Pregnancy in social isolation: a special post by Laura Owen

Pregnant in Antwerp in coronavirus times.

Day 150 of pregnancy

 I woke up this morning, sunshine blasting through the windows: I’m feeling good. I finally have that “second trimester superwoman energy” that I keep being told about.  I’m on day 150 of this pregnancy, but things couldn’t be weirder with the COVID-19 pandemic in full swing.

So my topic is “A Day In The Life of a Pregnant Woman:  week 4 -coronavirus outbreak”. Because -as good as I feel-  I also feel a deep-rooted sense of anxiety that I can’t quite quash. 

Screen Shot 2020-04-11 at 14.48.04It’s a pretty strange time for all of us. Even if we have never felt anxiety before, these unprecedented times can make even the toughest feel anxious.

I know this is something that I am dealing with right now.

I am not usually one to share my worries and concerns to the masses on social media (that is a “treat” reserved mostly for those closest to me) but these exceptional times make me want to share how I’m feeling. I know I’m not alone in feeling insecure at this time and I think we all need to show sensitivity, and embrace the sensitive sides of others. 

When I woke up this morning, despite being allowed the luxury of waking up one hour later due to my lack of commute, my first thought was “something is worrying me … what is it?” Not a nice way to start the day. But that worrying feeling is something that we are all living with, especially if you are pregnant, looking after newborns or managing an ongoing health condition.

pgwoman-163617_640Sometimes I cry or become super emotional all of a sudden, without any warning. 

I can only imagine that what I am experiencing now is what those with permanent anxiety feel every day and I have never had so much appreciation for the way they carry on. But I digress – Of course, I am still able to function and I do so. 

So I start work from my home-office and plough through the day (the highlight naturally being lunch and break times, as I am sure any expectant woman can relate to!). I have scheduled Zoom meetings (no sweatpants for me!) and I plod on with my regular other tasks. 

I also keep up-to-date with the housework (with the help of my husband of course) – It’s amazing how much more washing and general untidiness you create when two people are living full-time in the house! Other than that, it is “business as usual” -whatever this “usual” now is. But throughout it all there is this unsettling feeling of insecurity, that I don’t know how to make disappear. 

It’s the little things such as not going out to do the grocery shopping; not being able to plan as much for our upcoming baby as I would like to; my husband not being able to come to doctor appointments with me; not being able to share our baby’s first kicks with grandparents; not knowing if I will be able to go back to the UK to see friends and family before the birth; not knowing when my parents and sister will next be able to come see me. The list goes on and on and  starts to cast a shadow over all that is positive around me. 

pregnancypost

Yes, I know that all that matters is that our baby and I are healthy (and so far- thank goodness -this is the case) but all of these thoughts worry me and give me a feeling of uncertainty that I am not used to.

I am used to being the friend that friends can rely on, and on relying on those friends in return. However,  right now I am struggling to find that same sense of comfort that I usually get from my friends – I am a tactile person by nature and week 4 of quarantine is getting to me because I can’t see friends and hug them.

In summary: Week 4 of quarantine is making me have more questions than answers. 

But – I am doing my best and being kind to myself. 

So that is the message I want to end this post with:  be kind, reach out to that person you haven’t spoken to in a while (they might just need it) but most of all – be kind to yourself. It’s OK not to feel OK right now. We all have our worries and anxieties and these are completely normal in such unprecedented circumstances.

Laura

PS: Find me on  Instagram @lauraowenonsea to connect and share positivity! 

Find & Follow #nessascityblog

ON: Facebook (Events in Antwerp)

Email: nessascityblog@gmail.com

& check out #nessascityblog on Twitter & Pinterest & Instagram

Leo Reijnders: An Antwerp artist with a mail-art project that’s perfect for lockdown.

Leo Reijnders is a local Antwerp artist from Borgerhout, who you may also know as De Wolkenbreier (The Cloudknitter) or from Antwerp’s underground radio station: Radio Centraal.

His current project is just right for the present situation and invites participation from all artists -whether you are a professional or enthusiastic amateur. Perhaps you would like create something artistic for the very first time?

Leo’s mail art project – “ALBENE” – is a collaboration with the Albanian Embassy in The Hague, and Dutch Art Collective, Quartair.

ALBENE 6

Want to take part?  Design, draw and send a post-card of your own creation to Leo. It won’t be returned, but it will be displayed in an exhibition at the Albanian Embassy in The Hague and in a Youtube film of the artworks. Here’s a film of a previous mail art project –Let’s Sky The Limit .

CardAddressThe theme of the mail art project is THE LAST SUPPER. The address to send your work to is:

LEO REIJNDERS – THE CLOUDKNITTER

Bouwensstraat 9
2140 Borgerhout
Belgium

 

Participation is not restricted to Antwerp or Belgium: Leo hopes to receive cards from all around the world, so encourage your friends and family in other countries to join in! Previous projects attracted contributions from 30 different countries.

Because of the uncertainty of the current situation, there is no hard and fast deadline, but you definitely have at least until September to get your cards in the post.

Card 1Additional links

Cloudknitters.be

Cloudknitters on Facebook

Leo Reijnders on Instagram.

Leo Reijnders on Linked In.

Leo Reijnders on Twitter

An interview with Leo on Borgerhout TV (in Dutch)

And here is another project that Leo is currently working on (pic below) at Transvaalstraat / the corner of Waterloostraat.

1c609126-aee3-4f93-9fc6-92d2c8bb94ae

Find & Follow #nessascityblog

ON: Facebook (Events in Antwerp)

Email: nessascityblog@gmail.com

& check out #nessascityblog on Twitter & Pinterest & Instagram

 

 

 

LUDDITES: a new book shop & wine bar on Hopland, run by Richard & Jorien.

Hi Richard! Can you start by telling us about Luddites -where and what it is?

We’re at Hopland 34, which is in the city centre; the street that goes by the back entrance of Stadsfeestzaal. We’re a bookstore, wine bar, and hideout from the modern world, all rolled into one, and lodged in a beautiful 1902 townhouse.  We have classic wooden bookshelves and no wifi; hidden just upstairs is our wine bar, where you can lounge and read a book or converse with your friends and family over one of our delicious wines. The idea is that if you buy a book, or make any purchase of €10 or more, that first glass of wine becomes half-price. I find that wine drinkers get excited about that deal, whereas book readers are more indifferent and, if you are both, then you are over the moon.

Also, our book selection is about half Dutch, half English. We have about three thousand titles, so if you are looking for a book in English, look no further.

Luddites4
Luddites can be found at Hopland 34


What about yourselves? Where are you from and what’s your work background?

I moved here from New York, but grew up outside of Philadelphia, and studied mainly Classics and Literature. Naturally, there’s not much of a market for that, so I turned to contract killing. It worked for a while, but suddenly I was getting too much heat from the Feds, so I had to move to a city no American could point to on a map. Antwerp was an obvious choice. I had so many friends back home congratulate me on my big move to Germany.

Jorien was a librarian in a small Flemish town for a number of years, so she is keyed into the Dutch book scene, and has been dreaming about opening a bookstore since she was an adolescent. 


Ja, Antwerpen ist sehr schon: what do you like about living and working here?


It is cosy, perhaps sometimes too cosy. The city has this way of sucking in unsuspecting people, such as myself. I was only supposed to spend two years here, and when I first moved to Antwerp, which was during the winter, I didn’t think I would make it that long. But then the summer hit, and I experienced the beauty of the city: the long, warm nights sitting with friends on terraces, the thriving arts and music scenes, all of the great restaurants and shops. You could feel the collective sigh of relief from everyone after the first rays of the spring sun hit—followed, of course, by a mad dash to the closest terrace to bask in them. I realised that the city had been hibernating all winter, and that I had to re-evaluate everything I thought I knew about it. Now, it has been six years.


What do you read yourselves? Any good book recommendations for us to keep usLuddites3 occupied during lockdown?

Well, we try to cater book recommendations to the tastes of our customers; Jorien is exceptional at that because of all of those years working as a librarian. Personally, the last book which struck me as poignant and left me wanting more was Paul Auster’s 4321, in which he examines the four vastly different arcs one character’s life can take, based on small decisions by his parents. The first one hundred pages are a bit of a struggle, but then you get hooked (I guess I have a type). At 880 pages it is a whopper, so it is great if you are stuck inside with nothing to do. Perhaps also Crime and Punishment? We have this lovely Norton Critical edition of the novel, which provides a lot of footnotes and makes the classic much easier to digest. Now, I think, is the time to read those long books that have been on your list forever—those books that are marriages rather than flings—because if you don’t read them now- at this perfect moment for them- when will you? 


5) We can’t -unfortunately- avoid mention of the C word. It must have been gutting for you to have to close so soon after opening, because of Covid 19. How are you planning to cope over the next few weeks, and are there still services you are able to offer?

Good question! I’m frantically building a webshop (update: it’s now live- see links below) at the moment, but that probably won’t be up and running for another week or so. In the meantime, people can still inquire and order books (and wine) from us through our general email address (hello@luddites.be). We offer free delivery within the city of Antwerp, and delivery at cost everywhere else in Belgium. I’m also in discussions with a couple food delivery services, so in a few days you should be able to order our wines through your favorite food delivery app.

Luddites5

Lastly, if you want to support us now but would prefer the full Luddites experience, you can order gift cards through that same email address, and come visit us when our doors are open again.

 

 

Links & Contact


Website: https://luddites.be/

Webshop: https://shop.luddites.eu/

Facebook                                   Instagram

Email: hello@luddites.be

All images in this post courtesy of Luddites.

Find & Follow #nessascityblog

ON: Facebook (Events in Antwerp)

Email: nessascityblog@gmail.com

& check out #nessascityblog on Twitter & Pinterest & Instagram

 

Antwerp Life During Corona Virus Restrictions

Hello, and thanks for reading Nessascityblog!

As you can imagine, a blog which is usually devoted to sharing information about events, is not going to be very busy right now, so I though I would just do a general post about life in Antwerp and Belgium under the new restrictions, and share some useful links. I will keep editing this, so if you think there is a link I have missed, do get in touch.

UPDATE 27th March: Extension -current measures to stay in place until 19th April.

Information and News from Belgium in English

Flanders Today and The Brussels Times are the news outlets which will bring you the latest Belgian headlines and information in English.

The government website with information about Covid 19 is here and available in French, Dutch, German and English. You can also follow the Federal Health Department on Twitter.

Screen Shot 2020-03-24 at 12.36.05
The Stad Antwerpen Instagram page.

(translation of text in image above: Stay home; do not gather with others; keep a distance of 1.5m; outdoor exercise is OK, with max 2 people; look after yourself and each other)

The Stad Antwerpen page is mainly in Dutch, but if you go here and scroll down, you will find .PDFs in a variety of languages.

Last week I published this blog post with information in English about organisations and help lines, if being at home is not safe for you or your children (or if you are anxious that someone you know is not safe).

Kids

school table
home school

Lessons are suspended and children are learning from home. Only those who work in essential services (and who cannot find childcare) may take their children into school. Colleges and universities are delivering classes and assignments online.

For learners in English, I have this list of educational sites.

Support and interaction

Lots of people want to help at this time. Others needs help. Stad Antwerpen has this page (in Dutch) for those either requiring help, or wanting to volunteer their help. In both cases you need to fill in a form:

Here is the form if you need help

These are slips to download and deliver if you want to offer help to your neighbours who may be in a vulnerable group. NB: you need to do this while observing social distancing as much as is possible. Other forms of volunteer work can be found here 8pm

At 8pm many people are taking to their balconies and windows every evening to applaud the frontline workers who are keeping essential services -especially health services – open and functioning.

It’s important to make time to Skype/ Zoom/ WhatsApp/ Facetime with friends and family.  If your family is in an other country, you may have extra anxieties and feel home-sick. That’s very understandable – so if you are on Facebook you are very welcome in our group Expats in Antwerp. Not just for Covid 19 info- we have a daily chat thread each day, for general conversation, sharing news, recipes and -of course – pet pics!

Screen Shot 2020-03-24 at 12.53.26
Expats in Antwerp on Facebook

Financial support and assistance for incomes and businesses affected by Covid 19

RVA Antwerp

PMV.eu

Finally….

blogging-1168076_640If  you would like to help keep Nessascityblog going by writing a blog post for me, then now is the time! I welcome posts about how you are managing your time; the challenges and achievements of our changed circumstances; creative writing; how you are working and how your Antwerp business has been affected. Feel free to get in touch if you have an idea!

Find & Follow #nessascityblog

ON: Facebook (Events in Antwerp)

Email: nessascityblog@gmail.com

& check out #nessascityblog on Twitter & Pinterest & Instagram

 

 

 

 

When Home Is Not Safe: support during confinement

coronavirus-4939290_640Violence & abuse in the home during confinement due to Corona pandemic: support in Belgium.

I want to post about a group who are vulnerable at this time, and may be in a difficult situation which is made more difficult if you don’t speak Dutch or French; that group is women & children in abusive family situations.

For people in this group, work and school are the safe places -not home. The added dangers to them during this period of confinement are obvious. Sadly, police and support workers are expecting an increase in domestic violence and abuse. Current circumstances mean that some women and children will find themselves spending the vast majority of their days and nights at home with their abuser(s).

If this is you, or a someone you know, please be aware that there is a number to call on this website:

https://www.ecouteviolencesconjugales.be/

There is also this site, which additionally includes numbers for children and young people.:

https://1712.be/

also for children and young people: http://nupraatikerover.be./

(you can also contact this site if you are worried about someone else)

There is also this article in Nieuwsblad, but it is in Dutch and behind a pay wall – you can make an account to read a few articles for free.

https://www.nieuwsblad.be/cnt/dmf20200317_04892641…

Here is an explainer in English about contacting the police.

https://www.police.be/en

There is an app called Bright Sky, aimed at helping those affected by domestic abuse, and also those concerned about a friend, colleague or family member in this situation: https://www.hestia.org/brightsky

Screenshot 2020-03-19 at 19.57.49

PLEASE feel free to share this information in groups that you are in -or on your Facebook or Twitter status.

NB: If you supply this information to a woman or family you suspect may be at risk, please do so very carefully and discretely: abusers often monitor the communications of those who they abuse.

Find & Follow #nessascityblog

ON: Facebook (Events in Antwerp)

Email: nessascityblog@gmail.com

& check out #nessascityblog on Twitter & Pinterest & Instagram