’ve once again come to the conclusion that that isn’t really my thing. My spreads sometimes include a bit of calligraphy or lettering, and the odd sketch, wireframe or mind map, but they don’t have anywhere near the polish of the ones I see on the popular #bujo Instagram feeds that I admire.

But I’ve decided I’m okay with this – my journal is a space for rapidly logging and drafting events, ideas, plans and reflections. The ‘final product’ that comes out of this tends to be done elsewhere, drawn on the iPad or painted on more appropriate paper; coded into a website or fleshed out into a talk. For me at least, a focus on polish would hinder the freedom and spontaneity of this capturing and drafting stage.

One thing I have decided to spend a little time on is labelling the journal cover and spine using gold foil. It’s taken me a bit of trial and error to get to this point, but for a once per year effort I’m loving the effect.

Are you using a bullet journal or other analog system this year? I’d love to hear about it!

Adventures in South West WA (with a dog)

on Food, Travel  

So we went on this trip to Denmark and Albany in June last year, and this post has been sitting in my drafts pretty much since then. Seemed a shame to waste it, so here it is, better late than never!

This time I wanted to share some of the great dog-friendly places we visited, in case you’re thinking of taking your pup to South West WA.

Stay

Unless you’re camping, AirBnB is usually the safest bet for finding pet-friendly accommodation. Our one this time also had a lovely fireplace, perfect for the chilly winter weather.

However, what it didn’t have was a good place to leave our dog alone in a secure yard for a bit whilst going to non dog friendly places, like nice restaurants or national parks. Jasper is usually pretty happy to nap if we leave him to his own devices, especially after a good walk, so this is something we try to look for in dog friendly accommodation now.

Eats & Drinks

As usual, most places with outdoor seating are cool with well-behaved dogs sitting with you and have a water bowl available. It’s not ideal when the weather is crap, but we were lucky to get some beautiful weather in between two storms!

The Williams WoolshedWilliams
There’s only so many places to stop for lunch along the 4-5 hour drive between Perth and Albany, and this seems to be a popular one. They have a large lawn outdoor area and pretty decent pies – just be aware that on a long weekend the queue to order gets pretty long!

Willoughby Park & Boston Brewing Co.Denmark
This Denmark winery/brewery has pub restaurant and a huge lawn area with picnic style seating. I didn’t try the beer, but dropped by the cellar door to see what wines would go with my prawn and chorizo pizza, going with a crisp Riesling. A whole bottle, because they said I could take the rest home with me so why not?

Three Anchors – Albany
Convenient spot for lunch after a walk on Middleton Beach, as it’s right there! The share platter has a nice bit of everything.

Oranje Tractor – Albany
I don’t usually get to do much wine tasting when travelling with Jasper, as usually cellar doors are indoors and not so keen on letting dogs inside. Oranje Tractor has a beautiful outdoor garden where you can do tastings, but they were also nice enough to let us sit inside by the fireplace and let Jasper play with their cellar dog, Merlot. The tasting flight includes natural and organic wines, paired with cheese and other local produce, some coming from their own organic orchard. It was lovely to visit somewhere smaller and less commercial, where someone sits with you for a chat about wine instead of pouring and hurrying off to the next customer. I’d love to come for one of their pizza nights if we head back that way in summer.

Limeburners – Albany
We couldn’t not visit Western Australia’s first Single Malt Whisky distillery! Each taste has a fee, but is a generous 15ml pour of excellent whisky (or gin, if that’s more your thing). We came away with a bottle to add to the collection.

Walks

Dogs aren’t allowed in national parks, which sometimes means it’s slim pickings! We found some pretty decent spots though.

Monkey Rock – Denmark
After a short but steep climb, you’re rewarded with a rock formation (which does not in any way resemble a monkey) with gorgeous views out to the coastline. Worth it!

Lights Beach – Denmark
This is the most beautiful dog-friendly beach I’ve ever visited! The sand is fine and white, the ocean relatively warm (although too choppy for swimming), and interesting rock formations to explore. It was also relatively quiet, with just a few other people with dogs around – a nice calm spot for a walk.

Middleton Beach & Ellen Cove Boardwalk Albany

This was a nice easy walk on boardwalks along the coast, although the best bits are early in the walk.

I really wanted to hike Bluff Knoll on this trip, but being in a national park it wasn’t going to be a dog-friendly expedition. Next time!