One-armed wardrobe

A quick arm update: It is slowly, slooooowly improving. I’m having more and more sling-free days, I can hold Munchkin with my left arm as long as I lift her up with the right, I can carry small things and reach a little bit, and bend down and sometimes even pick things up off the floor with that arm. It took a slight step back when the weather turned unseasonably rainy a couple of weeks ago, but it’s back on track now. Considering a frozen shoulder can take up to two years to mend and it’s been about three months, I’m reasonably happy with how things are going.

When my arm was first injured and I was in so much pain I could barely function, everything seemed so hard. But one of the first things I did when I felt up to it was to clean out my wardrobe.

That might seem weird, especially since it was painful and probably shouldn’t have been a top priority when I was supposed to be resting, but honestly, I needed to do it.

Before I was injured, I had a small work wardrobe that consisted of about 6 dedicated work-tops, a couple of ones that fit into the work and casual categories, and a few pairs of pants and skirts. Then, my shoulder froze, and suddenly I could only wear button up shirts, and even those hurt like hell to get on. T-shirts and blouses that needed to go over my head were completely out of the question, and bottoms made from stiff fabrics like jeans and pencil skirts were out for quite a while. It was only about a week ago that I got a pair of jeans on without any pain at all.

Bending down hurt like hell, let alone trying to do up buckles, zips or laces, so all but one pair of shoes were useless.

Cleaning out everything that I couldn’t wear, either because I couldn’t physically put it on, or because it was too painful to even consider meant that when I opened the wardrobe, instead of being faced with all the clothes I couldn’t wear, I could only see the ones I could wear. Admittedly, that was not very much! Of my specific work wardrobe, exactly one shirt was a proper button-up. I had two that could suffice for work, along with a couple of tops with necklines that allowed them to be put on from the bottom up and lifted gently over my left arm. In total, that came to four, and with a few loaner shirts from my mum and sister-in-law, I managed to get by. But the clothes I borrowed didn’t fit quite right, and I didn’t feel like me in them. I just didn’t have the budget to replace a bunch of clothes, especially given I’d bought a bunch of clothes when I started my job just three months earlier.

Now that things have eased up after Christmas, we put aside a little money to start updating my wardrobe a bit, given that we don’t know how long my movement will be restricted. It was so tempting to charge off to Kmart and Target and buy up big on cheap and cheerful shirts and tops to fill up my sickly wardrobe, but I know from a whole lot of experience that that is never a good way to go. Buying cheap may save money in the short term, but you end up having to replace them a lot sooner when they are worn out and looking crappy. I still buy singlet and tank tops at the cheaper places, simply because that’s the only place I can find the shapes I like, and I justify it that I mostly wear them underneath other things and as pyjama tops, so it doesn’t matter too much if they wear out a bit sooner.

White long sleeved shirt

So far I have bought one lovely white button up on sale at Noni B (pictured above, but no longer on their website), which is gorgeous thick fabric (I find so many white shirts are completely see through or at least a bit translucent, but I was wearing a bright pink singlet underneath when I tried this one on, and couldn’t see it at all!), and a plain orange tank top from Kmart that’s a lovely bright colour for summer.

I also bought a bunch of stuff for Munchkin, and now the money’s almost all gone. How does that happen? I guess it’s just way easier to find great stuff for an adorable toddler than for a one-armed woman with broad shoulders and saggy tits. Go figure!

But I’m actually happy to take my time and build my wardrobe slowly from here. Between the shirts I have and the few extras I’ve been able to bring back into my wardrobe now that I’m in less pain, I can return everything I borrowed and look and feel a bit more like me again.

My wardrobe still needs updating, both things that are missing and things that need replacing (that whole cheap clothes thing? Yeah). I’ll be making a list and sharing it here, because I enjoy boring people. Stick to what you’re good at, right?

To make a long blog post short; Cutting back your wardrobe to just what you can currently wear, whether due to an injury, surgery or weight gain/loss, and preferably to what you feel good in within that, is a really good way to make yourself feel great, and that is worth more than all the cheap-arse cardigans in the world.

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The Good Baby

One of the questions people seem to ask a lot after you have a baby is, “Is s/he a good baby?” Obviously this question isn’t intended to be rude, and I’m 90% tongue in cheek with the following, but really? A good baby? What does that even mean? I always feel like replying, “No, she’s evil and terrible. We’re thinking of having her exorcised, just in case she is, in fact, the spawn of Satan”.

So what exactly are the criteria a good baby? Is there a score out of 10? As a baby, Munchkin cried, fed and dirtied her nappy with great efficiency, and even slept sometimes, so as far as being a baby goes I think she pretty much got it down. Attagirl! Gold star for you!

But what people really seem to mean when they talk about a good baby is one that doesn’t cry much and sleeps a lot. (Parents everywhere just burst out laughing reading that. Seriously, does any baby fit that profile?).

The problem with the question is the implication that if a baby doesn’t sleep well, or cries a lot, they must be bad (or, at the very least, not good). But babies don’t cry because they’re being bad, or naughty. They cry for a reason, even if that reason isn’t always apparent to others. Likewise with not sleeping – there is a reason for it. In fact, babies aren’t even expected to sleep through the night for quite some time, and for breastfed babies five hours is considered sleeping through.

That doesn’t mean that crying and not sleeping isn’t hard on the parents/carers. It can be incredibly hard! But suggesting (or implying) that their baby is bad for not meeting some arbitrary criteria for “good” isn’t really all that helpful.

A friend of mine had a baby who screamed for hours on end. Multiple trips to multiple doctors proved fruitless, until one finally looked closer and found that the poor little mite had gastroesophageal reflux. She wasn’t crying all the time because she was bad or naughty, she was crying because she was in pain. (This story is also a good example of why it’s important to keep pushing for an answer when you know something is wrong with your bub. No matter how many times she was told it was “normal for babies to cry a lot”, my friend knew there was more to it)

I guess my real problem with the “good baby” question is that it’s really not helpful. So what can you ask a new parent? How about, “How is s/he going?” and “How are you coping?”. That second one is particularly important. After all, one person may be just fine with 4-5 hours broken sleep a night, while another could be utterly exhausted. It’s so important to give new parents the opportunity to talk about themselves and how they’re going – asking the question can make all the difference.