Tuesday, 29 July 2014

A letter to my husband

Recently another one of my friends has got divorced. It was no surprise to anyone given the state of their relationship. What is sad is that their children are in the middle of it.

These are not bad people, but their emotions are so strained at the moment and they are just wrapped up in their own worlds. Their poor kids hear stories and accusations about the other parent and there is a huge battle over access.
It got me thinking how this could be prevented. The best way, I think is to sort things out when you are in love rather at the time when all you can see is how lousy the other person is

So here is
 My pledge:
I promise to re-read this letter if our relationship ever gets to the point that we are considering separation. I ask anyone who loves me or my children to force me to re-read it if they think that I need to.
Dear Husband,

Firstly I love you. I honestly have no expectation of ever having to use this letter. But I do recognise that almost 50% of relationships end in divorce and it would be incredibly smug of me to assert that it is not a possibility.

There are things that you could do that would make me consider divorce and there are things that I could do that could make you want to divorce me. But whatever the reason, regardless of weather it is amicable or we hate each-others guts I will never let our children get stuck in the middle. I recognise your love/ respect/ faithfulness to me is entirely separate to your love for your children.

I promise:

1)      I will never speak badly about you in front of our children, or in any way that may get back to them.
2)      I will never speak badly about your new life partner to our children.
3)      Even if the split is entirely your fault I will work with you to tell our children and present it as a joint decision and not lay blame.
4)      As long as the children are safe and happy in your household I will never deny you access. I will attempt to sort out a custody arrangement that is in the best interests of our children rather than what I want.
5)      I will do my best to maintain a relationship with your parents and ensure that our children spend time with both sets of grandparents. I will instruct my parents to refrain from speaking about you in a negative manner in front of our kids.

6)      If I decide to do something vindictive against you I will first consider how it will affect our children and only proceed if there is no chance that it will get back to them.

7)      I will at all times during this process think of our children first.

I hope that you will also sign this pledge.

All My love.


My experience with CMV in pregnancy

I thought today I would share about a very turbulent time in my life. It was was over 3 years ago now, but that time still affects me.
During my first pregnancy I managed to catch CMV (which is one of the viruses that can cause deformities to developing babies). Given that in the end everything was ok it is probably a small trauma compared to what others go though, however it felt huge to me.

So some background. I was living in China at the time and 15 weeks pregnant.
 I was not enjoying pregnancy. 'Morning sickness' was all day sickness and I seemed to catch a cold every time anyone sneezed including a bad cold/ flu a couple of weeks previously which had had me bed bound with high fevers.

We got a call from the hospital telling me that my bloods had come back and I had tested positive for CMV, the specialist could see us in a couple of days.
Now I don't know what others would do with that information. The sensible thing to do would be to store it in the back of your brain and wait to see the specialist.
That is not what we did, of course.
We Googled it.
Bad idea.
What we got were lots and lots of worst case scenario stories. Babies with severe deformities and disabilities. My husband and I were shattered. We cried. We did not sleep.
The joy of pregnancy was replaced by an all encompassing fear.
I had just started to feel kicks and each kick served to remind me that there could be something wrong with my baby and that it was my fault (in my mind it was my fault for catching this disease, I know it was disordered thinking and if you are reading this and in a similar situation it is not your fault. You cannot live your life in a bubble and it is not good for you or your baby and it is just bad luck that bad things happen to some people).

So the next day I decided to do some real research so I could be prepared to see the specialist. I have always been a bit of a nerd and math is soothing. So I looked up proper scholarly articles and became an expert on the disease. I worked out given where I was in the pregnancy when I caught it there was about a 10% chance of baby having severe problems and a 60-70% chance baby would not even catch it at all.
While reassured I was still terrified.
What if I was in the 10%? I already had the bad luck of getting this disease, what if it continued? I knew I needed a special test at 20 weeks (amniocentesis) which would tell me if baby had been infected. We decided that I would go back to Australia for this (I had been planning on going back for the birth anyway so I just went earlier).

Cue 4 weeks of worry.
 Knowing that I had caught this disease I became intensely worried about further harming my baby. Farming/ food hygiene standards are not always the best in China (and if you watch the Chinese equivalent of 'a current affair' there are always stories of some food or another having issues).
Every meal became a battle between knowing I needed to get nutrients into my body and fear that food may contain something that would harm me.
For various reasons I was avoiding all animal products, fruit, vegetables, anything cooked outside and processed foods. Which really did not leave much that I was willing to eat. I love food generally and with my morning sickness finally letting up life was a constant battle between cravings and fear. I became a recluse staying in the house avoiding people and situations that I may get sick.

Getting back to Australia was a relief and although my daemons did not go entirely they were more manageable and I was able to have a more normal diet and life.
At 20 weeks the test came back negative and I went on to have a normal pregnancy and baby.

Friday, 25 July 2014

Purple cabbage and orange salad with purple cabbage water

We are from a mixed household, my husband is Chinese while I have European heritage.
Food has always played a very important part of Chinese culture and Chinese medicine. The idea of food as medicine while only a relatively new concept in the west is thousands of years old in China.

One concept that my mother in law has introduced me to is drinking the water that vegetables are boiled in. To me this makes complete sense as you gain the nutrients that would otherwise be lost with boiling. So I present my take on the concept with a red cabbage salad recipe with accompanying red cabbage water (I am adding orange juice to it as I don't really like the taste of vegetable water but my mother in law would drink it straight).

Warm purple cabbage and orange salad with purple cabbage juice


1/4 Red cabbage
1/2 red capsicum
Handful of raisins
Handful of shelled walnuts
half handful pumpkin seeds (pepitas)
4 oranges
1 tbs balsamic vinegar
orange or apple juice to taste
2 tablespoons of oil (I like macadamia oil)
pinch salt
pinch pepper

1) Put 1Tbs balsalmic vinegar, 2 Tbs orange juice (approx juice of half an orange), 2Tbs oil, pinch of salt and a pinch of pepper in a small jar and shake.

1) Put raisins in pot with approx 3 cups water and put on high.
2) While raisins are getting up to temperature put in a bowl:
         1/2 capsicum finely sliced
         hanful roughly diced walnuts (about 1/4 of a cup for people who do not measure in handfuls)
          1 and 1/2 oranges peeled and diced
          Small Handful of pepitas
and then put to the side.
3) Thinly slice the purple cabbage and add to pot with raisins when it comes to the boil. return to the boil and blanch for opprox 1 min.
4) Drain the cabbage reserving the liquid
5) Add cabbage to bowl with rest of ingredients. Add dressing and mix.

1) Add juice of 2 oranges to the purple water.
2) You will notice the water turn pink as the acid in the oranges reacts with the cabbage colour.
You can also cut up an extra orange and out pieces in the bottoms of your glasses for visual effect.
Best warm.

Thursday, 24 July 2014

Paid maternity leave

Why Mr Abbotts paid maternity scheme is so terribly wrong.

I thought I would start my blog with something that has been on my mind for a while.
Paid maternity leave.
I would like to preface this by saying that as I am currently a stay at home mum of two (and will likely not have any further children) I will not directly benefit from this package and will when I re-enter the workplace have to pay for it, so if you may interpret this as sour grapes if you wish.

As a mum who was in a highly educated and paid profession prior to getting pregnant, I was the person that this scheme was aimed at and my former colleagues and friends will be the ones that see the most benefits, however I cannot support it for a few reasons.
1) The scheme reeks of sexism
Why is it a paid maternity leave? What is it about men that makes them incapable of looking after children? It should be made very clear that either parent can claim in this scheme. While there are more stay at home mums, stay at home Dads exist and do an excellent job. I have taken a couple of work contracts over the past couple of years while my son has been little. During that time my husband and I switched roles and he was the stay at home Dad. And guess what. He was very good at it. Full stop. And in some ways he was better than me (he always sent me to work with a packed lunch and the house was never cleaner).
2) It is not going to encourage professional women to have children.
The reason professional women have less children and have them later is not because they don't have enough money. They do and most can afford to take 6 months off to look after their child if they so wish. A career can be hard to manage with a child and many see that. Having children can significantly slow career trajectory. Being out of work for 6 months (which is what the scheme requires of women) can completely halt a career. If you factor in loss of promotions I suspect most professional women will be a lot worse off financially after taking the 6 months off.
Getting 50000 for taking 6 months off work will not factor into the decision to have a child for most professional women.
3) It could significantly deter employers from employing women
I know that it is illegal to select a candidate according to gender. But employers do not need to justify every hiring decision.
If you had a choice between two candidates; one who would likely continue to work for you for the next 10 years no trouble, or one who would likely take 2 or three 6 month breaks, over which time you would need to pay them their salary (which then would be returned to you at tax time), keep their job open and hire a temp (likely at a higher cost and they may be less qualified) over that time. Who would you choose?
4) It is horribly unfair to lower income earners.
As a taxpayer why should I pay 5 times more money to a woman on 100000 per year than I pay to someone on 20000 per year? What value am I getting for my money? Will they be a 5 times better mother? I just cannot justify why it can be seen as fair.

So what would help?
1) improvements to child care.
Child care is terribly expensive, and and spaces are limited. There need to be more places and higher subsidies.
2) A scheme that involves fathers.
If you are going to have some sort of paid parental leave scheme it should be freely accessible by both parents.