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! 

https://www.instagram.com/p/B-zNYKQnyyR/

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Information for Parents: Secondary School Registration and Allocation in Antwerp Region

A guest post by Timo Carlier.

 

Meldjeaan.antwerpen.be 

meldjeaan
image source: meldjeaan.antwerpen.be

 

If your child is currently enrolled in Grade 6 in a local primary school – het 6e leerjaar – then it’s time to choose a school for secondary education, or secundair onderwijs. If you have not yet registered your child, you may have received a letter in the mail reminding you that this process should be completed before 5 PM on April 3rd, 2020, which is this Friday.

In the wider Antwerp region, registration is done through a centralised process, via this website: https://meldjeaansecundair.antwerpen.be/

NB: Corona virus regulations have not affected the timeline of the registration process. 

Should you miss the 3 April 2020 deadline, you will still be able to register with individual schools from 11 May 2020 onwards, but keep in mind that places will be full in some schools by this point. This late registration process closes 3 June 2020.

Gent and Brussels have their own Meldjeaan sites here: https://www.meldjeaan.be/
The registration process

I found signing up on the website straightforward. You will need your child’s rijksregisternummer (national registration number) which can be found on their ISI+ health insurance card (or on the pink stickers used for doctors), or on the back of their ID card (see pic below).

kaart
image source: halloouders.be

If your child does not have an ID card yet, it is probably best to contact your local city council, or districtshuis.

Once signed up, you can select the schools you are interested in by typing the names into a search bar and selecting the schools you want. I’ve been recommended to list at least five schools by a representative of Meldjeaan. Then rank your schools by dragging a small arrow next to each selected school’s name up or down. This is an important step; the order counts. You are now ready to complete the process, though you can revisit the site any time and make changes, up until April 3rd.

Note about 1A and 1B streams

Most children who complete primary school will need to sign up for the 1A stream in secondary school. Children who are unable to successfully complete their primary education will most likely need to choose 1B. However, if you are unsure, it is always best to ask your child’s teacher for advice.

If you are unable to access the website or don’t understand a step in the process, you can call the Meldjeaan team or email them for help (see below.

Results and registration

Results will be sent to parents on 6 May 2020, after which you should register your child at the school you have been allocated. This should be done by appointment and by contacting the school directly.

If the allocated school is not your number 1 choice, you will automatically be put on a waiting list for the schools higher up your list.

Waiting list and follow-up process

This is where things may get a little complicated. It is possible to move up your waiting list, even into the start of the academic year. Please keep the following points in mind:

 

  • Always register your child with the highest ranked school on your list you’ve been allocated
  • By doing so, the schools lower down on your list automatically fall away; this frees new spaces for other applicants
  • You will automatically be put on a waiting list for schools higher up on your list
  • If a space higher up is freed up, you will be notified and can now register with that school; the previous registration is annulled
  • You cannot register with multiple schools
  • It is perfectly acceptable to annul registrations in favour of a school higher up your list, should they become free
  • If you want to see high up on the waiting list for a particular school you are after 6 May, log back into the meldjeaan.antwerpen.be website
  • Waiting list positions are valid until 7 October 2020 (note: this is after the start of the school year!). After that, it’s best to contact the school in question directly for information.

 

Overall, this seems like a fair system to me. It certainly beats parents having to camp out in front of schools, which I’ve heard so much about. 

I have not included details about special education, or early selection for children who have older siblings already enrolled in a school, or whose parents work in Flemish education. Please contact the organisation for more information on that.

Useful information

You can find a list of secondary schools in Antwerp here. You can find information about schools and subject choices here. You can find a current list of available places in schools here. From 10 AM 8 May on, the Meldjeaan website will publish a list of remaining free places for those who have missed online registration. You can also contact them by email or phone: 0800 62 185

helpdesk.meldjeaan@antwerpen.be

classroom-2787754_640

Disclaimer: I am just a parent who has recently gone through and learned about the school registration process over a period of two years, by asking many people lots of questions (and taking lots of notes). I am not an authority on the subject, but I am sharing what I learned here. It is therefore always best to consult the helpdesk above for information.

 

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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!

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