Categories
Lifestyle

Dealing with anxiety

This past year and few months have been a trying time for numerous people around the world. Whether physically, mentally, financially or emotionally, we have all been affected by this pandemic.

During this time it is important to take charge of our mental health. There are so many triggers for depression and anxiety right now including being isolated, loss of a loved one, illness, fear of losing a loved one, fear of deteriorating health or financial issues.

I thought now would be a good time to talk about dealing with anxiety and share a few tips that work for me when it comes to overcoming or dealing with anxiety.

The first time I realised that my anxiety was an issue for me, was years ago when I had my first panic attack at work. It was so random and unprovoked in my opinion at the time. It hit me out of the blue and it was one of the scariest experiences in the moment.

I was left wondering what was wrong with me. I noticed a change in my eating habit and my weight as well as my sleeping pattern. Some nights it took hours to settle down for bed because it felt my head was packed with thoughts and scenarios swimming in my head. I would replay every decision, every conversation and every action I did that day over and over again and scrutinize it rather than getting some much needed sleep.

It was only after someone suggested that I talk to a professional about it, I sort help and guidance for my anxiety. Years later and I still implement all the things I learned during that particularly rough time. Here are a few tips in dealing with anxiety.

Breathe….

The number one tip is to just breathe and release those feelings of anxiety. Practice taking deep breaths and slowing down your breathing….. Inhale 1..2..3..4..5.. Hold.. Exhale 1.. 2.. 3.. 4.. 5.. Repeat. It may sound silly at first but trust me. The next time you feel the anxiety creeping up, stop what you’re doing, close your eyes and just breathe….

Practice mindfulness exercises or grounding techniques

Practicing mindfulness exercises or yoga or grounding techniques or even listening to music are great ways of dealing with anxiety. There are so many mindfulness exercises, types of yoga exercises and grounding techniques to choose from. Research them and choose a handful of your favorite to practice doing when the feeling of anxiety hits. One of my most used techniques is the 5-4-3-2-1 senses method. When I begin to feel anxious or overwhelmed, I stop what I’m doing, look around me and think of 5 things I can see, 4 things I can feel, 3 things I can hear, 2 things I can smell and 1 thing I can taste as well as 1 feeling I’m currently feeling. All of this is done while actively slowing down my breathing.

Make time for self care

What’s your idea of self care? Chilling on the couch and binge-watching Netflix with a wine glass in hand? Doing your haircare and skincare routine? Reading a book on your bed? Taking a much needed nap? You need to make time for what makes you happy and helps you de-stress. You can’t pour from an empty cup, learn to refill it from time to time.

Write down your thoughts and feelings

Writing down how you feel and what you’re thinking can help unscramble your thoughts and aid in deciphering those complex and jumbled emotions in your head. It is a good way of helping you identify what your triggers are. Sometimes you’re not even sure why you are feeling the way you are feeling but writing about it can reveal any underlying issues that may be contributing to it. A bit of insight goes a long way.

Accept that you can’t control everything

This one is super important. Worrying about the future and running a million scenarios in your head does not change or impact the future in any way. It just takes up your present time and steals your joy in the moment over something that may or may not happen in the future. Similarly, ruminating and replaying past moments and events does not change the past in anyway. Once again all it does is take up your present time and steal your joy in this present moment. Learn to live in the moment and not in the past or your ‘what-if’ future.

Stay clear of negative thoughts

This is easier said than done as I know that negative thoughts tend to creep up on you out of the blue. Learn to shut them down from early and replace them with positive thoughts. Think about something good that happened today. Think about something that you are grateful for. Think about something that makes you happy and hold on to those positive thoughts.

Seek help and talk about it

And last but not least, Seek Help if it is becoming overwhelming. Talk to a close friend or family member that you trust, pray to God, join a support group and/or find a therapist or psychologist. Talking about your anxiety issues and the cause of it is very helpful in dealing with the anxiety. You don’t have to suffer alone, there are many people feeling the way you’re feeling and who understand what you’re going through. Don’t bottle everything up until it eats at you, it will just make matters worse. Seek the help that you need.

Categories
Lifestyle

Tips on balancing life

How I learned to balance the different aspects of my life

I have been asked many times how I balance life as a wife, mother, doctor and blogger/content creator. Honestly, it wasn’t easy at first and I will be lying if I make it appear simpler than it really is. It took a lot of effort on my part, scheduling and time management. It also took some trial and error to learn what works for me.

As I type the draft for this blogpost on my phone, I am in my bed awake at 11:45pm while my husband and son sleep. I worked back to back night shifts for the past 2 nights and only slept 2 hours this morning, took care of my son and then went to a last minute dinner with my girlfriends tonight which I actually just arrived home from 1 hour ago. In fact, I came up with the idea for this blog post and wrote down the 5 main points while in the car on the way to the dinner.

To top it all off, tomorrow I’m working a double shift at work which includes another night shift. After which I plan to transfer this draft to my laptop, edit it and make this blogpost live after my post-night shift nap, a postgraduate zoom class and a few zoom meetings. This is just an example of how crazy trying to fit everything into my schedule can get sometimes.

With all the things I already have on my plate, I even added a few things this year including a postgraduate program and 3 other things that I will disclose to you guys later this year if all goes well. How am I going to make it through the year? By implementing all the lessons I learned about balancing my life from the previous year.

1) Stop procrastinating

The first thing I quickly learned when it comes to balancing all the things in my life is to stop procrastinating. I admit that I am a procrastinator and it was hard to break that habit. I started setting earlier deadlines for myself for certain tasks. If I have a blog post planned in a week’s time, I set the deadline in my mind and on my calendar a few days earlier. It forces me to get started earlier on the task because I have forced myself into thinking the deadline for completion of the task is earlier than it really is.

2) Keep a schedule of everything

I schedule every single thing, even writing blogposts, studying for my postgraduate program, my selfcare routine, creating photos and videos for my content creation, dates with hubby or dinner with my girls. Of course it all depends on my shifts at work, which vary day by day with no fixed pattern. Once I get my roster for work, I sit down and write down everything I need to get done for the month and schedule what days and times I will allot to doing whatever task. Of course some things are unpredictable, so I leave gaps here and there and allow myself to be fairly flexible if I have to be.

3) Remember to take breaks

I am not an energizer bunny that can keep going on and on and I have to keep reminding myself of that. Hence I make it a priority to schedule my relaxation days where I do my self care routines and recharge. It makes no sense running on a low battery for a prolonged period of time and then expect to get much tasks effectively done. Choose a day in your busy schedule to make yourself a priority and rest physically and mentally.

4) Remember why you’re doing what you’re doing

What I mean by this is any time I feel like giving up, I remind myself of why I am doing what I’m doing in the first place. For example, I study so hard so I can be a better doctor. I take the extra time to read to my son and play learning games with him because I want him to have a good start in life. I write blogposts and create content on my Instagram because it has been my creative escape, as well as my way of dealing with my anxiety. Once I remind myself of the reason for the task, it helps me keep going and push to get them done.

5) Don’t neglect what is most important

Last but not the least, don’t forget what is most important to you. Don’t neglect what you value most in life. For me it is my family. And in trying to balance all the different aspects of my life, I keep reminding myself to not neglect my family. They trump everything else and if I find the scale is being tipped too far away from what matters, it is time to readjust the scale, alter the schedule and rethink things.

It is now 12:30am and I have a long day ahead of me. It is time to get some shut eye for a few hours and wake up for work this morning. I hope this blogpost has been of some help to you and I hope you enjoyed the read.

Till next time.

Categories
Lifestyle

Life lessons learned in 2020

And just like that 2020 has come to an end. It’s about that time where you think back to what valuable lessons you learned in the past year and decide on the necessary changes or resolutions for the new year. While reflecting on the year that went by, I wrote down just a few of the main life lessons I learned throughout the year and made a concise list.

1) Life is short and unexpected, Enjoy it.

With an unforeseen pandemic throwing a wrench in everyone’s plans and also causing the untimely death of so many people and loved ones around the world, it made us value our life and time on this earth even more this year.

Tomorrow is not promised to anyone and we should embrace life and enjoy it while we’re still here to do so. Show your loved ones you care about them and don’t take for granted that you will always have time on your side.

2) Be grateful for what you have

With so many people having lost their jobs, their livelihood, their lives or their loved ones, it has taught us to be appreciative of what we do have and not take anything for granted. Be grateful for the things and the people you have in your life and count your blessings one by one.

3) Set your goals and chase your dreams

Don’t just dream of a better future. Learn to set your goals, outline your plans and work towards making your dream a reality. Take the plunge and make those first steps. Without a plan and without any action, a dream will forever remain just that…. a dream.

4) Fall 7 times, get back up 8

It’s impossible to go through life without experiencing failure. However, fear of failure should not paralyze you and hold you back from achieving your goals and achieving greatness. No matter how many times you fall, you need to get up, dust yourself off and get back on the horse.

5) Make self-care a priority

Self-care is not a privilege, it is a necessity. You can’t pour from an empty cup so take care of your own wellbeing first and foremost. Make sure you schedule time to do activities that reduce your stress and enhance your physical, mental and emotional health.

6) Take care of your mental health

Never neglect your mental health and suffer in silence. Take charge of your mental health and get the necessary help you may need. It is important to practice appropriate coping methods and take control of your anxiety or depression before it takes control of you. And remember, you are not alone in this.

7) Change is inevitable, embrace it

The only constant thing in life is change. Life does not remain stagnant and that’s the fun in it. Learn to be flexible and adapt to the many twists and turns life may bring.

8) Stay away from negative people

If you surround yourself with bitter people, then you too will become bitter yourself. Stay clear of people who see the worst in everything and make life appear more dreary than it needs to be. Instead, fill your life and inner circle with people with a positive outlook and energy who acknowledge the bright side in life and every situation. Stay positive!

What other lessons did you learn this year? Take a few minutes, reflect on this past year and write them down. As the new year begins, make a promise to yourself to learn from and remember these lessons in the new year.

Happy New Year everyone!

Categories
Lifestyle

7 Self-Care tips

Taking care of your wellbeing.

I’m sure you have heard the word Self-Care thrown around so many times, but what exactly is Self-Care. It is setting aside the time to take care of your own wellbeing whether it be physically or mentally and taking steps to ensure your happiness and reduce stress levels.

This year I embarked on a self-care journey where I actively invested time and energy into my self-care routines every week. Saying that self-care changed my life may sound like an exaggeration but it is not. Investing in my self-care made me a more content, healthier and less anxious person and I’m so glad that I did.

Here are a few self-care tips for those wanting to make a positive change.

1) Schedule some ‘ME’ time

The number one tip is obviously to make time for yourself and time to practice self-care. Just saying that you will do your self-care routine when you get the time is not enough. You need to set aside a few hours a week where you and only you are the priority, even if it means writing it into your calendar or phone as a reminder.

Set aside some alone time to drink a cup of tea on the balcony while watching the sunset, or take an evening stroll through the neighborhood while listening to your playlist, or lie on the couch and watch a feel-good movie. Do whatever makes you happy.

This past year I chose one day per week and dedicated 2-3 hours to just my self-care routine. This would usually be during my son’s naptime or after his bedtime on my day off from work. I made it a habit to squeeze in the time no matter what and reminded myself that it was a necessity.

2) Get the sleep you need

With so many things to do in a day and so little hours, sleep is often neglected. Sleep is a vital activity to maintaining your physical health. Your body needs that 8 hour reset in order to keep functioning at its best and keep going the next day. Give your body the 8 hours of rest it needs and it will thank you later.

To maximize on sleep, optimize your room and your body for sleep. Reduce your caffeine intake later in the day and make sure your room is a comfy and distraction-free environment. Set a bedtime and stick to it. An hour to your bedtime, you should start your wind-down process. You can dim the lights, take off the TV, take a bath, drink some chamomile tea and do a quiet activity till it is time for bed.

3) Get moving

Exercise is important for not only our physical health but also our mental health. It boosts our mood and reduces our stress levels. It also raises those feel good hormones, serotonin and dopamine.

Being active gets the blood pumping, keeps us fit and can even help lose some excess weight. Exercise doesn’t only mean cardio, taking a walk, weight training and sports, it can be yoga as well which has the added benefits of deep breathing and calming exercises.

This past year I became serious with my exercising and would squeeze in 3 workouts per week. Of course losing 28 lbs this year was an extreme plus for me, but I absolutely loved how exercising made me feel about myself and my body.

4) Pamper yourself

Take the time to run through your full skincare and haircare routines, get your nails done, take a long warm bath/shower and get a massage. You have only one body, take care of it and show it the love it deserves. Do this and trust me you will thank me later. Not only will you look good but you feel great too.

My weekly self-care routine religiously included a full skincare routine as part of my pampering session. Not only did my skin improve and look better, but I felt better about myself as well.

5) Plan creative activities/hobbies

Look for a creative and relaxing activity to do in your scheduled quiet time. Whether it be reading a book, drawing/painting pictures or writing in a journal. Find an activity that you love doing that brings you peace and joy, and do that activity in the scheduled ‘ME’ time that you should have had from the first tip in this blog post.

This year I reintroduced myself to painting and coloring in my spare time which is quite fun and calming. I’ve also taken up reading books once again and I can’t believe I ever stopped doing it to begin with. I absolutely loved reading books as a child and completely forgot about my love for reading when life became too hectic.

An important side note is that I actually started this whole blog page as part of my self-care. It started off as writing in a journal and soon became a whole blog website just for the fun of it.

6) Learn to say “no”

One of the things that can easily lead to stress is not knowing that it is okay to say no. You don’t have to stretch yourself thin and do things that are too much of a hassle or do too many things in a short space of time.

Learn your limit and try not to cross it. Prioritize your list of stuff to be done and remember to put your own wellbeing first and foremost. You should never feel guilty about prioritizing your self-care.

7) Don’t neglect your mental health

Forget the stigma that the world has of mental health. Your mental health is important and the necessary steps should be taken to take care of it. Too many people suffer in silence with their depression and anxiety. Seek out a counselor or psychologist or someone you can talk to about it. You have no idea how much talking about your fears and stressors can be of help. Bottling it all inside is a no-no and is a recipe for disaster later on.

I hope these 7 tips were helpful to you in some way and I hope one of your new years resolutions will be to take your self-care seriously. You won’t regret it.

Categories
travel

Tobago Staycation

With Covid safety measures of course.

The new normal.

Unfortunately, the covid pandemic has caused a lot of cancelations of trips, and ruined vacation plans for the year 2020. With the travel restrictions in place and covid still spreading throughout the world, it has made travel vacations impossible for the next few months.

What’s the solution to that? Staycations. However, I must stress that if you really must go on a staycation to Tobago, or even Trinidad, please please please take the necessary precautions. DO NOT BE IRRESPONSIBLE and further risk the spread of covid.

A few months ago, my husband and I were able to have a quick staycation in Tobago just before the second wave of Covid hit our country. We chose Blue Waters Inn as the location for our little anniversary staycation because of its secluded location in remote Speyside, Tobago. So calm, so peaceful, so quiet.

For our 15 minute flight to Tobago, we were super prepared and vigilant. With masks and face shields on at all times, a small spray bottle of alcohol and a hand sanitizer on our persons, we sanitised our hands after touching any surfaces, leaving nothing to chance. I even sprayed our seats and arm rests before sitting and took great care in avoiding unnecessary contact.

I was impressed with how well the social distance protocols were adhered to in both airports and on the plane. Temperature checks were done, security re-enforced social distancing and signs were everywhere with the necessary precautions.

When collecting the rental car at the airport in Tobago, I meticulously disinfected the inside of the car before we felt comfortable driving to our destination. The drive to Blue Waters Inn was a long one but the scenic views along the way were so breathtaking. Especially the view of the ocean from the top of the hill leading down towards Blue Waters Inn. Gorgeous was an understatement.

Upon arrival at the little hotel in Speyside, we were greeted by very friendly and helpful staff who wore their masks and informed us of the Covid protocols before escorting us to our rooms. The room was tidy, clean and appeared quite cozy. The bathroom was immaculately clean with great lighting for makeup application for the ladies that know that great lighting is important.

The room had a great sized balcony overlooking the sparkling blue Tobago waters that appeared perfect for a cool afternoon swim. No sounds could be heard on the balcony besides the singing of the birds in the nearby trees and the sound of the waves on the beach below.

First order of business was to thoroughly disinfectant the room even though I knew it would have been done before by staff. Armed with my can of lysol and my clorox wipes, I disinfected every inch of the room. I placed the ‘Do not disturb’ sign on the outside of the door for the duration of our stay to avoid having cleaning staff coming into the room.

After settling ourselves, we took the time to explore the hotel. The infinity pool was absolutely beautiful as it overlooked the beach below with its magnificently blue waves. The beach was quiet and secluded. Most times we were the only couple present on the entire stretch of beach and I wouldn’t prefer it any other way.

The restaurant at Blue Waters Inn served delicious meals at mealtime and the waiters were amazing at their job. Always in a good mood and pleasant, they even shared tips on what to do at the hotel, including night time walks on the dock to watch the Barracuda fish zip by the underwater lights. The seating at the restaurant adhered to the Covid protocols and we were nowhere near any other guests for any of our meals. Just the way I like it.

For entertainment at the hotel, we went for afternoon swims in the cool blue water of the sea or took a dip in the pool as we watched the sun disappear over the hills. The quietness and secludedness added to the romance of the atmosphere, perfect for an anniversary staycation.

One of our days there, we took the glass bottom boat from the Blue Waters Inn Jetty to Little Tobago, a small little island off the coast, for a hike and historic tour of the uninhabited island. Unfortunately we passed on the snorkeling option on the way back to the hotel. If only I had my own personal snorkeling gear, I would have gladly snorkeled in the calm ocean waters.

On another day we took a drive to Charlottesville where we hopped a ride on a small boat to the absolutely gorgeous and very secluded Lover’s Bay. With its beautiful pink sand and clear blue water, it looked so unreal. We had the bay all to ourselves. Nothing but pink sand, blue water and glowing sun. We sat in the shallow and calm waters and talked as we took in the calm and serene view for half an hour. Lover’s Bay has  officially become my favorite place in Tobago hands down.

For some of our lunchtime meals, we ordered food from Jemma’s Treehouse restaurant in Speyside, Suckhole restaurant and Sharon and Phebs restaurant in Charlottesville. Delicious is an understatement. The portion sizes at each restaurant were well worth the affordable prices. Most times we had left overs to eat later on the balcony of our hotel room in the quiet evening.

Due to the Covid pandemic, we obviously could not go out as much as we would have liked to and spent a lot of time indoors or on the balcony playing board games and card games as well as watching Netflix. Despite being a bit confined and limited in outing options, we thoroughly enjoyed our very secluded and peaceful staycation. It was great just taking a pause in life and just enjoying nature.

There is no doubt that I must return to Blue Waters Inn and Speyside when this Covid Pandemic is over. I had a great deal of fun and even though it was not how I expected to spend my 5th year anniversary, with a pandemic shutting down all overseas travel, it was such a memorable and unforgettable experience.

Categories
motherhood

My personal experience with miscarriages

Journey to my Rainbow baby.

Miscarriages occur more commonly than you think and 1 in 4 women will experience a miscarriage in their lifetime. However, talking about miscarriages seems to be somewhat of a taboo topic and that really should not be the case. It should be normal to talk about miscarriages, so that women who are going through one know they’re not alone and can find support.

This has been the hardest blogpost I’ve had to write thus far, because it brought back some pretty painful memories. My purpose for writing about my own personal experience, is to raise awareness about miscarriages, as well as give hope to some women out there who are suffering/have suffered the loss of their little one.

Three years ago, my husband and I started trying to get pregnant with our first child. We were ready and excited to expand our little family and a lot of planning and preparation went into it. After some months of trying I finally got a positive pregnancy test one early morning that I was hit with some nausea. We were super ecstatic and emotional that we were expecting our first child.

We set an ultrasound date and waited patiently for the next few weeks as that date drew closer. However less than 1 week away from the ultrasound date, I noticed a small amount of spotting… I became a bit panicked and immediately got my blood tested for my hormone levels. My bHCG hormone (the pregnancy hormone) was normal and increasing but my progesterone level (the hormone responsible for keeping the pregnancy) was low… Being the doctors my husband and I are, we knew immediately what that meant. We were at risk of losing our little one even before we got to hear his/her heartbeat.

I remained hopeful that my progesterone level was enough and will somehow increase but unfortunately that was not the case. The day before the set ultrasound date, I miscarried…. I cried in my husband’s arms that entire day. Never in a million years did I think this would happen to me. I was so prepared for this pregnancy. I had been taking all my vitamins and had cut out caffeine and alcohol for months in preparation. Yet here I was miscarrying my first pregnancy and with no explanation as to why my body just didn’t keep the pregnancy.

Fast forward 2 months later, I was hit with the familiar wave of nausea and lightheadedness and I did a pregnancy test that morning. Positive! This time we tried to contain our excitement till the ultrasound date and till our first Obstetric appointment. We were able to hear baby’s heartbeat at the repeat scan at about 7 weeks pregnancy and my obstetrician then put me on progesterone suppositories just in case.

I purchased a fetal doppler for myself to use at home to hear my baby’s heartbeat when I reached 10 weeks of pregnancy. It was so reassuring hearing his/her heartbeat every morning as I was so paranoid about another miscarriage. It was at this time that I announced my pregnancy to my parents, my in-laws, my friends and co-workers. I was just 1 week away from my 2nd trimester now and was counting down the days till I cross over that milestone.

Some days before the end of my 1st trimester, I noticed my all-day pregnancy nausea was completely gone. I thought this was just due to being so close to my 2nd trimester. It had been a couple days since I heard baby’s heartbeat on my doppler machine at home but I wasn’t that worried as sometimes it depended a lot on positioning so early in pregnancy. I decided to get an ultrasound that day to put my mind at ease.

I called my husband and told him I booked a last minute appointment that afternoon. At the ultrasound office we waited nervously as the sonographer started up the ultrasound machine and began the scan. Before the sonographer could tell me what was going on, I already knew for myself. Being a doctor I knew what to look for. I saw no flickering of a heart beating…. I heard no heartbeat… I saw no movement….

The sonographer looked at us quietly and said she will use another ultrasound machine. She switched the ultrasound machine and repeated the scan. Once again we saw no flickering of a heart beating…. we heard no heartbeat… we saw no movement…. My baby’s heart had stopped beating. I immediately broke down in tears. She sent me to the hospital for confirmation and of course the repeat ultrasound there showed the same thing. HOW? How can this happen to me TWICE in just 5 months. HOW?! I felt broken…..

I sought advice from my obstetrician that day. Because I was on progesterone suppositories, waiting for the miscarriage to happen naturally could take some time. The other options were surgical or medical management. I opted for medical management and followed the instructions given by the obstetrician. That night I lay in bed heart broken and in pain physically and emotionally. I felt hurt. I felt disappointed. I felt angry. All I wanted was a baby and I did everything right and still had 2 babies snatched from me.

My husband and I took longer to recover this second time. Lactating and producing a small amount of breastmilk for a few days after the miscarriage didn’t help at all. I didn’t even know that was possible with a late 1st trimester miscarriage. We talked it over and decided to take a break from trying for a baby. Instead we decided to concentrate on ourselves, our career and postgraduate education. I just couldn’t go through another heartbreak so soon.

Three months later, I felt strangely lightheaded and faintish at work and wasn’t sure why. I checked my blood pressure and blood sugar, I drank water and ate a snack but still I felt like fainting. Someone joked I should do a pregnancy test and so I did. POSITIVE! What? I was in utter shock. I immediately messaged my husband. We weren’t even trying this time. My husband responded with so much joy but I was hesitant to rejoice. I was nervous and scared…. What if I miscarry again?

My third pregnancy wasn’t an easy one at all. There were so many concerns throughout the pregnancy that my anxiety level was on high. First there was a concern about cervix length early on and then I had an irritable uterus that started having contractions early on and resulted in being hospitalized twice for threatened preterm labour at 28 weeks and 34 weeks of pregnancy.

I remember the terror I felt that first night of threatened preterm labour at 28 weeks when the contractions kept coming every 3 minutes for over an hour. I couldn’t believe it. I had just crossed over into my 3rd trimester and there I was, possibly about to deliver a very preterm baby that would have to stay weeks in NICU if born that early.

Fortunately the tocolytics at the hospital worked (medication to stop contractions) and the contractions subsided. I was put on bed rest, given antibiotics and IV fluids and discharged from the hospital after 5 days.

Six weeks later at 34 weeks pregnancy, the same thing happened again. I began having contractions every 3 minutes for over 1 hour. This time they stopped on their own and I was only hospitalized for 3 days this time.

I was able to make it to 36 weeks pregnancy before my rainbow baby boy made his entrance into the world. He came almost a month early but that was fine. He was close enough to term and was a healthy newborn with no issues.

Finally! Nothing could describe the joy I felt the day my son was born alive and well. He is my surprise rainbow baby… my rainbow after two back to back storms. This ordeal taught me that there is a light at the end of every tunnel and that the sun must return after the rain.

For those having experienced pregnancy loss, you are not alone. It happens to many women who suffer in silence, but it does not mean you have to as well.

October is pregnancy and infant loss awareness month

Categories
Marriage

5 Marriage Lessons

5 lessons I learned in 5 years of marriage

Of course I am not a relationship guru. I have only been married for 5 years and in these past 5 years I have learned a few lessons and I am still learning as I go. My husband and I recently celebrated our 5th year anniversary and it made me very reminiscent of the past 5 years as a married couple and what I have learned thus far.


Here’s a little backstory about us. I got married at the relatively young age of 24 to my husband who is 8 years older than me. We met each other in Med School where he courted me like the perfect gentleman he is. From the moment we started dating, we knew we were working towards marriage and dated for 4 years before our wedding day.


We’ve had our ups and we’ve had our downs like any married couple but that is what marriage is about… for better or for worse. We’re in it for the long haul and look forward to many more years and many more lessons learned.


Here’s 5 lessons I learned in my 5 years of marriage….

  1. Communicate, Communicate, communicate

Of course everyone knows communication is key in any relationship but for some reason poor communication seems to exist in most relationships anyway.

Communication is not only about talking and letting your partner know how you are feeling, what is bothering you, what would make you happy, your insecurities etc.., it is also about listening and being ready to receive what your partner is trying to communicate to you. Listening is just as important as speaking up. It isn’t about hearing what you want to hear, it is about making the effort to understand what your partner is saying, this includes keeping an open mind.


Communication is also about asking questions. Sometimes just asking the necessary question can strike up a much needed conversation. Asking questions also helps with clarity and understanding. If you don’t understand or don’t know something, simply ask.


It isn’t advisable to bottle up thoughts and emotions as this just leads to an explosion of emotion or an argument later on. It is better to let your partner know how you are feeling and what is wrong sooner rather than later. However it is also important to ensure it is at a neutral time and place when and where your partner is more likely to listen, understand and come to a compromise.


At the height of an argument is not the time to release all that bottled up feelings and thoughts you have been keeping locked away. Your partner is less likely to receive what you have to say if emotions are already running high or he/she is in a rush or tired or in the midst of an important activity.

It is also important to remember to not raise your voice no matter how upset and frustrated you get. Remain calm and take a break from the conversation if things may be getting too heated.

2. The Honeymoon phase does not last forever


As a relationship progresses, it isn’t expected to stay the same. That magical beginning phase filled with newness and excitement isn’t going to last forever and that is perfectly normal.


As the marriage progresses, financial obligations arise, children come into the picture, and so do career changes, added responsibilities, shifts in family dynamics and time constraints. With all these added components no wonder the honeymoon phase is replaced with a more realistic and less magical version of marriage. And that is okay and completely normal. The end of the honeymoon phase just means the marriage has graduated to the next level.

3. Be open to change but don’t force it upon your partner


The person you marry is not going to remain that same person forever. As the years go by your partner is expected to change, adapt and mature as life goes on. Of course you can’t expect the man or woman you married at whatever age to remain the exact same way 10-20 years later after some kids, a few hardships and some added maturity. Change is inevitable and you need to be open to receiving that change.


However at the same time you shouldn’t force change upon your partner. You can’t expect to mold the person you married into whatever version you want them to be. You married them a certain way and can’t expect a completely different person a few years later. That’s just not fair to the person being forced to change.


If there are things you dislike about your partner before marriage, you should ask yourself “Can I live with this for the rest of my life if he/she doesn’t change?” If you can’t live with it, then it probably isn’t a good idea to marry that person. You should never step into a marriage thinking you can change a person to whoever you want.

This doesn’t mean that it isn’t possible for a person to decide for him/herself that they want to make a positive change in themself for the sake of the relationship.

4. You’re on the same team


Disagreements are not about who is right or wrong and who won or lost. It is about understanding and compromise. Married couples are like teammates that should not be fighting between themselves but instead work together as a team.


You should think of a disagreement as ‘husband and wife vs the problem’ and not ‘husband vs wife’. If you think of an argument in terms of who won or lost, then you both lost because you’re both supposed to be on the same team. If one person loses, the whole team loses.


Fighting dirty is also an absolute no-no in a marriage. In a marriage, disagreements are inevitable of course but it should never result in fighting dirty or low blows. That is counter-productive to the main goal which is to work together, communicate, compromise and come to a solution.

5. Know your partner’s love language


We all have different ways we express and receive love. It is important to understand your partner’s love language. For some people love is shown by gift giving, while others need quality time spent together to feel loved. Some people love to hear words of affirmations, while others need physical touch to feel loved. Then there are those who see acts of service as love.


Your love language may not exactly be your partner’s love language and it is important to learn and adapt. For example, if your partner’s love language is quality time or acts of service, and to them gift receiving is way down on the list of how they perceive and feel loved, then giving them all the gifts in the world will not convey the love as well as intended.


Hence it is important to know each other’s love languages so that you can better show your partner your love in a way that they can be more receptive and appreciative of it. If you need help understanding love languages, I suggest reading the book ‘The 5 love languages’ by Gary Chapman with your partner, or taking the online quiz.


I hope these 5 lessons I touched on here were helpful to you in some way or the other whether you are married or not.

Categories
motherhood

Overcoming Mom Guilt

There is no such thing as a perfect mom.

Every mom has repeatedly wondered if they were doing enough as a mother and meeting society’s expectations of what a good mom should be. I would be lying if I said I didn’t often have feelings of “mom guilt” on an almost daily/weekly basis where I felt that I was falling short in some aspect.


Even before my son was born I had worrying thoughts of if I was properly prepared to bring this little one into the world and be his mother. Do I have all the “baby essential items” and am I doing enough research to know what to get? Are the antenatal vitamin supplements I’m taking the best ones for his brain development? Would I know how to properly breastfeed him? Did I choose the right diaper brand? Do I need a second baby monitor? Do I have enough swaddles?


These thoughts did not ease up when he was born… they intensified of course. Is he getting enough milk? Am I interacting with him enough for his social development? Am I a failure for needing to supplement his feeds with formula? Am I doing something wrong? Why can’t I produce enough milk to build up a storage of breast milk like other moms?


As my little one grew I realised I wasn’t meeting my own expectations of the mother I envisioned I would be. I previously thought I would be the kind of mother who would be able to take care of my son and keep the house tidy and spotless and be able to food prep with ease with a fridge full of already prepared nutritiously packed meals. But some days the house would be messier than normal and I had to learn it was ok to have a little mess with a infant who messed up rooms just as quickly as they were tidied.


I always thought I would be the mom who could make those cute kids meals that looked like cartoon characters and cute animals that were photo and instagram worthy. Ha! That didn’t happen. There was no way I could pull that off every single day. I also thought I would be the kind of mother that would be able to make fun little arts and crafts and do sensory time with my son everyday. Again, there was no way I could pull that off everyday as a working mom who often felt exhausted after a shift at work.

The morning of my first day back to work after baby


Being a working professional who worked on a shift system did not help my mom guilt one bit. The first few months after returning to work my heart felt torn to pieces having to be away from my son and having to miss his bedtime routines, his early morning smiles when he woke up, his first words and his first steps. Gosh it killed me that his babysitter was the one to do and experience all these things that I wanted to experience with my little one. I hated being away from my little one more and more and it resulted in more tears than I wish to admit.


I completely understood how some mothers quit their jobs to be a stay at home mom and be with their kids 24/7. A part of me thought why can’t I do that too? But then I remembered the kind of “busy-body” and academically driven kind of woman that I am and that I wouldn’t be happy and feel fulfilled with just being home. And that by itself made me feel guilty knowing that being a full time stay at home mom wasn’t satisfying enough for me.


Mom guilt was beginning to consume me. It was beginning to affect my daily mood and make me worry excessively. The tears were beginning to flow almost everyday without fail and some days it felt like it was for no reason at all. I began reaching out to other moms and soon
realised that I was not alone in how I felt at all. The feeling I was feeling was more common than I thought among other moms. I noticed that talking about it with others who understood how I was feeling helped a great deal. I soon realised that I was putting way too much pressure on myself as a mother.


It took many months for me to realise that my son didn’t need the “perfect mom”, he just needed a happy mom who did her best and loved him. There is no such thing as a perfect mom and I needed to get that out of my head. My son was well fed, taken care of, clothed, socialized with and loved dearly. Everything else was just a bonus.


The moment I let go of fighting to be this ever elusive “perfect mom” is the moment I actually became a better mom to my son because I was now the happy and less stressed out mom that my son really needed me to be.
The great lesson I learned the hard way and wish to share with you is to not let mom guilt consume you with the unrealistic expectations of this perfect mom that society feeds us. Stop comparing yourself to other mothers who seem to be a bit more well put together and seem to be excelling at this mothethood thing more than you. Your kid doesn’t need a perfect mom, they just need a happy one who tries their best and loves them.


You’re doing great Mama.

Categories
fitness

My post-baby weightloss journey

How I lost 28 lbs in 6 months.

After I gave birth to my son last year, my body changed so much I didn’t recognize myself. I was almost 20 lbs heavier than I was pre-pregnancy and 30 lbs heavier than I was on my wedding day 5 years ago.


I felt so self conscious about my extra weight, the new stretch marks and the belly pouch. When I was pregnant I always envisioned a snap back to my previous body within 3 months of giving birth, but of course that didn’t happen. I had to keep reminding myself that I just gave birth to a whole human and my body did such an incredible thing and it is ok if it looked and felt different after the ordeal.


Set the goals

In January of this year 2020 when my son was almost 10 months old, I decided to embark on a fitness journey. It started off as purely weightloss goals but then it changed more into a fitness/self love/feel good journey as time went by. In this post I will be sharing the weightloss aspect and what worked for me to lose the weight. In a later post I will cover the other aspects of my fitness journey besides just the weightloss.


My original weightloss goal was to lose about 20 lbs and be back to my pre-pregnancy weight by the time my son turned a year old in two and a half months. I had a long road ahead of me and it was intimidating at first but I knew I just had to make that first step.

Low carb dieting


Before I started my diet, I researched different types of diets including intermittent fasting, keto diet, paleo diet, Atkins diet etc. I chose to go on a low carb diet and cut out all juice, soda, bread, pasta, rice, sugar and flour for a whole two months. I ate mainly foods with protein, good fat and fibre in them.


So what did I eat for those 2 months? I usually ate scrambled eggs with a cup of tea for breakfast. For lunch, I ate salads I made myself or bought at work and I alternated between baked chicken and fish as my protein of choice. For dinner it varied between baked fish and scrambled eggs most days. If I felt super snack-ish between meals, I ate a portion of peanuts. I also occasionally ate fried plantains and beans for lunch to switch things up.


It was a tremendous sacrifice cutting back on carbs but it yielded results. In those 2 months alone I shed a whole 18 pounds from just cutting back on carbs. I had finally hit my pre-pregnancy weight just in time for my son’s first birthday and I couldn’t be happier. I had reached my initial goal.

18 lbs lost in 2 months


New goals


After reaching my initial goal, I felt like I needed to continue on the weightloss journey. Why stop at my pre-pregnancy weight? Why not aim for my pre-marriage weight? It meant I had to lose just over 10 more lbs.

It was not sustainable to continue such a low carb diet for so long and so I reintroduced carbs into my diet. I still abstained from juice, sugar, bread and soda of course. I now allowed myself to eat carbs like rice and pasta but in smaller portions. I switched my diet from a low carb diet to a more portion controlled diet. I avoided fast food, sugar and snacking as much as possible and I also ate my dinner earlier in the evening to avoid a late night dinner before bed.


I continued to lose weight by eating healthier and controlling my portions. I lost an extra 5lbs over the next 2 months and I felt awesome and motivated to continue with this more sustainable diet. I had more energy and I felt better about myself.


Exercise


As the months progressed, I fell in love with working out. I loved the energy I felt during my workout. I loved the slight ache of my muscle the next day letting me know I pushed myself hard enough. I even slept better on the days I worked out which was a great bonus.


As my warm up, I aimed to go on 4-6km walks 3 to 5 times per week and most weeks I hit my target with ease. Going for walks outside had the added benefit of the fresh air which was quite soothing to me. I even took my son along with me in his stroller sometimes and he absolutely loved it.


Everyday I made sure to do at least 15 mins of exercise which included a bit of quick cardio followed by a leg, core or full body workout for 10-20 mins. My daily workout consisted of High intensity body-weight workouts that I found on the Nike Training Club app or on YouTube on the Chloe Ting or Madfit channels just to name a few. If I was feeling too tired to do a high intensity workout, I did a dance workout instead. The music alone gave me the added energy I needed. The Yoga by Adrienne 30 day yoga challenge on YouTube was also incorporated into my workout for a few weeks.


The dreaded plateau


5 months into my weightloss journey, I had lost a total of 25 lbs…. 5 lbs away from my new goal. But then I hit that dreaded plateau and no matter how much I exercised and no matter how much I dieted I seemed stuck at that 25 lb mark. I became a bit discouraged and demotivated and at times I told myself 25lbs is good enough and no need to keep pushing myself. Maybe I should just quit.


After a week of eating lots of crap and not exercising, I realised I didn’t feel good about myself after resorting back to my old unhealthy lifestyle. That’s when I realised that my fitness journey should not just be about weightloss and the number on the scale… it should be about being healthy, living a clean lifestyle and being fit. That was the turning point in my fitness journey.


Lifestyle change


It was at that moment I changed my goals from just being obsessed with losing the weight. It became more important to me to just live a generally healthier lifestyle. I made it a point to eat cleaner and healthier and not just diet temporarily. I reduced my consumption of fast food, snacks, soda and sugar and ate more home cooked foods and whole foods.


I also made it a point to remain committed to exercising almost everyday even if it is just a 4km walk or a 10 min cardio or HIT workout that day. I looked forward to my daily exercise to get my heart rate up and get my muscles moving. I couldn’t complain about my increased endurance and strength with the regular exercising.


With these changes I felt fitter, I looked better, I felt happier about myself, my skin looked clearer, my stress levels reduced and as a added bonus I even lost 3 more pounds during that 6th month to make it a total of 28 pounds lost.


These lifestyle changes were the best thing to happen to me this year and I’m glad I embarked on this fitness journey. I plan to continue this fitness journey for as long as I possibly can. I want my son as he grows up to also be a part of this journey with me and learn to live a healthier lifestyle.


For those who are starting on a fitness/weightloss/healthy lifestyle journey, the advice I have for you is

-Set your goal

-Work towards that goal

-Remind yourself why you set that goal

-Don’t give up

and last but not least…

-Love yourself

Categories
motherhood

Transitioning to solid food

Traditional spoon-fed weaning vs Baby-led weaning.

Being the somewhat anxious mom I am, when it came to transitioning my little one from just breast milk and formula to solid food, I had done my research. Of course I knew the different methods and the pros and cons, but it didnt make it any easier when the time came to wean him to solid foods.


Traditional spoon-led weaning


This traditional method is the one most moms are familiar with and is the method that was more widely used for previous generations. Babies are first introduced to pureed foods at 5-6 months and are spoon-fed. At about 7-8 months soft finger foods are introduced and the purees are served more lumpy and with a little more texture. The transition is done gradually until baby is able to eat solid foods at the table with the family.


The pros with this method included having better control of the nutritional content and how much was actually eaten by baby. It was also a much less messy experience than the baby-led method which is good news for the moms you preferred not to spend as much time cleaning up.

The con with this method was the sometimes difficult transition from pureed to more solid food for some infants and the preparation it took to make jars of pureed foods to store away. It took some time preparing a whole different storage of food for baby that is different to what the rest of family eats.


Baby-led weaning


Baby-led weaning has been gaining in popularity as more mothers are skipping the pureed phase and jumping straight into finger foods and soft solids at 6 months old. Baby-led weaning allows babies to explore the tastes and textures on their own and at their own pace.


The plus side is that they learn to chew earlier and are less likely to reject the more solid textures. With this method they are able to feed themselves and mealtime becomes a social occasion where baby eats at the table with the rest of the family. There is also the added bonus of no pureed food preparation. Yay.


The biggest con is the mess left behind as infants are obviously messy eaters. There is also the uncertainty of how much of the food baby actually ate as some of the food would be on the floor, on the chair, on their face and clothes and not actually in their tummy. Another unfortunate minus is the possible gagging on the solid food and having to watch out for any choking which of course understandably scares a lot of mothers.


Mixed weaning


As the name suggests, mixed weaning is introducing both pureed foods and finger foods at the same time at 6 months. It involved either alternating between the two methods by meal time (e.g. breakfast finger foods and lunchtime spoon-feeding) or by how baby was doing. For example if baby was more interested in trying to feed himself, more finger foods were given for that period. And if baby was found to be gagging a lot more on the solid foods, more purees were given for a few meals and then finger foods were reintroduced again later.


My personal experience with little one


After knowing all of this, I chose the traditional spoon-fed weaning, mainly because it was what I was accustomed to. I also preferred the slow transition in textures over the abrupt change to solids with a possible risk of gagging and choking which obviously scared me honestly.


I started him off with his pureed foods as planned and that part went well. However when it came to transitioning him to finger foods and more lumpy foods at 8 months, he outright rejected it. It was a struggle for weeks to get him to eat anything that was not smoothly pureed. I had a picky eater on my hands who refused textured foods. Sigh. He even occasionally gagged on small lumps of mashed up food. And after a few weeks he even began refusing most purees as well. When I say it was a difficult transition for us I am not exaggerating.


I began wondering if I would have had this problem if I had done the baby-led weaning instead. At 11 months I was still having difficulty with getting him to eat. Some days he ate well and other days I felt defeated as most of his food went uneaten.


The breakthrough happened at around 12 months when we just started giving him food from off our plate while we ate in front of him. Suddenly he was interested in food again. He would grab at our spoons and plates as we ate. Of course he had a few gagging episodes but he was totally fine. I was just super elated that he was eating once again. He preferred to be included in a social family meal where everyone was eating rather than being spoon fed his own prepared meal.


If I had to do this all over again, I would have chosen the mixed weaning method. I would have given a mix of purees and finger foods/soft solids from the get go and adapt as we went along. But I can only say that in retrospect. I would never know how my son would have done with the early introduction of solid foods from an earlier onset. Would he have gagged a lot? Would he have wasted even more food if left to feed himself more often on his own? Would he have still ended up being a picky eater? I will never know.

Each baby is different and one method that works for one baby may not work for another and I had to understand that and learn and adapt as I go. After all, that is what motherhood is all about anyway….. learning and adapting as you go.