1. My gorgeous, non-swollen feet.
2. Losing 30 lbs in 11 days, like magic!
3. Nobody asking me if this baby has been born yet.
4. I can eat far, far more.
5. I pee far, far less often.
6. No ominous feeling of dread about labor.
7. Working my way back into my real clothes.
8. No heartburn.
9. Getting to use all the cute baby stuff I've been collecting.
Recently in Pregnancy Category
1. My gorgeous, non-swollen feet.
I'm sure this goes without saying, but Buzzy has declined to make an appearance yet. My mom is here, I'm off work, and we're just...waiting. Which isn't a bad thing--it's nice to have some time to relax--but it's a little bit unnerving knowing I could go into labor at any moment and having it just not happen. I also have less and less attention span for anything, and haven't been able to come up with much to blog about. So you may not hear from me until it's baby picture time, or I may go on a tear and start blogging every day just to keep myself busy. Hard to say.
In the meantime, yesterday I got my second set of maternity pictures, taken at the same location and by the same wonderful friend photographer as the first, so I thought I'd share a few of those:
OK, first, about the Buzzy thing--I'm so sorry. I didn't mean for this to happen. You needed an in utero name, and first it was Party Boy (which is totally your dad's fault and I had nothing to do with), but that didn't really suit you, since you were so insistent so early on that I should have no fun and feel like crap. So, Erin christened you Baby Buzzkill, and it stuck. I am very much hoping that once you're born and have an actual name, the Buzzy thing will be but a distant memory, but I kinda suspect it's gonna hang on, at least in some circles.
Speaking of your name, I suppose I should also tell you that I wanted, for a few days, to name you Waylon. Your dad wouldn't let me. However, I did get the promise of a basset hound named Waylon down the line, so all is not lost.
Now then, the timing of this letter: I intended, last fall when I first got knocked up, to write you a letter monthly and save them all for you, because I thought it would be fun not only for me to record how this pregnancy thing goes, but for you, one day, to read about what it was like for me when you were on the inside. Clearly, since you've been hanging out in there for nine months and this is Letter #1, I fell down on the job. I blame the five months of puking, followed by the four months of swollen feet and anxiety. Better late than never, right?
Actually, I think I've been avoiding writing not just out of laziness and distraction, but because I don't want you to feel bad for what I'm going to say about being pregnant. That's dumb, though, because by the time you read this, you'll be smart enough to know you had nothing to do with it (though I have to tell you the truth, kid, I do sometimes feel like you're just in there fucking with me). Hopefully by the time you're old enough to ask me about it, I'll have forgotten just how much I hated pregnancy. Or I'll lie. But the truth is that being pregnant with you has been god-awful miserable and I've more or less hated every minute of it. For the first trimester-and-a-half, I was horribly sick. I lost almost 40 pounds. I couldn't eat and I threw up all the time. So it wasn't an auspicious start. Since then, it's been better, but those happy, fun second trimester side effects, like energy and glowing skin and increased sex drive? I didn't get them. Instead, I got massively swollen feet (and that, more than anything, is what has had me believing you do have some hand in this and you're just messing with me), anxiety, and high blood pressure. Now, with less than three weeks to go before you're supposed to show up, I'm just plain miserable. I don't look that big, but I feel enormous, I weigh more than I ever imagined I could (those 40 pounds came back, and brought friends), I can't sleep, I can't get comfortable, my feet are so swollen I have to wear flip flops everywhere, I've been relegated to the most atrocious clothing imaginable, and you insist on moving in the most uncomfortable way possible several times an hour, just to make sure I still know you're there. Some people don't mind being pregnant. Some people even like it. Your mom hated it.
All of that said, there is something (God help me for using this word) magical happening right now. You're on your way--the midwife told me yesterday that she'd be surprised if you were late--and we are, about as much as we're ever going to be, ready for you. We have all of the endless baby crap we need, and lots that I'm sure we don't. Your turquoise room is painted, your sleeping places are put together, your car seat is installed. We've been making a place for you in our lives for months, shifting our priorities around the same way my organs are being shifted around, so you'll fit, and now it's mostly done. All that is really missing is you.
Even after carrying you around for all of these weeks, it's still hard for me to picture you in there, growing, getting hair, starting to move down towards the exit. What I can picture, however, and have started picturing on the regular, is what you'll look like once you're on the outside. Will you look like Mark, or like me? In my mind, I've got features picked out for you, a mix of his and mine--you're a blonde baby (though I know your Grandma Irene would be especially pleased if you defeated the odds and came out red-headed), with a nose like Mark's and a mouth like mine. You come out blue-eyed, as white babies tend to do, but you end up carrying on the hazel-eyed gene I got from my dad. You are a big baby, with long fingers and toes. I know, though, that as soon as I see what you are really like, I'm not even going to remember how I imagined you'd be. You'll be exactly what you're supposed to be.
And will you be a boy or a girl? It's a subject of endless debate, though very little of it is actually between Mark and I, both of whom seem content either way. I've said since the beginning that I thought you were a girl, and I still do, though the feeling isn't particularly strong either way and I won't be surprised if you're a boy. Mark says he thinks you're a boy, but he's not convinced either way, either. My mom is sure you're a boy--she thought your 20-week ultrasound picture looked "masculine." I am reproducing said picture here just to show you how ridiculous that really is:
Yeah. Grandma Penny is a nutter.
I've been trying to figure out if, deep down, I want you to be a girl or a boy. I've always said I wanted a boy, since somebody raising boys into a new kind of men is the only way I can see any hope for the survival of our species. Turns out, though, when it's not an abstract concept anymore, I don't care so much about the survival of our species--I can imagine you fondly in any sex. I try to tease a preference out of myself, but I really can't find one.
One thing I do have a preference about, and I get about as much say in this as I do in your sex, is that you hold off your arrival until my mom gets here. I know it's important to her to be here, and it's important to me to have her here. (It's also important, most important, maybe, to your dad, who does not want to have to deal with me in labor alone.) She's coming five days before your due date, so if you can just not decide to start life as a pathologically early child, that would be great. Right on your due date would be super, but anytime during that week would work out very nicely. I tend towards the slightly late side myself, in general, so I'll probably consider it an annoyance, but also a sign that you're like me, if you hold out a few extra days. If you go buck wild and wait until the 4th of July to be born, I promise not to name you Amerika or anything, though I probably will be pretty cranky by then.
I've mentioned my anxiety a couple of times, and it's true that it's gone a bit off the rails over the past few weeks. I worry about every possible thing I could do wrong once you're here, and then I worry about the things I don't know I could do wrong and thus don't know to worry about. This is, I'm told, well within the realm of normal, though it feels a bit pathological to me. I guess anytime you embark upon something this big, and this new, you're bound to have a few pre-performance jitters. Oddly enough, the only thing I am not worried about is labor. I figure that will sort itself out, one way or the other, and the idea of pain doesn't keep me up at night nearly so well as the idea of incompetence. Then again, I may not know how to be a mom yet, but you don't even know how to be a human, so maybe you should be the one anxious one? I promise I'll help you figure it out if you do the same for me.
I guess I should explain, before I go, why this letter is here, on this blog, instead of written in longhand in a box somewhere to give to you when you turn something-teen/on your wedding day/the day of the birth of your first child/some other auspicious occasion. Mostly because I am a member of the computer generation and writing longhand hurts my hand. Also because I write better for an audience, and I'm not good with delayed gratification. You're my intended audience, but it's going to be years before you ever read this, and even then I'll probably get a completely underwhelming reaction (I'm picturing a teenaged you complaining about me being long-winded--please don't ever get the haircut I am picturing you having). This blog is where I store my stuff, random collection as it is, and it seems like as good a place as any to put this, for now. I promise that once you get big enough for the things I write about you to potential be embarrassing, I will re-think this Internet open book strategy.
As I close this letter, you've started to move around in my belly after being calm for the last hour or so. You must know I am thinking of going to bed--you're kind of a brat that way. You are big enough that your body parts are creating weird alien lumps, so that my stomach is rarely a smooth globe anymore. Right now, something I assume to be your butt looks an awful lot like a tumor just to the left of my belly button. What? I said I'd not write things that might embarrass you later, not now. As long as you're still in my body, you're totally fair game.
I can't wait to meet you. It's the thing I'm looking forward to second most in the world right now. After not being pregnant anymore. Or maybe it's the other way around...
I'm still trying to keep up with blogging a few days a week, but no promises, y'all. I'm 37 weeks pregnant and I am EXHAUSTED. Carrying this kid around has gotten to be real work!
I'm also a bit lacking in brain power--I've tried a couple of times to write posts and they've been less than coherent.
But hey, you can see what I look like!
And how I feel about it...
Getting my picture taken is not my favorite thing in the world. It's not even in the top million. Though I am more and more satisfied with my looks in general, I hate the way I photograph. Mark feels similarly. So, it was with great trepidation that we decided to have maternity photos taken. A friend of mine is an up-and-coming photographer, and she offered to take the pictures for free, and suggested a beautiful spot to do it (Meadowlark Botanical Gardens, for locals), so we bit the bullet.
And you know? It was fun. And while some of the pictures make me cringe, others are not bad at all. Though you all might like to see a few:
I don't love this picture of me--we took most of them without my glasses, and I don't look like myself, and my hair looks really strange and flat--but I love it of Mark.
This one is kind of awkward (it was a hard position for me to get into and hold), but I like the slightly mischievous look of it.
I couldn't tell you why I like this one, I just do.
I mainly think this one is funny. Funny enough, I guess, to make up for the double chin.
I think this is my favorite of the ones of just me. I like that my belly looks as enormous as it feels, and the expression on my face isn't too forced. Not crazy about my shiny-face makeup, but we'd been at it for quite a while by the time we took this one and I think I was sweaty.
This is another one I can't quite tell you why I like, but I do. It may just be the rose arbor.
This is one I am trying to like. Again, I think I look strange to myself without my glasses. My eyes are all squinty and small.
This one I love for the light, and the giant belly.
I love how Mark and I both look slightly awkward and odd here. It feels authentic.
And finally, the last picture we took, the most serious of the bunch, and my favorite:
It's possible I'll do another session with the same photographer friend--she'd like to do some more and I don't think I'd mind it. Any of you photographers or picture subject pros out there have tips to look less strange in the next bunch?
All photographs courtesy of Barbara Loxton.
Some people really don't mind being pregnant. Others even like it. It is tempting for me to believe that these people are insane, but I think the reality is that they are some combination of luckier and more patient than I. I do mind being pregnant. In fact, I really actually kinda hate being pregnant. There were a few second-early third trimester weeks there where it wasn't too bad, but mostly, it's been an endless pain in the ass, of one degree or another. And now, with just a bit over five weeks left until this baby's estimated arrival date, I am not afraid to tell you how very sick I am of it.
There are a million reasons I don't like being pregnant, but one thing that is sticking in my craw right now is something that is, for a lot of people, a minor issue (or not an issue at all). I am so damn sick of the clothes I have to wear. Maternity clothes are fugly. The non-maternity clothes I've been using to fill gaps where I can are less fugly, but limited. I feel like I've been wearing exactly the same thing for the past three months, and a lot of it doesn't even really fit this expansive belly anymore. Getting dressed irritates me every single morning. To complicate things, a friend is taking some maternity photographs of me this weekend, and she has instructed me to not wear black or white close to my face, and to avoid patterns. Which pretty much leaves me with...nothing.
So, last night, I decided I had to do something to stem the tide of irritation my lack of wardrobe was causing. Late pregnancy, it turns out, has a way of magnifying minor irritations into big freaking deals, and the last thing I wanted was to continue to be furious about my lack of style. Buying any more clothes is, at this point, pretty well out--nothing fits and the whole thing is an exercise is frustration. So, I thought maybe I'd buy a few cheap spring/summer accessories and use them to "freshen" the clothes I've been wearing.
I made only two stops--Target and Burlington Coat Factory. And, when I got home with my booty, I did feel better about my options. There are many wonderful things about accessories, but perhaps the best is that they almost always fit.
This is what I got:
-Mossimo® Red Teagan Tote (Target, fuchsia), $34.99 online, $10.49 on clearance at my store
-Mossimo Supply Co. Red Cloche Hat with Pleated Band (Target, coral band), $12.99
-Charles Klein hammered "gold" bracelet (Burlington Coat Factory), $4.99
-Lime green and turquoise beaded wrap bracelet (Burlington Coat Factory), $4.99
-Blue and brown wooden beaded bracelet (Burlington Coat Factory), $4.99
-Charles Klein multi-stand coral and gold bead necklace (Burlington Coat Factory), $7.99
-Exhilaration narrow patent belts (Target, teal and purple), $10.99 each
Some of these things were, at least ostensibly, practical. I'm increasingly worried about the effect of sun on my skin, so I'd been wanting to buy at least one hat I could wear to shade my face, and I adore the straw cloche I picked up. I wanted to get a couple of hats, but I have a big head and a lot of hair, so they didn't all fit. I've also been needing a bigger bag, and for $10, this cute fuchsia one will totally work for the time in between now and diaper bag time. Belts I've been wanting to try (I've seen some cute maternity looks with them above the bump), but none of mine are big enough right now, so I thought a couple of shiny bright ones might do the trick. For the most part, though, I bought these things to cheer myself, and my wardrobe.
This was, of course, indulgent. I'm not going to try to argue otherwise--to go out and spend $75 on off-gassing Made in China discount store baubles that aren't really needed is not every going to be anything but indulgent. However, at this stage in pregnancy, I think indulgence is warranted. Yes, I could have thrifted better stuff, cheaper, and generally that would have been my approach, but I don't have the time or the stamina to do that right now. These items are about a different kind of value, which has little to do with their inherent worth or longevity. When I put on one of my new bracelets with the same old maxi dress I've been wearing for months this morning, I *did* feel better about it. And that has value. In fact, right now, it's pretty priceless.
I am one of those women who has always felt very much "like a girl." As is, I think, not the case for everyone, it's always been clear in my head that however you conceptualize gender (a binary or a continuum or an artificial construct completely), I fall, by nature or nurture or for some other reason, pretty well on the female end of it. This has been at odds, sometimes, with how I've been treated--I assume due to my size, but maybe for other reasons as well, I've not always been treated as "girly" in some of the same ways I've heard other women describe. I've not too often felt that I was being protected, or coddled, or that I was on the receiving end of acts of chivalry.
Pregnancy has changed that. Unlike some other women, pregnancy hasn't really made me feel "more female," but it's certainly changed others' treatment of me in ways that I identify as female-specific. People (men, in particular) rush to open doors. Nobody wants me to carry anything. I am asked how I am feeling at least ten times a day. As I get progressively bigger, people are more and more helpful, or at least are trying to be. And I'm not going to lie--it's nice. When I feel badly or am having trouble getting around, it's REALLY nice. But these kinds of gender-related niceties don't come without a cost, another side to the coin, and I've noticed a good bit of that side since I've been pregnant as well.
One example that has come up over the past few days is in Mark's and my interactions with two older men, both of whom are pediatricians we're interviewing. The first interview was terrible for all kinds of reasons, but the sexist undercurrent of it was definitely one of them. First, the doctor assumed that Mark and I were brother and sister. I didn't figure out until later that his confusion came from my selecting "unmarried" on his intake form. When we told him we were the baby's parents, we just weren't married, he was puzzled and seemed perturbed, then said something about how that must be normal in "hippy, granola land" (I had previously mentioned being from Oregon). Whatever. That kind of thing happens less and less, but it does still happen. Later, he asked if "Mom" (that would be me) would be returning to work after the baby was born. No questions about "Dad's" plans. And so on and so forth.
The second interview was much better, and we may actually use that particular pediatrician. However, as I reflect on it after the fact, there were even more sexist assumptions involved. The question about "Mom" returning to work was repeated. The doctor mentioned having evening hours available for appointments "so that Dad can come, too." An anecdote about not knowing whether to call the nurse advice line or go to the ER was illustrated with a frazzled, uptight stay-at-home-mom and a father who "just wanted some dinner when he got home from work!" Most tellingly, though, even though Mark and I were both right there, the doctor addressed only me when discussing all of the baby health decisions one makes in a child's first few months of life, then addressed only Mark when discussing insurance and payment.
I can practically hear somebody out there thinking that these things aren't a big deal, and have to be written off as part of the cost of dealing with past generations. And there is some truth to that--I don't believe that any of these assumptions would preclude this doctor from providing good medical care to my baby (which is why he's still in the running). I also think, to some degree, they are par for the course when one is having a prolonged personal discussion with someone two generations older. However, these things ARE a big deal. The assumptions on which these comments were precluded are invasive, and they are harmful. Though the sexism to which I refer in the title of this post may appear, and be intended to be, benign, it's really not. The same set of assumptions that led our pediatrician candidates to ask if I'd be going back to work, but not ask the same question of Mark, are the ones that help make it harder for a woman to get hired or be taken seriously in her job. The picture the doctor painted, of a frazzled, possibly hysterical stay-at-home-mom keeps scads of women second-guessing their own judgement, intelligence, and choices. Assuming that I'd make our kid's medical decisions and Mark would pay his/her bills does both of us a disservice (aside from being simply untrue).
I'm at a bit of a loss as to how to address this type of ingrained sexism. Yes, I could have argued with each assumption as the doctor made it, but how likely would it have been to have made any difference in the mind of a man who has been practicing medicine for 50 years? I could refuse to take my child to a sexist doctor, but I'm not at all sure that would leave me with a provider at all. The best thing I can think to do is continue, as a parent, to live my life the way I have tried to so far, rejecting archaic gender assumptions in my actions. Yes, I will be returning to work. Yes, I can pay that bill. No, I don't need to ask my husband (and no, we aren't married anyway). My hope is that these actions, taken by me and millions of other women, will slowly change assumptions. I have to admit, though, that the hope feels a little pie-in-the-sky. I am realizing, as I get progressively more pregnant and as I reflect on parenthood, that it may be even harder to wiggle out from under gender-based expectations as a mother than it is as a non-mom. Another new challenge.
Over this past weekend, my brilliant friend E imparted to me the following wisdom: once you have kids, you never finish anything. She went on to explain that since her twins were born, she's never completed any task, as she's always being interrupted and moving on to the next thing without finishing whatever she's doing.
Being the overachiever that I am, I am apparently already exercising expertise in this area of mom-dom. It's not about distraction, though--this one is intentional. I'm quitting the Third Trimester 30 for 30.
Why? Lots of reasons. Dressing my rapidly expanding body in consistently inconsistent spring weather is hard enough without further limiting my options. My feet are currently so swollen that I can't wear any shoes besides flip flops. I'm so unwieldy and look and feel so little like myself that taking daily pictures feels a bit like being tortured, especially since I still can't get the self timer on my camera to take a decent shot. And I feel like I am taking up precious time blogging really boring outfits when I could be posting about more interesting topics. Basically, it's just not fun anymore, and I'm not learning anything, so I'm ditching it.
There is also a possibility that I'm going to be housebound, or something close to it, before the 30 for 30 period ends. I had some concerning test results yesterday that have my midwives thinking I may be developing pre-eclampsia. There is more testing happening over the next couple of days, so I should know more by the end of the week, but if I do have pre-e, it's possible I'm going to end up on bed rest for a few weeks, and then induced at 36 or 37 weeks gestation. Nerve wracking, and not exactly a great fashion opportunity.
Thanks for your support during my attempt at a 3rd Trimester 30 for 30! Hope nobody is horribly disappointed not to see the muumuus I will be wearing from here on in. ;)
I really love this top. I hope it fits after pregnancy. It's not maternity--it's Jones New York, and I picked it up at the thrift store. The asymetrical hemline and drape of it just makes me really happy. I've been trying to wear it for weeks, but it looks odd with any of the cardigans I chose for the 30 for 30, and it hasn't been warm enough to wear it without another layer. Finally!
And I still don't like these pants.
Also? Atticus wanted to make an appearance in the pictures this morning. I think his tabby pattern compliments my outfit nicely.
Also also? I kinda hate how I look with my hair pulled back.
Don't I look hilariously stern in this one?
-#1: Old Navy Fold-Over Wide-Legged Linen Pants, gray
-#21: Jones New York asymetrical hem sleeveless top, black, thrifted
-#24: Nine West leopard print flats
-Mossimo Long & Lean tank top, black
-resin bangle bracelets (gift)
Warm weather makes this SO much easier. I wasn't sure I'd like the sort of dull purple color of this shirt with the navy and white skirt, but I do. Also, I cannot say enough good things about this skirt. I LOVE it. So much, in fact, that I bought it in two more colors, and think it will be my late pregnancy staple item. Pretty good for a non-maternity skirt, right?
-#5: Land's End Pattern Knit Convertible Skirt, navy stripe
-#13: Liz Lange for Target Maternity Short-Sleeved Ruched Basic Tee, Flat Iris
-#26: Me Too bronze wedges
-H&M white tank top
-Forever 21 charm necklace
So why only one picture today? Well, the rest of them all looked like this one:
Bet I wouldn't have had such a smug look on my face if I'd know my necklace was caught on my boob...
Yay for some warm weather on May 1! I'm hoping I can go completely crazy later and take my cardigan off!
-#8: Merona Draped Neck Value Dress, Xavier Navy
-#9: Old Navy short-sleeved open-front cardigan, cream
-#24: Nine West leopard print flats
-painted shell necklace (gift shop)
-brown bangles and wooden beaded bracelet (Ebay or Etsy...)
This dress has been pregnancy gold. I've been wearing it for several months, it seems to grow with me, and it is SUPER comfortable. I kind of wish I'd gone with my initial impulse and bought it in several colors.
Last week, Caryn mentioned in the comments that she'd "love to see [a post] about the financial impact of a baby and how you're planning for that." This is a really, really good question, and one that has been the subject of near-endless discussion at my house for many months now. I think there are a lot of misconceptions about this subject, too, so in the spirit of Honesty Day, let's talk about the dollars and cents part of this baby equation, shall we?
I've been hanging around the alternative mommy message board scene for quite a while now, and if I've heard the following once, I've heard it a million times:
"Don't worry about money! Babies aren't expensive! You can get all of their clothes and stuff used/handed down, use cloth diapers to save money, and breastfeed!"
I'm sure that for someone, somewhere, that's true. In some utopian world, babies are so cheap as to be financially inconsequential. That is not the case in my world, however. In my world, this kid comes with a very high price tag. And I'm gonna tell you just how much, or at least as close as I can estimate.
We are really, really lucky on this count. Some people are in debt for years for the costs of prenatal care and childbirth. As Mark's domestic partner, I am allowed to be on his insurance (which he is then taxed for as compensation, which would not happen if we were legally married, but that is a digression and a rant for another day). Mark has very good insurance, and during his open enrollment period this year, when I was newly pregnant, we upgraded it to very, very good insurance. My prenatal visits, with midwives (and I will write a separate post about why I decided to go that route, another great idea from last week's comments), are 100% covered--no copays. Our two ultrasounds cost about $40 each. The two times I had to go into the hospital for IV hydration were $20 each. And my delivery, depending on the specifics, will be no more than a couple of hundred dollars. If there are no complications, it may be less. As soon as s/he's on the outside, the baby will be covered by the same insurance, without an additional premium payment on Mark's part, and it will be similarly fantastic coverage. Like I said, we're VERY lucky.
In reality, though, our case is becoming the exception rather than the rule. It is hard to estimate what other folks are shelling out for prenatal care and delivery, but it runs into the the thousands, and if you have to pay for it completely, can be $8K or more for an uncomplicated pregnancy and delivery, and skyrocket into tens of thousands if there are any issues, even relatively minor ones.
There are also non-doctor medical costs. Prenatal vitamins, massage/chiropractic care/physical therapy if that becomes necessary, the incredibly useful maternity pillow...these things add up. I haven't been keeping track, but I'd say they've come to a couple hundred dollars over the course of my pregnancy.
I could write a many, many page treatise about being prepared for the cost of day care. Day care, particularly full-time care for an infant, is extraordinarily expensive. I am not talking extended cable expensive, or car payment expensive, or student loan expensive. I'm talking mortgage/rent expensive, or "I could send my kid to college for that!" expensive. For many people, even with only one child, day care represents the largest of their monthly financial outlays, or at least the second largest, after housing. That will be the case for us. The day care centers on my list of options range from about $1,300 to over $2,000 a month (the one we chose lands in the middle of that range). You have to be pretty well off for a new $1,300+ monthly bill to not significantly change your financial situation.
Are there cheaper options? Some, but not a lot. An in-home day care, rather than a center, might cost a few hundred a month less. But finding and vetting one is, at least from my experience so far, a much more complicated process. There is also the question of reliability--a single provider might get sick or have an emergency that would preclude the kid going to day care, and a center likely won't. A nanny would, of course, be more expensive.
And this is the point at which someone inevitably pipes up with the stay-at-home option. I have lots to say about that, and I'm not sure how much of it I want to say here, in fear of mass alienation of readers. The bottom line is that having a stay-at-home parent is not an option that is even under consideration for my family. It would be a financially disastrous idea, even if one of us were willing to put our careers on-hold to do it, which we are not. So day care is, in our case, a necessity.
The amount in lost income a baby represents is completely variable. Some people, I hear, actually have paid maternity leave! Needless to say, I don't. In fact, as a contractor, I'm not even covered by FMLA, so, in theory, taking time off to have a baby and recover from labor and all that could lose me my job. Doesn't look like that is going to happen, but it could. However, the time I take off (which will be at least 8 weeks and may be up to 12, depending on how things go) is going to cost us. Because I have a short-term disability policy that covers childbirth recovery, some of my lost wages will be re-cooped, but a lot of people are not that lucky. I estimate the time I'm taking off will cost me between $5,000 and $7,500.
The big ticket items
Though it's popular to say that you don't actually NEED any of that "fancy baby crap," the truth is that most people use a lot of the items that are sold for babies. They may not strictly be necessities, but they make life a lot easier/more pleasant. And Mark and I are going into this with the idea that it's going to be hard enough without trying to be spartan about it. So we're buying a good few baby items. Note, though, that none of them are the top-of-the-line version--we're trying to be as moderate as possible, getting things that are of a quality that will see us through, but knowing that, since we're only planning to have one child, we won't need them to last a lifetime.
Carseat: This is one everybody pretty much agrees you shouldn't skimp on. We got lucky here, again, because we're inheriting a barely-used seat from a trusted source (you shouldn't go in for used seats if you don't know/trust their providence, since seats that have been in accidents need to be replaced). The seat we're inheriting is the Chicco KeyFit 30. If we had to pay for it? It would be somewhere between $150 and $200.
Stroller: A good jogging stroller is an important purchase for us, since Mark plans to take the baby on lots of walks with Ata. Yes, we could just use a wrap, and likely he will early on, but babies get big fast, and we believe we'll get good use out of a stroller. We aren't totally sure which model we'll be purchasing yet, but the one we're leaning towards is the Baby Jogger Summit. The price tag? $400.
Crib: Lots of people don't use cribs. Others have fully decorated nurseries. We're taking an in-between path. We do plan to purchase and use a crib (more on that later), but aren't planning to purchase any fancy bedding sets (just fitted sheets and mattress protectors) or have a theme, or anything like that. Cribs come in a pretty wide variety of shapes, sizes, and costs. Many of them are designed to "grow with" the kid and covert to toddler beds, then twin beds, and even full-sized beds. That seems like decent sense. We've looked at quite a few, and decided we're probably going to go with the Graco Signature Convertible Crib, which runs around $200. That's just the crib, though--we'll still need to buy a crib mattress (for anywhere from around $40 to about $200) and lots of fitted sheets.
Co-Sleeper: After giving it a lot of thought, Mark and I decided to go ahead and a get a co-sleeper. A co-sleeper is a small, bassinet-like thing that attaches right to your bed for the baby to sleep in for the first few months of life. The idea is that night nursing will be made much easier by the kid being right there (as well watching him/her sleep and not freaking about whether or not s/he is breathing), but s/he won't actually be in bed with us. It's a bit of a middle path between putting the baby in his/her own room in a crib immediately and true co-sleeping. Again, there are a list of reasons behind this decision, but that's probably another post in and of itself. The basic model co-sleeper we're going to get, the Arm's Reach Mini, costs about $150. It comes with a mattress and one fitted sheet, so we'll just have to buy a few more sheets for it and we'll be set.
So, why BOTH the crib and the co-sleeper? Well, due to the weight limits on it, the baby will only be able to sleep in the co-sleeper for a few months (up to 4 or 5 months, probably), and will then need to transition to the crib. We also plan to do naps in the crib from the beginning, so that s/he will immediately get used to sleeping by him/herself.
Pack N Play: This is another thing that I'm sure at least one person is going to say we don't need, but I think will be useful. We live in a three-story house. Our bedroom, and the baby's bedroom, are on the third floor. Our main living space is on the second. I want a place to lay the baby down downstairs, or even a place for him/her to nap there. A bassinet or Moses basket would work, but only while s/he is very small--a Pack N Play will have utility later, as well, and also give us a place to do diaper change that isn't the floor. We're going with a mid-range model, with a bassinet attachment for when the babe is small and a changing station, probably the Graco Pack 'n Play Playard with Newborn Napper Station. It will cost about $150.
Other furniture: This is an area where we are more or less skimping. We're not buying a dresser for the baby--the are a set of open shelves already in his/her room that we plan to use for storage. We were going to buy a changing table, but I got extremely lucky at the thrift store a couple of weeks ago and found this $350 changing table in great shape for $25. We will just need a pad and some covers for it. Since the kid already has a pretty good book collection, we'll probably need to pick up a bookshelf for his/her room, but hopefully that can be thrifted as well. The only other piece of furniture we're considering is a glider, for rocking and nursing. We haven't picked anything out yet, but the cost on those looks to be anywhere from $150 on up, and we'll probably go with something at the lower end of the range.
Lots of people swear by cloth diapers for money-saving purposes, and I get the logic, but honestly, it's not gonna happen. Even if I were willing to take on the extra mess and laundry, we'd have to go with half-time disposables as soon as the kid goes to day care anyway. Doesn't seem worth the initial diaper outlay. So, we're going to use disposables. Cost estimates on that vary (depending, often, on whether whomever does the estimate wants you to use cloth or disposable), but we're tentatively planning for $50-$75/month. Then there are wipes, creams, etc. for a few bucks more.
And here is where it gets REALLY political. If you are pregnant, or thinking of getting pregnant, or, you know, female at all, somebody will, at some point, tell you that nursing is free. Nursing is not free, at least not in the great majority of cases. It may be cheaper than formula-feeding (though, in my case, I'm not sure that's going to be true), but it's not free.
How not? Well, the first thing to consider is the increased caloric need of the nursing mom. More calories=more food=more money. But that's probably not a huge outlay, and it's hard to estimate, so I'm not going to dwell on it. There are also nursing supplies--Bobby and cover, nursing pads, nipple creams, etc.--those things will add up a bit, but again, not a huge outlay. The real costs, from what I can tell, come from the combination of nursing and working. Pumps, especially pumps that are decent enough to make pumping at work doable for a lot of women, are not cheap. There are several pump options, at a variety of cost points, from small manual pumps to hospital grade versions. Sometimes, you can even rent pumps. I'm not sure what I am going to do yet--it's going to depend on how things go--but probably if nursing works out well enough for me to commit to several daily pumping sessions at work, I'll need to go with something like the Medela Pump in Style Advanced, which runs about $350. It is possible insurance will cover it, I haven't figured that out yet.
There's also the time factor. While time to pump at work is protected, it's not paid. So whatever time it takes me to pump at work each day is time I am off the clock, and thus a loss in my hourly income. It's hard to estimate how big a bite that will take, since I have no idea how well pumping will or won't work or how much time it will demand, but my guess is that it won't be insubstantial.
There will be other smaller costs associated with pumping, as well, including sterilization bags, bottles or bags in which to store/freeze milk, etc.
Clearly, I plan to attempt breastfeeding. However, I am not afraid to go to formula if I feel that is what we need to do, or to do a combination of formula and breast milk. That leads to a new set of costs--bottles, nipples, a microwave sterilizer (I'm told this is key), a drying rack...I actually got a number of these things as shower gifts, so it won't likely add up to all that much for me, but they're still costs. Then there is the formula itself. Again, cost estimates vary greatly depending on who is doing the estimating, but the most reasonable sounding numbers I've seen estimate full-time formula use at $80-$120/month.
Then there is the assorted baby stuff. Clothes, blankets, pacifiers, burp cloths, and on and on and on. I have no way to quantify how much that all costs, as it is so highly variable, depending on how much of you get as gifts, where/what you buy, and so on. We haven't spent much at all on that sort of stuff yet, as we've been VERY generously gifted, but I expect it will start to add up once the kid is here and we see exactly what we need and don't have.
So a very rough total estimate? Somewhere around $7,000-$9,500 initial layout, then another additional $2,000 or so in monthly expenses. Not exactly cheap. In fact, I think you'd be hard pressed to argue that doesn't totally change the financial picture.
Getting back to Caryn's question, she asked how we're planning for this financial hit. We've actually been planning for it for quite some time. When Mark and I first started talking about having a baby, there was a certain amount of money he wanted to see in our emergency savings account before we started trying. Mark is a lot more financially conservative than I am, and I thought the number he wanted to shoot for was ridiculous. So, we negotiated, and came up with a new number, as well as a target date for getting to that number and a target date to start trying to conceive. When the TTC date came, we weren't quite to the savings goal, but it was within reach, and so we went for it.
Since I've been pregnant, we've gotten a bit more serious. What we decided to do was to start pretending that the biggest baby expense (day care) was already upon us, and "paying" it into our savings account. We've been doing that for the last six or seven months. This serves two purposes. First, it gets us used to the great level of financial austerity needed to work an additional $1,500/month or so into our budget. Secondly, it helps us to get to that savings goal we talked about. It has worked out well. As there always are, there have been some large unexpected expenses (veterinary expenses, as it turns out, which I will post about on another day), so our savings is not quite where we'd like it to be, but it's close(ish), and I feel pretty secure that we've been responsible about planning the financial side of this.
Honestly, I am at a loss as to how people who aren't so lucky as Mark and I have been, financially, make this work. Obviously the cost of living here is quite high, and that makes things like day care more expensive, but even in places with a lower COL, it's significant. And the medical expenses some people face are extraordinary. Then you add up the little things, and even if you try to go bare-bones, it isn't cheap. It's a daunting financial proposition. Which is why I find the "it will all work out! babies are cheap!" line of discussion so very frustrating. I just don't see how that reflects reality for the great majority of people.
None of this is to say that I am sorry we're doing this. I'm so, so not. I am just really thankful to be doing it now, when we're in such a privileged financial position. It would be extremely stressful to be facing all of these new costs without the cushion we've been able to build, and without the good, stable jobs we've been able to find. We're extraordinarily lucky.
I dunno about today. I was going for that sorta flowy Eileen Fisher look, but I think I missed the mark. Maybe by a lot.
-#4: Mossimo Convertible Maxi Skirt, black
-#11: Mossimo Ultra-Soft Cocoon Sweater, seaweed
-#20: m.e. sleeveless tunic, white (Marshall's)
-#25: Aerosoles Laser Printz Ballet Flats, dark orange
-teal, green, and blue striped linen scarf (thrifted)
Confession: I'm not actually wearing 30 for 30 clothes today. Why? Because every single bottom half-covering option is in the laundry. I'm not leaving the house anyway, so I don't suppose it much matters. However, I wore TWO 30 for 30 outfits yesterday--one for during the day, when I went thrifting, and another for an evening spent having dinner with friends. So we're still on track.
During the day I wore:
-#1: Old Navy Fold-Over Wide-Legged Linen Pants, gray
-#10: Mossimo Ultra-Soft Cocoon Sweater, coral
-#13: Liz Lange for Target Maternity Short-Sleeved Ruched Basic Tee, Flat Iris
-#28: Teva Mandalyn Wedge Flip Flops
-H&M tank top, black
-Broken Plate Pendant Company necklace
Then, in the evening:
-#6: Liz Lange for Target Maternity Sleeveless Maxi Dress, gray/red/purple (belt removed)
-#(alternate)10: Old Navy open-front short-sleeved cardigan, cream
-#25: Aerosoles Laser Printz Ballet Flats, dark orange
-gold concentric circles necklace (gift)
-gold, pink, and purple beaded wrap bracelet (Forever 21, I think)
I don't like these shoes with this, but it was raining too hard for sandals last night, so they were the best of bad options. The cardigan isn't really right, either, but none of the 30 for 30 cardis work very well with it. I really, really love the dress, though. So, of course, I spilled something on it last night. Hopefully it will come out in the laundry today.
I think today's outfit is kind of cute. This skirt has really become a staple. I also added item #29 today, another cardigan, since the weather is insisting on layers.
-#3: Thyme Maternity denim skirt (hand-me-down)
-#18: Old Navy short-sleeved notch-collar tunic, black
-#24: Nine West leopard print flats
-#29: Old Navy gray jersey open cardigan (thrifted)
So has anybody else noticed how big I am starting to look? Wow.
This cardigan is a substitution. The black cropped one from H&M that I'd included as my original #9 item doesn't fasten across my chest anymore, even though it did less than two weeks ago. Ah, pregnancy boobs.
-#7: Mossimo Color-Block Maxi Dress, navy/orange/white (from last year)
-(alternate)#9: Old Navy open short-sleeved cardigan, cream (from last year)
-#15: Liz Lange for Target Maternity Short-Sleeved Ruched Basic Tee, Vermillion Red (really coral)
-#27: Bass Joanne Sandals, Cinnamon
-Missoni for Target striped scarf
-wooden and bead wrap bracelet (no idea where I got it)
This outfit solves a problem I've been having--using the dress as a skirt by layering a shirt over it allows me to wear an ever-shortening (I keep telling myself they're shrinking, but I don't think they are) shirt without worrying about layering over a tank or exposing belly. Nice. Other than that, though, I can't say I'm a huge fan of this outfit. I just look so...big.
Yawn. I'm sorry, y'all. I'd like for these 3rd trimester 30 for 30 posts to be more interesting, but they just...aren't. I am rather absurdly proud of how the colors of my sweater and shoes are repeated in my necklace today, though.
-#5: Land's End Pattern Knit Convertible Skirt, navy stripe
-#11: Mossimo Ultra-Soft Cocoon Sweater, seaweed
-#16: Old Navy Maternity Slub-Knit V-Neck Tee, white
-#25: Aerosoles Laser Printz Ballet Flats, dark orange
-H&M white tank top
-orange and dark green stone necklace (gift)
This shirt? Too short. And it's a maternity tee. Life is hard for the long-of-torso, folks.
The Mary Tyler Moore-ness of these pictures cracks me up. I'm not sure about this scarf--I got it from the free swag room at BlogHer, and I like it a lot, but it's just not the right color for me. At least it's bring and spring-y, though, right? Unfortunately, the rest of this outfit really isn't--it looked a lot better without the leggings, but it was 40 degrees at my house this morning, so warmth won out.
Also? Interestingly, at this point in pregnancy, none of the things I am wearing today are maternity clothes.
-Victoria's Secret Yoga Leggings, gray
-Boden polka dot scarf
Wow, I look seriously unthrilled in these pictures. And to be honest, I was. It is gray and raining and cold and nasty here, and probably not a good day for me to have chosen a monochromatic ensemble like this one. That said, I didn't choose many cool-weather clothes for my 30 for 30, so I had to make due with what I had.
I'm really starting to hate these shoes...
-hinged silver owl necklace (Ebay)
It is a rainy, dreary day here in NoVA. It's quite likely that I will not leave the house. In which case, I see no reason to even pretend I'm going to wear shoes.
-#2: Motherhood Secret Fit Belly Super Stretch Boot Cut Maternity Jeans
-#11: Mossimo Ultra-Soft Cocoon Sweater, seaweed
-#14: Liz Lange for Target Maternity Short-Sleeved Ruched Basic Tee, Haywire Purple
-H&M tank top, gray
-three strand red, lavender, and green necklace (gift)
Yay, weekend! Today's planned activities include a trip to Babies R Us and a manicure/pedicure appointment. The weather is probably not going to cooperate with this outfit all day, but it's nice right now, so I'm going to risk it.
These pictures are really weird. Sorry about that.
-#2: Motherhood Secret Fit Belly Super Stretch Boot Cut Maternity Jeans
-#20: m.e. sleeveless tunic, white (Marshall's, I think it may be a swimsuit cover-up)
-#28: Teva Mandalyn Wedge Flip Flops
-Old Navy Maternity black tank top
-red shell circle necklace (no idea)
-turquoise threaded bangle bracelets (from last summer...Ebay, I think?)
I really like this top/tunic/whatever. I'm not sure how actually useful it's going to be, as far as wearing it lots of different ways, but I think it's cute like this, and it makes me feel less like a house. So there's my maternity fashion advice for the day--don't neglect to look at the swimsuit cover ups!
When I pictured myself pregnant, this is the kind of outfit I assumed I'd wear. It's cute, right? Like normal clothes, only with a big belly. So, of course, this is the kind of outfit that I rarely wear. I just bought this shirt, though, and I love it (yay Target!). It's comfortable, long enough, flattering, and seems on-trend. I am tempted to get a navy and white one as well.
How huge does my belly look in that right picture? I kinda love it.
-#3: Thyme Maternity denim skirt (hand-me-down)
-#11: Mossimo Ultra-Soft Cocoon Sweater, seaweed (why yes, this IS the same sweater as Day 3 in a different color!)
-#23: Merona Maternity Scoop-Neck Shirred Side Fashion Tank, Ebony/Cocoa striped
-#24: Nine West leopard print flats
-H&M black tank top (hand-me-down)
-wooden beaded wrap bracelet (no idea)
-yellow paper bead necklace (gift)
My feet are really too swollen for these shoes. :(
I am now apparently losing quality when I crop/resize my photos. Why is this so hard for me?
-H&M white tank top
-Forever 21 tassel necklace
-Chico's bangle bracelets (gift)
This dress has become one of my favorite maternity pieces. It's not a maternity dress--I bought it from the regular section at Target last summer--but it's always been a bit big in the chest. Which means it fits perfectly now. I think the orange band under the bust is really flattering for the pregnant bod, too, since it serves as a delineation between my chest and my belly and I look less like one large blob.
I don't like these shoes with this, as they are orange, but not the same orange as the band on the dress, but I'm just about out of shoe options, even if I were willing to add another pair or two to my 30for30 lineup. My feet are staying swollen most of the day/night now, and most of my shoes simply do not fit. These ones only barely fit--they aren't comfortable. It really is flip flops time, but I just can't bring myself to do it. Still, I'd lay money that by the end of this 30for30, unless something changes drastically, you're going to be seeing flip flops with most outfits.
It's only Day 4 and I am already frustrated with my 30 for 30 choices. I don't know if it's that I chose badly or just that I don't have a lot of options at this size/shape, but nothing seems quite right, and I know I don't have enough bottoms, with only three skirts and one pair of ill-fitting pants to get me through a week. So...yeah. I'm going to try to stick this challenge out, but I'm not feeling terribly confident today.
Also, I don't know if you can see it well in these pictures, but I am wearing Fresh Sugar Lip Balm in the new coral color, and I LOVE it.
I did not know how bad these pants looked until I saw today's pictures. Eek. And the pictures are still not good--how can it be this difficult to get a decent timer picture from an auto-focus camera??
These pictures are making me absolutely crazy. And I can't find online help for the issue I am having. And of course I can't find the manual for the camera. Ideas?
-#1: Old Navy Fold-Over Wide-Legged Linen Pants, gray
-#10: Mossimo Ultra-Soft Cocoon Sweater, coral
-#19: Motherhood 3/4 sleeved tunic, black/white striped
-#26: Me Too bronze wedges
-Missoni for Target chevron striped silk scarf
-Jewelmint Honey Bee ring
OK, Day 2! It's still pretty warm here, so I'm keeping myself pretty well un-layered. I love this shirt--this one is not coral, but true red, and red clothes always make me feel better. And I am curious to see if the shoes are going to last all day, as the vamp is kind of low and my feet are very swollen...
Also, the pictures. Are terrible. I know. I'm working on it, I promise.
-#4: Mossimo Convertible Maxi Skirt, black
-#17: Merona Maternity Short-Sleeved Tuxedo Front Fashion Top, Ruby Hill
-#24: Nine West leopard print flats
-concentric circles silver necklace, Ebay
-agate pendant, Ebay
Notice a Target theme at all? Yep. Target is my spot for maternity clothes.
Now, about this skirt and flats combo--does it read super frumpy to you? I love maxi length skirts/dresses, but wearing them with flats is just NOT working for me. I feel SO frumpy! Unfortunately, the sandals I wore yesterday are out for bad swelling days, as the straps cut off my circulation. I miss heels.
Here we go! As I warned, it may not be the most cutting edge style ever...
Today is predicted to be in the mid-to-high 80s here (yay!), so it seemed like an excellent time for a spring-y start to my 30for30 challenge.
Apologies in advance for the quality of my pictures--my new camera and I are still having some trouble getting used to one another. I hope to spend some time with the manual tonight and figure out how to take a better shot.
-#5, Land's End Pattern Knit Convertible Skirt, navy stripe
-#15, Liz Lange for Target Maternity Short-Sleeved Ruched Basic Tee, Vermillion Red (but it's actually coral, as it appears, not red at all)
-#27, Bass Joanne Sandals, Cinnamon
To me, the most notable things about this outfit are the sandals and the color of the shirt. Both are, for me, departures. Orange/tangerine/coral are the rage right now, and they are not colors I've ever found to be flattering before. However, I'm trying them out now, and I'm happily surprised with how they look! When I ordered this shirt, I thought it was going to be red, and a year ago I would have sent it back for not being red. This year, I kept it, and I think I like it! The coral color is more fresh with the navy and white skirt than red would be, and less "patriotic." The sandals are something I have wanted for years--these classic Bass styles just remind me of the 70s, in a good way. But I've always avoided them because I thought they would come off as frumpy, especially on my boat-feet. Right now, though, when comfort really is job #1, seemed like a great time to try them, and now that I have them on, I'm not sure they're anywhere near as frumpy as I'd worried. If they are? Screw it, I'm a pregnant lady!
This outfit is incredibly comfortable, all soft jersey material, easily adapting to my shape. I'm sure a variation on it will be a staple for this 30for30.
Tomorrow, I will be 30 week weeks pregnant. In celebration of this milestone, it seems an excellent time to start the Maternity 30for30 I've been threatening. Since I'm in my least-attractive-stage-of-pregnancy third trimester, and for the sake of alliteration, I'm calling in the 3rd Trimester 30for30.
Don't remember what a 30for30 is? The 30for30 challenge is the brainchild of fashion blogger extraordinaire Kendi. The idea is simple--restrict yourself to 30 items from your closet for 30 days, don't repeat any outfits. Generally, Kendi hosts these events a few times a year and lots of other bloggers play along with her. I've done it twice myself, in February-March and June-July, 2011. There isn't a 30for30 going on right now, so I can't join up with a group, but I'm going to do my own, using the same rules.
So why on Earth would I make dressing my changing-daily body even more difficult at this point in pregnancy? A few reasons. First, a part of the 30for30 is to stop shopping for 30 days, since you can't wear anything you buy anyway. I need that. I keep buying maternity clothes, not because they're so great, but because I keep thinking there has to be something out there that is better than what I've got. Which is, I know, faulty logic. I'm also interested in keeping closer tabs on how my body is changing during this late pregnancy stage, and taking daily pictures of myself wearing the same clothes will make that easy. In my previous 30for30 attempts, by body was changing via diet and exercise, and it was fun to document that. This ought to be even more dramatic. Another reason is that this will give me a way to organize my thoughts around maternity dressing, of which there are many and most are not kind. I've been trying to write posts about it for the past few weeks and haven't come up with much, so hopefully a daily reckoning will help with that. It's also, honestly, an exercise in humility. This is certainly not the most attractive, or the most fashionable, I have ever felt. My options, even without limiting myself to only 30 items, are pretty darn limited right now, and seem to be getting more so every day. So I set myself this challenge, and think it will be something fun to look back on when I am back in my regular clothes.
I am giving myself a bit of 30for30 leeway, though, on account of being pregnant. I currently need to wear a base layer (typically a tank top) under a lot of things I normally wouldn't, and I am not going to count those tank tops among my 30 items. Same goes with leggings, though I don't think I'll be needing those as much now as the weather gets warmer. I'm also making a rule that if something has not yet been worn and, upon my first attempt to wear it, I find I've already outgrown it, I can replace it--I tried to pick things that have a bit of room left in, so that won't happen, but no guarantees. There is also the shoe issue. I am having a lot of problems with foot swelling, and it's possible that my feet will swell out of any or all of the shoes I picked for this challenge. If that happens, I'm not going to go barefoot. Probably not, anyway. Finally, I left myself a couple of "wild card" spots, where I'll fill in my 29th and 30th items later. I'm guessing these spots are going to be filled with shoes, but I'm allowing myself to fill then however I need to as time goes on.
Tomorrow will be Day 1, and you'll see my first outfit. Until then, here is what I am working with:
#1: Old Navy Fold-Over Wide-Legged Linen Pants, gray
#2: Motherhood Secret Fit Belly Super Stretch Boot Cut Maternity Jeans
#6: Liz Lange for Target Maternity Sleeveless Maxi Dress, gray/red/purple
#7: Mossimo Color-Block Maxi Dress, navy/orange/white
#8: Merona Draped Neck Value Dress, Xavier Navy
#13: Liz Lange for Target Maternity Short-Sleeved Ruched Basic Tee, Flat Iris
#14: Liz Lange for Target Maternity Short-Sleeved Ruched Basic Tee, Haywire Purple
#15: Liz Lange for Target Maternity Short-Sleeved Ruched Basic Tee, Vermillion Red (really coral)
#16: Old Navy Maternity Slub-Knit V-Neck Tee, white
#17: Merona Maternity Short-Sleeved Tuxedo Front Fashion Top, Ruby Hill
#18: Old Navy short-sleeved notch-collar tunic, black
#19: Motherhood 3/4 sleeved tunic, black/white striped
#20: m.e. sleeveless tunic, white (Marshall's, I think it may be a swimsuit cover-up)
#21: Jones New York asymetrical hem sleeveless top, black, thrifted
#22: Calypso for Target sleeveless silk and crochet top, purple patterned
#23: Merona Maternity Scoop-Neck Shirred Side Fashion Tank, Ebony/Cocoa striped
Choosing the clothes was interesting, as it really drove home that the pieces I'm relying on are largely from Target, and a lot of them are not maternity clothes. These are both things that surprise me--I wouldn't have guessed either to be true when I started gathering maternity clothes. Another thing that was weird when I was picking these out was realizing that a lot of the first round of maternity clothes I purchased over the winter don't fit anymore. That is why this collection is so short on pants--I don't have any that fit comfortably. Constant evolution.
I am not overwhelmingly excited about these choices. They seem pretty blah to me, honestly, and the shoes just depress me. But I tried to be realistic about what I could wear comfortably and still be at least marginally work-appropriate, so we'll see how it goes.
With the help of my good friend E., who is the mom of nearly 11-month old twins and one of my pregnancy and parenting gurus, I'm going to be doing a series of posts highlighting the stuff one really needs to have on-hand for a new baby. I'm doing this 99 percent for my own use--once I have something posted here, I know I'll be able to find it again--but also because I thought currently or future-pregnant readers might find it useful. In that same vein, I thought I'd start the series with a post on what the newly pregnant lady should buy/obtain for herself. I got a lot of good advice when I was first pregnant, some of which I did not follow, or did not follow as quickly as I ought to have, and it seems like good citizenship to pass it along.
Please realize this list is by no means comprehensive, and it's based on the specific pregnancy experience I have had--everybody is different.
Things to buy when you find out you're pregnant
1. Maternity body pillow.
Don't wait until you think you need one of these--if you know you need it, you're already uncomfortable. Buy one at the beginning. Seriously. I bought mine at around 14 or 15 weeks, and I can't tell you how much difference in made in my sleep. I definitely could have used it earlier. The one I bought is the Leachco Back 'N Belly Contoured Body Pillow, and it has worked great for me, but other people swear by the Snoogle and the Boppy.
When you are pregnant, your boobs typically grow. This starts early, and it's not comfortable. DO NOT keep wearing the same ill-fitting bras, thinking "well, I'll wait until they're finished growing to get new ones." Your life is too short for that kind of constant discomfort. Either resign yourself to buying new bras a couple of times over the course of your pregnancy/post-natal period, or buy some soft, wireless, expandable bras, like the Motherhood Maternity Wrap Nursing Sleep Bra, which I am told is useful from early pregnancy all the way through breastfeeding. This particular bra doesn't work very well for me, at least not yet, because a sleep bra isn't anything I have needed so far, and they are cut so far in that they show under most of my clothes, making them fairly useless for daily wear. However, I haven't totally given up on the ones I bought, because I can see how they'd be useful after the baby is born. Especially since the bras I am wearing right now, which are two sizes larger than the ones I started this pregnancy with, are almost inevitably going to be too small at that time.
It's probably true that moisturizing your belly and other stretch-mark likely areas doesn't keep the stretch marks away, but you should do it anyway, starting early. Why? Because stretching skin ITCHES, and keeping it supple makes it itch less. My two favorite products for this are Bio Oil and Mama Mio Tummy Rub Stretch Mark Oil. Pregnancy seems to dry out your skin in general, too, so you may want to make sure you're well-stocked with regular body lotion, facial lotion, and lip balm, as well.
4. Flat shoes.
Some pregnant women happily traipse along in heels until the very end. I didn't. By the end of the first trimester, my balance was so bad that heels were seriously a danger to me and to the kid. And so I begrudgingly switched to flats. At this point, my feet are such a puffy mess that anything but pretty accommodating shoes are out anyway. However, please don't feel like you have to just give up and wear Crocs or Birks or whatever your equivalent is, at least not until you really do have to (I can see that I may well yet get there). There are cute and stylish flats that are still comfortable. My favorite brands are Naturalizer and Aerosole, but you may find something else works best for you.
5. Prenatal vitamins.
This is one everybody probably already knows, but it doesn't hurt to mention it. Start taking prenatal vitamins as soon as you find out you're pregnant, or, ideally, before you even get pregnant. You want something you can stomach, with DHA and folic acid.
Trust me. Just have it on hand.
7. Soft waisted clothes.
Even before you get big enough for maternity clothes, it's likely that you will be bothered by restrictive waistbands around your newly-sensitive stomach. Soft waisted clothes are wonderful during this period. I lived in yoga pants at home and jersey dresses and skirts for work.
This one didn't really apply to me at the beginning, because I was too sick to eat much during the whole first and part of the second trimester, but many pregnant women find access to constant snacks really important. Things like nuts, energy bars, etc. are great for this. Lately, as I've able to eat again and needing to eat regularly to moderate slightly wacky blood sugar, I've started stashing Luna bars in my desk, purse, and car. Are they a nutritionally perfect diet building block? No, but they're easy to grab and eat when what you need is simply some instant calories.
From what I can tell, most pregnancy books are more bad than good--they're bossy, fear-mongering, and generally massively unhelpful. However, you're probably going to want some sort of reference material. I like the week-by-week style books, as I'm fascinated with what is happening developmentally each week. You have to be able to just take what you need and leave the rest, though. Really.
10. Heating pad.
Not all pregnant women get back pain, at least not early on. However, a good number do, and it totally and completely sucks, especially in combination with everything else that is going on. Be sure you have a heating pad of some sort to help with it.
11. Something for self care.
This one is really individual, but I think it's important. Pregnancy is hard on you, physically and emotionally, and it can start being hard on you really early. Anything you can do, or you can get the people around you to do, to make your life easier, is a good thing. There are lots of "typical" things that people suggest--massage, pedicures, setting aside special blocks of time for yourself, whatever. Those are ALL good suggestions, and what works for you depends on you. But don't forget yourself in this process. It's easy to focus on everything you need to do to grow a healthy baby, and all of the pressure of impending parenthood, and not stop to think about ways to nurture your body and your mind during what is a pretty damn tough time. So try to keep that on your list.
What essentials did I miss? Mamas and other pregnant women, speak up in the comments!
Today is a big day for me and my passenger--we're turning the corner into the third trimester. Today marks 27 pregnant weeks!
Thought I'd show you how we're faring:
(Pardon the goofy pictures--I haven't worked out the self-timer on my new camera yet, and Mark is not the world's best photographer.)
I'm feeling pretty good, with one notable exception. My feet. The swelling. Oh my Lord. I knew pregnant feet swelled, but I didn't expect this much puffy action so early on. Wanna see? Of course you do:
Nobody worry--my blood pressure is fine and all that, it's just fluid retention. Nasty though, right?
That said, I'd much rather deal with foot swelling (and, OK, back pain and awkwardness) than the incredible first eighteen weeks of nausea and exhaustion. If the third trimester can keep in the same spirit as the second half of the second one, I'll be just fine.
For the fashion-curious, I'm wearing:
Merona® Womens Draped Neck Value Dress in Xavier Navy (Target)
Merona® Womens Pointelle Cardigan Sweater in Elephant (Target)
Aerosoles Women's Laser Printz Ballet Flats in Dark Orange Suede (Amazon)
Pendant from Broken Plate Pendant Company
Wrapped bangles from Exotic Bangles
Also, I have to show you this outtake picture from this morning, because I think it's just too funny. This is apparently what my face looks like when I'm not posing:
I've always liked to name things. Even as a kid, I remember having lists of potential baby names. I don't think I was ever sure I really wanted offspring, but I was positive I wanted to name them! (Note here that it is very lucky that I grew up a bit before actually procreating, as the name I remember best from one list was Patience Paisley...) I've named the majority of our pets (Chance, Atticus, Atakan, Illy--all the ones who didn't come pre-named or came with names we just couldn't stand keeping). I don't name inanimate objects, but I did give one of my middle school teachers' daughter her middle name. I just like names. It's not surprising, then, that baby naming was one of the parts of this whole process that I was both excited and trepidatious about.
For some folks I know, naming is a really arduous process, involving books, lists, cross-referencing, and long battles with one's partner. I was a bit afraid that's the route we'd go, but, as it turned out, Mark and I choose potential names for this kid with almost no fuss. No books were ever consulted, and we didn't argue.
Yep, that's right, chose. This baby is named. We have one name selected for a boy, one for a girl, and we plan to use those. I didn't realize it before, but a lot of people find that really weird. I've had multiple friends and family members wonder how we can possibly be sure about names without having met the baby. Which is a good question. For me, the answer is two-fold. First, I don't expect that "meeting" the baby, that is, my first few hours or days of interactions with him/her, are going to give me a great idea of his/her personality. I may take this back in a few months, but it has been my experience up until now that newborns are more alike than different. In order to really wait to name the baby until I "get to know" him/her, I'd have to take weeks or even months. Which is the second thing--for whatever reason, and it's not one I can articulate, it's very important to me that this baby is named right away. I don't want there to be a big time lapse between birth and naming wherein s/he is alive and in the world as a separate being but does not yet have a name. I have no idea why, but that really bothers me. So being fairly set on names is necessary. Which isn't to say that we might not make a last minute substitution--if this kid is born and s/he just does not seem to fit the names we've chosen, we'll come up with something else. While there is not a formal list of back-up choices, our rules have left us with fairly few names to choose from.
Wait, what rules?
That's actually the point of this post. In our process of deciding on names, most of what Mark and I actually decided on were naming rules, or parameters for names we'd consider. We didn't necessarily set out to do it that way, but that's the way it ended up. And I'm kind of glad it did, as it cut down our possible contenders considerably. I have a Burmese friend who explained to me, upon the birth of her first child, how her cultural naming tradition is for the first part of someone's name to be predicated on the day of the week on which s/he was born. For some days, there are separate sounds for AM/PM and male/female, for some there are not. For example, she and her son are both born on the same day of the week (Wednesday, I think) and both have names beginning with Z. I really, really like this idea. First, I like the idea of having a cultural naming tradition, but beyond that, I love the idea of narrowing the field. So that's what the guidelines Mark and I developed did--they narrowed the field.
Before I even got pregnant, we agreed that we'd like to use family names. So that was our first rule:
1. All name choices need to be from family members.
This rule was later amended to also include close friends' names.
After some discussion about how being named after people plays out in real life, we added a second rule:
2. The family member/friend for whom the child is named must already be dead.
This was mainly because we didn't want any "Little Bob/Big Bob" type situations. Though we want our child to be named for someone we loved, we also want him/her to feel as i his/her name is his/her own.
Next, we added the equity rule:
3. There will be one name from each side of the family.
This just means that if the first name is from Mark's family tree, the middle name while be from mine, and visa versa.
The next rule was all about preference:
4. If the name(s) are identifiably tied to a culture or ethnicity, it must be one to which we actually belong.
Given the family tree context, you'd think this would be a no-brainer, but it's really not.
The next rule we came up with was more about logistics than aesthetics:
5. Names will be relatively short and simple.
We're going to hyphenate our seven- and eight-letter last names, giving the kid a total of sixteen last name characters (including the hyphen). S/he doesn't need a boatload of first name characters to go along with that.
We realized, then, as we were discussing names, that neither of us much wanted to go back lots of generations, either. We were most interested in naming our child after people we'd actually known. This, of course, narrowed the choices quite a lot further.
And from there, it was pretty obvious. We had our names chosen from about the eight-week mark. I went through a period a month or so ago where I was questioning them (Is this one too common? Is this one too hard to pronounce?), but I'm over that now and back to loving them.
And I'm not going to tell you what they are! They aren't a secret--we've been sharing them with friends and family--but I think I'm going to wait until this kid actually has a birth certificate to share them here.
However, I will give you a taste--here is the list of names that fit our rules:
For boys: Benjamin, Calvin, Clark, Daniel, Davie, Edward, Emil, Eugene, Frances, Gary, Hugh, Jack, Kenneth, Robert, Thomas
For girls: Agnes, Clara, Dora, Edna, Hazel, Iris, Jane, Katherine, Lorane/Lorraine (spelled the first way in my family, the second in Mark's), Loretta, Marian, Rose, Viola
So tell me about naming your baby/ies? Or your pets? Do our rules seem totally over the top? Am I going to change my mind when I see this kid?
There was a definite silver lining to the black cloud that was the first half of my pregnancy. Had I not been feeling so awful, I'd probably have been shopping. As loyal readers know, I'm a shopper by nature, and pregnancy and babies? Whole new world of things to shop for, my friends. Shiny, expensive things.
Now that I am feeling like my old self again, the shopping bug has come back. I'm trying to moderate it, but it's not like I can go cold turkey--there are actually things we need for this kid, you know? So, to at least make some of the financial damage worthwhile, I thought I'd share some of my shopping with y'all.
One thing I was really excited to buy is a diaper bag. I love bags. Bags fill my need for accessories AND my need for things in which to put other things. They're one of my favorites. And I am typically uncharacteristically practical when it comes to bags--I don't buy a lot of them and I don't change them out very often. A diaper bag, though, that's a whole new world. And once I started looking around, I saw that people take these things VERY seriously.
Some of the best ones I found:
Timi & Leslie Marilyn II in Raspberry, $169.99
I love the color of this bag. I also like the shape, the way it looks like a regular big bag and not necessarily a diaper bag, and the roomy exterior pockets. I'm also a fan of the long straps. It's got a matching detachable clutch, a detachable bottle holder, and a mesh bag with changing pad. The Amazon reviewers love it. The only downside I see is that it's PVC, not leather, and for that price, I want a leather bag.
Skip Hop Duo in Wave Dot, $58
I believe a friend of mine has this bag, and it looks like a great choice. It's sturdy, made of wipeable poly-canvas, and is built for comfort and utility with a lot of pockets and a padded strap. It comes in several great fabrics (though some do add to the cost) and looks to be easily convertible to a stroller bag. It was also the 2010 Parents' magazine pick for "Best Diaper Bag."
Petunia Picklebottom Sashay Satchel in Indelible Iris, $129
I've been contemplating getting a Petunia Picklebottom bag just to use as my everyday work bag for years. I love the patterns that are available--just as cheerful as Vera Bradley, but not so loud--and the style of the Sashay Satchel in particular appeals to me a lot. It's on the small side, I think, for a diaper bag, but still roomy. It comes with a wipes case and changing pad and has four bottle pockets. The downside, based on reviews I've read, is that some of the patterns (including the one I've shown here) are not PVC glazed and thus not stain-resistant.
Sally Spicer Baby Messenger Bag in Rattan Cote D'Azur, $130
I love this Sally Spicer messenger-style diaper bag for lots of reasons. It's so neutral and versatile, and doesn't look the least bit like a diaper bag. It comes in tons of fabrics. It has changing pad, bottle holder, and internal pockets, but no extra muss and fuss--it's very utilitarian. And? It's made in the U.S.A. How much do I love that?
StorkSac Helena in Rose, $410
Would I pay $400 for a diaper bag? No, I would not. However, if I were going to, this might be the bag I'd choose. The StorkSak Helena is just a gorgeous, gorgeous leather bag. The organizer and bottle pockets and changing pad all pop out, too, so it could easily transition to a regular bag after the diapering days are through. It's Italian leather, brushed gold hardware, jacquard lined...very classic, but updated with the rose color. I really love this bag. This bag is far too sophisticated for me.
Babymel Slouchy in Twisted Olive, $75
This is another bag that I just love the shape of--that slouchiness makes it look not so huge, while still retaining a lot of interior space. It's made of laminated canvas, so it's wipeable, and it comes with an insulated bottle holder and a changing mat. One thing that differentiates this bag slightly from a lot of other ones is that the changing mat is made of the same fabric as the bag, rather than a corresponding neutral. I like that.
Nest Hudson in Black, $280
I tend to be a fan of colored and patterned bags, but if you're a black leather purist, I'm not sure diaper bags get better than the Nest Hudson. It has a great classic shape, really nice subtle hardware detailing, and all the necessary baby-bits, like handy interior pockets and a removable changing pad.
Ergo Organic Backpack in River Rock, $64
Several of my mom friends expressed a strong preference for backpacks as diaper bags, siting convenience and ease of use, as well as gender-neutrality. I'm not a backpack lover myself, but I did want to include at least one option in this list, and I like the rugged look and smallish size of this Ergo version. It has lots of zipper pockets, padded straps, and can be attached to an Ergo carrier.
Lug Life Tuk Tuk Carry-all in Plum, $84.99
Another slightly more utilitarian option, I think this Lug Life bag looks really useful. It looks to have really well designed pockets, comes with a removable changing pad and wet bag, and is easily wipeable. It also comes in various bright colors, which endears it to me, and is supposed to be great for use as an overnight bag/carry-on after the baby is through with it.
JJ Cole Mode Tote in Mulberry Patch, $49.99
Totes are another bag style I tend not to prefer--I like to be able to put things over my shoulder. That said, if you are a tote-lover, this JJ Cole bag is both affordable and super cute. It's made of laminated canvas for easy wipe-downs, has a nice slim profile but still offers a good deal of space, and comes with a coordinated changing pad and a removable padded shoulder strap.
JuJuBe Be All in Jungle Maze, $140
It took me a minute to figure out why I liked the JuJuBe Be-All bag so much, but I think it's the boxiness. Something about the shape is just really appealing. I also like that it is available in non-floral patterns and in this green and orange color scheme. Another really smart thing about it is that it has a separate, zipped outside pocket intended for all your diapering supplies--way to keep a potential mess contained! Finally? It's machine washable. Good deal.
Amy Butler Wildflower in Fuschia Tree Navy, $201.99
I have kind of a love-hate feeling about Amy Butler fabric designs in general, but I love this particular pattern, and I am really intrigued by the unusual shape of the Wildflower bag. It really looks like a purse, and I like that the handles and closure are leather. It has contrast printed fabric lining and comes with a contrast printed fabric wet bag and changing mat, too. Mmm...
Clearly, all of these bags could be considered overkill. A diaper bag is not a necessity, at least not a fancy one. But it's still fun to look at them, and if you, like me, are thinking you're going to be carrying something every day for the next 2+ years, it might be worth considering getting something you really like, right?
Anybody have a diaper bag you just loved? Leave me a comment!
When I started my (endless) search for maternity clothes, several people told me that I absolutely had to check out Target, as it is a mecca of affordable maternity wear. So I did. And I didn't find a thing at my (smallish) local store. I then promptly forgot about Target for a couple of months. More recently, though, I've given it another go, and found that if I can see their full selection (which means shopping online at their far-less-than-stellar website), Target really does have good maternity wear. The most surprising part? A lot of it is NOT in the maternity section!
At this stage of pregnancy, and in this season, what I really need/want is clothes that move with and around me and are layer-able. Specifically, cotton/jersey dresses and cardigans are awesome. Unfortunately, my pre-pregnancy cardigans have gone from just not buttoning to looking ridiculous, so my first stop at Target online was cardigans. I am luck that the style right now is for the open-front variety, which are a lot more pregnancy-friendly than the traditional button-up kind. The actual maternity options left me cold, but in the non-maternity section, I found two winners:
Merona Womens Pointelle Cardigan, $27.99, in Elephant
Mossimo Womens Ultrasoft Cocoon Sweater, $22.99, in Red
I love both of these sweaters. They're open in the front, so they work for my increasing belly, and they're (bless the Lord!) LONG enough! They're also both short/half-sleeved and lightweight, so they will be great for spring layering. My only real complaint is that I don't love the colors they come in. The pointelle cardigan comes only in neutrals (black, white, gray) and an orange-coral color called "Guava Berry." The cocoon cardigan comes in more colors, but they're still mostly neutral (black, gray, navy, oatmeal) or a bit strange (a very bright blue or something called "mineral yellow"). The sweater I ordered was labeled "red," but it's really more orange (very similar to the Guava Berry color on the pointelle cardigan). I didn't think I'd like it, but I actually do. If it came in another bright spring-y color, I'd buy another one.
I ordered my sweaters both in the size I'd typically grab at Target for something like this--extra large--and I think they'll fit until it's too warm to wear them (i.e the last month or so of this pregnancy). They're not huge, but the style gives plenty of space.
While I was browsing Target's site for sweaters, I noticed they have a whole section of cotton jersey dresses under $20. Perfect for maternity wear! I tried out the following ones:
Merona Womens V-Neck Cap Sleeve Value Dress, $19.99, in Viking Purple
Merona Womens Faux Wrap Dress, $20, in Zonk Blue
Merona Womens Draped Neck Value Dress, $19.99, in Xavier Navy
On most people, I think all three of these dresses would work great for pregnancy--lots of stretch and belly room. Unfortunately, the first two were just too short for me, especially when further shortened by the belly bump. The last one, though, is a winner--it's knee-length, totally comfortable, and I think it looks really cute. Unlike the sweaters, all three of these dresses come in great colors, too! I tempted to buy another one of the draped neck ones in another color.
Like the sweaters, I went ahead and ordered these dresses in an XL, which is what I'd typically try them in, and they seem to work fine.
My next stop on Target's site was maxi dresses and skirts. I knew pre-pregnancy (from peeping at lots of mama style blogs, mostly) that I wanted maxis to be a staple for me, and they're fast becoming one. Some of last summer's dresses, though, aren't working--mostly due to too-small busts. So I was hoping to find a couple more to slip into the rotation. Target has lots, both in the maternity section and in the regular one, and I eventually settled on these two:
Mossimo Womens Challis Maxi Dress, $29.99, in Purple Print
Mossimo Womens Cowl Neck Maxi Dress with Shirred Side Seam, $29.99, in Erie Canal
The purple maxi works like a dream--plenty of room for both belly and boobs, very comfortable, and the print is cuter in person. The green one, however, was a nightmare. It was just plain lewd, showing every bump and curve and pulling tightly over my belly already, at six months. Definitely not going to work. Too bad, because it's really cute, and I like the color a lot.
Again, I ordered both dresses in my pre-pregnancy size of XL and I think that was the right choice. I don't think a bigger size would fix the issues with the second dress--they're just problems with the fitted style of the dress.
Finally, I checked Target for jersey maxi skirts. I have a navy one from Old Navy I've been wearing a lot, and it works, but the narrow waistband is getting uncomfortable, so I was hoping to find something with a wider or roll-down/roll-up waist that would give me a bit more belly support. And Target didn't disappoint!
Mossimo Womens Convertible Maxi Skirt, $20, in Black
This may be my perfect maternity maxi skirt. It's the right length, it's the right weight, and it has that great wide rolled waistband that makes it a ton more comfortable to wear. I bought a black one and I'm seriously considering getting another one in gray.
Yeah, OK, I'll call that a goldmine. Interestingly, though, NONE of the things that I found so awesome are maternity clothing!
I'm trying to convince myself now that I don't really need any more maternity stuff, but if I did, a few more things I might try from Target, some from the actual maternity section:
Liz Lange for Target Maternity Sleeveless Maxi Dress, $34.99, in Gray/Red/Purple
How cute is this dress? This one they do have in my store, and I have to keep myself from buying it every time I am in there buying cat litter.
Merona Maternity Sleeveless Halter Maxi Dress, $29.99, in Blue/White
If this one were available in-store, I think I would have bought it already. I love everything about it--the interesting back, the narrow stripes, the asymmetrical skirt...
Merona Maternity 3/4-Sleeve Boatneck Tunic Top, $24.99, in Deep Teal
Tunics are the tall pregnant lady's friend, y'all. Even regular maternity t-shirts are rapidly getting too short, and something with a longer length makes me feel so much less like my belly is going to announce it's round self to the world without my consent. I really like the sort of hippy/yoga teacher feel of this one, too.
Merona Womens Gathered Crossover Tee, $7-$10, in Xavier Navy
I'm not sure if this tee would be long enough, and they don't seem to carry it at my store, but if it were a big on the long-side, I think it would be great for this next stage of pregnancy. It still looks like real clothes, and not sloppy, but it's flexible and soft and has room for both expanding boobs and expanding belly.
Mossimo Womens Layering Top, $19.99, in Hollyhock Purple
This is another good top-layer option for sleeveless things--nice and lightweight, with plenty of belly room. I'm a bit trepidatious about the length, though.
Mossimo Supply Co. Juniors Foldover Maxi Skirt, $15, in Fighter Pilot Blue/Shell Stripe
This skirt has the same basic shape as my perfect maxi, including the great foldover waist, but because it's a juniors version it is a bit shorter, almost midi-skirt length on me, probably. Plus it comes in this awesome blue-and-white stripe, which is something I can't get enough of.
As I get bigger, dressing in a way that is, if not fashionable, at least presentable, becomes more important to me. I'm feeling pretty good, and reasonably at ease with this body, and I want to present that to the outside world. So (clearly), I've been thinking quite a lot about my clothes, and I'm thinking I may need a blog-challenge to keep me motivated to dress decently as I start the third trimester. Plus it would help get me back into blogging. Maybe a Maternity 30-for-30? Something different? What do you all think?
I haven't done a celebrity style icon post in a long time! For obvious reasons, I am lately paying attention to the styling of pregnant celebs, and I thought I'd share some of those with you!
Jessica Simpson takes a lot of flak, both pre-pregnancy and now. She's not someone I'd ever giving a lot of thought to as a style icon before, either, but honestly? I think she looks fabulous right now, and I love how she's been dressing:
(Image via Celebuzz!)
(Image via PopSugar.)
(Image via Jessica Simpson's Twitter.)
(Image via Celebuzz!)
The thing I love the most about how Jessica has been dressing is that there is NO shame in her fashion. She's BIG. Really big. And she's not trying to downplay it. She was just as willing to wear a body-conscious dress in January (the second photo) as she was in November (the first photo). I like that. I also really dig the maxi dress/cardigan/sunglasses ensemble she's been sporting recently--the hippy/boho feeling of it is so great for the season and for her late stage of pregnancy. She looks relaxed and comfortable and beautiful and happy. Also? Her hair is amazing.
Emily Deschanel/Temperance Brennan
I've carried on before about how much I love the way Dr. Temperance Brennan from Bones dresses, and her pregnancy changed very little. Both the actress and the character are still all about the classics.
(Image via lilSugar.)
(Image via FOX Broadcasting Company.)
(Image via FOX Broadcasting Company.)
(Image via People.)
The thing I love the most about Emily's pregnant style (and that of her TV alter ego) is how similar it is to her non-pregnant style. Both Emily and Bones are still in trench coats, fitted jackets, basic black, cropped pants with flats, and great accessories. I love it when women are able to adapt their existing style to fit their pregnant bodies, rather than having to take on a totally new look, and Emily and Bones both did a great job with that. This is especially impressive considering the major changes pregnancy makes to a body that started out as trim as her's.
Currently gestating Kid 2.0, Alyson Hannigan has pregnancy style down. She's another celeb whose style never pinged my radar pre-pregnancy, but I think she looked fantastic during her first pregnancy and looks just as great this time around.
(Image via People.)
(Image via Zimbio.)
(Image via omg Yahoo!)
(Image via Babble.)
The thing I love about Alyson Hannigan's pregnant style, both the first time around (first pictures) and this one (last two pictures) is that she doesn't steer clear of color. So many maternity clothes are available in the drabbest colors possible, as if pregnant women should be trying to blend into walls, and Alyson is having none of that, spending her pregnancies in super-rich, vibrant hues. She's being touted as being the happiest pregnant woman ever, and the color certainly helps her to keep up that appearance.
I think Laila Ali might be my pregnancy role model. She always looks so happy and healthy and comfortable in her skin!
(Image via Electronic Urban Report.)
(Image via Pregnancy Magazine.)
(Image via Best for Babes.)
(Image via Belly Itch.)
I love the casual and well-fitting clothes Laila chooses when she's pregnant (the first picture is from her last pregnancy, in 2011, the last three are from her first pregnancy, in 2008), and I like that, like Alyson, she doesn't shy away from color, but what really impresses me is how comfortable she looks. I'm not sure if it's the clothing choices she makes or how she feels about her pregnant body or what, but there is no awkwardness to her, and I think that's amazing. I wonder if any of it has to do with Laili being a big person to begin with, or having been a professional athlete?
A lot of people seem to have a love-or-hate relationship with Angelina Jolie. I'm team love. I think she's gorgeous all the time, but man, she shines when she's pregnant.
(Image via Babble.)
(Image via SheKnows.)
(Image via Maternity & Style.)
(Image via Daily Mail.)
The thing that really blows my mind about Angelina when she's pregnant is that she still always looks like a straight-up goddess movie star. Even in her third trimester with twins (first picture), she looked not just gorgeous, but glamorous. That stuns me. Let me tell you, glamorous is pretty much the last thing I am feeling these days.
OK, I'm inspired! Definitely going to try to learn at least a little something from these famous women and put just a wee bit more effort into my pregnant wardrobe as I start the last trimester! Any other really stylish pregnant celebs I should check out?
1. Suddenly liking bananas. Then suddenly LOVING bananas.
2. People wanting to carry things for me.
3. Stupid movies, television shows, and even commercials becoming much more touching. Even when I know they really aren't.
4. The belly. I expected the size, but am continually amazed by the watermelon-rind like hardness.
5. Spending nearly six months being grossed out by both coffee and beer.
6. Having a reason to buy a whole new wardrobe and being really, really unexcited about it.
7. Fielding people's completely inappropriate questions and advice about my body and my future child.
8. The continual knowledge that someone is growing in there, and there's not whole lot I can do about it. She's gonna take up as much space as she wants, and she's already bigger than most of my vital organs.
9. Observing the Flowers for Algernon-esque decline of my mental faculties.
10. Losing the ability to pick either my navel or my nipples out of a line-up.
Now that I'm six months in and an old hand at this pregnancy thing (ha), I thought I'd give you a run down of a few of the maternity products I've found so far that I love. Frankly, most of what I have tried has been crap, but there are a few standouts, so I'll share those.
Gap 1969 Demi Panel Heathered Long & Lean Jeans (currently on sale for $34.99)
I bought these because they were cheap, and they've become my go-to pants. They don't look like jeans--I've been wearing them to work with abandon--and they aren't made out of cheap, creepy feeling polyester like most maternity pants seem to be. They're a nice dark gray color, they come in long lengths, and they've been very comfortable for the last several months. I suspect I am soon to outgrow the demi panel, and when I do, I'll be sad to see these leave the rotation.
I bought this body pillow on the recommendation of an e-friend way back when I first started having back and hip pain, and it has been an absolute wonder. I'm still having some pain, but I can sleep SO much better with this thing than without it (as evidenced by a recent weekend trip when I tried to sleep without it). It's also great just for lounging around and reading, and I'm told it will be useful for nursing, as well.
I received this Mama Mio skin care kit as a gift late in my first trimester, and I have been religiously using it since then (I'm just about to run out of the body cream). It's not something I would have purchased for myself--spendy!--but it's so wonderful. The shower cream is nice, but the real stars are the moisturizers. Both the body cream and the tummy rub oil smell wonderful and not-too-strong (good when you're nauseated), and both are richly moisturizing but still sink in quickly. I'm trying to be frugal, but still seriously considering replacing the moisturizers when they run out, or trying something else from the line. And yes, I realize that tummy oil isn't going to keep me from getting stretch marks--however, it does wonders for the dry/stretched skin itchies!
Old Navy Maternity Jersey-Stretch Tanks (currently on sale for $10)
I am a tank top girl from way back, and I haven't been surprised to find myself even more enamored with my favorite basic tanks while pregnant. However, in the last few weeks, my typical tanks, even the Target Long&Lean ones I've relied on to cover my long torso for years, have been failing me. They just aren't long enough to cover the new belly, not ride up, and provide a bottom layer for ever-shortening tops. These tanks from Old Navy, however, are perfect. The run really big, so be careful if when ordering, but if you can find the right size, they're stellar. So long, such great colors, and so inexpensive!
I realize Fage is not exactly a "maternity" thing, but it has become a pregnancy essential for me all the same. I am not, when left to my own devices, a breakfast eater. However, as I've gotten more pregnant, my need to for constant calories has increased, and eating breakfast is no longer optional. Enter Fage. I mix the plain 2% with whatever fruit I have on hand (I've been huge into fruit since I stopped being so sick--mostly bananas and berries) and my homemade granola, and I have a really decent breakfast that I can almost always stomach. Since I'm not a milk drinker in general and my tolerance for meat has been pretty low since I've been pregnant, the calcium and protein boosts are also a really good thing.
Victoria's Secret Yoga Leggings (currently 2/$50)
Another kind of strange one, maybe, but I've been living in my VS yoga leggings. I've always been a fan of these--they fit me well and come in a 32" inseam, which is long for leggings. Still, I've been surprised at how versatile they've been during the first half of this pregnancy. I'm too big for them to go over the bump, but they tuck underneath without riding down. The actual maternity leggings I've tried have been atrocious, so I'm sticking with these and hoping they'll see me through the rest of the way.
There have been a lot of less useful things. Belly bands? Still can't figure those out. Pretty much every pregnancy book I've opened? More fear-mongering and judgement than helpful advice. Sea bands for nausea? Can't believe I ever thought those would work. It's all individual though, I think--some of the stuff I've listed here would likely be worthless to you, and some of what you lived by wouldn't work for me. That said, if you have any must-try additions to my list, please leave a comment! I've still got four months to go!
Why not start with something simple?
This is what I'm looking like these days (last night, actually):
As you can see, I've "popped." My belly feels enormous, though it's actually not all that big yet. Watching the near-daily changes in my body has been a really interesting process, and one I wasn't quite prepared for. I knew things would change, of course, but I wasn't clear on how much, or how fast, or how all-encompassing the changes would be. It's not just the belly; every part of me has changed--hair, skin, etc. It really does feel more like puberty than anything else I've ever experienced. And I know some of the changes will be permanent, or will be precursors to other, permanent changes, which makes it all the more frightening and exciting.
Clothes, as you can imagine, have become a bit of an issue. I haven't purchased a ton of maternity clothes--a few, and I got some hand-me-downs from a friend, but not as many as I'd have expected. For one thing, I've been unable to find a single thing at the thrift store. For another, things that are not meant for maternity have, so far, worked in a lot of cases. For example, in the photos above, I'm wearing a non-maternity maxi skirt I bought at Nordstrom Rack last summer with an Old Navy maternity tunic. Non-maternity pants have been out of the question for a while, but elastic waist skirts are still working fine, as are maxi dresses and longer-length tops. I'm also stretching tops by layering them over long-length tank tops, which looks better than I would have expected (or perhaps my standards have dropped...).
The maternity clothes I have purchased have been almost exclusively from Gap and Old Navy. I tried Motherhood, but was very disappointed with the quality of almost everything I ordered. Gap has been the best, but I'm too cheap to buy too much there. The most recent thing I'm focusing on is shoes and bras. I've gone up two bra sizes already, and too-small bras are a world more uncomfortable when you're pregnant. Shoes are harder--anything with a heel is out at this point, because my balance is severely compromised by this growing belly thing, and my feet are swelling every day, so my regular arsenal of flats are beginning to be too small. With size 12 feet to begin with, I hate to think what size I'll end up in. Boxes without topsies, indeed.
Though I know getting dressed is only going to get harder as I get bigger over the next few months, I am looking forward to the increased clothing options of warmer weather. Right now, I don't have any cardigans that still button, but it feels like a waste to buy bigger/maternity ones with warm weather right around the corner. I envision a spring/summer of maxi dresses and skirts and tank tops, which will hopefully be a bit more fun than wearing the same pair of black maternity pants twice a week.
Ooh, this blogging thing is coming back to me, now...