Going through pregnancy is one of the most intense periods in a woman's life - especially when it's the first time for you. Pregnant women know this - suddenly everyone chimes in with their (unwanted) advice on pretty much everything. Oh, and the books - walk into the pregnancy section in a bookstore and you wonder how there can be left enough paper for any other books - it's OVERWHELMING!
Now, books sort in various categories from the generic pregnancy tomes that include everything about every condition, stage, possibility, malady etc. etc. to the more alternative approaches, including personal opinions, memoirs and alternative healing and birthing strategies, etc. - oh, and don't even get me started on the books for the Afterward - nursing, co-sleeping, raising, the first year with baby...
I have leafed my way through pretty much every category, but for the past weeks, I have decided to put them all away and stop reading them because I have noticed that they actually just accentuate my stress levels instead of making me feel informed and rested. Upon chatting with a few other pregnant women, I have also realised that I don't seem to be the only one feeling like that. Knowing too much can also be harmful because you may end up faffing about every 1% disaster that may happen to you.
In my generic pregnancy book, there are about 30 pages where all the maladies, problems, diseases and syndromes are listed - truly nothing you want to read when you're pregnant (or ever, for that matter). Imagine someone always listed you all the things that could happen if you now drove away in your car - you'd stay at home for eternity. With so many things listed that could go wrong, you marvel how any children can actually be alive, happy and healthy. The truth is, most of these ailments happen to less than 1% of women, so I feel reading about them is not really necessary. I mean you also don't read about all the possibilities that could happen to you, if even very unlikely, when you get a flu shot or something like that.
So that book only nursed my panic of losing the baby and gave me fodder to obsess about - so out it went. However, the alternative books are not much better. If I read about one more story of a women who simply "breathed out her baby because she was so relaxed", I am going to hurl. I know I will feel like a failure if labour comes around and I will not stay as Zen as these books portray it if I buy into these stories too much. Same is with the obsession of home births in many of them - you're not a failure if you decide against traumatising your neighbours for eternity and actually have your baby in an environment that's equipped for it.
Same goes for breastfeeding. Before reading into the subject, I would have never thought there was a chance I couldn't breastfeed - I mean, it's kind of a natural thing, right? That's like being scared of not being able to push your baby out - your body usually knows what to do.
Anyway, the books kept droning on about what to do if it doesn't work, how to change to bottle-feeding - and I just slammed them shut and decided my obgyn and midwife will tell me what to do and that has to suffice. No more books on the matter.
There is actually really only one book I thoroughly enjoyed reading, which was neither dogmatic nor leaning towards the negative things that could happen and that was Hollie de Cruz's Hypnobirthing book (she's the founder of London Hypnobirthing). Compared to Marie Mongan's hypnobirthing book (who was the first to term Hypnobirthing)), it is far less dogmatic, concise, positive and informative, too. Her breathing and visualisation techniques have helped me relax tremendously and I still enjoy leafing through her book - but the others have been banned from my bookshelf, for now - maybe I'll get back to them just before the baby is due...
I cannot even count how often I've been to the doctor in the last year. Over the summer I checked in with my orthopaedic about every two weeks to fix my crooked hip (old ballet injury) and when I got pregnant, the doctor appointments just toppled over. Add the psycho and physiotherapy and you've got yourself an invalid, apparently.
Doctors and I have a very ambivalent relationship. Unlike my parents I don't belong to the super-alternative group who, as a principle, distrust doctors; however, it really comes down to how good your doctor is - and I have seen incredibly bad ones.
This week I went to see an orthopaedic in Innsbruck because my hip was acting up again and it was simply a disaster. So, first and foremost, I called ahead and told them I was eight months pregnant, so I wasn't sure if anything could be done anyway, but the scheduled me in nevetheless. Arriving there, I am led swiftly into one of the practices where a "doctor" tells me that, due to my pregnancy, there isn't anything he can actually do.
Thanks, that's two hours of my life down the drain (AND I have to pay for the stupid visit nevertheless!). In addition he drones on that he "doesn't believe in manipulation and only does injections".
Alright, I concede that doctors, too, have their personal opinions about their field, but I didn't come and pay to hear his "opinion" on manipulation, but to get better. I can't believe that someone who only pumps injections in people's backs can actually call himself an orthopaedic. I mean, if the hip is simply out of its socket or not well-aligned anymore, what's an injection going to change? It's ludicrous that someone like him can actually "help" people.
I asked him what the injections actually did - did they loosen the muscle and he, nonchalantly, said, "No, they just ease the pain."
So I asked what the long-term therapy would then be - for sure I can't be getting injections for the rest of my life, right?
Well, according to him back pain is incurable and regular injections are the only way to live with it.
Then I left. Dumbfounded and angry. How low can your bar as a doctor be to not even ATTEMPT to actually help someone but just give them painkillers? I am shocked once more how inadequate many doctors are - and worse how many people probably fall for their crap and instead of getting their skeleton fixed they live off painkillers and injections.
I think the problem is that doctors are still considered God-like by many people and they don't dare to disagree or call out their methods. As I said, I have nothing against doctors, but, like with everyone else, they are just people and some are better than others.
Sadly, I also have to say that more than often the NOT-doctor did much more to ease my pain and actually help me - energetics, masseurs, physiotherapists, etc. It often seems that doctors fail to see the person in front of them holistically but only look to the area you point at - even though the source of pain may actually be somewhere completely else.
Especially during pregnancy I have learnt how important it is to find doctors you trust - and most books encourage you to do so, too. Now more than ever, I feel it is pivotal to demand the best of doctors for my health, someone who thinks along my understandings of the body and who respects what I want to do to my body and what not.
So, next time you need a doctor, please really consider what this doctor wants to do to you - it's your body, after all, and you've got to live with it for the rest of your life. Not your doctor.
Especially during the prevailing times, anxiety knocks on many people's doors. As part of my anxiety disorder, I have been battling with the rush of fear, the sweaty hands and the quickening pulse for years, and anyone who's regularly experienced that will agree that it's surely not a nice feeling.
Anxiety can have its roots from an infinite source of possibilities. I remember my husband once said, "But at some point you'll have to run out of things to be afraid of."
I laughed. Hard.
Sadly, you can be scared of anything, rational or irrational. With my pregnancy going on at the moment, I have encountered an entirely new and vast field of opportunities to be afraid of. And when you're a freelancer, fear of failure, fear for your existence and the permanent fear to hold and gain new clients is a permanent companion for most. If I counted down the fears I've had in the past year alone, it would be quite a list.
The problem with anxiety is that it paralyses us, as the sympathetic nervous system kicks in and leaves only the fight or flight instinct. Great if you want to survive, not so great if you want to get creative. Although the present situation is very challenging for most smaller businesses and freelancers, anxiety must not dictate our next steps, as we need to be creative now more than ever. So how can we deal with anxiety better and probably even overcome it during our everyday lives?
Hardly anyone is hit harder economically by the coronavirus than freelancers, some might say. In Austria, at least, we enjoy much less financial security and cannot apply for unemployment support like people who lost their jobs due to the crisis, for example. If I cannot work anymore and don't make money, I am simply screwed. Especially my friends in the entertainment area are hit hard, as God only knows how long it will take until concerts, plays, musicals, operas, etc. can take place again.
But I don't want this post to be about the dire situation for freelancers, as I think the coronavirus can also be used as an incentive to explore new territory and get creative when it comes to making some extra cash during these times. A friend of mine in the theatre business has started online tutoring and fills out paid questionnaires for studies to cover the time, and my father posts regular Yoga videos to keep it afloat.
I am sure you're sick of coronavirus (ironically) like I am too, but I cannot help thinking how much such an extreme situation outlines the strengths and weaknesses of prevailing systems. I have already written a blog post about this issue, Save The Economy: A Modern Nightmare, but want to delve in with a more personal perspective with this blog post.
What irks me most about the whole coronavirus issue is the division of humanity over it, once again. It seems we can even hate each other when we share a global enemy that was not caused by human nature, like war. Demonstrations make life for already overworked policemen and nurses even more strenuous and the inability to accept that "normal" is just not going to happen anytime soon doesn't seem to sink in with some.
Now, I don't want to say you shouldn't reflect, react and also criticise the measures taken against the coronavirus in general, but does it really help to beat up policemen, refuse to wear face masks and just generally be against everything the government proposes - without offering any solutions yourself? I definitely don't think so and have to say it is really emblematic for the selfishness of our society, as well as the unwillingness to compromise even an inch on the own luxury and convenience for the greater community and claim it is your personal right to put your personal needs above others - which is sadly not only true for the virus but the same with global environmental issues and political problems.
Are you going stir-crazy already? Maybe your eyes wander across your windows now and then, wondering when you'll be allowed to resume your normal life and leave. Maybe you feel the drag of loneliness and depression tugging at you more and more insistently with every passing day.
It feels like while half of the people are going in overdrive, killing themselves in their jobs as nurses, doctors, salespeople and more (and APPLAUSE to those!!), others have been literally benched from their day-to-day activities. Those hit hardest may have lost their job altogether, while others frantically try to get career, children and household all together at the same time.
I guess it is easy to agree that these times are challenging for everybody and needed adjustment to some extent. As a freelance writer, I feel I am among those who actually had to change very little to my everyday lifestyle, and yet I feel the isolation insistently knocking at my mental door. And maybe BECAUSE I am used to working from home.
"She may have a great job, but that doesn't mean she's happy."
"Maybe he has a great life from the outside, but nothing is ever roses and unicorns from the inside."
"I may have troubles in my life, but at least I don't have it as bad as..."
Do these phrases sound familiar to you? Sadly, they are painstakingly familiar to me and overused in my conversations with family members and friends.
One of my biggest fears in life is failure. Fear of failure can be petrifying and it can paralyse you, which may even keep you from pursuing your dreams. Fear of failure, for me, often means pursuing Plan B without giving Plan A even a chance because I am too scared I couldn't do it.
Amidst the corona virus crisis, how we handle the work space and exploring new methods to get work done have become key questions. While some of us thrive in the new-found freedom of home office without the time-filling cups of coffee in between and lethargic counting of hours every day, others face a genuine financial and existential crisis under the prevailing circumstances.
When pondering about the current crisis, I cannot help thinking that such situations only highlight the flaws and strengths of established systems and are a chance to re-evaluate and improve them for the future. I have long criticised how work systems worldwide function and how inefficiently they usually are - which is why I became a freelancer. In my article "Working for Life or Living for Work...That is the Question?" I wrote about the insufficiency of the 40+ week and how systems involving people are all interrelated and feed of each other. In "The Issue with Work-Life Balance" I discuss how we're apparently "dead" when we work, if life is everything outside work.
Confucius famously said, "Choose a job you love and you will never have to work a day in your life." Clearly he wasn't a freelancer. Though a very beautiful thought in theory, it, sadly, doesn't always translate to the reality of pursuing your dreams.
I started writing before I knew it was a thing you could do. I started telling stories before I could write. Writing was my favourite occupation as a child and I would fill papers after papers with bloodcurdling stories of adventurers, wizards, orphans and whatever else crossed my imaginative mind. I finished my first full-length novel at the age of twelve. I didn't know it was a "novel" back then. For me it was simply a story that had gained momentum and grown out of the usual proportions.
It still lies somewhere in my desk drawer.
I didn't write for anybody but myself back then. Though my parents knew I was hauled up in my room writing, they probably know about 1% of my stories, for I didn't write to get their attention or praise. I simply loved escaping into my own worlds and concoct incredible story lines where I could dictate the way. Especially when I lost my ability to play Let's Pretend around the age of thirteen, writing became my key into a world I thought was lost to me. A key into realms where anything the mind can stir up is possible, where the limits are the rims of your own imagination.
This whole lockdown situation actually already started for me in January. I was newly pregnant and terrified of getting the flu - and equally terrified of getting a flu shot while pregnant. Therefore, I chose self-isolation and reduced all human contact to a minimum. My husband had to shower off and wash hands every day when he came back from work and I washed my hands frantically whenever I'd left the house - in short, I prepared splendidly for these times of corona virus.
In order to get informed about the flu shot, I visited my doctor and told her I would hardly get the flu with the limited access I had to people. I work from home, I don't have kids in school or kindergarten, etc. butshe said, "All it takes is one person, though."
Her message concerning the flu is now permeating the toxic air around the corona virus as well. Just one person suffices to spread the disease - you may not have contact with anyone for weeks but then meet one person and you've got yourself a virus. This is what we're being told (and it is true), which is why social distancing is so important.
Considering my doctor's statement regarding the flu, and now the corona virus, it is a rather scary thought and makes everyone around you the potential anti-Christ, but looking at this idea from a different angle might also bear a hopeful note.
Writer. Editor. Blogger. YouTuber. Freelancer. Traveller. English fanatic.