Saying “yes” to maternity dress

Let me start this post by giving you some context: I stand about 5’2” and although I’m petite, I have long legs for my height and a short torso.  Depending on the store, I wear a size 0 through 4, and finding sizes and clothes that fit has always been a battle for me.  Now, add to that a smaller than usual uterus and an obsession with Jillian Michaels and we have a recipe for hilarity brewing at Destination Maternity.

I was one of those people who really didn’t see the lure of running out and buying maternity clothes right away.  And until the end of my third month, I was still fitting into my normal pants and shirts, though they were getting a little tight.  I purchased two of those “belly bands” at Target and thought that would be enough.  But then as my stomach grew, my shirts started not fitting well and weren’t long enough to hide the fact I using a hair tie to keep the button closed.

Just buy your normal clothes but bigger, was some of the advice I got.  It sounds like a good, logical idea.  Here’s my issue with that philosophy though: your body is going to expand in unpredictable ways.  Issue 1:  I carried extremely low; only until a few weeks ago the entirety of my bump was exclusively below my belly button.  I own normal clothes in much larger sizes – I have work pants in a size 11 from my “big girl” days that are just so comfortable to wear on days when I don’t care.  Size 11, people.  I can’t button them.  And I’ve only gained 10 pounds – less than what I weighed when I bought those pants in the first place.  Had I bought larger “normal” pants when I first got concerned about clothes I would still be in the same place I am now – with nothing “normal” fitting.

Issue 2: Even if you are wearing “normal” shirts, you’ll need them to be much longer and roomier.  First, your stomach’s surface area will continue to increase inch by inch.  If your shirt is too tight around the waist, especially in early to mid pregnancy, people might just think you’re carrying a spare tire, not a baby.  Second, if you’re wearing a “belly band” or otherwise jerry-rigging your pants to stay up, you’ll want to cover the evidence.  (I don’t even zipper my pants anymore).

Issue 3: Even yoga pants can become uncomfortable, and dresses will only get you so far.  Anything that’s too tight around the belly might give you discomfort physically and gastrointestinally.  Elastic waistbands are the way to go.

Borrow your boyfriend’s/husband’s clothes.  Incredibly this advice is from pregnancy magazines.  Really?  I mean, really?  He’s one foot taller than me.  Do you really think that’s going to work out well?  (Our legs are almost the same length, actually…)  Isn’t wearing larger, roomier clothes and sweaters frumpy enough?

With all these issues in mind, I decided to try my luck at the Destination Maternity.  I walked in – about four months pregnant – wearing a summer dress and was greeted with, “Hi, how can we help you?” and a quizzical look.  “Are you looking for something in particular?” meaning, “Why are you here, exactly?”  I explained that I was pregnant, it was my first time shopping for maternity clothes, and I had no idea what to do.  She explained that I should look for clothing in my “normal size” and that all the cheap stuff was in the back.  I started rifling through racks and she started a fitting room for me.  Once I had collected an armful of clothing, she showed me the assortment of bellies to use to see what the clothes would look like.  She handed me the biggest belly they had – the “7 months more” belly.  Even though she knew I was 4 months along.  Seriously?  I took pictures of me in the clothes with the belly for future reference.  Later, another saleswoman said to another first-timer, “As they say, you’re not going to start any new fashion trends while you’re pregnant.”  Damn straight.  Bring on the sweatpants!

I haven’t gone bonanza making maternity clothes purchases.  I did buy two pairs of work pants, a few t-shirts, and a few long-sleeve lightweight shirts.  My normal clothes are hit-and-miss with fit, and it’s a daily chore to create an outfit that looks presentable in the morning.  It’s even harder to find weekend wear.  I found a website called “Borrow for Your Bump” which I will be using for a formal event I have to attend in November.  I’m tempted to look into purchasing maternity jeans next, but maybe I’ll see how much further I can stretch in what I’ve got.

Life is what happens when you’re busy making other plans

My hiatus in the last few weeks certainly hasn’t been for lack of material.  It’s been a combination of summer plans, a dry hot summer that makes it easy to be busy every day, and, oh yeah, we bought a house and sold ours all in the last month.  While we have always kept our eye on the housing marking looking for the next house – a larger house where guests could be comfortable, where I might have room for a dishwasher, where maybe we might actually have a heat register in the master bedroom – we knew we could be happy right where we are for a few more years, if we had to.  But then one Sunday afternoon a great house not too far away popped up, with a price that made it worth a showing.  A week later we put in a bid and the buyers accepted.  The following week we spent cleaning our house like fiends and getting it up on the market.  Then came finding things to do outside of the house, with the dog, during showings.  Then we had bids to review, accepted a bid, and now we are in that limbo of making sure nothing happens between now and the tentative closing dates.  Meanwhile we’ll be packing, and I’m not really sure where to start.

So I do have a few posts that will be coming out soon…  while I tweeted the Ultimate Parents-to-Be Playlist, I haven’t described why I choose the songs I did.  Then I have the story of “pregnancy brain,” which apparently can strike even the most organized of persons.  And lately, the seemingly public debate about how big you should be at any given moment in your pregnant.  (So UU girls, while I don’t have anyone else to compare myself to with a UU, we have yet to understand if the fact that no one believes I’m four months pregnant is either because somebody’s in extremely tight quarters or that I really loved Jillian Michaels that much).  The first trip to the maternity clothing store was hilarious.  And, of course, finding tactful answers to the questions, “Was this planned?,” “How many do you want?,” and “What are your plans?”  Readers, hang in there – I promise I’ll get to each of these stories very soon!

Exercising while TTC: A monthly plan

While I was in the middle of my clomiphene citrate treatment, resulting in some unsightly and unwanted weight gain, I decided to finally get back into a regular exercise routine – partially to help prevent more weight gain, partially to help me get my sanity back.  Exercise has long helped me alleviate symptoms of depression and anxiety, as well as help cure the occasional bout of insomnia.  During treatment, I would spend the two weeks after ovulation petrified of doing any exercise, thinking I might “shake things loose” or that I might rupture an over-stimulating ovary (as a result of the clomiphene).  After all, experts like Dr. Alice Domar suggest taking a whole three months off of exercise just to rule it out as a factor in your infertility.  Unless you’re training for a marathon I really don’t think that’s practical advice; did she ever bloat up to the point that even your “fat” pants become uncomfortable?  Right.

That’s where I started to put together my own plan that I thought might help kill two birds with one stone: integrate more body-mind awareness practices as well as take some time to fight flab.  This included making more of an effort to relax through meditation, both using podcasts at night and making the time at work to join in a weekly 20-minute meditation group.  I mixed this with a monthly exercise plan broken into two parts, and it seemed to satisfy both my need for vigorous exercise and my desire to keep my activity light during the critical days.

I should note that I am not an expert in health and fitness, and I have no training in this area whatsoever.  If you are TTC and want to put together an exercise plan, you should probably discuss your own limitations with your doctor.  And always do what’s right for you, so tweak it as needed.

My plan was extremely simple: 2 weeks of vigorous exercise, starting day 1 of my cycle (first day of menstruation) and lasting through about the time for ovulation; at that point, I would switch to yoga for two weeks, until the start of my next cycle.  With this routine I didn’t feel guilty for not exercising and I didn’t feel guilty for exercising.

I really like challenging workouts, so during my 2-week vigorous time I would do circuit training like with Jillian Michaels’ 30 Day Shred (or, really, any of her other videos), or jogging.  For the 2-week restful-exercise time, I would do power yoga or pilates.  I like JM’s Yoga Meltdown video, as well as the MTV Pilates, Pilates Mix, and Power Yoga videos.  I exercised about every other day, or however my schedule allowed for it.  I was doing yoga so much more than I had ever done that I would get excited for sun salutations, waiting to slide into upward dog – a pose I never had much respect for until I became strong and flexible enough to do it correctly and feel an awesome stretch in both my back and my core.  It’s as comforting to me as chocolate…  but I’ll save the “yogasm” talk for another post.  😉