I tried not to have too many expectations about what would happen when baby came home. The one thing I knew was that every child is different, and every parent’s experience is different. In fact, I was expecting the worst, and so far, apart from the first difficult weeks, things have not lived up to my dire expectations.
But when it came to pumping, it turns out I had very unrealistic expectations.
In preparing for the arrival of baby Sam, I made a list, as I tend to do. I marked what could be done before the birth, and what could be done after. I marked what needed research, and where I could purchase everything. The list was thorough, a culmination of googling baby necessities and talking to friends.
The nursery was a thing, so I designated a room – or rather – the room designated itself – the only one without a bed in it that didn’t sometimes get used as a guest room. I wasn’t one of those people keen to paint it or buy a whole lot of new, purpose-built furniture. We had an old desk, which could double as a change table. The chest of drawers could be cleaned out to house baby clothes. And the wardrobe could just stay there because… well how much stuff do babies really need anyway?
I love making lists… and then ticking things off. I always have. I have early memories of making lists as a kid, and the first two things on my daily job list were:
- Wake up
- Get up
I must have felt super proud when just getting out of bed had me achieving two daily goals! Is that the secret of how I became a morning person?
One of my great childhood memories were our Saturday porridge mornings. It was Dad’s thing. Every Saturday morning he’d make porridge. Generally he’d prepare and cook it, then head out to buy the paper, and on his return it would be the perfect sloppy consistency, ready to be rewarmed and served.
I’ve since discovered there’s heaps of stuff you can put in porridge, but back then, there was only one way – with sultanas, brown sugar and milk. If we were really lucky, there was cream in the fridge, and a dollop added a little bit of heaven to the morning.
I rebelled in my later years and began adding currents instead of sultanas (crazy, I know), but since moving to Austria, the land without brown sugar and currents (at least in obvious places), I had to adapt. So here’s what I do now:
The decision to have a child is not a simple one for everyone. And as you may already know, I could come up with many more reasons not to have children, than to have them. And one of the big ones, for me, was simply the unfairness of being the woman. Because in the story of procreation, a man can be the most supportive being on the planet, but he still can’t do what a woman can.
Summer is for mowing. Especially in Austria where you generally have to mow every week to keep things under control. Like anywhere, people are apt to start mowing early, especially when it’s hot. But come 12 noon, and what you’ll hear in Austria is… nothing. That’s because it’s considered impolite to mow your lawn between 12 and 2… disturbing the peace and quiet of lunch time. In the same way that Sunday is a day of rest, and the shops are closed, there are still lots of shops that close here between 12 and 2 during the week. Oh, and you better not even think about getting your mower out on a Sunday… that’s definitely forbidden!
But hey, it’s nice to know, that for your Sunday BBQ, your serenity won’t be disturbed. So I’m all for it!
I want to give a shout out to all those ladies out there who breastfed their children, including myself since I’m currently in the midst of it. I also want to give a shout out to all those who tried, only to find, that for whatever reason, it did not work out. And while I’m here, I also want to give a shout out to anyone who decided to bottle feed their babe, because after all, fed is best, and in many ways it feels like that would be the smart route.
I thought breastfeeding was an all or nothing thing. I knew it wasn’t easy, and did not work for everyone, and I held myself to no expectations. If it works, I said, I’ll do it, and if not, whatever. I thought there would be a black and white reason why it would work, or not, but what I’ve dug up is a whole lot of shades of grey.
They say you forget the pain of childbirth. Ha! Who are they kidding? Sure, time passes, and like everything that passes, it feels less traumatic. But I’m not going to forget the pain of childbirth any more than I forget the chronic back pain I had to navigate through to get to that point.
But I can reflect back on the experience and choose to put away the worst parts. That I don’t think I can do this feeling, knowing it was all on me. And the expressions on the doctor and nurses faces toward the end when I could well see they were concerned but didn’t want to show how much. I can remember how from all this experience, I got something out of it (apart from a healthy child) – I learnt a new German word.
From my previous blog about how we tend to watch most of our television in English, you’d be forgiven for thinking that I’m pretty lazy to not watch shows in German. Because it’s a great way to learn. But as I said, it’s disconcerting to watch a show with an iconic actor (think Sean Connery), and have him open his mouth to spout out sentences of German rather than the rich Irish lilt we’re all used to. So I stick to my guns. I watch English shows in English and German shows in German. It makes sense.
But I understand the advantages of watching TV in German. Not only can it help me learn the language, I can easily do it while I’m on the exercise bike, for example, or sitting in the sauna. The only pre-requisite is that I can see the screen the understand the subtitles if I need them. So I looked beyond English and German… and I discovered something else – Spanish dramas. Ok, let’s be honest, it works with any foreign language. French, Italian, Russian… anytime there’s a show I want to watch that’s available in something other than English or German, I simply change the audio to German and watch it like that. Because I don’t need to learn French or Italian or Russian.
Now, when it comes to period dramas, I’ve come to the conclusion that no one quite makes them like the Spanish. Obviously I’m just getting fed whatever is available on Austrian Netflix, but from what I’ve heard, I’m not the only one watching them! And hey, this is not high-brow watching, but it is fun, and you need that when you’re watching in a different language.
Here’s a few of my favourites:
One of the huge advantages that streaming delivered was the ability for me to easily watch movies and series’ in English. Austrian television, unsurprisingly, is in German, and I don’t think I’ve actually watched more than five minutes of it since I moved here (also unsurprising). Even something originally created in English is dubbed with German voice over here. So if ‘Bad Boys’ is on TV, the voices are replaced with odd sounding German (odd to me, because that’s not the way Will Smith speaks!). And the funny thing is, because there aren’t as many German voiceover actors as actors (duh), after watching a few German-dubbed shows, you start to hear the same voices over and over.