Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Increasing productivity.

Staying at home with no fixed routine.. It's really easy to lose track of what I did/have been doing the whole day. By the time Adam comes home from work he usually asks, so what have you been up to?

Most answers will usually begin with, hmm.. think!

I have to, since then, find a way to keep track of things - be it what I want to do, or what I should do. So I came up with this.


My own personal planner/organiser.

Inspired by bullet journaling, except that I still can't seem to get my head around the concept. Given that I'm partially OCD to things, I like to have a bit of structure with my planner. Not so carefree, after all. So I came up with a layout that I thought suits me best for now. You can see on the right side things are still a little bit all over the place - I'm working on how best to tackle it. But the main focus is on the weekly spread/layout.

Note that tasks are not arranged in order of importance or time of the day. Also, I just have to break down tasks into small chunks, especially when it comes to daunting things. In my case it's always the laundry. So to make it less painful, I often break laundry to 3 things - angkat, lipat, kemas.

You can argue that they all fall into the same chore of laundry, but since I really dread doing them, I often take my own time with it. (Sometimes, too much time). Often I angkat dried clothes and dump them on the ironing board next to drying rack and leave them overnight. Or I lipat them, and leave them on the bed, alternating between bed and chair, before I finally simpan them nicely into the clothes drawer. Now that's the whole of laundry done.

Another thing that I find really useful is this little tracker.


This tracker is specific for my spiritual daily habits. Before I went on maternity leave, I was so determined to up my iman game. Work got in the way all these while and I just couldn't seem to adjust these into my daily life. So this weekly tracker helps me to get back on track.

If anything, a tick alone is enough to become my motivation. For example, I've been feeling so sluggish after asr prayer that I just wanted to skip mathurat pm altogether. But comes maghrib, my mind starts to ponder.. If I sit another 5-7 minutes longer after prayer for mathurat.. I can get another tick.

Hopefully I'll get to a point where it becomes a habit, rather than merely a tick..

Anyways, this is one of the things that I do to increase my productivity, and so far it works brilliantly. I'm continuously trying to improve the layout, probably add another few things to it. But feel free to tweak things/add different kinds of tracker, e.g. healthy eating, less spending, exercise, whatever works for you!

And oh, I learnt the hard way - it doesn't have to be pretty to work. My OCD level is quite annoying in a sense that I won't do/write/plan things if it's not pretty. So I decided to go simple with black pen and a blank book. And like I said, it works. :)

Friday, April 14, 2017

Seed: 35 weeks.

This week's been pretty odd, I have to say. It's an alternate between fasting and non-fasting days. I know, I know. I haven't actually finished my ganti puasa just yet. (Head hung down). I have a few days left and am so determined to finish it before giving birth, because there'll be another 30 days of fasting awaits once Seed pops out. He's due just before Ramadhan, so I'm pretty sure that's the whole month of no-fast for me (nifas, or lochia as they say here, gross, sorry). (Btw no-fast, nifas, geddit geddit?). Anyways, a little bit about fasting at the end of pregnancy.

I don't think it's entirely recommended, but I can imagine if you're actually pregnant in Ramadhan itself, you wouldn't want to just skip them altogether. There's no right or wrong to it, everyone's different. But here's what I've been doing.

1. Fast on alternate days. Maghrib here is now around 8pm, and fajr around 4am, therefore not much time to gulp down that 2 litres of water overnight. And even if I manage to, that means no sleep at all as I'll be on a conveyor belt between the bed and bathroom. So fasting on alternate days give me time to recover my fluid intake.

2. Keep an eye on baby's movement. This is key. I learnt it the hard way when I was dehydrated while working and had reduced foetal movement (baby not moving much). This time while fasting, although I don't feel particularly tired or hungry, I'm always alert whenever Seed moves. I even talk to him, reassuring him that we only have however-many-hours left to go. Baby pep-talk, anyone?

3. Sahur. Self-explanatory. Drink plenty of water. If you missed sahur, I honestly feel it might be safest to just skip fasting on that day.

4. Or just ganti puasa awal-awal. Take it from me. I had the chance to do it in winter time when maghrib is at 4pm but I was working like mad so didn't quite feel like it. Looking back, I really have should.

Anyways, on to baby things now. I managed to sort quite a few bits out. Productivity is catching up!


The view before. I always joked that we could've set up a baby garage sale in the living room.


Managed to do some laundry of these tiny things. Still quite a few left, but I think if Seed comes out tomorrow (please don't!) we're good to go.

Wait, we haven't bought nappies yet (!!).


Tiny socks for tiny feet. Adam thought my socks are annoying enough (I have 5 pairs of identical grey socks), so when he was hanging these up.. My heart goes out to him.


Even managed to sort out a little corner for Seed!

Here's the tricky thing about preparing for this little one's arrival. We're going home for good in around August, inshaAllah. (I'll go into that some other day.) So we want to really limit on things to buy, given that we then would have to think about shipping later. I'm desperate to focus on necessities - what babies really need, but at the same time I'm trying to be well-prepared too. It is hard. For example, how would you know if you're gonna need that breast pump later? What if baby latches perfectly fine so we won't be needing it at all? And pumping means bottles. Do we buy them now, or should we wait? Hint: we didn't wait.

Another thing worth mentioning is that, most of Seed's stuff are second-hand. Being thrifty is one thing, but for the most part, I don't see why babies need brand new things (especially clothes) since they grow up so fast. This is, of course, each to their own. If you have the capacity for it, by all means. We, on the other hands, are rather tight on space, mainly. We can afford them if we want, Alhamdulillah, but we'd rather save up, especially given that we're going home soon, and that means no income for a while until we figure something out.

So most of the clothes that you see are all second-hands, bought from Gumtree, at a total cost of £15. I appreciate some would disagree, what more with this as our first-born and we're both earning pretty good amount, so why not just splurge a little bit. It's more of a personal choice, really.


The real challenge is not resisting to buy new, but how to make do with what we already have. So here's part of the solution - little boxes! There's absolutely no point in buying new rack or wardrobe, so I figure these shoe and Amazon boxes work pretty neat. 

So.. The boxes you see on the shelves.. Yup, they're practically Seed's wardrobe. Not sure how long they'll stay organised in this way, but I do hope at least until August!

Also the highlight of this week..

We had an adorable little surprise in the mail!


This came while Adam was at work. Since it's addressed to S. Adam, I thought I'd let Adam open it (his name is vaguely there, how mysterious). Apparently he was just as clueless as I was. 


But then.. Mystery solved! This came from Nadd. And the "S" stands for Seed.


Well this thing is just too cute. You know how we always say "I don't want to adult anymore"? This is just the thing for tiny humans.

I call it the "How to Baby" guide book.


Look at that. The one on the left? Thanks Nadd, I foresee myself watching/rehearsing word by word of whatever cartoon there is in future.

So yes, I still have plenty to go through - haven't washed the towels and beddings just yet. And I need to think of what to put into the hospital bags. But I'm already pleased with this week's achievement so I'm just going to put my feet up a bit and chill!

Also, it might be worth saying this now as a reminder for future me - one whole week into maternity leave, and it already feels AWESOME. Adam comes home to nicely cooked food every time, his clothes laundered and ironed.. It's a satisfaction on its own. I mean, is this what the stay-at-home-mums feel? Pretty awesome I'd say.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Seed: 34 weeks.

Hitting 34 weeks feels like taking this pregnancy to a whole new level. No joke.

I AM OFFICIALLY ON MATERNITY LEAVE!


Look. At. That. Bump. Smile.

If I'm honest there were times when I doubted myself if I really could do it - doctoring while being heavily pregnant. The tiredness, the stress, the lack of sleep.. Everything! I even wondered what would happen if I took the last 2 days off because I was in so much discomfort over the weekend that by Monday I was just exhausted.

But I made it through, Alhamdulillah!

Speaking of the weekend, here's what happened. Braxton Hicks. Yes, Braxton Hicks was what happened. I've had them before, so it's not like I didn't know what was coming. But over the weekend they were so strong and frequent and lasted for what felt like hours! My bump could go rock solid for a very long time, that sometimes I found myself doing the deep slow breathing just to ease it off. 

Btw Braxton Hicks are false contractions in preparation for the actual labour. They're often irregular without any pattern. Not particularly painful, but CAN be very very, very, uncomfortable.

I rang the midwife on Monday just to check if what I had was normal - first pregnancy, not a clue. She advised that it did sound like my tummy was just practicing for the actual day, so nothing to be worried about. And Seed's been moving fine too, not that I'm overly worried anyway. I think I was just so exhausted from the discomfort, more than anything. It's easing off now, thank God.

Speaking of Seed, we can often feel his feet sticking out just under my ribs a lot of the times. It's pretty funny because I like to poke them and he would then kick back in annoyance (I imagine). Haha.

Adam and I also went to an antenatal class aimed for first time parents last week. Free on NHS, so why not. 

And the class was.. Okay. I was hoping for more practical advice, like real-life solution for things. But it was a lot of medical facts, e.g. stages of labour, pain relief ladder.. Most of them I already knew. I guess it'd be more useful for laypersons, not quite for those who are well-acquainted with hospital and medical stuff.

I am now sitting in bed typing this while thinking of the amount of chores to tackle while I'm off. It's very tempting to think that I've got all the time in the world to do them, but so far my only achievement are cooking lunch and doing one load of laundry.

Hoping for a more productive me soon. Phew.

Friday, March 31, 2017

Seed: 33 weeks.

33 weeks! How time flies! Here in UK, when you register your pregnancy with your midwife/GP (wow that feels like aaages ago), they often give you a starter pack for pregnancy - depending on which organisation they partner with, e.g. Bounty or Emma's Diary. The starter pack often includes a booklet/magazine on pregnancy and gazilion leaflets of pregnancy/baby-related products - some of them might be useful, most of them are marketing works. 

But the one thing that I love about the packs is that they often come with vouchers for freebies! So naturally the thrifty in me went through each and every one of the magazine, looking for vouchers that I could claim. And we spent the last week or so hunting these little goodies down. 

Bounty.com

The packs come in 3 types. Mum-to-be, Newborn, and Family Pack, depending on where you are at your pregnancy/motherhood. So I got the Mum-to-be one.


This one's got nappies from Boots own brand, Sudocrem nappy rash cream, Persil detergent wash and some pantyliners from Always. Always in UK is a bit like Kotex in Malaysia - they're pretty much the leading brand for sanitary towels, given that there's not a lot of choice as people often prefer tampons here!

Emma's Diary

So far I've got the Bump to Baby and Mum to Be packs. They're quite okay, just that I don't really see the point of having a baby bunting. Maybe it's because we don't intend to convert the second room aka Adam's office to baby's room, perhaps? And we're not going crazy with this baby's stuff, so we're more focused on needs as opposed to wants.

I quite like the samples though.


Apart from the bunting, there are samples from Pampers, Metanium nappy rash cream (this is widely used in hospitals) and a bunch of Lansinoh products - baby wash, breastmilk storage bags and a pair of nursing pads. I've read that the nursing pads are really good for leaky boobs, but we'll see. 

(I'd accept if you guys stop reading at this point, too mak-mak, lol).


Another pack contains more nappies from Boots, Palmer tummy butter, more Persil detergent (we have always used Persil anyway!) and more samples of pads and pantyliners for those accident-prone days. Or even normal days, who am I kidding.

All in all, it's still better than nothing! I still think nappies make the best samples, for obvious reasons. They are definitely needed - and purchasing one brand in one size in bulk without really knowing whether your baby will get on with them doesn't sound like a wise idea. 

The same goes with bottles. If only I could get a sample of some of the brands.. How I wish! I ended up buying a starter set anyway - they're on sale, can't resist, don't judge. So hopefully Seed will get on fine with them.

Can't help but realise that I sound so mak-mak, haha. Well brace yourself, there's more to come.

Anyways, 2 days of work left, yay!

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Seed: 28 weeks.

I've always wanted to write a whole post on being pregnant - this time not so much focusing on Seed, but rather, ME.

1. Of gaining weight.

One of my biggest fears of pregnancy is gaining weight. Yes, weight. Both my mum and sister are on the chunkier side - imagine the pressure. Yes, I never had any weight issues growing up, but man am I scared of gaining weight..

And my mum used to tell me that she weighed way less than I did pre-pregnancy. Lagi lah pressure kau. And to be veeery honest, I take pride of my figure. I did not just magically have toned abs (not six-packs!) - I planked, I ran, I did crunches for years. I even went on healthy diet at some point, ha! So yes, I can honestly say I was quite fit pre-pregnancy, despite being on the rather 'small' side.

I've not gained massive weight so far on this pregnancy just yet, but I really am scared. For someone who's never had any weight issue, my fear of gaining weight can be rather irrational..

2. Of stretch marks.

Again, this one.. I did a whole lot of research at the early stages of pregnancy. Even considered buying high-end creams with a hefty price tag in an effort to 'prevent' them! But sooner than later I learned that stretch marks are mainly genetics. And luck. Some people never had one, some had it in first trimester. My mum definitely had them, although I'm sure having 5 children plays a role in that matter. I succumbed to the fact that there's not much that can be done about it, so mehh, let's just embrace it. I still, religiously put creams on my tummy - Diprobase emolient, no less, because we had a heck of 500g bottle of that stuff when Adam had some skin rash last year. Alhamdulillah, not a streak of line (apart from linea nigra, that's some serious strange business man!!).

To be fair I did have a habit of applying lotions on my skin after every shower pre-pregnancy, not sure if that contributes.

3. Of uncomfortable sleeps.

Adam and I.. We're both independent sleepers (more so me than him). Which means we don't really cuddle to sleep with the exception of some midnight cuddles when we're both half-asleep. But man.. Do I crave to have the whole bed to myself.

There was a time when Adam did his night shift over the weekend, and I have to admit I loved the 3 nights that I got the whole bed to myself. It's just impossible to be comfortable with such growing bump - and having another person sharing the bed doesn't really help.

I feel bad saying this, but honestly, the thought of going to bed doesn't equate to being well-rested, no matter how tired I already am. And every now and then I end up sleeping in the lounge surrounded by a bunch of thick duvets on the floor - all the space I can get to roll around!

4. Of random twinges of pain and discomfort.

Getting up from the chair is uncomfortable. Peeing is uncomfortable. Putting on the socks can be a struggle. And worst of all, waking up from lying down, man, that's serious business.

Heck my tummy feels so stretched and tight even now as I'm typing this.

It's about 15-minute walk to hospital where I work, and it's an uphill walk. Not the most pleasant walk unfortunately.

5. Of drinking for England.

On one occasion, I couldn't feel Seed moving very much. Had to get myself checked out by the midwife, and I turned out to be very dehydrated. Since then I've been drinking for England. And peeing like a tap too.

I don't know what is it about pregnancy but I never seem to be getting enough fluid intake. The moment I felt good about my drinking habit, my pee was still dark yellow. I mean, come on, I've had 1.5L in already!

And yes, hello midnight bathroom trips. There was a time I was so knackered in the morning as I had to get up 4-5 times at night to pee just because I've been drinking a gallon during the evening. I kinda learn the trick now - drink like a champ during the day, even if that means going to the toilet after seeing each patient on ward round (can be hilarious), and then limit myself to one cup in the evening. Of course, the moment I wake up in the morning, the pee would still be dark, but heck, mommy need that 8-hr minimum sleep.

6. Of loneliness.

They say motherhood can be a lonely journey. They never said anything about pregnancy. I cannot help but feel so alone sometimes. Unless you've been pregnant before, you would never know how it feels to carry a >5kg bump 24/7. I didn't. I used to think, ahh look at those pregnant ladies, all glowing and smiling. I always thought pregnant women are beautiful. But I don't feel like one, how come? I'm all puffed up, my eye bags alone might have contributed to 1kg of the weight gain. The loneliness.. Is real. They say pregnancy is not a disease. I agree, but it's "normal" to a whole new level. It's the strangest physiological thing that can ever happen to your body.

A lot of times.. It's between you and baby and God.

****************

This was written when I was at 28w. Didn't get to finish it then (typical!). I'm waaay beyond that now, so you might want to multiply the above by 1.25 or something. I'm heavier, bumpier, slower - everything you can ever imagine.

BUT,

I'm more contented too. (Surprise!). Somehow knowing that the baby's growing nice and healthy.. And realising that we're going to meet him sooner than later.. That, my friends, is such an indescribable feeling. Every kick, every swish, every roll, every Braxon Hicks (!!), means we're a step closer. And that is always something to be grateful for.

Friday, March 3, 2017

"Ease is a greater threat to progress than hardship."

I have a small confession.

I never really wanted to do Medicine.

Not news? Alright, how about.. I'm still not sure if I want to.

Despite the nearly 7 months of doctoring.
Despite the kind words from my colleagues and staff nurses.
Despite the praises from my seniors.
Despite the look of appreciation from my patients.
Despite the glowing assessment by my team members.

"You're a good doctor, you really are, but that's probably not what you wanted to hear."

I have another month or so to finish this rotation before going off on my maternity leave. The initial plan was to leave and never come back, ever (there, I said it), but I created a whole fuss in management department because I left my online portfolio completely untouched, apart from some team assessments and meetings with supervisors. They're not too happy, especially given that I would've completed 8 months of FY1 by the time I leave and not a single evidence of competencies. That's 2/3rd of becoming fully a registered/certified doctor!

"Your lack of engagement with the portfolio is almost like your way of saying 'that's it, you've had enough.'"

An act of rebellion.

True, it's that one thing that I can (sort of) control within my power. I cannot choose to not go to work - professionalism. I cannot choose to not see sick patients - patient safety. I cannot choose to not do my job sloppily - heck, have some standard, will you? You're a flippin' doctor!

But I can choose to not do any of the online things, can I? 

Well until I got caught anyway.

So I agreed to work on that bit - at least giving myself an option to return to medicine after 1 year of maternity leave, as my visa would still be running/ongoing throughout that period.

I have to say, it felt such a relief to finally be able to voice out how I've been feeling and finally be heard/taken seriously. For once, it didn't feel like everyone is on my back to complete this, ie continue medicine. I tried seeking help when I was in medical school, but all I got was "you have to finish this", or "you'll be fine", or "try working as a doctor first see how you feel". Well, I am a friggin' doctor and this is how I feel.

Unhappy.

There's a massive hikmah on me not working on my eportfolio. It's amazing how Allah always knows what's best for you.

A part of me feels that if only I sought help earlier at work.. Although I doubt it's going to change the outcome anyway, at least I won't struggle alone - hidden by a confident, chilled facade on everyday work.

"Find light in the beautiful sea 
I choose to be happy" - Diamonds, Rihanna

Happiness is a choice, indeed. And I choose to be happy.

We are currently presented with an opportunity to finally stop doctoring. We, because Adam too, isn't really the biggest fan of doctoring. And opportunity, because I've learnt to see every difficulty as an opportunity since my epic fallout many years ago.

We've spent years of our lives following a path that's been carved right in front of us. It was challenging, but it's a rather straight path, nevertheless. All we had to do was follow the path, survive through the path, and it brought us here - by choice or not.

I feel that it's time for us to make an active decision and take charge of our life and not let the path decide for us. We've been at ease all these while, and somehow this speech by Denzel Washington came at a right time, hitting home.


"Ease is a greater threat to progress than hardship."

Link here.

In the end, Allah is the best planner, after all.