18 April 2017

Working Mama Life : The Return to Work Edition

Pre-kids I kind of considered myself a bit of a career woman. I graduated University with a Bachelor of Information Technology (with Distinction, because perfectionist) whilst working at the same University progressing through the ranks to eventually be a senior member of a small team supervising three staff. At this stage, I hadn't even pondered having a family as I wasn't one of those people who yearned to have children so I enjoyed the responsibility and wasn't too phased if my work issues came home with me occasionally. We moved to the Sunshine Coast and although I transitioned to the same job/team in a new University, I had essentially demoted myself by applying for a position that I was formerly supervising. At around the same time I found out I was pregnant and it all changed. What initially was a desire to progress and lead in the workplace was the hope to just come in, do my job and leave at the end of the day leaving all stresses and responsibilities in the office. Ned arrived, my maternity leave went way too fast and I returned to work eventually securing a permanent change to my hours to just under 22 hours a week. This allowed me to challenge my brain, take ownership of small projects and mix with a bunch of people who I genuinely enjoyed spending time with whilst also having a decent amount of free time to go to the gym and spend time with Ned. When it came time to leave work again when pregnant with the twins, I'd accrued enough leave to have more than a year off, all paid (most of it at half pay). Today I received an email from my boss letting me know that my return to work date is approaching and I need to formalise my returning arrangements. Wait, what? Didn't I give birth like five minutes ago? Reality is, the girls are ten months old and I'll be returning to work less than a week after their first birthday. Am I excited about it? Not particularly, but I'm also not completely upset about it either. While work means paying others to look after my children, potentially missing big developmental milestones and sacrificing my weekday gym/coffee shop/leisure schedule which I've grown accustomed to, it also means I get to use my natural analytical brain, bring in some additional income, and keep my skills current that I spent years learning and developing. Oh and for this fashion lover, it means I have an excuse to ditch the mum uniform and activewear and frock up a couple of days a week. Admittedly, all I considered initially when thinking about returning to work was money. Would the cost of childcare for three children warrant me working or would we be better financially me not working and staying at home with the kids taking on some additional group fitness classes? Now I'm a little less naive and know there's more to the equation. At this stage I can't predict what my working future will be but I'll be rejoining the workforce as a working mama in about eight weeks. If I can handle twins, surely working will be easy right?

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05 December 2016

SodaStream : Shame or Glory

Christmas is fast approaching and although I don't have that many end of year celebrations to attend, I have probably relaxed a little with my eating and am already getting a little prematurely festive in the eating and drinking department. This not only means extra calories but also extra expense, particularly at a time where you don't need to be spending unnecessarily.

So when a SodaStream arrived on my doorstep I decided to research cocktails and mocktails that I can make at home using fresh and in season ingredients rather than loading up on sugar-laden store-bought mixers. That not only means I'm being somewhat responsible with my calorie intake but also environmentally concious by not purchasing products that ultimately end up in landfill.

On my list of cocktails and mocktails to try {using fresh ingredients and omitting/reducing the sugar where possible} are

I also know that 'fizzy water' is a complete novelty for kids so as the temperature rises it will be easier to keep the little go hydrated.

SodaStream have partnered with GOT star Thor Bjornsson {the Mountain} to help spread the word about plastic waste also aiming to encourage people to choose reusable items where possible.

I have three SodaStream units to giveaway to three lucky readers just in time for Christmas. Enter over on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/trainee.mama

28 October 2016

Walk in Wardrobe Makeover with Elfa and Howards Storage World

Many people rate the kitchen as the most important room in the home. While I agree, there is at least one additional room in the home that will sell me a house.

The walk in robe.

Practically no one would have walked into our now home and thought that it was 'the one' ... it was smelly, dirty and quite frankly, disgusting, and made you feel like you needed to visit the doctor for a tetanus shot after every visit and inspection.

But we saw potential and location, location, location.

And so #thebourkebuild began.

The robe was practically an empty shell so I took that as an opportunity to seek out shelving options and contacted Howards Storage World to investigate what solutions they had available.

Once the carpet was stripped, existing shelving was removed and the floor was laid and the room was painted the room was ready.

I was connected with Kellie from the Maroochydore store {also a mother of twins} who visited the house, reviewed the space and took some measurements. We had a chat about the different shelving units/systems available and with Kellie's recommendation, we started to design the space using the Elfa products.

{from the HSW website}
Elfa is a durable, customisable shelving system that is flexible enough to be used in any room in the home or office. elfa products are designed and built in Sweden and are supported with a ten year warranty.
I chose a combination of mesh and wire baskets, some long and short hanging and some shelving to create a space where multiple items could be stored.

My dad and husband completed the installation and at times it was a little tricky but within a few hours my wardrobe was ready and waiting to be filled.

 I really love the space and find it really easy to keep tidy and organised. The only thing I would change is to use the mesh baskets for both sets of drawers as it looks smarter and less exposed. I've got to admit I was less than impressed with the size of the room when we bought the house after selling a house that had a very generous walk in robe but with Kellie's knowledge and design, I've got more than enough room to store my stuff and navigate the space. The Elfa solution is also future proof as the shelving and baskets can be moved around if my requirements change.

Check out Howard's Organisation Station site for heaps of ideas, makeovers and storage tips.

{I was offered a discount to purchase these products but was not paid for this blog post}

06 August 2016

Fed is Best

The day after giving birth to Ned a midwife questioned my ability to breastfeed given I 'didn't have a lot of breast tissue' and asked if I had considered mixed feeding. I don't think I'd ever even changed a nappy so the term mixed feeding was foreign to me. She explained that I may need to consider formula top ups as it was unlikely I would be able to exclusively breastfeed.

I was kind of puzzled. Yes, my boobs hadn't really grown {major disappointment} but surely if my identical twin sister was able to breastfeed exclusively then given our DNA, shouldn't I?

The midwives were amazingly supportive once we'd come home and practically sent dad off to the shops with bottle and formula recommendations. I was also provided with a list of things that may help boost my supply. I tried the medication, the herbs. the cookies, water, pumping ... all of it. And to me, it didn't seem to really make much of a difference. I think the thing that really frustrated me was that the technique was never an issue and I was happy to breastfeed whenever and wherever I had to. The fact that I could only give Ned what felt like an 'entree' feed was disheartening. I remember one day where mum and I had gone shopping at Noosa and I had breastfeed him there. He basically screamed the whole back back to Maroochydore {around 40 minutes}. We pulled into the shopping centre and I could have qualified for a game of Supermarket Sweep {anyone remember that show?} with the speed I located and purchased a tin of formula, a bottle of water and a bottle. When you exhaust all avenues what really can you do? You have two options ... persist feeling constantly deflated or switch to formula full time.

I continued mixed feeding until Ned was around five months and then phased out the breast feeds pretty quickly. I was actually proud I lasted that long.

Prior to birthing the twins I didn't have any clear goals when it came to breastfeeding. I thought I would give it a crack and see how we went. My boobs again barely grew so I pretty much knew that I'd have issues with supply again and with two babies to feed this time, my expectations were low.

I'd say from the get-go I sabotaged our feeding relationship. My prior experience taught me that no matter what I did I would never be able to support two babies, and from chatting to other twin mums, would I even want to?

The staff in the special care nursery {where we were the entire time} were very supportive and realistic around discussing my wishes and intentions for feeding the girls. Without much of a thought, and now knowing what mixed feeding was, I explained to them that for now, that was my choice. For the four nights we stayed at the hospital I breast fed one or both babies and then followed that feed with a formula bottle. This happened three hourly, round the clock and it was tough. I don't know how many times a different midwife or nurse or lactation consultant questioned whether I had troubleshooted my poor supply issues with Ned. I really should have just recorded a message and whipped out the iPhone every time I was asked about my decision. I know they all meant well and all of them recognised that breastfeeding twins is difficult even when you have no supply dramas but still, I felt a little judged that I wasn't keen on exploring options again this time.

One lactation consultant however did try and discover the root cause of my supply issues. The doctor who had prescribed me ovulation drugs to help with falling pregnant {that's a whole other blog post} did mention the words polycystic ovaries. And then it clicked. That was more than likely the reason why I couldn't and wasn't producing much milk, even with all of the medical and natural supposed remedies. Finding this out however didn't stop aforementioned lactation consultant from grabbing my entire A- cup boob and shoving it abruptly in one of the twin's mouths. I felt a little violated to be honest.

When we returned home from hospital I felt positive about continuing the mixed feeding. I even sourced a breast pump to try and produce more milk. Again though, pumping for twenty minutes and producing ten or twenty millilitres of milk isn't encouraging especially when you see pics of other mums on social media filling a 150ml bottle from one side!

It didn't take long for my positivity and enthusiasm to decline. The reality of having two newborn babies desperate for your attention often at the same time had me questioning whether breastfeeding was even worth it - not necessarily for them {because you know, we all know breast is best ;)} but for my sanity and health.

When people asked if I was feeding {as in breast feeding} them, my answer was 'kind of'. I was still attempting to let each baby have their 'entree' for one or two feeds a day. Which is seriously next to nothing. The less you feed, the less milk you'll produce and so I was totally self-sabotaging. You see 'kind of' feeding can be likened to that ex boyfriend who you've never quite got over. He is always somewhere in your thoughts and you get tingles whenever you think about him or see his name pop up on social media.

It's been maybe a week since I've breast fed and those tingles are a constant reminder of perhaps what I should be doing. A reminder of the body's ability to feed your baby. And that your body doesn't quit on you as early as you might quit on it.

But you know what? Sometimes it just doesn't work the way that nature intended. And that is totally okay.

The real-life mum queen herself, Constance Hall gave a shout out to formula feeding mums in a week where breastfeeding mums are officially being celebrated. Respect to these words:

Formula feeding mums.I started full time formula feeding the twins at around 5 months and guess what? It's no joy ride either.
In fact, in some ways it's harder then breast feeding. Making milk, cleaning bottles. That's not fun.

Formula feeding certainly isn't the easy way out at all.
It's expensive.
It's tiring.
It's an option that can lead to judgement.

Oh god, now reading this I wonder whether I should reconsider my choice.

There's that mum guilt for you.

In the end, #fedisbest.