Christmas for the Elderly

I’ve been taking my kids to the nursing home I work at every Christmas Eve for many years (even before the little ones were born). They hand out chocolates and lollies and wish them all personally a Merry Christmas. It teaches them that Christmas isn’t just about them, or presents or Santa. I’m grateful that my teenagers are still happy to come along to do this together with me.

The elderly absolutely love children, seeing them makes them happy and fills them with joy.

I hope if you have any relatives or friends in a nursing home, spare a thought and maybe if you can, to pop in there personally- give them a big hug, wish them a very Merry Christmas and tell them you love them

 

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Exercising Makes You Feel Better!

The other day I said I’ve started to do something about my weight. I love love love food. Cheese, fried chicken, noodles, rice, curries etc. I cringe at the thought of eating anything that resembles healthy-eating. “I’m not eating rabbit food.” – is my normal go to excuse. I’m not a big drinker, but I’m a big eater.

So what’s the other alternative? I’ve started exercising. I used to say to everyone that I exercise “solo”. I’d put on my headphones and go for a run. I used to love it so much. Just being on my own. But over the last few years I lack the motivation and the time or time management skills to actually get out of the house to go for a run on my own. Family came first. Then cooking meals or catching up with friends for coffee was waaaay more important. Oh and joining the gym is just financially not possible.

Then the weight piled on. I went off my meds, hated my body etc etc

One day my friend Kerry asked to join her for a 30 min exercise class at the park. It was fantastic, I was sore for days. So I put on my personal FB page “Who wants to train with me? It’s only for 30 mins!” And I was so happy that quite of few of them said YES!

The moral of the story is, it’s so much better exercising in a group, especially if it’s with your fellow sisters. ASK your friends to do this with you, and if they do, EVERYBODY WINS. It’s sociable, great for your mental health and you get to lose weight.

Look for exercise groups in your local area. Then drag a friend or a group of friends with you. Our trainer charges us $5 per session and it’s only for 30mins (for a high intensity work out). We take our kids with us and they play together while the mums work out. You might even make new friends.

And remember, ACTIVE WEAR IS OPTIONAL 😂 T-shirt and shorts is fine. Nobody actually needs fancy active wear to exercise.

Today’s session, someone said, “Oops I peed a little” and we all burst into giggles. Our trainer nearly swallowed a fly and we all cracked up.

Take the first step. Ask your friends. I did. I had a shit day yesterday. But I feel great today. Let’s motivate each other ❤️ One day at a time ❤️

 

To Pregnant Mums: The Power Of Mothers’ Groups

What do you do to prepare for a baby? You’ll think about the baby’s name, probably the colour of the nursery, disposable or cloth nappies, to breastfeed or bottle feed, or which stroller to buy (omg there’s probably about 1,734,093 of them to choose from!).

But to all pregnant mums, have you thought about what happens to your social life and what kind of support you’ll have after the birth of your baby? Maybe you’re a new mum, you haven’t got friends that have babies yet or you started later than them, or you’ve just moved into your area and you still don’t know anyone yet. Or like me, whose two older kids were nearly teenagers at the time.

When I had my third baby (I had a 10 year gap), I was in a new suburb, and I didn’t really know a lot of other mums in the area. A couple of weeks after the birth of my baby, I was offered to join a mother’s group, organised by the local Child Health nurse. I thought, why the hell not?

The group started with maybe 10 mums. We sat around and listened to the Child Health Nurse, who taught us all about baby stuff (it was a fantastic refresher course for me!), and at the end of each session, we would sit around and chat amongst ourselves, about our families and share our experiences with our own new precious little bubs. After the last session, we all exchanged phone numbers and addresses, hoping that we would start catching up and continue on with our new found friendships.

So our group started off from 10, down to 7, trickled down to 6, one moved states, and the other, she moved house and we sort of lost contact with her. Then it was down to us 5. Me, Krischelle, Holly, Vicki and Ange (who joined our group about 2 years later!).

We try to catch up at least once a month, maybe more often, if we can. We all come from different backgrounds (Krischelle and Ange from Australia, me from Singapore, Holly from the UK and Vicki from South Africa). We celebrate our kids’ birthdays together, host play dates in our homes or we go to the park if the weather is beautiful.

We have very different personalities (I’m the one that swears the most!) but we have one thing in common – Our children. Is that enough? Yes, I think it is. With our different personalities in our group, we bring different opinions, suggestions and ways to support each other. We laugh and cry together. We care about each other, we ask each other hard questions (we kinda got lucky that one of us is a doctor!). Whenever one of us is down, we pick each other up. That’s just how we roll. 

It is so important to have a close network of friends who have babies around the same age. It’s not so much about the kids forming lasting friendships (though that would be a bonus), but the bond and friendships that are formed between us mums that is so important.

I’m not sure how I would have survived without the support from my mother’s group (and my hubby’s support too). They have, at times, been my pillars of strength. They were there for me when I suffered the dreaded postnatal blues. Some of us have experienced the passing of a loved one, miscarriages and postnatal depression, but a phone call or a group text to say “Who wants to catch up?” is all we have to do. And the support is instantly there.

So it’s been 4 years, all of us have had our second babies (fourth for me). We are so lucky to have each other, and I am so incredibly grateful to have them in my life.

Remember, if you’re pregnant for the first time, make sure you join a mother’s group once you’ve had your baby. I can’t stress enough how important it is to have a good support network around you. Do not isolate yourself from the rest of the world. Having your husband and other family members around you, is sometimes, just not enough.

I’ve heard from some mums who have said they’ve joined mothers’ groups in the past but couldn’t seem to click with them; then this is my advise – try another one. If the next one’s no good, try another one again. At some point, you’ll find someone (or a group) that you can click with.

It’s best to also join a group with an open heart and mind, to expect – and respect – that we all have different personalities. Different personalities can be a positive thing, having different opinions, experiences and insights can be very helpful in seeing things from another person’s perspective. What can we learn from each other? What can we do to lift each other up?

Don’t forget, being in a mothers’ group does not limit you to socialising only with your babies. When the time comes, there’s also opportunities to go out with each other WITHOUT your kids. My group of mums and I have had lunches and dinners together and also much needed girls’ nights out!

“Love love love our group… I am always amazed that we come from different walks of life, our ages ranged from 21-35, and we had nothing in common except we had a baby at the same time in the same neighbourhood… but we have never judged, just always supported, encouraged, cheered and cried together… bam instant village xxx” – Krischelle

“I honestly don’t know how I’d got through hard times without you guys and totally agree and can’t stress enough how important this is.” – Holly

“Having no family support I truly see my mothers group as my primary support lifeline. Women supporting women. As loving and supportive as my husband is he’s just not a woman – he’s from Mars! I couldn’t be the mother that I am without these amazingly supportive, encouraging and strong women.Right place at the right time and now hopefully friends for ever” – Ange

“We have been so blessed with our MG- every time I mention my MG to anyone they have always been so surprised that we are still going strong and stay connected!!” – Vicki

Good luck with the birth of your baby, and I wish you all the very best!

I Was Not Always This Old

 

When you come into my room, just who do you see? You see a grey haired lady, looking back at you with a tired and weak smile. You look around and see a bunch of photos and trinkets that I’ve collected over the years. But is that all you see?

If only you could’ve gone back in time and met me when I was your age. Like you, I had big dreams. The world was my oyster and nothing was impossible. I walked with purpose, with my head held high. I had so much life in me and I was unstoppable. This grey haired lady you see in front of you, was once a stay at home mother, champion ballroom dancer, a nurse, a midwife, a teacher. I might have even protested in a rally or two.

I’ve had wonderful friends. In my group of friends, I’m pretty sure I was the funny one. We laughed so much, our bellies ached. We would sit and talk on the phone for hours. We went shopping, tried on the latest dresses, did our own hair and danced to Jailhouse Rock

I’ve lost touch with my old friends. And as I sit in my great big arm chair, I find myself wondering where they are right now. Do they ever think of me? I wonder if they miss me? Oh my god, we had so much fun.

I had my insecurities and had days where I lacked confidence in myself. Like you, as confident as I was, I’d look in the mirror and asked myself, “Am I too fat? Am I too skinny? Am I too short? Am I too tall?”

I was strong and I was beautiful, but that’s not what you see right now, is it?

I’ve had my heart broken and cried myself to sleep. I’ve also loved with all my heart, and fortunate enough to have someone love me back. I’ve looked into his eyes and thought, “How did I get so lucky?” But I’ve also looked into another man’s eyes and thought, “I can’t live like this anymore.” 

My husband is gone. The man I’ve spent nearly my whole life with, is now gone. I now watch TV all alone in this room, and sometimes, I still turn to see if he’s there. Like you, we had children, dreams, goals and plans together. 

Like you, I was a daughter, a grand-daughter, and a mother. But I’ve surpassed you now as I’m a grandmother and a great-grandmother. I see a lot of myself in my daughters and grand-daughters. I see, in their eyes, the same worry, pride and happiness for their children that I had for them when they were younger.

Now I’m old. I’m very old. My bones creak when I try to walk. What’s happened to me? I used to dance, swim and run around with my children. Now I’m lonely, I’m weak, and I need your help. I wish I didn’t need your help, but I do. I haven’t got a choice. Please know that I get very embarrassed when you have to take me to the toilet. 

I had a beautiful home. It wasn’t much, but it was still my home. I had lots of wonderful and even sad memories in there. I’ve cooked and cleaned and wiped up spills that my children and grandchildren made. I’ve now lost my home and all I have now – is this room, this room was allocated to me. I no longer have the freedom to do what I want. I’m only allowed to have my most precious things with me in this room, to remind myself of the life I once had.

When you see me, please remember, I used to be like you. I was not always this forgetful, not always this weak and I was not always this old. 

 

Did you like this post? Please head over to my Facebook page and give it a like and follow me for more stories.

 

 

 

 

 

“It Was Hard, Everyone Around Me Was Getting Pregnant”

Nicole’s favourite past time: Mahjong


Nicole, aged 40, is unable to have children because of existing pre-cancerous cells in her womb. And because of this, she is not eligible for IVF treatment. This is Nicole’s story.

Nicole was 32 when she got married to Andy, and that was when they started trying for a baby. For the first 3 years of them trying, her periods were very irregular and she would experience excessive bleeding for more than 20 days at a time. Her doctor told her that it was due to “hormonal changes”. She brushed it off, not thinking much about it, thinking she was invincible. “I thought nothing was going to happen to me.” she said.

She was then put on medication to regulate her periods. Her womb was scanned and was told her Fallopian tubes were clear and that her eggs were healthy. At that point, she started blaming her husband Andy, saying it was because of his (very slightly) low sperm count. She said, “But all we needed was ONE sperm to make it work.”

During that time, a lot of Nicole’s friends got married (and she snapped her fingers), “They got pregnant, just like that.” Then her friends had their first kids, and everyone would start asking her, “Hey, so when’s your turn? Have you seen a doctor?”. She took a deep breath and said, “It was hard, everybody around me was getting pregnant.”

“I used to think what’s wrong with me? I used to cry myself to sleep. When I turned 37, my biological clock was ticking. I felt anxious. I kept asking myself over and over again, what have I done wrong? Is it because God doesn’t want me to have a baby?”

When Nicole turned 39, she started bleeding heavily again. She shared two experiences of her having bled so much, once having a coffee with one of her best friends, and another time, just after her holiday with her husband. And so after that, she went to see a specialist. When the results came back, Nicole, accompanied by her god-sister, went back to see the specialist together.

The specialist asked, “Is your mum or husband with you?”

To which Nicole replied, “No, but I do have my god-sister with me.”

“I actually haven’t got very good news for you, it looks like you might have to get a hysterectomy.”

She felt like it was a death sentence. Her god-sister started bawling her eyes out. The doctor was trying to explain it to Nicole but she was in shock, she just couldn’t understand it. They were brought into a little room, and that was when it hit her. “If I have a hysterectomy, that’s going to completely deplete my chances of having a baby, ever. There’s no turning back if I do it. Then I started crying as I realized the severity of the decision.”

Her world collapsed. She said she will only ever be able to feel the desire and the yearning to have children. She described herself as “barren”. She felt it was so unfair, she loved kids, and she knew she would have been a really good mother. She said she can never be complete. “I’m never gonna be a mother, ever…. My family has no history of cancer, so why me?” So for nearly 3 weeks, she cried her eyes out. She started blaming herself. She went and got a second and third opinion. And they all said to her, that time was working against her. They all said she needed a hysterectomy.

Tears rolled down her cheeks, “Andy and I would fantasize about what names to name our kids. We were going to convert the study into a nursery. A friend suggested we buy little clothes and onesies. We even tried different types of superstitions, but they were all false hopes.” Then she said, “I grieved, then I had to face reality. I couldn’t keep moping. I started playing golf and mahjong. I did whatever I wanted. But at the back of my mind, when I see other peoples’ kids, I know I’m never gonna be a mother. So I pour all my love to the kids around me. It doesn’t change the fact that I still love children. I’m very lucky to be working with children. But the void is there. It’s something I can never give Andy. I can only look at other peoples’ kids and imagine what it would be like.”

On her husband, she says, “My heart aches for Andy because I know he wants a kid. You can see the joy in him when there are kids around him. Kids gravitate towards him. He’ll play games with them. He even has toys from when he was a kid that he has saved, for when he has his own. I know he longs for a child too, and I can’t give it to him. I’ve asked him to remarry (she laughs). But he says we have each other and that he wants to grow old with me.”

What Do You Want The World To Know?

“It’s not the end of the world. Life still has to push on. I’m still allowed to go to a corner and cry. There’s no shame in it. I’m allowed to have those times to cry in front of my friends. There are ups and downs, but they’re mostly up. I don’t like going back to that place (depression). You can still plan your life without kids. After I opened up about my situation, I realized that there were people who were going through similar issues. You just gotta make the best out of the situation.”

Nicole and her husband Andy


My Thoughts

Nicole and I known each other since we were in our late teens, so this interview was hard to do, as she is one of my very best friends. She has been coming to Perth to visit me and my family every year. During the interview, we both cried. My heart ached so much. And as I wrote her story, I found it hard to fight back my tears. She is my friend, she is in pain, and there’s nothing I can do to help her. The only way I know how, is to help her tell her story. I find peace in knowing that she has a husband that loves her dearly and has stood by her this whole time. I also find peace in knowing she has a supportive family and a wonderful network of friends around her. Til we see each other again, I love you Nicole xxx

Best friends!


 

 

 

 

 

“The best people let me talk without judgement and without pity”

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Donna contacted me through my website www.120fingersandtoes.com and requested for me to interview her. She wanted me to help share her experience with postnatal depression and how she learnt to overcome it. Donna is a wife and a mother of two children. And before she had their first baby, she suffered 5 miscarriages.

Postnatal Depression

Donna discovered she suffered from postnatal depression roughly around 8 months after the birth of their first child. Her baby had to be breastfed every 2 hours, 24 hours a day. She said she felt angry all the time and was constantly tired and frustrated. Her baby would cry and wanted to get picked up but Donna would get angry at her. Her husband would say to her, “You can’t talk to her like that…” And that would make Donna even angrier.

She felt very isolated, and that no one understood what she was going through. She felt like everyone was seeing it very differently to how she saw things… “But I was the one seeing it differently, I guess.” Although she felt like she had a very good support network, she felt she had no one around to help her. But she knew it wasn’t how they were, she knew it was how she was feeling. There’s been times when she’s thought, “They’d all be better off without me, I’m ruining everything.”

Donna also experienced a lot of anxiety. “If I had to see anyone out of my normal routine, I’d get really stressed out about it, then I’d pick a fight with my husband, hoping he’d say ‘right, we’re not going.'”

Donna’s husband, mum and sister were very concerned. They all suggested for her to see a doctor. She laughed, as she recalled what she thought at the time, “Fine, I’ll go see somebody and prove them wrong!” So she went to the doctor…. and bawled her eyes out! After talking to Donna, her doctor spoke to her husband to make sure she would get home safely. She felt bad, that people thought she was suicidal and would hurt the baby. She said she can now understand how some women could be driven to do certain things, just out of sheer desperation and exhaustion. We both talked about how we heard that exhaustion is used in criminal warfare as one of their torture tactics!

She recalled a time when her first child was about 13 months old. Her baby would cry and Donna would scream and swear at her. She then thought to herself, “Oh my god, why am I talking like this? Then I would feel really guilty, sit there and bawl my eyes out for hours. This child is going to learn to be this way and I realized I was being a bully to her.” Donna recalled another time when, out of anger, she wanted to say something to hurt her husband. So she said, “You know, last night, I thought about leaving you.” Only to have her husband reply, “You know I thought about leaving you too.” She laughed, saying, “Are you serious? I thought… Shit, I’m that much of a bitch, he’s going to leave me! I was just being a bitch to get him upset! That really upset me.”

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Support

Donna says she now sees a very good psychiatrist, one who has shown her different ways to deal with her feelings, taught her how to cope and change her way of thinking. She’s taught her to see what’s really important in the grand scheme of things (does the house REALLY need to be super clean when someone comes over?). She felt that talking to her psychiatrist has been very liberating for her. She also meditates and when times are stressful, she’s found that reciting the Lord’s Prayer over and over again, has had a very calming effect on her.

Donna also takes medication to help with her PND. She takes 10mg of Escitalopram a day. She giggled and called them her “Non-psycho pills!” “So many people say you shouldn’t be on medication, ‘You don’t need it’. I’m like, well, clearly I do! I figure if I’ve got a headache, I’ll take an aspirin…. if you’re not feeling well, take something to make you feel better.”

“I couldn’t have asked for a better husband.” Donna’s husband is very patient. Having learnt from their first baby, when they had their second, he did a lot of the night time feeds, made sure Donna got enough sleep and was looked after (awwwwwww!! *applause*). She also has a very good group of friends that support her. She’ll never forget that one of her friends had said to her (after Donna started on her medication), “I didn’t realize how ‘NOT’ Donna you were until I’ve seen you on your tablets, and how ‘back to normal’ you are now. I didn’t realize how sad you really were.”

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What Do You Want The World To Know?

“It is OK to talk about how bad you feel. Nothing is ever too bad that it can’t be fixed or helped. Postnatal (depression) does not discriminate, it hits the strongest and the weakest, it hits the confident as much as those who have little confidence, hits first timers and those with one or more kids. You have no idea it’s coming and often no idea it’s there. But boy, does it play games with your mind and your life.”

“Women are strong, we can endure many things but the best way to heal is to talk and to have support. No matter what was said to me during my times of sadness after losing a baby, it was helpful. The best people let me talk without judgement and without pity. And remember your partner is going through it too.”

Thoughts

If you met Donna for the very first time like I did, you would not have thought she suffered from PND. She is funny, bubbly and so full of life. Every woman going through PND, while they experience similar feelings, are all in different situations and circumstances. And we all use different ways to cope with it.

Thanks Donna, for sharing with us your experience and I hope someone out there going through it may try one or all of your methods of coping. Donna, I wish you and your family all the best!! Oh, and thank you for taking the time out on your birthday to see me!!

My Night Out At A Male Strip Club (Double Standards?)


One of my awesome friends Kim invited me out to a male strip club to celebrate her birthday.

It was cold, rainy and windy. Oh all I wanted to do was curl up in bed in my PJs. (You’re probably thinking, “Yeah, sure…”) But seeing that I’ve bailed out on her a few times, I thought I’d best be a good friend and celebrate her birthday with her and some of her friends.

We’ve had a few drinks, then headed off to The Rocket Room. As we got in the door, we were welcomed by beefy topless men (well not exactly “topless”, they did have bow ties around their necks). We went to the bar and got ourselves some drinks.

There were live shows (like what I would assume the movie Magic Mike was like? I’ve not watched it). First was a Channing Tatum type guy, then a construction worker guy, fireman and a police officer. They all danced, pulled girls up to the stage and performed very very sexual acts with them. The fireman used his hose. And the policeman had a banana in his g-string and then asked the woman on stage to take a bite, and she did of course.

Women in there were SCREAMING.

The  shirtless men that walked around the club would come talk to us women, flirt a little, danced and then whispered in our ears asking if we wanted a lap dance for $50 a pop (no pun intended).

Women were there in groups, birthday girls and brides-to-be clawed at their bodies, some blushed (me, included), and became, what I can only describe as, horny, horny, sexual predators. Beautiful Gazelles transformed into hungry Cougars.

It was a meat market. In the corner of the club were these men performing lap dances with towels around their waist, and their groins in these women’s faces. Oh my god.

I’ve never been to a female strip club, so I’m not sure if it’s the same but I’m pretty sure the men don’t scream like teenage girls. I wonder if there are regulars who would go there on their own?

This brings me to my next point. Double standards. 

Yeah, I touched the men’s bodies. But, all the women did. I danced with a couple of the men. But, all the other women there did too. 

What if, my husband went to a strip club to celebrate his mate’s birthday? With topless women hanging around them, offering lap dances? What if my husband touched their breasts, if all the other men did? How would I react if I knew? To be very honest, I’d probably be very pissed off. And that’s where the double standards come in.

Are women allowed to go to male strip clubs and touch these men’s bodies? There’s no harm right? It’s just a bit of fun. Would you let your husband or partner do the same in a female strip club? How would you react?

Let me know how you feel by leaving a comment!

Anyway, here’s a photo of me (on the left) and my lovely friend Kim (on the right). Thanks Kim for inviting me out and opening my eyes to a very very different world. Happy Birthday you mad woman, love you lots xxx